Contrary to popular belief, rabbits aren’t dirty animals at all. Our much-maligned, cotton-tailed friends are fantastic pets partially because they can be trained to use a litter box. As rabbits tend to use the same area of their enclosure as a potty, mostly sticking to corners, potty training your bunny is a relatively simple process.
Older rabbits are easier to potty-train than a younger rabbit, as their ability to learn — and their attention span — increases with age. Babies are hardest to train, but with persistence and patience, you’ll be able to make the training stick. Curious about how to train a rabbit to use a litter box? We’ll walk you through what you’ll need, and we’ll share four useful training tips.
Supplies you’ll need
Figuring out how to potty-train your rabbit doesn’t have to be difficult. First, you’ll need a cage of some kind to limit your rabbit’s ability to roam during litter training. You can let your bunny roam freely once she’s properly trained, but keeping your rabbit confined during the early stages of training helps her learn faster, and it drastically cuts down on messes you’ll have to clean up if you leave your furry friend unchecked.
While you can buy litter boxes specially made for rabbits, they’re often too small for your furry friend to use comfortably, especially if you’re training an older rabbit. Your bunny should have plenty of room to move around, but the sides of the container shouldn’t be too tall for her to hop over. (You can always cut out a doorway if needed.)
Next on the list is litter. Wood shavings, clay-based litter, and clumping litter should be avoided: They can harm your rabbit’s respiratory tract. Recycled-newspaper litter is a wonderful option for bunnies, and it helps cut down on odor. Unlike cats, bunnies don’t bury their poop under the litter, so you’ll need to fill the box with only a thin layer of shredded newspaper to absorb urine.
(You’ll have to empty the litter box fully each time you clean it, so using a thin layer stops you from going through it so quickly, saving you money in the long run.)
Step one: Encourage your rabbit to use the litter box
Rabbits are funny little creatures in that they prefer to eat while they poop. If you’d like your rabbit to stop using the bathroom in the corner of her cage, place a bundle of hay inside the litter box on top of the litter. The scent of one of their favorite noshes will be irresistible, and your bunny will be much more likely to use the litter box. You can also put hay in a separate box near the litter box as long as your bunny can reach the hay from her box.
Step two: Teach your rabbit to use the box
If your bunny insists on going potty outside her litter box, try absorbing the urine with a paper napkin or paper towel, picking up the poop, and placing both items in the litter box. This helps your bunny accept the idea that the box is where she should potty from now on. Even the best-trained rabbit can have accidents, so we recommend lining the floor beneath the box. This will make cleanup easier, not to mention protect your flooring from stains.
Step three: Box placement matters
Does your rabbit insist on going potty in the same corner? Try setting the litter box there. Sometimes it’s better to let your rabbit tell you where she wants to go rather than try to force the issue. If your rabbit urinates and leaves droppings throughout your home, spaying or neutering is the best way to stop it. Spraying is territorial behavior, and spaying or neutering rabbits curbs the instinctive desire to mark their territory.
Step four: Give your rabbit a helping hand
Learn your rabbit’s “I’m about to use the bathroom” body language. If she lifts her tail or shifts into a seated position before going potty, scoop her up and put her in the litter box. Accidents may happen, but it’s one of the fastest ways to train any animal to use their designated potty space.
Litter training rabbits can take time, especially if you’ve adopted an older rabbit who was never trained to use a designated space to go to the bathroom. Fortunately, rabbits are clever creatures, and with time, patience, and effort, they can be taught to use a litter box.
- How to fix cloudy aquarium water and make your fish happy
- What you need to know about pet insurance for surgery
- 4 best dog sofas that your dog (and wallet) will love
- Why cats scratch your furniture and how to get them to stop
- Can chinchillas be potty trained? What you need to know