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Do Bunnies Smell Bad?

Have you ever wondered if bunnies smell bad?

To address concerns, it’s essential to understand the natural scent of rabbits and the potential factors that might intensify their odors.

In this article, we will discuss the smell of rabbits in detail; we will also discuss how to prevent it, when a foul smell might indicate health issues, and much more.

Do Bunnies Smell Bad?

Contrary to some beliefs, bunnies themselves do not smell bad.

The natural scent of a rabbit is mild and often barely noticeable.

It’s usually external factors, primarily their environment or specific health issues, that can lead to detectable odors.

A well-cared-for rabbit will not exude an unpleasant odor.

Natural Odor vs. Environmental Odor

Rabbits, like all living beings, have their own unique set of scents associated with them.

However, Let’s distinguish between a rabbit’s inherent, natural odor and the odors that arise from their surroundings.

Let’s delve into these two categories.

1. Natural Scent of a Bunny

Every animal carries a natural scent, and rabbits are no exception.

Here’s a breakdown of what you can expect:

Inherent Body Scent: Rabbits, like humans and other pets, have a subtle, inherent body odor.

This natural aroma is usually mild and is often overlooked or undetectable to most rabbit owners.

It is a part of the rabbit’s identity and rarely causes concern.

Glandular Secretions: Rabbits have scent glands, most notably beneath their chin and near their genital areas.

When a rabbit rubs its chin on items, it’s marking its territory.

While these glandular secretions are not particularly intense, they contribute to the rabbit’s natural scent profile.

Age and Gender Factors: It’s worth noting that mature male rabbits, especially if unneutered, may have a slightly stronger natural scent due to hormonal influences.

This is still a part of their inherent smell and not necessarily indicative of hygiene issues.

2. Environmental Odor Sources

Environmental odors are more variable and often result from factors within the rabbit’s living conditions.

Here are the primary culprits:

Cage or Habitat Cleanliness: The most significant factor influencing environmental odor is the cleanliness of the rabbit’s living space.

Accumulated waste, especially urine with its ammonia content, can produce a potent smell.

Bedding Material: The bedding material can either help neutralize or exacerbate odors.

Some materials, like cedar shavings, may smell pleasant initially but can become overpowering when mixed with urine.

Conversely, materials like aspen shavings or recycled paper products can effectively control odor.

Uneaten Food: Leftover fresh vegetables or fruits can rot if not removed, leading to unpleasant smells.

Regularly clearing out uneaten food is essential.

Water and Moisture: Spilled water or excessive moisture in a rabbit’s habitat can lead to mold or mildew growth, contributing to unwanted smells.

Ventilation: Poorly ventilated spaces can trap and intensify odors.

Good airflow can significantly reduce the buildup of bad smells, whether it’s a rabbit room or a cage.

Factors That Can Cause a Bunny to Smell

When people talk about a rabbit “smelling,” they are often not referring to the rabbit itself but rather to the combination of natural and environmental factors that can influence odor.

Let’s delve into the various elements that can cause a bunny to smell.

1. Uncleaned Hutches

Frequency of Cleaning: Habitats that aren’t cleaned regularly can accumulate waste, leading to foul odors.

Depending on the size of the enclosure and the number of rabbits, cleaning frequency can range from daily to several times a week.

Inadequate Cleaning Methods: Simply removing visible waste may not be enough.

Rabbits benefit from thorough cleaning, including wiping down surfaces and changing out bedding.

2. Urine & Feces

Ammonia in Urine: Rabbit urine contains ammonia, which can become intense, especially when left to sit.

If not cleaned up promptly, this smell can become quite intense.

Digestive By-products: Rabbit droppings, or feces, are generally not very smelly when fresh.

However, if allowed to accumulate and get wet or the rabbit’s diet is imbalanced, they can contribute to unpleasant odors.

3. Health Challenges

Digestive Issues: Changes in a rabbit’s diet or underlying digestive problems can lead to smelly feces or gas. This can be significantly pronounced if a rabbit eats too many sugary fruits or foods it’s not used to.

Infections: Infections, especially of the skin or urinary tract, can result in unpleasant odors.

Abscesses, wounds, or skin conditions can produce pus with a distinct foul smell. Urinary tract infections, on the other hand, can make a rabbit’s urine smell especially strong.

Dental Issues: Overgrown teeth can lead to drooling, leading to wet fur around the mouth and chin. This moisture can result in a musty smell if not cleaned.

4. Scent Glands

Perianal Glands: These are located near a rabbit’s genital area and produce a musky scent. While not overly powerful, the smell can become more pronounced if these glands become clogged or excessively dirty.

Chin Glands: Rabbits have scent glands under their chin, which they use to mark territory. These are typically not very smelly, but it’s an aspect of their natural scent profile.

5. Hormonal Changes

Unneutered Males: Mature male rabbits that haven’t been neutered can have a more pungent natural scent due to hormonal influences. Neutering can often reduce this scent.

Females in Heat: When they’re in ‘heat,’ female rabbits might also exhibit a stronger natural scent.

6. Lack of Grooming

Matted Fur: If a rabbit’s fur becomes matted, especially around the rear end, it can trap urine or feces, leading to persistent odors.

Limited Self-grooming: If a rabbit is overweight, ill, or elderly, it might struggle with self-grooming. This can lead to a buildup of dirt and oils on the fur, contributing to odors.

How to Keep Your Bunny and Its Hutch Smelling Fresh

As delightful as they are, rabbits require specific care to ensure they and their living environments stay fresh and odor-free.

A combination of regular maintenance, grooming, and health checkups can make a huge difference in managing and eliminating unwanted odors.

Here’s a detailed guide on maintaining a fresh environment for your bunny.

1. Regular Cleaning

Daily Checkups: Each day, remove any uneaten fresh food to prevent it from rotting. Also, spot-clean areas that have been soiled by urine or feces.

Deep Cleaning: Depending on the size of the habitat and the number of rabbits, perform a deep cleaning once a week to once every few weeks.

This involves changing all bedding, wiping surfaces, and washing removable parts, like litter trays.

2. Choose the Right Bedding

Absorbent Materials: Opt for bedding known for its absorbency, such as aspen shavings or recycled paper products. These materials can soak up urine, reducing the associated ammonia smell.

Avoid Cedar: While cedar shavings might smell pleasant initially, they can release chemicals irritating a rabbit’s respiratory system.

Change Bedding Regularly: Even the most absorbent bedding must be changed regularly to ensure freshness.

3. Litter Training Your Bunny

Litter Boxes: Place litter boxes in corners, as rabbits often prefer these spots for doing their business.

Litter Choice: Use a rabbit-safe, odor-controlling litter. Avoid clumping or scented cat litter, as they can be harmful if ingested.

Training: While rabbits often naturally choose one spot to urinate, you might need to be patient and consistent to fully litter-train them.

If they have accidents outside the box, move the droppings into the box to encourage them to use it next time.

4. Diet and Hydration

Fresh Water: Always provide fresh water, as it aids digestion and helps in reducing the concentration of ammonia in urine.

High-fiber Diet: A diet rich in hay promotes healthy digestion and results in less smelly waste.

Limit Sugary Foods: Reducing or eliminating sugary treats can prevent gastrointestinal issues and smelly droppings.

5. Regular Grooming

Brushing: Regularly brush your rabbit to remove loose fur and prevent matting. This is especially important during shedding seasons.

Bathing: Generally, rabbits should not be fully bathed in water as it can be stressful. Suppose they get dirty, spot-clean them with a damp cloth.

If a full bath is necessary, consult a veterinarian first and ensure the bunny is dried thoroughly afterward.

Clean the Scent Glands: The glands under the chin and near the genitals can be cleaned gently with a damp cotton swab if they appear dirty or clogged.

6. Good Ventilation

Air Circulation: Ensure the room or area where the rabbit hutch is located has good air circulation. This helps in dispersing any odors and reducing ammonia buildup from urine.

Air Purifiers: Consider using an air purifier in rooms with rabbit hutches. These devices can filter out particulates and odors, keeping the air fresher.

7. Regular Health Checkups

Veterinary Visits: Schedule regular checkups with a rabbit-savvy vet. This ensures your bunny’s overall health and can address potential issues that might cause unwanted odors.

Diet and Odor

Did you know that what a rabbit eats can also directly impact how it smells?

Here’s a closer look at how dietary choices influence odor and what you can do to maintain a pleasant environment for your bunny.

1. The Importance of Hay

Digestive Health: Hay, mainly timothy hay, is the cornerstone of a rabbit’s diet. High in fiber, it aids in digestion and ensures the smooth passage of waste, which can prevent blockages and the associated foul odors.

Reduced Odor: As a dry and fibrous food, hay produces feces that are typically drier and less smelly than those resulting from other foods.

2. Fresh Vegetables

Benefits: Leafy greens like romaine lettuce, bok choy, and kale provide essential vitamins and minerals for rabbits.

Odor Considerations: Overfeeding vegetables or introducing new ones suddenly can lead to soft or even runny stools, which may have a more pungent odor.

Introduce new foods gradually and monitor your rabbit for any changes in their droppings.

3. Fruits and Treats

Sugar Content: Fruits, while enjoyed by many rabbits, are high in sugar. Sugary foods can alter the bacterial balance in a rabbit’s gut, potentially leading to digestive issues and more pungent feces.

Limitation: Fruits should be given in moderation and treated as occasional treats rather than primary food sources.

Some fruits, like apples or blueberries, are better choices, while others, like grapes or bananas, are higher in sugar and should be given sparingly.

4. Pellets

Nutritional Boost: High-quality rabbit pellets can supplement a rabbit’s diet, providing additional nutrients.

Quantity Control: Overfeeding pellets, especially those that contain seeds, nuts, or dried fruits, can lead to weight gain and digestive problems, affecting the smell of feces.

Generally, adult rabbits only need a small amount of pellets daily.

Signs That the Smell Might Indicate a Health Issue

A rabbit’s scent can offer important clues about its health.

While bunnies themselves don’t emit a strong odor, certain smells, especially those that deviate from their usual, can indicate underlying health issues.

Here’s what particular smells might signal and the associated health issues they could be linked to.

1. Strong Ammonia Smell from Urine

Rabbit urine does naturally contain ammonia, but an exceptionally strong ammonia odor might indicate dehydration or kidney problems.

A rabbit’s urine can also vary in color and may sometimes appear red (due to certain foods or benign pigments), but it shouldn’t be consistently dark or bloody.

Action: Ensure your rabbit always has access to fresh water. If the strong smell persists or other signs of illness are evident, visit a vet.

2. Foul-Smelling Feces

A sudden change in the smell of a rabbit’s feces, especially if they become particularly foul or pungent, might signal digestive issues.

This could be due to an imbalanced diet, gastrointestinal stasis, or bacterial overgrowth.

Action: Review your rabbit’s diet and ensure it’s receiving adequate hay and water. If the issue continues, especially if accompanied by a change in fecal consistency, seek veterinary advice.

3. Musty or Sour Smell from Fur

A damp, musty, or sour smell from a rabbit’s fur, particularly around the mouth, chin, or rear end, can indicate drooling due to dental issues or urine scalding from an inability to groom properly.

Action: Check your rabbit for wet or matted fur. Dental problems, obesity, arthritis, or other health issues can prevent a rabbit from grooming properly.

4. Pus or Infection Odor

A rotting or pus-like smell can indicate an abscess, wound infection, or even a respiratory infection in rabbits.

Action: Carefully inspect your rabbit for visible wounds, swellings, or discharge. Respiratory infections may also present with other symptoms like sneezing or nasal discharge.

Any suspected infections should be treated as emergencies.

5. Unpleasant Odor from the Ears

A foul smell from a rabbit’s ears might be due to ear mites, yeast infections, or bacterial infections.

Ear problems might also present with other signs such as head tilting, scratching, or a buildup of dark wax.

Action: Regularly check your rabbit’s ears for cleanliness and signs of infections. If you suspect an ear issue, a veterinarian should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment.

Check: How to clean a rabbit ear at home

6. Scent Gland Odor

Scent glands, particularly the perianal glands near the genitals, have a natural musky odor, but an overly strong or foul scent might indicate clogging or infection.

Action: Regularly clean your rabbit’s scent glands using a damp cotton swab. See veterinary advice if the area appears red or swollen or emitting a foul odor.


Here are some frequently asked questions.

What Does Bunny Breath Smell Like?

A healthy rabbit’s breath should have a neutral or slightly sweet scent, often reminiscent of hay since hay is a primary diet component.

If a rabbit’s breath smells foul or very strong, it might indicate dental or digestive problems and should be addressed.

Do Baby Bunnies Smell Bad?

No, baby bunnies, or kits, do not inherently smell bad.

However, if they are not kept in a clean environment or have health issues, they might have some odors.

Why Is My Rabbit So Stinky?

A stinky rabbit can be due to several factors, including an unclean living environment, urine or fecal buildup on their fur, diet, or health issues such as infections.

Regular grooming, cage cleaning, and health checks can help prevent or address these odors.

Can You Bathe a Rabbit?

Giving rabbits full baths is generally not recommended as they can become highly stressed, which can lead to shock.

Instead, if your rabbit is dirty, spot clean with a damp cloth or use dry shampoos designed for bunnies.

Do Male Rabbits Smell More Than Females?

Male rabbits, especially unneutered ones, can produce a muskier scent due to their scent glands.

This doesn’t necessarily mean they smell bad, but the scent might be stronger than that of female rabbits.

Is Rabbit Urine Smell Harmful?

Rabbit urine contains ammonia. A slight ammonia smell can be expected, but a strong ammonia odor suggests the living environment isn’t being cleaned enough.

Prolonged exposure to high ammonia levels can harm both rabbits and humans, particularly the respiratory system.

My Rabbit Smells Like Body Odour

This might be due to the scent glands, especially in males, or due to environmental factors. Regularly cleaning scent glands and ensuring a clean habitat can address this issue.

Rabbit Urine Smells Fishy

Unusual smells in rabbit urine can indicate a urinary tract infection or other health issues. If you notice a fishy or overly strong scent in your rabbit’s urine, it’s best to consult with a vet.

How To Get Rid Of Rabbit Urine Smell?

Regular cleaning of the rabbit’s cage, using absorbent bedding, and providing a well-ventilated living environment can help.

Also, enzymatic cleaners can break down the ammonia in urine, neutralizing the odor.

Female Rabbit Smells Like Skunk?

Unspayed female rabbits sometimes emit a musky odor, especially during their cycle.

This smell can sometimes be likened to that of a skunk. Spaying the female rabbit can often reduce or eliminate this odor.

Does Rabbit Poop Smell?

Rabbit poop doesn’t have a strong odor, especially compared to the feces of carnivorous pets.

However, the feces might have a more pungent scent if the rabbit’s diet is imbalanced or has digestive issues.

Regular cleaning of the cage and diet monitoring can help manage and prevent unpleasant smells.


The natural scent of a rabbit is generally mild and not bad, but environmental odors can become overpowering if not managed.

Regular cleaning, mindful choice of bedding, and attention to the rabbit’s diet and health can effectively control and reduce unwanted smells.

This will ensure a harmonious coexistence between bunnies and you, their human companions.

We hope this article helped you know if bunnies smell bad. If you have any questions, comment below, and we will answer them.

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