Thursday, December 31, 2009

Litter Training Rabbits

It is important to fill your rabbits litter box with an absorbent, non-toxic litter. Most bunnies will try and chew their litter or will ingest some during grooming. If the litter is not absorbent then the rabbit is at risk of urine burn caused by splash back of the urine. Avoid softwood and clumping clay litters that can be harmful to your rabbit. It is advisable to try lots of different litters to see what your rabbit likes best. As most rabbits enjoy rolling and digging in their litter boxes use a soft litter if you bunny is prone to sore hocks or spends a lot of time in the tray. Other things to consider are if your rabbit chews the litter, in this case you are better to use an organic litter, but change frequently to avoid mould. Even so you do not want you bunny to ingest a large amount of litter so if your bunny finds it very tasty, then try another variety. Light weight litter is easier to use but it tends to track more. Also if your rabbit likes to pull the tray around the room it is better to use a heavier litter or secure the tray to a piece of furniture.
Litter training your pet bunny
Rabbits, in general are very clean animals - in the wild they only use certain places to relive themselves and don't soil inside their warrens. Pet bunnies also tend to toilet in just one or a few places, and are easy to house train.
Some rabbits litter train themselves, however most need a little encouragement from their owners. Rabbits usually learn to urinate in a litter tray but will still scatter a few faeces around. This is normal rabbit behaviour and the droppings are easy to pick up and discard and can also be vacuumed.
Rabbits can be litter trained from a few weeks of age. However rabbits over a year old are easier to train especially if they have been neutered. Neutering is very important if your bunny lives in the house. When a rabbit is growing she becomes very restless and territorial marking with urine and droppings will increase. Even litter trained rabbits will start urinating outside their trays and this may happen every spring if she hasn't been neutered. Neutering will make your bunny more reliably trained and also reduce or prevent spraying.
To litter train your bunny you will need to start with at least one litter tray. Buy one with low sides for a baby or small rabbit, for a larger rabbit get a big litter tray like the ones used for dogs, or take the bottom pan from a bird cage.
You should get your rabbit used to the litter tray from day one, this means having a few litter trays ready fro when your bunny comes home. If you have more than one tray it will increase the chances of your rabbit getting things right. Later you can remove the trays your rabbit uses less frequently.
Put a litter tray in the rabbit’s pen or near the bed and another one in the corner of the room. Put a few pellets in the tray and a piece of urine-soaked tissue in the tray(s). This will give your rabbit the scent, helping her get the idea. Make sure you show your rabbit where the tray(s) are. If she hops in give her lots of praise. Otherwise, herd her gently towards the tray or entice her in with a tit bit.
Rabbits are more likely to go in the tray if you make it a more attractive place to be. Leave a handful of or your rabbit’s food dish in one corner. Experiment with different types of litter to find the one your bunny prefers. Many rabbits enjoy digging and rolling in their trays or even sleeping in them. This behaviour should be encouraged because if your rabbit enjoys being in the tray she is more likely to mark it with her urine and droppings.
In the beginning it's a good idea to watch your rabbit during her free-running time so if she starts urinating in the wrong places you can hopefully break the habit before it becomes established. If you see your bunny pushing her bottom and tail out, she is probably about to urinate. If she is in the tray wait until she has finished and give her lot

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