Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Litter training tips for bunnies

When I started litter training my bunnies, I always googled how to do it but never really found a post anywhere that answered all my questions - now that Amelie and Hector are litter trained I thought I would write one!

Amelie and Hector were 3 months old when they came to us, and it only took the first week for them to know that they weren't allowed to wee outside of their cage. This went surprisingly quickly, and I think it's because I made a massive fuss every time they wee'd outside of the cage (for example when Amelie wee'd on me!) it helped them understand it's not allowed. It's also very helpful to soak up the urine with a tissue and put it in their toilet so they know that's where there are allowed to go - or if you catch them in the act pick them up and put them in the toilet!

The real problem I had was litter training them to go in their toilet inside their cage. For the cage I bought a "nagerteppich" which is basically a natural carpet that's comfy and keeps them warm. On top of that I put a layer of straw - and in one corner a toilet with wood shavings. I also read five hundred times that rabbits pick a corner and always wee there - but my bunnies didn't! Amelie and Hector wee'd everywhere in their cage. The entire cage was their toilet for them (apart from one corner). I was cleaning the cage about three or four times a week and wasting so much money on the carpet that costs 10 euros each time!

I finally managed to litter train them and it was so simple. I thought that as they know they aren't allowed to wee on the carpet outside the cage, what would happen if I took away the natural carpet and all the straw and just cover the floor with a towel in the cage? I cleaned the cage and put a layer of newspaper underneath the towel just in case they did wee but amazingly enough, they understood they weren't allowed to wee there! My little bunnies only wee in their toilet now and I'm so proud! I can't believe all I had to do was get rid of the straw and the expensive carpet to fix the problem.

Here's the toilet they have (ignore the kitchen roll - I usually use wood shavings but at the moment can't because Hectors still healing from being neutered).

So in bullet points here are my tips:
  • Make a fuss if they don't use their toilet - this just means raising your voice and saying your bunny's name for example: "Amelie no!". When Amelie wee'd on me I sulked like a little child and left the room straight away - she never wee'd on me after that!
  • Pick them up and put them in their toilet if you see them weeing somewhere else.
  • If they can't pick a corner, try different set ups in your cage until they understand!
  • Only use newspaper if your bunnies don't eat/chew it - too much newspaper and the ink can be harmful for your bunny. If your bunny is light coloured it will also stain their paws grey, however using newspaper underneath a towel or something else is okay so long as they don't dig it all up.
  • Put your hay rack near the toilet - your bunnies will then spend a lot of time in there and it will encourage them to go to the toilet in the right place - for a while I even put their food bowl in there too!
  • Neutering and spaying your bunny apparently helps litter training hugely, so if you have no success at all then that's always a good option. It can also help stop your bunny from leaving droppings everywhere! Amelie and Hector also leave droppings outside their cage, although I don't have a problem with this as they're dry anyway.
  • Don't be too hard on baby bunnies - usually they can't hold their bladder long enough to find the toilet! Give them some time. Amelie and Hector also occasionally miss the toilet and go right next to it, but at least they tried!
Those are my tips and hopefully it helps you as much as it did for me! If you have any unanswered questions then just leave me a comment :)

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