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The sucking louse Haemodipsus ventricosus can affect domestic rabbits, and it usually found in breeding establishments, especially if husbandry standards are poor.[1] It is a large louse 1.5-2.5 mm in length and can be transmitted by direct contact.[1]

Lice are known to be vectors for tularemia and commonly affects wild rabbits.[2] There is discussion whether or not lice can act as a mechanical vector for myxomatosis.[3]

The entire life cycle of the louse takes 2-3 weeks depending on environment conditions.[1] The organism and eggs can be seen by the naked eye.[4]


Rabbit lice are commonly located down the spine, on the rump area and down the sides of the rabbit.[3]

Clinical signs include the following:[3]

  • intense scratching and irritation
  • thinning of the fur
  • bald patches

In very young rabbits, anaemia may also present in advanced infestations.[3]


  • Ivermectin injections are the treatment of choice, again at 7-10 day intervals for 3-5 treatments.[1][3][2]
  • Selamectin (Revolution, Paradyne, & Stronghold).[2][5]
  • Imidacloprid.[3]

Further reading

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Varga, M. (2013). Textbook of rabbit medicine. (2nd ed.).
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Mitchell, M. A., & Tully, T. N. (2016). Current therapy in exotic pet practice. Retrieved from
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 Rabbit Welfare Association & Fund. (2013). Surface attraction: Skin problems in rabbits. Retrieved 8 March, 2016, from
  4. Suckow, M.A., Stevens, K.A., & Wilson, R.P. (2012). The laboratory rabbit, guinea pig, hamster, and other rodents. Retrieved from
  5. Animal Hospital of Soquel. (2015). External parasites on rabbits. Retrieved 8 March, 2016, from