The 3 P's of potty box
training your rabbits -
Using potty boxes inside the cage
by Jana Roquet, MT
All rabbits can be completely housebroken. Because they have an immaculate sense of personal hygiene, they am more trainable than you could possibly imagine. The rabbit is a creature of habit and it is common knowledge that they urinate and defecate as far away from their food as possible. I use what I call the Three P's of potty box training. The three P's are patience, perseverance & praise.
The older rabbits are a lot easier to potty box train, but I still insist on training directly from the nest box. Patience is very important in almost anything we do with these extremely sensitive animals. Potty box training your rabbit is no different than training a cat to use a litter box. Even if you are fed up or your rabbit refuses to become potty trained you must persevere (never give up). Never show your rabbit your defeat. If you give up they will give up. When your rabbit does use the potty box, give them a verbal reward like "good boy/girl______," and rub them behind the ears. Repetitive praise when your rabbit uses the potty box will establish a permanent image that this is correct. Everyone likes to know they did something right. A small amount of praise goes a long way.
You will find that with potty box trained animals your cleaning chores will be easier, less time consuming and less expensive. The first step in potty box training your rabbit is to identify the area used as the bathroom. This is normally the left or right back corner of the cage. Once you have identified the bathroom, place the appropriate size potty box with just enough environmentally friendly litter material to cover the bottom of the box in that area of the cage. I usually place some of the rabbit's fecal matter in the potty box to help stimulate their natural sense of curiosity.
I have found that the small cat litter pans work the best for my Holland lops and Netherland dwarf rabbits. These can be purchased in a variety of colors at any Target or Wal-mart store for $1.49 to $2.00. The litter material I use is called "Critter Country". I have found that the pelleted plant fibers have excellent absorption capabilities and odor control. Critter Country is biodegradable & decomposes into rich humus when composted. It's a clean, dust free litter that is free of mites and other insect contamination.
The potty box not only provides a receptacle for the rabbit's fecal matter, but also provides hours of entertainment and exercise. Several of my rabbits spend hours jumping in and out of their potty boxes. This form of aerobic exercise not only builds excellent muscle tone, but also enhances their lung development.
Those rabbits with better lung development are less susceptible to colds and respiratory infections. Because I start potty box training directly from the nest box, my rabbits have fewer colds & respiratory infections. I have always believed that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. By naturally building your rabbits immune system, you and your rabbit will save in the long run.
Since I started using the potty boxes the time I spend cleaning has been cut in half. during the winter, I clean the boxes once a week on Saturdays, but during the hot summer months I need to clean them twice a week. The newspapers that I line the trays underneath the cages with are changed on Saturday as well. The pee-pee pads that are beneath the newspapers are changed once a month, or as needed. Several of my rabbits will push their potty boxes to the door of their cage when they want it cleaned. This demonstrates their constant need for good personal hygiene.
Remember the 3 P's of potty box training and you'll be on your way to a happy, healthy, and never bored rabbitry. If you ever have any questions or just need extra encouragement, feel free to write or call me at: 48 Queen St, Moorhead, MN 56560 phone: (218) 236-6817
The Hollander / Fall Issue - October 1998