Why Does Rabbit Pee Smell so Bad?

I always wondered if rabbits were smelly creatures.

When I bought my first bonded pair of rabbits, I realized, it’s not the rabbits that were the source of any smell.

It’s the ammonia in their urine that stinks. The worst stink comes from the urine of unneutered male or buck rabbits that spray their territory with pheromone laced urine.

Rabbit urine is normally not such a smelly business unless the pee is from an unneutered male or a sick bunny.

Rabbit Gender and Why Rabbit Pee Smells Bad

By knowing why rabbit pee stinks, you can alleviate bad odors near the hutch or cage by taking the right preventive and curative measures.

Female Rabbit Pee

A female rabbit or doe urinates in a designated area of the hutch when they are litter trained.

A healthy female rabbit’s urine should have a slight ammonia smell, but it should not stink while it’s fresh.

If the does urine builds up in the hutch over some time, it can lead to an increased ammonia smell.

Male Rabbit Pee

Unlike the doe’s urine, a buck or male rabbit’s urine contains pheromones that they use to mark their territory. This makes for a very smelly rabbit hutch.

Instead of the buck rabbit’s pee only smelling like ammonia, when unneutered, they also spray their territory.

This leads to a much more potent stink.

Also read: Why Does My Rabbit Pee on Me?

Reasons Why Your Rabbit Cage or Hutch Smells Bad

It is rarely the rabbits themselves that smell of urine. Usually, it is the cage or hutch that stinks.

There are several reasons why your rabbit’s home may stink of urine.

Poorly Trained Rabbit

If your rabbit is poorly litter trained, it may end up urinating anywhere in the cage or hutch. This makes cleaning up the hutch much more difficult.

When a rabbit is litter trained, they will only urinate in one area: the litter box.

Training your rabbit to use their litter box or pee area should be done when the rabbit is still young.

Having a rabbit that is litter trained means you can easily clean the hutch or cage. All the droppings and pee patches are in one area.

Infrequent Cleaning Schedule

While you can train your rabbit to potty in one area of their enclosure, they can’t clean up after themselves.

That’s your job.

Frequently cleaning your rabbit’s enclosure means you can get rid of the urine deposits before these start to really stink.

With a regular cleaning schedule, you get into the habit of cleaning.

Daily wipes with a wet wipe or a paper towel can really help eliminate nasty rabbit pee smells.

Overcrowded Hutch

Another reason your rabbit hutch may be stinking urine or even fish is that the hutch may be overcrowded.

Overcrowding means more rabbits that pee in a small area. With more pee, the hutch will begin to smell quickly.

Lack of Fresh Water

When a rabbit has not drunk enough water, their urine will become more concentrated, and the ammonia smell will increase.

Always ensure your rabbit has sufficient access to water.

With insufficient water intake, a rabbit’s kidneys will start to release excess ammonia crystals. This will make the rabbit’s urine smell even worse.

Incorrect Diet for Your Rabbits

We are what we eat, and the same holds for rabbits. If their diet has an imbalance, your rabbit may start to produce more smells when urinating.

Ensure your rabbit has 70% fresh hay in its diet.

If you decide you want to feed treats to your rabbit, be sure to keep it to the minimum as fruit sugars can trigger the production of ammonia.

Also read: Does Rabbit Poop Smell?

Additional Ways to Improve Your Rabbit’s Urine Smell

If your rabbit’s urine smells really bad, you can opt for any of these ways to improve their hutch of the cage:

Clean the Cage Daily

By cleaning the cage daily and cleaning the litter box as much as twice daily, you can reduce the ammonia smell.

If this still doesn’t work well, you can also change to a different litter material.

Try pine shavings or a newspaper litter bed to see which one absorbs the urine smell best.

Replace Litter Weekly

For a very smelly bunny, you may need to change the entire litter bed on a weekly basis.

Changing the litter and the rabbit’s hutch bed weekly will remove any traces of ammonia.

Use Diatomaceous Earth

For a great way to remove the telltale urine smell of rabbit litter, you can opt to add a sprinkling of diatomaceous earth to your bunny’s litter box and hutch bedding.

HARRIS Diatomaceous Earth Food Grade, 4lb with Powder Duster Included in The Bag

Not only will this help reduce your rabbit’s pest load, but it will also ensure there are no ammonia smells hanging around your hutch.

Sterilize the Male Rabbits

It is the instinct for your unneutered bucks to want to show off and mark their territory by spraying everywhere they can.

Book your buck with the vet to be neutered, and you will ensure there will be no more pheromones that can cling to fabric or cage walls.

The musk smell of male rabbit urine is particularly strong.

A neutered buck will no longer spray their area, reducing the smell and improving their overall health too.

Have Your Rabbits Checked by a Vet

When your rabbit’s urine smells particularly strong, it can be that they are in season or they may be ill.

Excessive hormones and dehydration can cause your rabbit to urinate in a much more concentrated form.

Health conditions can lead to a more concentrated form of urine, which will smell much worse.

Older rabbits can quickly develop bladder infections, which can lead to bad-smelling urine.

A visit to your vet can help rule out health causes for bad urine smell. Plus, the vet can recommend treatment options too.

Some FAQs about Rabbit Urine Smelling Bad

Why does my rabbit’s urine smell so badly?

Rabbits’ urine smells like ammonia, which creates a pungent and noxious smell.

If a rabbit has urinated in its hutch and the urine is allowed to build up over a few days, the pee will start to smell fishy as the ammonia compounds interact with the bedding and other elements in the bunny hutch.

Is bunny urine smell bad for human health?

When consistently exposed to the smell of urine of bunnies or other pets, you inhale the ammonia into your lungs.

This can lead to lung damage and the development of respiratory tract infections.

How do you prevent bunny urine smell?

Regular cleaning of your bunny’s hutch will help eliminate the build-up of ammonia, which is what causes the smell in the first place.

Make sure your bunny has access to freshwater to help dilute their urine sufficiently and prevent kidney damage.

Neuter bucks to eliminate spraying and other territorial urination that has a particularly foul smell.

How can I remove rabbit pee’s stains from my sofa?

Your rabbit may want to hang out with you while you watch TV, and if they aren’t litter trained yet, they can end up peeing on the sofa.

Rabbit pee smells of ammonia, and the best way to clean that is to use an enzyme-based cleaner.

If you don’t have a specialized commercial cleaner, you can use baking soda and white vinegar to clean pee stains.

Never use bleach as the ammonia smell can trigger marking behavior in rabbits.

The Last Smell

When you keep rabbits, they will urinate in their hutch or cage. It need not be a smelly business if you regularly clean the area and litter train your rabbit.

Make sure your rabbits are healthy, neuter bucks, and feed them a balanced diet so there is no excessive stink to their urine.

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