Rabbits are intelligent and trainable animals, not just to use their litter boxes but also to do a few more things such as do tricks, to be held, come when called and walk on a leash. All this requires confidence, supervision, patience, understanding their body language and starting when they are young.
Do not forget to always “observe your rabbit’s behavior, so you know what indicates that the bunny is about to go potty,” notes Bestfriends.org. Some will relax their ears, and their tail will go up while others will do it immediately they are let out of their cages.
It is not possible to say with certainty how long it will take to train a bunny to use its litter box. Some take long while others will take a relatively shorter time.
Finally, you can train a rabbit in a hutch or indoor cages or ones that are freely roaming in your rabbit-proofed house.
Steps to litter train rabbit
Litter training your rabbit is not as difficult as imagined. If you follow the below steps, be patient and gentle to your bunny, it will be able to use its box or tray. In the beginning, it might not use it correctly. However, soon enough everything will be normal for it.
Step 1 – choosing the right rabbit litter box and litter
Begin by finding the right littering tray, can or the box (a cat litter box will do well). However, it should be open on the top and a low doorway if it is deep. There are various types of good rabbit litter boxes you can go for.
A simple one is recommended since it’s your bunnies’ first time. However, it should be large enough for your bunny to lie inside it and easier to hop in and out. While trying to make it easy to access, do not forget to make it high enough to avoid urine spilling out. Instead, have an entry place.
Ensure the litter (bedding) is dust-free, non-clumping, edible, eco-friendly, absorbent, and safe for your bunnies. Odor controlling, and unscented ones are often encouraged.
Also, it should not cause any ill-health problems such as blocking the digestive system if ingested, diarrhea, bloating, respiratory problems, or liver diseases. Avoid pine and cider shavings and pellets.
You have a long list to choose from both those you can make at home or buy. Best commercial brands include Vitakraft Fresh World Strength Crumble Bedding for Small Animals, Kaytee Small Animal Potty Training Litter, as Carefresh, Yesterday’s News with some having odor control abilities.
Brands like Vitakraft Fresh World is dust-free, has excellent odor control, superior absorption ability, is biodegradable and free of baking soda.
If you prefer homemade bedding or litter, go for hardwood shavings and pellets, paper pellets, and pulp bedding, newspapers and newspaper shavings, shredded cardboards, Megazorb, hay, straw and so on.
When layering the pan or box, do not put so much since you will need to spot-clean and replace it when it soiled or after some time. Besides, rabbits, unlike cats, never bury their poop.
Step 2: Ensure the rabbit litter box setup is perfect
Excellent and strategic setup will ensure you take a shorter time to train your bunnies. Some of the good bunny litter box training ideas will include placing hay directly in front of this box; this is because rabbits love to poop as they are eating.
This will encourage and promote good littering tray use by not only showing it where to potty but also eat more hay. You can go for litter boxes with hay racks, put your hay rack directly in front of this box or inside it if it is big enough.
As Soquelvet.com notes, “altered adult rabbits are naturally fastidious creatures and choose specific places to deposit urine and most of their droppings.” Therefore, strategically placing litter boxes in areas your bunnies prefer to urinate or poop or to move them to their preferred areas is also a good idea.
Alert your rabbit when you see it raising its tail after heading to a corner where there is no litter box. Clapping, saying “no” and gently leading it to its littering box can help it improve gradually.
Step 3: Size limitation
If your bunny initially roamed in your house, begin by limiting its space, especially using a dog crate. As it learns to use its litter box consistently, you can expand its area. If you notice your bunny is forgetting, again limit the area. This can be done within spans of 48 hours.
It is easier to train a rabbit in a hutch since space is limited, but it must be meet the minimum recommended cage sizes.
Consider an expert
If you do not achieve much success, the reasons may be medical related, or you might not be training it well. Consider getting a professional to help you.
For digger rabbits
If you have a digger type of a bunny, it will be ideal to provide it with another box for digging separate from the potty ones or go for an enclosed one such as a Hooded Litter tray (one with a flipflop entry door).
More rabbit potty training tips
Since rabbits may not immediately be perfect in using their litter box, we recommend you put a larger, plastic sheet beneath them to help trap any urine and droppings that may fall outside it and expect some urine to end up on its side.
Mop any urine and remove any droppings that fall outside to help pass the message to your bunny. You can use a paper towel. Do not punish or scold them.
Be persistent and patient especially in rabbits that initially pooped or peed anywhere (had lousy littering habits). If you notice your bunnies trying to leave their litterboxes, gently pick them up and return them. Ensure you know how to hold them correctly.
Bunnies at times spray urine especially on vertical surfaces, it might be part of inappropriate urination due to territory marking, you have few litter boxes, or they have behavioral issues such as being in a new environment, with new people or other pets. Consider neutering males, and spaying does if you do not want to breed them.
Some medical conditions not limited to urinary tract infection, kidney stones, bladder sludge, or bladder stones may affect proper use of the littering box.
Sometimes, if you have several rabbits, peeing elsewhere such as on the couch, bed or higher surface may be a way of showing the affected one is the top rabbit, a behavior that should immediately be corrected.
Putting treats such as vegetables in their feeding trays accessible only via their litter boxes or including rabbit toys may encourage them to stay longer in these boxes or instill the habit since it comes with treats.
Avoid using your cage as a littering box and use safe agents in cleaning it.
Baby rabbit litter training needs to be done carefully since the bunny is still growing and may take longer to learn. It is difficult to train a young bunny as it is adventurous and may not pay much attention.
Leaving scent clues such as a few recent droppings might awaken the bunny’s instincts to know that this is its place to poop or urinate.
Ensure your bunny always feels secure since as bunnyhugga.com notes, they “lose their litter training if they are ill or feel insecure or threatened, for example, if you introduce a new pet into your household.”
Keep the litter trays or boxes clean
Regularly clean it with white vinegar to make it urine free, about two to three times a week. Unfortunately, vinegar is corrosive and may make subsequent cleaning difficult.
While cleaning, scrub it well and disinfect the tray. How often you change the litter depends on how your bunnies use, i.e., it depends on how often your rabbit’s pee.
Ensure there is no strong urine smell as it may discourage your bunnies form using their potty trays.
Can I go for litter trained rabbits for sale?
To avoid the hustle of having to train your outdoor hutch bunnies or indoor ones, you can buy those that have been trained already.
Unfortunately, whether you go for outdoor or house-trained rabbits for sale, the change in environment might make you train them a little. However, this will take a shorter time.
If you need one, search online and various pet listing sites.
It is normal for rabbits to want to be the first to put their droppings in a box you just changed.
Also, some bunnies might go there just to pee or urinate and get out while others might lounge there for a longer time.