How To Litter Train Your Rabbit in 3 Easy Steps

by Emily Bingham
How to litter train a rabbit

Are you tired of cleaning pellets and pee off the floor? Do you want to let your rabbits have free roam and need to litter train them?

Litter training rabbits is relatively easy, especially with experience. While all rabbits are different, it only takes a couple of weeks to sink in. 

In this article, you’ll learn everything about litter training rabbits, from what to use to how to actually do it. Let’s get started!

How Hard Is It to Litter Train a Rabbit?

In short, it’s not hard to litter train rabbits. Rabbits are naturally clean animals that tend to only “go” in one spot anyway. So, it’s actually pretty easy. You just have to do it properly. 

That being said, it’s much easier to train rabbits to pee in the box than it is for their pellets. Dropping pellets is less controllable for rabbits than urination. 

Are Males or Females Easier to Litter Train?

If fixed and trained early, there really is no difference between a buck and doe in litter training. However, unaltered males are notoriously difficult to train in my experience. They spray everywhere and make quite a mess of the litterbox. 

Does a Rabbit’s Age Make a Difference?

Generally, it’s best to litter train rabbits as soon as possible, but that doesn’t mean an old rabbit can’t learn. It may take longer, but even a senior rabbit can be litter trained with the right methods.

Does Fixing Your Rabbit Make Litter Training Easier?

Yes, fixing your rabbit makes a huge difference. It’s not impossible to litter train an unaltered rabbit, I’ve done it many times. However, it is a bit difficult, especially for males.  

When you spay or neuter your rabbits, they won’t spray and will be much less territorial. That being said, you will still have to use separate litter boxes for your rabbits. Even after being fixed, some can still have territorial issues regarding the litter box. 

How Long Does It Take to Litter Train Rabbits?

How long to litter train your rabbits

Litter training rabbits can take weeks, depending on your rabbit. Some catch on quickly, while others take weeks of intensive training. The average time it takes to litter train rabbits is around two weeks. 

Both my boys were trained early, and they caught on quickly. As Bubba has aged, he’s become less bothered by being messy with his litter box, but still pees in it. He’s almost 10, so I’m going to just give it to him. A little extra cleaning won’t hurt me, but retraining him might stress him out at this age.  

How Many Litter Boxes Do You Need to Litter Train Your Rabbit?

Generally, you should have at least two litter boxes for one rabbit. That’s one litter box for their enclosure and another for when your rabbit is out and about in your home or in his run. 

For free roam rabbits, I recommend having one litter box for every room your rabbit goes in. With multiple rabbits, that means having one per rabbit per room. So, if you have two rabbits, that’s two litter boxes in every room your rabbits go in. 

Where Should You Put Your Rabbit’s Litter Box?

Again, you should have one litter box per rabbit in every room of your home if your rabbits are free to roam. Typically, rabbits prefer to “go” in the corner so that’s a good place to start. 

If you let rabbits free for a bit and don’t mind having to clean up what I call a “test mess,” they’ll tell you exactly where to put the litterbox. Again, not all rabbits can fully control their pellets, so you may still have to clean those up daily. 

Best Litter Boxes for Litter Training Your Rabbit

When looking for the right kind of litter box for your rabbit, there are only three things to consider: 

  1. Plenty of space for your rabbit
  2. Can be cleaned quickly and easily
  3. Protects the surrounding area

There are a lot of different litter boxes for rabbits, but they come down to two categories. Let’s see the differences between square and triangular litter boxes for rabbits.

Square Litter Boxes

Square litter boxes, like the Marshall Ferret Litter Pan are the norm. You can also use cat litter boxes for rabbits. They’re great for free-roam rabbits and larger breeds because they’re nice and roomy. 

Plus, the high sides prevent spillovers and they’re easy to clean. The only downside is that they’re pretty big and may take up a fair bit of space in every room, and they don’t neatly fit into corners. 

Triangular Litter Pans 

Triangular litter pans like the Kaytee Hi-Corner Litter Pan are great space-savers and come in multiple sizes to fit any rabbit breed and size perfectly. 

They’re also easy to clean and the high back prevents any spills or sprays. But, the sides are lower, which may require daily cleaning if you have a digger. 

Best Types of Rabbit Litter

Not all types of rabbit litter are equal. Some aren’t even healthy for your rabbit. Here are some recommended safe types of rabbit litter and some litters you should avoid. 

Recycled Paper Pellets

Recycled paper pellets such as Yesterday’s News Paper Cat Litter are a common option for rabbit litter boxes. The pellets are safe, absorbent, and provide some odor control. However, if your rabbit spends a lot of time in the litter box, it may not be the most comfortable option. 

Recycled Paper Fluff/Bedding

Recycled paper bedding such as Small Pet Select Paper Bedding offers a cushiony place for your rabbit to do his business. The absorbancy isn’t as good as the pellets, but the odor control is superior. This is the type of litter I use for my litter boxes. 

Aspen Shavings 

Aspen shavings, though highly scented, are safe to use for rabbits. The scent provides good odor control. However, these wood shavings are not that absorbent, meaning they will have to be changed daily. 

Newspaper Shreds

Newspaper shreds are an inexpensive option and usually good enough for a free-roam rabbit. However, there’s no absorbancy or odor control, so it must be changed often. 

Wood pellets

Types of Litter to Avoid

Again, some types of rabbit litter are often sold for small pets like rabbits but aren’t actually safe to use. Here’s what to avoid when purchasing rabbit litter.

Clay-Based Cat Litter 

Clay-based litter made for cats may seem like the best option as it’s easy to clean, but it’s definitely something you want to avoid. Clay litter could clump up and cause a blockage in your rabbit’s stomach if she eats it.

Straw 

Straw is a popular choice for rabbit bedding. In a barn, straw is fine. And that’s only when it’s mucked out every day. Straw isn’t suitable for house rabbits because it has no liquid or odor absorption and collects a magnitude of dust that your rabbit will likely inhale. 

Sawdust

Sawdust is much too fine to use as rabbit litter or bedding. It may be absorbent, but because it’s so fine, rabbits can breathe it in, causing respiratory damage and sometimes illness. 

Pine/Cedar Shavings 

Pine and cedar shavings were always the go-to for rabbit bedding and litter. However, recent studies have suggested that the scent can cause irritation and the chemicals in these trees can cause respiratory and liver issues. If you want to use pine or cedar shavings, make sure they are kiln-dried as that removes the dangerous phenols.

3 Steps to Litter Training Your Rabbit

Steps to litter train a rabbit

There are three simple steps to litter training rabbits. Again, depending on your rabbit, it could take a week or a month. The most important part is not to rush the process. Just keep repeating the steps until it happens. 

Let’s go through the steps. 

1. Placement

As I’ve already mentioned, you need to put your rabbit’s litter box in a familiar spot. Don’t just expect your rabbits to go where you want them. You have to go to them first. 

2. Enticement

Rabbits love to munch while they’re doing their business. So, have a hay feeder or munchy tray beside the litterbox to entice them to use it. 

3. Reward/Reinforcement

After your rabbit uses the litter box, reward him with playtime or a treat. If he doesn’t use the litterbox, pick up the urine or pellets in a paper towel and drop them in the litter box. The scent will reinforce that the litter box is where urine/pellets are supposed to go. 

Reasons a Litter Trained Rabbit May Not Use the Litter Box

Rabbit not using the litter box

For this, we’ll be looking at two different scenarios. One is a new rabbit that’s in the process of being trained. The other is a rabbit who has already been litter trained but has suddenly stopped using the litter box.

Here are some reasons those two things might happen.

Illness

If a rabbit has a UTI or some other digestive or bladder/kidney issue, this may cause a lack of control over urination or dropping pellets. This will be harder to tell in a young rabbit than in an older litter-trained rabbit. Either way, it shouldn’t be ruled out.

Sudden Changes

Stress and a sudden change of scenery can throw off the most perfectly trained rabbit. Give a new rabbit time to settle in before litter training. If you’ve recently moved with your rabbit, offer some familiarity in that spot. 

Age

This one’s for the already trained rabbits. When a rabbit becomes old enough, even without illness, it can lose control. 

My rabbit is coming up on 10, and he is still good about peeing in the litter box, but I’m just going to let him do what he wants where pellets are concerned. It’s not his fault he’s a senior bun, and it would be too stressful to retrain him at his age. 

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