How To Potty Train a Bunny
By Traci Frees, Founder of BunnyNature.org
For over eight years, since we brought home our first bunny – Ms. Bunny, we have been trying to figure out what bunnies want! We did discover that they have a long list of demands, and one such requirement is that their living area be kept clean and tidy. We found that bunnies tend to relieve themselves in one area of their habitat, and if they have a specific litter box or “bunny potty” they will jump in their potty and both urinate and make pellets.
Lessons Learned in Bunny Potty Training
- Bunnies do not like their feet to be nasty, so it is imperative a bunny has a potty.
- Use a shelf and wrapped in chicken wire (for bigger bunnies), a cooling rack you can get for a few bucks that fit into a plastic bin, or bend chicken wire to fashion a shelf for the potty stand (or toilet seat if you will).
- Fit the potty stand in a plastic bin and place kitty litter or other odor absorbing material in the bin to keep smells down and bunnies clean and happy.
- Ensure the stand has holes large enough for pellets to drop through.Place hay in in the potty will encourage eating and pooping.
- Catch near misses by using a potty with sides that are least an inch higher than the bunny.
- Expect a chin mark. If your bunny loves its potty, you’ll often notice a chin mark on the corner as if to say, “Yeah, that’s my potty.”
The Quest for the Perfect Bunny Potty
Over the years, we tried to build a better bunny potty. We used sand, wood chips, rocks (for a trickling down effect), but each time our bunnies looked at us in disgust. Then, finally, we got it! We needed to separate the bunny from its waste using a bottom with holes and catch the waste in a bin which was filled with kitty litter. This kept the bunny’s feet unsoiled and the smell to a minimum. At last, everyone rejoiced for we had figured out the potty conundrum! Everyone in our bunny kingdom was overjoyed, for our bunnies were finally appeased…for the moment.
We have attempted several variations of the perfect bunny potty. In one of the early houses we made for our bunnies (shown below) we began to decipher the answer to the question, “What do bunnies want?” Bunnies are prey and do not have a strong odor to their bodies, thus they do not like living in filth and want to be clean.
To train our bunnies, we kept picking up random pellets and wiping up any urine stains on the floor until the only place they would go was in their potty. We did not have to keep wood chips or other paper pellets down on the ground, for the bunnies learned to use their potty. They even got to have a soft blanket upstairs for their bed, which stayed clean. Ms. Bunny was already trained and when we adopted Toops (the little brown one) to use the potty he would jump in, eat some hay, make pellets and urinate, and then run around their house. It was a very clean and refreshing way to live. Of course he would drop the random pellet as a young bunny, but we would just keep putting these in the potty until he learned. Each evening, we would open the door and let them run around the porch for a few hours to get some exercise and they’d always go back in their house to use their potty.
How to Train
Observe where your bunny typically urinates or drops pellets in his/her living area. If there is not one specific place then choose a nice safe corner to place the potty. Clean up all the other wood chips or debris from the floor. Place hay in or near the potty so your bunny can get to it while standing in the potty. If you notice pellets around the potty or in other areas of the living area, pick them up and put them in the potty. Quickly clean up any urine that is outside the potty. This is where the training comes in – fast and consistent pellet and urine clean up! In a few weeks or even days your bunny will get the idea. Empty the potty and refresh the kitty litter or other absorbent materials you are using in the bottom of the potty every few days.
When it is time for the bunnies to go outside and enjoy the sunshine in their garden, sometimes I put their potty outside with them. I’ve noticed that they will actually jump in to relieve themselves or drop a few pellets. Below is a picture of Cassey enjoying some hay while using the potty.
When we bring the bunnies in the house to hang out with us, we always have their potty in a safe corner. When they need a bathroom break, they jump right in, do their business, and then resume play and exploration.
Considerations for Baby Bunnies
Baby bunnies typically cannot control when or where their pellets come out, but as they grow up they will limit their bathroom breaks to their potty – especially if fresh hay is kept to one side or in a hay trough of some sort for them to eat and make pellets. You may notice several piles of pellets and urine in the potty which is great, but also a lot of pellets or urine puddles outside the potty. Don’t give up, just stay with it! Keep the living area cleaned up and all waste inside the potty and they will quickly learn. As the little bunnies grow up, they will be able to control when and where they drop their pellets. In this picture, you’ll notice The Little’s first potty on the right. They were too small to jump over sides, so we had to make it flat. They were so light we just bent some chicken wire into a stand and placed it in a glass cake plate we found at a thrift store. We let them exercise on the porch and run around most of the time, but they would sleep in their little house. This also helped them learn where their potty was.
A Potty Trained Bunny is a Happy Bunny!
When potty training a bunny, be very patient, avoid scolding, and work with your bunny. You will both be glad of this new skill once all the training is complete, for a potty trained bunny is a happy bunny!