Choosing a litter boxes with a grate for your bunny
In this article we take an in depth look at litter boxes that comenwith a grate. This includes grates that are moulded into the design asnwell as wire grates and screens that are fitted over the top. We ask,nare litter boxes with grates any good and do litter boxes with gratesnhelp stop the litter and poops going everywhere. We see if the claimsnthey are sold under really live up to reality and talk about how theynwill affect your bunnies behaviour should you choose to use one, asnyou will see this may not be as you expect. We always put our bunniesnfirst here on bunnyproof so this article will mostly talk about what’snbest for your bunny rather than what's convenient for you.
What are the stated advantages of a litter box with a grate?
Going from the typical sales advice you find alongside them, the mainnclaim is about how the addition of a grate allows for easy cleaningnand helps prevent toilet waste and litter being kicked out of the box.nThey also state they can help avoid your bunny sitting in pee whichncan irritate or stain their paws. The key advantage is the mess staysnin the box. Lastly some litter boxes with finer mesh grids arenrecommended as helpful for recycling as they separate the solid wastenfrom the litter.
So how do these claims stand up? We will take a look below, point by point.
Undoubtedly collecting the poops and stopping you bunny digging aboutnin the litter will stop poops and litter being spread outside the boxnhowever, there may be some unintended consequences on your bunniesnlitter training habits that need to be understood.
It's important for your bunnies health and happiness that they spendntime in their litter box, sitting, eating and of course going to thentoilet. However, these types of boxes don’t cater for this and mayneven make it uncomfortable for them to spend time in which isnessential to maintain good litter training habits. Consider thenfollowing advice from Rabbit.org
- All rabbits will drop poops around their cage to mark it as theirnown. This is not a failure to be litter trained. It is very importantnfor your rabbit to identify the cage as their property so that whennthey leave the cage for the bigger world of your house, they willndistinguish the family’s area from their own and avoid marking it. Thentrick to getting the rabbit to keep their poops in the cage is to giventhem ownership of their cage. -
This would seem to say that It’s likely if your bunny doesn’t likentheir litter box, they may start to poop or worse pee around theirnlitter box or decide to choose to start a new toilet corner. Thisnunwanted behaviour can be very hard to stop when it starts and mayneven set your litter training back to square one.
Our verdict: If your bunny does take to this type of litter it willnhelp reduce the mess, however, don’t be surprised if your bunny findsnit uncomfortable and simply starts pooping and peeing somewhere else.nIf you are finding it difficult to contain the mess, we would insteadnrecommend getting a deeper litter box.
It is a concern of a lot of bunny parents that their bunnies paws getnsaturated in pee when they sit in their litter box as this can causenirritation of the skin or discoloration of the fur. While it isncertainly true that a litter box with a grid above the litter willnstop your bunny sitting in their pee they are by no means perfect atnpreventing this. Having read through some user reviews on amazon theynoften comment that urine and poop may clog up the grates after a whilenwhich can make cleaning more difficult. People also comment on hownurine can’t pool up in the corners of the grate and not get absorbedninto the litter.
It seems these litter trays are not perfect especially if they arencheap and are also harder to keep clean. Our best advice to keepingnyour bunnies paws dry is not to use a litter box with a grate but tonmake sure your bunny has a litter box that’s big enough to move aboutnin so they can maneuver into a corner when they go for a pee. It cannalso help to put a layer of hay on the top to help keep any damp areasnof litter away from where your bunny is sitting. Rabbit.org recommendsnplacing a fresh handful of hay in your bunnies litter box each day.nThey say -This method helps encourage good litter habits as well asnencourages hay consumption, since rabbits often eat and use the litternbox at the same time.
Probably the best thing you can do to stop your bunny from coming intoncontact with toilet mess is simply to make sure that you clean it outnregularly. The Santiago rabbit society gives the following advice onnthis subject and how regularly you should clean their tray out.
- Rabbits are very clean creatures. A smelly, soiled litter box couldncause your rabbit to choose another place to do his business,nsometimes just outside the box. Depending on the number of rabbits andnlitter boxes, clean litter boxes at least every other day. –
Our verdict: We think the advantages of using a litter tray with anmesh don't outweigh its disadvantages. i.e. harder cleaning,nuncomfortable for your bunny. If you are worried about your bunnynsitting in its pee, instead provide a box with lots of absorbentnmaterial and even a layer of hay in it and make sure you clean it outnregularly.
Yes by design litter trays where the litter is out of reach will stopnyour bunny chewing the litter or digging in it however if you bunny isna bit of a chewer and digger then you should not expect this problemnbehaviour to simply go away by using one of these trays and the mostnlikely result will be that this problem with move somewhere else.
It is important to understand that digging and chewing is all part ofna bunnies natural behaviour. If your bunny is looking for fibrousnmaterial and is eating your litter, then in most cases its best tontempt them away with something more interesting to chew then blockingnaccess to it as this can lead to them chewing your baseboards andncarpet instead. We recommend placing a hay feeder over your bunniesnlitter box and changing this out with fresh hay regularly. Chew toys,nhay or toilet roll tubes can also make great acceptable alternatives.
If digging in their litter box is a problem, then again covering itnover could cause them to choose somewhere else to exercise thisnbehaviour. This can lead to your carpet being damaged, softnfurnishings being ripped, and plan pots being burrowed into. The bestnway to stop your bunny excavating its litter box is to provide annacceptable alternative like a digging box. Lots of bunny owners findnthese a great way of letting their bunnies do what they love whilencontaining the mess. To make a digging box take a large cardboard boxnand fill it with lots of stuff like shredded paper, hay and chew toysnthat your bunny will love.
Our verdict: Digging and chewing is all part of a bunnies dailynbehaviour. The best way to stop this happening in their litter traynis to provide lots of acceptable alternatives such as chew toys and andigging box to act as an acceptable alternative.
This is often stated as an advantage in the sales blurb for thesentypes of litter trays. The idea is you can separate the bunny poopsnfrom the litter to compost them separately. You may want to do thisnhowever, if you use biodegradable litter all of it can be composted innone go. According to compostthis.co.uk
- Yes you can compost rabbit droppings & their bedding (assuming theirnbedding is something like paper, straw or wood shavings). Asnvegetarian animals, rabbit poop from healthy rabbits does not pose ansignificant health risk (unlike meat-eating animals like cats andndogs) so it can be added to the compost heap. -
Our verdict: A regular litter box is just as easy to use forncomposting or recycling.
Having looked at the advice from some of the leading websites it'snclear how important it is to your bunnies health and happiness to setntheir litter tray up correctly, what we have discovered about litterntrays with meshes is they can make it difficult to follow this advicenwhich is to make the litter tray a comfortable place for your bunny tonspend time and even graze food. They will stop the mess from litternand poops being kicked out however, they may also lead in the end tonpoor litter training habits if your bunny decides to go elsewhere. Innthe end the problems these types of litter tray claim they help solvencan be achieved with a regular litter tray which we would recommend asnthe best setup for your bunny.