Can you litter train your rabbits?

Did you know that you can train your rabbits to use a litter tray! Permitting that the tray is set up correctly and you have taught them how to use it, then they will happily use it. A litter box is perfect if your rabbit lives indoors with you, but it can also be useful for outdoor rabbits too as it helps keep their hutch clean. It can take a long time to train your rabbit but as they are naturally clean animals, they prefer to urinate in one or two places so it shouldn’t be too difficult to train them.

 

How to set up a litter box for a rabbit

First, you need to make sure that you have the right supplies. It’s best to get a large, low sided, uncovered litter tray. You will need some litter and finally some hay. We stock a selection of hay that your bunny will love!

Put some newspaper at the bottom of the tray, then put a thin layer of litter on top, you just need enough to absorb wetness. There is no need to fill the tray up high like you might do for a cat litter tray as rabbits don’t bury their droppings. You should also place a small handful of hay in the tray, this encourages good litter habits as well as hay consumption.

Just make sure to change the hay daily.

When choosing the litter for your tray keep in mind that:

  • Most rabbits spend a lot of their time in their litter boxes.
  • Rabbit urine has a strong odour
  • Rabbits tend to eat some of the litter
  • Cat litters have been linked to zinc poisoning in rabbits
  • Soft wood litter (such as pine) can cause liver damage

 

Are rabbits easy to litter train?

Yes, rabbits can be easy to train however one problem that many people find is that their rabbit insists on using another spot. If this happens then compromise with your bunny! If they are urinating in the same spot where this is no litter tray, then move it. It is far easier to move some furniture around than it is to get your stubborn rabbit to listen.

 

How do you litter train your rabbit?

As we spoke about above, you should let your rabbit choose where they want their litter box to go. Keep an eye on where they naturally go to the toilet and set up the litter tray there. 

It’s easier to develop good habits if you limit their space at first. For example, you could use a puppy pen to ensure your rabbit stays in one area. Once your rabbit is using the litter box you can expand the area.

When you start training them it is a good idea to use more than one litter box. You can place one in their enclosure and a few in their running space. If your bunny tries to go in an area where there is no litter tray then say ‘no’ in a sharp manner and gently herd them to one of the litter trays. Be careful with this part as you don’t want them to think that their litter box is a punishment.

After your rabbit uses the tray for the first time you should praise them and then reward them with their favourite treat.

As your rabbit becomes more confident with using their litter tray you can remove some of the ‘training’ boxes. And if you did limit their space, this is the time that you can increase their space.

If you can get your rabbit into a daily routine, then this is great. Rabbits are habitual so once they are in a routine, they are likely to stick to it.

 

Does spaying/neutering make a difference?

It can be harder to house train a non-neutered rabbit as they have a strong tendency to mark the house. From 4-6 months, their hormones become active, so this is when they start marking their territory. There are many other benefits to spaying or neutering your bunny so you should consider it.

 

Does age make a difference?

There is no age limit on training your rabbit, you can train them at any age. However, it has been suggested that older rabbits are easier to train as they are slightly more developed than babies.

 

How to clean the litter tray

You do need to clean litter boxes often to encourage your rabbit to use it. However, they will associate the smell of droppings with their toilet area so try and change the litter every day and a half.

A little tip is to place droppings into their litter tray to make it smell right to them.

If you have any difficult stains, you can use vinegar to rinse the tray out.

 

What if my rabbit won’t use the litter tray?

When you’re first starting to train your bunny, they are likely to have a few accidents but if you remain calm and continue training them and rewarding them for positive behaviour then you will see improvement.

You should never punish your rabbit for going to the toilet in the wrong place, they won’t understand and in time they could become afraid of you.

But if you are noticing more accidents than usual there could be some issues with either your rabbit or their litter tray. You might need to get a bigger tray or move the tray to a different area. If you have tried this and your rabbit is still having accidents then it might be due to an illness such as arthritis, in this case it is best to get your bunny seen by a vet to see what the problem is.

 

Final tips and tricks

Remember to praise your rabbit when you see them using the litter tray, even if they have been getting it right for months, it’s always a good idea to remind them how well they’re doing. Treats will work, or you could reward them with something they love.

Litter training your bunny does take a lot of patience, but once they have mastered it you will be able to share your home with them, with the knowledge that they won’t have any accidents around the house.

 

Find out more

There’s a lot more to learn about rabbits so keep an eye out for more advice, how to’s and fact files on rabbit care.

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