Older rabbits are usually easier to train than young bunnies, as they do not need to eliminate as frequently and their natural desire for cleanliness is more developed. However, once rabbits hit puberty the desire to mark territory becomes very strong, and even previously well trained rabbits will may start urine marking and spraying as well as defecating to mark its territory. Marking behavior will often result from a variety of stresses along with the natural instict to stake out a territory. Urine marking does not always take the form of spraying, and both males and females mark, although it is far more common with intact males (not neutered).
Tips to Reduce Territory Marking
- Have your rabbit spayed or neutered by 4-6 months of age. This has many health benefits for your rabbit, and will also make litter training easier and reduce urine spraying and other marking behaviors. Getting the surgery done at a young age works best - once marking becomes an established behavior it may be very diffiuclt to litter train the rabbbit.
- Make sure the rabbit feels secure in its home. Try to avoid reaching into the cage and pulling a rabbit out as this may make the rabbit feel threatened and more likely to mark, and do cage maintenance (cleaning the cage etc.) while the rabbit is out of the cage.
Sometimes territorial marking is a temporary situation, and may occur in response to some sort of stress, change in routine, change in the household, or addition of another pet (particuarlarly another rabbit). Often, once the rabbit no longer feels stressed or is confident his territory is secure, he (or she) will stop marking.
With all that said, rabbits are prone to health problems with their urinary tract, so if there is a sudden persistent change in urination habits or the color and amount of urine, a trip to a veterinarian is in order. This is especially true if your rabbit starts urinating small amounts frequently (most rabbits urinate infrequently and in large volumes).