How to Litter Train a Rabbit? (6 Simple Steps)


Can rabbits be litter trained?

The answer is YES!

Begin training as soon as you bring your new rabbit home because once the habit is established, it is very hard to change.

After all, rabbits are habitual animals.

The Basic Litter Box Setup

1. Litter box

A shallow storage box or medium-sized cat litter pan. A bigger box is necessary if you have a pair or more rabbits sharing the same litter box.

2. Newspaper and rabbit-safe litter/bedding

Line the bottom of the litter box with newspaper and then fill about an inch of rabbit-safe litter/bedding. Most paper-based pulp litter or pellets are safe for rabbits.

Avoid wood shavings as they are harmful to rabbits’ respiratory systems.

Also, do not use clay-based or silica bead cat litter as these litters could cause bowel blockage when ingested.

3. Hay

Rabbits graze and poop at the same time. To encourage your rabbits to hop into the litter box, place fresh hay either directly in the box over the litter or in a hay feeder next to it.

6 Steps to Successfully Litter Train Your Rabbit

1. Limit your rabbits’ space

Rather than giving your rabbits total freedom at first, limit their space to an area using a puppy pen. Expand the area as their littering habit improves.

2. Choose a good-sized litter box – get more, if necessary

Your rabbits must have enough room to stretch, graze and do its “business”. Also, you may want to get more than one box to place around the corners of the house. The more litter boxes you have, the more likely your rabbits will use one of them.

3. Place fresh hay in the litter box

Entice your rabbits into the litter box by placing fresh hay either directly in the box over the litter or in a hay feeder next to it. Position the hay feeder such that your rabbits will be in the box.

4. Get the right litter

Fill the litter box with about an inch of rabbit-safe litter. Choose paper-based litter/pellets that are highly absorbent and odourless.

Do not use pine or cedar chips as they can cause respiratory problems to rabbits. Avoid clay-based cat or clumping cat litters as well. If rabbits ingest them, these litters could cause a bowel blockage.

5. Keep litter boxes clean

A smelly and soiled toilet would put you off, the same does it for rabbits. Clean the litter boxes frequently so your rabbits would use them. In fact, rabbits love to hop into a recently changed litter box.

6. Clean up accidents ASAP

Pick up dropping and mop up urine with paper. Then, drop them both back into the litter box as soon as possible. This helps to get the message across that the litter box is where they do their ‘business’.

Still peeing and pooping everywhere?

You may want to consider neutering or spaying your (adult) rabbit. Rabbits are territorial by nature. Depositing urine and poop is their way of claiming space, and claiming their favourite humans too! It would be much easier to litter train neutered or spayed rabbits as their need to be territorial is greatly reduced.

With patience and persistence, it is possible to litter train your pet rabbit. Remember, good litter habits in rabbits goes a long way.

Is Cat Litter Safe for Rabbits?

The answer is well…

Yes and No.

Here is a quick table summary.

SAFE

  • Timothy Hay
  • Pelleted Newspaper

UNSAFE

  • Clay-based Cat Litter
  • Cedar and Pine
  • Litter with Silica

Clay-based Cat Litter

Clay cat litter can cause respiratory or gastrointestinal problems.

ASPCA
American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals

NEVER use clay cat litters for your bunnies.

They are harmful to your rabbits if consumed and can trigger digestive difficulties.

Dust in clay litters when ingested by your dear rabbit through the mouth or nose, may cause issues with its breathing.

Litter with Silica

Silica is also hazardous to rabbits and similar to clay, may cause intestinal problems. (which could prove fatal!)

Cedar and Pine

There are two major concerns with the use of cedar and pineshavings as litter. The first is the documented alterations in the liver’s specialized tools, called enzymes, that can alter your rabbit’s ability to handle standard drugs that your vet will use in the treatment of your pet. The second is the relatively poorly characterized cancer risk.

Numerous “natural” cat litters use these as ingredients, take note and avoid them.

Safer Litter Solutions

The ASPCA recommends:

  • Pelleted Newspaper
  • Timothy Hay

Before selecting any kind of litter for your bunny, however, always consult your veterinarian first just to be especially cautious.

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