Litter Training Your Rabbits
Did you know you can house train rabbits? These clever house pets will happily use a litter tray, so long as it is well set up and they have been shown how to use it.
You can start litter training your rabbits as early as you like but you can litter train a rabbit at any age. In fact, it has been suggested that older rabbits can be simpler to train than babies as they are more developed and find learning easier. Being neutered or not is likely to have more of an impact on success than age. It’s more difficult to house train a non-neutered rabbit as they have a stronger inclination to mark in the house.
You can have your rabbits neutered from four months old. This will assist with training as well as having a whole host of other benefits.
More about litter training your rabbit
You will need:
- Large, low sided, uncovered litter tray.
- Litter (organic litters such as alfalfa or paper are best, or you can just use hay!).
- A hay rack with fresh, sweet-smelling hay.
Do NOT use:
- Soft wood (such as pine) litter as this can cause liver damage.
- Some cat litters which have been linked to zinc poisoning in rabbits.
- Clumping litter as rabbits are prone to eating their litter and this can block the digestive tract.
You need to make it as easy as possible for them to use the litter tray.
- Let them choose, keep an eye on where they naturally gravitate to for toileting and set up there.
- Rewards, to start with try offering a little of their very favourite treat after a successful toilet trip to reward this behaviour.
- Easy access, rabbits aren't very big, so a high sided tray might be a challenge! Make sure your rabbits can get into the tray easily to use it.
- Small area, start by keeping your rabbits in a small area with their litter tray so it's the most natural place for them to toilet. Once the association has been made, you can start to increase their room to roam!
- Cleanish - clean litter is important, but rabbits will also associate the smell of droppings with their toilet area. Try and change litter about every day and a half. That way you'll get a good balance. To help your rabbit to learn where to toilet you can place droppings into the litter tray to make it smell right!
- Size appropriate rabbits like to sit in their litter tray for long periods of time, and have a snack whilst they are there! This means litter trays need to be big enough for this activity, as well as close enough to a food source such as a hay rack.
You should expect a few accidents while you are toilet training your rabbit, but use calm and consistent training and you will soon see an improvement.
Never chastise or punish your rabbit for toileting outside the litter tray, as they won’t understand and may become afraid of you.
Clean up messes with biological washing power and water or use specialised enzymatic pet urine cleaners. Bleach cleaners should be avoided as they contain ammonia which is also found in urine. This will actually encourage your rabbits to toilet in that area!
If you seem to be having more accidents than before this could be due to several reasons:
- An issue with the litter tray, such as placement or size.
- Illness of your rabbit conditions such as arthritis may stop your rabbit getting into the tray, and bladder issues may affect urination
- Sexual maturity, unneutered rabbits are difficult to house train, and you may find a house trained bunny going backwards once they hit puberty at 4-6 months.
If you are seeing more accidents speak to your local Companion Care vet for advice.