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Litter Training Rabbits

Updated on April 13, 2015
Litter box's for the corner are definitely the way to go.
Litter box's for the corner are definitely the way to go.

A look at training pet bunnies

Litter training rabbits:

I know-it sounds crazy! I couldn’t believe it either but in fact rabbits take very well to training, especially toilet training! If you have an inside rabbit, then getting a cage or litter tray will suffice.

Rabbits naturally pick their own toilet area, usually in a corner or against a wall so once they do that all that needs to be done is placing their cage or litter tray on the spot.

If it is an outside rabbit then she will have already picked her corner, you just need to keep it clean.

Cage Litters:

These are the handiest and cleanest. When your bunny is acquainted with the cage and goes in on her own, then this is a good time to start training. Place kitchen paper down and hay on top to soak everything up and food for them to nibble. Place the bunny in it and let her get used to it.

Next you just need to keep a good eye on her. When you think she is going to go to the toilet, lifting her tail, backing into corners and she’s not in her cage, just place her in it (or shoo her over) and praise her. Pet her to let her know she’s not in trouble. If you find poops around your home, scoop them up and put them in the cage. After a week of putting her in the cage before (or after if you have to) peeing she will realize that the cage is her place to go!

The type of litter you use is important for rabbits as some of the wood chippings can be harmful to your bunny. If using newspaper, ring the newspaper company beforehand to see if they use harmful ink. If they use soy based it should be fine, just don’t let your bunny actually eat it. No cat litter should be used, its so filled with chemicals and harmful ingredients that it will really hurt you buns.

Litter Trays:

These are handy if your bunny has already decided where her bathroom is. Just place the pan in the corner that she uses and hey presto! Again, you will need to use paper towels and hay to absorb. I also use a cat mat around the tray. This is in-case her feet are wet when she jumps out of the tray or incase she misses the tray! (which can happen) The cat mat I use is wonderful, it can be thrown in the machine and dried within half an hour and put back down. I got it from a ‘Pet’s Giant superstore’ and it cost less than €10. Totally worth it!

Another good thing to have is white vinegar. If your bunny is peeing in places that are not suitable, scrubbing the spot with white vinegar and covering it over may help as it destroys the smell and she will not recognise it. It is also great for cleaning out the cages or litter trays, just make sure you clean the smell off as it may annoy the bunny and stop her using it.

Cat Boxes:

I recently bought a lovely cat box and filled it with my usual litter and hay, my buns love it as it has privacy and space. They can roam a little and even pick their own corner, but they cannot for the life of them get past the door, we had to take ours off before they would even consider getting in. These are also much cleaner and it means you can put them anywhere in your home and still keep it tidy. They can't really kick anything out and they like spending time in there.

Training:

Make sure your bunny can easily get in and out of the cage or tray. If they can’t, chances are they just won’t use it!

Rabbits will lift their tails before peeing so when you see this, it’s time to put her in the cage or tray.

Accidents will happen. Rabbits leave droppings to mark their territory and most people don’t mind these. One thing to always remember is NEVER discipline your bunny. Punishment does not work and has no place in a rabbits training. Bunnies will not make the connection between the punishment and what they are doing. If she does have an accident, calmly place her in her tray or cage.

Always praise her for using the toilet correctly, even if it’s getting monotonous, it will help and they will respond.

I also used little treats of banana or apple. When she finished her business id give her a treat. It’s worked really well. Rabbits are quick to pick up on treats so it’s a great way of training them. (Just don’t over feed them, they are clever and will hop into the tray just to get a treat!)

If the rabbit is using a different corner, either block it off so she can’t get there or put her cage/tray their instead.

Over time, your rabbit will develop a fondness for using the box!

Example of a BAD litter tray

the wires on this are not comfy at all and can hurt your buns feet.
the wires on this are not comfy at all and can hurt your buns feet.

Example of a GOOD litter tray

with hay to nibble and enough space for roaming, and kicking
with hay to nibble and enough space for roaming, and kicking

The Signs:

If you have a bunny that just will not use their litter trays, and keep using corners or even couches and beds, then you need to watch out for the signs of a bunny that's about to go. Its always the same so just be vigilant:

Jumping on furniture-Not all buns will pee on furniture but most will at some point, my bun used to jump on the bed just to pee. And sometimes she would jump on the couch for attention, but more often than not it was nature calling. Always be wary of this.

Backing into corners-this is very obvious, they will shimmy right up to a corner of the room, or even just a wall sometimes. Their ears will usually be up and they will be very alert. I would move them at this point just in case and bring them to their litter.

Lifting the tail- This is important, if you see this move them right away, or you'l be cleaning pretty gross pee.

Eating from their....what?-Yep they eat straight from their bottoms. if you see them bent over, with their heads underneath, then they are pooping straight into their mouths. Show your bunny the litter at this point to re-enforce the toilet behaviour.

And this is what a bunny peeing looks like....

Remember:

Every bunny is different, your might take to litter training quicker than others or not at all. It takes time and effort if your buns isn't liking your tray or if your trying to move their tray...believe me I've tried. Cocoa took a liking to a corner with wood floors, and kept peeing on the floor no matter how hard I tried to move her tray to the Tile. Our two new buns have been really good as far as litter trays are concerned, no matter where I place them around the house they use them which is great because I can move them to any room the buns are playing in. They have they'r favorite litter corners in every room.

Try to figure out your buns patterns and don't try to change their behaviour.

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