Training your pet rabbit to use a litter pan or litter
box isn't too difficult. Most mature rabbits that
have been raised in cages will pick one spot in which
to urinate and leave their droppings. You'll probably
notice that he or she has a pile of droppings in
one corner and relatively few droppings in other
parts of the cage.
This tidy habit is the key to training your bunny
to use a litter pan.
Get a small litter pan, fill it with litter, and put
it in the corner that your rabbit uses most frequently.
Put a few of your rabbit's droppings in the litter.
Usually this will be enough of a hint for your bunny--he
or she will start using the litter pan thereafter.
Once your rabbit is using a litter pan in his or her
cage, you can set one or more litter pans in the room(s)
your bunny runs in. Put a few droppings in each pan
and show the pan to your rabbit. Most rabbits will
know that they can use the litter pan to do their business.
However, keep a close eye on your pet whenever he or
she is outside his or her cage until you're confident
that he or she is using a litter pan consistently.
Choosing a Litter Pan
Just about any pan that your rabbit can get in and
out of easily will work. The litter pan shouldn't be
so big that it takes up more than a third of your rabbit's
cage, though. You might try a pan with a higher side
if your rabbit tends to splash when he or she urinates.
Your rabbit might need a pan with a lower edge as he
or she gets older to make it easier to climb in and
out. Some pet stores sell litter pans that are triangular
in shape, such as the Super Pet Hi-Corner Litter Pan,
so the pan fits easily in the corner of your pet's
cage. These types of litter pans also take up less
room in your pet's cage.
Picking the Right Litter
Many rabbits will try to eat the litter in
their litter pans, so it's essential to pick
types of litter or
bedding that will not harm them. Clumping cat
litters can be deadly for rabbits; if they
eat it, the litter
can form a lump in their digestive systems that
they can't pass. Deodorized cat litter can
that might kill your bunny. You might also wish
to avoid using bedding that consists of cedar
wood shavings. Many people think that the aromatic
oils associated with cedar or pine wood shavings
can be bad for small critters like bunnies.
Consider using litter or bedding made from recycled
wood pulp, such as Carefresh. It's safe and it's
pretty good at controlling odors. You might also
try corn cob bedding, although it's not as good at
odor control. Some people put rabbit food pellets
to double duty and use the pellets as a form of litter
in their rabbit's litter pan.
Potential Training Problems
Young Rabbits: Training rabbits younger than three
months can be problematic--they are often too immature
to learn to use one place consistently as their
toliet. If your young bunny isn't picking up the
fine points of using a litter pan or the cage,
be patient. Keep an eye on him or her outside of
the cage. If you see him or her backing up a bit,
pushing his or her butt against a wall or other
object, or raising his or her tail, this could
be a signal that your pet is getting ready to urinate.
Put your pet back in the cage as soon as you notice
this behavior. This will help your bunny realize
that he or she should urinate in the cage. Once
he or she is going back to the cage consistently
to urinate, you should be able to train him or
her to use a litter pan.
Spraying: Rabbits that haven't been neutered or
spayed might spray urine. Often this is done to mark
territory, particularly with males. If you're not
planning to breed your rabbit, having him or her
fixed will usually solve the problem. You might also
try putting your rabbit back in the cage, whenever
Droppings Outside of the Litter Pan: Rabbits will
often leave a few droppings outside of their cage
or litter pan. This is another way of marking their
territory. For most rabbits, there's not a lot you
can do to break them of this habit. Because the droppings
are hard, clean-up is usually easy. You can vacuum
or sweep them right up.
A Lot of Droppings Outside of the Litter Pan: If
you notice that your rabbit is leaving a lot of droppings
in one place outside of the litter pan or cage, try
moving the litter pan to that place or putting a
new litter pan there. Some rabbits can be stubborn
about the places they pick to go, so it's easiest
just to accommodate them if possible.
Droppings: A rabbit's droppings are typically
dry. If your rabbit leaves wet droppings outside
of his or her cage or litter pan, it's usually due
to one of two reasons. If the droppings are very
small and stuck together like a little cluster of
grapes, these are night droppings or ceacotropes.
Not only are night droppings different in appearance
than regular droppings, night droppings contain nutrients
that the rabbit didn't digest the first time around.
Rabbits usually eat night droppings, but occasionally
you might find a few that your rabbit leaves behind.
Generally, you don't need to worry about finding
night droppings unless you find a lot of them. In
that event, take your pet to the vet. If the droppings
are larger and are jelled in appearance or mashed
together, this is (probably) diarrhea. You should
take your pet to the vet as soon as possible. Diarrhea
can be symptomatic of a number of health problems.
Sleeping or Sitting in Litter Pan: Your rabbit might
like to sleep or sit in his or her litter pan. This
usually isn't anything to worry about. Once your
rabbit urinates in the litter pan after you've changed
the litter, he or she is less likely to hang out
in the litter pan. If your rabbit isn't using the
litter pan for urination, however, he or she might
not have caught on to the litter pan's purpose. This
will often happen with rabbits who aren't yet mature.
Try using a second litter pan in the corner that
your rabbit is now using for urination. That way
your pet will have one litter pan to lounge in and
another to use as a toliet.