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How Badly Do Rabbits Smell? Causes & Remedies

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By Nicole Cosgrove

velveteen lop rabbit

Rabbits are easier to care for than dogs, at least in respect of the fact that they don’t need daily walks. They can also be litter trained similarly to cats, often preferring to toilet in a single location within their hutch or their room. But they usually benefit from being kept as indoor pets rather than outdoors, and because their urine smells especially strong, one of the biggest pitfalls of owning a rabbit can be the smell. With that said, with regular hutch cleaning it is possible to reduce the aroma that rabbits give off and you can enjoy keeping a cute, potentially friendly, pet in your home.

Below, we look at some of the possible reasons that your rabbit might be particularly odorous, as well as ways to reduce or eliminate the odor.


Rabbits As Pets

Rabbits are one of the most popular pets globally. They don’t need walking, and they aren’t as fussy or demanding as cats, but they are bigger and less fragile than smaller caged animals like gerbils and hamsters. With regular handlings from a young age, they can also be highly tolerant of being picked up and held. They do need a good-sized hutch and should be given some form of daily exercise, typically in a run or by being given the run of a rabbit-proofed room in the home. Toys and other items can also ensure they lead a fulfilled and happy life.

Do Rabbits Smell?

Rabbits do not have natural body odor and a healthy rabbit should have virtually odorless poop. However, rabbit urine can have a strong smell, and this may become a problem if the rabbit is allowed to wee wherever it wants and if the urine isn’t cleaned up soon after it is produced. Fortunately, most rabbits will toilet in the same area. They can be litter trained, which means that odors can be controlled through the use of good-quality litter, too.

mini rex rabbit eating hay
Image Credit: MrLeestudio, Shutterstock

The 3 Causes Of Rabbit Smells

Although rabbits don’t usually smell too badly, there are exceptions.

1. Illness

Rabbits do not generally give off body odor and the feces of a healthy rabbit should be virtually odor free. However, if your rabbit is unwell, it could lead to strong body odor or strong feces’ smells. Look for other signs and symptoms that your rabbit is ill, paying particular attention to the poop. If the poop is loose and watery, this is likely a sign of gastrointestinal illness and may be a cause of bad smells.

2. Urine

The strongest smell that a rabbit gives off comes from its urine. If your rabbit has a high protein diet or it is an unsterilized male, its urine could have a strong ammonia smell. This is a difficult smell to shift, so even if you clean out the hutch regularly and ensure that the litter is emptied every day, it can still lead to a pervading smell of urine in the house. If your rabbit tends to wee and poo anywhere, the smell will be especially difficult to get rid of, and it may even be in the rabbit’s coat.

Californian rabbit
Image Credit: KPiv, Shutterstock

3. Dirty Living Space

A rabbit hutch needs regular cleaning. You should be cleaning out the litter tray and removing any soiled bits of sawdust or bedding daily. You should also ideally give the hutch a weekly clean, removing more of the bedding and replacing it with fresh. You should also wash the hutch down and only allow the rabbits back in when it is completely dry.


The 3 Ways To Combat Rabbit Smells

If you do notice a strong smell of rabbit, try the following to help remedy the problem:

1. Litter

Left to their own devices, a lot of rabbits will wee and poo in a particular spot in the hutch. Get a litter tray and some good quality litter and place this in the toilet area. You should find that your rabbit uses the litter tray but if it starts going somewhere else, move the tray to the new area. Eventually, the rabbit will catch on and start using the tray. Once you have a litter tray, ensure you remove any soiled litter daily and clean the whole thing out every few days.

2. Regular Cleaning

Even the cleanest rabbit may have the occasional accident and pee or poop outside its litter tray. It may also kick bits of dirty litter out into the surrounding bedding. Remove soiled bedding daily and conduct a thorough hutch clean every week. If you’re cleaning the hutch and less often than this, that is likely the cause of the bad smells.

3. Sterilization

The urine of male rabbits tends to smell stronger than that of female rabbits, and this is especially true of unsterilized rabbits. It may sound like an extreme solution, but having your rabbit sterilized will not only help minimize odors but can prolong the life expectancy of pet rabbits, too.

baby gotland rabbit running in big gravel enclosure
Image Credit: LNbjors, Shutterstock



Rabbits can make excellent pets. With regular handling, they can be quite affectionate and enjoy time with their humans. They require less care than dogs and are surprisingly clean animals that do not usually produce much of a smell at all. However, there are exceptions, which are usually caused either as a result of illness on your rabbit’s part or because their hutch and litter are not being cleaned out regularly enough.

You can also have a male rabbit sterilized to help reduce the aroma that naturally comes from rabbit urine. And regular grooming can help remove any odor or mess that is caught in your rabbit’s fur.

Featured Image Credit: Juli V, Shutterstock

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