Tired of all that poop lying around and crumbling when you stand on it? 😆
So... you want to litter train your rabbit - brilliant! Litter training leads to a cleaner and more hygienic space for both you and your buns (especially if your rabbit is a free-roamer) and will make both of your lives easier and happier 🙂.
One of the most common questions I get asked is how do I manage to keep such a clean home while having my bunnies free-roaming. For me, the key to this was litter training and having a good litter set up. Below I'll discuss my 5 key steps to successfully litter training your rabbit.
1. Start small
One of the easiest ways to litter train your rabbit (in my opinion) is to start off small. I completely recommend and encourage free-roaming your rabbit, but I believe having your rabbit in a large enclosed ex-pen or in a sectioned off smaller space for the first few weeks can really help with litter training in the long run. There will be less space to have to clean up after your bunny in and fewer areas for them to mark their territory. Once your bunny becomes more consistent with using their litter box, it makes the transition to free-roaming your rabbit a much less overwhelming process. While they may still mark their territory a little in your space, they will likely be pooping and peeing in their litter box much more than anywhere else.
2. Have an appropriate litter set up
Having an appropriate litter set up is key to developing good litter habits and speeding up the process for both you and your bun. I've outlined some key aspects of a good litter set up, however, you can read a more detailed post on how to set up your bunnies litter tray soon in an upcoming post.
✨A good-sized litter box
Since rabbit's like doing their business while eating, hay racks should be placed above a rabbits litter box or hay should be placed in the litter tray. In order to help your bunny get used to their litter box faster, make sure you have a large enough litter box. This ensures that your bunny has enough space to do its business and eat enough hay at the same time, without feeling cramped or restricted which could potentially put them off using it.
✨Safe and absorbent litter
Naturally, a litter box becomes quite a sacred territory for your bun. You'll notice after some time they may not particularly like you cleaning up their litter box or trying to enter it, as this is their personal space. Having a good and absorbent litter keeps your bunnies litter box cleaner for longer and means you don't have to go in and disturb your bunny every few hours to clean out a dirty tray. Moreover, it's much more hygienic and will prevent their paws from getting soiled while they're inside.
✨The right location
Bunnies often like to do their business in one area and often pick corners, therefore paying attention to where your new bunny chooses to do their business at first can be a helpful hint on where to place their litter box. If you place your bunnies litter box in one area and they don't seem to be using it, try moving it elsewhere to see if this will encourage them to use it more.
Frequent cleaning during the first few days of litter training can really speed up the overall process down the line. Keeping the space around your bunnies litter box constantly clean (i.e. immediately wiping away urine and placing rabbit pills into the litter box where possible) will begin to teach your bunny that they have a set space to leave their business. Consistently repeating this behaviour will reinforce this message and eventually turn it into a learned behaviour. It is extremely important to immediately remove the scent of any urine your bunny leaves outside of it's litter box, which can be done with a home-made 50% vinegar and 50% water mix in a spray bottle. Moreover, cleaning their litter box frequently will also encourage them to use it more often and make them less likely to seek other clean areas to do their business.
4. Spay/Neuter your rabbit
Spaying/neutering your rabbit has a number of benefits for your rabbit from a health perspective, however, it is also key to good litter habits. When rabbits reach sexual maturity (around 4-7 months) their hormones increase significantly and in turn their desire to mark their territory also increases. As a result, you may notice that your litter trained rabbit has suddenly started to mark outside of their litter box if they are not fixed. Spaying/neutering your rabbit will improve litter habits significantly and your rabbit will also be protected from a number of potential health issues such as cancer and urinary tract infections. Keep your eyes peeled for an upcoming post all about spaying/neutering your rabbit.
5. Time & Consistency
The final tip I have is to give your bunny time and to remain consistent with the litter training process. I once received a message from someone asking why their bunny wouldn't stop peeing on them and that they were really struggling with litter training. Naturally, I'd assumed that they'd had their bunny for a little while, however it turns out it was only their second day at home! Folks... litter training doesn't happen overnight, and it likely won't be 100% perfect before spaying/neutering your rabbit. However, if you remain patient with your bunny and consistent with cleaning up their pee and poop anytime they mark their territory, you will eventually see progress. There will come a day when those days/weeks/months of struggling will just be a distant memory you'll be completely smitten with their adorable selves.
So hopefully those tips have given you some insight on how to approach litter training - wishing you guys all the luck and success and some very clean homes. Just remember though, a home completely free of ANY rabbit poop is not a real rabbit owners home, so embrace those little nuggets of love even after your bun is fully litter trained!
Lots of love, Tamara, Peanut, Butter & the Plants xoxo 😁💩