Information taken from the House Rabbit Connection’s rabbit care guide.
Did you know that you can train your rabbit to use a litter box? Did you also know that it’s pretty easy? It is essential that you train your rabbit to proper “bathroom etiquette” for her overall comfort.
To get started you’ll need a litter pan and litter.
Types of litter pans that are best for rabbits:
- Standard cat litter pan
- High back corner pan
Best litter types to use:
- Pellet stove wood (hardwood, no accelerant)
- Hay with a newspaper liner
- Care Fresh (recycled newspaper)
- Yesterday’s News (recycled newspaper)
- Aspen Litter
Many litters are dangerous to your rabbit’s health. Be sure to avoid:
- Clumping cat litter (can get stuck in the GI tract causing stasis and possibly death)
- Clay cat litter (dusty and can cause respiratory problems)
- Pine or cedar shavings (phenols in the shavings must constantly be removed from the rabbit’s system through the liver causing it to be compromised)
Setting up the environment. It’s important to note that rabbits often mark their territory with their droppings. Leaving these in front of the litter box is not unusual behavior and can increase if people in the household invade a rabbit’s perceived territory.
In the cage:
- Place the litter box in a corner (preferably the one she is already using)
- Put hay in the box to encourage good litter habits. Rabbits love munching while they do their business.
In the room:
- It is likely that your rabbit will choose more than one place to do her business. Having multiple boxes will reduce frustration.
- Put hay in the boxes as it provides the same encouragement out of the cage as it does inside.
- Training a new rabbit in a multi-rabbit home will require more patience due to territorial issues. It is common for the litter box habits to change when a rabbit moves into a new home and has new territory to explore and claim for their own. The presence of other rabbits may complicate matters.
Setting your rabbit up for success.
Rewards - are a sure-fire way to get the most difficult rabbits to use the litter box. Raisins make a good reward system. Treats must be given immediately to be effective.
- Start with a single raisin every time your rabbit is sitting near the litter box.
- Once your rabbit is hopping in the litter box on a regular basis, reward her with a treat only when she uses the box (look for signs of use: poops in the box or tail extended up for peeing).
- Once your rabbit is well established in the use of the box, wean treats to every other time and decrease the frequency of the treats until the behavior is learned and using the litter box is a regular behavior.
Reduce mishaps – it’s never a good idea to use punishment. Instead try correcting the behavior.
- Shoo your rabbit back to the litter box or cage if she starts to poop or pee.
- When you see your rabbit offloading outside of the box, tell her “No” in a stern voice (not loud or scary).