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January 31, 2019

How to Clean a Rabbit’s Scent Glands

Cleaning a rabbit's scent glands is easier than you think

Where Are a Rabbit’s Scent Glands?

Rabbits not only have scent glands around their anus but also under their chin. Whenever your bunny rubs his face on surfaces around your home, he is marking his territory and essentially stating, “This now belongs to me!” Though the scent glands under your bunny’s chin generally do not propose a problem, occasionally rabbits need help keeping the glands on either side of their bum from getting impacted or plugged. While the easiest way to visualize your rabbit’s bum is to gently lay them on their backs, some rabbits find this to be very stressful. You will need to work with your little one to determine which position is most comfortable for your pet when addressing scent gland issues.

How to Hold a Rabbit While Cleaning Its Glands

Luckily, cleaning your rabbit’s scent glands can be done with your rabbit in a more neutral, natural position. The key is to make sure your rabbit’s limbs are supported and they are as calm as possible. Choose an area of your home that is quiet and free from curious onlookers to help decrease your rabbit’s stress level. Once you (and your bun) get the hang of it, you may be able to clean the glands yourself, but when you are first starting, it is often best to seek the help of a trusted ally, preferably one who isn’t queasy by the odiferous quality of your rabbit’s backside.

It is best to sit on the floor to ensure your rabbit doesn’t have far to “fall” should he wriggle out of your grip. Gently wrap your rabbit in a towel or a blanket and hold them against your body with one hand supporting their chest, and one supporting their hind limbs. This will help prevent your bunny from kicking and inadvertently injuring you or themselves. It is often helpful to provide one of their favorite treats or some of their favorite greens to munch on as a distraction. It is also important that everyone involved speaks in a gentle, reassuring tone.

Once your bunny is secure and distracted, gently lift their tail and spread the skin on either side of the anus to expose the scent gland. Using a bit of water-based lube and a cotton-tipped swab, gently wipe out the dark, waxy substance impacting or plugging the glands. As you can imagine, many rabbits find this to be quite offensive, but if they are held properly, unclogging the glands is a relatively quick feat.

Watch the fantastic video below by Mary Cotter of the House Rabbit Society as she demonstrates how to clean glands.

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