How to litter train your rabbits

With some essential equipment – and a good dose of patience – you can teach your bunnies where to do their business.

Litter training rabbits can be beneficial for both you and your furry friends. When they have a dedicated place for toileting, their home is cleaner and more pleasant to live in. It’s also better for you, as it ultimately makes cleaning more straightforward.

Whether your bunnies are living indoors or outdoors, it’s a good idea to start litter training rabbits as soon as possible. This training has no age limit, although rabbits do find learning easier as they age and develop. Another consideration is whether your rabbits are neutered. Neutering can happen from the age of four months, and you’ll find your rabbits have less inclination to mark their territory once neutered – which means more consistent toilet habits.

To get started with litter training your rabbits, you’ll need some essential items, says Rae Walters from the Rabbit Welfare Association & Fund (RWAF):

  • A large litter tray that they can easily access, and that is big enough for them to sit in
  • Non-clumping cat litter, such as wood pellets
  • Hay to cover the litter tray

If you keep your rabbits indoors, you’ll also need some panels to confine them to start with; a smaller area will help to keep them going in the right place. Once they are reliably using the litter tray, you can increase the area in which the rabbits roam.

A large potting tray or a plastic dog bed can be used instead of a tray if you don’t have access to one. Likewise, if they are outdoor rabbits, you could let them choose a corner of their hutch – as long as you clean it out daily to maintain hygiene.

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You’ll probably find that your rabbits choose their own area for toileting, usually in a corner, so keep an eye on where they naturally gravitate to and set things up there. If in doubt, put the litter tray as far away as possible from where your rabbits sleep.

Be sure to keep lots of fresh hay in the litter tray – rabbits like to poo and chew at the same time – and make sure it is clean and fresh, and that the hay is replaced regularly.

“Rabbits are generally quite easy to litter train, although occasional accidents may occur,” says Rae. “The quickest way to house-train your rabbits is to start off with a litter tray in a smaller area, usually where they have chosen to ‘go’, and gradually increase the area they are allowed to access only once they are reliably using their tray.”

She adds: “It is also vital to have your rabbits neutered as soon as they are old enough. Male rabbits can spray like tom cats unless they are neutered, and will leave scent-marking poops scattered around, too.”

If there is a whoopsie, don’t chastise or punish your rabbits, since they may become afraid of you. Instead, clean up the mess with pet-safe cleaners and start again. Patience is important when litter training rabbits.

Of course, accidents happen – but sometimes rabbits can be stubborn, too. If you find your rabbits are not using the litter tray, consider the following:

  • Is it unattractive? That is, have you placed hay in and around the tray?
  • Is it in the wrong place, such as too close to where they rest and sleep?
  • Is the tray an appropriate size?

Rabbits that are in pain and can’t move won’t be able to get to a tray, and there may be some health issues that mean they can’t get there in time, so it’s important to regularly check your rabbits’ health. Likewise, if the tray is too high or inaccessible to the rabbits, they won’t be able to use it. Using a tray with a low front is a good idea, since it will be easier for your rabbits to get in and out of.

Finally, remember that any new rabbits introduced to the home will result in a lot of territory marking; this will impact on the appropriate use of the litter tray.

What are your top tips for litter training rabbits? Tell us on social media using the tag #PethoodStories

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