Topic: Wool Mites
Diana sent some questions about wool mites, and I thought it a good idea to answer them here. All are situations I can identify with!
Are the signs for wool mites conclusive? (e.g. dandruff, wool matting? Other?) Yes, yes and yes! How about this one; eyes tearing. I have one rabbit whose eyes will tear and crust slightly when (untreated and unchecked and multiplying) fur mites end up near her face. The "normal" cycle generally runs like this; a rabbit will have a free flowing coat with two small mats near her ears and a tail area that seems compacted. This rabbit is about to be invaded with many fur mite colonies. Treat this bunny with Ivermectin now and again in 2 weeks. If her quarters are sterilized at this time, and again in 2 weeks, then you may be symptom free for a good long while (6 months). As I have written, and will repeat here, Ivermectin is a pesticide and its misuse/overuse MAY alter genetic information in any creature it is used on, so don't treat your breeding stock for 60 days prior to breeding, which means you WILL have fur mites in your rabbitry from time to time if you are breeding your bunnies.
This brings me to the story of Neo. I used him a lot this past winter and spring as stud, and as a result, could not keep up with the fur mite colonies that moved in. The wet and warm summer gave them license to thrive, and the matting of his coat has been a nightmare. I have had to clip off his last 2 coats and just toss them, but he is one of those rabbits who mats to the skin, and I hesitate to clip too close until the Ivermectin wipes out the colonies under the mats, which takes a week or two of growth after treatment to happen. We are, just now, after 3 Ivermectin treatments, getting to the point where some of his coat may be salvageable for the October clipping.
Do some rabbit lines tend to mat, and is this a factor with wool mites, also? Yes, some rabbit lines tend to mat. And some rabbits tend to get fur mites more easily than others. The finer the undercoat, the more this happens. I dealt with the matting issue by moving to German crossbred angoras exclusively, as they tend to NOT mat no matter what. I deal with the fur mite victims by treating them every 1-2 months WITHOUT FAIL in order to get a nice coat. Mites are not easy to keep at bay without Ivermectin here in my barns. I have tried lots of other things, and they all work to some degree, but that pesticide, if given at the right times, works no matter what.
So, how about fiber that is infested with wool mites? It is weaker than prime wool, for sure, so do everyone a favor by recognizing that and marking it as second quality if you intend to sell it. The critters will eventually die, but sooner is better than later, so sprinkle flea powder containing CARBARYL into a bag of harvested wool and leave it for a few days. Shake out the excess and you should have "de-mited" fiber.
My advice if you are testing your herd for the matting/fur mite tendency before deciding to breed them as is or add new blood in...Give up on breeding for 6 months and treat them through 2 coat harvests. Treat with Ivermectin at month 1, 2, 3 (first coat off), and again month 5. Then see what coats you get with the second harvest. The whole treatment regimen was fully discussed in a few older BareHare posts:Ivermectin and
Fur Mites and Shearing
Posted by countrywool
at 7:54 AM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, 24 August 2004 10:07 AM EDT