How to litter train a rabbit

How to Litter Train a Rabbit

Imagine life with your rabbit where all you had to clean was a litter box instead of his whole enclosure. Yes, you can train your rabbit to do his business in a litter box, which certainly makes life easier for you. In this article, you will learn how to litter train a rabbit and eliminate the constant need to clean the cage of an untrained bunny.

Anyone who has a bunny wants to leave the mess in the litter box. Yes, you can train your rabbit to do his business in a litter box, which certainly makes life easier for you. In this article, you will learn how to litter train a rabbit and eliminate the constant need to clean the cage of an untrained bunny.

Why Should You Litter Train A Rabbit?

It might seem self-explanatory, but there are several reasons why you’ll want to train your rabbit to use a litter box.

Stress Free Free-Roaming

When you let your rabbit out of his cage or enclosure, you won’t have to worry about damage to your floors and carpet.

Health Monitoring

When a rabbit’s poop and pee is all in one spot, you can detect changes that might indicate health problems when you need to contact the vet.

Cleaning Ease

Cleaning a single litter box is much easier than cleaning out an entire enclosure or cage.

Odor Control

The smell of a rabbit’s urine is strong and pungent. Good, odor-controlling litters help to minimize offensive smells.

Tools of the Trade: Rabbit Litter Box Setup

What You’ll Need

Cage or Enclosure

Rabbit litter box setup
Rabbit relaxing on top of her litter box

Even if you eventually decide to give your rabbit free rein in the home, you’ll need a cage or enclosure to begin the process of how to train a rabbit to use a litter box. It needs to be large enough to hold the bunny’s food, water, toys, and litter box. It also needs to have room for the rabbit to lie down and snooze.

Litter Boxes

Purchase 3 to 5 litter boxes. Cat-sized boxes should work well. Be sure your rabbit can turn around easily in it. For very small rabbits, a cake or other smaller sized baking pan may be better.

Scoop

You want to get a poop-scoop that has small enough holes so the poop won’t fall through.

Litter

Read below for which litters are safe for your rabbit, and which are not.

Newspaper

Newspaper is invaluable as both a liner for the litter pan and for the bottom of the cage or enclosure. Avoid using the glossy ads that come with a newspaper.

Cleaning Solution

Pet-safe is the key word here. Many commercial cleaners have ingredients that are harmful to rabbits. Consider making your own solution out of vinegar and water combined equally. Not only is this a safe combination for rabbits, but it is also an effective disinfectant.

What Litter to Use?

When working on a rabbit litter box setup, the number one thing to keep in mind when choosing litter is that rabbits like to spend a lot of time in their litter boxes. In addition, they will nibble on some of the litter. You’ll also want a litter that absorbs odors because rabbit urine has a very strong smell. Some safe litters to choose from include those made from alfalfa, wheat grass, oat, paper, newspaper, aspen bark, or compressed kiln-dried sawdust. In more detail:

Oat and Alfalfa-based

This type of litter provides superb odor control. However, if the rabbit eats too much, it can cause bloating.

Wheatgrass-based

Wheatgrass-based litters do an excellent job at controlling odors as well as absorbing urine.

Paper

Available in either fluffy or pelleted form, this litter is extremely absorbent, offers good odor control, and will not hurt rabbits if eaten.

Newspaper

Newspaper is easy to find, cheap, and convenient. It does a decent job of absorbing urine but lacks good odor control.

Aspen Bark

Aspen bark litters provide excellent odor control but are not the best absorbents.

Compressed Sawdust Pellets

compressed sawdust pellets
A photo of compressed sawdust pellets which can be used in a rabbit’s litter box.

An inexpensive option, compressed sawdust pellets are very absorbent, non-toxic, discourage bacterial growth, and control odors well. An example of this type of litter option is wood stove fuel pellets.

Litters to Avoid

When working on how to litter train a rabbit, there are litter options you need to avoid. These include the following:

Clay Litter

This is a dusty option, and the kind readily found in pet stores. It forms clumps when wet, and since rabbits like to nibble on their litter, it can cause clumps in their intestines, potentially leading to a blockage, which can lead to death.

Pine or Cedar Wood Shavings

This litter is known to emit phenols, a chemical that can cause liver damage in rabbits.

Corn Cob Litter

Corn cob litter provides no absorption or odor control and can cause an intestinal blockage if eaten.

Any Scented Litters

If using a commercial cat litter, be sure it does not have a scent as some are toxic to rabbits.

Steps for How to Litter Train a Rabbit

When it comes to the actual procedure for how to train a rabbit to use a litter box, the number one requirement is patience. If you try to rush the process on your watch as opposed to on your rabbit’s, your efforts will be prolonged, and they may even fail altogether. Here are the steps to guide you through the process.

  1. Fill one of the litter boxes with the newspaper, approximately one inch of litter, and add some hay on top for the rabbit to munch on. Rabbits like to munch and poop at the same time.
  2. Start the process in the rabbit’s cage or enclosure. Place one of the litter boxes where your rabbit usually pees and poops. This will probably be in a corner. At this point, you want to limit the rabbit to the cage.
  3. If the rabbit has soiled the newspaper lining the bottom of the enclosure, tear off a piece and put it in the litter box. This gives the rabbit a clue that this is where he needs to urinate.
  4. Consider leaving a small amount of poop and pee in the litter box until she gets the message that this is where she’s always supposed to go.
  5. If the rabbit does eliminate in another part of the enclosure, move the litter box to that spot.
  6. Be sure to frequently clean out the enclosure to eliminate odors that will tempt her to revert to her non-litter box habits.

Enlarging her Territory

After you’re satisfied with how your rabbit is doing in the enclosure, you might want to expand her territory. Here’s how to litter train a rabbit in her free-roaming area.

  1. Place several litter boxes in areas where you either think or know your rabbit will go to the bathroom.
  2. Keep the new training area on the small side. Don’t let the rabbit have free rein of the house at this point.
  3. Use the same procedure for “seasoning” the boxes with the urine-soaked newspaper and a small amount of poop.
  4. Be diligent and watch what your rabbit is doing so you can catch her if she goes outside the litter box. The sign something is about to happen is when she raises her tail.
  5. If her tail rises, shout out “No” and place her in one of the boxes.
  6. Clean up any accidents to eliminate odors that will attract her from going in that same spot again.
  7. Gradually extend the amount of time you leave her out, and as she progresses, you can remove several of the litter boxes. The goal is for her to go back into the enclosure to use that litter box.
  8. Keep a keen eye out for any accidents outside the enclosure, and when you are satisfied that she has been consistently using the litter box in the enclosure, she is trained!

Congratulations! You have mastered how to litter train a rabbit and are in for a clean and carefree home in which to enjoy your treasured pet.

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