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Ok, first and foremost here, you need to keep your expectations in check. I’ve taken care of a lot of rabbits, and I’ve never had one that was completely untrainable. That being said, some are better than others.
The occasional poop on the floor is totally normal. Only one of mine (ironically the most feral) took pride in never ever ever doing so much as one poop outside of her litter tray.
The rest of them have all been super good at peeing in the box, but think nothing of laying the odd bunny egg on the floor.
So don’t worry about perfection. Bunny poop is dry and doesn’t smell, so it’s not such a big deal as it would be if we were talking about a dog or a cat.
Is it natural for a rabbit to use a litter box?
It really depends on how picky we’re being here – obviously rabbits aren’t hitting up Amazon and buying their kits trays.
In general though, bunnies like to poop in the same place. Often you can see little piles of poop just near the entrance of their burrow, though that’s probably marking territory as much as it’s convenience.
Either way, rabbits prefer to do their business outside of their warren to reduce the spread of disease and because doing it in their house is gross.
Is it easy to train a rabbit to use a litter box?
It’s easy to train a rabbit to pee in a box. When I first got Holly and Daisy, they weren’t litter trained at all.
Luckily, rabbit naturally like to pee in corners and covered areas, so it’s pretty easy to gauge where they’re going to want to go.
nce we’d established where they felt safe, we put litter boxes down and it took less than a week to get them to go where we want them too, and it takes much less effort than it would take to litter train a puppy.
How do I stop my rabbit pooping on the floor?
I’ve had a lot of success with vigilantly picking up every poop and putting it in the litter tray. It doesn’t take some rabbits very log to get the message.
This can be where measuring your expectations comes into play though – the cold, hard fact of the matter is that some rabbits don’t care about the odd poop on the floor. I personally recommend that you settle for 100% of pees in the box, and 90% of poops.
If your rabbit is 100% litter trained, you got lucky. Your rabbit values a tidy home. It ain’t that common.
What should I use as a litter tray?
This really depends on the size and age of your rabbit.
For small rabbits, I like to use triangular litter trays. When rabbits pee, they lift the tail and butt really high on the ground (I assume to minimise the risk of getting pee on their back feet) and the triangular boxes mean that the mean won’t go over the edge.
I have found these less suitable for rabbits bigger than Dutches, because the fronts of the boxes are pretty, and the rabbit can end up kicking poop out of the box.
For large rabbits, I like to use cat litter trays, since the high sides make your rabbit feel safe and they’re great at keeping all the litter and poop in.
Really big rabbits that are too big even for cat litter trays can use any large, sturdy plastic box you can find. If the sides are about 6 inches high that should enable your rabbit to jump in and out easily, but most of the litter will stay in.
What should I use as litter for my rabbit’s litter box?
I use a litter made from paper for a variety of reasons:
- It’s affordable
- It absorbs the smell
- It’s dust-free
- It doesn’t stick to my rabbits’ feet
- My rabbits’ don’t try to eat it
- It’s compostable
- It’s easy to get hold of – you can get it from Amazon (in the UK at least), but I get it from my local pet store
When I was a kid, everyone used wood shavings as for rabbit litter, so that’s what I used to do. And sure, it can be a good option if you’re on a budget, but oh my GOD it’s messy.
The shavings get stuck to the rabbits’ feet and they trail them round everywhere, and since they’re so light, rabbits always send a cloud of shavings onto the floor every time they jump in and out of their litter tray.
I used to go through so many vacuum cleaners because of those damn wood shavings. They may be cheap in the short term, but they’re absolutely not worth the mess.
I’m not saying that 100% of the paper pellet bedding stays in the litter tray, but for the most part, it stays put.
What else should I put in my rabbit’s litter box?
In a perfect world, you’d hang a hay rack or bag somewhere near the litter tray, because rabbits love to eat and poop at the same time.
Most animals naturally poop after they’ve eaten, so having the hay and litter box near one another can really help your rabbits with their litter training.
I say ‘in a perfect world’ because not one of our rabbits has ever had any interest in hay racks or bags. They prefer to eat hay from the bottom of their litter tray, because they’re gross little grubs.
To be honest, this doesn’t bother me that much. We just make sure to add fresh hay a couple of times a day, and have a litter tray big enough that they can pee pretty far from their hay.
Holly and Daisy have a custom made hay fever, constructive out of some plastic pipes. It only cost a few quid and it works…ok. It’s better than nothing. But if you can convince your rabbits to eat out of a rack that’ probably the best way to give them their hay.
How to train a rabbit to use a litter tray
YOU WILL NEED:
- A rabbit
- A litter tray
Put your litter box in a corner of your rabbit’s area, and put their hay above/in it. Most rabbits will happily jump in it by themselves.
Every time your rabbit does a poop, put it in the tray. If they pee outside of the tray, soak up the pee with some kitchen towel and put that in the tray.
Spray the area that they peed in with either special small animal cleaner, or use a drop of biological washing powder in water to clean the area and remove the enzymes that cause the smell. Stick to small animal spray if your rabbit can chew the area.
It won’t take your rabbit long (usually) to understand what’s expected of them. Rabbits are clean animals, and they appreciate having a designated potty area.
FAQ – rabbit litter training
How long does it take to litter train a rabbit?
How long is a piece of string? Some rabbits get it in days, some take a few weeks to grips with what they’re meant to be doing where.
It’s much easier to litter train rabbits that have been spayed or neutered since they no longer have the desire to mark their territory. Read this article if you’re unsure whether or not to have your bunny fixed.
How to stop your rabbit kicking litter everywhere
The most common reason that rabbits kick the contents of their litter box everywhere is that the box is too small.
Upgrade to a larger box and make sure you’re using a pelleted bedding rather than something super light like wood shavings.
If your rabbit is a digger and likes to dig in their litter box, try giving them a separate dig box. I fill mine with paper (you know the stuff that Amazon uses to pack their boxes) and cardboard.
You can also get little squares of meadow that rabbits love to dig in.
Some rabbits will pee in their dig box. I have no idea how to stop them – please leave tips below! As long as they’re not peeing on the carpet I don’t really mind.
Should you put a wire bottom on the litter tray?
A lot of breeders put wire bottoms on litter trays, and I don’t like it at all. Rabbits, especially short-haired breeds like Rex, have very sensitive feet and wire-bottomed cages can cause them pain.
I think it’s totally unnecessary to put anything on top of your rabbit’s litter, except maybe some hay if that’s how they like to eat it.
Why has my rabbit stopped using their litter tray?
I have an entire article dedicated to this topic, but there are a variety of reasons that can cause your rabbit to stop using their litter tray, such as:
- They’re territorial
- They’re unfamiliar with their environment
- They’re unwell
- They’re physically unable to get into the tray
- They’re rebellious teenagers.
Like I said before, having your rabbit fixed will help with litter training considerably.
If they’ve been fixed but are still hormonal (this can be the case for up to 6 months after the operation) or they’re in unfamiliar territory, considering reducing your bunny’s space.
Put your bunny in a smaller pen and start training from scratch. The smaller area will encourage your bunny to use the litter tray since rabbits like to keep clean. Once your bunny has picked up the whole litter training thing, expand their space again.
Final thoughts on litter training rabbits
A lot of people are surprised that it’s possible to litter train rabbits, and I think they’d be even more surprised if they knew just how easy it is to teach some rabbits the ropes.
In my experience, even the most stubborn bunny that likes to pee on the floor is easier to train than a puppy, because puppies genuinely seem to have no idea what’s expected of them until they’ve received consistent training for a couple of weeks.
There is one area I can’t seem to crack – only one of my rabbits has ever been able to have a snuggly bed.
Every single bunny I’ve cared for, bar one, can’t resist peeing on blankets and soft beds.
They just can’t resist.
I don’t give my rabbits soft beds anymore. To be honest, none of them have ever used them – my rabbits have always preferred to sprawl out on the carpet, with their back legs akimbo in the traditional ‘sploot’ position.
So yeah, it may be impossible to train a rabbit not to pee on squishy beds without the same level of training that a puppy would require. You have been warned/challenged.