When I tell people that my rabbits use a litter box, they respond with the astounded, “You can train a rabbit to use a litter box?! I didn’t know you could do that!”
It’s not that they think rabbits are too dumb to use a litter box; it’s just something most people never think about. The good news is they potty train much easier than dogs and take to litter box training faster than some cats!
When I was a kid, one of my good friends kept a rabbit outside in a covered building attached to the house. There sat Mr. Bunny in the cage chowing down on his food and underneath was a gigantic mountain of poop. Anyone who hasn’t been around rabbits might think that all they do is eat and poop.
But the cool thing is, rabbits are actually really clean animals.
They are constantly grooming themselves. They also like to “organize” their poop into one specific place, and if you don’t give them a specific place, they will find one on their own. These OCD furballs will pick one corner as their toilet and stick with it. It just isn’t very obvious they are doing this when you see a cage above Poop Mountain.
There are some good reasons to litter box train your bunny and here are my favorites:
You can get them out to play with much less stress!
There is nothing more nerve-wracking than getting a bunny out and having to hoover over it like a winged predator, worrying if it is going to pee on the floor! It doesn’t matter how good you are at watching for the “bunny squat,” because once you see it, it’s usually too late. You must have lighting fast reflexes to do this and a talented rabbit who can “squeeze it off” in mid pee. Most of my rabbits just let it all go once they have made up their mind to and then it is too late. When you have them litter trained, you can almost always count on them using the box.
Litter training makes cage clean up sooo much easier.
It takes a lot less time to dump and rinse a litter box than it does to clean an entire cage. That is how you benefit from their “organizational” skills.
You can keep them in an area with a solid floor.
This is awesome for both you and your bunny! It is easy to sweep and rinse a solid floor and it prevents them from potentially getting sore hocks (sore back feet), which some of the heavy breeds can get when they sit on wire all day. This also makes cleaning easier, because you no longer have to try and clean poo and hair from between the wires. It can really get stuck and take for-EVER to clean.
Litter training can really help control the stink.
I use an ultra-absorbent litter in my boxes, so the smell is virtually non-existent. You still have to keep up on the cleaning, but it is really nice to breathe easier with bunny in the house.
Now that I’ve told you the benefits of litter training your bun bun, I will tell you exactly what I do to toilet train mine.
Steps to litter box training your rabbit:
- Pick a style of litter box that is best suited for your needs. Make sure you measure your rabbit enclosure so it will fit. You can get a litter box with a low side if you have a dwarf breed, or you can get something with a higher side. I recommend something with higher sides all the way around if you have a rabbit larger than 4 lbs. There are corner litter boxes you can use, or you can also get the cheap plastic wash bins at the dollar store.
- Decide on what type of litter you want. I use pressed pellet bedding for horses that I get for around $8 for a 40 lb. bag at the hardware store. You can also use wood pellets, as long as they don’t have chemicals or glue in them. Stay away from anything with aromatic oils like cedar since it can really irritate their respiratory tract. This litter goes into a plastic pan and is covered with timothy hay. Read more about my litter box set up and system here. Don’t use the ultra-EXPENSIVE litter you find at pet stores, unless you enjoy wasting money. It’s marked up near a bazillion percent and doesn’t do half as good a job as the pressed pellets!
- Figure out which corner of his or her cage your rabbit has picked for the toilet. This is where you will place the litter box.
- Clean the cage reserving some of the poo to place in the litter box. A spoonful of “Cocoa Puffs” will do just fine. This will make it smell like their toilet and encourage them to use it as one.
- Put the poo-baited litter box into the cage where your bunny’s toilet is. They might be scared of it at first, but be patient. Some rabbits will take to it right away, while others might take a little longer. Mature female rabbits may get angry and territorial trying to “beat it up” and “show it who is boss.” Having the hay will make it much more enticing and comfortable to sit in.
- Clean up any litter box misses and keep baiting the box with their own poop. Eventually they will get the message that this is the new place to go potty.
Here is a picture of what I use for rabbit litter. It is very, very absorbent!
Here is how I line my litter boxes. I line the bottom with a couple of paper towels to make clean up easier. Then a thin layer of pellets since they expand a lot when they get wet! Then it’s topped off with timothy hay.
If you want to, you can add a second pan as a “holder pan” to keep your bunny from scooting the litter box all over the place. Just drill two sets of holes in the holder pan and use twisty ties to attach it to the cage.
And that’s it! It is incredibly easy to litter box train a rabbit. Even so, there are things that can go wrong.
Litter Training Troubleshooting Guide
Your rabbit still has some pooping episodes outside of the litter box.
First of all, this is to be expected and can’t be 100% prevented. Sometimes they accidentally kick a few out when jumping out. Other times they just forget. (Nobody is 100% perfect, right?) But the most likely reason they are leaving little droppings in and around their area is they are not spayed or neutered. Unaltered bunnies have a much larger drive to mark their territory and they use droppings to mark the perimeter of their property. Getting them fixed will help a lot! The cool thing is that rabbit poo is pretty dry and pretty easy to clean up if this does happen.
Your rabbit peed outside of the litter box.
Sometimes they just forget, but it might be that you are waiting too long to change the litter. Another reason is that they sometimes miss. I have personally witnessed this. They will stand in it, think they are good to go and end up squatting right over the edge. Usually this happens if one edge of your litter box is low, or you fill it too high with litter and hay.
Again, spaying or neutering will help, especially if they are spraying urine to mark their territory. The boys are worse about this and it is usually because they are in close proximity to a female bunny. I once had a cat that would always stand in the box and go over the side, so this problem isn’t unique to bunnies. You can always try a box with higher sides or get one that has a hood on it. Just make sure it will fit in the rabbit enclosure.
The bunster is eating out of the litter box.
This is totally normal, but it’s just a tad bit embarrassing if you have company over for dinner. Bunnies like to eat and poop at the same time and hay is a staple. There is not much you can do about this. Just embrace their weirdness!
Your bunny is digging in the litter box.
Again, this is normal behavior. All of mine do it to some extent. Captain Carrot likes to dig out half of the hay to use as a bed and munch on at the same time. He always leaves the other half in for his toilet. Houdini simply likes to lay in her litter box and use the side of it as a pillow.
Your rabbit keeps pushing the litter box around.
Some bunnies are more inclined to express their interior decorating side than others. You do want to keep the box in one place to help maintain good habits, though. The best and cheapest way that I have found to fix this is by drilling a couple of sets of holes a half inch apart and wiring it to the side of the cage. You can either use twisty ties, or use two boxes. One box is for anchoring to the cage and then stacking another identical one inside of it to prevent the bun from chewing on the wire. To clean it, you simply lift the top box out of the lower box.
Once your bunny has mastered using a litter box in their own little space, you can move their litter box with them anywhere you go and they will now have a toilet.
Just keep in mind that they might need two or three if they are running loose in a large area. And, always remember to play it safe and keep an eye on your bun when out of its enclosure. They can easily get into mischief with wires or chew up furniture.
I hope you found this information valuable! I am happy to assist you, especially since I got to type the word poo a lot more than usual.
Now that you know all the ins and outs of litter box training your rabbit, you can now impress your friends and family with how smart and well-behaved your bunny is!
This post may contain affiliate links. Meaning I receive a small commission when you purchase from my links, at no additional cost to you… which helps me spoil my adorable rescue rabbits.
Disclaimer: Jaimie is not the great and powerful Wizard of Oz, a lawyer, a doctor, a veterinarian, or a CPA. Nothing your read in my blog is a substitute for professional advice and doing your own good research. Remember that just because someone has credentials doesn’t guarantee their advice is golden or perfect. Put your smart hat on and do your due diligence. Good luck!