Are You Doing Everything You Could be to Keep Your Rabbit Safe This Summer? -- The Carrot Tribune Extra Edition June 2019

The Carrot Tribune


Keep your Rabbit Safe this Summer

As the weather heats up after a rather wet winter, have you double-checked your mosquito control practices? How about control of other disease-spreading pests?

Santa Barbara County, like the rest of Southern California, has a fatal rabbit viral disease, myxomatosis, in our wild rabbits. Pet rabbits catch the disease after a bite from a mosquito or flea that has bitten a sick rabbit. Our Mosquito and Vector Control District of Santa Barbara monitors and controls mosquito populations.

We recently asked them for an update on mosquitoes. Here is the very helpful response of Brian Cabrera:

“Mosquitoes have been active locally in areas we'd expect such as around the Carpinteria salt marsh, the Devereaux lagoon, and around the airport plus more isolated spots such as private residences with standing water on site and near creek beds with pools of water. Activity should increase and become more widespread when the weather warms up. The last few months we have been dealing a lot with rats. One problem with rats is they have fleas and fleas can also vector the myxomatosis virus.

My advice to rabbit owners is to inspect their property and remove all standing and stagnant water which is the breeding source for mosquitoes. They should check and empty buckets, pots, containers, container lids, pans under potted plants, clogged rain gutters, rain barrels, tarps, toys and other household/garden items in the yard, tree holes, and plants, especially bromeliads, that can hold water. Discarded tires with water in them are notorious breeding sites for mosquitoes. Residents should also check bird baths, ponds, hot tubs that have not been used for a while and unmaintained swimming pools.

To reduce rat problems, clear out or thin shrubbery, ivy, and other thick vegetation, trim fruit trees, pick dropped fruit off the ground, make sure trash cans and compost bins have secure lids, don't leave pet food and water dishes out overnight, remove bird feeders or use bird feeders that rats can't climb onto and also clean up bird seed on the ground. (My wife had a bird feeder in our backyard but I removed it once I discovered rats were using it at night and I saw several rats on the ground below feeding on spilled bird seed).

If owners keep their bunnies indoors at night they should move them in before dusk and bring them out after dawn since most mosquitoes are active at dawn and dusk. If the bunnies are kept outdoors, they might consider covering the hutch or enclosure with screens or mosquito netting (make sure the bunnies can't reach the mosquito netting since I don't know if they'd try and chew it).

Residents from Rancho Embarcadero down to Carpinteria can also call the Mosquito District if they are having problems with mosquitoes or rats (for rats we will inspect and give advice but we don't provide any control services). We can also provide residents in these areas, plus unincorporated areas of the north county, with mosquitofish for small ponds and other small bodies of water (fish may not be immediately available due to high demand this year).”

Among the helpful brochures is this one: Are You Growing Mosquitoes in your Backyard? You might be surprised; take a look.

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