There is no doubt that rabbits make great pets. They’re friendly, can be cuddly, and are loads of fun to watch. But one of the biggest questions I hear has to do with how rabbits smell. While I have my own opinions on that, to give you the best answer possible, I’ve scoured the internet and spoken with veterinarians and rabbit owners alike.
Do rabbits stink as pets? No, not usually. Like cats, rabbits spend the majority of their time grooming themselves. Most rabbit owners say that their rabbits do not smell. Their fur is clean and soft, and as long as the cage is clean, it doesn’t stink either.
There are a handful of caveats to this answer, so be sure to read the rest of the article. I’ve covered every aspect and answered every question regarding whether rabbits stink as pets or not, so let’s get to it!
Do Rabbits Smell Bad As Pets?
Every rabbit owner that I have spoken to has said the same thing. Their rabbits simply do not stink. It makes sense, considering rabbits spend so much time grooming themselves.
Also, because rabbits are prey animals, it wouldn’t make sense if they smelled bad enough for predators to get an easy whiff of. If rabbits were smelly, their species wouldn’t last very long at all!
As pets, rabbits can be even cleaner than they would be in the wild. They don’t have to spend as much time digging in the dirt, running from predators, or foraging for food. That leaves much more time for personal grooming.
During my research to answer this question, I came across this silly thread on Reddit.com. All these owners are talking about how wonderful and sweet their rabbits smell.
Of course, what an animal smells like—whether that’s pleasant or pungent—has a lot to do with personal taste. Some people just don’t like animals and will always say that they stink. But as far as animal lovers go, the consensus seems to be that rabbits do not smell bad.
Do Rabbits Have A Body Odor?
Technically speaking, everything has an odor of some kind. No matter how clean you are, for example, you have a smell. The same thing goes for rabbits.
When you walk into the house of someone who owns dogs, it’s pretty obvious dogs live there. Dogs have a distinctive odor that most people can recognize. For rabbit owners, it’s not the same. Most rabbit owners and veterinarians report that healthy rabbits don’t have a naturally strong body odor.
The exception to this rule is that rabbits can begin to smell a little rancid after a while. This has more to do with cage hygiene than the rabbit itself. Sick rabbits can also have bad body odor.
It is worth noting that a male rabbit, called a buck, will often give off a musky odor when there is a female rabbit nearby. This is the only time that a rabbit should have a smell.
A good rule of thumb is that if your rabbit is stinky, and it’s not a buck near a female, there’s something wrong.
Do Rabbits Have Scent Glands
Yes, rabbits have scent glands. They are located under their chin and in their genital area. You should make scent gland cleaning a regular part of your rabbit’s grooming.
This video below shows you how to do it quickly and safely.
How Often Should I Smell My Rabbit?
This question has two answers which depend on what your intentions are.
First, you shouldn’t really be able to smell your rabbit at all. What I mean by that is that you should not be able to smell any foul body odor on your rabbit. If you do, there is a problem. You’ll need to figure out why your rabbit smells bad.
The second answer is that you should smell your rabbit every day. What I mean is that you should give your rabbit a little sniff each day. By giving your rabbit a quick whiff every day, you can usually detect serious health conditions before they become life-threatening.
Also, according to many rabbit owners, simply nuzzling and smelling a clean pet rabbit is great for your health. It can reduce stress—for you and your rabbit, too!
Should I See A Vet If My Rabbit Smells?
Yes, you should see a vet if your pet rabbit smells bad. A foul odor is often the first sign of medical problems in a rabbit.
Like many mammals, rabbits are very good at hiding when they don’t feel well. They may act completely normal, but if they have an unusual odor, it may be a sign of health problems. I’m assuming that you checked your cage hygiene first. Does the litter need to be changed? Is there a dried spot of urine somewhere that you missed? As long as the cage and the environment are clean, and your rabbit still smells bad, definitely call the vet.
Do Rabbits Smell Because of Urine and Litter Box?
Most complaints of bad rabbit smells have more to do with the litter box or a dirty cage than the rabbit itself. If left alone, urine and feces can build up in the litter box and cage. That buildup can attract bacteria, which in turn, create a foul odor.
A properly cleaned litter box, however, shouldn’t smell at all. If you notice an odor in your rabbit’s litter box after you have cleaned it out, it may be time to get a new litter box. Sometimes, odors can seep into the box itself. No amount of cleaning can get that smell out.
That said, fresh rabbit urine, especially from a buck, can smell very strongly. The smell should dissipate rather quickly. But it’s important to know that bucks often use urine to mark their territory. It’s not a good idea to let an intact buck run loose in your house. He may decide to mark your furniture.
Do Rabbits Poo and Wee Everywhere
Yes, rabbits can poo and wee everywhere, but they don’t have to.
Many rabbit owners like to let their pets run free in the house. I found out pretty quickly that it’s a bad idea to do this until your rabbit has been litter trained.
Yes, you read that right. You can train a rabbit to use a litter box just like a cat. They’re actually very intelligent animals and they do want to please you, much like dogs.
A good friend of mine was able to litter train her young rabbit in less than two weeks! Your rabbit may learn faster or slower; just be patient and persistent.
Should I keep My Rabbit Outside or Inside?
Where you keep your pet rabbit is a personal choice. Rabbits can thrive indoors or outdoors.
I know lots of people who have decided to leave their pet rabbits outside in a specially-constructed rabbit hutch. They provide plenty of warmth, access to the front lawn for grazing, and a secure and safe environment.
I also know plenty of people who keep their rabbits inside. While indoor rabbits don’t have the same access to grazing areas as outdoor rabbits do, it’s easy enough to provide them appropriate greens.
If you’re concerned about possible rabbit smells in your house, keeping your rabbits outdoors is a better idea. If you don’t mind taking care of a litter box every day, then keeping your rabbits indoors is fine too.
How To Maintain Good Rabbit Hygiene?
It is imperative to keep your rabbit’s cage cleaned. You should clean the litter box in their cage every day. A weekly scrub of the main enclosure can help clean up any spills or accidents you may have missed during litter cleaning.
If your rabbit has free run of your house and multiple litter boxes, be sure to keep each litter box clean. You also need to check your rabbit’s favorite areas to sleep and play. If there are any accidents, try to clean them up immediately, as bacteria can grow in those places and cause a terrible smell.
Rabbits themselves don’t need to be bathed. As I mentioned earlier, they are a lot like cats. Rabbits of all ages will clean themselves all day long. You should check their scent glands though, as I said earlier. However, if you notice your rabbit’s fur feels dirty or has crusted poo on it, you may need to bathe your rabbit. This is also a sign of possible illness, so call your vet.
This is a quick video of one way you can be sure your rabbit cage is cleaned well.
Is There A Rabbit Breed That Doesn’t Smell?
There is no specific breed of rabbit that doesn’t smell. All rabbits have the same grooming habits. Since I’ve already discussed how much rabbits enjoy grooming themselves, it’s safe to say that no healthy rabbit should have a bad smell.
Your choice of rabbit breed boils down to which ones you like the look of the most, how big they get, and availability in your area. Rest assured that any rabbit breed you choose shouldn’t have a smell.
Do House Rabbits Smell More Than Dogs or Cats or Hamsters?
No, rabbits do not smell more than dogs or cats or hamsters. In fact, rabbits smell better than dogs or hamsters. If you don’t count the smell of a cage or the litter box, rabbits and cats smell a lot alike. That is to say, they don’t smell at all.
How to keep a rabbit cage from smelling? Cleaning the litter box every day will prevent it from smelling bad. Weekly deep cleaning ensures a bacteria-free environment.
Do male rabbits spray urine? Yes, unfortunately, male rabbits do spray urine. If you get him neutered, however, he is likely to stop that behavior.