Domestic rabbits are especially cute animals, but they are also very intelligent , able to easily learn the basic hygiene routine. However, when people adopt these animals and observe that the rabbit pees out of the litter tray or that the rabbit shits everywhere except on the corner, they wonder how to educate a rabbit to relieve itself.
In this article from Animal Expert we will show you step by step how to teach a rabbit where to make its needs , with simple guidelines to apply and always using positive reinforcement , the basis of correct learning that takes welfare into account.
You may also be interested: How to teach a puppy to relieve itself on the street?
How to choose a corner for rabbits?
Before explaining how to teach a rabbit to use the corner, it will be essential to make a preliminary review of the different types of corners and substrates that exist, since this may influence whether our rabbit uses it or not.
Rabbit litter tray
The corner (also called a litter tray, litter tray, corner or corner) is a triangular shaped structure , usually made of plastic, which may or may not include a grid. We recommend removing the grid , as it can eventually cause malposition, pain, wounds, sores and even infections on the rabbit’s soft pads.
There are many other models on the market, some of them with a closed lid and others with walls on both sides, however, we must guarantee that our rabbit can see everything that happens around them, as we remember that these animals are hunted in their state Wild and constantly alert, even in the bathroom.
Since it takes up very little space, it is advisable to distribute several trays around the home , thus minimizing possible rabbit accidents. They must be cleaned frequently, since once they start to use they fill up quickly. It is also highly recommended to put hay on the litter tray, as in addition to encouraging them to get close, many rabbits like to eat hay while using it. However, it is common for the hay in the corner to spoil quickly, because the rabbit urinates and defecates on top of it. Therefore, we currently find sandboxes with a specific rack for hay.
If it is not possible to acquire a rabbit corner, do not worry, you can use a cat litter box , always taking into account the following tips:
- It should be as big as possible. Avoid trays that are less than 35 x 20 x 25 cm.
- Make sure it is not very high, as the rabbit must be able to access it easily.
Substrate or bedding for rabbits
To finish we will review the different types of substrates that we can find in the market. The most common are those made from vegetable fibers, recycled paper or hemp , but there are many more. We must test until we find the one that most pleases our rabbit.
The most important thing is that it is a natural and fresh substrate , that does not leave dust and that is specific for rabbits. In no case will we use cat litter. It must also be of a safe material, that the rabbit can ingest without causing health problems, as we remember that they are very curious animals and tend to nibble on everything. Likewise, it must be absorbent, easy to clean and, if possible, must retain the odor well.
How to teach a rabbit to relieve itself on a site?
Now that you know the types of corner pieces that exist and the substrates to use, it is time to explain how to educate a rabbit to relieve itself. Remember that throughout this process you must be very patient and use positive reinforcement . In no case will we punish, scold or yell at the rabbit.
1. Place the rabbit’s corner
To avoid excreta and urine in the home, many people prefer to start learning in the rabbit cage , although you can also start in a limited area of the house . Remember that these animals require a lot of space, so we must offer them a spacious and comfortable environment, which will help us prevent the appearance of stress in the rabbit .
We will place the sanitary tray in the corner of the cage or the rabbit’s space, following the tips and tricks we have mentioned in the previous section, such as hay placement to stimulate him. It is also interesting to place a single type of substrate on the corner, to avoid possible confusion.
Do not forget that the rabbits do not always control their sphincters well, therefore, you must be very patient and empathetic, understanding that your rabbit does not urinate and defecate throughout the cage wanting, but because he does not know how to do it correctly. In fact, the tips are very clean animals.
2. Minimize accidents
After placing the corner, we will spend time observing our rabbit. When we see that he lifts his tail (a characteristic gesture that they carry out before urinating and defecating), we can catch him and quickly take him to his corner, to urinate or defecate there.
But if he eliminates out of his area, do not despair, take a toilet paper, soak the urine and collect the feces, which you will place in the corner . The scent will guide your rabbit to return there to make its stools.
They usually choose the same place to do their needs, so if you have several cornerbacks do not hesitate to distribute the faeces and the papers with urine on all of them, which should have the same shape, so it will be easier to associate for him.
It will also be essential to clean the areas where you make your needs with enzymatic products , in this way we will eliminate the trace and prevent it from doing it again in the same place.
There is another trick that we can use when teaching a rabbit to use the corner, which is to leave a little of the old substrate when we renew it for the new one. In this way we will also leave present in the litter box the smell of your urine and droppings.
3. Use positive reinforcement
As we follow these steps, the rabbit will correctly associate the corner with the place where it must relieve itself, but we can further enhance it by using positive reinforcement. How can we do it? We can use tasty treats, such as some of the recommended fruits and vegetables for rabbits , but it is also useful to use the voice, a “very good” or soft caresses.
In no case will we use punishment with our rabbit, as this will only cause fear, uncertainty and a break in the bond with the caretaker.
To finish, it is worth noting that castration is a very useful tool, both in males and in females, because after the arrival of heat, it is very likely that our rabbit marks throughout the home, spraying different areas with urine .