We totally believe in rabbit free roam. We’re also zero percent judgey and one hundred percent understand if the idea of finding little poo poo pellets around the house doesn’t thrill you. You want to let your rabbit safely explore (after rabbit-proofing, of course), but you’re cringing about cleanup time. We’ve got a secret. Rabbits really can use litter boxes very nicely. It's true; pinky promise with a nose bump… if you’re wondering how to litter train a rabbit, you’ve found the right place.
GET YOUR LITTER BOX SUPPLIES
1. Litter Box. Make Sure It’s Big Enough.
Litter boxes for rabbits are designed especially for them, with a raised back and low front, to make it easier for them to hop right in. We recommend buying a few so you can place them around the house.
Make sure the box(es) are roomy. They’ve gotta be. Rabbits don’t like squeezing into litter boxes that are too small, or backing a rear end into one of those corner boxes. Give your rabbit a nice big rectangular box. They'll definitely appreciate it.
Side note: It’s not necessary to use a special rabbit box. A litter tray with sides low enough for them to get in is just fine.
First things first, choose a rabbit-safe product. There really are some great options. Paper based bedding is soft and absorbent. Our paper bedding is made with unbleached virgin fiber, sludge free, and never recycled print. Kiln dried pine pellets are another choice; they’re more dense with more fiber packed into each pellet, which helps with absorbency and keeps storage space to a minimum.
- Pine pellets must be kiln dried. If they’re not, they emit gases that cause liver damage if breathed by your rabbit.
- Never use a clay based or clumping cat litter, which have the potential to cause a bowl blockage if ingested. Plus, it’s dusty. If your rabbit is a digger, the dust can make her vulnerable to pneumonia.
3. Quality Hay
Rabbits love to eat hay while in their boxes, and they do poo a lot as they eat. So, it’s super helpful to use high-quality hay to attract your rabbit to the litter box.
4. Litter Scoop and Cleaner
Litter scoops are a must; you’re gonna be scooping out urine-soiled litter on the daily, and the entire tray should be cleaned at least weekly. A clean litter box encourages a rabbit to actually use it. No one likes a dirty toilet.
White vinegar is safe to rinse boxes, and accidents that happen outside of the cage can be cleaned with a few things. Again, white vinegar is an option. Club soda works. Or, if the urine has dried, try rabbit-safe products like Fizzion urine stain and odor destroyer. The stuff’s like magic, plus it’s totally non-toxic and cruelty free.
Side note: Never remove small, round, moist droppings. They’re caecotrophs, and they’re essential to good digestive health and absorption of nutrients.
An ex-pen is an important piece of the “how to litter train a rabbit” puzzle. At first, confinement and supervision is key. Less space to roam encourages your rabbit to use the potty in the litter box.
SET UP YOUR RABBIT LITTER BOX(ES)
Add Litter and Hay
Spread about an inch or two of litter along the bottom of the entire pan, and add hay on one end. This works well. Rabbits tend to prefer having the hay along the short side of the box, so if you have a hay feeder, hang it on the short side.
Add Some Poo Pellets
We know, it might sound a little strange, but adding some poo pellets of her scent will give the idea that it’s probably the right place to use the potty.
Choose Location of Litter Box. (Actually Let Your Rabbit Choose.) It Matters.
Make sure your rabbit gets to choose the box location. Rabbits actually do choose a particular place they want to do their business, and hopefully there is a box in that place. Rabbits are also superior interior decorators, and want their space the way they want it. If your rabbit shoves that box someplace other than where YOU want it, leave it alone. And if your rabbit is peeing in a particular space, just move a box there.
Make sure your greens, pellets, and water bowls are as far away as possible from the litter box. Nobody wants to “go” where they eat, right?
START TRAINING YOUR RABBIT ON HOW TO USE THE LITTER BOX
It’s smart to begin the training process as soon as you bring your rabbit home. Make a litter box available ASAP. When your rabbit uses the potty outside of the box, scoop up the pellets and put ‘em in the tray. Everyone needs a little hint sometimes.
Also, make sure you are using nice big litter boxes. The Huge ones. Capital H. Arrange your ex-pen in a long rectangle formation, and place the big boxes in a row, as shown below.
Put three boxes in the ex-pen, so basically your rabbit is always in a litter box. (You’ll have to put the water in one of the boxes, but that's OK for now.) Keep this up for 5-7 days. Make sure you have a nice soft absorbent litter in there, and that you keep all the boxes super clean so your rabbit isn’t standing on wet litter.
Next, remove that middle box and give your rabbit a bit of floor space. Move water out of the boxes and onto the open floor. No accidents? Great! You (and bunny) are heading in the right direction.
Remove that second box and see how it goes. If you do end up with some accidents, go back to three boxes and start again, a little slower this time. Don’t hurry the process.
Congratulate your rabbit when they’re using the litter box properly! Offer a small, healthy treat immediately so that they positively connect going potty and the box. Remember, rabbits don’t learn by getting angry with them. Plus, accidents aren’t their fault. Positive is ALWAYS best.
Rabbits, naturally, are clean animals and honestly (no offense, puppies), training a rabbit to use a litter box isn’t very difficult. If you’re having issues with your rabbit using his litter box, or training isn’t working, this article may be helpful.
As long as you’re working with your rabbit’s natural instincts and providing supervision, litter training a rabbit is totally possible. After a little time and effort, you've got yourself a litter trained rabbit. That's a win and deserves a huge "congratulations!"
We’d love to hear your personal experiences on how you litter trained a rabbit. Please send your story and what worked (or didn't work) for you to: firstname.lastname@example.org.