Housebreaking in Rabbits

Rabbits can defecate at will. That’s why it’s possible to housetrain them. Here you can find out what you have to consider and how to proceed!

In the wild, rabbits mark their territory by defecating in specific places. Domestic rabbits also spread feces to mark their territory. You can take advantage of this behavior.

Begin housebreaking when your rabbits are at least 3 months old. Younger rabbits are still too inattentive to consciously use a toilet.

What should the rabbit’s toilet look like?

Small litter boxes or plastic trays with a rim are suitable as a toilet, for example.

  • In the enclosure, rabbits usually find a toilet corner by themselves. You can place the toilet with litter (e.g. untreated small animal litter) in this corner.
  • The enclosure should always remain open while they are running free in the apartment so that the animals can withdraw there at any time and use their toilet if necessary. In addition, you should also set up one or two toilets in the open air.

Where should the rabbit toilet be?

Your rabbits will choose the “quiet place” themselves – both in the enclosure and free-range. The toilets are set up at the places where your long-eared cats defecate and urinate without a toilet. The rabbits remember the location and will always defecate and urinate in the same place.

The rabbits prefer central and slightly elevated locations. The droppings area serves as a “communication center” (scent signals) for all animals in the rabbit group and should therefore be easily accessible for all rabbits.

Even if you don’t like the litter box in the middle of the room, you should tolerate this location for a while. Once the rabbits figure out what to do with the litter-filled tub and use it regularly for pooing, move it bit by bit each day to where you want it to be. Patience and moving slowly are important here.

How is my rabbit house trained?

If you are very lucky, your rabbit will instinctively use the offered toilet in the desired way. If this is not the case, prepare the litter box with a few fresh poo pellets and a urine sample taken up with a kitchen towel. The rabbits smell their own scent and thus understand what the toilet is for.

If your rabbits defecate elsewhere, place them in the toilet crate immediately or gently push them in with your hand. When the animals sit in their toilet, they are praised and rewarded with a treat. You should note the following:

  • Rabbits should always feel safe when sitting in their toilet crate. This means that they must not be disturbed or even taken out.
  • If your rabbits don’t go to the litter box on their own at first, you’ll need to be patient. Don’t punish the animals!
  • Loud scolding or a slap on the bottom only destroys the trust of your long-eared friends and does nothing.
  • If the rabbit is unwilling to accept the toilet, check if there is anything about it that might bother the animal, such as a restless location or the type of bedding used.

The most important steps to housebreaking rabbits

You have to consider this if you want to train your rabbits to be housebroken:

  1. Watch your rabbit carefully. As soon as it shows signs of wanting to defecate or urinate, carefully pick it up. Gently place the animal in the rabbit litter box.
  2. If the rabbit stays put and does its business in the litter box, immediately reward it with a special treat and praise it extensively. The reward must be immediate in order for the animal to understand the connection between its behavior and the reward.
  3. If the rabbit hops off and defecates elsewhere, be patient. Just keep trying until the rabbit stays in the toilet.
  4. Housebreaking is achieved as soon as the rabbit accepts the litter box and goes there on its own.
  5. Reward and praise the rabbit when you see him using the toilet in an exemplary manner. After a while, conditioning will no longer be necessary.

Always be consistent and patient with your housebreaking training. Then your rabbits will surely learn to use a toilet.

Reasons for uncleanliness in rabbits

If rabbits, despite patience, are not housebroken, this can have various causes. We have listed the most common causes here.

  • Territory marking or uncastrated bucks: When they reach sexual maturity (in small breeds from 3 to 4 months), most rabbits mark more than before. This is especially true for bucks, who should be neutered when kept as pets. During socialization, the animals mark more intensively in order to stake out their territory against the intruders. This also applies if other groups of rabbits live in the same household.
  • Group size and group harmony: The larger and less harmonious the group, the more pronounced the marking behavior.
  • Diseases: Diseases of the kidneys or bladder can also lead to uncleanliness in rabbits. Diarrhea and other diseases of the gastrointestinal tract can also cause rabbits to unintentionally spill urine and feces everywhere.
  • Osteoarthritis, spondylosis: If one of your rabbits suffers from a skeletal or muscular disease, it will be painful to climb over the edge of the toilet and will therefore prefer to defecate next to the toilet. Rabbit litter boxes with a lowered edge can help here.
  • New or cleaned areas: If you have changed the rabbits’ environment, for example by adding new furniture, thorough cleaning, or rearranging the rabbit enclosure, the rabbits’ marking behavior will also increase.

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