Thinking of opening your home to a rabbit, but visions of urine-soaked, feces-strewn carpet and floors make you more than a bit hesitant? Not to worry! You don’t have to invest in a carpet steam cleaner or be a slave to rolling out layer upon layer of newspaper every hour. Just like cats, rabbits can be trained to use a litter box. A more appropriate phrase might be “encouraged to use a litter box,” because rabbits seem quite inclined to hopping in a litter box and using it. Basic rules must be followed, however, to ensure success. Here are four common mistakes new rabbit owners make and how to fix them.
1. A Room Full Of Surprises
You introduce your male rabbit to an unfamiliar room, like your spare bedroom. At first, he sniffs around and checks things out. He hops from one corner to the next and back again. He retraces routes until they are memorized, and he knows every escape path if a perceived threat appears. (Rabbits are prey animals, so this need to know every nook and cranny is instinctual.)
Once everything has checked out as “clear,” your rabbit begins to relax, he stops to lick his paws and clean his cheeks. You lay down a couple sheets of newspaper, place a litter box in the middle of it, and leave the room to cook dinner and make some phone calls. You return an hour later, open the door and unconsciously drop the cilantro treat you are holding as you think to yourself, “What happened here?”
Are all of those dark balls dotting your floor what you think they are? You can barely find a place to step without squishing one. And that wet spot? Is it urine?! Unfortunately, it is; ditto for the little beads of liquid rolling down your wall to the baseboard.
What went wrong? From the look of things, you gave an unneutered, male rabbit free-range to mark his territory. **For the full article, pick up the 2008 issue of Rabbits USA or click here to buy the issue.**