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Rabbits themselves don’t smell bad – we actually used to have a Dutch rabbit that smelled exactly like digestive biscuits. It was glorious.
But rabbits are still animals and they can stink up the place if they’re not cleaned out regularly.
Clean your rabbit’s litter box out regularly
We have tiny bunnies and a big litter box, so we tip the whole thing out weekly and replace it. You may need to do it more often if you have more rabbits, bigger rabbits, or it’s hot weather.
In between cleans, we’ll remove grim bedding as needed.
Rabbit poop doesn’t smell (or it shouldn’t), so those stray pellets on the floor aren’t responsible for the smell.
It’s not uncommon for litter-trained rabbits to poop outside of the box, and it’s very difficult to 100% litter train a rabbit. Ours are pretty good, but we keep a little hand-held vacuum to hand for the purpose of sucking up bunny poops. I’m pretty good at picking them up as I go and tossing them back in the litterbox, but I know a lot of people are grossed out about touching poop.
Use the right cleaning tools for the job
Whilst rabbit poop is super inoffensive compared to, say, cat poop, rabbit pee is a whole other deal. It’s thick, stinky and comes in a surprising array of colours, including red, which can be terrifying for new bunny parents.
We’ve tried all the fancy pet sprays, but have come to the conclusion that nothing gets rid of bunny pee better than hot water and white vinegar. We also have a wooden spatula we use to scrape of any reside – just make sure you label it clearly so you don’t end up cooking with it.
Choose the right litter for your rabbit’s litter tray
Wood shavings are effective but SUPER messy. We used paper pellets designed for use with small animals. I’ve seen various horror stories about using cat litter, so I stick to the paper pellets. It has a mild insecticide in it which isn’t necessary, but I panic about flystrike in hot weather, so it gives me peace of mind.
I personally don’t like using anything scented, so the stuff we use smells of, er, nothing.
Cover the litter tray with hay
A lot of people advocate keeping a rabbit’s hay separate from their litter box but every one of our rabbit’s pees with abandon whilst they’re eating hay, so we now always keep the two together. We have a very homemade set up where we put fresh hay in plastic pipes every day, so Holly at least has the option of eating fresh hay, though she honestly doesn’t seem to care either way.
In a day or two there’ll be a lay of hay covering the litter which goes some way to keep the smell in.
Check your rabbit isn’t peeing over the edge
This is a pain if you have a giant rabbits.
Rabbits have this cute trick (it’s annoying but also super cute) of hitching their butt right up when they go to pee, and they can end up peeing over the side of the box. If you don’t notice, they can create quite the stinky puddle.
You can get triangular litter boxes, but they tend to only come in smaller sizes, and all my bunnies have found it huge amount of fun to drag them around. The smaller area also means it’s super easy for rabbits to kick the litter out.
I prefer a regular plastic box for litter trays. We have one that’s probably too big for Holly, but she’s young and spritely and has no trouble hopping the sides. If you have an older rabbit, you can try something like this:
Try to remember that rabbits don’t WANT to pee over the side – they just like to hike their butts up.
How to clean up rabbit pee
White vinegar. It’s far and away the best method. Not only is it great at removing the stain and the smell, but it won’t hurt your rabbit Rumour has it they don’t like the smell and won’t pee in the same place again, but none of mine have ever followed those rules.
I’ve used it on many surfaces (including carpet) and never had an issue, but please test an inconspicious area first.
As far as animals go, you could get a lot stinkier than rabbits. They’re clean animals that are incredibly easy to litter in general (though you always get one that just doesn’t get it).
Like a lot of mammals, rabbits will mark their territory by spraying pee on stuff they like (??). This behaviour can be massively curbed by getting them spayed or neutered. I’ve never had an issued with fixed bunnies spraying except when I’ve brought in new rabbits.
Scent glands can also get gummed up and gross, but again, that’s not an issue I’ve ever had. If you do think your rabbit needs their scent glands cleaning, there are videos on YouTube about DIYing it, but I would advise checking with your vet first.
If your rabbit smells as bit, er, skunky, that’s usually a scent gland issue. most of the time, the issue will resolve by itself, so you might get the odd waft and then it’ll go. If it persists, it’s worth taking them to the vet.