A lot of people believe that rabbits are dirty creatures and that keeping them indoors is extremely unhygienic. But nothing can be farther from the truth and whether you knew it or not, rabbits can be trained to use a litter box, just like cats.
So, how to litter train a rabbit?
- Fill the bottom of a litter box with a one-inch deep layer of pellets
- Set up the litter box in the corner of a rabbit’s cage
- Confine your rabbit to one area until they are using the litter box reliably
- Once your rabbit starts using the litter box expand their area and allow them to roam freely
Curious to learn how to litter train your rabbit in more detail? Stick with us till the end of this article and will tell you everything you need to know about rabbit litter box training!
What You Need to Litter Train Your Rabbit?
With the right approach and some patience, litter training your rabbit doesn’t have to be hard! But before you start, make sure that you have all the necessary supplies. Things you’ll need are:
While you can find litter boxes specially made for rabbits, they are often too small for a rabbit to use comfortably. A cat litter box or a smaller pan might be a better option and are generally spacious enough to allow your rabbit to move around and do its business in peace.
A covered cat litter box or a dishpan with higher edges might be a better option if your rabbit tends to back right up to the edge to defecate outside the litter box. The larger size and higher backs of corner litter boxes work well for smaller rabbit breeds, but not so much for giant rabbits.
It might sound bizarre, but rabbits like to eat hay while they poop. Therefore, it’s a good idea to place hay on top of the litter, or fill it in a hay box and place it next to the litter box. If you decide to use a hay box, place it so your rabbit must be in a litter box to reach the hay.
Rabbit Safe Litter
Litter training your rabbit won’t be possible without litter, so you’ll need something safe and absorbent. Kiln-dried pine, recycled paper pellets, or organic litters are a good choice, and some owners even use rabbit pellets as litter.
Do not use wood shavings, clay-based or clumping litter since they can cause respiratory problems and intestinal blockage in rabbits (source).
If you feel the need to protect your floors, consider purchasing a plastic mat. Make sure that the mat is resistant to chewing and place it under your rabbit’s cage to keep all messes at bay.
Litter Training Your Rabbit
Begin litter training your rabbit as soon as you bring it home. Adult and older rabbits are easier to housetrain than immature rabbits since they have better control over their urinary tract. However, you can litter train a young rabbit too, although it will take more time and patience.
Before you start training you should spay or neuter your pet rabbit. Unneutered adult rabbits are more likely to start urine marking their territory (source). Some rabbits will also use spraying and defecating to stake claim to a particular area.
With that being said, follow these steps to successfully litter train your rabbit:
Set Up the Litter Box
Start by filling the litter box with an inch-deep layer of pellets and then add a thick layer of hay on top of it. Adding hay will make the litter box more appealing to your rabbit to explore and use.
Once the litter box is set up, place it in a corner of your rabbit’s cage and take note of where your rabbit eliminates.
Confine Your Rabbit to A Small Area
Starting small and limiting your rabbit’s space at first is the best and easiest way to instill good litter box habits. Keeping your rabbit confined to their cage with a litter box will teach them not to soil the eating and sleeping area.
Most rabbits make the connection in a few days and start using the litter box to eliminate. But, if your rabbit picks another corner of the cage to eliminate, just move the box to the area your bunny prefers.
Let Your Rabbit Out of the Cage Briefly
Once your rabbit is used to using the litter box inside the cage, allow them to go outside the cage in a limited area. Make sure to set up a litter box inside the area and use food and toys to make it more enticing.
Keep a close eye on your rabbit and watch for signs that they are about to urinate or defecate. Most rabbits will back up and lift their tail in the air slightly. If your rabbit squats to go potty, pick them up or try to herd them to the litter box immediately.
If your rabbit urinates in the box, give them a treat or praise them right away. But, if you notice that your rabbit tends to prefer one area to do its business, consider placing a litter box there.
Be Prepared for Accidents
Some accidents are bound to happen, but punishment has no place in litter training your rabbit. If you catch your rabbit in the act, just place them in the litter box without any punishment.
But, if you don’t catch your rabbit eliminating outside the litter box, it’s too late to do anything except clean the spot using diluted white vinegar or a commercial pet stain remover.
Keep in mind that most trained rabbits will have potty accidents from time to time. Your goal here is to catch your rabbit before they do the deed and place them in the litter box in time.
Litter training a rabbit takes time and patience, but it isn’t impossible. Positive reinforcement training and confining your rabbit to a small area are the best ways to instill good litter box habits as soon as you bring a new rabbit home.
Don’t forget, once rabbits hit puberty their urge to mark territory is too strong that even well-trained rabbits can start spraying, urinating, and defecating to mark territory. If despite your best efforts your rabbit continues to urinate and defecate outside the litter box, consider spaying or neutering them.