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Home > Rabbits > How to Get Rid of Fleas on Rabbits: 8 Tips & Prevention (Vet Answer)

How to Get Rid of Fleas on Rabbits: 8 Tips & Prevention (Vet Answer)

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Written by

Dr. Emma Chandley

Veterinarian, BVetMed PGCertSAS MRCVS

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Rabbits are popular pets, and they make great companions. They can be kept outdoors or inside our homes, but whether they are inside or outside pets, they are susceptible to flea infestations. Rabbit owners have a duty of care to ensure their rabbit is healthy, happy, and free of pesky parasites. Fleas are a very common problem in rabbits, so it is important to be clued up on how to identify a flea infestation and how to rid your rabbit of fleas.

Read on for the lowdown on rabbit fleas including identification, prevention, and treatment.


Rabbits and Fleas

Rabbits suffer from fleas just as dogs and cats can. They can catch fleas easily from other family pets or wild animals.

Fleas are tiny wingless insects that can jump huge distances onto unsuspecting hosts. Fleas cause itching and irritation in mild cases, but in severe cases, they can cause anemia and even death. Fleas can jump on other animals and humans in the household and bite them too.

There are lots of different types of fleas but when rabbits get fleas, they most commonly get cat fleas. There is a rabbit-specific flea, but this is relatively rare compared to the cat flea. The usual fleas that affect rabbits include Ctenocephalides felis, C canis, and Pulex irritans species.

woman holding cute rabbit
Image By: Africa Studio, Shutterstock

The 8 Tips for Getting Rid of Fleas

*Disclaimer: Rabbit anatomy is very different to dogs and cats therefore dog and cat flea treatments are NOT safe to use on rabbits. Do not pick up your dog’s treatment and put it on your rabbit as this could cause them serious problems. Always speak to your vet about flea treatment and only use prescribed products. There are some rabbit-safe products that can only be used by rabbits over a certain age, so it is never a good idea to give your rabbit any medication without consulting your vet first.

1. Get Your Rabbit Examined by a Vet

Contact your vet and arrange an appointment for them to assess your rabbit. They will be able to examine your rabbit, paying close attention to its skin. There are other parasites that can live in your rabbit’s fur that cause similar symptoms that may require a different treatment approach. If fleas are present, your vet will be able to prescribe an appropriate and effective flea treatment that is suitable for your rabbit’s age and size.

2. Treat the Environment

It is estimated that 95% of the flea infestation exists in the environment at any one time. Fleas jump on the animals to feed and jump off again. If you just treat your animals but don’t treat the environment, you will continue to have a problem as the fleas will keep jumping on your pets.

3. Treat All Other Pets

Treat all animals in the household with a vet-prescribed product that is for the correct age and weight.

4. Clean Your Home

Keep your home as clean and tidy as possible. Easier said than done, especially if there are multiple pets and children in the household. If there is dirt and mess, this makes it easier for fleas to establish an infestation.

Sanitizing surfaces cleaning home kitchen table with disinfectant spray bottle
Image Credit: Maridav, Shutterstock

5. Use a Flea Comb on Your Rabbit

The good quality rabbit brush helps to remove any fleas in their body and also keeps their fur in good condition. Check for flea dirt using a comb as described above.

6. Check Your Rabbit Regularly

Handle your rabbit regularly, this means you will be able to check them over thoroughly for fleas and flea dirt without causing them undue stress.

7. Clean Your Rabbit Hutch

Clean out your rabbit’s hutch daily. As well as treating your home with a spray, it is important to keep your rabbit’s hutch clean and dry at all times. Rabbits can get sores from sitting on wet or soiled bedding which makes it easier for fleas to establish an infestation.

8. Separate the Pets

Separate other pets in the household from your rabbit temporarily to prevent them from passing fleas back and forth.

Rabbit drinking from a water bottle inside cage
Image Credit: Inna Reznik, Shutterstock


What to Avoid When Tackling Fleas

There are a few things that may work for other animals but are not suitable for your rabbit.

As mentioned above, never put any flea treatment on your rabbit without consulting your vet first. This includes any shop-bought products as even if they are sold for rabbits, they may not be the correct dose or age-appropriate.

Don’t bathe your rabbit as rabbits generally dislike water. The stress of giving your rabbit a bath will often be more detrimental to your rabbit than the actual flea infestation. Another point to consider is that products such as “flea shampoos” are often not suitable for rabbits and can contain harsh chemicals that can harm your rabbit.

Avoid products such as flea collars. These sorts of products are usually made for dogs and cats, and they are dangerous for rabbits. Due to the shape of rabbits, it is easy for them to get their front feet caught in the collar too which could cause them to choke or strangle themselves.

How to Tell if Your Rabbit Has Fleas

  • Biting at the skin: Your rabbit may start biting their skin or itching their fur. They may scratch themselves or start to overgroom.
  • Presence of live fleas: You may see fleas in and around the house, or if your rabbit is an outside bunny, in their hutch. They are very small, but they are still visible to the naked eye if you know what you are looking for. You may also see live fleas on your rabbit if you part the fur and look closely at the skin.
  • Sudden movements: You may witness your rabbit stamp its feet or turn around really quickly all of a sudden. This happens when the fleas bite and cause irritation.
  • Flea dirt in the coat: Take a fine-toothed comb and brush it through your rabbit’s fur gently, then place the comb onto a wet, white paper towel. If fleas are present, you will have caught flea dirt that has been deposited on your rabbit’s fur. When it makes contact with the wet paper towel, you will see black dots with a red ring around them as the blood seeps out of the feces.
  • Human bites: After being in close proximity to your rabbit, if you have been handling or stroking them, you may see some small red raised lumps on your own skin, this may be flea bites. This is more likely if your rabbit lives inside with you.
  • Fur loss: A flea infestation may cause your rabbit to lose fur, or it may cause them to pull their own fur out from itchiness.
  • Scaly skin: You may see flakes of dry, scaly skin on your rabbit. Fleas can cause dryness and scabs from biting the skin and also from the rabbit itching and scratching
  • Presence of rash: You may see a red rash or raised bumpy sections of the skin. This can be from where the fleas bite your rabbit, or it can be from your rabbit rubbing their skin to relieve itching.
  • Weight loss: If your rabbit has a severe flea infestation, they may start to lose weight as they may be unduly stressed and not eating.
  • Anemia: If your rabbit has a severe flea infestation, this can cause blood loss to the point they become anemic. You may see pale gums and signs of weakness and collapse.

Where Do Rabbits Pick Up Fleas?

Rabbits usually pick up fleas from other pets in the household such as cats or dogs. Fleas jump from one animal to another and continue to reinfect each other unless all animals are treated.

If your rabbit lives outside, they can pick up fleas from other wild animals that come in close proximity to them and their hutch.

Indoor rabbits can pick up fleas if they are let outside in a run in the garden. Messy houses allow for more places for fleas to breed so there is more chance of an infestation becoming established. Humans can bring in flea eggs on their feet after walking around outside, and petting other animals in different households that have fleas can mean fleas transfer from one household to another.

Border collie dog looking a domestic rabbit head to head
Image Credit: Andraž Cerar, Shutterstock

How to Prevent Your Rabbit From Getting Fleas

Prevention is better than the cure, there are a few easy steps you can follow to prevent your rabbit from getting fleas.

  • Move your rabbit indoors if possible.
  • Use preventative flea treatment for all other animals in the household such as cats and dogs.
  • Use a vet-recommended household spray once yearly for your home. This will offer protection from fleas brought in by other animals or humans.
  • Leave shoes outside or in a cupboard and nowhere near your rabbit hutch.
  • Wash hands when returning home, especially if you have been in contact with other animals.
  • Consider using diatomaceous earth in any outdoor areas your rabbit goes near.



Rabbits pick up fleas easily, especially if they are kept outdoors. Keeping your home tidy and clean can reduce the chances of fleas establishing an infestation. Handle and examine your rabbit regularly to check for signs of fleas. If you see any fleas, contact your vet so that they can prescribe you the appropriate treatment for your rabbit and any other pets in the household.

Never attempt to medicate your rabbit yourself as there are lots of commonly used products such as dog and cat treatment that are highly dangerous for rabbits.

Featured Image Credit: StoneMonkeyswk, Shutterstock

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