It is not true that bunnies are dirty animals. The truth is, bunnies are great indoor pets because they can be litter-trained.
It is natural for a bunny to choose a toilet area, often in corners to deposit its poop and urine. Thus, you can litter-train them by placing a litter box where they usually go. You can start to litter-train your bunny at any age, but it is easier to train them when they are older.
Male Bunnies can be neutered when they are at least four months old to make it easier to train them. Neutering male bunnies is to remove their testes. Spraying or the removal of their reproductive organ is the equivalent procedure for female bunnies.
Neutering and spraying are routine procedures done by vets. This procedure stops bunnies from breeding and allows them to live a healthier and longer life. These procedures help your bunny have calmer relationships with other bunnies. It also reduces the risk of cancer.
Preparing the Litter Box
Your bunny will respond well to litter training, but you will still need some flexibility.
- Pick the right litter box
You will need a box for your bunny to use as a toilet. You can pick a specially-designed bunny litter pan. If you want your bunny to have more space, you can opt for a bigger cat litter box.
Bunnies are prey animals, so they will not be comfortable to poop in spots where they cannot see what is around them, such as in a high-sided box. They will also not feel safe when they can hop in and out from only one side.
Pick a box that is big enough for your bunny with some room for hay and some space to spare. The box should have low sides so your bunny can easily hop in and out of it. A box with low sides will also help make your bunny feel safer. The back of the box should be high to help keep scattered litter inside.
You can opt to use a dishpan with higher sides. Cut one side to a lower height to allow your bunny to get in and out of the box easily.
When you start to litter-train your bunny, you may need to try a few litter boxes to pick the right one. Ultimately, it is your bunny who will decide which litter box they like. After finding the right litter box preferred by your bunny, buy several of these boxes.
Your bunny will need a couple of litter boxes around the house. You can have one or more litter boxes in every room. You will also need to have spare litter boxes to replace the dirty ones you need to clean.
- Choose the right litter
With the litter box now ready for your bunny, fill it with the right litter.
Carefully choose the litter. Good choices can be untreated aspen chips or paper-based litter. Avoid pine or cedar wood shavings, clumping, or clay-based cat litters, which can be harmful to your bunny if eaten.
Softwood, such as pinewood litter, is not a good choice as it can cause damage to your bunny’s liver. Clumping litter is also harmful because bunnies tend to eat their litter blocking their digestive tract. Cat litters are also poisonous because they can lead to zinc poisoning.
You can also use paper-based or organic pellets and litters. Bunny pellets are safer and more economical but are not the right choice because your bunny will tend to eat the extra pellets.
It is essential to choose the right litter. Your bunny may like to stay in the litter box and much on the litter, so pick safe and absorbent litter. It is also normal for bunnies to eat while they poop, so they may like to munch the hay in the litter box. To be safe, avoid spoiled or molded hay because they can harm or kill your bunny.
Start with about one inch of litter. Add some bunny pellets of poop on top, and if you have it, some paper soaked in your bunny’s urine. These will lead your bunny to find the right potty spot. Scatter some fresh timothy hay over the one-inch litter.
How to Litter-train your Bunny
After preparing the box and litter, you can now start to litter-train your bunny.
- Pick a convenient spot for the litter box
Decide where you need to place the litter box. If you are lucky, litter-training your bunny can be as simple as placing the box where they already tend to urinate and pooh. This is usually in a corner.
If they don’t have a specific spot yet, pick a place where it is easy for them to get to. Your bunny will give you indications on the spot/s where he wants to poop and urinate, so place the litter box there.
Bunnies prefer to poop and urinate in a spot where he will not be disturbed when he is doing it. Try leaving the box in one place for a couple of days. If needed, transfer the box to another spot. Pick the spot where it is most convenient for your bunny.
Place a bunny-safe paper or mat under the litter box to catch any scattered litter.
- Teach your bunny to use the litter box.
You should make it easy for your bunny to use the litter tray. Expect a few accidents when you are starting to litter-train your bunny. Be calm and consistent, and you will soon get positive results.
It is vital to have a clean litter box. Bunnies, though, will tend to associate the smell of their droppings with their litter box. The best thing to do is to change the litter every two days. An even better thing to do is to place droppings on the litter tray so it will smell right.
- Never punish or castigate your bunny should they still opts to poop and urinate outside their litter tray. They will not understand you anyway and instead, be afraid of you.
- To encourage your bunny to use the litter box, clean messes with enzymatic pet urine cleaners or with water and biological washing powder. This will motivate your bunny to the toilet in their litter box.
- Place a hay rack set-up beside the litter tray. This will encourage the natural behavior of your bunny to use the litter box.
- Confine your bunny to the area of the litter box. Once they are consistent in using the litter box, release them for short periods of 15 minutes. Observe if they go back to the litter box.
- If you see them littering outside the box, gently pick them up and place them in the litter box to do their thing. Feed them a treat afterward.
- Always offer reinforcement each time they use their toilet area to poop and urinate.
- Treat your bunny for a job well done. Offer a reward such as their favorite treat for each successful treat to their litter box.
Make sure to regularly clean the litter box. Leave some pellets so your bunny remembers that the litter box is their toilet area.
Most bunnies easily learn to use a litter box. When he is already litter-trained, you can start to train your bunny to do some fun tricks.