Today was a difficult day for my dad. About a year ago I gave him my "dwarf" rabbit Cookie to care for as it was getting to be too much for me with the three cats and work, and my son with his own issues. Dad is retired, lives alone, and had a dog and another bunny I had rescued from an apartment after it had been abandoned by its owners. We figured the bunnies could keep each other company by being in the same room (though not the same cage, one is male, Cookie was a female)
The signs of trouble began a couple days ago, my dad said he heard the bunny making a strange noise, and he assumed it had gotten its foot caught in the holder I had kept on the side of its cage for its lettuce and hay. Now Cookie had always been a piglet as far as food goes, and even the groomer (yes, he took the bunny to the groomer!) said she was very overweight. And even when she lived with us, she had lots of feces stuck to her hindquarters which I had to loosen up and remove. So dad took her to the groomers a few times a year to keep the area shaved and cleaned along with having her toenails clipped.
She had a great cage from Petco, lots of treats and a plentiful supply of food and water. All in all a pretty good life. But since the incident where she supposedly got her foot caught he said she'd become skittish and would often run at full speed in her cage, as if chasing something. He had no clue as to what was up, and just thought, as mom did as well-that the bunny was just nervous.
Mom called me today and said dad called her (my parents live apart as my mom lives with her 90 year old mom to make sure she doesn't end up in a nursing home) and told her he thought Cookie had died as she was lying on her side and very still.
I asked her if dad had had flies in his mobile home recently. She told me she was always killing them (Cookie and the other bunny are INDOOR rabbits) when she went out to visit, so there had been a few of them in the last few days. The weather has been warm and humid, Cookie had feces stuck to her behind, Dad wet it to loosen it off, all perfect elements for Fly Strike. But he didn't know that. Sparing more of the gory details, fly strike happens when the fly lays eggs on either an open wound (she could have had a wound from her leg getting caught that he didn't see) or in the fecal matter or the wet butt. Once the eggs hatch, which is quickly, the maggots begin to eat. Enough said. Fly strike can kill a rabbit within hours, and I only pray she did not suffer much. I believe she went into shock from the toxins released by the maggots and mercifully went to the big rabbit hutch in the sky. I had read about fly strike, but never thought to tell my dad about it-and now I feel a bit guilty about it. I just never thought that it could happen in his house, as I'd never seen a fly in there and both bunnies never went outside.
Her funeral is today-they will bury her in his backyard and Deja will put flowers on the grave later this week. The other bunny is sensing the loss and moping a bit. Dad is upset that one of his pets has died and the dog and cat are wondering what is going on as well, sniffing all over the house, looking for Cookie. I am writing this so that others who don't know about fly strike and who have bunnies (even indoor bunnies) read about it and check their bunnies constantly, so it doesn't happen to them. If caught in time, perhaps the results won't be as tragic as what happened today.