Clean Your Rabbit's Scent Glands
Don't Overlook this Essential Part of Grooming
Here are some photos of rabbit scent glands that are plugged up with the waxy substance rabbits store in them. They need to be cleaned about as often as your rabbit needs nail trims. Some rabbits produce more scent musk than others and some may never really need a cleaning. Rabbits who produce a lot of this substance may be more dominant and they may not be. It's an individual thing.
The dark brown substance is a wax with a very pungent smell. It is the same substance that is squirted by the skunk to warn his enemies but the skunk's is in liquid form. The rabbit also has scent glands under their chin which is why you see them rubbing their chin on things to say 'I was here! This is my turf!'
Their scent glands can get clogged and need to be unplugged. The photo with the cotton swabs shows the "plugs" removed from this rabbit's scent glands. The scent gland in these photos belongs to Puff, a 5 year old Netherland dwarf. The dark plugs I removed from little Puff's scent glands are very odiferous. Personally, I love that smell but it's just one of my idiosyncrasies, I love Pepe Le Pew too!
The scent gland that produces this substance is located under the tail. There is one photo showing the little butt for reference. The glands are on either side of their little anus and are kind of hidden, tucked away. You have to spread the skin on either side to see them clearly.
We have one bun here at the Sanctuary, Bugsy Malone, who when he runs, flares his rear scent glands. It is so funny to see him doing that because it is like nostrils flaring but he's flaring the scent glands on his butt. He is quite a character. (note: 7/11 - Bugsy has been diagnosed with bone cancer, we will miss him. He is quite a guy.)
To find the scent glands, start with looking under their tail. Here you can see some 'stuff'
stuck on the rabbit's fur which might be from plugged up scent glands or slight overproduction
of cecals. In this rabbit's case, it is the latter because he gets a few too many pellets as
his mate is much older than him and needs them in her diet.
So now we've found his little anus, which is right next to his little genitalia. In this photo, his tail is in the top of the photo. We have found a scent gland, clearly plugged up, and the folds of the skin are stuck together because of the sticky wax the gland secretes. In this area, as anywhere on the rabbit, the skin is tissue thin, transparent even.
To clean this gland, there is one on each side of the anus,
we gently pull the skin apart to open the gland and explose the gland.
Then, we'll carefully use some cotton tips with petroleum jelly
generously dabbed on the end to loosen and scoop out the wax plug.
Then, we'll repeat this for the gland on the other side.
Here are the two plugs we scooped out of each gland.
There some broken pieces too which we carefully
removed being ever so cautious not to tear the skin.