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Rabbits naturally tend to urinate/defecate in the same place, most frequently a corner of sorts.
There is always more to litter box training a rabbit than just placing a litter box in her cage.
Do I need to spay/neuter her?
If you are raising rabbits, then no. But if you have a house rabbit and would like your new companion to use a litter box, it is highly recommended to get them spayed/neutered.
Female rabbits have a risk of developing uterine cancer which is deadly in a rabbit. Getting her spayed can also increase her life span. However, this may be true but in some cases spaying/neutering your rabbit may not be an option.
Will age effect training?
Rabbits who are older seem to be easier to train than baby rabbits. Older rabbits have a longer attention span than that of younger rabbits.
If you are training a young rabbit, keep at it! Don’t give in or you will get no where with training her. Do not let her think she is boss. If she misses her litter box, continue to do positive training.
What kind of litter box should I get?
It all depends on the cage size (if you have one) and the size of a rabbit. A Netherland Dwarf rabbit may not accommodate to a larger litter box.
If you have a smaller rabbit use something like this one here, with a guard in case she decides she wants to scoop some out.
However, if you have a larger rabbit you may want something like this litter box instead. It all just depends on the size of your rabbit and the size of your cage.
A Flemish Giant surely will not fit in the smaller litter box. So ideally a larger one will be most suitable for this breed of rabbit.
What types of litter should I use?
Choosing the type of litter for your rabbit can be crucial to their health. You want to make sure you get a litter type that will not effect her health.
Many litters that are labeled safe for rabbits, really are not and can cause liver damage.
Here are some pros and cons to litter types
- crystalized litter can get stuck in the rabbits intestines if they nibble on it. Most rabbits like to munch on their litter
- clay litters have a strong odor and possibly cause upper respiratory problems
- cedar litter takes away the smell but the toxins and oils in the litter can also cause a rabbit to have respiratory problems
- pine shavings contain a lot of dusts and toxins that are released and cause liver damage to your rabbit.
- wood pellets are inexpensive and are broken down when urinated on for easy clean up. Some examples of this are Feline Pine, and Marth Animal Pellets.
- paper pulp or recycled paper items have been reported to be good to use. They have seemed to absorb and cut down odor. Some good types of this litter would be Yesterday’s News and Carefresh (Natural). Most people have told me they had better outcomes with Carefresh, but it has to be natural
- a lot of people use hay as a natural litter but that can be a little spending. Some have told me they use other litter types like Yesterday’s News and then they top it off with some hay
Cleaning + Garbage
When it comes to cleanliness of your litter boxes you want to make sure you don’t have an odor all the time. Rabbit urine has a pretty strong smell and your litter boxes should be cleaned daily to avoid any mess and extra odor.
Rabbit fecal material can actually be used to fertilize plants. It’s been proved to be a natural fertilizer!
If your bun has an accident everywhere besides her litter box then you can use Nature’s Miracle, which works wonders on stains and odors. If you want to go on the cheaper side then you can use plain white vinegar too.
How many litter boxes should I have?
You only need 1 litter box. If you have too many it can get confusing for your rabbit as to where she is supposed to go.
If you decide to have more than one I would only recommend 2 at max. If you decide to have a free range bunny I suggest that litter training be almost 100% complete.
Or you might just be picking up Cocoa Puffs all day long.
How do I actually train her?
Start with filling up your litter box, add some hay to the top of it to begin with. Rabbits like to munch and they are more likely going to urinate/defecate where they spend the most time. By their hay.
If she decides to urinate in an area she shouldn’t clap your hands together to make a louder noise. This should get her attention and avert her from urinating. Gather her back into her cage and into her litter box to make sure she goes.
When she starts realizing she needs to use the litter box provided for her you can then increase her roaming space. It is recommended to only increase it a little bit at a time. If you give her too much space she may dismiss her litter box.
When she goes in her litter box, praise her and award her with her favorite treats.
Behavior/UTI/Territorial signs and what to do
- A rabbit with a UTI (urinary tract infection) may urinate beside her litter box. It is recommended to take her to your local vet to be examined if you suspect this. If you notice her urinating more than she normally does then that could be a sign of a UTI.
- If your rabbit begins urinating outside her litter box and a UTI has been eliminated. Then it could have to do with territorial issues. If you just recently got a new rabbit and placed her next to your other one then bunny #1 may start missing her litter box. Make sure to correct this. Once your bunny #1 gets used to bunny #2 then she should resume her normal routine and use her box.
- Lastly, if the above two have been eliminated then we may be looking at a behavioral problem. This can be due to a new change, a move, new food, new treats, or even a new friend. When you see your rabbit have an oopsie, whether it’s an accident or not you need to correct it right away. Do not let her get away with it or she will set a firm behavioral problem that will be hard to correct. Keep repeating the process of, praise, confinement and rewards when she does or doesn’t use the litter box. Limit her free roam time but don’t make it a habit to make her cage seem like a punishment.