Do Rabbits Stink , why and how to keep them clean ?
You probably want to have one or more rabbits as pets and wonder if these little rodents don’t smell? will pet rabbits stink up your house ?
No, rabbits are great pets and especially very clean pets and spend most of their time keeping their fur clean and their habitat odorless so as not to attract predators. If a rabbit cage smells bad, know that it’s because of lack of cleaning, poor choice of litter, poor diet or disease.
If a rabbit cage smells bad, know that it’s because of lack of cleaning, bad choice of litter, bad diet or disease. Know that rabbits don’t smell as bad as cats and dogs and to know everything about why some rabbit cages smell bad and especially how to keep your rabbit clean, I invite you to continue reading.
What are the causes of bad smells in rabbit cages?
If someone tells you that they have had rabbits (especially if they are sterilized – between 6 and 12 months old) and that they smelled bad,
know that the most common reason is that this person is lazy because they probably neglected to clean the cage, if not that, It could also be the wrong choice of litter, an unsuitable litter box or placed in a bad place, or simply, the rabbit can dirty his cage because of diarrhea due to a bad diet or a disease, usually digestive.
The marking of the territory if you have several male rabbits, not sterilized, in the same cage can be the cause of bad smells or simply there is no hierarchy established in the cage and the rabbits are deciding who would be the leader, so they urinate a little bit everywhere, they also urinate a little too much because of stress and to assert their dominance.
If your rabbit’s cage smells bad despite your efforts, consider training your rabbit(s) to relieve themselves in the litter boxes and we’ll see towards the end of this article.
A Rabbit can give off a musky smell if he is in heat when there is a female in the litter box and he is not sterilized, if not only an infection like an ear infection could smell in your rabbit if he doesn’t have paws full of urine because of your procrastination of course.
I will talk about this at the end of this article, but you should know that a rabbit’s droppings only smell if you really bring your nose close to them, unless your rabbit has intestinal parasites, his droppings may smell a little worse in that case or any other disease.
The same goes for your rabbit’s urine, males have a stronger smelling urine than female rabbits, this urine is used by male rabbits to mark their territory, but if you have a good litter and your rabbit is healthy, you will generally not smell it especially outside the summer season.
How do you keep your rabbit clean and not Stinky?
To keep your rabbit clean and smelling good, get used to small daily cleanings and big weekly cleanings, but not only that! Here is what you have to do to keep your rabbit always clean and never smelly:
1- Choose the right litter to keep your rabbit clean:
Choosing the wrong litter for your rabbit is the most common cause of bad smells and smelly rabbit cages, because a good litter makes sense:
- Be pleasant for your rabbit
- Be very absorbent for your urine
- Being highly absorbent and odor capturing
- Being edible is healthy for your rabbit.
- Cheap and easy to clean
Here is the list of litter boxes that you should never use in the litter box or in the litter box of your rabbit if you don’t want it to smell bad:
The worst kind of litter is the wood shavings litter, it gives off an odor that is toxic to your rabbit’s respiratory system and it can cause liver disease if ingested.
Don’t forget that it is not absorbent, it does not trap odors and it is very volatile and your rabbit will scatter it all over the house and the urine and bad odors at the same time.
Other litters to avoid for your rabbit are :
- Paper litter and torn paper, they contain toxic anchors (not too absorbent and they stick to the paws and fur of your rabbit).
- Mineral litter for cats
- Corn straw bedding and straw in general (alone) (indigestible and not absorbent).
- Sand litter (not absorbent and too abrasive for your rabbit’s paws).
- Clay litter (too dusty and expensive too).
What are the recommended litters to keep my rabbit clean?
For a clean rabbit and a cage, it is preferable to use litter such as vegetable cat litter if you already have some at home or combine hay (good quality fine straw) with a wood pellet or straw base, you can use firewood pellets (to absorb urine and capture odors but you must cover them with hay or fine straw because they are not comfortable for your rabbit).
Or what I recommend to you is to choose the hemp litter (Amazon link ) , very absorbent, not very volatile and very aesthetic without forgetting that it is not expensive at all, especially if you buy it in large quantities (it will take at least two inches of this litter in the litter box or tray and this every 24 hours).
There is also another litter that I recommend you but a little more expensive and not always available is the famous litter based on cellulose pulp (Amazon link ) (Carefresh), it is ideal, very absorbent and retains bad smells without forgetting that it is a very soft and really nice litter that your rabbit will really love.
That counts because if he doesn’t feel well in his litter box , your rabbit will go to another place in the cage or in the room to relieve himself and that’s the beginning of the hygiene problems,
So these are the litter boxes that I recommend if you want your rabbit’s cage (Amazon link ) not to smell like urine and to keep your rabbit clean.
Let’s move now on to another very important element for the cleanliness of your rabbit and that you must choose with great care, I am talking about the Litter Box:
2-To keep your rabbit clean, choose your rabbit Litter-box :
What’s the point of installing a tray or a litter box in your rabbit’s cage or in his room if he doesn’t use it? That’s why you must choose the tray of your rabbit, here are some tips:
- Avoid small corner boxes, unless it is big enough for your rabbit !
- Your rabbit’s litter box should be at least twice the width ( the size ) of your rabbit so that it can be easily turned inside out.
- The tray should not be too high, but high enough to hold the litter and droppings of your rabbit.
- Make sure the bin has an easy entrance if your rabbit is old and consider a wide enough bin if you have two or more rabbits.
Once you’ve chosen the ideal Litter Box for your rabbit (Amazon link ) , it’s time to choose the location of the bin.
3-Choose the right place (es) your rabbit’s litter box (es) to keep the cage clean:
Your rabbit will usually choose the place or places where you will install the litter box, because the best place to install his litter box is where he usually put his droppings and urinate!
If you have just installed your rabbit, put the bin in a quiet corner, a little out of sight, you can even hide it a little bit under a piece of sheet, rabbits love privacy.
If not, you can use this trick and install your rabbit’s litter box directly under his hay rack, that’s where he spends most of his time and once he is used to his litter box, he won’t go to relieve himself elsewhere but just where he eats, you must of course clean his litter box every day and change the litter once every two or three days at the most.
The most important thing is to install the litter boxes in the places where your rabbit has chosen as toilet areas, don’t put the litter boxes far from the rack and make sure that they are easy to access too.
Once your rabbit has become accustomed to the location of its litter box, do never change its location and when you enlarge the habitat or the perimeter of your rabbit like letting it go to another room, you will install a new litter box in that room, put some of your rabbit’s droppings in it and if it has chosen another place to relieve itself, place your litter box in it to encourage it to pee and relieve itself in the litter box to avoid bad smell and make it easier to clean behind your rabbit.
Once you have chosen the right litter , litter box and have gotten your rabbit used to using it for its needs, we will talk a little bit about the most important point if you want to prevent your rabbit and its cage from smelling bad, this point is the cleaning.
4-The right cleaning to avoid that your rabbit smells bad:
Rabbits that live inside the house, generally live in cages, and even if these cages are large enough, they remain delimited and too small and insufficient for a rabbit that is supposed to have a whole meadow as a habitat !
Since the rabbit has only the space of his cage to live and do his business, it is necessary to clean at least the litter box daily ! yes every day and see twice a day when it’s hot and the cage of your rabbit is in your room or your children’s room !
So you will empty the litter box every day and put a new litter box after you have washed with soap and water the tray or the litter box, you will also have to disinfect and deodorize the litter box by pouring white vinegar in it and let it act for a few minutes (5 to 10) and if you notice lime stains in the tray, add Sodium Bicarbonate with white vinegar and clean everything before putting a new litter box.
So a little cleaning every day of your rabbit’s litter box and finish by passing a cloth soaked in white vinegar through the box to remove the smell of urine.
Then clean the entire cage once a week with hot water and soap and also wipe the cage with a cloth soaked in white vinegar to remove odors from your rabbit’s cage.
Also remember to mix 50% water with 50% white vinegar and spray it on all the parts of your rabbits cage after you have taken them and their food and water away from there so they don’t breathe the mixture. This will reduce or at least remove the bad smells from the cage.
5-Litter box training a rabbit
Yes, you heard me right, you must train or at least encourage your rabbit to relieve himself only in his litter box.
It’s a little bit similar to the guinea pig potty training, once you’ve installed your rabbit’s litter box in the place where he does most of his needs, you will encourage him to use his litter box every time he needs to pee or to put some droppings in his litter box.
You will start by defining a territory , a home for your rabbit, or simply buy him his own cage and install his litter box in the corner where he is used to relieve himself.
It is best to always leave or put some droppings in the litter box after you replace it so that the rabbit can smell them and relieve itself in the same place, i.e. in the litter box (the first days of training, leave the droppings in the litter box for 24 hours so that the rabbit understands that it is the toilet area).
Plan to install your rabbit’s litter box right under the hay rack.
Encourage your rabbit to relieve himself in the litter box and pick up any droppings that he accidentally or awkwardly places outside the litter box and put them back in.
If you catch your rabbit defecating outside the litter box, grab your rabbit and gently put him in the litter box so that he can finish his business inside.
If, on the other hand, you catch your rabbit relieving himself in the litter box, reward him with a small treat, a piece of apple for example, and a lot of caressing, he will finally understand why, rabbits are very intelligent.
If your rabbit is outside its litter box to mark its territory for example, clean the area with white vinegar and if you catch it doing so, take it quickly and put it back in its litter box.
If your rabbit finds litter outside of the litter box, he may understand that it is also a toilet area, so avoid putting litter outside of the litter box, you can line the cage with an old linen mat, towels or another type of litter different from the litter box so that your rabbit can make the difference.
Note also that if your rabbit urinates a little bit everywhere in the litter box it could be a urinary infection and you will have to treat your rabbit in this case.
Remember to change your rabbit’s litter box with a litter box that has a higher border if he urinates right next to it or if he throws his litter outside of his litter box.
6- Monitor the quality of your rabbit’s droppings and urine to detect possible health problems that could be precursors of bad odors in the cage:
Yes, it’s not over yet, and in order to keep your rabbit clean you will have to monitor the quality and appearance of its droppings and the color of its urine to make sure that your rabbit is doing well, because the droppings of a sick rabbit smell more than those of a healthy rabbit.
So what to watch for and what signs to look for in your rabbit’s droppings and urine?
Sorry but it is necessary to have a scientific spirit when you have a rabbit at home, moreover the droppings of rabbits are not so dirty as that, you will thus analyze them and do not forget that these droppings and its litter are an excellent manure for your plants thus think of making compost with that.
The droppings of your rabbit should not be too soft but rather a little dry, and if you notice any sign of diarrhea, just give your rabbit hay and water for at least two days.
Also, if there are no worms (usually white in color) on your rabbit’s droppings, your veterinarian will probably prescribe a deworming treatment.
Also, make sure that your rabbit does not suffer from constipation, you will notice that there are not as many droppings in the litter box as in the previous days, a lack of fiber and a food too rich in starch and sugar (too much fruit, carrots for example) could be the cause, consider foods and vegetables rich in fiber.
Concerning the color of your rabbit’s urine, it should be orange and a little reddish. You should be concerned if your rabbit’s urine is whitish (risk of kidney stones) or red (sign of blood in the queen) and in this case you should take your rabbit to see its Vet.
7-Ventilate the room of your rabbit to get rid of the smell of ammonia
It is also a good habit to ventilate the room where you have installed your rabbit, so that the air circulates and evacuates any possible bad smell that could escape from the cage.
Just remember to cover half of your rabbit’s cage with a sheet before you open the windows, and cover the whole cage in winter and if it is very cold outside so that your rabbit doesn’t catch a cold.
Do not forget to take your rabbit out for a walk in your garden or in front of the house, don’t forget his harness so that he doesn’t escape and cross the road for example, this will help him to have a better intestinal transit and avoid digestive diseases and the accumulation of gas in the intestine and farts in the house afterwards.
8- A bath for your rabbit?
Yes, you can give your rabbit a bath if necessary ( not really recommended ! ) , it’s not easy for rabbits like the angora breed for example, but if his fur is rather short, and he has diarrhea, a partial bath to clean his bottom and hind legs is to be considered to avoid infections and bad smells afterwards…
Consider putting some smelly plants near the cage of your rabbits to reduce possible bad smells
If you are allergic (to hay for example) or you have respiratory problems (such as asthma), you can use an air purifier if your apartment is also small, if not, you can simply hide the little smell that could emanate from the cage of your rabbits by placing next to the cage on a bench a little over high some houseplants, fragrant and especially not toxic in case your rabbits nibbling some stems.
The inguinal glands (Scent Glands) can smell bad in the rabbit in some cases
These two glands are located on each side of the rabbit’s penis or vulva, they can also become full when the rabbit feels obliged to mark its territory, in this case they produce a very strong musky smell, but if your rabbit is alone or does not have to defend its territory, you will never smell them, but you can clean them and get rid of this smell if necessary with a cotton swab.
You can also during this period of marking (of rut or territorial quarrels) in your rabbits, to deposit in their cage a bowl filled with white vinegar, cover it with a grid and make that your rabbits cannot overturn it, this vinegar will absorb the odors even before they leave the cage.
Let’s wrap this up
Rabbits are very clean pets and they only smell bad if their cage is left dirty, so it’s never their fault and if you want a clean and odorless pet that you will put in your room, like the guinea pig, the rabbit is a good candidate provided that you respect the conditions of good hygiene that I quoted in this article.
As far as I’m concerned, I can tell you that cats and dogs can smell stronger than rabbits and even if rabbits smell a little bit, it’s really worth it to bear the smell, they are really cute, beautiful and nice and they will really fill your heart with joy, so don’t hesitate to adopt a rabbit if you feel like it, they are excellent pets.