Lapis ISSN 2398-2969

Psoroptes cuniculi

Synonym(s): Rabbit ear mite, P. cuniculi

Contributor(s): Richard Saunders, Ron Rees Davies, Allan Muir




  • Phylum: Arthropoda.
  • Class: Arachnida.
  • Subclass: Acari.
  • Order: Astigmata.
  • Family: Psoroptidae.
  • Genus: Psoroptes.
  • Species: cuniculi.

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Clinical Effects



  • Adult female lays eggs.
  • Larva (approximately 330 um) hatches - 6 legs.
  • Protonymph then tritonymph develop from larva.
  • P. cuniculi lifecycle completed in 2-3 weeks.


Either Direct contact with an infected animal.
Or By transmission on fomites - mites can survive for some weeks in the environment and can be a source of reinfection in some cases.

Pathological effects

  • Infected animals may remain asymptomatic for long periods (can be months/years in some cases).
  • Non-burrowing mite - adults puncture the epidermis and feed on lymph and tissue fluid.
  • Cause scab formation, associated with hair loss and skin thickening.  Scab formation can be very dramatic in advanced cases .
  • Presence associated with severe localized pruritus.
  • P. cuniculi lesions normally confined to pinna, but can spread locally to face, periocular region, and to paws and perineum via grooming activity.
  • Can cause headshaking, irritation and exudate.
  • Otitis externa Otitis externa can also lead to otitis media/interna Otitis media/interna following rupture of the tympanic membrane in severe cases. 


Control via animal

  • Physical removal of crusts from ears is not necessary and not advised as it will cause further pain and bleeding.

Control via chemotherapies

  • Treatment with systemic acaricide:
    • Thiabendazole Tiabendazole 50-100 mg/kg PO SID for 5 days.
    • Ivermectin Ivermectin 200-400 ug/kg SC 3 times at intervals of 2 weeks.
    • Selamectin Selamectin 6-12 mg/kg spot-on single dose, and repeat in 1 month if necessary.
  • Alongside parasitic control, consider the use of an NSAID, eg meloxicam Meloxicam, to help alleviate the pain and inflammation of the otitis externa.
  • Appropriate systemic antibiosis will be required if secondary bacterial otitis externa is present.

Control via environment

  • Clean environment and grooming equipment.
  • Treat environment with parasiticidal spray.
  • Maintain strict hutch/cage hygiene.

Other countermeasures

  • Treat all in-contact rabbits simultaneously.


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Further Reading


Refereed papers

  • Recent references from PubMed and VetMedResource.
  • Bulliot C, Mentr√© V, Marignac G et al (2013) A case of atypical psoroptic mange in a domestic rabbit. J Exotic Pet Med 22 (4), 400-404 VetMedResource.
  • Smith K E, Wall R, Berriatua E et al (1999) The effects of temperature and humidity on the off-host survival of Psoroptes ovis and Psoroptes cuniculi. Vet Parasitol 83 (3-4), 265-275 PubMed.
  • Cutler S L (1998) Ectopic Psoroptes cuniculi infestation in a pet rabbit. JSAP 39 (2), 86-87 PubMed.
  • Clyde V L (1996) Practical treatment and control of common ectoparasites in exotic pets. Vet Med 91 (7), 632-637 VetMedResource.
  • Curtis S K & Brooks D L (1990) Eradication of ear mites from naturally infested conventional research rabbits using ivermectin. Lab Anim Sci 40 (4), 406-8 PubMed.
  • Curtis S K, Housely R, Brooks D L (1990) Use of ivermectin for treatment of ear mite infestation in rabbits. JAVMA 196 (7), 1139-1140 PubMed.
  • Bjotvedt G & Geib L W (1981) Otitis media associated with Staphylococcus epidermis and Psoroptes cuniculi in a rabbit. Vet Med Small Anim Clin 76 (7), 1015-1016 PubMed.

Other sources of information

  • Hack R J et al (2001) Efficacy and safety of two different dose rates of Selamectin against naturally acquired infestations of Psoroptes cuniculi in Rabbits. In: Proc BSAVA Procedings. pp 552.
  • Harcourt-Brown F (2001) Skin diseases. In:Textbook of Rabbit Medicine. Butterworth-Heinemann. ISBN: 0750640022.