How to Toilet-Train Your Rabbit

LAST UPDATED 14th March 2022

This article is written by Pet Circle veterinarian, Dr Nicole Wynne BSc BVMS MANZCVS (Unusual Pets)

Many people are surprised to learn that rabbits are one of the easiest animals to litter train! This is because rabbits naturally like to toilet in the same area every time, and will use smell and memory to go back to their toilet area. In the wild, this helps keep their warrens clean, and toilet areas also function as territorial markers and message board for the rabbit community.

Another great thing about rabbit behaviour is that desexed rabbits will prioritise using faecal pellets over urine for scent marking, which is much easier to clean up. This means that adult desexed rabbits have excellent toilet habits, making them ideal indoor pets. It helps that rabbit faeces have little to no odour too (and they’re great for the garden). 

Where to Place Litter Trays

When you first start litter training your rabbit, observe where your rabbit chooses to toilet first, and place a litter tray there. Rabbits will normally choose a quiet corner for their toilet. If you are unsure of which corner, place a litter box in all corners available. Ensure that litter box locations are quiet and away from thoroughfares, as noisy, busy areas may stop your rabbit from toileting there. You can use puppy play pen fencing panels or baby gates to block off certain areas of your household while your rabbit is being toilet trained. Once your rabbit is fully litter trained, you can remove them, as well as excess litter trays. 

What Litter and Trays To Use?

The standard plastic cat litter trays are absolutely fine, as well as hooded litter trays. However, some rabbits may be put off by a swinging flap. Automatic litter trays are unfortunately not suitable for rabbits at this time. Older rabbits or rabbits with disabilities may find regular litter trays too high to get in and out easily, and baking trays, document trays, or paint trays may be good options for them. Larger litter boxes can be created out of under-bed storage containers or other large, shallow containers for multiple rabbits to use at the same time!

It is important to only use natural biodegradable litters as your rabbit may chew or eat small amounts. Crystal and clay litters should not be used. Suitable litters include paper, tofu, wood, bamboo, and hemp. The added benefit of biodegradable litters is that the whole lot can be composted or go into green waste. A liner does not always have to be used, but if you choose to do so, newspaper or puppy pads are suitable.

Encouraging your Rabbit to Use Their Litter Trays

Although most rabbits will happily toilet in appropriate litter trays, some might need a little extra encouragement. These methods differ a lot from litter training cats and dogs due to the high frequency of toileting in rabbits - they poop all the time! Rabbits normally like to toilet and eat at the same time, and so placing hay in the litter box or accessible from the litter box is a great way to encourage your rabbit to use it. Hay racks or bags are a great way of making hay accessible from litter boxes. Placing litter boxes in areas where they spend most of their time will also encourage them to use them. 

When accidents occur, a great way of using this to your advantage is to soak up urine in a paper towel, or sweep up faecal pellets, then place in the litter box before cleaning the soiled area thoroughly. This will encourage your rabbit to visit the litter box next time. 

Another method to use smell as a guide sounds a bit gross, but this method can be dispensed with once your rabbit is a good toileter. When cleaning litter boxes, dispose of the soiled litter, but don’t wash the box, and leave it a little dirty before pouring new litter in. The smell of the soiled box will make them more likely to visit the litter box next time. 

Cleaning Litter Boxes

Once your rabbit is fully litter trained, litter boxes need to be thoroughly cleaned regularly, as urine residue and other grime will build up in them. An easy way of cleaning litter boxes is to have a few boxes ready to go, so that you can soak the soiled boxes and clean them as a batch. Soaking soiled boxes in warm water with vinegar, F10, and dishwashing soap is an effective and safe way of getting rid of caked-on dirt, as well as thoroughly disinfecting the boxes. Once soaked for an hour or so, it should be easy to scrub off any residue. Once clean, rinse in fresh water, and leave to dry in the sun.

Further Reading

Want to read more? Check out our other articles:

Rabbit Care Guide

Complete Feeding Guide for Pocket Pets

How to Keep Your Rabbit Indoors

Top Tips For Getting Your Pet To Eat More Hay

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