How to toilet-train your rabbit
Yes, it can be done!
People are often surprised to learn that rabbits are more than capable of learning how to use a litter tray. Rabbits are naturally very clean and will instinctively use a designated place as a toilet, just like cats! You just need to show them where to go. The rest is just a matter of time, dedication, and patience.
The advantage of toilet training your rabbit is that you will be able to let it roam free around the house without worrying about little accidents on the floor. As bunnies need at least 30 hours a week to run and explore outside of their cage, this training is key to your rabbit's wellbeing. It's also very convenient for cleaning up, as instead of having to clean a whole cage every few days, you will just need to clean a small tray.
During the first two weeks:
Provide a suitable bunny loo: To begin, you'll need to make sure the toilet area is easily identifiable by providing a corner toilet or a litter tray, filled with a suitable litter. Suitable litter can be made of straw, hay, wood shavings, natural fibre, or paper pellets.
Be careful to put only litter in the tray. Do not put litter anywhere else in the cage as it can be confusing (and your rabbit won't like sleeping in it anyway).
In the first week, change the litter only if it is really dirty - it needs to be impregnated with your rabbit's smell to encourage your rabbit to use the same place in the future.
Training will need to begin within the first few days of introducing your rabbit to your home. At first your bunny will be shy and hide, but after some time it will become more and more curious and will want to explore its environment.
Let them explore: Your rabbit will eventually come out of the cage and want to explore. The objective is then to teach them to return to their cage to toilet when needed. To achieve this, only let your rabbit out in a small zone and only for periods of 20 to 30 minutes. It is important to limit your rabbit's territory before it is toilet trained, or you might have it confusing the living room with a giant litter tray (this is definitely not what you want!).
During these exploring periods of 20 to 30 minutes, put your rabbit back into the corner toilet or litter tray in the cage every 10 minutes. This takes dedication on your part, but it will be worth it in the end! After replacing your rabbit in their litter, leave the cage door open, and your bunny should come out and explore again. This will teach them to go back regularly to do their business.
Correct mistakes:If you see your bunny go to a corner of the room and raise their tail, tell them firmly "in the tray" and direct them to the toilet. The quicker you do it, the quicker your rabbit will get it.
If you notice too late and your bunny has an accident on the floor, put both the poop (it is dry and odourless, don't worry!) and your bunny into the litter tray. It will show them where they need to go and by putting the droppings into the tray, it will also help your rabbit remember where they need to go next time. Try to do this every time an accident happens.
You will need to practice this 'poop-patrol' behaviour for the first 1-2 weeks, until your rabbit is trained. Once your rabbit understands, it's a win! Within 8 to 15 days, your bunny should be fully toilet-trained.
In the case of a young rabbit:
If you've adopted a baby or a young rabbit, you might notice after a few months that they seem to forget their toilet training a little. This is normal and not your rabbit's fault; it's merely their hormones taking over!
It just means that your bunny has reached sexual maturity (between 3 to 6 months of age) and has started marking their territory around the house, either by pooping or spraying urine. In that case, desexing will help to solve the problem so you should seek advice from your vet.
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