Teaching your rabbit where to relieve himself is easier than you think. Domestic rabbits are especially cute animals, but they are also very intelligent, capable of learning basic hygiene routine with ease. Small rabbits are easier to train, that does not mean that adults cannot learn, it will take more time but it is not impossible.
When rabbits reach sexual maturity, which happens between 4 and 6 months of age, they begin to mark practically everything with their urine. A gelding will be much easier to handle and train.
In this post from petlifey we will show you step by step how to teach your rabbit where to relieve themselves.
How to choose a corner for rabbits?
Before explaining how to teach a rabbit to use the corner, we will teach you the types of corner pieces and substrates that exist.
Litter tray for rabbits
The corner (also called a toilet tray) is a triangular-shaped structure, usually made of plastic, which may or may not include a grid. We recommend removing the grid, as in the long run it can cause malposition, pain, wounds, sores and even infections on the rabbit’s soft pads .
If it is not possible for you to buy a rabbit corner, don’t worry, you can use a cat litter box, always keeping in mind the following tips:
- It should be as big as possible. Avoid trays that are smaller than 35 x 20 x 25 cm.
- Make sure it is not too high, as the rabbit should be able to access it easily.
There are different absorbent materials that you can use. You should choose one that is natural and does not cause intestinal obstructions. Alternatives to these substrates are natural materials made from compressed cereal straw, newspaper and absorbent towels. Biolan can even be ingested by your rabbits without being a risk to them since it is totally natural and does not contain preservatives. Tambor never ingests these materials.
How to prepare the litter tray
- Lay a layer of newspaper on the bottom of the tray so it will be much easier to clean up later.
- On the newspaper, put a little substrate made of non-toxic materials, with good absorption and that neutralizes odors.
- Put some hay near the corner. Rabbits like to eat while doing their business.
How and when to clean your rabbit’s corner
- Daily remove the substrate that has urine marks from the corner and replace with clean substrate.
- Once a week, empty the litter box completely, but keep the freshest stool in it.
- Once a month, disinfect the litter tray.
After cleaning the tray, put in new newspaper, new substrate, and any stool you saved. This is for a double purpose: that it stimulates them to continue doing its needs there and also so that it can eat it again and thus finish digesting it. Although this may seem repulsive to you, it is very important that rabbits do this.
To clean it, there are specific products that are disinfectants and do not need rinsing, such as this spray.
The smell must be neutral, it must not have fragrance so that our bunny does not become disoriented and stops associating the tray with its bathroom area.
The general cleaning of the cage can be done with the same method, using the spray and a damp cloth.
If you prefer, you can use vinegar or baking soda to remove urine odor and residue. In addition, it will also be useful to remove stains. Simply mix half a cup of vinegar or two tablespoons of baking soda in a spray bottle and fill the rest with water. Spray this mixture on the urine stains and the rest of your corner, rub with a cloth and you’re done. You can also use this mixture when your rabbit urinates outside to clean the floor. It is very important that you do not use chemicals to clean their areas, as you can damage your little pet’s lungs.
How to teach your rabbit where to relieve themselves?
Remember that throughout this process you must be very patient .
- Many people prefer to start learning in the rabbit cage, although you can also start in a limited area of the house .
- After placing the corner we will spend time observing our rabbit . When we notice that it raises its tail (a characteristic gesture that they carry out before urinating and defecating) we can take it and quickly take it to its litter tray.
- It may be necessary to put more than one corner at his disposal if the house is large or if you notice that your rabbit uses different corners to relieve himself .
- If you urinate or poop outside your area, do not despair, take a toilet paper, soak the urine well and collect the feces, which you will place in the corner . The scent will guide your rabbit to go back there to make his bowel movements.
- It is very important that the tray is a quiet place where the rabbit feels safe. You must not invade them, disturb them or take them there to punish them because it has made a mess.
- It will also be essential to clean the areas where you do your needs with enzymatic products, in this way we will eliminate the trace and prevent it from doing it again in the same place.
- There is another trick that we can use when teaching a rabbit to use the corner, which consists of leaving a little of the old substrate when we renew it with the new one. In this way we will also leave the smell of their urine and excrement present in the sanitary tray.
- If we have more than one rabbit, we will put a tray for each one. Many rabbits do not like to urinate and defecate where another rabbit has done. By putting several trays we will have our rabbits happy.
How to stimulate your rabbit to use the litter box?
As we follow these steps, the rabbit will correctly associate the corner with the place where it should relieve itself, but we can further enhance it by making use of positive reinforcement, how can we do it? We can use tasty treats, such as some of the fruits and vegetables recommended for rabbits, but the use of the voice, a “very good” or gentle caresses is also useful.
Once you get your rabbit to fulfill its needs where you have decided, it is best to give it freedom little by little, for short periods of time so that it does not soil the areas that you are going to expand. When you learn, the only thing you will have to worry about is keeping the corner guard clean by picking up its droppings and changing the material. Rabbits learn fast, so if we have patience in a week they can learn it easily. In the event that your pet is sterilized, it may be that he learns more quickly since he will not feel the need to mark his territory.
In no case will we use punishment with our rabbit.
If your rabbit was using the litter tray and suddenly, it started to lose this habit, and there have been no significant changes: there are no new animals or changes of environment, and it is already sterilized, then you may have to make sure that there is no medical problem, such as a urinary tract infection, or a bladder stone. A good option is to take them to your exotics vet for a general check-up to rule out a pathology that may affect the stool in the corner.
Weight problems, arthritis, urinary tract infection, or high hormone levels are just some of the causes that can prevent your pet from correctly developing the training they have learned.