Betsy decompresses in the litterbox by Keith Survell
Are you cleaning up yet another mess in the living room wishing it was possible to potty train your rabbit? Well, the good news is rabbit house training is completely possible and very easy to do with all bunnies. In this article, we’ll discuss everything you need to know to ensure less cleaning and more fun with your pet.
Before You Start Potty Training
Some people have a misconception that rabbits are stinky, stupid animals that can’t be trained, but with a little bit of patience and proper supervision, your fluffy bunny can be trained to use a litter box just like a house cat! For the best chance of success, however, you’ll have to keep the following questions in mind before you start rabbit house training:
- Is your bunny sterilised or intact?
It is much easier to potty train a sterilised rabbit than it is to train an intact rabbit. Rabbits that have been spayed or neutered usually don’t feel the need to mark their territories as intact rabbits do. This is especially true for bucks (male rabbits). Bucks will often spray urine to mark their territory and their females if left intact.
Rabbits can be fixed from around 4 to 6 months old depending on the size of your breed. Giant breeds often take longer to mature making it safer to only fix them at around 6 months of age. Dwarf breeds mature quickly making them ideal candidates for being fixed at 4 months old. Fixing also prevents a lot of health problems so definitely worth looking into if you won’t be breeding your rabbits.
- How do you handle your rabbit?
Rabbits that are handled roughly or grabbed and dragged out of their hutch against their will often mark more aggressively. They do this due to feeling threatened by you and feel the need to remind you that it’s their space.
- What do you use to clean accidents?
It is very important to clean any area your rabbit urinated in with a substance that will remove the ammonia smell. If you don’t clean properly, the smell will attract your rabbit again and you’ll later find another mess to clean in the same spot. If it smells like a toilet, it must be a toilet, right?
To avoid any nasty habits from forming, clean up any accidents with white vinegar or an enzyme cleaner specifically designed to remove pet urine odours
- How many litter boxes do you have?
Unlike your cat, your bunnies might need more than one litterbox around the house. Rabbits often choose a corner and stick to it, but that doesn’t mean they won’t have a wee corner in every room or even in several corners of a room. To prevent accidents, make sure you have enough litterboxes around.
- Is there still poop everywhere?
Rabbits can be taught to only poop in their litterboxes, but some rabbits just won’t comply. Scattering poop around the house is often a way for a bunny to mark its territory. This is a behaviour that is more commonly seen in multi rabbit households.
In some cases, you’ll just have to learn to live with it. Fortunately, rabbit poop isn’t nasty at all. It also has no smell unless your rabbit is still intact or sick and is very easy to clean up.
Gus napping in his litterbox by Keith Survell
How To Potty Train Your Rabbit
Before you can start house training a rabbit, you’ll need to make sure you have everything you need. It is even better if you can get these supplies before your bunny comes home. This way you can start house training from day one. Here is a quick list:
Rabbit house Training Supplies:
- Cat litter box
A cat litter box without a lid works best for bunnies. Commercial rabbit litter boxes are often too small for giant breeds which leads to weeing on the floor.
- Cat litter
You will need a rabbit safe absorbent material like pine or recycled paper cat litter that will trap the strong smell of rabbit urine.
- Puppy pads
If you don’t want to use cat litter, at least use absorbent puppy pads at the bottom of the litter box to contain the liquid and the smell.
Placing hay in the litterbox will make it more attractive to rabbits. Rabbits often poop while they’re eating so it should also help to teach them where to go.
- Vinegar or enzyme cleaner
If your bunny makes any potty training mistakes, you will need to clean the area properly. Any residual smell of urine will attract your bunny back to the same spot.
- Kitchen towel
Kitchen towels are handy for cleaning up any accidents.
- Playpen, hutch or baby gate
To make sure your potty training is successful, you’ll have to temporarily restrict the freedom of your cotton-tailed friend. Baby gates and playpens are very handy for doing just that. A hutch is great if you’re unable to watch your bunny run around.
Step By Step Pet Rabbit Potty Training
Once you have everything you need, you can finally start the rabbit house training process. Here’s what you need to know:
Step 1: Create a rabbit safe, restricted area
You will need to choose an area to do indoor rabbit toilet training, preferably with a tile or cement floor that is easy to clean. Set up your playpen, or install the baby gates to restrict access to other rooms. The less space your bunny has initially, the better.
Your rabbits are learning a new habit so to force them to use the litter box, smaller areas are easier to control.
Step 2: Place the litter box
Prepare the litter box by adding an absorbent material such as puppy pads, cat litter or newspaper at the bottom with at least 2.5 cm (1 inch) of hay on top. Once you’re done, pick a corner to place the box in and set your pet free to start house training your rabbit.
Eco-Bun Henrietta knows a grand way to reuse packing material by Ketzirah Lesser & Art Drauglis
Step 3: Monitor
You will need to keep an eye on your bunnies while they’re free-roaming. If you see an accident in a specific corner, wipe it up, place the urine-stained towel in the litterbox and move the litterbox to that corner. Rabbits are creatures of habit which means they will most likely keep returning to that corner.
The urine-stained towel will help them to recognise the litterbox as a toilet as well. If you see any poop laying around, you can also add them to the litterbox. If your bunnies consistently wee in two separate corners despite your best cleaning efforts, add a second litterbox to that corner. After a week or so you’ll start to notice fewer accidents and the rabbits will start to seek out the litterbox as a toilet.
Just make sure to clean up any accidents with a solution that also removes the residual smell.
Step 4: Expand the restricted area
If your house rabbit potty training is going well and your pets are reliably using their litter boxes for at least one month, you can slightly expand their roaming space. After starting off with one room, you can expand to a second room. If you started off with a playpen, you can let them out into the rest of the room. Just make sure they know where the litterbox is.
Your rabbits might slightly regress and start to use a different corner of the room as a toilet. If this happens, simply move the litterbox there. If you’re adding a second room, however, you’ll have to also add another litterbox for that room. Bunnies aren’t very good at seeking out a litterbox so make sure one is always in sight. Keep on expanding the territory and adding litterboxes as you like, but make sure to only expand after your cotton-tailed friends reliably use their litterboxes.
All that remains now is that you’ll have to put in the effort. House rabbit toilet training can be beneficial for both you and your rabbits. They’ll get more freedom and attention from you while you won’t need to constantly clean up their mess which gives you more time to bond with your fluffy pets.
Potty training can definitely be frustrating but if you just keep at it and remember to have fun and appreciate your pets, all of you will get through the tough times eventually. Let me know in the comments below how you potty trained your rabbit or just vent about your frustration. We’ve all been there and might be able to help.
If you don’t have a rabbit yet, check out our article on how to choose your first pet bunnies. Happy training!
Rabbit Potty Training FAQs
How long does it take to litter train a rabbit?
The time it takes will vary from rabbit to rabbit. It can be as fast as one week or as long as 3 months or more if you have a stubborn rabbit. House rabbit litter training takes time so be patient.
How do I get my rabbit to use a litterbox?
Place some hay in your litter box to lure your rabbit into it. Rabbits often poop while they’re eating so your bunny will be forced to use the litterbox this way. You can also place any kitchen towels soaked in urine inside the box to tell your bunny where its toilet is.
How do I stop my rabbit pooping everywhere?
Rabbits use their poop as a way to mark their territory. This is a behaviour that is more prominent in multi rabbit households. To stop this behaviour, make sure your bunny is fixed and pick up any poop and place them inside the litterbox. In time most bunnies will learn that this is where their poop belongs.