This content is not yet available over encrypted connections.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Pet rabbits can be trained to use the litter box, but they need special consideration

"Rabbits can be taught to use a litter box?"

Those not familiar with bunnies often respond with that question if the topic of these cute, furry creatures enters a conversation that I'm engaged in. Many people that I meet think of dogs and cats when they envision what I do in my day-to-day, and they're surprised to learn that I'm a caregiver for other species, like rabbits and exotic birds.

Bunnies are a popular pet with families with school-age children, and they're actually a lot of fun and easy to care for, so long as they are given the diligence and attention that they need.

People are generally intrigued when they think of a rabbit having the capacity to go to a litter box to do their business. After all, when a lot of us envision a rabbit, we think of those brown-flecked, skittish creatures that we see in our backyards early in the morning.

But in using our long-eared friends' wild instincts when it comes to elimination, training them to have indoor manners is easy. In the wild, rabbits prefer to set aside specific areas — referred to as scrapes — to do their business in. It might be a scraped out area in the ground, and often, more than one rabbit might use it.

Location, location, location

By applying this concept, and answering the question, 'Where do they like to go?', litter training pet rabbits is made easier. It makes sense to place the litter box (preferably one that's triangular in shape and with high sides; these fit easily into corners to maximize space and mitigate the incidence of eliminating over the side of the litter box) where the animal has a tendency to eliminate, and then keep it there.

Some bunnies have a penchant for moving their litter box around, so choosing a litter box that has hooks that can be clipped to the side of the enclosure might be a wise consideration. Clamps can also be used for the purpose of anchoring the litter box securely.

Unique habits

Rabbits, unlike most of their feline counterparts, do not bury their waste. They leave their stool pellets lying on top of the litter, while the urine just soaks to the bottom of the box. Bunnies also like to hang out inside their litter boxes, which is normal, but they are fond of snacking on their litter, so choosing the right type is important.

Litter, litter everywhere

There are more choices when it comes litter box filler these days, but sticking with those derived from recycled paper products, or components like aspen bark, compressed sawdust or things like straw, alfalfa, or hay are safe choices. You can even use pelleted food. Steer clear of litter types (usually clay) that clump, those with deodorizers, or are comprised of pine or cedar.

Inappropriate elimination

Rabbits, like any other animal, thrive on consistency in their day-to-day life. There are instances that can disrupt your furry friend's litter box habits, like an injury or illness, a change in the family dynamic (like the arrival or passing of a human family member or another pet) or even construction noise in the house.

Should your bunny start exhibiting a change in their good habits, you might consider moving their enclosure to a quiet, private area of the house (or if you're one of those folks who allow their pet to roam freely, confine them to a small area in the house) for a brief period. This will allow them time and space to settle down and regroup. It seems prudent to mention that scheduling an exam with their vet to rule out any health or pain-related issue, such as dentition, is in order as well.

The change in good habits could be because your pet had developed an aversion to the box altogether. A new box, along with a different type of litter, can prove helpful in getting back on track.

For more rabbit care tips, click here.

Lorrie Shaw is a freelance writer and owner of Professional Pet Sitting. Shoot her an email, contact her at 734-904-7279 or follow her adventures on Twitter.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks for your comment!