Life with Bunnies – Litter Training
One great point about bunnies is that they are relatively easy to litter box train! Once trained, you can allow them the run of bunny proofed rooms in the house.
Bunny’s do prefer privacy when they use the litter box. Once they are trained, you will want to keep the litter box where they can have some privacy and will not be disturbed by children or other animals when on the litter box.
It’s important to note that Bunny’s that have been spayed or neutered are easier to litter train and it is very important to note that unspayed and unneutered rabbits are prone to cancer at a young age.
Bunny’s are more likely to use their litter box if you clean it daily! I reccomend cleaning your bunny’s area and litter box each night before you put them to bed. This way, if they choose to sleep in their litter box, they will not be laying in pee and wet poop.
Once you get a cleaning routine down, daily cleaning is easy to do! Clean with something mild and non toxic, such as unscented baby wipes. Remember, if you use something scented or a regular cleaner, your bunny will be in those fumes all night!
While rabbit poop pellets do not smell, rabbit urine has a strong smell. To save yourself a lot of cleaning and heartache, I highly recommend keeping the litter box inside an appropriately sized plastic puppy travel cage. This helps to contain the smell of the urine. Also, Bunny’s like to spread their hay and some times over-shoot the litter box when they pee. By keeping the litter box in a small travel cage, your bunny will have a safe, secure spot with privacy to use the bathroom, scattered hay is contained and if they do accidentally over-shoot the litter box when peeing, the pee is contained and easy to clean up.
Preparing a bunny litter box
Bunny litter boxes are usually corner shaped. Pick one that comes with a metal grate. It’s reccomended to use a low dust shredded PAPER bedding as litter. (Low dust is important because dust can cause damage to your Bunny’s lungs and cause a Bunny’s tear ducts to clog.) Put the low dust shredded paper bedding in the bottom of the litter box, put the metal grate on top of that and layer timothy hay over the metal grate to protect the bunnies paws.
It is important to keep the paper bedding under the metal grate so that Bunny does not eat it!
Tips on litter training:
To begin training, you’ll want to keep them in a smaller area until they get the hang of using the litter box!
In a small, easy to clean area or on an old absorbent quilt in a contained area, begin by introducing your bunny to a prepared litter box. Let Bunny check it out, nibble hay from it, etc.
Next, occasionally set Bunny in the prepared litter box. Like with a puppy, if they pee or scatter poop pellets outside of the box, simply wipe up the pee with a paper towel or napkin, scoop up poop pellets, put them in the litter box and set the bunny on the box.
After training, you may need to occasionally put little piles of bunny poop pellets into the box just to remind them that poop pellets belong INSIDE the litter box BUT unlike dog and cat poop, the bunny poop is dry, harmless and does not smell. IF your bunny’s poop does smell, it may be a sign that something is wrong and I reccomend taking them to a vet specializing in bunny care!
Likewise, once trained, if you start seeing pee accidents outside of the litter box, this is also a sign that something is wrong and bunny needs to see a vet specializing in bunny care, as it could be an UTI infection.
Just how big is an appropriately sized plastic puppy travel cage?
Remember, this is NOT for travel use! This is your Bunny’s private bungalow! Therefore, it should be long enough to fit the litter box AND for your bunny to stretch out full length when he/she lays down.
What we do for Buttercup
For Buttercup, during the day, the cage door is left open and she goes in and out as she pleases – to go to the bathroom, to nibble hay, to hide out, whatever she wants. At night, the cage and litter box is thoroughly cleaned, she is coaxed into her cage, the door is closed and she is given an alfalfa treat stick through the door for being a good bunny! The cage is covered on 3 sides (both sides and the back) with an old infant receiving blanket, set on a thick towel on the floor alongside my side of the bed and she goes sleep at the same time as us. While she does sleep most of the night, this is also the time that she may drink water from her bottle, play toss the food cup, nibble hay and her salt lick and things like that. Once you get used to these noises, they will not disturb you. If she makes other noises, such as rattling the door, thumping, grunting or oinking, this means that she is in distress and I check on her. Like a baby, you will learn what all of these little noise signs mean. For us, rattling the door usually means that she is hungry. That does not often happen over night because she gets her dinner before bed. Plus, fresh food pellets and lots of fresh hay go into her cage after the night time cleaning. While it does not happen often, thumping usually means either that a light is shining in her eyes or that she is cold, if I don’t see any lights bothering her, I get another thick towel to go under her cage. Grunting and oinking mean she is very upset or in great distress and luckily this has not happened in the dark! *the point of the receiving blanket covering 3 sides of her cage is to keep extra light out of her cage, while adding a little extra warmth WITHOUT blocking airflow.