We were so excited about bringing home our cute little bunny. We knew we would have to train her to use her litter box but we weren’t sure how to go about it. We had her cage setup which doubled as a litter box, fresh hay ready and her freshwater supply filled to the top.
She started exploring a little around the lounge and next thing we know, the carpet against the wall became her favorite place to pee and poop! How were we supposed to change these habits and have her stop using our carpet as her toilet?
To litter train your bunny, all it takes is some patience, love, and a well-organized litter tray. Place the litter tray where your bunny likes to do their business so it’s in a familiar place. Don’t forget the treats!
The best litter trays are actually cat litter trays, not bunny litter trays as bunny litter trays are generally too small. Most people state it’s impossible to litter train your bunny before being neutered. Our experience says otherwise and we will share how we did it.
I’m sure many of you have gone through something similar with your bunny. They decide where they are going to go toilet, and that seems to be their spot going forward.
So how did we litter train our bunny and what are some other strategies you could try? Further, how should you set up your litter box and how often do you need to change it?
What Should You Use As A Litter Box?
Rabbit litter boxes are generally too small. They might be okay when your baby is very young but they will outgrow it very fast. The best litter boxes are cat litter trays which are dirt cheap at most supermarkets. But how big should they be? Here are some guidelines for your bunny:
Under 2.5kg (5 pounds approximately) – 40cm L x 30cm W x 10cm H
Under 5kg (10 pounds approximately) – 45cm L x 38cm W x 13cm H
Over 5kg (>10 pounds) or bonded pairs – 58cm L x 45cm W x 16cm H
These are guidelines for the minimum size you should use. We use a big litter tray (bottom of a cage) and find it’s much better that way. It requires less frequent cleaning and is generally cleaner.
You can use any plastic tray or storage box that doesn’t have a tall lip. The larger the litter tray the better for bonded pairs (or maybe you have a family of bunnies). You can also have multiple litter trays.
We have a small one upstairs (yes, our little Grooty climbs our stairs) and her big one downstairs. Please don’t use gridded trays for your bunny. They can be painful for your buns paws.
What Litter Should You Use?
It is important to use litters that are safe for your bunny. Some examples:
Paper based litters – Fresh News Paper Small Animal Litter (Link to Amazon)
- Can also use shredded newspaper or phone book pages.
Compressed sawdust pellets – Kaytee Wood Pellets for Pets (Link to Amazon)
Straw pellets – Oxbow EcoStraw Litter (Link to Amazon)
Coconut Husks – Organic Coconut Husk Fiber Substrate (Link to Amazon)
DO NOT USE litters that:
- Are corn or wheat-based
- Are clay or clumping cat litters
- Are untreated softwood chips
Untreated softwood chips can cause liver problems. Clay cat litters and corn and wheat-based litters can cause blockages and digestive problems when eaten. Make sure that your bunny isn’t eating too much of the litter as it will be problematic regardless of the type of litter.
For our litter, we use non-clumping, dust-free cat litter from plant fibers. We’ve tried to search Amazon for this but we couldn’t find the exact product. But this is a great, if not better alternative. Fresh News Paper Small Animal Litter (link for Amazon).
How to Set Up Your Litter Box
This is something we’ve learned through trial and error. For easier cleaning of your litter tray, place a layer of paper towels at the bottom. On top of that, we like to put a small layer of litter substrate.
It’s just enough to cover the bottom so it’s a layer for our bunny to stand on. Our litter tray is actually the bottom of a cage when we first got her so it is very large and doubles as her hay box and eating area.
After the litter, we add a bunch of hay in on one side of the tray. The other side has her water bowl and food bowl. Now, this isn’t the only way you have to set out your litter tray. Depending on what you have, you can use a hay rack to reduce the mess or wasted hay.
A little tip. The thicker the layer of litter and the bigger the box, the less often you will have to change the litter box. You can also add a few bunny poops to the new litter tray to let your bunny know that this is the right place to do his/her business.
How Often Should You Clean Your Litter Box?
The main reason you should change and clean your litter box is the smell created by the bunny urine. Bunnies are meticulous self-cleaners and won’t use the litter box if it is too dirty. Further, urine will stain and can even burn your bunny’s paws if they are in contact for too long. All the more reason to change your litter box frequently.
The easiest way to change your litter is to dump everything out of the box at once, clean your tray and then refill your box with fresh litter and hay.
When you clean your tray, a mixture of 1:1 water and vinegar will do the trick. The vinegar will break down the odor and dissolve any stains on your tray. If you are really on top of things, you can scoop out only the wet litter and replace that area but that is very hands-on especially when a bunny goes to the toilet very often.
So, how often should you change your bunny’s litter box? Well, it’s going to depend. You don’t want to change it too often (we would say every day is too often) as the bunny can think they are not supposed to use the litter box if they don’t find their scent in there. For us, our litter box is large so we change it once every five days or so.
How to Litter Train Your Bunny
Now you have your litter box setup with the right needs for your bunny, it’s time to litter train. It should be noted neutering your bunny will make this process easier as sex hormones make the bunny want to mark their territory often.
However, if your bunny is younger than the recommended age for neutering (4-6 months), you don’t want to put up with this! So here are some tips:
- Place the litter box in an area where the bunny can be comfortably alone such as the corner of their pen.
- Often, the bunny will pick their own spot to do their business. In this instance, it’s easier to come to them. Place the litter box where they’ve decided their favorite toilet spot is.
- Reward your bunny with more free space (more than one litter box in this instance would be a great idea) when they consistently use the litter box or with tasty treats.
- To remove the scent from your bunny marking its territory, use the water-vinegar mixture to clean any mess made outside of the litter box. Plain soap and water are not enough to remove this scent.
- If you catch your bunny doing their business outside of the litter box, pick them up during their pee or poop and place them in the litter box.
- Place pee-stained paper and poops in the litter box so the bunny knows their scent is in there and that’s where they must go.
- Place hay inside or next to the litter box as bunnies love to eat hay and do their business at the same time.
In our experience, our number one and two tips would be to interrupt your bunny when you see them going toilet outside their litter box. Place them inside straight away so they can finish their business.
Secondly, we placed a second litter box in her favorite toilet spot (the edge of the carpet up against the wall) so when she went to pee there, she would jump into her litter box instead. It seemed to work like a charm!
Common Issues with Litter Training
Smelly litter box – Usually a sign that you need to change the litter box more often. A smell test is a good indicator of if you are leaving it too long. Paper litters require changing more often compared to wood litters which can last 3+ days before requiring changing.
Digging in the litter box – This is something your bunny will naturally do, so it’s nothing to worry about except for the potential mess. You can place the litter tray inside a larger cardboard box to make it easier to clean up or make the litter box an enclosed box with a hole cut out of the side for the bunny to jump in and out.
Not using the litter box – As mentioned, this will happen when your bunny isn’t fully litter trained yet. If they are litter trained and this starts to happen, it could be a sign of your bunny telling you they aren’t happy with something. Perhaps the tray is too small or it’s too noisy or windy in that area.
It could also signal stress or medical problems. For example, introducing a new pet is very stressful for the bunny so they may start to do their business outside of the box.
This should return to normal once they get used to the new environment and stress is reduced. If you can’t identify any stressors, your fur friend may have a urinary tract infection. Take your bun to the vet to get checked if this is an abnormal behavior.
Be patient when it comes to litter training your bunny. It may take a little bit of time but once they are in the habit of using their litter box, your house will finally be pee and poop free (mostly..).
Make sure your litter box is big enough for your bunny with materials that are bunny safe and won’t cause digestive issues. Clean it regularly and work with your bun. If they like to use a certain part of the house as their toilet, place a litter tray in that location to encourage this use of the litter box.