Posted: June 7, 2013, 3:45 p.m. EDT
Gina Cioli/I-5 Publishing Studio
A clean litter box increases your rabbit's health and happiness.
Keeping the litter box clean is very important to protect your bunny, as a dirty litter box increases the chance of bacterial infections, respiratory irritations, flies, mites, mold and fungal spores in the litter and bad odors. Rabbit urine is filled with calcium and strong-smelling ammonia. The longer it goes without being cleaned, the worse it is for your bunny. These are my tips for making litter-box cleaning a little easier.
1. Get on schedule. Clean the boxes at least every two to four days for a single rabbit that uses multiple boxes. If using newspaper or shredded paper, you need to clean daily.
2. Keep spare litter boxes. You can get the spare ready, place it in the pen/cage, and then take the old out for cleaning. This way your rabbit doesn’t go without a box for any period and you have time to soak the box to clean it properly on your schedule. If you don’t have time to clean the box right away, simply dump the contents and set aside to clean when you have more time.
3. Go green. If using paper litter products or organic products (such as straw or dry grass pellets), you can use the soiled litter as compost. Either toss used litter into your green waste recycling bin, your own composter or your garden.
4. Check for cracks. A cracked litter box, or a box with a broken side, can scratch and injure your bunny. Inspect plastic before using it. Some rabbits chew on the sides of the box. If your rabbit does this, make sure he does not ingest the plastic or make sharp edges on the box. If your bunny chews on the box too much, use something else as a litter box, such as lids from cardboard filing boxes, and change them daily. You can also use old cake pans.
5. Use jet spray. After emptying the litter box, spray the box down with the jet spray option on your water hose. This will more easily remove loose materials from the box than bending over and scrubbing with a sponge each time. While you may need to scrub on occasion, the jet spray and a cleaning agent will prevent that most of the time.
6. Use white vinegar. After the spray down, soak the box with vinegar and water. Vinegar reacts with the calcium in the urine and helps remove the calcium buildup on the box. It also kills many bacteria and is completely safe if your rabbit comes into contact with it. The longer you let it soak, the cleaner the box and the less you need to scrub. For a more thorough cleaning, soak it for a day. For a basic clean, soak for 15 minutes to a couple of hours, depending on your schedule and your bunny’s needs.
7. Sun dry. If you can, dry the box in the sun. This helps to kill more bacteria. This also allows you to sweep the floor or spend time with your bunny while the sun does the hard work. If the sun isn’t available, air dry or dry with a towel and set the box aside for the next time your bunny needs a fresh litter box.
8. Bleach. On occasion, as directed by your veterinarian when your bunny has mites or other illnesses, you may need to bleach the litter box. Do this with 1 part water to 6 parts bleach and soak for 15 to 30 minutes. Be sure to rinse and dry the litter box thoroughly so your rabbit does not come into contact with any bleach residue.
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