Growing up, my aunt had two rabbits who would always smell each other’s bums. As a kid, this always grossed me out, but there is a good reason as to why rabbits do this!
Rabbits smell each other’s behinds to identify one another. Rabbits identify each other when they meet and this is done primarily through smell. They naturally gravitate towards the rear because the scent is strongest there. This behavior is very similar to other animals like dogs and cats.
There are many reasons why rabbits and other animals do this and it might be more complicated than you think. Rabbits are social creatures and several factors go into forming and developing these relationships.
What Makes Rabbits Sniff Each Other’s Bums?
There are many reasons why a rabbit would sniff another rabbit down under, and it is usually for identification and socialization.
Many with rabbits identify this need for identification. According to a commonly liked comment on a rabbit forum, “Most mammals do that [sniffing]. Usually it’s for identification.” Source
Rabbits want to know who they are stuck in a cage with! This is especially important with multiple rabbits living in one cage. They also want to know if this rabbit with them is a friend or a danger to them.
There are many reasons why they are so afraid and wary of other animals that come into a situation with them.
DID YOU KNOW?
Rabbits will recognize siblings from their same litter and often bond extremely tightly together. To find out more, check out my article all about how rabbits recognize their siblings.
According to the experts at North Ireland Government Services, “They primarily sniff around because rabbits are prey animals and are easily frightened. Fear is a response that enables an animal to avoid dangerous situations, and so rabbits are driven by fear.” Source
A normal response to them being faced with fear would be to run, as seen in the picture below.
Through evolution, rabbits have learned to be wary and nervous around other living things. This leads to them smelling other rabbits’ bums so they know who they are dealing with.
Rabbits also smell around so that they can be social and have friends.
When they sniff other rabbits’ bums, they are not only making sure that they are a danger, but they are also checking to see if this could be one of their new friends.
The process of rabbits doing this (sniffing), is called “bonding, mixing or pairing. This process takes time and effort.” This is where a rabbit learns to trust and befriend other rabbits surrounding them. Source
Bonding, mixing, or pairing is essential for the livelihood of the rabbit. The way they do this is through sniffing. And they usually do this sniffing around other rabbits’ bums. This is great because, without some way of socializing, they would never get other rabbit friends.
While rabbits are very social and fun animals, they also have habits and dangerous behavior that owners need to look out for when they are with other rabbits.
Do you know how to break up a rabbit fight if one starts between your rabbits? Better yet, do you know all the ways for preventing a fight from occurring in the first place? See my guide titled Five Reasons Pet Rabbits Fight and How to Stop Them to learn these valuable things and much more!
Be careful when getting your rabbit to be friends with another rabbit because rabbits are sociable but also territorial. As I said before, they are very sensitive about who is around them because of their situation as animals of prey.
In fact, bunny scientists say “if your rabbit is likely to come into contact with other animals it is important to introduce and socialise [socialize] them gradually at an early age.” Source
Social life is key to your rabbit’s health, but it needs to be grown into. Just like a person who has been hurt before, you need to build trust and companionship with your rabbit over time.
It’s Normal For Rabbits to Sniff Each Other’s Bums
We know why they sniff, but is it even normal for rabbits to sniff other rabbits?
In the search for that answer, I went to where all the experts go when they find information about rabbits… Facebook.
According to a Facebook user with a large account dedicated to rabbits, she says rabbits sniff another rabbit’s undercarriage in order “to identify each other. Each bunny has their own scent.” Source
The bottom line is that rabbits are usually sniffers. Every comment or post I found which talked about rabbits sniffing another rabbit’s bum, all said it was completely normal and natural.
Let me say it again for the people in the back. It is completely normal and natural for your rabbit to smell another rabbit’s bum. In fact, it is actually positive socially for the little guy. The more your rabbit does this, the more social, happy, and healthy they are going to be.
How to Help Your Rabbit Become More Social
When it is all said and done, rabbits sniff each other’s bum to identify other rabbits and to become more social. We all want what’s best for the rabbits in our life.
There are certain methods you can use to help your rabbit become more social.
- Start letting them be with other rabbits early on
- Take your time, go as slow as your rabbit desires
- Reward them with treats
- Give them toys to play with
- Watch for body language signs that they don’t want to play
- Talk with a calm and reassuring voice
- Pet your rabbit
- Give them space
- Establish one rabbit that they can start to be comfortable with
Rabbits are social creatures and, amazingly, many of their actions point to this. The biggest one is how they sniff other rabbits’ bums when they meet or reunite with another rabbit.
So the next time you see your rabbit sniff another rabbit behind, just know that your rabbit wants to branch out.
My Experience With Rabbit Sniffing
As I said earlier, growing up, my aunt had two different rabbits which I would play with every time I went over to their house.
I was actually there when she decided to buy the little fur balls from the pet shop down the street.
What I remember very clearly is how they would always sniff each other’s behinds like 24/7. Every time I saw them, they were always either laying down or sniffing away.
It makes a lot of sense looking back on it now. These guys always wanted to make sure they had their buddy with them and not some random rabbit from off the street!