I know that rabbits are very clean animals. They are like cats in that sense—always grooming themselves.
So imagine my surprise when I found a foul smell coming from my rabbit cage.
Was my rabbit smelling badly all of a sudden, or was the cage dirty? More importantly at this point, how could I keep my rabbit cage from smelling?
To keep your rabbit cage from smelling bad, you need to spot clean it daily and deep clean it weekly.
You may also need to neuter male bucks to keep them from spraying ammonia-rich urine everywhere or bond your rabbit with another rabbit to keep it from getting lonely or depressed.
Choosing the right litter and bedding material for your rabbit cage goes a long way to keeping any foul odors under control. If your rabbit smells, then take your rabbit to the vet if it is sick.
10 Tips to Keep Your Rabbit’s Cage From Smelling Bad
First, you need to find out the reason your rabbit cage is smelling bad.
Then you can keep your rabbit enclosure from being smelly.
1. Ensure There’s Enough Airflow
Airflow is an essential aspect to keep your rabbit cage from developing a bad smell.
The ventilation will ensure the air in the rabbit enclosure doesn’t become stagnant and it will help dissipate minor smells.
2. Daily Spot Clean the Rabbit Cage
Every day, you want to spot clean your rabbit’s enclosure.
This helps you keep the space tidy. It also helps you maintain a hygienic environment for your rabbit.
To spot clean the rabbit cage:
- Spray and wipe any urine accidents your rabbit had outside the litter box.
- Replace any blankets or towels that are soiled and throw these into the wash.
- Sweep or vacuum stray droppings, pellets, hay, or leftover food.
- Remove or scoop up wet litter and add fresh litter to the litter box.
- Empty the water bowls. Rinse and dry them and then refill the water bowls with fresh water. Do this at least twice every day.
- Add more hay to the hay dispenser.
3. Deep-Clean the Rabbit Cage Weekly
Once a week, you need to deep clean your rabbit’s cage. This means fresh bedding and fresh litter, as well as completely emptying the enclosure and vacuuming it.
You’d also want to thoroughly wash the food bowls, litter box, and water bowls. Wash any towels and blankets your rabbit uses.
The litter box should be washed with a white vinegar cleaning solution to get rid of the calcium residues the urine leaves behind. White vinegar also helps in odor control.
Spot clean your rabbit’s toys. Wipe down your rabbit’s cage.
You can use a commercial antibacterial cleanser that is gentle, rabbit-friendly and doesn’t have a harsh smell.
Use Cleaning Tools and Products
To help you clean the rabbit cage, you can use rabbit-safe cleaning products and tools.
- Use a handheld vacuum to suck up hay, bedding, fur, and poop
- Alternatively, use a broom and dustpan to sweep the floor of the rabbit enclosure
- Use paper towels to wipe any spots that need extra cleaning
While there are commercial cleaning products on the market that’s rabbit-safe, you can also mix your own, inexpensive cleaning solution:
Mix 1 part white vinegar with 1 part water in a spray bottle. If the vinegar smell is too strong, you can use 1 part white vinegar to 3 parts water.
For tough stains, sprinkle some baking soda on the strain. Then spray with the water and vinegar cleaning solution. Wait a few minutes, and then wipe or rinse as needed.
Alternatively, you can also mix a disinfectant cleaning solution with 1 part bleach to 10 parts water.
Be careful to not mix the white vinegar and bleach as this is harmful. It creates a chlorine gas that is potentially lethal to animals and people.
So, use your bleach cleaning solution to wipe down the rabbit cage and your rabbit toys. Use the vinegar cleaning solution to wash the litter box.
4. Use the Right Bedding Material
Don’t use the same bedding material as you do for your rabbit’s litter box. This will only end up confusing your rabbit about what to use as the bathroom.
Also, don’t use hay for your rabbit’s bedding. Hay is an important part of your rabbit’s diet, and your rabbit should have an unlimited supply of fresh, good-quality hay every day.
You can place the hay in a hay dispenser to keep it separate from the bedding.
So what’s the right rabbit bedding material you should use? I like to use shredded newspaper or paper pellets.
Aspen shavings are also good as it’s absorbent and affordable.
Just don’t buy aspen shavings from a lumber mill. These shavings can have hard edges that can cut your rabbit’s paws.
Plus, these aren’t sanitary and could be the cause of a mite outbreak.
5. Change the Bedding Material Biweekly
To keep your rabbit cage smelling normal, change your rabbit’s bedding twice a week or at least weekly.
Fresh bedding keeps the cage hygienic.
6. Litter Train Your Rabbit
Like most other pets, rabbits prefer to do their business in one place. This helps you when it comes to cleaning the hutch.
Plus, it ensures your rabbit doesn’t sit or sleep on soiled bedding, which can lead to urine scald or hutch burn, or flystrike.
So why not litter train your rabbit and make things even easier?
Set up the litter box with rabbit-friendly litter (don’t use commercial cat litter as this isn’t suitable for your pet rabbit).
Put some of your rabbit’s droppings in the litter box and you can also add some bedding that they urinated on.
When your rabbit uses the litter box as their potty, make sure to praise them with a treat or attention. With time and patience, your rabbit will be litter trained.
Pro tip: It’s a good idea to have at least two litter boxes per rabbit.
7. Neuter Male Rabbits
Neutering male rabbits get rid of the skunk-like smell they release to attract female bunnies.
It also gets rid of most of the territorial behavior when it comes to spraying urine everywhere.
8. Get a Big Enough Rabbit Cage
Getting a rabbit cage that is big enough for your rabbit means they can separate their clean space where they sleep from the space they use as their bathroom.
If the cage is too small, it discourages your rabbit from being sanitary.
If you have two rabbits, you need at least double the space you’d need for one.
Also, make sure you don’t overcrowd your rabbit cage as this can lead to foul odors.
9. Clean Scent Gland or Bond Your Rabbit
If your rabbit is depressed, lonely, or has anxiety and stops grooming itself, then you may need to consider bonding your rabbit with another rabbit friend.
Having another friendly rabbit face around for your pet rabbit ensures your rabbit has company 24/7. Let’s face it, you can’t always be around to keep your rabbit entertained.
Or if your rabbit’s scent glands have become clogged, then you need to clean these.
10. Take Your Rabbit to the Vet
If your rabbit is smelling because it has an infected wound or is sick, then call your vet and schedule an emergency appointment.
Your vet will be able to assist, diagnose what’s wrong with your rabbit, and prescribe the right treatment options.
Common Reasons Your Rabbit’s Cage Is Smelling Bad
Before you learn how to keep your rabbit’s cage from smelling bad, let’s briefly look at the reasons it may be smelling.
Knowing why the cage is smelling bad will lead you to the right actions so the rabbit cage doesn’t smell in the future.
So here’s why your rabbit cage is emitting a foul odor:
Depression, Anxiety, or Loneliness
While rabbits are clean on themselves, your rabbit could stop grooming itself if it has depression or anxiety.
Grooming may also stop if your rabbit feels lonely. This can lead to body odors spreading.
Obesity, Old-Age, or a Disability
Rabbits that are obese, are elderly and suffer from arthritis or other joint or muscles issues, are disabled, or paralyzed may have trouble properly grooming themselves.
Since they aren’t able to groom themself, they may become smelly.
Sickness or Hurt
Your rabbit can smell if it is sick. For example, your rabbit could have an ear infection that gives off a musty smell.
A rabbit that has a wound that’s become infected will also smell bad.
Other illnesses that can cause your rabbit to be smelly include head tilt, dental disease, urinary tract infections, urine scalding, or diarrhea.
The cecotropes your rabbit makes don’t have an attractive scent.
Your rabbit eats these as part of their hind-gut fermentation process to help them better digest their food.
However, if your rabbit is sick or makes too many because they aren’t eating a balanced diet, there will be cecotropes stuck to your rabbit’s fur or laying around the cage. These will smell.
Also read: Why Do Rabbits Eat Their Own Poop?
Unaltered or unneutered rabbits smell bad, especially when they release a musky smell that’s supposed to attract a mate.
This is more common during the mating season if you have unneutered and unspayed rabbits.
Unneutered male rabbits are particularly territorial.
To mark their territory, they like to spray urine everywhere.
Since rabbit urine is high in ammonia, this makes for a smelly cage and room if you keep your rabbit indoors.
The scent glands rabbits have are located next to their anus. These secrete a tar-like substance that smells very much like skunk.
If your rabbit isn’t grooming their bottom well, then these glands clog up, and your rabbit can become a real stink bomb.
Urine, the Wrong Litter, or Not Cleaning Often
Some male rabbits’ urine may be smellier than that of a female, but this depends on the individual rabbit.
Not using the right litter that absorbs urine well and masks the smell is a reason why your rabbit’s cage could be smelly.
Also, if you don’t replace the litter often, then the urine smell will accumulate, leading to a very bad-smelling cage.
Not Cleaning the Rabbit Cage
If you don’t spot clean the rabbit cage daily and replace all the bedding weekly, then the enclosure your rabbit lives in will become smelly.
Some FAQs about Rabbit Cage and Keeping It From Smelling
Do rabbits smell bad when you keep them indoors?
Rabbits are clean mammals that groom themselves most of the day.
So while your rabbit isn’t odorless, they don’t smell bad.
What can smell bad is an unclean cage you keep your rabbit in and a sick rabbit that’s unable to groom itself.
What happens if I don’t clean my rabbit’s cage?
If you don’t spot clean your rabbit’s cage daily and do a deep clean every week, then all the poop and urine smells will build up and your rabbit enclosure will stink.
Leftover food will add to the bad smell. An unhygienic living environment means your rabbit will sicken and may die.
How often do rabbit hutches need cleaning?
Your rabbit hutch or cage needs to be spot cleaned every day.
Then, you need to deep clean everything in your rabbit’s hutch or cage, as well as the actual enclosure, every week to ensure your rabbit’s living space is hygienic.
The Final Smell
Understanding why your rabbit cage is smelling bad helps you know what you need to do to fix it so your rabbit enclosure is always sanitary.
What you always need to do is spot clean the rabbit cage once a day and deep clean it every week.
This will go a long way to reduce and keep bad smells at bay.
Other ways to keep the cage smelling fresh or normal include neutering male bucks, choosing the right rabbit bedding and litter, bonding your rabbit, cleaning scent glands, and ensuring there is sufficient airflow around and through the rabbit enclosure.
Managing your rabbit cage responsibly will lead to a fresh-smelling cage.
Finally, if your rabbit is sick or has a wound that isn’t healing, call your vet for help.
Other rabbit articles you may also like: