Bunnies and rabbits can be some of your cutest companions. However, at times, they can also be the most disgusting ones, because of their tendency to defecate, or have “accidents”, everywhere. This one common household issue with having a rabbit as a pet can often leave individuals apprehensive of the idea of adopting a pet rabbit or bunny as a family animal. To counter this prevalent issue, though, a few simple steps can be taken.
Your Rabbit’s Litter Training
1. Mark the litter area
First off, a rabbit is going to inevitably leave its mark in random spots in your house if no designated area has been established as a litter area for your pet. Therefore, it is incredibly crucial to ensure that you have an area specifically intended to be your rabbit’s litter area, if you plan to adopt a rabbit.
Much like cats and some other household animals, rabbits can be easily litter trained if they are shown and introduced to the concept of the litter box in their house, and are consistently able to consider that spot as their litter area.
2. Separating the Litter Area
Once you have integrated a litter area in the house for your rabbit to use, ensure that it is separated from every other functionality of the house and that the litter area is distinctive for your rabbit to identify and use. There are multiple reasons a rabbit, even one who is litter trained, may lose their litter training, including sexual maturity, coming into season, threats from another new member of the household (whether it is a new rabbit, another type of pet, or another human), health issues, etc.
Apart from health issues, in which case you should consult professional veterinary aid, every type of problem you may face with the introduction of litter training to your rabbit can be easily solved by establishing a clear presence of the litter area.
3. Transferring Accidents to the Tray
Although it may seem counterintuitive, it is crucial for you to teach your rabbit that, even when they have an accident outside of the litter tray, that accident belongs inside of the litter tray. Therefore, rather than simply cleaning up the accident area, transfer the poop to the ray, and then clean the area where your rabbit had the accident.
This way, your rabbit will learn to accept that the litter area is strictly intended to be used for all sanitary/excretion uses. Continue to practice this until your rabbit fully accepts the litter area as part of their training.
4. Return a Bit of Used Litter to the Tray
Another piece of training information that may appear as counterintuitive is that, while cleaning, it is crucial to refrain from cleaning all of the litter. Instead, return a bit of the litter that has been used to the tray, so that the scent is retained, and your rabbit continues to recognize that the litter tray is their area to use for litter purposes.
In this way, your rabbit will not struggle with the recognition of the area or the use of it, and you will easily be able to continue training your rabbit to accept the litter area as what it is.
While the litter tray and the maintenance and use of it, are rather crucial for your rabbit to adopt the correct litter training habits, neutering is another essential component of ensuring that you can minimize accidents within the house. Especially for male rabbits, there is an innate habit of releasing scent or marking their territory, which may lead to the rabbit having on purpose “accidents” within your house.
This can include having accidents in your furniture, in their food bowl, or sometimes, even on you. To minimize this behavior, it is important to neuter your rabbit, just as it is for any other animal, and you will see a considerable drop in the number of accidents that occur within your household.
6. Adjust the Location of the Tray According to Your Rabbit
It may be convenient to place the litter tray in one location in your house, and this is quite understandable, especially if you have children or guests in the house. However, as you are introducing a new pet into the house, and getting that pet accustomed to the surroundings, it may be important to suit the needs of the animal (in this case, rabbit) and to place the litter tray where they are most commonly going so that they first become visually and scent wise used to the litter tray.
From that point, once they catch up with the concept that the litter tray is intended to be the spot that they visit for their sanitary needs. You can move and adjust the location of the litter tray to your convenience so that your rabbit can use the same smell and visual cues to locate and use the litter tray that you provide.
If your rabbit has been in your household for a long while, has been litter trained, is neutered, and has no other signs of incoming sexual maturity. It is possible that their erratic behavior of having accidents outside of their litter tray is indicative of some sort of health issue, and it is imperative to put their health first in ensuring that the environment surrounding them is as safe and accommodative as possible to their needs.
Much like you may potty train a child or a dog, a rabbit takes time and dedicated effort to become oriented in your household, but they are worth the effort!