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Why Does My Rabbit Pee on Me? 5 Possible Vet-Approved Reasons

Rachel Giordano

By Rachel Giordano

Rabbit Pee on the Litter Box

Vet approved

Dr. Maja Platisa Photo

Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Maja Platisa

In-House Veterinarian, DVM MRCVS

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Rabbits are adorable, furry little creatures that make excellent pets. Rabbits will cuddle with their owners, and they are capable of showing unique love and affection. However, there’s nothing more unpleasant than your rabbit peeing on you every time you pick them up.

Is it normal for your rabbit to pee on you? Accidents can happen from time to time, but if your rabbit pees on you each time you hold them, it’s worth checking into this further. Join us in discovering the most likely reasons your pet rabbit pees on you.divider_rabbit

The 5 Reasons Why Your Rabbit May Pee on You

1. Medical Issue

One of the more serious reasons your rabbit is peeing on you could be due to a medical issue. Common medical issues that can cause this behavior are pain, bladder or kidney stones, a urinary tract infection (UTI), or incontinence. It’s wise to take your rabbit to the vet if they frequently pee on you when you pick them up, and if it’s a medical issue, it can be addressed appropriately.

Some ways to determine if it’s a medical issue are:
  • Blood in the urine
  • Frequent urination in small amounts
  • Brown or beige-colored urine with a thick consistency
  • Skin scalding (burns to genitals and hind legs due to urine)
  • Reduced appetite and signs of gut stasis
  • Painful abdomen

Rabbits can develop urinary incontinence for many reasons. Some of them include urinary tract infections, fractures and dislocations of the lower back area, or central nervous system damage from Encephalitozoon cuniculi, a small parasite. Rabbits with urinary stones, excess of calcium in the urine or bladder sludge, often exhibit urinary incontinence and scalding or skin irritation in the area.


2. Claiming Territory

One reason your rabbit may be peeing on you is that they’re claiming you as their territory, also known as spraying. Spraying allows your rabbit to leave their scent behind, which tells other animals to back off, and that you are theirs and theirs alone. It should be flattering, right? We’re guessing it would be if there were different ways for rabbits to claim their owners. Entire males are those who mainly spray their territory, but females may do it as well.

A rabbit’s hormones become active at around 45 months of age but largely depend on breed size, with giant breeds taking as long as 69 months. When this happens, they will spray to mark their territory. Spaying/neutering your rabbit may help to eliminate this unwanted behavior.

Single spotted Holland Lop rabbit
Image Credit: Cristina Coneffer, Shutterstock

3. Fear, Trauma, or Stress

Rabbits are sensitive creatures and scare easily. The sensitivity is worse if your rabbit hasn’t been properly socialized. Rabbits need to trust their owners, and your rabbit may be peeing on you because they’re afraid of you. Ensure that when you take your rabbit out of the hutch, you do it gently—roughly handling your rabbit is not doing you or your rabbit any favors, as it can easily lead to them injuring their back or legs.

Rabbits are prey species and generally dislike being picked up or handled. This is something they need to be gradually adjusted to from a younger age, so they don’t find it as stressful.


4. Lack of Litter Box Training

This may come as a surprise, but you can train your rabbit to use a litter box, just like a cat. Rabbits are intelligent, and they can learn to urinate in appropriate places. Place the litter box in their enclosure in the spot they have chosen for peeing. It may take you a few days to get it just right. Make sure there is some poop in there, so the rabbit knows it’s their toilet area. Rabbits like to snack and toilet at the same time, so make sure a hay rack can be reached from the litter box. When they use it for peeing, reward them with a tasty snack.


5. Wrong Time to be Picked up

There are instances when you may have picked up your rabbit just as they were planning to toilet. This is just bad timing and unlikely to be associated with any of the other reasons. However, if it happens more than once in a short space of time, get your rabbit checked out to make sure there are no health issues that may explain them peeing on you.

white American rabbit
Image Credit: Mary Swift, Shutterstocks

6. Medical Issue

Last but not least, the reason your rabbit is peeing on you could be due to a medical issue. Common medical issues that can cause this behavior are pain, bladder or kidney stones, a urinary tract infection (UTI), or incontinence. It’s wise to take your rabbit to the vet if he constantly pees on you when you pick him up, and if it’s a medical issue, it can be addressed appropriately. Some ways to determine if it’s a medical issue are:

  • Blood in the urine
  • Frequent urination in small amounts
  • Brown or beige-colored urine with a thick consistency
  • Skin scalding (burns to genitals and hind legs due to urine)

divider_rabbit

 

How Do I Stop My Rabbit From Spraying?

One way to eliminate this behavior is by having your rabbit spayed/neutered. Both intact males and females will spray to mark their territory, and by spaying/neutering, the desire to mark their territory will be reduced.

Spaying/neutering also eliminates certain cancer risks, such as uterine cancer in females. Having this procedure done also helps with aggression, chewing, and fighting with other rabbits.

Remember that rabbits can be trained to use a litter box, and this may be all that’s needed to stop your rabbit from peeing on you—your rabbit simply may not realize that peeing on you is unacceptable.

rabbits teeth check by vet
Image Credit: bmf-foto.de, Shutterstock

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Conclusion

No one likes to be peed on, even if it’s by your beloved pet rabbit. We recommend taking your rabbit to the vet to ensure a medical reason is not the problem. Once that is eliminated, try training your rabbit to use a litter box. Remember that rabbits are sensitive little animals and prey species that strongly dislike being picked up and can easily get stressed, so always opt for positive reinforcement.


Featured Image Credit: KanphotoSS, Shutterstock

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