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· Wondering how to litter box train your new bunny companion?
· Are your rabbits' previously pristine litter box habits changing for the worse?
· Has your rabbit decided your entire house is now his litter box?
First, determine if the reason could be medical, perhaps a bladder infection. A trip to your rabbit's veterinarian may be in order to detect a urinary illness.
What is the age of your rabbit? Do not expect a baby bunny to be litter box trained. That would be like expecting a newborn baby to be toilet trained. Their bladder control increases as they mature. Be patient with very young, unaltered rabbits.
Is your rabbit spayed or neutered? When rabbits reach the age of 4-6 months, their hormones become active and they usually begin "marking" their territory. By spaying or neutering your rabbit he will be more likely to use the litter box and will be a happier, healthier, calmer rabbit.
Decrease freedom and increase litter boxes. Do not give your rabbit total freedom of the house. When you decrease his freedom and increase litter boxes, you are increasing his chances he will make it to the litter box. Keep two or more litter boxes outside the cage and one inside the cage. As his habits improve, you can decrease a litter box or two. If you have more than one rabbit, you may see less control and more marking. If slip-ups begin, start shorter periods of freedom and more litter boxes.
Keep litter boxes clean. Rabbits are very clean creatures. A smelly, soiled litter box could cause your rabbit to choose another place to do his business, sometimes just outside the box. Depending on the number of rabbits and litter boxes, clean litter boxes at least every other day. Once a week is NOT enough!
Spritz litter pans with white vinegar to clean and deodorize. Let pans soak if there is urine build-up and then rinse clean. Do not use chemicals. If your rabbit marks in an area, blot up the urine and dab on white vinegar or a commercial enzyme deodorizer to neutralize the odor. Do not leave the smell or he may be encouraged to revisit. Hydrogen peroxide also works well for this and will not harm the color in the your carpet or furniture fabrics.
Try a different litter. The House Rabbit Society suggests one of the many organic paper litters available. Sometimes the strong scent of litter will keep bunny out of the box. Avoid pine and cedar shavings and clay cat litters. Also, try a good amount of fresh hay in the box. This will usually entice your rabbit to get into the box. You can also put a few of his droppings in the box.
Be consistent. Get your rabbit into a daily routine and try not to vary it. Rabbits are very habitual and once a routine is established, they usually prefer to stick with it. Routines make learning easier.
Adapt to the stubborn bunny. If your rabbit is continually going in an opposite corner from his box, put his box in the area he has chosen, even if it means rearranging his cage or moving a table in the living room. He has already decided where he wants his box and it is much easier to oblige than to try to work against a determined bunny!
Not sure how to put together a bunny-friendly litter box? Learn what to use, and how to put it all together to ensure your bunny's successful litter training, by visiting our "litter box setup" page.