Lapis ISSN 2398-2969

Demodex cuniculi

Contributor(s): Vetstream Ltd, Livia Benato, Anna Meredith, David Scarff




  • Phylum: Arthropoda.
  • Class: Arachnida.
  • Subclass: Acari.
  • Order: Prostigmata.
  • Family: Demodicidae.
  • Genus:Demodex.
  • Species:cuniculi.

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Clinical Effects



  • Obligate parasite or commensal.
  • Live in epidermis and hair follicles of rabbits.


  • Larvae hatching from the egss evolve into pronymphs and then to nymphs, then they finally reach the adult stage.
  • Entire life on the host (rabbit).


  • Transmission occurs via prolonged direct contact.
  • Generally, from doe to kitten during the first days of life.

Pathological effects

  • Rare condition.
  • Generally not associated with clinical signs.
  • Associated with clinical signs in immunosuppressed rabbits.
  • Affected rabbits can develop alopecia and variable levels of pruritus.
  • One case reported both seborrea sicca and alopecia in 2 of 9 infested dwarf rabbits.

Other Host Effects

  • Often carried as a commensal with no apparent interaction.


Control via animal

  • Address causes of immunosuppression and improve nutrition and husbandry.

Control via chemotherapies

  • No licensed treatment.
  • 0.5 mg/kg ivermectin   Ivermectin  SC weekly for 3 weeks.
  • 0.01% amitraz solution weekly.
  • 0.05% amitraz solution resolved the mite infestation in one reported case.


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Further Reading


Refereed papers

  • Recent references from PubMed and VetMedResource.
  • White S D, Bordeau P J, Meredith A (2002) Dermatologic problems of rabbits. Semin Avian Exotic Pet Med 11 (3), 141-150 ScienceDirect.
  • Harvey R G (1990) Demodex cuniculi in dwarf rabbits (Orytologus cuniculus). JSAP 31 (4), 204-207 Wiley Online Library.

Other sources of information

  • Bowmann D D (2008) Georgis' Parasitology for Veterinarians. Saunders Elsevier. St Louis, Missouri.
  • Paterson S (2006) Skin diseases of Exotic Pets. Blackwell Publishing.
  • Harcourt-Brown F (2002) Skin diseases. In:Textbook of Veterinary Medicine. Butterworth-Heinemann, Oxford. pp 244.
  • Scarff D H (2000) Dermatoses. In:Manual of Rabbit Medicine & Surgery.Ed: Flecknell P. BSAVA, Gloucester.
  • Harkness J E & Wagner J E (1995) The Biology and Medicine of Rabbits and Rodents. Williams & Wilkins.