Inappropriate urination is one of the most common issues that many rabbit breeders and owners suffer from. However, what many people don’t know is that not all inappropriate urination is the same.
In fact, a particular type of urination has been causing problems for rabbit caregivers more than anyone else, which is the one where rabbits spray their urine, which leads many of them to wonder “why is my rabbit spraying urine?”
Rabbits spray urine for various reasons that all revolve around their territorial instinct. The behavior is common among unneutered male rabbits but other rabbits might also do it to different extents. A rabbit spraying its urine somewhere or on something is their way to claim it “their own”.
If you want to find out more about this behavior as well as the other reasons why rabbits pee inappropriately and how to prevent it, keep on reading this guide!
Why Do Rabbits Spray Urine?
If you’ve been around rabbits for a while, you’ll know that, despite their cute looks, they’re quite territorial and aggressive when it comes to “marking their spot”.
Rabbits, especially intact male rabbits (bucks) as well as unspayed females (does), will resort to spraying in order to mark things.
This may even include spraying their pens and cages, spraying other rabbits to assert their dominance, and even their caregivers, which is also translated as a sign of love.
Moreover, rabbits will also spray their urine in order to attract other females for mating, as that sprayed urine contains pheromones, which is why sprayed urine has a much stronger smell than usual.
In most cases, spraying is a natural behavior that shouldn’t call for worrying, although other forms of inappropriate urinating can be an indicator of an issue, but more about that in the following sections.
Is Spraying Urine Exclusive to Males?
Although spraying urine is more common among male unneutered rabbits, some female rabbits, as well as neutered male rabbits, might engage in this behavior as well.
The reason behind that is that neutering or spaying a rabbit will prevent the rabbits from being able to breed.
However, the hormonal cycle in these rabbits might still kick in even after neutering or spaying for a few months, especially if the neutered male rabbit is accompanied by other female rabbits.
Of course, neutering a rabbit can remarkably reduce the issue but the behavior might take some time to go as well.
How to Differentiate Between Spraying and Other Types of Inappropriate Urination?
One thing you need to know about rabbit spraying is that it’s considered a specific type of inappropriate urination.
However, bad litter box habits can include forms other than spraying, so here are some aspects to differentiate between them.
For starters, when a rabbit starts spraying, they’re usually marking a territory, an item, or even rabbits and humans they’re around. In other words, spraying usually takes a vertical pattern, as they tend to spread it upwards rather than directing it towards the ground.
Additionally, marking urine usually has extra chemicals that send a signal to other rabbits that “this is mine”. These chemicals are known as pheromones, which have a very strong smell when compared to normal urine.
Moreover, unlike regular urination puddles, rabbit spray covers a larger area and tends to be a lot messier.
What is a Healthy Rabbit Urination Pattern?
Rabbits usually prefer to urinate in the same area, which is why training them to use a small litter box is pretty easy if your bunny is healthy.
However, you should expect your rabbit to urinate outside the litterbox a few times here and there, which shouldn’t indicate any problems unless the urination outside the box is repetitive.
Ideally, a healthy adult rabbit will pee anywhere from 2 to 8 times every day, which depends on the amount of fluids they consume as well as their diet and health condition.
Similarly, an intact male will usually spray around 6 to 8 times a day as well, but the volume of spraying is usually bigger and the smell factor makes it feel even more evident.
In both cases, rabbit urine will be pale to golden yellow, but the urine can also come in various darker shades depending on their diet. For example, rabbits that consume beetroot or red cabbages will have red or purple colored urine respectively.
Rabbits are also heavy droppers, as you’re going to leave up to 200 dry fecal pellets every day as well as soft pellets, called “cecal pellets” that they reuse for extra nutritional benefits.
Other Reasons Why Rabbits Urinate Inappropriately
As previously mentioned, spraying isn’t the only form of inappropriate urination that your rabbit might display.
Here are some other reasons why your rabbit may frequently urinate outside their litter box, even with proper litter box training:
1 – The Litter Box Is Misplaced or Unsuitable for Rabbits
Let’s start with one of the most underrated reasons that drive many rabbits to pee outside their litter box.
Even if your rabbit is trained to use a litterbox, it’ll urinate outside it if the box is too far to reach. This happens when you allow your bunny to roam around the house but without a proper abundance of litter boxes around.
Also, if you have multiple rabbits, they might start urinating outside the litter box if it’s always occupied by another rabbit. Also, misplacing the box or using one that is too small can cause similar issues.
2 – Health Issues and Infections
If you have a good distribution of litter boxes around the house or your rabbit is confined to a small area with a proper litter box, you should also make sure that they’re not suffering from a medical condition that is causing inappropriate urination.
Another sign of a medical condition is the sudden withdrawal from using the box despite an established schedule as well as displaying other symptoms, such as isolation and lethargy.
Diseases that cause irregular urination vary from urinary tract infections to life-threatening conditions, so you have to contact a vet immediately if you suspect one.
3 – Stress, Fear, and Other Behavioral Problems
Inappropriate urination can also happen due to behavioral problems, such as sudden changes in their environment.
Rabbits may also use it to signal their stress, fear, or trauma in addition to reacting to a new pet or hutch.
A good solution here is to always take your time while implementing any changes to your rabbit, especially if they have a history of reacting erratically to sudden changes.
How to Stop Rabbits from Spraying
While spraying on its own isn’t a sign of a physical or emotional problem for rabbits like other inappropriate urination patterns, it can be extremely inconvenient for house owners.
Some people will consider cleaning up their house more frequently. However, this can be quite exhausting in the long run, as your bunny won’t stop spraying. In fact, cleaning the area of their “scent” will only drive it to spray it once again.
The only viable solution that can help in the case of a house rabbit is neutering or spaying your rabbit. To do that, you need to contact a good veterinarian that specializes in fixing rabbits.
Your vet will also walk you through everything you need to know regarding the procedure, including the recovery time, expectations, costs, and more.
Of course, fixing a rabbit isn’t always a viable solution, especially for those who are planning to breed their rabbit.
In that case, confining the rabbits to a specific area or allowing them to roam in a dedicated rabbit pen outdoors can be the only solution.
If you have multiple rabbits and the spraying problem started when these rabbits crossed paths, separating the rabbits and confining each one to a specific area can also reduce the impact of spraying around the house.
Can Rabbits Wear Diapers?
A lot of homeowners also consider putting diapers on their rabbits to prevent the urine and feces from spreading everywhere. Technically speaking, rabbits can wear diapers, especially for a short period of time.
However, wearing diapers comes with its set of pros and cons, which we’re going to tackle in the following sections.
Let’s start with the benefits of using diapers for rabbits. Here’s a quick look at some cases where diapers are a good solution:
1 – Prevents the Mess and Smell Cause By Spraying
If you put on a proper diaper on the rabbit, it should prevent the smell and mess of urine caused by spraying or bad litter box habits by confining them in an easily disposable diaper.
2 – A Great Solution for Adjusting to New Places
If you’re moving to a new place or changing the area where your rabbit urinates, you can help them adjust to the new spot at their own pace by putting a diaper on during that time.
3 – Works Well With Diseased Rabbits
As previously mentioned, some rabbits, especially ill and senior ones, might have bladder control issues, which causes them to pee outside their litter box frequently. A diaper can be a solution to keep them comfortable during that time.
The Drawbacks of Rabbits Wearing Diapers
Despite all its merits, wearing diapers is not always the magical solution to your problem. In this section, we’ll take a closer look at some of the disadvantages of rabbit diapers.
1 – Not an Ideal Long Term Solution
As you’ve noticed from the advantages section, they’re all temporary situations, so you can’t depend on a diaper for a long time because it can eventually irritate their skin, especially if they’re not changed frequently throughout the day.
2 – Rabbits May End Up Chewing on a Loose Diaper
Rabbits are known for their tendency to chew on things, so a loosely-fitting diaper can be an easy target to pick on, which can cause a lot of mess and even health problems for your rabbit.
3 – Interfere with Their Feeding Cycle
Rabbits consume their soft feces (cecal pellets) twice for extra nutritional benefits. Wearing a diaper can deny them the nutrients found in these pellets, which can cause malnutrition in the long run.
How to Put on a Diaper on a Rabbit
Now that you know more about diapers for rabbits and whether it’s a suitable solution to your problem, it’s time to find out how to put them on your rabbits properly to prevent leaking and ensure your furry friend’s comfort.
Here’s a brief guide that shows you a proper way to get the job done:
- Pick the right type of diaper for your rabbit, which can be reusable or disposable diapers. Ideally, disposable ones are more convenient. There are several special bunny diapers out there, but some people also use newborn diapers for the job.
- Adjust the diaper for rabbits’ use: if your rabbit is a little big or you want to give the rabbit more space, you can make a small cut on the sides.
- Set your rabbit properly to put on the diaper: either put your rabbit on your lap or on the ground and put the diaper on them backward, then tighten the tapes while making sure that the tail in covered inside
- Allow your bunny to move around to check whether it’s a good fit. If the bunny is having trouble moving around like normal or stops moving, remove the diaper and reapply it again.
This wraps it up for today’s guide that answers the popular question “why is my rabbit spraying urine”. As you can see, the action of spraying urine is mainly due to the territorial nature of rabbits, especially unneutered males.
In addition to marking, a rabbit might also pee or poop inappropriately due to health conditions and behavioral issues, such as stress as well as adjusting to changes in their litter box or its location.
Using diapers to avoid this problem can work as a temporary solution to spraying, but you need to figure out the real reason why your rabbit is behaving this way and stop the causative problem from the roots.