Bunny 101- episode 3: Litter training your house bunny
The ‘Bunny 101’ blogs are intended to be an educational resource for people who have adopted a rabbit as a companion animal. Rabbits are very sociable animals, yet fragile. With the ‘Bunny 101’ blogs, we will take you through the basics of do’s and dont’s of bunny feeding, care and bonding along with other important aspects of living with a house rabbit.
Many people are amazed when they walk into a house and see a free ranging rabbit hoping around, let alone the jaw dropping exclamation when you tell them a rabbit can be litter trained just like a cat! So if you are one of these curious people who would like to adopt a house rabbit, or just want to compare notes on litter training, then this episode of bunny 101 is for you.
I have come to the following litter ingredients after over 15 years of trial and error. This combination allows me the luxury of changing the litter every second day, which is practical when running a sanctuary. The contents are absorbent and not toxic.
A plastic container from the hardware shop is a good alternative to a litter tray from a pet shop which can cost up to ten times.
I tend to use a plastic garbage bag to line it, which makes disposing of the litter much easier
Lining the tray with old newspaper is the main absorbent layer. This is usually followed by either a specialized rabbit/ Guinea pig bedding material or recycled paper litter, such as that used for cats. I sometimes use a mixture of both. Some people like to use wood shavings, but be aware that this may cause some respiratory issues if inhaled. If using wood shavings, make sure the shavings are completely covered, either by more paper, or recycled paper litter or a large amount of hay.
and finally a little bit of oaten/ pasture hay or straw to line it up and make it enjoyable for your rabbit friend. We are now all setup for poop school
Rabbits also tend to love sleeping in their litter trays if they are clean to cool or warm themselves up as demonstrated by our late Mr Willoughby; so keep it clean and fresh for them.
So now that you have the litter tray set up, how do you get your bunny to use it?!
Bunnies tend to poo where they eat. Leaving a hay dispenser at one end of the litter tray will invite your bunny to sit in the litter while nibbling on the hay. Of course some bunnies will tend to jump in their hay food dispenser basket to play and test you out but just encourage them to step back into their litter and add a cover to their food basket.
Bunnies also tend to like peeing in corners. You can try to restrict your bunny’s space initially to make them use the litter tray.
Some will let you know where the litter should go, as they will always pee in a specific area, but if you get the litter in on time, and with patience, the training happens pretty quick.
It is common for bunnies, especially if they are not the only pet around, to leave droppings around the house. This is only to mark their territory. Bunnies can produce more than 300 poos a day, most of those will be in the litter along with the pee.
Be patient and reward with gentle words. Never reprehend your bun and you will be rewarded by a wonderful companion for many years to come.
Remember rabbits can live an average of 8-12 years, so it is worth taking the time to train them properly.