How To Litter Train Your Rabbit
Now that we have convinced you of all the wonders of litter training, we can discuss how. Training your rabbit requires a lot of patience and supervision at first to make sure that they are doing it right. And most of all, you should never punish a rabbit for not using the box correctly.
How to Litter Train a Rabbit
Step One: Choosing A Box
Before starting the litter training process, you will need to find the perfect box for your rabbit. You might think that this is an easy task and doesn’t take much thought. But there are a few things you need to look for in a box.
- Size – The first thing you want to make sure of is that your rabbit can use this litter box all of its life. Chances are that you have a young rabbit that is going to grow rapidly. You will want to make sure that your litter box will fit the maximum size of its breed. There should also be enough room for a little hay at one end, as rabbits love to eat while they go. If you have more than one rabbit, you will either want a box to fit them all or several boxes.
- Height – Rabbits don’t squat and pee like dogs or cats. They usually back there tails to a side and spray at an angle. For this reason, you will want to have a litter pan that is at least 5 inches tall, but higher is better. Larger rabbits might need a box as high as 10 inches to pee directly in the box.
- Access – The rabbit should easily enter your box. If your rabbit is an amputee or handicapped, you will want to accommodate their needs.
- Covered – Most rabbits do not dig in litter pans. It is not in their nature to cover their waste like a cat. But there are a few rabbits that like to dig in their boxes. To keep all waste and litter inside the pan, you might opt for a covered litter box.
Now that we know what to look for, we have created a list of the best litter boxes.
All of these items are also all available at Chewy.com (linked below for your convenience)
- Kaytee Hi-Corner Small Animal Litter Pan – The large litter pan by Kaytee is excellent for smaller rabbits. The tall sides keep the urine inside, and its corner design fits in every cage.
- Van Ness Cat Litter Pan – This box is cheap, easy to get into, and great for most rabbit breeds.
- Petmate Hooded Cat Litter Pan – For the diggers, this litter pan has a low opening and completely enclosed.
- KittyGoHere Senior Cat Litter Box – And for the elderly or disabled rabbit, the KittyGoHere has a low entry for ease of access.
Step Two: Choosing A Litter
Now that you have your perfect box, it’s time to look at litter. Choosing a litter isn’t as complicated as choosing a box. You are mainly looking for a wood or paper-based litter that is non-clumping and not scented. Many owners prefer to use cat litters that fit this description because it is cheaper and found in bulk. You only need a thin layer of the litter, so buying a large bag will last a long time. Below we have a few of the most common rabbit litters.
- Carefresh Small Animal Bedding – Carefresh is a common first choice for many rabbit owners. It is absorbent and cheap, which is good because you will likely be changing this regularly to keep your cage clean.
- Yesterday’s News – Yesterday’s News is an unscented paper litter than people love. It’s thicker and more absorbent than Carefresh, and your rabbit is less likely to kick it around.
- Feline Pine – Feline Pine has a lot of the same benefits as Yesterday’s News. The only significant difference is that the Feline Pine has a natural deodorizing effect.
Step Three: Observe
Now that you have your litter and pan ready, you should look at where your rabbit likes to go to the bathroom. Rabbits will naturally choose a part of the cage that they want to use more than others. Once you find this spot, place the litter pan in that area and put some droppings inside of it. These droppings will attract your rabbit to use that area as the new bathroom. If they decide to use another corner, move the litter box, and quickly clean up all accidents.
Step Four: Gradually Expand The Space
Until your rabbit regularly goes in their litter box, try not to give them time outside their cage. Once they get the idea only to use the box, you can start expanding their roaming time. Using playpens are an easy way to give your rabbit a little more freedom without opening up an entire room. If you see your rabbit going in a corner during playtime, quickly pick them up and place them in their litter box.
It will take some time to make the connection to keep using the litter box. But once they do, you can gradually give them more room. Maybe expanding the playpen, or letting them have half and then a full room. If your rabbit has access to the entire house, you may want to add more litter boxes and train them in the same way.
How Long Does Potty Training Take?
Training a bunny to use the litter box comes fast for some and slow for others. It depends on how consistent you are and how much time you spend with them. If you are home more, you can keep a closer eye on them. But if you work long hours the training process will take longer. It also depends on the rabbit’s personality.
Most owners can train their rabbits in 1-2 weeks. But others might take a month or longer. The key is to stay consistent and never give up, no matter how stubborn your rabbit is.
Can I Litter Train Elderly Rabbits?
Yes! Every rabbit of every age can be potty trained as long as they can still control their bladders. There is no time limit to potty train because rabbits adapt quickly and are a lot smarter than what people give them credit for. You will go through the same steps mentioned above for training with no differences.
Can I Litter Train An Amputee?
Absolutely! There are a few supplies that would be different, but the process is the same. To get started you will need:
- A box with a lower front
- Something to lean on like a rolled-up towel
- Reusable pee pads or a litter than won’t shift under their feet
It might take slightly longer to potty train depending on how long they have been an amputee. If they were born this way, it shouldn’t take any longer. But if the amputation was recent, it might take time to build up the muscles and learn a new way of life. But they will all get it eventually.
If you have an amputee or a bunny that was born missing a leg, you might want to check out this post for more info on caring for a rabbit with three legs.
If you have been trying to potty train your bunny and still aren’t seeing results, there might still be hope. We have below a few things you can try to break the most stubborn rabbit.
Fixing Comes First
The first thing you should do is to spay or neuter your rabbit. If they are not fixed first, litter training will be tough and might not happen. After being fixed, your rabbit will calm down, and their mood will likely change. They won’t feel the need to mark their territory or try to show you who’s boss.
If your rabbit is too young to be fixed, you can start good habits now. Try to correct it when you can and put all droppings into the litter pan. But you can’t expect them to be perfect with it all the time.
Move The Box
One of the simplest things that most people don’t do is move the box. Suppose you are insisting that your rabbit use one area, but they prefer to use another move the box to that area. For some rabbits, they only like to go in one area no matter how much you try to get them to potty in another corner. For them, it might be that they can see the room better from this view. Or maybe the spot is better for them in some way.
Try A Different Box
Even though your litter box might be ample enough for your rabbit, they might prefer something a little larger. Try a larger litter box to see if that helps them feel comfortable enough to train. Or Maybe your box has higher sides that they can’t see over. In that case, try something with lower sides. If you have a corner litter pan, maybe try a rectangular one. If you suspect that the box is the issue, try to find a different box but use the same training techniques.
Next, you will want to try a different litter. Some rabbits don’t like the way specific litter feels, or maybe the smell of it. So you can play around with a new litter as long as it is rabbit-safe.
Clean The Box More
If you notice that your rabbit will only sometimes use the box, then you might want to clean it more often. Some bunnies don’t like using a dirty litter box all the time. So you should spot clean it when possible by removing any wet litter. And if you have to clean the litter completely, only leave a few droppings to entice them to keep using it.
Peeing Only Never Pooping
For some rabbit owners, they find that their rabbits always pee but never poop in the litter box. They consider this a win because pee is a lot harder to clean up than poop. Some rabbits never learn to poop in the litter box every time, but they will always continue to pee there. To encourage more pooping in the box, try hanging a hay rack above the box as their only source of hay. Since rabbits seem to poop the most while they are eating, this will encourage at least some poop to happen in the box.
And finally, if all else fails, seek medical advice from a veterinarian. Some rabbits can’t potty train because of a pre-existing condition. And in some cases, if your rabbit suddenly stops, it could be a urinary tract infection or worse.
How To Litter Train Outdoor Rabbits
Litter training outdoor rabbits are much the same as indoor rabbits. You will still want to use the same process as above but with a few little tips to get started on the right track.
Think About Weather Conditions
After you have chosen your litter box and litter, you will want to wait to start the potty training for a week where the weather will be beautiful. You will be spending a lot of time outside watching your rabbits. So you don’t want it to be too hot, cold, or even raining. It will also take some time, so you want to be sure that the whole week is bright.
Neutralize The Hutch
Now that you have all your supplies and the perfect week, its time to get cleaning. Before starting the litter training, you will need to deodorize the rabbit urine smell from the entire hutch. Rabbits are drawn to the scent of their urine to choose a spot to go to the bathroom. So using a urine neutralizer like diluted vinegar will help keep them from returning to their old marking spots.
Close Them In
The final step is closing your rabbits into the hutch and do the same process with them that you do with indoor rabbits. Watch for signs they are about to pee and move them to the litter box. If they poop, pick up the pieces and put them in the box. Once your rabbits start to learn to use the box, you can begin to allow them access to part of the outdoor run. It might take a week or two for them to learn this new process.
How Do I Clean A Litter Box
Cleaning frequency depends on two things:
- How many rabbits you have
- What bedding you use
If you have more than one rabbit, you might find that you will need to change the litter more often to keep it fresh. If you can smell the box, that’s a good indicator that the litter needs to be replaced. You should be spot cleaning your rabbit’s litter daily. That means removing any litter than is soaked and replace with new. Doing this could allow you to go a little longer before having to dump the entire thing and returning it.
Our cleaning frequency based on the type of litter is:
- For shredded recycled paper, like newspaper, you will need to replace the whole thing daily. Shredded paper is not very absorbent, and your rabbit won’t want to use a box that is soiled. That is why it is not highly recommended.
- If you use Carefresh, you will have to clean the entire thing every day to every other day to keep it from becoming too wet.
- And for paper and wood pellets, you will need to replace it every 3-4 days.
Now that you have a good idea of how often to clean the box, we can talk about how.
- Dump or compost the used litter. Rabbit feces makes an excellent fertilizer for your garden!
- Soak the litter box in diluted white vinegar and let it sit for five to ten minutes. Vinegar will help neutralize any strong urine smells and break up dried poop.
- Either scrub or spray with a water hose with high pressure.
- If you have an extra litter pan, then you can let the freshly cleaned one dry in the sun. Sun drying is an excellent way to kill any bacteria and odor-causing microbes that can survive in small scratches in the litter pan plastic. If not, you can simply rinse again with hot water and towel dry.
- Once your pan is cleaned, you can add more litter and put it back into the cage.
Cleaning For Sick Rabbits
If you have a sick bunny, you will need to clean their litter more often, especially if infected with parasites or intestinal illness. And you will want to take a few extra precautions. Instead of cleaning with vinegar, you should mix one part bleach and six parts water to disinfect the pan. And after cleaning, sun-drying for 24 hours is a must. Bleach is a powerful chemical, and you will need to make sure that the active ingredient is completely gone from the litter box before giving it back to your rabbit. So having a spare litter box is a good idea for emergencies.
So…Do Rabbits Need Litter Boxes?
Technically no. But there are so many positive things from litter training, that there is no reason why you shouldn’t. With this complete litter training guide, we hope that you have the success you need to potty train quickly.