Ringworm -- which is a fungus, not a worm -- doesn't occur often in rabbits. However, debilitated bunnies, or those kept in poor conditions, are vulnerable to this skin disease. While the fungus Trichophyton mentagrophytes is the primary culprit in rabbit ringworm, your bunny might pick up Microsporum canis -- the type of ringworm affecting dogs and cats -- if he shares his home with an infected canine or feline. Since ringworm is zoonotic, or transmissible between species, he could even pick up ringworm from you, if you've caught it from Fido or Felix.
Suspect your bunny has ringworm if you notice:
- Telltale circular sores on the face, ears, head, front legs, toenail beds, shoulders or other parts of the body.
- Hair loss in those areas.
- Scaling and crusty scabs also can indicate ringworm, even if there are no circular lesions.
If your rabbit develops any signs of ringworm, wear disposable gloves when caring for him and keep him away from other rabbits and household pets. Wash your hands thoroughly after cleaning his cage, feeding or petting him.
Diagnosis and Treatment
Take your pet to the vet if he's suffering from any sort of skin disorder for a definite diagnosis. Your vet may take a skin scraping to identify the cause of the lesions, although she may not take this step if the lesions are the classic circular shape. It's likely she will clip the hair near the sores, disposing of it in a proper manner so that the fungal spores have little chance to spread. She may prescribe griseofulvin, an oral medication, if the ringworm is severe. If the rabbit is pregnant, your vet will choose another oral antifungal medication. Topical antifungal ointments, such as miconazole, can treat less widespread infections, but may be given in conjunction with oral medication.
Clean the Environment
In addition to treating your rabbit, you must treat his environment. That includes cleaning his cage with a diluted bleach solution, usually 1 part bleach to 10 parts water, and either sterilizing his food and water bowls and toys or throwing them out and buying new ones.
If you have other pets who come into contact with your rabbit, ask your vet about treating them as well. They may carry ringworm even if asymptomatic.