Can rabbits get worms?
Domestic and wild rabbits, cottontails, and hares can suffer from different endoparasites (internal parasites), one of them being worms. These animals can either be a definitive host of the various worms or an intermediary host.
However, you should not assume or include ringworms in rabbits since these are not endoparasites. Ringworms are a fungal infection that attacks the keratinized structures including the skin, hair, and nails. Also, E. cuniculi (that causes encephalitozoonosis in these animals) and coccidia are not in this list either.
However, worms are not very common in bunnies as opposed to pets such as dogs and cats with exception of pinworms which tends to be more common.
Common worms in rabbits
The most common type that affects these pets includes the following.
- Pinworms (part of roundworms but we decided to separate it since it is much more common).
Let us look at each of these types briefly and cover a few examples of each. We have discussed each of their details in separate posts. We may also include a few pictures of worms in rabbits for further illustration.
Tapeworms in rabbits
Tapeworms, otherwise known as taenia or cestodes are segmented flatworms that can affect bunnies in two ways, either rabbit’s being as an intermediary host or having adult ones in their intestines (as a principal host).
Common tapeworms in bunnies (those that use this pet as a definitive host – live in their intestines) include the Cittoiaenia variabilis, M. perplexa, Mosgovoyia pectinate Americana, Monoecocetus Americana as well as Ctenotaenia ctenoides and they may cause symptoms such as ileus, diarrhea, pain signs, emaciation, and their segments may also found on feces among others.
On the other hand, the infective forms of Taenia pisiformis (found in liver and other abdominal cavities), the Taenia serialis (found on subcutaneous tissues) and Echinococcus granulosus (affect various organs like liver, lungs, etc.) use this animal as an intermediary host.
Pinworms in rabbits or Passalurus ambiguus
These are the most common type of worms in rabbits. The most noted species being the Oxyuris ambigua or Passalurus ambiguus which does not affect human beings or any other animal.
Transmission is through ingestion of food or water contaminated with this worm’s eggs and they hardly show any signs. However, when their numbers are so high, they may cause stasis, cecal impaction, gas, among other symptoms.
Roundworms in rabbits
Roundworms or nematodes are cylindrical, tubular internal parasites with an opening on both ends. Their sizes vary, and bunnies can either be their definitive host or an intermediary host (such as having the larvae form of hookworms which are not common).
The exact symptoms of these shown by these worms may vary since there are many species that affect these pets. Common signs include diarrhea, the presence of some worms on poop, gas, GI stasis, emaciation, weakness, and so on depending if they are definitive species or not.
Worms in rabbit’s symptoms
Since there are various types which may have different symptoms, we have details on symptoms you expect for each type. We do not intend to give generalized symptoms as they do vary a lot.
Worms in rabbit treatments – do rabbits need worming (deworming)
How do you treat worms in rabbits? Treatment option will depend on if they are the definitive host or just an intermediary host. In most cases, when they are an intermediary host, treatment presents a lot of challenges.
Furthermore, since their diagnosis of worms in rabbits requires your vet, we recommend that you let your vet handle the diagnosis and recommend the right treatments.
General treatments include the following
- For pinworms – Treatment options include fenbendazole, mebendazole, and piperazine for rabbits, among others that your vet will recommend.
- Roundworms – They can be treated with fenbendazole, thiabendazole, or piperazine
- GI tapeworm – The use of praziquantel or niclosamide may be helpful
Finally, if you suspect that your bunnies are at risk of getting any of the worms, you should consider deworming them regularly as your vet will recommend.
Worms in rabbit’s skin
Any worm-like parasite on this animals skin could be any of the ectoparasites and most probably flystrike or myiasis which is a deadly parasitic maggot infestation cause various blowflies.
These flies will lay eggs on your bunny’s bottoms, or any other damp area and once the eggs hatch into larvae (maggots), they will begin feeding on your rabbits’ external debris before they begin burrowing into their flesh.
Can humans get worms from rabbits
If these parasites are specific to bunnies, they will hardly affect human beings. However, some of the worms that affect human being have the bun as their intermediary host.
Therefore, human will only get some species that affect human beings if they use rabbits as their intermediary host. For instance, some type of tapeworms may affect humans if they eat poorly cooked rabbit meat and not if they are pets.
Therefore, we can conclude that most types of adult worms in rabbits are not one of the zoonotic problems.
Worms in the rabbit cage
Unless found on freshly passed poop such as in the case of pinworms, it is not common to find adult species that affect this pet inside their cages or hutches. What you noticed could be maggot from flystrike, earthworms, or other types that may grow inside the poop trays or litter bins if the feces are not cleared away regularly.
Since they fecal droppings have a lot of nutrients, raising worms in rabbit manure is possible especially if you intend to use them elsewhere including as baits.
Can rabbits get heartworms
If you are worried about heartworms, you need to know that “rabbits and guinea pigs aren’t susceptible to these parasites, however, ferrets are!” 
How to prevent worms in rabbits
Prevention is always better than cure. Prevention involves the following protocols
- Disinfection and proper sanitation to kill any infective worms in food, water or environment depending on how the specific one is transmitted.
- Stopping definitive hosts such as dogs, cats, etc., from accessing a bunny’s grazing area or contaminating anything that your bunny may use.
- Isolation and treatment of an affected one and ensuring if this pet is the intermediary hosts, its carcasses are properly disposed of.
- Providing proper nutrition including foods that have a lot of hay that promotes a healthy gut, as well as other, provide vital nutrients.
These are some of the preventive measures to avoid these endoparasites that may affect this pet. Your vet will advise you in more ways.