What is Bunny Spraying and Why Do Rabbits Spray?
Stop Rabbits from Spraying – Spraying is a natural territorial instinct in domestic and wild rabbits to define their territories. They spray or scatter urine dropping all around their place or cage to mark their locality. Basically, spraying urine is a type of smelly message or signal for the other mate rabbits, that they have defined or selected their specific territory and to make that smellier like them to feel at ease.
Due to the lack of some sensitive receptors in human noses, humans are not able to properly interpret these signals but these signals simply mean ‘this belongs to mine’ by rabbits.
Is Spraying Associated With Maturity in Rabbits?
Another reason for spraying is said to be the onset of maturity in rabbits, depending upon the genetic makeup, generally, female rabbits reach maturity somewhere between the age of three to eight months. There are many events, behavioral changes that occur in rabbits because of changes in hormonal profile.
These puberty-associated behaviors are not so cute, as rabbits become restless; they start circling around your legs and become needy. One undesirable phenomenon during puberty is spraying urine, rabbits lose their good litter habits and start scattering urine all around their place and this is considered one of the major signs of puberty.
Well-trained bunnies start scattering urine all around or spread poop during puberty. Male rabbits spray females during mating. Spraying a jet of urine on humans is usually a sign of love, the way they show love for their owners or need anything from them.
Spraying a Bad Litter Habit?
In the case of pet rabbits, this natural behavior is considered as “bad toilet habit/ bad litter habit” and a very devastating thing for rabbit keepers as this creates mess all around the location.
What are Effective Ways to Tackle Spraying in Rabbits?
There is a diverse variety of methods and strategies which can be helpful in this regard to a great extent.
Neutering or Spaying, is it a Good Solution?
Neutering a male rabbit which means removing its testes or spaying female rabbits ( removing ovaries and uterus) is a nice way to prevent them from spraying urine and marking their territory.
This is the first step to encourage rabbits to prevent their habit of spraying. Neutering and spaying are only done in those rabbits which are not to be used for breeding purposes afterward. These surgeries are mostly performed on domestic/housed pet rabbits to train and inject good litter habits into them.
After neutering, the female rabbits and males will urine only in the defined latrine area and learn gradually to improve their bad litter habit.
Should You Get Your Rabbit Neutered or Spayed?
As far as male rabbits are concerned, they can be neutered as soon as their testes hang, somewhere between the age of 12 to 18 weeks, whereas female rabbits can be spayed at the age of approximately six months.
Consult Your Vetrinarian
This is important to consult your veterinarian in this regard. It is recommended that rabbits can be neutered when they are in good health condition. This surgical process is very common and your vet can perform it after taking the detailed history of your rabbit.
After neutering, the rabbit will experience alterations in its hormonal profile that will lead to the prevention of spraying urine.
How To Deal with Litter Box Training Problems in Rabbit?
After neutering, this is important to train your rabbits to use a confined latrine area by putting a tray. There are some issues which are common, let’s discuss them in detail.
1) As you know, rabbits love to dig, and a tray full of soil (litter) is the perfect spot for your rabbit to perform its digging activity. A hooded or well-covered or a tray with cardboard having an entrance hole inside will stop litter from getting anywhere. In addition, to that another digging area can be provided to rabbits can be a solution to this issue,
2) When rabbits urinate, they shuffle back into the corner and raise their tails. The tray must not be shallow; a tray with high sides, preferably 15cm/6inch depth is good.
How to Train Rabbits to use Designed Litter Box?
If your rabbit is sexually intact( not neutered), it will deliberately spray anywhere by leaving the tray behind.
But this habit gets improved with neutering, but if your rabbit is spraying even after neutering, this may be considered that it has got that habit again and needs a little retraining. Here is the simple technique to retrain them from using the tray again. If your rabbit has access to many rooms/areas, then you should keep multiple trays in each room or specifically target that area where your rabbit loves to go.
Once your rabbit becomes using the tray again, decrease the number of trays gradually, and be limited to that practical area where your rabbits spend most of the time. By this, your rabbit will get used to using the tray again.
What if Your Rabbits goes somewhere Else than Litter Box?
At times, you can get the rabbit’s droppings or urine next to the tray like rabbits may skip the tray and can move to the next area. Again, it is recommended to use a high-sided tray that will mark the clear boundary between the tray and outside the tray. Why do rabbits spray pee in other places rather than the litter box?
Be cautious while using the litter, don’t use the same litter material in the tray as you used in the rest of the cage.
Help rabbits to identify their litter area as a latrine. Thorough cleaning especially cleaning with strong scent disinfectants/chemicals is not advisable. It is recommended to keep some dirt/spots of urine and poop there so that they should clearly consider this their latrine area. Hay should be used as litter material in the litter box as rabbits love to urinate and poop in the hay.
How to keep Rabbits from Marking your Beds and Sofas?
There are some other spots just like sofa and beds where humans spend most of their time, which are quite tempting for rabbits to mark. There are some tricks to restrict the marking of rabbits to these areas.
This can be possible by placing the temporary litter tray on the sofa if your rabbits become habitual. You can gradually move the litter tray to the appropriate place again after doing some training.
If this training trick fails and doesn’t work, then their access to valuable furniture can be stopped by using some physical barriers, which can limit this problem to a certain level.
What to do If Your rabbit forgets his Litter Training?
Even if your rabbit is well trained about its toilet and litter practices, there are chances that it can lose the litter training again.
There are the following reasons, which have been enlisted here.
1) If you change home or any change happens in the territory of rabbits like a new cage or recordation, they will lose their training and their marking behavior will take some weeks to get settled.
2) As rabbits are very possessive about their territory, there is a need to keep the rabbits secure in their space. If you introduce any other animal in their space, they will start their marking behavior.
3) So, it is suggested to keep strange animals in different zones, only comfortable rabbits together,
4) It is also advisable to monitor the health conditions of your rabbits. Any kidney disease, stone, or bladder infection can stop rabbits from using their litter tray. Veterinary attention must be sought if you find any abnormality. Note: Rabbits tend to spray on vertical surfaces, and that urine has a strong odor but in case of any abnormality, they urinate on horizontal surfaces.
5) Making other changes in household or rabbits territory may confuse rabbits and provoke them to extra mark the places. Keep in mind, every possibility when using strong smelly cleaning agents in the household too.
6) Give more attention to your rabbit, if any other strange animal visits your home, as rabbits consider you their property.
Reasons For Rabbit Spraying?
- Rabbit spraying is like other types of animal marking. It has several functions:
- Mark their territory
- Territorial behavior (e.g., warning predators that it will defend itself)
- Maternal behavior (e.g., protecting nests from predators)
- Marking territory, especially around the time of sexual maturity (around age two)
Bunny Spraying is the instinctive habit of rabbits. This can be only dealt with by designing proper training strategies for your rabbit along with neutering as a top priority step to solving this problem. Planned designing of the litter box (must have high walls) should be done to prevent spraying of urine outside the box.
Mykytowycz R: Territorial marking by rabbits. Sci Am 218:116-126, 1968
Whary M, Peper R, Borkowski G, et al: The effects of group housing on the research use of the laboratory
rabbit. Lab Anim 27:330-341, 1993
Rabbit Meat Profitability Table
|Rabbits||Rabbits Born||Lbs Meat / Year||Average Price / LB||Total Revenue Possible|
|1||84||252||$ 8.00||$ 2016|
|2||168||504||$ 8.00||$ 4032|
|5||420||1260||$ 8.00||$ 10,080|
|10||840||2520||$ 8.00||$ 20,162|
|20||1680||5040||$ 8.00||$ 40,320|
|30||2520||7560||$ 8.00||$ 60,480|
|40||3360||10,080||$ 8.00||$ 80,640|
|50||4200||12,600||$ 8.00||$ 100,800|
|100||8400||25,200||$ 8.00||$ 201.600|
|200||16,800||50,400||$ 8.00||$ 403,200|
Rabbit Giant Angora Fur Profitability Table
|Rabbits||Rabbits Born / Yr||0z wool / Year|
40 OZ / Rabitt
|Average Price / oz|
|Feed Cost / Yr |
$ .30 per day / $ 110 per Year
|Total Revenue Possible|
|1||84||3,360||$ 33,600||$ 9,240||$ 24,360|
|2||168||6,720||$ 67,200||$ 18,480||$ 48,720|
|5||420||16,800||$ 168,000||$ 46,200||$ 121,800|
|10||840||33,600||$ 33,6000||$ 92,400||$ 243,600|
|20||1680||67,200||$ 672,000||$ 184,800||$ 487,200|
|30||2520||100,800||$ 1,008,000||$ 57,200||$ 950,800|
|40||3360||134,400||$ 1,344,000||$ 369,600||$ 974,400|
|50||4200||168,000||$ 1,680,000||$ 462,000||$ 1,218,000|
|100||8400||336,000||$ 3,360,000||$ 924,000||$ 2,436,000|
|200||16,800||672,000||$ 6,720,000||$ 1,848,000||$ 4,872,000|
Average Giant Angora Weight 10lb
40 Oz shaved Fur per Rabbit per Year
Feed $ .30 per day for 10lb Rabbit
Rabbit Poop Profitability Table
|Number Rabbits||Manure / day / .5lb||Manure / lbs Week||Manure /lbs Year|
Breeds of Rabbits FAQ
|Breed of Rabbit||Origin||Weight||Purpose||Kits / Litter||Breed association|
|New Zealands||California||5 kg|
|Meat||8||American Federation New Zealand Rabbit Breeders Assoc|
|Meat||6 - 8||California Rabbit Breeders|
|Meat||2 - 4||National Rex Rabbit Club|
|Meat||2 - 4||American satin Breeders Association|
|Meat||6 -8||Palimino Rabbit Breeders Association|
|English Angora||England||2-3 kg|
|Wool||6 - 8||National Angora Breeders|
|French Angora||France||4.5 kg|
|Wool||6 - 8||National Angora Breeders|
|Giant Angora||Turkey||4.5 kg|
9 - 10 lbs
|Wool||6 - 8||National Angora Breeders|
|Satin Angora||Turkey||4.5 kg|
6 - 10 lbs
|Wool||6 - 8||National Angora Breeders|
|Mini Lop||UK||3 kg|
|Dwarf||2 -3||American Mini Lop Rabbit Club|
|Dutch Dwarf||Netherlands||1 - 2 kg|
|Dwarf||2 - 4||American Netherland Dwarf Rabbit Club|
|Pygmy Rabbit||North American||500 grams|
|Britania Petite||UK / Polish||700 grams|
1 1/2 - 2 lbs
|Dwarf||2-3||American Britiania Petite Rabbit Society|
Rabbit Breeder Associations
|American Breeders Association||United States||ARBA|
|House Rabbit Society||California||HRS|
|Ohio States Rabbit Breeders Association||Ohio||OSRBA|
|Livestock Conservancy||North Carolina||LC|
|Rabbit Welfare Association and Fund||United Kingdom||RWA|
|British Rabbit Council||United Kingdom||BRC|
|European Association of Rabbits....||Europe||EAP|
|Australian National Rabbit Council||Australia||ANRC|
|Australian Rabbit House Society||Australia||ARHS|
|ARBA - Rabbit Shows||United States||ARBA - Shows|
Author: Dr. John Abbass
DVM M. Phil (Animal production and welfare)