How To Litter Box Train a Rabbit
Is it really possible to litter box train a rabbit? YES! I have done it. :)
Naturally, rabbits tend to go to the bathroom in specific areas. They don't want predators to notice them, so they like to "go" where it is safe.
Some rabbits are better at using their litter box than others.
A key factor in seeing that your rabbit uses the litter box is getting your pet spayed or neutered. When rabbits are around 4-6 months of age, their hormones become active and they usually start marking their territory.
What You Need
- Plastic Litter Box(es) for rabbits or cats
- Non-toxic & non-clumping Litter
- Vinegar for cleaning the box
- Patience :)
6 Steps to Litter Box Train a Rabbit
1. Put a litter box for rabbits in the corner area that your rabbit mainly uses to do its "business" in. Also, put another box in the space in which your rabbit exercises.
2. If your rabbit chooses to "go" in another spot instead, move the box to that spot.
3. If you see your rabbit lifting up its tail (to go to the bathroom), and buns is not in the litter box, firmly say "No". Gently put your rabbit in the litter box right away. If the rabbit "goes", praise your rabbit by petting it. You can even give your rabbit a treat, such as a piece of its favorite fruit.
4. If you see your rabbit "go" and there is no litter box there, quickly and firmly say "No", gently pick up your rabbit right away and put it in the litter box. Hopefully, your rabbit associates the box with the bathroom. Be careful with this one though, 'cause you don't want your rabbit to think it's supposed to use the box AFTER it "goes".
5. What you could also do is pick up the droppings you see outside of the box and put them in the box. This helps to associate the box "smell" as a place to go to the bathroom.
6.You will want to repeat this positive reinforcement (as outlined above) several times, until you see your rabbit using the box more times than it's not. Never scare your rabbit into using its litter box.
Safe Rabbit Litter
The best types of rabbit litter to use are organic litters, made from alfalfa, oat, citrus, or paper.
Rabbits spend quite a bit of time in their litter boxes, and often ingest the material, which may not be safe. Clumping cat litter is to be avoided.
Also, some litters are said to cause liver damage, such as pine and cedar wood chips, when it's breathed in. This is why it's good to be on the safe side when it comes to deciding which type of litter to purchase.
You can even put hay in the litter box. This encourages some rabbits to use the litter box. I don't put hay in the litter box myself, as I like to keep the kitchen and bathroom separate. ;) But this is just my personal preference.
Many rabbits like to lie in their litter box and take a snooze. :)
Cleaning Up the Rabbit Litter Box
Depending on the type of litter you use and how many rabbits you have, determines how often you will be cleaning up their housing area.
As rabbit urine has a strong scent from the high ammonia content, you won't want to leave a messy litter box for too long.
Simply use mild dish soap, or for tough stains use white vinegar, and water. Ensure that the litter box is rinsed well. Do not use any chemicals or detergents.
When "accidents" happen outside of the litter box, use natural cleaning products. To mask the smell of urine, use white vinegar or club soda.
To encourage your rabbit to use its litter box, clean the box out frequently. Rabbits, by nature, are very clean animals. They even groom themselves more than cats do!
Troubleshooting Rabbit Litter Training
The 3 most common reasons for a rabbit not to use a litter box consistently, include the following (especially if buns was consistent in the past):
1. Bladder Problems
If your rabbit stops using its litter box, and goes elsewhere, a bladder or kidney problem could be to blame. This should be diagnosed and treated by a Vet familiar with rabbits.
2. Behavioral Issues
If your rabbit gets stressed i.e. a change in routine, visitors, loud noises, unexpected occurrence, it may stop using the litter box. What's important is to re-train the rabbit to use its litter box, before a habit takes form. (It's easier to train a rabbit to use a litter box than it is to correct the bad habit of not using the box.)
3. Territory Related
A rabbit will mark its territory by going to the bathroom. Have your pet spayed or neutered to decrease this behavior. Also, once a rabbit is comfortable with its "space", litter box usage will be better utilized.
Now that you know how to litter box train a rabbit, check out Indoor Rabbit Homes for some cool indoor housing ideas.
Cara on July 05, 2013:
I remember litter box training our rabbit when I was a child. He was a house rabbit after we found out that foxes were managing to climb up onto his hutch to worry him.
AcAshuib on October 21, 2012:
well presented. but myself are having a hard time to train them, they just do it whenever and wherever they can. what kind of litter box did you use anyway?
bizgrrl (author) from Vancouver, Canada on July 18, 2011:
@Murphypig: Thanks for your comment. Hopefully he picks up on using the litter box, when he's more comfortable with his surroundings.
Murphypig on July 17, 2011:
I got 2 out of my 3 rabbits littertrained. the problem is that the last one is a rescue and was very nervous and even a bit aggressive at first. He's not aggressive anymore but I'm still not able to pick him up before he wees. he'll duck and run. :-( I'm hoping he watches the others and will learn at some stage by himself...
bizgrrl (author) from Vancouver, Canada on June 23, 2011:
@Positivevibestechnician: Nice! How is the litter box training going?
bizgrrl (author) from Vancouver, Canada on June 23, 2011:
@sukkran trichy: Thanks! :)
Positivevibestechnician on February 24, 2011:
oddly enough the kids just got a rabbit this will come in very handy!!
sukkran trichy from Trichy/Tamil Nadu on January 21, 2011:
thanks for the very useful information. well presented lens