If your bunny is new to litter training, then it is best that they learn through a series of gradual steps.
Special care also needs to be given to juvenile bunnies as they will need to learn how to use a litter tray as they develop. Follow this guide and you will see how litter training can be achieved without too much fuss.
The steps to litter training your bunny
- Start off with a larger area using puppy pads and let your bunny choose a corner to use.
- Put some hay over this toilet area to encourage them to use it and mix in a bit of the litter you are going to use.
- Always leave a bit of mess each time you have a clean out so your bunny can find it again more easily.
- Gradually reduce the size of the area then swap it over to a litter tray.
- It is important to clean up any mass from accidents elsewhere. The smell can cause a habit to form in a new area.
What you need to do first
The first step is to prepare a pen or other enclosure as a litter training area where the litter training can begin. Its going to be messy so cover the entire area with something to protect the floor underneath. Then lay down something that is absorbent and can be cleaned out easily such as newspaper or wood shavings or hay.
Litter training is going to need to be on your bunnies terms and time scale so it's going to need to be big enough for them to binky in as they may be spending some time there.
Next you need to let your bunny establish a place they choose as a toilet spot inside their pen or enclosure. This will typically be in a corner next to a wall where they feel safe.
Once you recognize this place the trick is to encourage them to return to the same spot till you can eventually place a litter tray there.
Placing food over this area such as a hay rack or hanging treat as this will encourage them to stay there longer. It is common to let bunnies eat hay over their litter tray throughout their lives to maintain good habits.
Bunnies go to the toilet regularly so if you do let your bunny out to roam freely away from a litter training area make sure to put them back frequently for small periods at a time so they can re-orientate themselves.
If you let them out for too long it is likely they will try and establish another corner in the room as a toilet.
It's important to keep all other areas very tidy and odor free by cleaning up any mass thoroughly. You will get the odd accident so it's important that any smell left behind are removed as this will encourage them to go to the toilet there again.
If it can be washed, then put it in the wash, if it's a fabric surface you could use an odor control spray.
When you clean their corner out, hold back some of the mess and mix it back in each time so it retains a familiar smell and they can find it easily.
You can then start to put down some of the litter you want to use in this corner as it will help this spot establish itself as different to the rest of their enclosure.
At the end of this stage your bunny should be happy using a single spot and returning there when they need the toilet.
Remember to remain patient and progress at their speed because if you move too quickly you may break the habit and this process will take more time in the long run if you have to repeat yourself.
Let this continue for even a couple of weeks and hopefully you will notice your bunny will get tidier and tidier with its habits, then when you think the time is right take some of the litter and toilet waste, transfer this to a litter tray and place this over the spot and hopefully you bunny will take to it.
It is best to transfer some toilet waste every time you clean the litter tray out till you are confident it has been adopted. You will know if it's too soon as your bunny is likely to go next to the litter tray or to another corner.
If you bunny is really not getting the hang of transferring to a litter tray a trick that can be used is when you are happy the corner is the only spot your bunny is using put the litter tray in makings sure it has some toilet waste in it then stretch a cotton bed sheet over the floor of the area surrounding it.
The idea is that because it removes any smells around the litter tray that your bunny may associate with a toilet area that may have permeated into flooring your bunny will stick to its litter tray better. It's also useful as if they do go on the sheet you can tell instantly and whip it out and give it a wash.
What's the best litter to use for my bunny
- Recycled paper based litters are very absorbent and odorless. Plus its compostable.
- Wood pellets are preferred by some people that don't get on with paper based litter.
- Sawdust is not the most suitable letter and is not recommended for adult regular use.
- Do not use cat litter, soil or sand in your bunnies litter box.
- Hay is good for encouraging your bunny to use its litter tray and works well alongside a more absorbent paper based litter.
Using discipline when litter training your bunny
It is important to recognize the difference between bunnies and other domestic animals. Traditional toilet training for cats and dogs does use discipline or a certain amount of rubbing their nose in it as a part of the learning process. This type of training is not suitable for bunnies and will not be something your bunny will understand. In fact, any aggregation whether trying to teach a lesson or not is more likely to make them your bunny timid and harder to litter train.
Never shout at, scare, or hit your bunny, no matter how frustrating litter training is this will not help.
If you catch them in the act using another area, say a firm No! then take them to their actual litter tray.
When your bunny is safely out the way you will then need to clean up and make sure you remove any scent where the accident happened or your bunny will want to keep going back to this spot and add to it.
A stronger deterrent can be to keep a water mister to hand and when you catch your bunny misbehaving, spray a mist of cold water over them. Never squirt or spray water directly at them.