Pet Rabbit Smells Bad? The truth about rabbit odor.

Pet Rabbit Smells Bad? The truth about rabbit odor.

Disclosure: We may earn money or products from the companies mentioned in this post.

Every living thing has some smell, and this includes pet rabbits. But do pet rabbits stink? In this article, we’ll dig into the details about how much rabbits smell, but let’s get the basic answer out of the way before we go into the details about rabbit odor.

Rabbits do not usually have body odor and thus, when properly taken care of, don’t present this problem. This does not mean however that they are entirely scentless, it’s just that compared to other pets rabbits smell considerably less.

There are, however, instances when rabbits can become smelly and they also have some bad habits that can stink up a home. In this article, I will be discussing rabbit odors. MY family and I have kept rabbits for decades and we’re happy to share our experience with you.

Image of lady holding her nose while smelling a stinky rabbit
Do rabbits smell bad?

How Much Do Rabbits Smell

Compared to other pets, rabbits hardly stink. They have very little body odor and are quite fastidious self groomers. In addition, their poop doesn’t really smell strong. However, rabbit urine can be quite stinky. However, your rabbit’s urine odor can be controlled.

Rabbits also do not need to take a bath unlike other pets such as dogs. Rabbits and cats are similar in that they both groom themselves constantly.

Rabbits are meticulous groomers. They will use their tongues to clean every spot on their body that they can reach, and will then lick their paws and rub their wet paws on areas they can’t reach with their tongue.

However, although rabbits are generally clean animals, the cleanliness of their environment and their health play a huge role in their remaining stink-free.

Image of rabbit smelling bad.
Image of a rabbit grooming itself so it doesn’t smell bad.

Causes Of A Rabbit Smelling Bad

Multiple factors can cause your rabbit to stink.  The list of the most common reasons are as follows:

1. Urine Spraying 

I mentioned that male rabbits tend to smell more than female rabbits. This is because unneutered males will often spray their urine all around to mark their territories, even if they are litter box trained. This is one of the destructive behaviors rabbits can develop when they are not sexually fixed. 

Rabbits who are also not spayed or neutered will scatter their droppings to mark it as their territory. Rabbits’ fecal pellets don’t smell but they could be a chore to clean up.

Getting your rabbits sexually fixed this problem and will happily keep them odor-free 

2. Dirty Hutch

When rabbits sleep, they often poop and sometimes pee, which is going to need to be cleaned up regularly. We aim to replace or rabbits’ bedding about once a week.

Not only does the urine stink, but the wet bedding material will begin to mold and mildew and make the whole hutch smell.

And if your bunny is sleeping in stinky bedding, that stink will rub off on them.

3. Dirty Litter Box 

As a rule of thumb, bunny litter boxes should be cleaned every other day if a single rabbit is using them. However, if more rabbits are sharing a litter box then it should be cleaned more often.

Unclean litter boxes will not only make your rabbit stink, but they would also make your rabbit prone to getting its fur wet. A wet/moist/damp fur is dangerous to rabbits as these are ideal breeding places for bacteria and fungi. 

4. Anal Scent Glands 

Rabbits have two scent glands. One can be found below their chins and the other can be found in their backside, very near their anus. The scent glands under their chins don’t smell but the scent glands on their bums can cause a rabbit to smell bad. 

Fecal material like cecotropes can be stuck in the fur around their anus.

5. Elderly/Obese Rabbits 

Normally rabbits keep their bottom clean, but if a rabbit is obese, ill, or if it’s an elderly rabbit they might need your help to keep their but clean. This does not mean dunking them in water but rather spot cleaning their anal glands using a Qtips, damp cloth to remove any matter that can cling on their fur.

P.S. If you’d like to learn more, here is a link to an article about bathing your rabbit.

6. Infections 

Infections can also make your rabbit stink. Rabbits can develop ear infections which is a common cause for a stinking rabbit. Cleaning your rabbit ears is very important to avoid mites and bacteria from growing.

You can easily clean a rabbit’s ears, and you should do so regularly. It’s so important that we have a dedicated article with a whole section on cleaning your rabbit’s ears.

7. Diarrhea

Normal rabbit stool should not smell but diarrhea does. Runny stools can stick to your rabbit’s fur causing them to smell.

Diarrhea is not normal for a healthy rabbit. If your rabbit suffers from diarrhea you should take them to your rabbit vet immediately. Diarrhea can be fatal to rabbits 

8. Ear Mites

It is not uncommon for a rabbit to get ear mites if they spend time outside or with animals that venture outside. Ear mites are highly contagious.

These tiny parasites called Psoroptes cuniculiis look like black dots inside your rabbit’s ears and can cause not only discomfort, potential infections, but they will most definitely cause your rabbit’s ears to smell.

If you see signs of ear mites, you should visit your rabbit’s veterinarian.

9. Fleas

Rabbits can get fleas just like any other mammal. This is seldom a problem for indoor rabbits, but for bunnies that spend time outdoors, it can become a problem.

Fleas can irritate your bunny’s skin and cause infections that can cause them to smell bad.

Your veterinarian can help you get rid of fleas on your rabbit, but you’re going to have to do the hard work to get them out of your home.

Here is a link to an article we wrote about treating rabbit fleas.


Image of a rabbit cleaning herself so she doesn't smell bad.
Image of a rabbit embarrassed for smelling bad.

What Should I Do If My Rabbit Stinks? 

It is not normal for a healthy rabbit to stink. If your rabbit smells bad, you must identify what unnatural or unhealthy condition is causing the bad odor.

If your rabbit’s smell is largely due to health problems then getting them to the vet ASAP will help solve the problem. Infections if caught and treated early might just pose a short nuisance to your pet but an infection left to fester can be fatal to your rabbits. 

Keep in mind that rabbits do not have a strong bunny scent and their scent should never be so strong enough as to be bothersome. Cleanliness and a proper diet will keep your rabbits stink-free for as long as they live. 

Do Male Or Female Rabbits Smell More?

Generally, males are more smelly than rabbits, especially if they are not neutered. I will be getting into the different reasons why a pet rabbit can stink later in this article. 

Does Rabbit Poop Smell Bad?

A healthy rabbit that eats a high-quality bunny diet will have small round poop that is very hard and has almost no odor. If your rabbit has diarrhea, that poop can really smell bad. Diarrhea is a serious health concern for rabbits, and you should see your vet ASAP.

Rabbit Smell Vs Dog Smell

Rabbits smell considerably less than dogs. Rabbits spend a significant amount of their time grooming themselves and therefore have basically no body odor. Dogs on the other hand smell like dogs, and we all know that odor. There is not a quintessential rabbit odor.

Dogs are notorious for having that very distinct doggy smell that gets in our clothes, furniture, and even our hands. While this scent isn’t necessarily stinky some people do not like the scent especially when it transfers to our furniture.

Dogs usually smell because they sweat lightly through their paw pads and the follicles of their hair. Rabbits don’t have sweat glands, instead, your bunny’s ears provide amazing thermoregulation to control their body temperature. 

Rabbit ears are not just for show. Ever wondered why rabbits who live in tropical areas tend to have bigger ears than those who do not? Ears are great thermoregulation for rabbits. It allows them to conserve and release heat therefore keeping them cool during summer and warm during winters. 

Rabbit ears are made up of complex nerves and blood vessels that contract depending on a rabbit’s need. When a rabbit is cold, these nerves close up thus heat is trapped inside the rabbit’s body. If they are feeling extremely hot these blood vessels open us allowing for heat to escape and keeping the body of the rabbit cool. This is the reason why rabbits found in tropical areas have bigger ears than others. 

This thermoregulation capacity of rabbits does not produce any scent. Therefore, unlike dogs, rabbits do not have a very distinct “Rabbit Smell”. 

P.S. Here is a link to an article that goes into greater detail about why a rabbit’s ears might hot or cold to the touch.

A rabbit’s poop doesn’t have any strong odor, unlike dog poop. Rabbit urine does stink, but so does dog urine. Rabbit urine stinks about the same amount as dog urine.

Rabbit Smell Vs Cat Smell

Rabbits don’t smell worse than cats. Bunnies take their grooming very seriously, just as cats do. However, it is also true for both animals that they can smell. For cats, their feces tend to give off a very strong smell. This is the reason why cat litter always comes scented or at least with some form of odor control. Cat urine can also cause them to stink up. 

For rabbits, their feces should not generally stink.

Rabbits produce two kinds of feces 1.) Fecal Pellets 2.) Cecotropes.

Normal fecal pellets are the hard, and circular fecal matter that rabbits produce in large numbers. Rabbits can produce 100 pellets in a day, fortunately, while they might be many they rarely stink because these are just made up of hay and fiber.

Cecotropes are long and mushy fecal matter that rabbits produce now and then, they do stink a bit but rabbits eat them as they get energy from them so it shouldn’t be a big problem around your homes. 

Rabbit urine stinks and it also tends to stain. The scent of their urine is often described as ammonia-like and pungent.  This could be one of the causes for your rabbit’s smell and could easily pervade the smell of your home. I will get more into this topic in the next section. 


Conclusion: 

Have you had any problems with your rabbits suddenly stinking? What was the cause and what did you do to address the problem? Share your personal stories + tips and tricks in the comments below! 

Stacey

My name is Stacey Davis and my family has kept rabbits for decades. Here on RabbitPros.com we share our love of rabbits, our experience, and lots of research to help you enjoy your pet bunny even more.

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