You only want to spend some quality time with your bunny.
But instead of relieving your stress…
They give you some crappy presents instead.
Your bunny always releases tiny cocoa balls when you lift them.
And they leave you covered with it. (Uh-oh!)
Which makes you wonder,
“Why are they doing this?
And is this normal?”
Read on to find out:
- 7 reasons why your rabbit poops on you.
- How you can tell if they’re being territorial or not.
- Clear signs that your bunny is nervous or stressed.
- 7 practical tips on how to stop this pooping behavior.
- And so much more…
Why does my rabbit poop on me?
Your rabbit poops on you due to territoriality. They like you and they want to show others that you belong to them. And it’s normal, especially in hormonal rabbits. This can also be due to strong emotions. Such as fear and excitement. But they may need litter training too or they’re ‘sleep pooping.’
7 reasons why your rabbit poops on you
#1: Your rabbit is ‘marking’ you
Did you know that bunnies are territorial?
Yup. According to experts, this is a normal animal instinct.
For example, birds claim territories by singing. While others use their scent to mark places. Such as dogs and wolves.
And how do they spread their odor?
By leaving their pee or poop.
So although this might sound odd, your little bunny could also be doing this for the same reason.
They pee or poop on you to claim you as their own. And they can also do it to other objects or spots you’ve been to.
Some rabbits may rub their heads on their humans as well. To spread and leave their scent.
And they also do the ‘chinning.’
“What is it?”
It’s when bunnies rub their chins on objects to leave their odor. And it’s possible since they have scent glands in that area.
So now you might ask,
“Why are they marking me?”
For one simple reason…
It’s because they like you a lot!
Yes, feel flattered as you’re doing great and your bun loves you.
Pooping on you can be your rabbit’s way of telling others that you belong to them.
And most bunnies may likely do this when they start bonding well with their humans.
Also, if they keep on doing this, it might be because they can’t smell their odor on you anymore. As you always clean yourself and change clothes.
Interesting fact: Usually, territorial poops are scattered and not piled up. Plus, they’re also shinier and smellier than regular ones. This is because they’re coated with musk. Which is said to be a smelly substance produced by their scent glands in the anus.
You might also like: Why does my rabbit climb on me?
#2: Your rabbit is having a surge of hormones
This problem is also seen in bunnies who aren’t spayed or neutered yet.
Because aside from instincts…
Hormones can also make rabbits so engrossed with claiming territories.
This usually happens when they’re sexually mature. And Merck Vets says that it’s around:
- 3.5 to 4 months old: For small bunnies.
- 6 to 9 months old: For giant-sized rabbits.
- 4 to 4.5 months old: For medium to large breeds.
This often comes with peeing too. And you may also notice a smelly odor (which is the musk I mentioned earlier).
So it’s easy to detect. Since rabbits’ stools are usually dry and only have a slight odor.
And you’ll know if something’s on if there’s a change in their poop’s appearance or scent.
Note: A rabbit’s poop may be easy to clean up. But, it’s still better if they don’t drop these on you or elsewhere. We’ll get to the tips later. So stay tuned! 🙂
#3: Your rabbit is still young
Is your fur baby still a kitten?
If so, that might also be the reason why your rabbit poops on you.
They’re still young. So they may easily get nervous around people – even with you, their human.
Especially when they’re picked up.
Note: Bunnies may outgrow this after several weeks or months.
#4: Your rabbit is stressed
Are we talking about a new bunny here?
Or is it a behavior that appeared on your rabbit all of a sudden?
Well, whichever your case is, it could be that they’re stressed.
Besides hormones, stress can also be the reason why bunnies poop anywhere – including your lap.
First, rabbits are prey animals.
They have a strong flight instinct. And this helps them avoid or escape quickly from predators.
So most of them will get scared if they’re being held.
And if you have a new bunny, they’ll also be uncomfortable being touched at first. Since they’re still not used to it.
However, if your furry friend has already been with you for a long time and this is a new behavior…
Vets say that rabbits might also get stressed due to:
- Internal or external noises.
- Other household pets or animals outside.
And signs to watch out for are:
- Weight loss.
- Reduced appetite.
- Attempting to escape.
- Intense breathing when held.
#5: Your rabbit had bad experiences
If bunnies can be stressed, it’s also possible for them to experience trauma.
Compared to other animals, rabbits are more fearful and nervous.
And you certainly don’t want to witness a small bunny so scared for their life.
Even the slightest noise can give them a shock. As well as small movements. (So be extra gentle and careful around your bunny!)
We’ve talked earlier about how they feel uncomfortable being picked up, right?
So, if they’ve been handled roughly in the past, it can cause trauma to them.
And this might be the reason why your bun can’t control their nerves when you touch or hold them.
Which results in involuntary pooping. As well as peeing.
Don’t forget to check out: Why does my rabbit bite me?
#6: Your rabbit is so excited
It could also be that your bunny is doing this for exactly the opposite reason.
They might be so happy to see you.
Because just like fear, excitement is also an intense emotion. And this can make them go as well without them even realizing it.
So, they may also scatter some poop while they’re ‘binkying.’ Or suddenly jumping in the air.
As it’s triggered by excitement as well.
Note: When in a good mood, bunnies may also leave their droppings on areas they like. Such as a certain corner, shoe, or even your clothes. So this list can also include their favorite human in the world – which is you.
#7: Your rabbit needs to be litter trained
If your bunny was already spayed or neutered, this might also be a litter training issue.
They may not be good at using their litter box yet. So they often have accidents when they’re around you.
“At what age should I start to train my rabbit?”
Based on vets, you can do it at any age. And the earlier, the better.
Although they say that adult bunnies are usually easier to teach. Compared to small baby kittens.
#BONUS: Your rabbit is ‘sleep pooping’
Lastly, does your bun do this while they’re sleeping on you?
If so, they might be ‘sleep pooping.’
Like this little darling here who seems to be dreaming of going to the bathroom:
“Why do they do that?”
There are no studies yet about this behavior in rabbits.
But a good theory by some experts is that they’re fully relaxed in their sleep.
So they don’t even realize that their buns are dispensing some Nesquik cereals.
There are also reports of rabbits pooping after their tail has been touched. And this also happens during deep sleep.
This is normal. And you’ll also notice that the stools they produce are regular ones.
Meaning, dry and firm. Unlike the poop, they release when they’re trying to mark territory.
7 tips to stop your rabbit from pooping on you
#1: Litter train them
Whether your bunny is being territorial or not…
It’s still important to teach them how to do their business in a litter box.
This will save you a lot of time as you’d be picking up less poop. And it’ll also lessen your stress.
But, how will you do this?
Just follow these simple steps:
- First, you have to get a litter box for your bunny. It’s best if you choose a size that’s a lot bigger than them. So that they’ll still have enough room when they grow larger.
- Put an inch (2.54 cm) deep of litter pellets on it. As well as some hay on top to make it appealing for your bun.
- Place it in the corner of their cage (for comfort and privacy). Preferably, put in a corner they prefer to make training easier.
- If they poop somewhere else, scoop their stools and put it in the litter box. (Same with urine!) As the scent will motivate your rabbit to do it there next time.
- Limit their area as they train. Make your bunny stay in their cage most of the time. And do this until they’re fully litter trained.
Next, if they already mastered it, you can now let them outside of their cage.
But provided that there’s also another litter box in the area. Specifically within a room where they usually stay.
“How long will this take?”
Usually, most rabbits learn after several days to 2 weeks.
But remember, trained bunnies may still have some accidents once in a while. However, it’s still better than getting pooped at from time to time.
Note: Rabbits also love to chew hay as they poop. So make sure that there’s enough of it in their litter box.
If you want to know more, read this article: 19 Tips To Stop A Rabbit From Pooping Everywhere (How-To)
#2: Always reward the desired behavior
Aside from making their litter box attractive…
Rabbits will also do better in training if they get rewards.
So, whenever your bunny uses their box, always give them a small piece of treat. And might as well, pet them in a spot they like.
If you’re leaving them alone, placing a yummy snack in their box may also work.
#3: Think about getting them fixed
If your rabbit poops on you due to their territorial instincts…
Training them will be harder.
This is because you’re trying to correct a strong drive inside them. Which is to mark things as much as they can.
And it’ll surely not make them learn any faster.
So for this, experts recommend spaying or neutering rabbits. To reduce or get rid of hormonal behaviors.
VCA says that this is usually done around 4 to 6 months old. But vets may prefer to do it when rabbits are 6 months of age.
By doing this, you’ll also prevent your bunny from getting cancer. Especially testicular (in males) and ovarian (in females).
Note: After surgery, rabbits may need 2 to 8 months before this behavior stops.
#4: Remove their odor completely
Another thing that motivates rabbits to poop is the smell of their previously soiled area.
So if you want to set them up for success, you should clean those spots thoroughly.
For this, regular cleaners might not work well. And they can also have harsh chemicals that are bad for your bunny.
So, use white vinegar instead. (A 5% solution is a good choice.)
Spray a small amount on soiled areas. And you may also use this to clean their litter boxes every other day.
Note: Don’t worry. Vinegar is safe for rabbits when ingested. This is why it’s a popular cleaner for households with pets.
#5: Slowly get them used to be touched and held
Does your bun always seem nervous when you pick them up?
If so, they’re likely pooping on you because they’re scared.
Adult rabbits who aren’t used to being handled may grow up sensitive to touch. And they’ll also shy away from people.
So if you have a new bunny, it’s best to start early. And get them used to be picked up.
What to do?
- Be as gentle as possible.
- Hold them correctly. Their back and hindquarters must be supported at all times.
- Avoid startling them. Move as slow as you can and don’t make any loud noises.
- Make your arms comfier and less slippery. Put a soft towel on your arm so they’ll feel more comfortable.
- Get down. When trying to pick them up, get to their level. Meaning, sit or lay on the floor with them to not frighten them.
If you have an overly excited bunny, this may also help them calm down. As you’re trying to be gentle and relaxed.
Note: Never pick up your rabbits by their ears or any other sensitive areas. If they’re held by other people, teach them the right way to do it. And always supervise them.
#6: Handle them at the right time and amount
Most rabbits become less anxious the more they’re held.
But, it’s also possible for them to be over-touched or stimulated. And they may feel trapped and frustrated, leading to poop accidents.
What to do?
You can try picking them up less throughout the day. And see how they’ll react.
You may also avoid holding your bunny if they haven’t pooped yet.
This might prevent them from leaving their droppings on you. But, this is only a short-term fix.
So you still have to work on their training. Or the main cause of their pooping frenzy.
#7: Get their full trust
Apart from handling them the right way, it’ll also help if you earn your bunny’s trust along the way.
Show them that you want to be friends. And that you mean no harm.
Visit their cage and always feed them at the same time.
But before doing it, let them sniff your hand a bit. So they’ll be familiar with your scent.
Then, give their other basic needs. By providing them access to a run or a larger area where they can hop around.
Play with them on the floor. And reward them for doing great.
And lastly, be consistent.
Doing this every day (without a miss!) will make your bunny associate you with all the good stuff.
So sooner or later, they’ll be excited to see you. And they’ll be less nervous around you.
However, if your rabbit seems to be pooping more than usual…
Read this next: 15 Alarming Reasons Why Your Rabbit Poops So Much + 11 Tips