Some rabbits are prone to getting messy bottoms, as an owner its essential that you get used to checking your rabbits rear end daily, in the summer months this should be increased to twice a day.
Why do rabbits get messy bottoms?
Rabbits produce caecotrophs as part of a healthy digestive system. Caecotrophs are dark, smelly, moist, soft droppings. They contain a lot of nutritional content and are an essential part of your rabbits diet.
Your rabbit will eat these caecotrophs directly from the anus so it’s possible that you may not have seen these types of droppings before.
If you notice a lot of caecotrophs on the floor or in their litter tray it could be a sign that something is wrong.
If rabbit does not eat their caecotrophs as often as they should, they can start to build up around the rabbit’s rear end and cause them to have what’s commonly known as a sticky or messy bottom. This can lead to fly strike which can be fatal, as the flies are attracted to the faeces.
Why would my rabbit get a messy bottom?
- Overweight and elderly rabbits commonly suffer with a messy bottom due to mobility issue. They often can’t reach their rear end to consume the caecotrophs, resulting in a build up of faeces.
- Rabbits with dental problems may not eat their caecotrophs due to the pain and discomfort.
- Rabbits that are fed too much food (pellets/ treats) will over produce caecotrophs. Usually the rabbit won’t eat all of the excess caecotrophs leading to a build up of faeces.
- Introducing new foods can result in your rabbit having an upset stomach and producing loose stools, that can gather round the rear end. Introduce any new foods slowly and gradually.
What to do if your rabbit has a messy bottom?
If your rabbit suffers from a messy bottom, it’s important that you take them to the vets to get a health check. A rabbit savvy vet will be able to identify possible reasons why your rabbit is getting a messy bottom and hopefully some solutions to resolve the problem.
It’s important to check your rabbit at least once a day, this helps you to assess their progress, when to clean them and to make sure they haven’t got fly strike.
If you notice that your rabbit has a messy bottom, you must make sure you clean it straight away. You can do this by giving them a bottom bath.
Rabbits should not be bathed unless their is a medical need to do so. Rabbits are naturally very clean animals and will clean themselves and each other daily. Excess washing can result in damage to the natural oils that rabbits produce.
It’s important that the water is very shallow, it should never be deeper that their feet. You must never submerge your rabbit in the water. Do not use a shower head as this can be very distressing.
Either place an anti slip bath mat or a towel at the bottom of the bath, this will help the rabbit feel safer as it will prevent them from slipping.
Make sure the water is warm, if it is either too hot or cold then you can cause distress or harm to your rabbit.
Using an antibacterial shampoo made for small animals, place a small amount in the water and froth up the bubbles. Before you put your rabbit in the bath make sure that you have a towel ready to dry them off.
Place your rabbit in the water and make sure you still have hold of them, using your other hand or another person gently start cleaning your rabbits rear end until they are clean. Make sure that all the soap is removed.
If you are using a bath make sure you don’t let your rabbit go, if they start becoming distressed and thrash about they could cause serious damage to themselves if they slip.
If you are using a sink its also important you don’t let them go, if they become distressed they will cause serious harm to themselves if they jump out of the sink and fall from a great height.
Once you have finished dry your rabbit completely with a towel. It’s important that you don’t leave them with a wet bottom, especially if they live outside. Damp fur is attractive to flies, they will also get extremely cold if you put them outside with wet fur.