Training a rabbit to use a litter tray is not difficult. Rabbits normally urinate in one place. Scoop up some of the soiled material from there and place it in a litter tray. The scent of the urine will prompt use of the litter tray. Put the litter tray over the area they are already using (Crowell-Davis, 2007). If the rabbit is in a hutch and there is not room, you are keeping it in far too small a hutch. Don’t keep the tray too dirty or too clean. The tray should stay in its place. When cleaning litter put a few poos or some soiled material back into the clean tray to remind bunny where he must go. A cat litter tray will do fine, though you can now buy triangular trays specially for rabbits.
Rabbits sometimes eat their litter. Never use clay-based clumping cat litter, conifer/pine shavings, litter with deodorant crystals, or litter made from corn cobs. Clumping litter may clump in the rabbit’s gut (Crowell-Davis 2010). Avoid the pine litter or pine shavings sometimes sold as rabbit or small pet litter – it is not safe for rabbits, despite being sold for them.
Rabbit litter is now sold online and at pet supermarkets. Brands include Carefresh, Critter Litter and Yesterday’s News. Peat or chopped straw would be fine. A cheaper version is to put a thick wad of newspaper and lots of hay in the litter tray. Or buy a bale of shredded cardboard sold as horse bedding. The hay is there to give your rabbit something to munch on, so it doesn’t chew the newspaper. There should be enough hay so that the rabbit isn’t in direct contact with the newspaper.
Rabbits (unlike cats) often spend a lot of time in the litter tray so add some hay for it to munch. If there is a large area available to your rabbit add extra trays, such as one in each room. You may need to tie the litter tray down as some rabbits enjoy moving it around! As they don’t bury their faeces or urine, you will need to dump all the litter and excrement about every one or two days: scooping won’t work (Crowell-Davies, 2010).
It is normal for a rabbit to leave some droppings outside the litter tray but if urine or lots of droppings appear outside the tray, then there is a problem.
There’s a good article about litter training here.
Brown, S. A., (2001), ‘The Domestic Rabbit: Husbandry and Clinical Techniques,’ Suppl Compend Contin Educ Pract Vet, 23, 2(A), 15-22
Crowell-Davis, S. L., (2007), ‘Behavior Problems in Pet Rabbits,’ Journal of Exotic Pet Medicine, 16, 38-44
Crowell Davies,S. L., (2010), “Rabbits,’ in ed: Tynes, V. V., Behavior of Exotic Pets, Chichester, UK, Wiley-Blackwell, 69-77
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All normal safety precautions should be taken when dealing with animals. The advice in this section should be taken only at the owner’s own risk. All sick animals should be seen by a vet.
General advice of the kind found in this website is no substitute for an individual consultation with a vet or qualified behaviourist working on a vet’s referral.