Rabbit Litter Training
Rabbits are generally very clean animals and they pick a specific area to use as a toilet. You can take advantage of this natural behaviour and train your rabbit to use a litter box.
Litter training is most successful when a rabbit is neutered. Unneutered males and females will use droppings and urine to mark their territory though they may also make some use of a litter box too.
It's beneficial to litter train outdoor rabbits as well as indoor as it makes cleaning easier and also reduces wear on the hutch.
Litter training is just a matter of placing an appropriate tray in the area your rabbit currently uses as a toilet (usually a corner) and then picking up any accidents outside the tray and moving them into the tray.
The Litter Tray
There are a variety of litter trays available commercially, mainly aimed at cats although there are a few sold specifically for rabbits. When choosing a litter tray consider the size of your rabbit (when fully grown) and the area you want the tray to go (eg will it fit in your hutch). If the tray is to small your rabbit may not use it, generally the tray needs to be big enough for your rabbit to comfortably sit in with enough room for a pile of hay (rabbits like to eat as they poop).
Trixi Hi Sided Corner Litter Tray
45cm W x 21cm H
£7.45 from Amazon
The height of a litter tray is important. Rabbits back into a corner and lift their tails to urinate and if the edge of the tray is to low they will urinate over the edge. Keep in mind you'll be adding a layer of litter and hay which will raise the floor level. Many standard litter trays are too low for this reason.
Corner litter trays are excellent for rabbits. For example the Superpet Corner Litter Tray shown left. However they can be too small for larger rabbits or rabbits who like to sleep in their trays.
If your rabbit likes to dig you may like to considered a covered cat litter tray, these are particularly good for outdoors as they prevent rain flooding the tray.
Wilkinson Underbed Storage Box (£5)
60cm x 40cm x 18cm
A cheaper option for litter trays and excellent for large rabbits is a storage box. Underbed storage boxes come in a variety or sizes and heights to fit even giant rabbits. They are also available in a wide range of colours for those that like to coordinate. A slightly smaller alternative but also widely available are washing up bowls.
Rabbit Litter trays should be filled with absorbent material and a layer of hay added on top. Rabbits like to eat whilst using their tray so hay near by encourages litter training. If your tray is small or your rabbit particularly messy a hay rack positioned over the tray is another alternative.
Paper based cat litter is the most readily available litter suitable for rabbits. It's available at most supermarkets. Ensure it is 'non clumping' litter which means it won't clump together and cause blockages if ingested.
From left to right: Bio-Catolet Paper Cat Litter, Purina's Yesterday's News and Supreme Carefresh Pet Bedding
Another alternative is megazorb, this is sold as horse beeding as is available from most horse supplies or through some pet shops and online retailers. It's a very economical product if you have a lot of rabbits as it's available in bulk.
Wood shavings and saw dust are not the most suitable of products to use for litter. They are less absorbent than the above and also light which tends to make them very messy.
Cleaning & Disposal
Various factors influence how often you will need to clean out the litter tray, for example the size/number of rabbits using it and the absorbency of the litter. Some owners prefer daily cleaning others twice a week. In summer months when there is an increased risk of flies frequent cleaning is advised. If you are using paper based litter and hay this can be composted.
Most pet shops sell spray disinfectant suitable for cleaning litter trays. However, if you prefer less chemicals then hot soapy water or white vingar (which removes urine marks) work also.
Most rabbits will happily use a clean litter tray but if you find your rabbit is not fully litter trainned placing some old litter in after cleaning may help your rabbit 'remember' where it is supposed to toilet.