Rabbits have extremely cute noses and fluffy tails and make wonderful pets. However, these cute little furballs can turn into disgusting, smelly pets if not given proper care and training. Rabbits that go to the bathroom all over their cage, your home, and themselves, likely live in unsanitary conditions and would likely benefit from litter training. Proven techniques for litter training your rabbit are available and can work well to keep your pet’s living space clean and fresh.
Rabbits are quick learners and are easy to litter train. Litter training is accomplished by employing a litter box, cage, or by the use of positive reinforcement. While rabbits can be litter trained using any of these methods, positive reinforcement provides the best opportunity to bond with your rabbit.
Potty training can take a little time and effort, but it is worth it in the long run. Save yourself the mess and follow these effective litter training methods listed in this guide. Read on to learn everything you need to know about litter training your rabbit, from training steps to the best products to use.
Are Rabbits Easy to Litter Train?
Rabbits are notorious for being clean animals and can use litter boxes just like cats. If you are consistent with your litter box training, positive reinforcement, or cage method of potty training, you should be able to have your house rabbit litter trained in around a week or two.
Rabbits are easier to litter train than most common house pets. Rabbits learn fast and desire to keep their living areas clean and make their owners happy. On average, litter training can be successfully accomplished in seven to fourteen days when rabbits are consistently trained.
One of the most difficult things to do when litter training your rabbit is to decide on the training method that will become your consistent routine. If you decide to train your rabbit with a litter box, this process may take less time.
If you decide to only use positive reinforcement, the litter training process may take a bit longer. However, cage training with a litter box is probably one of the easiest, and fastest, methods to litter train your rabbit.
The Best Ways to Litter Train Your Rabbit
There are several methods available on the internet for potty training your pet rabbit. However, some are more effective than others. The top three ways to potty train your rabbit are to use a litter box, use consistent positive reinforcement, and create or cage train your rabbit. Each of these methods is effective at teaching your rabbit to eliminate in a specific place.
1. Using a Litter Box to litter Train Your Rabbit
The most popular and common method for litter training your rabbit is to use a litter box as a place where the rabbit consistently goes to eliminate during the day. The box is usually small enough to fit into a cage. However, litter boxes do not have to be enclosed and are filled with an absorbent material that needs to be changed occasionally.
What are the Pros and Cons of Rabbit Litter Boxes?
As with any potty training technique, litter boxes for rabbits have their benefits and downsides. Even though litter boxes are generally thought of as the best option when it comes to potty training your rabbit, it may not be the best option for all rabbit pet owners.
- Easy to schedule potty trips for your rabbit because it is always available
- Syncs up with the rabbit’s natural desire to be clean
- The method is easy to reinforce and use
- The training doesn’t take very long
- The cost of additional litter and the litter box
- You need to have the space to store the litter box
- The cleanup is consistent and needs to be done multiple times per day
How Long Does it Take Litter Train a Rabbit?
Litter training a rabbit with a litter box is a fairly simple task that should only take about 7 to 10 days to complete. Sometimes, litter training a rabbit can take longer If you do not place the litter box in the cage where the rabbit is living.
Some owners opt to have the litter box outside of the cage to protect the rabbit’s living area from the mess. If you plan to have the litter box inside your rabbit’s cage, you must be diligent about cleaning the litter box. Keeping the litter box in the rabbit’s cage allows continuous access and will help to make the training go more smoothly.
Usually, rabbits will start using a litter box in only a few days. Especially if you pick up any excrement from the bottom of the cage and place it in the litter box as this helps rabbits know where to eliminate.
Most rabbit owners find a litter box that fits in the cage the easiest way to potty train their rabbits. However, litter training your rabbit in its cage can result in the rabbit tracking feces and urine around. It can be a bit messy, especially at the beginning of training.
The other option is to store your litter box outside of the cage. If you decide to store the litter box outside of the cage, maybe because you don’t want to deal with the mess, it may take longer to litter train your rabbit. Using a litter box outside of the cage can take up to 2 weeks to litter train your rabbit. However, you will not need to deal with your rabbit tracking mess around its cage.
2. Using Positive Reinforcement to Litter Train Your Rabbit
Positive reinforcement is one of the easiest and best ways to train your pets. Not only will you get the results that you are seeking, but you will also build a lifelong bond with your pets by using kindness and favorite toys or foods they already love to reward instead of punishing.
Using positive reinforcement to litter train your rabbit can be done in a number of ways including:
- Positive words of encouragement,
- A soothing tone of voice
- Soft-touch petting and holding
- Allowing special playtime with favorite toys.
To use positive reinforcement on its own when potty training your rabbit, follow these easy to use guidelines:
- Play with your rabbits with a variety of toys and use a variety of treats to reward your rabbit. This is to encourage many different rewards and to find what your rabbit likes best.
- Some of the best examples of rabbit positive reinforcement rewards are
- food such as bananas, apples, or sweet vegetables like carrots and broccoli. Natural rewards for sweets are always the best to use.
- Hold or pet your rabbit as a reward; make sure to find your rabbit’s position, and the place is most comfortable and happy. And find that special spot on their fur that they liked to be pet and will remain calm in.
- Use your rabbit’s favorite toys and playtime as positive reinforcement. This could be mazes, jumps, special playtime on the lawn outside, or little chew toys for their teeth.
- Start a potty-training routine with your rabbit. This could mean that you take your rabbit out frequently when waking up from naps, after eating and drinking water, or other routines.
- Use the positive reinforcement reward such as soft petting, holding, playtime, or sweet treats whenever your rabbit goes potty during the specified time.
- Be consistent with your potty-training routine and use positive reinforcement any time you get the desired result.
3. Using a Cage to Litter Train Your Rabbit
Most pet owners will have their pet rabbit in a cage at least part of the time or even a majority of the time. Cage training your pet rabbit can make litter training with a litter box much easier. The natural instinct of a rabbit is to keep its living area clean. As a pet owner, you can use this instinct with your cage potty training to get the training done more quickly.
Using a cage to potty train, your rabbit is easy if you keep things simple. You should have a litter box in the cage with hay or other litter box absorbent material. You need to change the litter box consistently throughout the day at first and then less frequently as your rabbit gets used to using the litter box in its cage.
One of the most important things to remember when cage litter training your rabbit is to clean up any feces around the cage and deposit it into the litter box. By placing the feces into the litter box, your rabbit learns more quickly where it is expected to eliminate.
The Best Rabbit Litter Boxes for Litter Training
When potty training your rabbit, you don’t need anything too fancy. In fact, a litter box for a rabbit will be fairly inexpensive and easy to take care of. However, there are several designs that are especially effective for potty training and can aid in making the process go smoother and more quickly.
The two basic designs of litter boxes for litter training your rabbit are the rectangular design and the corner triangle design. Each of these designs will get the job of litter training done. However, these each have their pros and cons.
1. Rectangular Litter Box Design
A rectangular litter box is a great design for larger rabbits or for a cage with multiple rabbits. The rectangular litter boxes are also ideal for use outside of a cage. However, most have lock mechanisms to secure the box to the cage wiring.
- Large design holds more litter and does not have to be cleaned or changed as regularly.
- The large design also is better for a cage or potty being used by multiple rabbits
- Can be used for young rabbits and large adult rabbits
- Sometimes too large and takes up too much space for smaller cages
2. Triangular Litter Box Design
The triangular litter box is designed with space in mind. Most of the triangular litter boxes are made small on purpose so that they can fit into most cage spaces. Also, the triangular design may limit the amount of waste that is tracked back around the cage since the litter box is not in the way of the rabbit’s movements.
- Saves space by fitting neatly in the corner of a cage
- Out of the way so that rabbits won’t walk through their waste as much and track it around the cage.
- The smaller size means it holds less litter material and must be changed and cleaned more frequently
- Usually used in a cage, not intended for use outside of the cage
As an example of the two most common designs of rabbit litter boxes available, here are two products that are ranked the highest in customer satisfaction and efficiency according to reviews:
Humorous.P Small Potty Trainer Corner Litter Box
This rabbit litter box (found on Amazon) is a large size that can be used when the rabbit is young and then kept well into adulthood. The nice thing about this potty trainer litter box is that it comes with additional tools that you will need to set it up and keep it clean on a regular basis.
- Made of durable plastic that can be easily washed
- The locking mechanism holds the litter box in place on the cage wire
- Mesh wire design is coated and easy to clean; all you have to do is disassemble it from the litter box to clean out waste
- Large size may not work for all rabbits
- Large size rectangular box may take up too much space in the cage
Lixit Corner Litter Pan for Ferrets and Rabbits
Litter boxes don’t have to be expensive. The Lixit corner litter pan (found on Amazon here) is both functional and of great value. A corner litter box is an awesome addition to a cage for your rabbit. Training your rabbit with this corner litter box will be easy and mess-free and fits perfectly into almost all cage spaces.
- The corner design is perfect for saving space in smaller cages
- Plastic material is durable and easy to clean
- Help keep the cage clean and hygienic
- The small design makes potty training a little more difficult
- Does not come with a mesh grate to be placed over the litter material, which can lead to tracking waste around the cage
What is the Best Litter For Rabbit’s Litter Box?
Now that you have decided on the litter box design that you will be using, it is now time to think about the litter material that will fill the litter box. Litter acts as an absorbent material for your rabbit’s waste so that it can be scooped or brushed out of the litter box more easily. There are several different types of litter for rabbit potty training boxes, and each has its own pros and cons.
1. Soft Wood Shavings
The ground-up bark from aspen, cedar, or pine trees is a great litter material for your rabbit’s litter box. Although there are some dangers reported about the use of softwood shavings, most of these dangers are not supported concretely.
- Biodegradable and eco-friendly material that is made from aspen bark pulp
- Heavier material so it does not track around the cage on the feet of your rabbit-like clay litter might
- Easier and faster to clean up than other litter materials
- Generally lasts much longer than other litter materials
- More expensive than other litter materials(except pine wood shavings)
- Can be rough on your rabbit’s feet, especially young rabbits
- Can be toxic is ingested
2. Horse Stall Bedding Pellets
Just because the word ‘horse’ is in the name doesn’t mean that horse stall pellets can’t be used for your rabbit’s litter box. Bedding pellets are a pretty new product for litter boxes. Still, they can be better than other traditional bedding materials, such as hay. They are made from softwood that has been compressed down into pellets that absorb moisture and cling to feces.
- Easier to store than traditional hay litter
- More absorbent than other types of litter
- Easier to clean by scooping
- Lasts longer than other types of litter material
- Can be more expensive than other types of litter material
- Can be heavier in weight
Ah, the good old newspaper litter box lining. Nothing says rabbit cage quite so perfectly as the rustle of an old newspaper. Not only is the newspaper easy to get a hold of, but it is also cheap. However, many people have pointed out that using newspapers can be unhygienic.
- Cheap to buy or even free
- Easy to place in your cage and can be used all over, not just in the cage or litter box
- Obvious signs when it is time to be changed
- Can be messier than other types of litter
- Less absorbance than other types of litter
- Unhygienic because of a lack of absorption and tracking the paper around
- Must be changed out very frequently
Hazards of Some Litter Materials For Rabbits
Whichever type of material you choose for your rabbit’s litter box, you should consider a few things before getting started with potty training:
- Some cat litters can be poisonous if ingested by rabbits, especially those containing zinc oxide.
- Rabbit litter can become dirty or even poisonous and should not be used if your rabbit has a problem eating it.
- Softwood shavings are great for many reasons. However, studies have shown that if ingested, they can cause liver problems. Also, they are stinky and don’t control the stench of elimination from your rabbit.
- Pellets made from corn or corn cobs can cause intestinal blockage if ingested by your rabbit. Corn is not good for rabbits and should be avoided as a litter box material.
Can you Litter Train an intact Rabbit?
Intact rabbits can be litter trained but are often more difficult to potty train than their spayed or neutered counterparts. Due to alterations in hormone production, fixed rabbits tend to be calmer and are much less likely to spray during, and after, the litter training process.
To mitigate the mess and negative behavior of litter training an unneutered or un-spayed rabbit, you can follow these simple guidelines:
- Consider getting your rabbit spayed or neutered: Sure, it may seem upsetting to have this surgery done on your rabbit, but it may make the negative behavior of marking lessen or stop altogether and create a healthier and stronger relationship for you and your pet.
- Clean regularly: Cleaning the cage and places around the house where accidents happen is an essential way to mitigating marking. By eliminating the rabbit’s scent, it trains them that marking is not important and will lessen their instinctual drive to mark.
- Be consistent in your potty training: Even if there are mistakes along the way, using consistent training techniques is always encouraged. Although it may be infuriating at times, never resort to negative reinforcement, hitting, or yelling at your rabbit as this will cause them to become afraid and even act as the opposite of potty training.
There are plenty of strange, bizarre, and even cruel ways to potty train your rabbit. If you are considering getting a rabbit for the first time, take the time to read through these tips before you start potty training your rabbit to ensure that you have success and maintain a positive and kind relationship with your pet.
Can you Litter Train an Older Rabbit?
Everyone wants a cute baby bunny in their household; however, younger rabbits are prone to messes and are difficult to potty train. The natural curiosity, and changing bodies and minds of juvenile rabbits, make it much more difficult to stay consistent with a litter training routine.
Older rabbits can easily be litter trained. Older rabbits are much easier to litter train than younger rabbits as a result of increased attention spans as they age. Adult rabbits are less confused by cages, feeding, and training and often learn quickly when given limited distraction to their routines.
The question that many prospective rabbit owners ask themselves is if they want to buy new or adopt. With so many abandoned or orphaned rabbits out there, it is no wonder that so many people consider adopting over buying a new baby bunny. The ease of training an adult rabbit is just an added benefit.
So, If you are considering buying a new baby bunny or adopting an adult rabbit but worried about the time it will take to litter train, go for the adult rabbit, and you won’t be disappointed.
Why Do Older Rabbits Have Potty Accidents?
As rabbits age, they can start to fall into bad habits and even begin to stop using their litter box altogether. This can cause rabbit owners considerable stress and confusion. An adult rabbit that was once potty trained and now is having potty accidents is not a rare occurrence and can be helped with additional training.
The reasons why your adult rabbit is having potty accidents, even after being potty trained, could be the result of numerous factors.
Important factors to consider when an adult rabbit is having potty accidents include:
- You are not cleaning the litter box or material regularly: Adult rabbits are especially prone to staying away from their own waste. Suppose you are neglecting to clean out their cage or litter box. In that case, they may not feel like going potty where they used to and find other inconvenient places to relieve themselves.
- Your rabbit may be sick: A sick rabbit will stop doing things that it normally did, especially near the end of its life. Your rabbit might also have internal problems that make controlling the bladder difficult. Look for hazy eyes, lack of movement, lethargy, and other signs that your rabbit may be sick.
- The litter box is too small: If you bought a smaller litter box to save space when your rabbit was a young bunny, it might have outgrown the size and need a larger litter box. There should be a little space on each side of the rabbit when it squats to use its litter box. If using the litter box is uncomfortable for your rabbit, they will not use it.
Potty training your rabbit can be done rather easily if you are willing to set up a consistent routine for your rabbit. The way that you potty train is dependent on the space that you have and the temperament of the rabbit. Remember, adult rabbits tend to be easier to train than younger rabbits, so try to never lose patience and fall into negative reinforcement.
Following this guide on potty training techniques, materials, and tips and considerations should give you all of the information you need to properly and quickly train your young or adult rabbit while maintaining that positive relationship you so treasure with your pet. Good luck, and stay positive. Your rabbit will thank you.