Rabbit Ear Mite
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Rabbit Ear Mites – Itching Into Madness

Psoroptes cuniculi

Magnification: 487:1

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Rabbit Ear Mite (Psoroptes cuniculi): Adults mite grow up to around 0.75mm in length. The legs are long and jointed, bearing suckers on the ends on pairs 1, 2, and 4 in the female and 1, 2, and 3 in the male. Life cycle: egg, larva, two nymph stages, adult.

Adults have very characteristic pointed mouthparts. The mucus and fecal material of the parasitic mite induce an inflammatory reaction that leads the rabbit to scratch its ear. The blood that comes out of the scratched lesions serves as a source of nutrition for the parasite.
Ear mites are not serious, but if left untreated, infestation can lead to a secondary bacterial infection which can extend to the middle and inner ear causing head tilt, loss of balance, wobbliness (head tilt) and even fatal meningitis.

You can tell it is NOT a dust mite because the third pair of legs terminates in long, tassel-like setae. In dust mites, these legs would lack these setae and end in the usual small pad-like ‘toes’.