Litter Training 101
Updated: Feb 13
Is it even possible to litter train a bunny?
"You want me to do what where? But I am so cute! Can't I just be cute?"
Welcome to our blog post! Here we attempt to give you a fresh perspective on everything bunny and rabbit related based on our experiences in The Rabbitry. Enjoy!
Litter training a bunny comes with many benefits...
As cute as a bunny can be, the bunny bad bad they leave behind aren't! Litter training your bunny comes with many benefits. It helps to keep their home and your home clean and neat. It makes clean up easier with a quick scoop of poop daily. It even aids you in keeping an eye on their health; think of poop checks as the crystal ball into your rabbit's digestion and health. It also allows your bunny the ability to free roam your home without the worry of major messes to follow.
How to get started
You will need a few tools to begin litter pan training and a bit of understanding on how to use them effectively.
Litter Pan- You will need to start off with 2 litter pans. One will be for your bunny's enclosure and the other will be for your bunny's run around space. You will want to look for larger litter pans, such as the kind that are made for cats. If your bunny is still quite small, start with a kitten sized pan until they get big enough to easily hop in and out without trouble. From our experience, we do not recommend rabbit litter pans (they are way too small), self emptying litter pans (not safe), or covered litter pans (these can encourage rabbits to hide in them). As you increase your bunny's run around areas, do not forget to add additional litter pans throughout your home.
Disinfecting Spray and Nature's Miracle Spray- Ensure the disinfecting spray is safe for a bunny. Here, we make our own with herbs. Never clean your bunny's litter pan next to them. You do not want them to breath in any fumes or brush up against a wet pan, especially if you are using commercial disinfectant. Make sure the litter pan is dry before placing back in their enclosure and refilling with litter. And it is always a good idea to have some Nature's Miracle on hand. If your bunny has an accident outside of their litter pan, this spray neutralizes the odor to help train the bunny not to go back to the same spot again. We are not compensated for recommending this spray. This is just what has worked for us.
Hay- We have found that by placing hay in or just above the litter pan has really encouraged our bunnies and rabbits to make use of their litter pan since munching on hay is relaxing, and relaxing can encourage a bunny to go where they need to go.
Optional Items- A small garbage can with a lid, a pooper scooper, and litter pan liners. These items are not required, but you may find that it helps you in this process. A handy garbage can can help make garbage day a bit easier, a pooper scooper can help you save litter by only scooping certain areas of the litter pan that needs attention, and a liner can make emptying the pan far easier and keep it clean and tidy.
How to Litter Train Your Bunny
After you have everything set up, it is time to begin the litter training process. Keep in mind that each bunny is an individual. Some bunnies potty train quickly, others can take forever. Be patient and give it some time.
Place your bunny's pans strategically. One pan in their enclosure and one in their run around area. If your bunny starts doing their business, especially urinating in the opposite corner then where you put their litter pan, don't fight with your bunny. Just move the litter pan to where they are choosing to do their business.
Clean up any poop or urine immediately in their enclosure with the above referenced sprays. Bunny's will train themselves based on smell. If you leave those smells anywhere but their litter pans, then they will believe they can go anywhere too.
Does it feel like no matter what you do your bunny goes everywhere BUT their litter pan? How frustrating! Try this: soak up some urine with a paper towel and place the paper towel in the litter pan, mostly under the litter. Don't place it too close tot he top or your bunny may pull it out and play with it instead! Also, pick up some of the poop and toss that in the litter pan too. Give your bunny at least a week to realize that you keep cleaning up everywhere int he cage EXCEPT the litter pan. That may give your oh-so-cute yet oh-so-dirty bunny a hint of where their bathroom actually is!
In the beginning, leave your bunny's litter pan a bit of the dirty side. You want that smell to attract them to where they are supposed to go. As they become trained, regularly clean their litter pans. If you leave their pans too dirty, they can protest by going to the bathroom outside of their litter pans.
When you go to give your bunny run around time, start small. Maybe 10 to 15 minutes before placing them back in their enclosure. It is easier to not allow a bunny to start having accidents everywhere than to fix the problem later on. As they are consistently using their litter pan more and more, you can begin to extend their run around time. And please do not forget, bunnies, like puppies, are small with small bladders. Do not expect that they can hold themselves for a long time. Even if you have an older rabbit, they may have never had proper training. Give them time to adjust. Even an older rabbit can learn new tricks! And please, do NOT start any bunny or rabbit on carpet. Just don't. Carpeting has multiple layers and urine will go right through to the wood floor. No matter what spray or what professional company you have come in to clean, the chance of odor that can be detective by an animal can remain in it forever. On that same note, if you had a rabbit before, and that rabbit urinated and pooped all over a carpeted room, do not expect your new bunny will be any different. At that point, go to hardwoods or replace the carpet. Note: Sorry for the passionate post about this, but our rescue has had multiple family's giving up their bunnies and rabbits for this very reason.
Finally, if everything is going well, please feel free to expand out their run around areas. Don't forget to add extra litter pans as needed. Bunnies and rabbits generally want their litter pans out where they can easily access them but tucked in a way to give them some privacy. In our home, we keep litter pans behind plants and in the bathrooms because that is where our bunnies and rabbits prefer to go.
At our Rabbitry, we have multiple rabbits and bunnies free roaming daily. Our rabbits that have been with us the longest are allowed full run of our home and rarely go back into their enclosures. It is a wonderful experience to have these cute little balls fo fluff zooming around our home! Believe in your ability to train your bunny, believe in your bunny's ability to learn, and above all else have fun and enjoy your time with your bunny!