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It’s a Warble! A “warble” is also known as a cerebra infection. Cuterebra are large flies whose larvae (small worms) infest the skin of rodents, squirrels, rabbits, dogs and cats. The female deposits eggs near the nests of rabbits or rodents. The larva, which look like small worms, hatch from the eggs when exposed to the heat of the nearby animal. After hatching, the larva migrate through the nose, mouth or skin wound of the rabbit or rodent and burrow under the skin. A cyst, with a hole in the center through which the larva’s head can be seen, forms around the larva. Cuterebra larva can grow up to 1 inch long and ½ inch in diameter. After about a month, the mature larva emerges from the cyst and burrows into the soil to pupate. After a variable pupation period, the adult fly emerges.
Dogs can acquire cuterebra larva after curious investigations of a rodent or rabbit den. By investigating the area, the dog may come in contact with cuterebra eggs or larva. Migration in the body occurs in the same way as in the rabbit or rodent. After migrating to the skin, the larva will form a breathing hole where pus drains from the skin to the outside.