Toilet training rabbits
Toilet training rabbits
Many people think that rabbits are dirty animals. But rabbits make wonderful indoor pets in part because they can be toilet trained, just like cats! Follow these steps to litter train your rabbit:
- Provide a small cat litter box (or a few) with low sides and no top. Cut a doorway in one of the sides if it's too tall. The corner litter boxes advertised for rabbits are a little too small.
- For litter, use recycled paper litter and choose the unscented version. This litter will neutralise any unpleasant urine smells. Do not use clay-based or clumping litter as this is harmful to rabbits' lungs. Avoid wood shavings as well.
- Put a thin layer of litter at the bottom of the litter box- just enough to absorb wetness. There's no need to fill it too high since rabbits don't bury their droppings like cats. Also, when you clean the litter box, empty the entire contents out each time.
- Rabbits like to eat hay and pass droppings at the same time. So to promote good litter box habits, place hay either directly in the box over the litter or place it in a hay box next to the litter box. If you use a hay box, position it so the rabbit must hop into the litter box in order to reach the hay.
- It is easiest to develop good litter box habits in rabbits by limiting their space at first. Use a puppy pen to confine your rabbit to one area, even if you intend to give him/her free run of your home eventually. This allows your rabbit to get used to the area from the start and once your rabbit consistently uses the litter box, you can gradually expand the area. If your rabbit starts "forgetting" to use the litter box, then limit the space again until good habits resume.
- If accidents occur, clean up urine with a paper towel and pick up droppings and place both in the litter box. This helps get the message across that the litter box is the place that your rabbit should go to the toilet. Keep in mind that rabbits are generally not 100% perfect with their litter box. Sometimes they leave a few droppings next to the box, or they urinate over the edge of their box. This is normal, so placing a plastic mat under their litter box or putting the litter box on a tile floor makes it easier to clean up.
- Be patient and persistent. Litter training takes time, especially if your rabbit has learned bad habits. If you can see they are about to go outside their litter box, try to pick them up and put them in the litter box or encourage them in. This is often easier said than done of course!
- If your rabbit is insistent on going in one corner of the room, sometimes it’s easier to give in to their stubbornness, and place a litterbox in that corner. Sometimes when rabbits consistently choose another place to go, they are trying to tell you that that’s where they want to go.
- If your rabbit is pooing or spraying urine everywhere, this is probably due to your rabbit marking his territory. It’s a good idea to get your rabbit neutered to solve this problem.
Remember, litter training your rabbit takes patience and persistence. But in the end, you'll have a wonderful companion to share your home with.