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Forum BEHAVIOR Bunny drinks his own pee

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    • Yilina
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      When we first adopted Tambor, he’d drink his own pee on regular basis. Since we litter-trained him the behaviour hadn’t repeated itself. However, today we trimmed his nails (which he hates already) and, accidentally, hurt him a bit in the process… we stopped the bleeding fast and he looks fine, although scared. However, a few hours later, he did his old marking-territory pee inside his hidey home and started drinking from it immediately.

       

      I had never thought much about it before, but now I wonder. Why is he drinking his own pee? I’ve searched online but I haven’t found anything conclusive, although I see other bunny parents having the same issue …

       


    • Wick
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      I’ve never heard of this, but based on what you’re describing, it seems like a stress response. Have you mentioned this to your rabbit vet?

      The answers provided in this discussion are for general guideline purposes only. The information is not intended to diagnose or treat your pet. Seek the advice of your veterinarian or a qualified behaviorist.


    • Yilina
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      Hi wick, there’s an old thread about it on BB (it’s about 10 years old). It says it could be due to the bunny having been neglected during babyhood but that there was no research so far done on it.

      The vet didn’t have a clue…


    • Bunny House
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      Just a wild thought, are you sure he’s not eating his cecetropes when he’s reaching down instead of drinking his pee?


    • Wick
      Moderator
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      I did a brief search — nothing extensive — but it seems the most well-known cases for urine drinking/washing is in monkeys. There are lots of theories, but one which sort of aligns with this scenario is comfort. One study found monkeys who were urine-washed (pee on their hands and feet) had lower levels of a stress hormone. Another reasoning is for mating purposes, but I don’t think that applies here.

      Perhaps there’s something inherently comforting about an animal’s own urine, and this is extremely exacerbated in some rabbits when they are very stressed? For rabbits, urine carries their scent and thus spreading it is claiming/making an area more secure for them. We had a user whose rabbit would eat its normal poop (not cecos), and I believe this was induced by stress as well, because it would reoccur when strangers would come to the house. Maybe it’s an attempt to cover up the scent in fear (i.e. not wanting to leave traces that the rabbit was there, in fear a predator may come for them), or maybe it’s just a fixation of comfort (I.e. the human equivalent of cuddling up to a blanket that you’re familiar with?). This is all guessing though.

      The answers provided in this discussion are for general guideline purposes only. The information is not intended to diagnose or treat your pet. Seek the advice of your veterinarian or a qualified behaviorist.


    • Yilina
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      Posted By Bunny House on 9/09/2018 10:57 AM

      Just a wild thought, are you sure he’s not eating his cecetropes when he’s reaching down instead of drinking his pee?

      Hi! Yes, it’s actually his pee. He sits next to it and drinks from it like he would from his water bowl


    • Yilina
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      Thank you so much, Wick!! You got me thinking about drinking his pee for “comfort”. It could be like, when you are a child, you are comforted by the scent of your own drooling on your pillow.

      Before Tambor came to live with us, he spent the first year of his life locked in a tiny cage without a litter tray. He’d pee in a corner but, as the cage was so small, he had to lay partially on it. He also shaked/trembled nonstop, which made her former owner think he was cold (we live in the tropics…).

      When we got him, he shaked nonstop for the first 2 months and stopped doing it all together a year ago. He was shaking again today, which probably made him remember his former life and, thus, he resorted to drink his  pee (like he probably used to do) to calm himself.

      Of course this is only a guess, but kind of makes sense…


    • Boing
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      He could’ve had limited access to water in his past, due to neglect. I’ve heard of this with dogs. To avoid dehydration and death, some neglected pets will do this.

        

      Then it might become learned behaviour.

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Forum BEHAVIOR Bunny drinks his own pee