How to Litter Train a Rabbit (Full Guide with Pictures)

How to Litter Train a Rabbit
How to Litter Train a Rabbit

Rabbits are great indoor pets that make cute companions. However, one important part of owning any indoor pet is making sure they do their business in the correct places. Litter training your rabbit is an important step to keeping your house clean and your rabbit happy.

How do I litter train my rabbit? Litter training starts by keeping your rabbit in an enclosed space like a bathroom. Each time the rabbit uses the bathroom (pee or poo), move the rabbit and its waste to the litter box and praise/pet your rabbit. As your rabbit(s) begins to use the litter box correctly, you can introduce them to larger areas of the house.

What Is the Best Way to Litter Train My Rabbit?

You should begin litter training your rabbit as young as possible. The most important thing is to spay or neuter your rabbit before you begin, as it is extremely difficult to litter train a rabbit that is not fixed due to marking and behavioral issues. Once your rabbit has been fixed, it is important to keep them in a cage or enclosed space until they are litter trained. Leaving them out, especially unsupervised, can accidentally teach them to use the bathroom wherever they want.

Where Should I Start?

A good place to start is a small room like a bathroom or a laundry room. Pick a place where it will be easy to clean up any accidents. You should monitor your rabbit while it is in this room, and each time your rabbit uses the bathroom you should pick up the waste and place it in the litter box. Then pick up the rabbit and place it next to the waste and praise/pet it. Do this each time the rabbit uses the bathroom until it begins to use the litter box by itself. Leave some waste in the litter box so that your rabbit understands that it is supposed to use the box.

Clean up Urine Immediately

Make sure to clean up any urine immediately so that your rabbit doesn’t associate that place with using the bathroom. Never use physical discipline on your rabbit when it has accidents, as rabbits are very easily hurt. Instead, repeat the behavior of placing it in the litter box and praising it. When you are done training the rabbit for the day, place it back in their cage or enclosure.

What is Next?

Once your rabbit has begun to use only the litter box while it is in the enclosed space, you can move on to other rooms. You want to repeat this process with several rooms before letting the rabbit out into the house. When your rabbit has succeeded in multiple rooms, you can then allow it out into the house. Make sure to provide multiple litter boxes for your rabbit so it has options. Periodically pick the rabbit up and place it in a litter box, praising it as you do so. If the rabbit successfully uses the bathroom, give it a treat to reward it. Again, clean up any accidents immediately so that your rabbit only sees waste in the litter boxes and nowhere else.

This process takes time and should not be rushed so that the rabbit learns the proper behaviors for life. Once your rabbit is used to using the litter box, you can reduce the number of litter boxes in the house. You should also place a litter box in its cage or enclosure especially if it stays in there for extended periods of time.

What is a Good Litter Box for a Rabbit?

Cat litter boxes also work great for rabbits, but you want to make sure they meet certain requirements. First of all, your chosen litter box should have an open top and shallow sides. You need enough room to put about an inch of rabbit litter and cover it with hay, but the sides should be low enough for your rabbit to get over.

What Size of A Litter Box For My Rabbit?

The size of your rabbit determines the size of litter box you need, varying from small to large. Different sizes of cat litter boxes will work for different sizes of rabbits as well; as a rule of thumb rabbits under 4 pounds should use a medium box, rabbits 4-10 pounds should use a large box, and rabbits over 10 pounds should use an extra-large box. A cheap alternative for rabbits over 10 pounds is a cement mixing pan bought from any hardware store.

Some more expensive litter boxes come with hay feeding stations to keep the hay in the litter box from getting soiled. While this is a good option in case your rabbit has a habit of urinating on their hay, most rabbits will pick one side of the box to use the bathroom on and one side to eat hay from. As long as you are checking the hay for waste at least once a day, it’s usually not necessary to get this kind of specialized box.

Your rabbit’s litter box should be big enough that they can fit in it comfortably, and if you have bonded rabbits it should be big enough to fit both rabbits at the same time. Just make sure the litter box is not too deep for your rabbit to get in and out safely.

What Kind of Litter Should I Use for My Rabbit?

Good types of litter for your rabbit include paper animal bedding, recycled newspaper litter, ground corncob litter or bedding, or wooden stove pellets. Never use cat litter, especially not clumping litter, as the clay can harm or kill your rabbit. You should also be very careful not to use pine or cedar litter or any litter with pine or cedar oils in it. You should also watch out for litter with zinc in it, as this can also harm your rabbit.

Litter Box Setup

To set up the litter box, you should put about one inch of litter in the pan to start. Then you should fill the litter box up to the top with hay. Good types of hay to use include Timothy hay, grass hay, and oat hay. Rabbits prefer to eat while they are using the bathroom, and adding hay gives them something to snack on. You can put more hay at one end of the box to guide your rabbit toward one side or the other. Make sure you are changing out spoiled hay so that your rabbit’s food isn’t contaminated by urine. Never go more than two days without cleaning your rabbit’s litter box completely and replacing the hay.

Never use hay that smells moldy or dusty, as this can cause serious health issues for your rabbit. If you are able, farm fresh or organic hay is the best option for your rabbit, but Timothy hay can also be bought in bags at the pet store.

What Do I Do If My Rabbit Isn’t Using the Litter Box?

First, make sure your rabbit is spayed or neutered. This is the biggest obstacle to a rabbit learning to use a litter box. If your rabbit is particularly stubborn even after being fixed, you may want to keep track of where it goes to the bathroom most often and then place litter boxes in these places. It may be that your rabbit associates that place with using the bathroom even if there’s no litter box there. Putting a litter box in the place they are already using the bathroom can be a permanent solution if you want, but it can also be a step along the path to learning to use other litter boxes exclusively. After you’re confident it will only use the litter box, you can remove extra litter boxes from the house.

White Vinegar As Cleaner

Make sure you thoroughly clean up any accidents and treat urine with white vinegar or a pet cleaner. This is so that your rabbit doesn’t smell the waste in that spot and assume that’s an appropriate place to use the bathroom. If the rabbit has used the bathroom in other areas of the house and the litter box is too clean, the rabbit will go to places where it has already used the bathroom instead. Leave a little bit of waste in the litter box as your rabbit is learning to cue it to go back there.

You should also make sure that you are cleaning your rabbit’s litter box frequently enough. Your rabbit will not use a litter box that is too dirty, especially if the hay in it is soiled or not fresh. Especially if you have multiple rabbits, you should change their litter about once a day, two at the most. During the learning process you want to leave just a little waste to prompt them, but keep the hay clean and fresh. After they are trained you should not leave any waste in there for more than a day.

If your rabbit simply doesn’t listen and is also acting out in other ways, you may want to consult a trainer or a veterinarian. Professional guidance can help you decide how to address these behaviors overall and help your rabbit become better adjusted to life in your house. You can also try reinforcing your desired behaviors more strongly by praising them and giving them treats each time they practice those behaviors. However, be careful not to overfeed your rabbit, especially with sugary foods such as treats and fruits.

Can I Litter Train an Older Rabbit?

Any rabbit can be litter trained, but some may be more difficult than others.  If you have rescued or adopted the rabbit, the first thing you should do is make sure it is fixed. Once you have determined that, you can go about training them the same way you would train a baby rabbit. If this rabbit has not previously been litter trained, it may be more difficult than if you had been able to start from a young age. However, if the rabbit has been litter trained, it’s simply a matter of making sure they know where the litter boxes are in your house. Make sure to check with the previous owner or rescue organization to understand where in the process your rabbit it.

If you are having trouble litter training an older rabbit, consider getting a second rabbit that is younger. Once this rabbit is litter trained, it will provide an example to the other rabbit and prompt it to use the litter box correctly. This will be especially effective if the two rabbits become bonded, as bonded pairs often use the litter box at the same time. Make sure to provide enough litter boxes for all of your rabbits so that they have the room and opportunity to use the bathroom when they need to.

How Many Litter Boxes Do I Need?

The number of litter boxes you need depends on the number of rabbits you have. If you have one rabbit, you should have one litter box in their cage and one to two boxes out in the area where they are allowed to explore. The larger the area you keep them in, the more litter boxes you will need to cover the entire area, especially as they are learning. If your primarily keep your rabbit in a cage or hutch and only let them out for short periods of time, you may not need litter boxes throughout the house. Always make sure your rabbit has access to a litter box, whether in its cage or another area.

If you have two rabbits, you will need one litter box per rabbit cage. If you do not have litter boxes throughout the house, provide each rabbit with a way back into their cage to use the bathroom. If they are a bonded pair sharing a cage, start them out with two smaller litter boxes, and if they are attempting to share you can switch them over to one large one. You’ll also need large boxes throughout the house, as they will usually attempt to use all litter boxes together. Having more litter boxes means you can usually clean them less often because waste will not build up as quickly.

If you have three or more rabbits, the same rules apply. You want to have one litter box per cage and several throughout the house if they spend significant time outside of their cages. If you have a bonded pair as well as rabbits that are not bonded, the non-bonded rabbits can use the same litter boxes as the bonded pair. Keep your litter boxes in private areas such as in a corner to encourage your rabbits to use them. Just make sure your rabbits still have easy access to a box at all times.

Will My Rabbits Share A Litter Box?

Only bonded pairs will use a litter box together at the same time, but all your rabbits can use the same litter boxes. Make sure that they have enough litter boxes available and that you are cleaning the waste out frequently. If your rabbits seem to favor one litter box over the others, consider getting a larger box to put in that spot. While rabbits may have no problem sharing the box while it’s clean, they may refuse to use it if it gets too filled with waste.

If you are having issues with rabbits fighting over litter boxes or refusing to use a certain litter box, the solution is usually more boxes. Even if you have a bonded pair sharing a cage, they may not always want to share a litter box. If they start to use the bathroom outside of their box, consider replacing the one large box with two smaller boxes so that they each have their own.

If your rabbit has its own litter box, such as in its cage, it will usually try to use that litter box first because it identifies the box as its own territory. It’s best to provide a way for your rabbit to use this litter box first, as this will be where it is the most comfortable. If this isn’t possible, your rabbit should still use the other boxes.

How Do I Keep the Litter Boxes from Smelling Bad?

Rabbit waste is usually dry and odorless. Their litter boxes may smell faintly of hay or paper, but there should be no other strong smells of feces or urine. If your rabbit’s litter box smells bad, you should take your rabbit to the vet as soon as possible. Smelly or wet feces can indicate a parasite or digestive issue that needs to be treated quickly.

Litter boxes that are not cleaned often enough may build up the smell of urine. Try cleaning the box out at least daily, and if this does not work you should empty the litter box completely and treat the box with white vinegar or a pet odor eliminator. Let the box dry completely before filling it with clean litter and hay. This should take care of any strong urine odors, but if it does not you may need to get a new litter box. Make sure not to use boxes made of any kind of absorbent material like cardboard, as this will absorb the urine and cause the smell to build up.

What Do I Do If My Rabbit Can’t Get into Their Litter Box?

Sometimes older or injured rabbits will not be able to climb over the side of the litter box to get into it. The first thing you should do is consider downsizing the litter box to one that is not as deep. If the rabbit can still fit comfortably inside of the box and you can still get an appropriate amount of litter and hay in it, this may be a simple solution.

Another easy solution is to cut down one of the sides of the litter box you already have. You should leave about an inch and a half to two inches at the bottom to contain the litter, and then you can pile hay up to the top or push it back a little to allow your rabbit to get in. This requires a little bit of do-it-yourself knowhow and a safe way to cut plastic. Make sure to cover the cut edges with tape or rubber to keep your rabbit from getting hurt on any sharp plastic.

If you aren’t comfortable cutting up your existing litter box, you can buy specially made litter boxes with one low edge to allow your rabbit to get into the box. These boxes are made for both dogs and cats but can be harder to find on the market. If you have a rabbit rescue in your area, they may be familiar with where to get these boxes as they often deal with sick and older rabbits.

If you have an older rabbit as well as younger rabbits, it may be a good idea to replace all of your litter boxes with low entrance ones. Especially as your rabbit gets older, it may be more difficult for it to control when it needs to go to the bathroom, and having more boxes available will make that easier.

What Do I Do If My Rabbit Suddenly Stops Using the Litter Box?

First, make sure there are no health issues with your rabbit. Suddenly using the bathroom outside of the litter box could mean they can’t control where they are doing it. If you have recently made any diet changes, you should probably change back to their previous diet. You should also check their cage for any contaminants and make sure the hay in all of your litter boxes is fresh. This is especially true if the smell or appearance of their feces changes along with their behavior; take your rabbit to the vet if this happens. Usually fixing the health issue will cause your rabbit to go back to using the litter box normally once they are healthy again.

If for some reason your rabbit is having behavioral issues such as refusing to use the litter box, consider what may have changed to cause it to be unhappy. It may be acting out for attention or out of disrespect or spite. If you are able to fix the changes and make your rabbit happy again, it will likely go back to using the litter box. If you cannot make these changes or no recent changes have happened, you may need to re-train your rabbit.

Try monitoring your rabbit and repeating some of the training behaviors such as placing it in the litter box when it uses the bathroom and praising it or giving it a treat when it uses the litter box correctly. If this doesn’t produce results over the course of a few weeks, you may need to start over from the beginning and go back to keeping your rabbit in an enclosed space until it goes to the litter box correctly.

Will My Rabbit Use the Litter Box If I Can’t Spay or Neuter It?

This is very unlikely. A rabbit this is not spayed or neutered has many more hormones than a rabbit that has been fixed, and these hormones can cause a variety of behaviors. Fighting with or attacking other rabbits is one of the more severe behaviors. The most common behavior is urinating and spraying outside of the litter box. An un-spayed or un-neutered rabbit will typically spray on anything the rabbit considers to belong to it as a way to mark its territory, and both male and female rabbits will exhibit this behavior. There really is no way to prevent these behaviors other than getting your rabbit fixed.

You can try to train an un-spayed or un-neutered rabbit to use a litter box, and you may be able to get the rabbit to poop in the litter box. It’s unlikely that you will be able to get the rabbit to urinate there exclusively. You can encourage the rabbit to go to the litter box by keeping fresh hay in it and giving it treats when it uses the litter box, but your first solution should always be to get the rabbit spayed or neutered.

Related Questions

How do I train my rabbit to do tricks? First, identify the action that you want the rabbit to repeat. Then say the command you want them to associate the action with, and reward them at the same time. Eventually, they will understand that the command means they should do the action and they will be rewarded.

Will rabbits eat poop? Yes. Rabbits eat a special kind of feces called “cecotropes” that contains vital nutrients that need to be re-ingested and absorbed. You should not try to stop your rabbit from eating its poop as this is a normal and healthy behavior.

How do I stop my rabbit from spraying? Spaying or neutering your rabbit will usually stop this behavior immediately. You can also try cleaning the area with white vinegar to eliminate the smell and discourage them from spraying there again.