10 Easy Steps to Clean Rabbit Scent Glands

Rabbits are hygienic creatures. They love to groom themselves. However, there are some parts, like their scent glands, that they can barely reach. This means they need a little help from their favorite humans. We hear them, read on and learn how to clean rabbit scent glands!

What are rabbit scent glands?

female rabbit scent glands

Scent glands play a vital role in every rabbit. These scent glands are odor messengers who help rabbits signal, notify, and inform other rabbits of their power, status, and territories.

Rabbits have at least two scent glands in their bodies to mark territories, claim objects, and drive away predators. Among all these scent glands, we will specifically be talking about the rabbit scent glands near their butts, which produces a disgusting waxy substance.

Where is the off-smell rabbit scent gland located?

Two of the rabbit scent glands are located underneath their chin and near their anus. The scent gland under their chin does not pose any problem if left uncleaned. Unfortunately, the scent glands near their bottoms can trigger health issues if it is not regularly cleaned.

You may check this video to see how to clean rabbit scent gland located in their chin.

Why do you need to clean rabbit scent glands?

The rabbit scent gland near their anus usually gets clogged with a waxy substance, just like how a human ear gets plugged up with earwax. The difference, though, is the plugged-up rabbit scent gland may produce a very disgusting smell.

If the plugged-up wax is not removed on time, it may attract mites, bacteria, parasites, and even viruses that may be deadly to the rabbit. It may attract flies and infect your rabbits with flystrike. Or it may cause your rabbit other medical issues that you will worry about.

Thus, you must regularly check your rabbit’s scent gland to prevent medical problems.

How to clean rabbit scent glands?

cleaning rabbit scent glands

There are different ways how to clean rabbit scent glands. But what you need to ensure when you clean it is your rabbit must be in a comfortable position. Otherwise, they might get stressed.

But before we jump into the steps, here’s what you need to prepare:

  • Cloth
  • Warm Water
  • Cotton
  • Gloves

You may follow the steps below in cleaning your rabbit’s scent glands.

Step 1. Set the stage

Most rabbits do not want to be picked up or held. But as much as we would like them to wander in their hutch, pen, or yard freely, we need to catch them.

Be careful in catching the rabbits since they easily get startled. Don’t panic if you hear them squeal or scream when you pick them up. Screaming is a rabbit’s natural reaction when they are in fear, shocked, or surprised, but that doesn’t mean that it is fine when it lets out a squeal.

Thus, it is important that before picking up the rabbit, you must spend time with them and play with them until they get comfortable with you. Once you gain a little bit of rabbit’s trust, slowly and gently pet them until you get 100% of their trust.

Step 2. Pick the rabbit carefully

rabbit anal glands

You already have set the stage and made the rabbit feel that you are someone that the rabbit can trust, do not waste the opportunity to pick the rabbit without any trouble.

Since you have already established the trust, you may now try holding and picking up your rabbit. You need to do it gently so as not to startle or frighten the rabbit. The rabbit must stay comfortable and relaxed.

Step 3. Check the location of the scent gland

rabbit anus

Once you can hold the rabbit, start checking the location of the scent gland. Ensure that you are correctly holding the rabbit and that the grip must be tight (but not tight enough to hurt them) to ensure they won’t fall when they start moving.

If you hold the rabbit with its tummy facing at you, you may check the scent glands under its tail. Slowly and gently lift their tail and lightly spread their fur. Then, scan or check their skin on the side of their bottom to have access to their scent gland.

The rabbit scent gland in their bottom has two small sacs on the side of their bottom’s opening. You can quickly tell which one it is as the sacs have a distinct reddish-brown color.

Step 4. Ensure the rabbits won’t move

rabbit scent glands diagram

The rabbit may feel uneasy when you start checking their sweat gland. This means that a good grip may not be enough to hold and keep the rabbit calm.

The best thing you need to do is wrap the rabbit with a cloth to prevent them from moving or attempting to get away.

Step 5. Stick it

rabbit anal gland

Once you perfectly wrap the rabbit, you may start checking their scent gland. But before you do this, we advise that you should use medical gloves. Otherwise, you may have direct contact with the foul-smelling sticky substance.

After putting on the gloves, locate the scent gland’s opening, then gently squeeze it to remove the secretion.

Step 6. Start cleaning the scent gland

The next thing you need to do is clean the rabbit scent glands. To do this, you need to get the cotton and warm water. Dip the cotton into the warm water and use it to clean the scent gland. Do it gently.

Rabbits are very sensitive animals, and you do not want them to feel uneasy because once they do, they may start moving, and you might be struggling to calm them again.

Make sure that you wipe off all the dirt in their scent gland to avoid any infection. Also, do not reuse the cotton.

Step 7. Wipe-dry your rabbit’s scent gland

After you clean the scent glands, you need to dry them. Use a dry cloth or cotton to wipe off the water or moisture in the rabbit’s scent gland. Do not forget to do this step since a wet scent gland may get dirt sticking to it. If this happens, your rabbit’s scent gland may also get infected.

Step 8. Apply a scent gland-friendly cream

This step is optional, but most rabbit owners do not skip this step.

Creams, ointments, and oils are advisable to put into your rabbit’s scent gland, especially if they have wounds or scratches. These things help your rabbit’s wound to heal quickly. If you opt to do this, only use rabbit-friendly creams that the veterinarians prescribe.

Step 9. Reward your rabbit

Once you have successfully cleaned your rabbit’s scent gland, give them a treat as their reward. This trick is used for the rabbits not be reminded of what you have done to them. Rewarding them helps the rabbits to have their minds diverted to other things.

You may also reward them by giving them time to play or wander inside your house or yard before putting them back in their hutch or pen. But, since you just cleaned the scent gland, you may need to recheck it before putting the rabbit back in its cage.

Step 10. Put the rabbit back in its pen

After giving treats to the rabbit, the rabbit goes back to its cage. Check the cage first and see if it is clean and livable. If not, clean it first before putting back the rabbit. This ensures that your rabbit has a lesser chance of getting bacteria and parasites that may infect their newly cleaned scent gland.

Here’s a quick video on how to clean your rabbit scent glands.

How to Maintain the Rabbit Scent Gland Healthy?

After learning the importance of a clean scent gland, you need to work on the next step, which is keeping your rabbit’s scent gland healthy. Here are some tips for you.

Keep them hydrated

This may sound absurd and unrelated to the scent glands, but keeping your rabbit hydrated means keeping its entire system healthy, and this includes the rabbit scent glands.

Follow the grooming schedule

The next tip’s relationship to the rabbit scent glands is very obvious. Following the grooming schedule means your rabbit is tidy. A tidy rabbit may still have debris and dust particles after being groomed, but a correctly and satisfactorily groomed rabbit has a slim chance of getting diseases.

Use a warm compress

Another trick you may use when you clean a clogged rabbit scent gland is a warm compress. But do not use the hot compress for humans. Instead, you may use a cloth or towel dipped in warm water.

Applying the DIY warm compress to the rabbit’s scent gland near the bottom will help loosen up the clogged scent gland.

Remove the scent glands

Scent glands are essential to rabbits as it helps them broadcast their status or territories to the entire rabbit colony. Removing their scent glands may affect their behavior. However, if the scent gland badly produces a disgusting odor, you may opt to have the glands removed.

But do not remove it all by yourself unless you are a veterinarian or a trained professional. Do this to avoid infection from an open wound.

Keep their cage clean

The last and yet one of the most important tips that you must wholeheartedly follow is keeping their hutch or environment dirt-free. We all know the effects of a dirty environment on the rabbits, and to prevent unlikely things from happening, you must clean their cage regularly.


There are different ways how to clean your rabbit scent glands. Regardless of how you do it, you must gently and carefully clean their scent glands. You must also handle the rabbit with extra care to not startle or injure them.

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