Rabbits/Bald Patches


Hi Dana,

As stated in the subject line, my rabbit has been developing bald patches on his body, particularly on his rump, for several months now. For the most part the skin looks clear but sometimes it looks dry and flaky. He is a neutered male mini lop, about 1.5 years old, and lives alone in an indoor cage. I've noticed that he grooms himself frequently, but besides that his behavior seems normal (he's active and eats like a horse. I live in Northern Colorado, so could the dry cold air be doing this, or some other factor?

I have taken him to the vet for fungal culture and mites and he came back negative on both accounts. I'm taking him back to the vet this Friday, anything I should know to tell him?

Thank you for your help!
Kellie Ringueberg

Dear Kellie,

There are many reasons for abnormal fur loss in rabbits, and mites is usually the top culprit.  Even if you can't see them, they can be there.  If the skin is flaky and fur loss is concentrated around the rump and back (areas he can't easily reach when grooming), then I usually suspect fur mites (Cheyletiella parasitivorax).  These are notoriously hard to find, but they cause the problems, nonetheless.  To rule out mites, I would ask about getting some topical Revolution (selamectin) to try and see if it helps.  Fur mites can take longer to resolve than mange mites, but they usually succumb to Revolution.

Please see:


for some additional ideas.

One (fortunately rare) possibility is an auto-immune condition known as sebaceous adenitis.  This can start with bald patches that area somewhat raw and swollen when they are scratched to remove scaley "dandruff" on top.  I hope it's not that, and let's go on the assumption that it's not.  If so, though, a whole new array of treatment options will have to be explored.

I hope this helps get you started, and that it's something as simple as mites that are just too hard to see and find (very common!).



All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


Dana Krempels, Ph.D.


I've lived with companion rabbits for more than 35 years, and consider them members of my family. I can answer any questions about the biology and health of rabbits, from the commonplace to the unusual. But please note:

RULE #1:

...it is an EMERGENCY.

Find a rabbit vet at www.rabbit.org/vet for immediate help, and don't risk your bunny's life by spending time asking questions online! If you can't get in touch with your vet, read these Emergency Sick Bunny Instructions.

If you have found a wild baby rabbit, please read these EMERGENCY INSTRUCTIONS FOR WILD BABY RABBITS and then use this link to FIND A LOCAL WILDLIFE REHABILITATOR who can give you the right advice.

RULE #2:
Help me help you! Please make your subject line informative if you have an urgent question. then LET ME KNOW IN THE SUBJECT LINE so I can give your question highest priority over non-urgent questions. If you don't do this, then I can't guarantee timely assistance!

For all the best, most accurate rabbit health, care and behavior information, visit The House Rabbit Society.


I have been rescuing and rehabilitating domestic and wild rabbits for about 30 years. I have written articles for many rabbit rescue publications, as well as for the veterinary journal, Exotic DVM. I own EtherBun, the internet's largest listserve dedicated to health, care, and behavior of domestic rabbits.

Houserabbit Adoption, Rescue, and Education, Inc. (H.A.R.E., Inc.) president National House Rabbit Society (Board member)

Exotic DVM
Warren Peace (Journal of the House Rabbit Society of Miami)
Various newsletters of the House Rabbit Society, nationwide

Ph.D - Biology
B.S. - Biology
B.A. - English

Awards and Honors
Lightspan Academic Excellence Award for web site on rabbit health and biology

©2016 About.com. All rights reserved.