Litter Training Guide
- Why train your rabbit
- Which rabbits are best to train
- What’s the best litter tray
- What to use as litter
- How to train your rabbits
- Cleaning the litter tray
Litter training your bunny isn’t as complicated as you may think.
Rabbits learn litter training quickly as they naturally go to the toilet in one or two spots. You just need to be patient, persistent and show them where you want them to go.
Litter training your pet rabbit is convenient. It means you only need to clean out a small tray, rather than their entire hutch. It also means you can let them hop around your house without worrying about accidents.
Older rabbits are easier to train. This is because younger rabbits go to the toilet more often and have a slower ability to learn.
Rabbits that have been desexed pickup litter training much easier than those that haven’t. Non-desexed rabbits instinctively mark their territory in different places.
The earlier you desex your pet bunny, the better. Once your rabbit begins marking its territory, it is difficult to teach it to stop.
If you have multiple pet rabbits, one rabbit will often teach the others.
The first step is to buy a litter tray. Buying a cat litter box with lower sides works well. Often litter trays sold “for rabbits” are too small.
The tray should be at least twice the size of your rabbit. You need enough room for your rabbit to stretch out inside the box.
If you have multiple rabbits, all need to be able to fit inside the box together.
Choosing a litter box with side walls or a closed top will help prevent mess being flicked out or your rabbit urinating over the edge of the tray.
Substitutes for store bought litter trays include shallow baking dishes, cake pans or plastic storage tubs.
Line the bottom of the tray with newspaper. This will make it easier to clean out.
Choose a litter that is highly absorbent (to help with smells) but is also safe if the rabbit eats it.
Use organic litters, such as those made from recycled paper or hay.
Avoid litters made from softwood shavings, clay or clumping litters. These can damage your bunny’s health. Also avoid scented litters, which can sometimes make smells worse.
Rabbits don’t bury their droppings so no need to fill the tray too high.
Start by training your rabbit within its hutch.
See where your rabbit is naturally going to the toilet and place a tray there. This is typically in a corner.
Place a little bit of your rabbit’s poo in the tray straight away, so it knows where to go.
Rabbits like to eat while they poo, so placing hay next to the tray can help. Make sure your rabbit can’t reach the hay without sitting inside the tray. Some people place hay within the tray itself.
This hay can easily get soiled and will need to be checked and changed very regularly.
When your rabbit goes to the toilet in the litter tray, encourage it by using positive reinforcement and rewarding it with a treat.
When you are first training, you will need to spend a lot of time with your rabbit. Sit with it and pay full attention to your pet.
If you can see it is about to go outside of its litter tray, pick it up and put it inside.
Signs it is about to go include backing up, wiggling its butt or lifting its tail.
It is a good idea to take your rabbit to the litter tray every 10 minutes or so during playtime. Try to avoid leaving it unsupervised for longer than 10 minutes so you can catch it before it needs to go.
If your rabbit goes to the toilet outside the litter tray, scoop up the poo and put it in the tray. This will show it where it should be going. Never punish your rabbit, this will only scare it, not teach it.
Once your rabbit picks up litter training inside its hutch, you can then litter train it within your house. Start off only allowing the rabbit in a small, fenced off area.
The Somerzby Arena playpen works great for this. Expand the area gradually, and don’t expand until you are sure your rabbit has worked out toilet training in that space.
If your rabbit is roaming in a large area, consider multiple trays. It may not be willing to travel far to find a litter box. Start with many then slowly lower the number of boxes as your rabbit learns.
If it is repeatedly choosing to go to the toilet in a certain spot, add a litter tray there. Even if it means rearranging the rabbit hutch or your furniture.
Clean up accidents around your house instantly, using white vinegar and water. Bleach and ammonia-based cleaning products can strengthen the smell of urine.
If an accident is not cleaned up well straight away, your bunny may start to associate that place with going to the toilet.
A rabbit’s training can easily regress by changes around it (such as a new bunny friend or a new hutch) or by being scared (sudden noises or other pets). Regular training may be required.
A rabbit that has been well trained for many years and suddenly starts having accidents will need to be trained again from the beginning.
It is natural rabbits will poo around their hutch occasionally so don’t let one accident make you think it has failed to learn.
Be patient with your rabbit if it takes a while to pick things up. Remember that training time is also bonding time.
The litter tray should be cleaned every couple of days, depending on how dirty it gets. Keep an eye on it!
When your pet rabbit is first learning, especially in the first two weeks, leave a little bit of poo in the tray so it can work out where it should be going to the toilet.
If you clean it instantly, your bunny may think it isn’t supposed to go there. After this, keeping the tray clean will encourage your rabbit to hop in and use it.
It is unavoidable that some litter or poo will get flicked out of the tray and into the hutch. Spot clean this daily using a scoop.
Rabbits may sometimes back up and urinate over the edge of the tray. Putting a plastic mat underneath can make it easier to clean this up.