Can Pet Rabbits Be Litter Trained?

Find out if pet rabbits can be litter trained in this Howcast video featuring bunny lover Amy Sedaris and rabbit expert Mary E. Cotter.

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Rabbits make wonderful pets. If you're thinking of getting one, check out these videos: Actress Amy Sedaris, who is a loving mom to her own pet bunny, helps rabbit expert Mary E. Cotter, Ed.D., LVT answer all your questions about how to take care of a pet rabbit. It's not always easy, but it's worth the work.

 
 

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Amy: Mary, can my rabbit be litter box trained? Mary: It's probably too late. Your rabbit is 12 years old. Can rabbits be litter box trained? Yes. You don't even have to train them. They're immaculately clean animals by nature, and all you really have to do is help them find the litter box. With cats, for example, you can fill the box with appropriate litter material and put the litter box down and the cat will find it. With rabbits it's a little bit different. Rabbits have their own preferred corners for eliminating. And you have to find where the rabbit would enjoy eliminating and put the litter box there. The best way to attract a rabbit into a litter box is to have litter material on hand that rabbits love, such as, will you do the honors? Amy: Hay. I mix hay. I use different hays because I spoil my rabbit. Sometimes I top a little of that hay on top, which I know, you don't want to use just all oat hay or alfalfa hay, but I add a little bit of treat hay sometimes. Mary: Now watch what's going to happen here. It's exactly what we want. If you fill a litter box with hay. We have a layer or two of newspaper on the bottom to line it, then we fill it up with hay, the rabbit will be attracted because the hay smells fresh and wonderful and the rabbit will sit in the litter box and pee and poop just the same way as a rabbit that's wild will sit in your backyard and pee and poop, and you won't have any litter box issues. The big problem with rabbits and litter boxes, is usually that people give the rabbit too much freedom too soon in the home, and what you really should do, when you're working with a new rabbit, is keep the rabbit in a pen or in a very generous size cage, with that litter box in one corner until the litter habits are really well established. Once you see the rabbit going regularly to pee and poop in the litter box, then you can open the cage and allow a little bit of territory. Maybe you want to add a few more litter boxes in corners of your house. But you don't want to give the rabbit a lot of freedom immediately because you will never be able to keep up, and once the rabbit urine marks different areas in your home, it's very hard to keep them from going back to the same area. Amy: And also they like to be under things so, like now, I have an awning, I had somebody make an awning for my rabbits, so the box is underneath something. So, underneath a table, or you can make a little house out of a cardboard box. They kind of like that kind of thing. Mary: And there's one other thing to know about litter box training too, and a lot of people ask this question. They say, "Well, my rabbit is urinating in the litter box perfectly, but I still find poops around the house. What's up with that?" And the thing about it is, rabbit poops are not just excretion, they're also territory markers. So you can expect that to happen, whether a rabbit litter box trained or not, you can expect a few stray poops left around. Amy: They're like peppercorns. Mary: They are. Like large peppercorns. Don't serve them to your guests on salads. But they are going to be around your house. Most people don't mind because they're dry and they're virtually odorless. You can pick them up and throw them out, but don't forget to wash your hands. Amy: But wash your hands. That's what I was going to say. Mary: So, yes, they can be litter trained. Amy: It's easy. They train you where to put the box and then they use it. That's the bottom line. Easy.

Expert

  • Mary E. Cotter

    Mary E. Cotter, M.A., Ed.D., LVT is the founder of the NY-based Rabbit Rescue & Rehab. She serves as chapter manager of the NYC House Rabbit Society and is vice president of the International House Rabbit Society. Involved with rabbit rescue since 1982, she speaks and writes frequently on rabbit-related topics, addressing owners, veterinary professionals and shelter workers. Mary is an adjunct assistant professor in the veterinary technology department of LaGuardia Community College (City University of New York) and co-manages a 7,000-member Internet mailing list focused on rabbit health, care and behavior.