Are Rabbits Smelly? Everything You Need to Know

Rabbits are popular pets for many reasons, including their cute appearance and friendly personalities. However, some people may hesitate to keep a rabbit as a pet due to concerns about their smell. The question of whether rabbits are smelly is a common one, and the answer is not always straightforward.

While rabbits have a natural scent, they are generally not considered smelly pets. Many rabbit owners report that their pets have little to no odor. However, certain factors can contribute to a rabbit’s smell, such as an unclean environment or poor diet. Understanding these factors and taking steps to address them can help ensure that your pet rabbit remains clean and odor-free.

Rabbit Anatomy

Rabbits’ unique anatomy allows them to adapt to their environment and survive in the wild. Understanding their anatomy can help rabbit owners better care for their pets.

Scent Glands

Rabbits have scent glands under their chin, on their cheeks, and near their anus. These glands produce a waxy substance the rabbit uses to mark its territory. While the scent glands themselves do not produce an unpleasant odor, the scent marking can lead to a buildup of urine and feces in the area, which can cause a strong smell.

Digestive System

Rabbits have a unique digestive system that allows them to extract nutrients from plant material that other animals cannot digest. They have a large cecum, a pouch at the beginning of the large intestine, where bacteria break down cellulose and other complex carbohydrates.

However, this unique digestive system can also contribute to a strong odor. Rabbit feces are usually dry and odorless, but the cecotropes, soft, shiny fecal pellets that rabbits eat to re-ingest nutrients, can have a strong, pungent odor.

In addition, rabbits produce a lot of urine, contributing to a strong smell if not cleaned regularly.

While rabbits have some natural odor associated with their unique anatomy and digestive system, regular cleaning and proper care can help minimize unpleasant smells.

Rabbit Care

Caring for a rabbit requires effort and attention to keep them healthy and clean. Here are some tips on how to take care of your rabbit.

Cleaning the Cage

Rabbits are clean animals but can get smelly if their living space is not kept clean. It is important to clean the cage regularly to prevent odors and keep your rabbit healthy. Here are some tips for cleaning the cage:

  • Remove any uneaten food and soiled bedding daily.
  • Change the bedding at least once a week.
  • Clean the litter box daily.
  • Use a pet-safe cleaner to clean the cage and accessories.

Bathing Your Rabbit

Rabbits do not need to be bathed often, which can harm their health if done too frequently. Bathing can strip their skin of natural oils and cause dryness and irritation. However, a bath may be necessary if your rabbit gets into something sticky or dirty. Here are some tips for bathing your rabbit:

  • Use lukewarm water and a pet-safe shampoo.
  • Avoid getting water in their ears and noses.
  • Dry them off with a towel and a hairdryer set on low.

Litter Box Training

Rabbits are naturally clean animals and can be litter box trained. This will help keep their living space clean and prevent odors. Here are some tips for litter box training your rabbit:

  • Place a litter box in their cage and any play areas.
  • Use a litter made of paper or wood shavings.
  • Place some of their droppings in the litter box to encourage them to use it.
  • Reward them with treats when they use the litter box.

Rabbit Diet

Rabbits are herbivores and are considered grazers. They require a balanced diet of hay, fresh vegetables, fruit, and pellets. A common cause of obesity and soft stool is over-feeding pellets. Therefore, hay is the most important part of a rabbit’s daily intake.

Fiber Intake

Rabbits digest fiber poorly because of the selective separation and rapid excretion of large particles in the hindgut. A generous amount of dietary fiber (15% crude fiber) is needed to promote intestinal motility and minimize intestinal disease. Ad lib timothy hay can provide high-fiber intake (30%-35% fiber). Mixed grass hay or Timothy hay is preferred because it is lower in calories and calcium than alfalfa.

Water Intake

Rabbits should be fed and provided with fresh water daily. It is important to provide fresh water in a clean container and change it daily. Rabbits can drink from a bowl or a bottle, but a bottle is preferred because it keeps the water clean and prevents spillage.


In conclusion, rabbits are not inherently smelly animals, and with proper care and hygiene, they can be just as odor-free as any other pet. Regular cleaning of their living space, litter boxes, and grooming can help to prevent any unpleasant odors.

While it is true that rabbits produce urine that can create an unpleasant smell, this can be easily managed by using appropriate bedding materials and cleaning the litter box regularly. B rabbits should never be bathed, as this can strip their skin of natural oils and cause stress.