Rabbit Wellbeing

How and why do rabbits mark their territory?

What is the purpose of this territory marking? Why do rabbits do this activity? Everything is explained in this article.

The rabbit is a particularly recognizable herbivorous mammal with its large ears and small bushy tail. From wild rabbits to domestic rabbits, these mammals share a way of expressing themselves and behaving. Thus, rabbits, whether male or female, naturally mark their territory. To do this, they use their three types of glands:

  • the ones under the chin,
  • those placed on either side of the anus,
  • the inguinal glands: these glands are located on either side of the penis or vulva, in the form of a skin fold.

Territory marking and cleanliness: two aspects to be distinguished

People who own a rabbit often doubt that it is naturally clean because it defecates everywhere. It is important to make the difference between the cleanliness of a rabbit and the marking of its territory.

Sometimes, a rabbit with a wild instinct for territory marking can transform your home by urinating everywhere. This does not mean that it is messy. Indeed, under the influence of hormones or stress, your rabbit can quickly become obsessed with marking its territory. It is a way for it to reassure itself that this place is its own. After a visit of strangers or an arrival of new pets, this behavior is perfectly normal. Its goal is to mark out the ground on which it considers having power and to get the message across to potential rivals. Like the wild rabbit that deposits small piles of droppings or spurts urine, the domesticated rabbit also marks its territory.

If you own a sterilized rabbit living in a suitable environment, you will find that it does not much to mark its territory, except by gentle chin blows. Indeed, it is comfortable in its surroundings and does not feel the need to reassure itself. It does not fear rivals or predators.

Marking its territory: a sign of affirmation

To mark their territory, rabbits mainly use their olfactory sense.

Rabbits like to mark their territory in order to assert themselves and convey a message to other rabbits and animals. Thanks to the three glands like small pockets they have. Rabbits rub against objects or on subjects they consider to be lower-ranked. By doing this, they assert their dominant position and rule over the other members of the group.

For female rabbits, it may also be a way to mark their bunnies and make them easier to recognize. If a female rabbit come upon a small bunny that doesn’t have the right smell, it concludes that it’s not part of their colony. It can then attack and kill the poor bunny.

To sum up, it is useless to use repellents because territory marking is natural. It requires an appropriate response from you. An on-going education and repeated “NO” will ensure that over time your rabbit should stop marking if it’s not endangered. White vinegar repellents have no effect on rabbits and often lead them to urinate even more. However, sterilization, by significantly reducing its sexual behavior, reduces the marking instinct and the desire for domination. It, therefore, helps stop this type of marking behavior in rabbits.

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