November 28, 2023 | Small Pet

Tips for Litter Training Rabbits and Guinea Pigs

How to Litter Train A Rabbit 

How do you litter train a rabbit?

Rabbits are generally quite easy to litter-train, although occasional accidents may occur. The quickest way to house-train your rabbits is to start off with a litter tray in a smaller area (put some hay next to the litter tray). Use a large litter tray, with one low side.

Video: How To Litter Train A Rabbit

The PDSA has put together a helpful video to describe exactly how to litter train a rabbit. You can watch this below:

Where to place the litter tray?

Place the tray where they have chosen to “go”, and put some of their droppings and urine in the tray so that it smells right and will encourage them to go in there. 

Keep them confined to this area and gradually increase the time and space they are allowed to access only once they are reliably using their tray.

Neutered rabbits are easier to litter train. Entire males can actually spray. It is best to neuter both sexes as early as possible, ideally by 6 months of age, so that any hormonal or territorial behaviour has not become ‘learned’ and will be reduced by neutering. Rabbits can be litter-trained at any age, but it’s usually easier if they are neutered. This is because neutered rabbits are less tempted to urine-mark.

Make sure you use non-clumping bedding, do not use anything clay-based, or made from pine. You could also use newspaper with hay on top. Make sure the tray is kept clean and there is hay to eat while they are in there, but do not bleach it clean or you will remove the smell and they will be less keen to use it.

Can you use cat litter for rabbits? 

Ideally not, cat litter is often clumping or clay-based, which can block a rabbit’s gut if eaten. Paper-based or alfalfa, or straw or hay is recommended 

Can you use bedding as litter for rabbits?

Yes, shredded paper, hay, soft straw, compressed wood chips (non-clumping) or newspaper pellets can be used as litter. Avoid wood shavings as these can cause respiratory problems  

How should you introduce your rabbit’s litter tray?

  1. At first, you can use barriers to temporarily reduce your rabbits’ living space, so that it limits the areas where they can toilet and makes training easier.

  2. Work out where they already like to go to the toilet. This is usually in a corner. Put a litter tray in this space with a small amount of your chosen litter material.

  3. Add some of your rabbits’ faeces and urine-soaked bedding to the litter tray to show them it’s a toilet.

  4. Put fresh hay in or near the tray, as rabbits like to eat and poop at the same time! You can also give your rabbits a treat when they are in the tray.

  5. Your rabbits might take some time to learn new habits. Clean up any accidents with a pet urine cleaner. 

  6. Once your rabbits are using their litter tray consistently, you can remove the barriers to open up their living space again.

How to Litter Train A Guinea Pig

How do you litter-train a guinea pig?

Set up an easy-to-access litter box where your guinea pig is usually eliminated. Encourage your guinea pig to use the box. Make sure to choose the safe material for the box. Clumping cat litter is not safe for a guinea pig. 

Most guinea pigs have a certain area of their cage where they eliminate. If you set up a guinea pig's litter box in this space, it's more likely to use the box.

  • Make sure the sides are low enough. The guinea pig should be able to climb in and out of the box with ease.

  • Make sure the box you choose is large enough that the guinea pig can fit its entire body in the box.

Some guinea pigs have more than one corner which they eliminate. If this is the case, they are less likely to start using a single litter box. If your guinea pig eliminates in more than one corner, set up a box in each corner the guinea pig tends to use

Some people advocate leaving food in the box. The guinea pig will eat and then toilet. This method is only likely to work if you've seen your guinea pig defecate or urinate near its litter box before. Many guinea pigs will not toilet near a food source to avoid contamination

If your guinea pig starts using its box, change the litter regularly. Try to change it about every three days. A guinea pig will not toilet in a dirty litter box.

  • Only wash the box every other week. You want some of the scent to remain intact so the guinea pig knows to use its litter box.

Not all guinea pigs take to a litter box. As guinea pigs are less domesticated than other household pets, they're difficult to train. Despite your best efforts, a guinea pig may never learn to use its litter box. 

Further reading

Indoor Housing | Rabbit Welfare Association & Fund (RWAF)

How To Litter Train A Rabbit - PDSA

Guinea Pig Awareness Week

Creating a Good Home for Guinea Pigs | RSPCA

Medically reviewed by:

Miss Joy Sarah Helen Howell

DipAVN(Surgical) RVN EA SQP