Well, every pet deserves their own private spot whether cats, dogs or rabbits. Rabbits are very neat and shy pets, and even though they hop around and make life fun, they always have a corner or special spot where they do their business.
Do you know that like cats and other house pets, rabbits are easily litter trained and follow instructions and never forget what they are taught?
Naturally, rabbits choose one or a few places as the spot to do their business. However, if you have a home rabbit that lives with you, litter training them will give them their own space and keep your home neat. Getting a litter box is the first option to training a rabbit, just find their favorite spot and place the litter tray/box there.
When the litter training process is over they will just hop over, and use it, taking the stress off you.
And like humans, rabbits hate been disturbed or watched when depositing their hard waste and they are fast learners too. Bunnies can be litter trained when young (but can be a bit difficult as they can be likened to kids, all excited and restless) but they adhere to it, but older rabbits need to be spayed or neutered so that it can be trained easily. However, rabbits have a beautiful character unlike other pets which is, the one trained rabbit will teach the others. Now isn’t that nice and less stress for you?
If you are considering getting one of these furry creatures, don’t worry about litter training them, they learn fast, adhere to instructions, and will teach another rabbit without your help. Neutering (removing the reproductive organs) is done when they are about 4 to 6 months old. This is when they are matured and start to mark their territory, but when sprayed or neutered, they will become more domesticated than wild, use the litter box and will be healthier and happier too.
Litter training your rabbit
If you have just bought your furry housemate home that has not been litter trained, you need to start training it, but it takes a series of small steps before it gets used to the process. Small bunny will need special care as they learn and will gradually get the hang of it as they grow and develop a better sense of their environment.
Don’t be disappointed if they don’t go to their home or use the litter box and make a mess of your home.
Some steps to take when litter training are:
1-Ages makes a difference
Litter training is a long and frustrating process depending on the rabbit, but it is easier to train an adult rabbit than a baby rabbit. It is also easier to train a neutered rabbit that one that isn’t. However, the truth is, litter training your rabbit depends on the rabbit and you.
Litter training start in the rabbit’s cage but to catch all the litter and defecation, it is advisable to spread a couple of litter boxes around the house until you can find your rabbit’s favorites spot. It will gradually learn and use the litter boxes set for it.
Always leave a small amount of soiled litter in the litter box, this will give the rabbit a sense of ownership and be drawn to the location when they want to use it. If your rabbit makes a mess, don’t punish your rabbit, they don’t understand it, and abusive training will only make them withdrawn and cold. Furthermore, young bunnies sometimes mistake the litter box for their bed, you have to constantly take them to the right one until they get used to the difference.
2-Types of litter
If you have been using wood shavings made from softwoods like pine and cedar for your litter box, stop it now. These woods have been found to emit a dangerous fume called phenols that are toxic to the rabbits and can cause liver damage and respiratory problems in them. In addition, to these types of litters, never allow your rabbits use a kittens litter box – yes they are all pets, but they are different in their make and matter they excrete- cat litter contains fumes that are harmful to rabbits. Note that if it smells nice to you, it is probably bad for your rabbit.
Don’t use clay litters in your rabbit box. Rabbits are diggers and the dust emitting from the process can cause pneumonia and respiratory issues.
Safe and healthy litter is wood shavings from aspen – it doesn’t emit any fumes, and it does a good job of absorbing the fumes the strong odor of the rabbit excrete, but because this is hard, we advise you add hay to the box above the litter.
Some rabbit owners find aspen too sticky and clumpy that gets stuck to the rabbit feet and ends up on your floor – not a good sight.
Others natural litters like wood pellet and paper are expensive but safe like Yesterday’s News made from recycled newspaper – great odor control but not very absorbent and the ink can be harmful to your rabbit.
You can also try shredded plain white paper or newspaper, but those printed with natural based ink to avoid staining your rabbit or harming them. This will not have any odor control, but you can add some baking soda and replace the litter every other day.
Others are Carefresh made from the ruminants of wood that were not converted to paper – it is biodegradable and flushable too. Although expensive, it has excellent odor control and super absorbency of urine. It is also great to detect if your rabbit has an internal infection as it is easily discoloration.
3-What is the best litter to use?
As mentioned above, different people use different stuff for their rabbit litter boxes, but the truth is if you want to increase the longevity of your rabbit and keep them healthy and happy; don’t go for cheap litters for their box.
Rabbits are very close to nature hence organic and natural litters like hay are just nice, but it should be fresh as it serves as something for the rabbit to nibble on when in their litter box, and it also helps you conserve litter and saving money. What we mean is, you can add a bit of litter in the box and add hay on top, this way the rabbit is cozy but close to nature. It also eliminates that funky odor that even though it’s not harmful to your rabbit, won’t put them off their litter box.
4-The right litter box
Smaller and compact boxes will work for bunnies and baby rabbits; it is advisable to get a large enough litter box that the rabbit will want to stretch out in sometimes. Whether a litter box or a resting box; get the right box will make your rabbit comfortable and free.
If your rabbit is fond of squeezing to one corner and ends up littering the floor, get a litter box with higher sides to keep their bum in the pan. Never use a small-sized litter box for big rabbits as they will gradually stop entering and litter outside the box.
Tips to remember
- Choose a litter box that is fairly large enough as the rabbit will get bigger and will need more space.
- Rabbits are very neat animals, so the litter box must be roomy for the rabbit to move around it as they don’t like doing their business in a spot
- Put into consideration the height of the litter box as the rabbit need to get in and out comfortably but also prevents spraying urine out the litter box
- Choose the location of training
As mentioned above, the corner or spot where your rabbit or rabbits go to do its business is your best location to litter trains them. This is a game of patience and persistent as the rabbit will not take to instructions in the beginning.
The right location is an enclosed space usually close to a wall or in the bathroom where they feel safe and comfortable, and once you have found a spot they truly like, you can start the training one step at a time. If your rabbit doesn’t have a favorite spot; you can create one by putting their food and water bowl in a spot that you feel will be convenient for them and as they acclimatize with the area, you can start litter training. Rabbits are mobile and curious animals, if your rabbit goes outdoors once in a while, you should carry them to their litter box to remind them what it is used for.
Rabbits are not cats and dogs, so please don’t yell or spank if they don’t adhere to the training immediately, they will go cold on you.
5-Changing the litter location
If you need to relocate the litter box for whatever reason, the best thing is to buy another litter box and place it close to the first one and gradually move it until it gets to the new spot or look for another spot outside the cage that the rabbit likes and add a new litter box.
Changing the litter box location is also applicable if you notice that your rabbit prefers a different location than the previous spot.
Do remember that you will confuse the rabbit at first, but you have to teach the rabbit how to go to the new location until it gets acquainted with it. If the litter box location is a result of changing house, then you have to start the litter training process all over or just wait for it to look for a new spot and fix the box and cage there. However, if your rabbit doesn’t use the location, it probably doesn’t like it, so change it until you find the spot that is good for it.
Tip to remember
Rabbits are a bit different from other pets, contrary to placing the litter box away from the food tray; the rabbit is different, and they like to eat when eating, so if you are still struggling with a location for the litter box, just place it near their food tray.
6-Arranging the litter box
After establishing a space, buying the litter and litter box; it is time to arrange the litter box. When you bring the litter box or tray home, line the base with a white paper or pages from an old newspaper before putting down the litter. For new baby rabbits, a box litter of hay will cushion their skin when they use the restroom. Your rabbit will get used to the process and use it. However to avoid your rabbit using other positions because they are too far away from the litter box; get two or three litter boxes and place them in positions where your rabbit-like. When they get used to it, you can reduce the litter boxes to a specific spot.
What if my rabbits don’t use the litter box?
Well, don’t worry. If the litter box is in the cage, just shift it to the position where it’s used and monitor it closely. It will gradually get used to it once it notices that litter box follow here to every corner. If she fails to utilize the litter box, just have a correction method that will signal it when it’s about the break the rules again. When it uses the litter box, give it a reward – fruits to say thank you and you are good. It will gradually link using the litter box with the gifts and get used to it.
Placing them in the litter box
They will get used to the litter box to poop than to urinate, you will need to be patient. So rabbits are very smart, if they urinate outside the litter box, you must and should immediately clean it off with a strong deodorant that will take the strong smell away else if it smells like urine, chances is your rabbit will definitely come back and use that spot again.
Furthermore, investing in a dustpan and broom will allow you to sweep the pellet off the floor as you litter train the rabbit.
7-Get a cage
Rabbits are pets and can be annoying too but to prevent unwarranted provocation due to mistakes, get a cage that can comfortably house your rabbit, the food bowl, and the water bowl with enough room to play with too. How big or small your rabbit’s cage depends on the size of the rabbit, the space in your home and the design.
If your cage has legs, create a stair for your rabbit to get in and out; it is also exercising their limbs too. If the cage is too small for rabbit, you change it, but it will be better to get a big size cage from the start and allow your rabbit to grow into his home.
Preparing the rabbit cage
Place the cage in a location that it can easily access day or night. If you want your rabbit to stay indoors at night, get a cage with a door and ensure it stays lock at night. When you buy the cage, line the inner base with hay preferable timothy grass and place the litter box in one corner of the cage, the water and food bowl and space is ready for your rabbit.
Hay should be fresh and green, the rabbit been a vegetarian eats the softer leaves and flower, but the tougher part is not waste as they are the fibrous part that the rabbit feeds on that cleanses the digestive track allowing them to pill well and stay healthy.
8-Cleaning the litter box
Rabbits are clean pets but as with all small pets in its category, they have very strong smelling urine and poo. If you have a big litter box with a small rabbit, you can clean the litter box every two days or when the litter is not appealing for the rabbits.
If you have a large rabbit in a small or average size litter box, you have to clean it every day. However, there is just one problem, when cleaning the litter box with hay; you might be throwing off the nutritious part of the hay that is of great benefit to the rabbit. What we suggest is allowing the hay to air out and put it back in the litter box.
To clean the litter box, you can go organic by using lemon and water to clean the stain and improve the scent or a touch of white vinegar (for tougher stains) to clean it out and air it out to dry before putting it back in the cage. Accidents outside the cage or on the carpet can be cleaned by using a kitchen paper to blotch out the stain after spraying white vinegar on the spot – not wiping or rubbing, just dab and absorb the stain. The rabbit pills can serve as fertilizers or added to make a compost bin.
You can also use cleaning products like bleach and water to disinfect the litter box and remove odor.
Benefits of a rabbit litter box
- It helps you monitor the urine and feces of your rabbit
- Cleanliness will improve the rabbit overall well being
- They feel safe and secure around the location of the box
- It is their home in your home
9-Marking their territory
Like any animal, rabbits mark their space too either with urine or with the pill, you can have them sprayed to eliminate the idea marking territory, but if your rabbit still does that they may be responding to stress, relocation, changes in the house, addition of another pet especially a rabbit or they are sick.
Check them thoroughly to ensure that they are not suffering from any of the above and try to reassure the rabbit of your love and affection. Furthermore, having a rabbit sprayed will limit the territorial and reduce the smell around the home
How they do it? Rabbits mark their territory in two ways – pills or urine. If the rabbit has a cage you will notice that it sprays urine around the cage to mark it or pills in the corner. To establish this cage habit, they will also try to mark the house, but you can stop this habit by reinforcing that the cage is their home and their own alone. Some way to do this is:
- Allow the rabbit to come out of its cage by itself, don’t pull it out
- When it is night time, let the rabbit go into its cage on its own. You can have a bedtime signal like a sound, a click, a clap or tap signaling them to rest
- When they are all in, gently close the door and say good night.
- Don’t clean the cage with the rabbit in it, always ensure the cage is rabbits are out first
Now that you have gotten the basics down, we have one more question:
10-How long does it take to litter train your rabbit?
Litter training a rabbit doesn’t take long if you are up for it; some rabbits are fast learners while others are well, slow or just stubborn and difficult to teach. For the patient and calm rabbits; you might have 7 to 14 days to have them completely litter trained and will improve as they grow older.
Part of the training is marking their territory, so you have to let them get used to their new environment gradually, but whatever the case, you need patience and persevere to litter train a rabbit. It is not an overnight behavioral change, but it will happen. If during litter training, your rabbit tilts the box over, get a heavy box for it.
Now that you have got the hang of it, train your rabbit and watch them learn. However, the earlier you start training your rabbit the better and once they get used to it; you never have to bother as they will spend most of their time in their litter box and teach other rabbits in the future.