How To Keep A Rabbit Cage From Smelling

The rewards of rabbit ownership are obvious, however, owning rabbits also comes with a number of responsibilities. One of the most important of these is ensuring that they have a safe and clean space of their own.

While we often recommend a large enclosure over a hutch or a cage, even caged rabbits (provided they have access to a large run for several hours per day) can be happy ones.

One difficulty with cages over larger enclosures is that they can get rather smelly if cleaning is neglected so in this short post we’re going to discuss exactly what you need to do to keep a rabbit cage from smelling.

The easiest way to stop a rabbit cage from smelling is to carry out regular cleaning. A thorough clean of the cage and removal of all substrate should be carried out at least once a week and regular spot cleans of toilet areas should be carried out daily. Fragranced rabbit-safe granules can also be added to a cage during cleaning to eliminate odors.

It might feel a little overwhelming having to take on this new cleaning routine, but before you adopt your rabbit, it can be useful to get to grips with basic bunny hygiene.

How Often Should I Clean My Rabbit Cage?

If your rabbit cage develops a bit of a whiff, then the chances are that this has been caused by urine. Rabbits typically urinate in one area so getting them used to using a litter tray is a good way to contain this.

However, you will still need to change any soiled bedding at least twice a week. It might seem a little excessive, but removing all of the soiled bedding and replacing it with a fresh batch will keep the cage much fresher.

smelly rabbit cage

Moreover, you will need to make sure that you give your bun a spot cleaning every day. This doesn’t need to be too detailed but removing things like poop, pee, and uneaten food will help in your battle against odors.

But that’s not all, once a week, you should deep clean your rabbit’s cage. You can do this by removing all of the bedding, hay, and other materials and wiping the cage out.

You’ll need to remove your bunnies prior to cleaning and use animal-friendly cleaning products.

What Type Of Rabbit Bedding Should I Use?

If there was ever a problem for rabbit owners, it is choosing the right type of bedding. However, it is not only your rabbit’s comfort that you need to think about. Choosing the wrong type of bedding may contribute to an unpleasant smell.

For example, a lot of bunny parents make the mistake of using straw or hay for their rabbit’s bedding. Hay should only be used as a part of your pets diet and not for sleeping or toileting.

Using hay for both eating and bedding could send your bunny mixed signals.

Where straw is concerned, this is not a very absorbent material and this means that odors are much more likely. Something that is absorbent, however, is paper. This is readily available so can make an affordable bedding solution.

That being said, you should always make sure to avoid printed paper and the inks in these might be toxic to your rabbit in large amounts. Otherwise, clean, torn paper can be excellent at absorbing moisture and bad smells.

But the most widely used rabbit bedding is Aspen wood shavings. These are packaged especially for pets and have been thoroughly sanitized and are ready to use.

The bales are not expensive and can be picked up at almost every pet store in the world. This material is soft and comfortable as well as being super absorbent.

While most wood shaving products are odorless, there are those that are lightly fragranced. In reality, the scent is very mild and doesn’t do much for the overall smell of the rabbit cage so this is worth keeping in mind.

Why Does My Rabbit Smell So Bad?

Rabbits are incredibly cute animals and there aren’t many people who can resist that twitching nose and that fluffy little tail.

However, despite their sweet appearance, rabbits can produce an awful lot of waste (the average rabbit can produce around 200 droppings per day!).

Naturally, if this waste is allowed to build up, the smell can become unpleasant.

For the most part, this is related to how well maintained their cage is and if there is a bad odor, cleaning your bunny’s home will normally solve the problem.

Occasionally, there may be times that no amount of cleaning will rectify a smell problem.

In these cases, the smell may be the rabbit itself and not the cage or environment.

A bad-smelling rabbit may be a result of illness. Things like ear infections, parasites, and even wounds can cause your rabbit to whiff.

Elderly or obese rabbits also find it difficult to groom themselves so you should expect the occasional need to carry out a ‘butt baths’ should the rabbit reach a ripe old age (usually anywhere between 8 and 12 years of age).

How Do You Get Rid Of Rabbit Smell?

There are some things that come with the territory of owning an animal, the smell being one.

This is especially true if you have unneutered rabbits that spray; the smell can get very bad if you do not clean. But this is also part of the privilege of being a pet owner; you get to see how nature works.

Of course, nobody wants a lingering bun smell so if things are getting a little out of control, there are things you can do.

Of course, adhering to the tips that we have already given regarding bunny housekeeping is the most important step but what you feed your rabbit could have an impact on his smell.

Rabbits are meant to eat a diet primarily made up of hay.

A small number of vegetables can be added to make things more interesting (as can pellets) however, they have no requirement for multiple different fruits, veg, or sugary treats and would survive perfectly well on hay and water alone. 

If a rabbit’s diet is out of balance, or if they are not getting enough water, the acidity of their urine can increase. This could result in a stronger more foul-smelling odor as ammonia levels build up.

In such instances reverting to a hay-only diet for a short period can help to return the digestive system to a balanced state, in turn reducing those nasty odors.

Moreover, adding a little apple cider vinegar into your bunny’s water might be enough to rebalance its digestive pH levels, leading to a more nose-friendly smell.

Finally, cages should be placed in a location that has naturally good airflow/air circulation and although rabbits should not be exposed to draughts, opening windows for short periods can also help to get rid of rabbit smells.

Is The Smell of Rabbit Urine Harmful?

As a rule of thumb, your rabbit’s urine shouldn’t be harmful to you, in smell or otherwise. While it might not be the most attractive thing in the world, cleaning up your rabbits’ urine or inhaling its smell shouldn’t result in any health complications for you.

That being said, we are assuming that you and your rabbit are both healthy. There may be times when infectious diseases leave bacteria in the urine which could be passed on through contact with the liquid.

One particular bacteria that can be present in some rabbits’ urine known as E Cuniculi.

While this isn’t known to cause problems in most people, those with conditions that affect the immune system such as HIV and AIDS should exercise caution.


Darren is the founder and editor at Bunny Advice and has been caring for rabbits for over a decade. He has a passion for helping animals and sharing his experience and knowledge with others.

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