How to Litterbox
Train your Rabbit
Rabbits are very
intelligent. They make wonderful house pets for adult
households. If you supply the litterbox and some gentle
guidance, many rabbits will practically train themselves
to use it. You can use a plastic Rubbermaid tub that is
shallow enough for your rabbit to hop in and out of it
or a metal litterbox from KW Cages. If you use the
plastic tub, you will need to use shredded newspaper,
hay, or Carefree cat litter. Other litters contain too
much dust, which can cause pneumonia in your rabbit's
delicate upper respiratory tract, which can be fatal. In
the rubber tub, your rabbit will sit in the litterbox on
whatever puddles and pebbles he leaves. The KW Cages
litterbox contains a removable metal mesh floor, so your
rabbit's paws and bottom will remain clean.
1. Sit on the floor in a small, enclosed area
with your rabbit and place the litterbox in one corner
of this area.
2. Place a handful of hay in the litterbox. Rabbits like
to munch hay and use the litterbox at the same time.
3. Soak up any puddles your rabbit does with a tissue
and place the tissue in the litterbox.
4. Place your rabbit in the litterbox and let him sniff
the soiled tissue. Say, 'Do puddle, (and your rabbit's
name). Do puddle.'
5. Let your rabbit go. He will probably resist staying
in the litterbox and go hopping about the small area you
6. Pick up any pebbles (feces/turds) your rabbit drops
and place your rabbit back in the litterbox.
7. Hold the pebbles under your rabbit's nose, so he can
sniff them and say, 'Do pebbles, (and your rabbit's
name). Do pebbles.'
8. Let your rabbit go, so he can continue to explore.
9. Do this every day at the same time for several days,
until you know that your rabbit is using his litterbox
10. Praise your rabbit for using the litterbox
Rabbits drop pebbles as they hop about to mark their
territory; expect to find some rabbit pebbles scattered
throughout the area in your home where your rabbit
Sometimes rabbits forget their good litterbox habits;
you will have to take the time to re-train your rabbit
when this happens.
Eliminate the odor from rabbit urine in the carpet on on
clothing with white vinegar; it also lifts the urine
stain from carpet and fabric.
Never yell at, scold, or hit your rabbit when he
eliminates in the wrong place. Just reinforce his
litterbox training by placing him in his litterbox with
the pebbles or soiled tissue and repeating, 'Do pebbles'
or 'Do puddle' and your rabbit's name. Positive
reinforcement goes a long way with rabbits.
This is one of the cheapest and most readily available
litter, but you must line the bottom of the tray with a
thick layer of newspaper. It can be used to encourage
rabbits to eat more hay and straw, which is essential
for a healthy digestive system. It is easy to clean as
when the litter is soiled you can simply roll up the
paper and throw it away. This type of litter tends to be
a bit messy so should be used with a high sided litter
box or a plastic dog bed/storage box to keep it
contained. The sharp seed husks of barley straw can
cause injury to the rabbit's paws, so you need to shake
them out before putting it in the litter box. Make sure
the hay and straw are dust extracted so they do not
contain mites or mould.
Dried grass: This
can be used as a litter, it is more nutritious than
straw and hay but it is also quite expensive.
Chopped barley straw:
This is similar in consistency and appearance to wood
shavings and it is a bit messy for indoor use. The small
particles may also irritate the rabbit's eyes and
Pelleted straw litter:
This litter is absorbent, breaks down when wet and can
be easily disposed of in the garden. The litter has a
natural fragrance which helps disguise the smell of
This is quite am absorbent litter, but it looks a bit
'dirty' indoors. It also tends to cling to the bunnies
fur and falls off around the house, so it is quite
messy. Rabbits love to dig and roll about in compost so
it is best kept in a large tray in the garden.
Corncob litter: This
litter is fairly absorbent and has a pleasant smell.
However it may be tasty to your bunny resulting in
weight gain from eating it, and it is very expensive.
Like other organic litters it can become mouldy so the
tray needs to be cleaned on a regular basis (mould is
toxic to rabbits).
Recycled paper litter:
Like the brands made for cats, this litter is available
in flakes and pellets. It is dust free, light weight and
absorbent but make sure your bunny does not ingest large
amounts. Recycled paper should not become mouldy.
This litter is not very absorbent, but it is adequate
providing your bunny does not chew on it. Plain
newspaper is not recommended as it is not very
absorbent, and the bunny may step on the urine,
resulting in splash back and leading to urine burn.
Paper pulp bedding:
This is a natural litter made from reclaimed wood fibres
that are too short to be used in paper production. This
litter is very absorbent and has good odour control. It
is light weight and easy to carry. It does not
contaminate wounds, therefore is ideal for post
operative care, rabbits suffering from sore hocks,
sensitive skin, etc. It is sanitised to kill bacteria,
mould and fungus so it will not harm your rabbit if
ingested. Its has no added inks, dyes or chemicals,
unlike recycled paper litters. The paper wont scratch
floors, it can be vacuumed up, flushed, composted and is
Clumping cat litter:
This is not recommended for rabbits. It is generally
made of a substance called sodium benotine, a naturally
swelling clay. When liquid is added it expands to
approximately 15 times its original volume. As bunnies
are very clean animals, if it is ingested it swells in
the stomach forming a mass and lining in the digestive
tract. This causes dehydration both by drawing fluids
from the rabbit and preventing the absorption of
nutrients and other liquids. As a result the bunny may
develop diarrhoea (in an attempt to cleanse her system),
an internal blockage or even die.
Other cat litters:
Non clumping, dust-free cat litters and a safer choice
for your rabbit. They are lighter than ordinary clay and
are available from pet shops and supermarkets.
Studies from as far back as 1967 have shown that
softwood beddings (for example pine shavings) can cause
liver disease in small animals. When you open a bag of
soft wood shavings you can immediately smell their
fragrance, and this is where the problem lies. The smell
is from natural volatile chemicals in the wood called
phenols. Phenols are caustic, poisonous, acidic
compounds which are routinely diluted for use in
disinfectants, such as Jeyes Fluid. Inhaling phenols
over time can irritate the mucous membranes of the nose
and respiratory tract, which in turn, predisposes the
rabbit to bacterial infection. The risk of damage to the
liver and kidneys however is more serious. As the
principal organs for filtering blood and urine and
eliminating toxins from them, the liver and kidneys are
designed to process only a certain amount of toxic
material. The most obvious consequence of regular
exposure to large amounts of toxins such as phenols is
that the body is working to its limit already and cannot
cope with the added burden of anaesthetic. At lower
levels however, however, there may still be damage to
the liver which is not fatal in itself but which is
sufficient to depress the immune system, leaving the
rabbit vulnerable to infections, particularly of the
respiratory tract. Fortunately this type of liver
disease can be avoided by removing the soft wood bedding
from the environment. For a safer use of soft wood
litter, keep in a large, open, well-ventilated areas
only and have your rabbits blood checked every few
months. Finally the dust contained in soft wood litter
(particularly sawdust and shavings) can irritate the