Litter box training is easier than you think!
Teaching your rabbit to use a litter box is not as difficult as you may think.
Because rabbits are naturally tidy, they make great candidates for litter box
training. It is natural for a rabbit to choose one spot, usually corners, to
urinate and leave their droppings.
Here are some suggestions to train your rabbit to use a litter box. Keep in
mind that persistence and patience are essential elements for success. Mature
rabbits will learn faster than younger rabbits, as a rule. It's best to start
litter training your rabbit when she is at least three months old.
What will you need to start training your rabbit?
Litter box training works best if you have a play space set up for your rabbit
along with her cage. Your rabbit's cage should be well designed and roomy. It
is recommended that you use an exercise pen, between 18 and 30 inches high, to
create a play space around the cage. Attach the exercise pen to the cage, or
place the exercise pen around the cage, allowing your rabbit to enter and exit
the cage on her own. Using an exercise pen with the cage, keeps your rabbit in
a safe and confined area.
Always keep in mind that "if a rabbit can reach it, a rabbit will chew it."
Take special care to make your rabbit's play space safe and free of items such
as electrical cords, telephone cords, and house plants. The exercise pen can
also be used to block a doorway, or secure your rabbit in a bathroom, kitchen,
or other safe area.
First, choose a litter box that will fit inside your rabbit's cage. The litter
box should not take up more than one third of the cage space.
You will need one or two additional litter boxes in the future when you begin
training your rabbit in a larger area. Simple, inexpensive boxes will work just
fine for this.
Second, you must choose a litter material. It is recommended that you use
organic litters, made from alfalfa, oat, citrus, or paper. Keep in mind that
your rabbit will sometimes sleep and play in her litter box. Your rabbit may
also nibble on some of the litter so it needs to be safe and non-toxic. Grass
hay, oat hay, or alfalfa pellets may also be used. These litter materials are
available at your local pet retailer.
Third, it is recommended that you have a non-toxic stain and odor
remover on hand to sanitize the litter box and to clean up mistakes in your
home should they occur.
Let's get started inside the cage!
To get started, place a litter box in your rabbit's cage in the corner that she
most frequently uses as her bathroom, and confine her to her cage. You may try
putting a few of her dropping in the litter box as a hint. If she urinates in a
corner of the cage not containing the box, move the box to that corner. You may
have to move it a few times before she gets the idea. Be patient. Once she
first uses the box, praise her and give her a special treat. Your local pet
retailer will have many healthy treats to choose from. Soon your rabbit will
begin using the litter box regularly.
Open the cage door and let your rabbit into her play space!
Once your rabbit is using the litter box in her cage regularly, you can open
her door and allow her to roam around in her play space. You should now leave
your rabbit's cage door open at all times. The Ultimate Goal is to have your
rabbit return to her cage when she needs to "GO."
Place one or two more litter boxes in your rabbit's play space in the
beginning, along with the litter box inside her cage. Eventually, when you have
reached the Ultimate Goal, the extra litter boxes can be removed from the play
Allow your rabbit to go in and out of her cage and into the play space on her
own, but keep a watchful eye. If you see her backing up, pushing her back end
against a wall, or raising her tail, your rabbit may be getting ready to
urinate. Guide her back into her cage or litter box as soon as you notice this
behavior. This will help your rabbit realize that she should urinate in the
cage or litter box. You don't want to make this seem like punishment, so be
gentle and kind. A handful of hay or a few special treats in the litter box may
encourage her to hop on in.
As your rabbit gets better trained in her play space, you can increase her play
area if you choose. Don't rush this process. If you increase the size of her
play space too quickly, your rabbit may forget her way back to the cage or
Your rabbit continues to use another spot as her
Try to compromise. If your rabbit continually urinates in a spot where there is
no litter box, put her litter box where she will use it even if it means
rearranging her cage or moving some items in her play space. It is much easier
to make her happy than to try to work against a determined rabbit. Some
rabbits, especially males, might mark their territory with urine or droppings.
There really isn't much you can do about this. Spaying or neutering will curb
this behavior if it's done at an early age. Most male rabbits can be neutered
at the age of 10-14 weeks old. Females can be spayed at 6 months old. See your
veterinarian for more information.
Your rabbit sleeps in the litter box...
Never discourage your rabbit from being in the litter box, even if it's not for
bathroom purposes. Don't be concerned if your rabbit curls up to sleep in her
litter box. This is natural. If she prefers to sleep in her litter box, as well
as use it for a bathroom, changing the litter and sanitizing the box should be
done every few days. Otherwise, change and clean the litter box at least once a
Your rabbit leaves wet droppings outside the cage and
outside her litter box...
If your rabbit leaves wet droppings outside her cage or
litter box, it's most likely due to one of two reasons:
1. If the droppings are very small and stuck together like a little cluster of
grapes, these are night droppings or ceacotropes. Night droppings look
different than regular droppings and contain nutrients that your rabbit did not
fully digest. Rabbits may eat night droppings, but occasionally you might find
a few that your rabbit leaves behind. Generally, you don't need to worry about
finding night droppings unless you find a lot of them. In that event, take your
pet to the veterinarian.
2. If the droppings are larger than normal, runny looking, or mashed together,
this could be diarrhea. You should take your pet to the veterinarian as soon as
possible. Diarrhea can be symptomatic of a number of health problems and over a
short amount of time, can be detrimental. Rabbits can become dehydrated very
quickly. Always be sure your rabbit has a clean, fresh supply of water.