Teaching your rabbit how to use the litter box
Litter training your bunny is not impossible, and bunnies are smart and pick up the habit easily with just the right encouragement. Older rabbits are easier to train as compared to young ones, especially babies (though you shouldn't give up training your baby bunny!) Litter training is recommended because it keeps your bunny's living quarters clean and hygienic, which makes for a healthy bunny.
When you select a type of litter to use for your rabbit, keep in mind that bunnies generally spend a lot of time in their litter boxes and they enjoy nibbling the litter. Rabbit urine also has a very strong odour, so buy a highly absorbent type of litter. Generally, organic litter types such as alfalfa, oat, citrus and paper make the best litters as they are absorbent and safe for your bunny to nibble on.
Avoid buying litters made from softwoods such as pine or cedar shaving and chips. These products have been found to produce liver damage in rabbits that use them.
Alternatively, you may simply substitute litter with hay. However, in this case, you will need to change the hay daily since your bunny will also consume it.
Types of litter
Control odours well, very absorbent, and can be composted together with the rabbit's waste. May be hard to find and expensive.
Tend to be dusty and have toxic deodorant crystals that can cause pneumonia in bunnies.
Tend to clump inside the rabbit's digestive tract after being ingested. If in dust form, particles may clump inside the rabbit's respiratory tract causing serious problems often leading to death.
Compressed sawdust pellets
Inexpensive, highly absorbent, and non-toxic because their phenolic compounds are removed during manufacture. Usually made from softwood or hardwood sawdust. Their wood composition helps control bacterial growth and odours.
Corn cob litter
Does not control odour sufficiently and is not absorbent. High risk of lethal blockage in bunnies if consumed.
Absorbent but does not control odour.
Oat and alfalfa-based litters
Have excellent odour controlling qualities. But may cause bloating in bunnies when too much is consumed.
Paper pulp and recycled paper products
Very absorbent and good for controlling odours. Harmless if ingested.
Pine and cedar shavings
Tend to emit gases that cause liver damage.
A good and safe alternative to commercial litters. If bought in large quantities, they are much cheaper than most litters. They do not absorb as quickly but are fairly absorbent and can control odours well. Can be used in compost too.
Avoid using this if your bunny is overweight as food pellets are fattening.
Where to place the litter boxes
You may designate a corner of your bunny's cage as its toilet. Place your bunny's litter tray at the corner of your selection and reward your bunny when he uses it correctly.
You may use multiple litter boxes if you want to encourage litter box usage in the beginning. Keep in mind to always reinforce and encourage your bunny's behaviour whenever he uses his toilet properly.
Some bunnies love being difficult and may choose to litter in another corner of the cage. In this case, you may compromise and relocate his litter box to the corner of his choosing. It will be much easier to oblige your bunny than work against him!
Your bunny may dribble his pee over the edge of the litter box. This is because sometimes they back up too much over the edge and do not realize that they have dribbled. An easy solution will be to use covered litter boxes instead.
If this is a persisting problem, your bunny may have a bladder infection and should be treated as soon as possible. Your bunny should start using the litter box properly once his infection is cleared.