Question: My rabbits are still not litter trained. They both pee in different corners sometimes and leave droppings everywhere with no seeming pattern, not only this but they pee everywhere in their cage, alone the edges in corners in the middle. They just don’t seem to have any clean instincts! They were both spayed 3 weeks ago and have shown no signs of improvement since then, apart from being a little more affectionate. I don’t understand what I’m doing wrong! I put hay in their litter tray and they drag it out almost straight away and spread it around before eating it, they don’t like eating out of their litter tray and so poo everywhere too.
I mentioned it to my vet who was bemused and said he’d never heard of someone having so little progress, and that many rabbits litter train themselves. I really wanted to litter train them in their cage so I knew it would be worth investing in a proper indoor pen, I don’t want to buy all the supplies if they will end up peeing everywhere still! What’s more they’re not allowed out of my room until they’re litter trained which restricts the amount of fun/exercise they can get. Any thoughts? Their litter train is always in one corner, I scoop dirty bedding up and put it in and clean them most days.

Answer:  I don’t think you are doing anything wrong. I suspect that it is still early and they may calm down.  Our boy had perfect litter box habits before his neuter then went through a couple of weeks post neuter not using his litter box as reliably.  One thing we found worked with all the buns we’ve trained is to put a litter box in each corner of their space.  Like you I piled in the hay and when I cleaned up a spot of pee, I’d put the tissue in the box. Same with the poops.  When I was training ours, I did not clean them every day – probably every other day.   You might try putting the hay in a hay rack and hang that outside the box so that they can get to the hay while they are using the box, but the hay rack keeps the hay somewhat contained.  I have heard of some problems with hay racks and we used one when we had our bunnies in a pen, but no space for it now.

One rabbit pretty much trained himself. We started with probably 4 or 5 litter boxes and as he picked a spot, I removed the others.
The other bunny took a little more effort and she was quite docile when we adopted her (2 weeks post spay).  I could put her in the box and she would start eating her hay and poop.  I’d praise her and give her some herb that she liked.   I did not let her run around the basement at first and confined her to her large pen.  When I let her out I would carry her back and put her in her litter box after 30 minutes or so.  Like the boy, she picked a spot and I removed the other boxes.  She is great with peeing in the box, but likes to stand outside the box to eat her hay and she’ll leave a pile of poops… then she’ll hop in to finish her business.

We had a foster who was never perfect, but he would use the box for his poops and mostly for peeing. He had a tendency to pee a bit outside the box and we put a plastic liner under the boxes.   I figured he had expanded the area that he considered as a litter box.

Patience and I bet they get much better.

The above is an extract from a recent discussion on the Yahoo Etherbun group. If you need answers to questions about rabbit health, behavior or care issues, Etherbun is an excellent resource.

Photo courtesy of Coalybunny


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