Rabbits are sociable animals that can make excellent pets. Before you adopt a rabbit, you might be wondering whether they smell.
Do Rabbits Smell? Rabbits will only start to smell when their living conditions get dirty or if they become ill . Any bad odor is most likely a result of improper care.
Rabbits are very clean animals that like to groom themselves frequently. They have odorless fur and will only really start to smell if their cage gets too dirty or if they become ill.
READ MORE: How Much Exercise Do Rabbits Need Daily?
Table of Contents
Do Rabbits Smell?
Rabbits are not known for smelling bad. Any odor is probably a result of improper care. Many factors can make your rabbit smell.
When your rabbit’s cage, living area, and litter box are dirty, there is likely to be an unpleasant smell associated.
To help reduce the smell, make sure you’re cleaning all these areas regularly. To do this, you will need to make sure you are frequently spot and deep cleaning those areas.
It will also help keep your rabbit healthy and happy!
Having your rabbit spayed or neutered can help keep the smell under control. It will reduce the unpleasant odor in the urine and stop the male rabbits from marking territory to curb constant urination.
Your rabbit could also be ill. One way to tell if your rabbit is ill is by its feces. Rabbit’s feces are usually almost odorless and are small, round pellets that should be moderately firm and dry.
Suppose you notice that your rabbit’s feces are watery or have an unpleasant odor. Your rabbit could be ill. If the symptoms continue, a trip to your vets would be a good idea.
Another factor that can make your rabbit smell is its urine. Most of the time, the smell produced by rabbits comes from their urine.
The male rabbits use urine to mark their territory ; hence, they urinate more often and produce more scents.
Whereas female rabbits produce less pungent urine than male rabbits.
To reduce the pungent smell of your rabbit’s urine, you can get a litter box that is very effective at reducing odor.
Rabbits are fond of using a particular spot to relieve themselves. You can litter train your rabbit to use the litter box, which will help reduce the unpleasant odor.
Take a look at this video tips to reduce the rabbit’s smell.
Litters with baking soda, a natural odor removal,  can be effective in keeping the smell down a bit.
To keep the smell to a minimum, it is a good idea to experiment with different types of beddings. Some beddings are more absorbent than others and will help keep your rabbit’s cage smelling fresh.
You can also buy scented bedding to help cover the smells even more!
Your rabbit can also give off an unpleasant smell if it is sick or it has an infection. For instance, an ear infection can produce a musty smell, and if you notice this, it is advisable to visit the vet.
What to Do If Your Rabbit Smells?
Rabbits spend a lot of time grooming themselves. If your rabbit is in a clean cage and it is healthy without any infection, you shouldn’t notice any unpleasant smell coming from it at all.
However, if you notice that your rabbit gives off an unpleasant smell, it could be a sign that something is wrong with your rabbit due to poor hygiene, improper care, or infections.
To know the cause of the unpleasant odor, take your rabbit away from its cage.
This will enable you to know the actual cause of the smell.
You can sniff your rabbit to know if it is smelly.
To prevent your rabbit from smelling, you need to make sure you regularly spot clean their cage and deep clean it when it’s needed.
A smelly rabbit can result from a smelly cage most of the time. If you notice that the cage gives off a bad odor, it is advisable to clean it thoroughly before returning your rabbit inside it.
This is very important because of the health and hygiene of your rabbit.
In a case where it is your rabbit that is dirty and has an unpleasant smell, you can clean it with cornstarch and a comb.
A wet bath can make your rabbit get cold, which might negatively affect your rabbit.
Instead of dumping water all over its body, you can sprinkle some cornstarch over the dirty areas of its fur to draw out moisture before using a comb to remove any mud or dirt stuck in its fur.
Trim your rabbit’s fur if you notice that waste gets stuck on it.
If your rabbit is getting urine or droppings stuck in its fur, you can use a comb to brush away the waste before cleaning the rabbit with a slightly wet cloth.
Also, you can clean the area surrounding your rabbit’s anus as there might be a build-up of excretion, which can cause an unpleasant odor. Check the anal gland and make sure that the place is clean.
Getting your rabbit spayed (female) or neutered (male) can help reduce the unpleasant smell in its urine.
It will also help remove the musky smell from a male rabbit and increase your rabbit’s overall well-being and lifespan.
Take your rabbit to an experienced veterinarian if it still smells after necessary precautions have been taken. It might be a sign of an infection or an open wound.
Always take your rabbit to the vet if you notice anything wrong.
How Often Should You Clean Your Rabbits Cage?
Now you wonder, “How often should I clean my rabbits cage?”
Rabbits are clean creatures. They usually choose one or two areas in their cage to relieve themselves.
As a result, it will be much easier for you to clean your rabbit’s cage every day by simply cleaning the litter box in the cage every day and cleaning the entire cage at least once a week.
A clean environment will make your rabbit healthier and reduce the likelihood of getting an infection.
It is imperative to clean your rabbit’s cage regularly. If your rabbit is still very young, it is advisable to clean the cage thoroughly every day.
But, if your rabbit is older and litter trained, you might have to clean the litter box daily and change the lining and bedding of the cage at least once a week.
Some bad-smelling substances can seep into the cage even if you clean out soiled hay each morning. Hence, the need to clean the whole cage thoroughly at least once a week for the well-being of your rabbit.
How to Clean Your Rabbits Cage
Keeping your rabbit healthy and happy can be achieved by keeping its living area clean and free from unpleasant odor.
Please take out the litter box every day and clean it before returning it inside the cage. Replace soiled hay each morning and replace it with new hay for your rabbit to sit in.
If your rabbit is litter trained, it will reduce your work as you will only have to clean the litter box every day instead of taking out all the hay and replacing it with new ones.
To clean your rabbit’s cage, take out your rabbit and other accessories inside your rabbit’s cage.
Clean the cage thoroughly by scrubbing the cage down with soapy water and white vinegar to disinfect the cage. After which, you will rinse it thoroughly with clean water.
Take a look at this video to see how should your rabbit’s cage be cleaned.
Also, clean your rabbit’s food bowl and water bowl when you clean the cage. Leave the cage to dry in the sun for about 3 to 4 hours, depending on the sun’s intensity.
When properly dry, put some fresh hay inside the cage and return your rabbit and other accessories inside the cage.
If you don’t allow the cage to dry properly before returning hay inside it, the hay might begin to rot and give off an unpleasant smell.
Therefore, it is important to feel the inside of the cage for any dampness and leave it to dry properly if it is still wet.
I Have Cleaned My Rabbits Cage And They Still Smell!
Some factors can make your rabbit still smell even after cleaning its cage. One of them is your rabbit’s fur getting stained with urine.
It is not uncommon for a rabbit to still have an unpleasant odor when its cage has been cleaned. If urine is stuck to the fur of your rabbit, it might be the cause of the offensive smell.
Clean the fur with cornstarch and comb out the dirty or smelly area.
Another cause for the smell might be the anal glands of your rabbit. If you notice any brown color around your rabbit’s anus, it might be an indication that the anal glands need to be cleaned.
A brown build-up around your rabbit’s anus can give off an unpleasant smell. Wipe the area with a mildly damp cloth to remove the coloration. You should clean your rabbit’s anal gland once a month.
Another reason your rabbit might have an unpleasant odor could be due to excessive consumption of basil .
When feeding your rabbit with basil, it is important to observe how it responds to it.
Your rabbit can also smell as a result of infection.
A terrible ear infection can make your rabbit start to smell.
In a case like this, it is advisable to take your rabbit to the veterinarian to get it treated.
Remember, a healthy rabbit is a happy rabbit.
Should I Bathe My Rabbits If They Smell?
Most times, rabbits clean themselves up. They take care of all the cleaning.
However, there are times when you must take over the cleaning process for the safety and well-being of your rabbit.
Sometimes, your rabbit might get runny stool stuck to its anus, and if it doesn’t clean it, you will have to clean it up.
If your rabbit is dirty in the anal area, it can attract flies and other insects, which could lay eggs on your rabbit’s fur and make it prone to diseases.
You can use a damp washcloth to clean your rabbit’s bottom carefully.
When your rabbit is very dirty and smelly, you can bathe it in extreme situations. But, you must know that rabbits don’t like water and being inside water can make them stressed.
As much as possible, it is advisable to avoid bathing your rabbit. But in a situation when it is unavoidable, make sure that your rabbit doesn’t get completely wet.
If your rabbit gets completely wet, it can easily catch a cold since rabbits take longer to dry. A dry bath is the best option for a rabbit.
If your rabbit smells, use pure unscented cornstarch. Do not use baby powder as it might harm your rabbit’s respiratory system.
Massage the cornstarch into the fur of your rabbit and use a grooming comb to brush out the dirt gently.
Since cornstarch absorbs moisture, it will give your rabbit a soothing feeling as you rub it into its fur.
READ MORE: Why Do Rabbits Bite?
Can I litter train my rabbit?
Yes, rabbits can be litter trained, and it usually isn’t that difficult. Place a litter box in the corner of their cage (in their latrine area), and they will learn how to use it.
Do indoor rabbits need bedding?
Yes, indoor rabbits still need bedding inside their cage. Good beddings are stawed, hay, paper pellets, wood pellets, towels, and fleece mats.
Should I neuter or spay my rabbits?
It is advisable to neuter and spay your rabbits. Un-neutered male rabbits have a pungent smell, while unsprayed female rabbits might develop uterine cancer and die early.
- 1. Suitable environment for rabbits | nidirect [Internet]. nidirect. 2019. Available from: https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/articles/suitable-environment-rabbits
- 2. BLACK-CLEWORTH P, VERBERNE G. SCENT-MARKING, DOMINANCE AND FLEHMEN BEHAVIOR IN DOMESTIC RABBITS IN AN ARTIFICIAL LABORATORY TERRITORY. Chemical Senses. 1975;1:465–94.
- 3. Baking Soda –The Everyday Miracle TM [Internet]. Available from: https://oconto.extension.wisc.edu/files/2011/02/Baking-Soda.pdf
- 4. Rabbit Nutrition: What You Need to Know [Internet]. 2009. Available from: https://anrcatalog.ucanr.edu/pdf/8376.pdf
Do rabbits smell? What about your little bunnies? Please share with us below!
Andreea is a very passionate content creator and her purpose is to provide you with the most interesting articles, while constantly discovering new facts. She’s been freelance writing for the past five years and has created numerous articles and educational materials while managing her own mom blog.
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