Julie Lambert, Paris, France
October 7, 2020
Now you’re ready to let your rabbit free! But after a few minutes you realise that your rabbit thinks your house is a giant litter box… So you’ve lied and told yourself that the rabbit was a clean animal? Well don’t worry, it’s not at all just that you have to educate your little animal.
01 – In the wild
In the wild, the rabbit is a very clean animal. In addition to spending most of the day cleaning themselves, rabbits have the habit of always relieving themselves in a specific place outside their burrow. In order to make your rabbit clean, it is therefore necessary to reproduce this behaviour taught by the parents.
02 – The necessary equipment
To teach your rabbit how to keep it clean, it is necessary to prepare a litter box that will serve as a reference point for your rabbit. To do this, you should choose a litter box large enough for your rabbit to have space in it, i.e. a litter box that is at least twice the size of your rabbit.
It should then be placed in a strategic place. Since rabbits like to relieve themselves while eating or directly after eating, it is best to place it next to their racks.
Finally, the tray should be filled with litter. And there you have a wide range of brands to choose from. For my part I use and recommend hemp-based plant litter in granule form. Hemp is an extremely absorbent material, both for liquids and odours, allowing rabbits to relieve themselves without getting their feet wet. Care should be taken with litter made from other plants as rabbits tend to eat them. You should also avoid or even prohibit wood-based litter that can intoxicate rabbits and even you if it is of very poor quality.
03 – Learning
To begin with, the first step is not to offer too much space to his rabbit. It is better to leave him his cage and only a few square meters around. Otherwise your house will become a giant litter box for your rabbit and it will be difficult to change this situation.
Then, I advise you to pick up your rabbit’s droppings as soon as possible and put them in its litter box, making sure it sees you do it. Be careful however that the litter box is not too dirty otherwise your rabbit will not want to go there.
When your rabbit goes out for the first time, make a habit of putting it back in the litter box regularly so that it becomes a reflex for it to go there. Moreover, as soon as your rabbit does his business outside, put him directly back inside.
Another solution is to reward your rabbit as soon as he goes to the litter box by himself. A small piece of fruit will do the trick.
Finally, during the training period, avoid going out directly after a meal, as this is when most rabbits relieve themselves.
04 – Regularly asked questions
How long will it take to potty train my rabbit?
It all depends on your rabbit, its character and age. By being very meticulous in the learning process, the first results should be visible after two weeks.
My rabbit used to be clean but is now not clean anymore?
If your rabbit was clean and is no longer clean, there has been a change in its lifestyle. This change may be hormonal. For example, a rabbit that reaches puberty may lose its good habits and start to mark its territory all over your house. Everything will go back to the way it was when it was neutered. If the change is on another level, such as the arrival of another animal, change of home…etc. it is necessary to start learning again and identify the cause of this change in behaviour.
My rabbit is eating its litter, what should I do?
The ideal way to prevent your rabbit from eating its litter is to add a hay rack above it but also to change the litter for another one that it may not find to its liking. As a last resort, you can also add non-rough sink mats.