If you keep a colony, you know that rabbit ear mites come with the territory. Here are 5 effective rabbit ear mite treatments using items you have at home.
How to Treat Rabbit Ear Mites
If you are going to raise rabbits, then eventually you’ll have the problem of ear mites. It is pretty easy to diagnose. Quite simply, there is an ever-growing buildup of gunk in their ears.
If rabbit ear mites are left untreated, your bunnies will get more and more lethargic, stop eating, and … I am not sure what else because I’ve never let it get that far. But I presume it eventually leads to a miserable death.
Bill is an older friend who got me started in raising rabbits. He gave me his technique for treating ear mites. Bill uses drops of Campho-Phenique in the rabbit’s ears. (Campho-Phenique is an over-the-counter medication for cold sores.)
Bill told me not to worry about getting out the crud. Just get the drops in down far enough to work, and the rabbit will scratch all the junk out. This is because as the mites die from the Campho-Phenique, they tickle the rabbit’s ears.
Sure enough, the rabbits shake their heads and scratch out all the gunk. It works.
Rabbit Ear Mite Treatment #2: Honey
But what if there comes a day when I can’t get my hands on Campho-Phenique? Yes, yes—this fear stems from that old “store closing” concern. But I am also in love with the idea of true self-reliance.
So I hit the Internet and checked out a bunch of options on home remedies using medicine I could grow or find myself.
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I decided to try the honey method for treating rabbit ear mites. And I want to report that it is working very well.
Unlike Bill’s method, the honey method requires first using tweezers to clean out the biggest pieces of gunk from the rabbit’s ears. It probably would work without the cleaning, but … I just couldn’t stand seeing it in there.
The mixture I made was about 1 tsp. of honey to 2 tsp. of warm water. I put about 2 or 3 dropperfuls of the honey mixture into each ear and massaged the ears so the solution would get way down in there.
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I applied this twice a day for the first few days, then switched to once per day.
It’s been about a week now, and I can see that this method is very effective. The ears are almost completely clean, and the rabbit is much, much happier.
I am planning to switch to applying the honey mix once every two days pretty soon.
FYI: Yes, the rabbit’s fur just below the ears gets a little sticky when the honey mixture gets on it. It dries out and stiffens there, but it is not a problem and doesn’t hurt the rabbit. Every couple of days, I use a piece of cloth and some warm water to clean the area.
If this treatment ultimately doesn’t work, I‘ll let you know, but from what I am seeing so far, this is an excellent home remedy for treating rabbit ear mites. The next time the problem comes up, I might try another home remedy just to test out different techniques.
Reader Advice on How to Treat Ear Mites in Rabbits
Since I first published this article in 2014, TGN Community members have left some great comments regarding other home remedies that have worked for them in treating rabbit ear mites. I’m including three of the recommendations below, but be sure to check out the comments section of this post to read more!
Rabbit Ear Mite Treatment #3: Olive Oil
Stephanie uses olive oil successfully—a dropperful in each affected ear once a day for a few days. When she does this, she says it clears up the ear mites in less than a week.
“One time, a doe had mites so bad that I was sure the bunny was going to die, the way she was rolling around aimlessly. After a day with the olive oil, she could stand upright again. By the third day, she was hopping around normally.”
Rabbit Ear Mite Treatment #4: Triple Antibiotic Ointment
Debbie suggests using triple antibiotic ointment. Squeeze most of a tube down into the affected ear, and use the rest of the tube to cover the rest of the ear. After that, leave the ear alone. She says that most of the debris will be dislodged from the ear within a few hours, and the ear will start to heal.
“Usually within three days, the ear looks so much better. And one has to fuss with it less, which means less pain for the rabbit. Yes, it gets a tad messy, but it’s well worth it. The rabbit will bathe itself, and within a week, it will all be cleaned up!”
Rabbit Ear Mite Treatment #5: Mineral Oil
Karen recommends applying mineral oil every day for 5 days and then once more a week later.
“We don’t take the gunk out unless we can’t get the oil in. They shake it loose within a few days, and it beats scratching the ear with tweezers. This has worked every time for us!”
How Long Should You Treat Ear Mites?
Apparently, rabbit ear mites have a 21-day life cycle. Why is that important?
Well, it means you have to make sure you treat for that long just to ensure you’ve wiped out every last possible egg or reproducing adult.
Click here for a handy PDF file describing ear mites, plus skin and fur mites too. I will warn you that the treatments they recommend are chemically oriented. But the rest of the information is good, and the photos of these microscopic creatures are fascinating.
What Do You Think?
If you know another successful trick for how to treat ear mites in rabbits, please share it in the comments below!
This is an updated version of an article that was originally published on January 7, 2014. The author may not currently be available to respond to comments; however, we encourage our Community members to chime in to share their experiences and answer questions!
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Marjory Wildcraft is the founder of The Grow Network, which is a community of people focused on modern self-sufficient living. She has been featured by National Geographic as an expert in off-grid living, she hosted the Mother Earth News Online Homesteading Summit, and she is listed in Who’s Who in America for having inspired hundreds of thousands of backyard gardens. Marjory was the focus of an article that won Reuter’s Food Sustainability Media Award, and she recently authored The Grow System: The Essential Guide to Modern Self-Sufficient Living—From Growing Food to Making Medicine.