Litter Box Set-Up for Rabbits – What are the Choices?

There are many different kinds of litter boxes and bedding options out there that are suitable for rabbits, but (as with everything else that goes on in our households) our rabbit will ultimately decide which one is best. Here is a list of the most common ones out there and their pros and cons. If you are using a different litter box or bedding and swear by it, we’d love to hear about it in the comments!


LITTER BOXES

Corner Litter BoxCorner Litter Box/Corner Litter Pan
This type of litter box was designed to take up as little space as possible. It fits well into any housing situation and the high back is beneficial for rabbits that like to push their bottoms into a corner while doing their business – urine will most likely go where it’s supposed to. While being space efficient can be a plus, in this case it’s also a drawback. Most of the time, one rabbits fits into the litter box and nothing else. No hay, no second rabbit (if you have one). Our Bunny likes to eat hay while sitting in his box, so the corner toilet was never a good option for us. These litter boxes also tend to be full quickly, so they have to be cleaned more often than others.


High SidesLitter Box/Litter Pan 

There are many variations of this kind of litter box – even igloos. The basic version is just a plain rectangular plastic pan with short side walls. They are incredibly cheap, easy to clean, and a favorite for many rabbits, because they can do their business and still see everything that is going on around them. There is plenty of space for hay and since they vary in size, can easily accommodate more than one rabbit. The drawback is that every time the rabbit hops out, it’s almost unavoidable that some poop and litter gets flicked out accidentally, so the area around these litter boxes often has to be cleaned frequently.

In order to avoid that, you can pick a litter box with side walls or a closed top. The rabbit needs to hop out more carefully and a lot of the litter that gets flicked around still stays inside the box. Only now the rabbit cannot easily see what is going on in the room and they may feel trapped. Since rabbits are prey animals, they like to be aware of their surroundings at all times or have at least 2 exits in whatever cave-like structure they are hiding. Most of these litter boxes were made with a cat in mind, so they often only have one exit. A rabbit may not want to use these litter boxes (but it depends on their personality). Also, depending on the rabbit, hay placed on one side of the litter box might get soiled easily.

Hay RackLitter Box with Hay Rack
As mentioned before, most rabbits like to eat hay while doing their business. Placing the hay directly inside the litter box often results in spoiled hay, though, because the rabbit might pee on it (by accident or on purpose). Many higher end litter boxes for rabbits come with a hay rack attached. They work well, because the hay is within reach, but doesn’t come in contact of the rabbit’s urine and poop. The rabbit can munch as much as they like and none of their litter box space gets taken up by food. The only drawbacks are that these boxes are often made of unfinished wood. If urine gets on it by accident, there’s not much you can do except replace it, which can be costly. Also, since the walls are low, litter might get flicked around when the rabbit hops out. A great solution to this would be to pick one of the plastic litter boxes and place them in front of a hay rack or other hay dispenser.

Feet on WireLitter Box/Cage with Wire Floor
Unfortunately, there are still litter boxes and cages with wire floors out there. The benefit if these is that they are easy to clean and require very little effort on the human’s part. The rabbit sits on the wire and urine and feces fall down into a tray. The human can now pull the tray out and clean it; the rabbit doesn’t have to sit in it.

WireThe reason why such a set-up is not acceptable at all (apart from the fact that such a cage is way too small), is that it hurts the rabbit’s feet and can cause sores and infections. These floors are also completely uncomfortable and encourage the rabbit to sit and lie in unnatural positions to relieve the pressure.

Image found here.

Image found here.

Litter Box with Screen or Plastic Grate
Some litter boxes come with smooth plastic grates similar to the ones found in the kitchen. You can also purchase screens that can be placed inside the plastic litter boxes mentioned above. They don’t irritate the paws and reduce the amount of litter waste. Urine flows through the grate and gets absorbed by the bedding, poop stays on top to be easily discarded or collected as fertilizer. Rabbits that love to dig in their litter boxes or eat their bedding are prevented from doing so. The drawbacks are that poop might still get flung around when the rabbit hops out. We have never tried these litter boxes before, but heard that urine may clog up the grate after a while and cleaning it becomes way more laborious than regular cleaning would have been. It’s a good idea to get one of these with the grate going all the way to the sides so urine can’t pool up in the corners.

Senior Options

Check DisabledRabbits.com for more information.

Litter Boxes for Senior or Disabled Rabbits
All of the previously mentioned litter box options assume that the rabbit can jump over the sides easily. That is not always the case. Senior or disabled rabbits might need a litter box that can be entered without having to jump. Unfortunately, the options are limited. Even a search for “senior” or “geriatric” litter boxes for rabbits/cats won’t bring much of a result. There are trays meant for potting or protecting surfaces that will do the trick, though! Our Bailey has issues with her hind legs and required a special litter box. We chose the potting tray by Argee and it works well.


LITTER/BEDDING

Pine/Cedar/Aspen Shavings
Both pine and cedar are not recommended as suitable bedding, because they are connected with respiratory issues and liver damage in small animals. Unfortunately, they are still widely available, though. Aspen shavings are okay to use. The benefits of all three is that they are cheap, available in almost any grocery store, and absorbent. The disadvantages are that the shavings do very little to control the odor of urine and often stick to the rabbit’s fur only to be tracked all over the house. They quickly turn into a wet mess and need to be replaced often.

Paper-Based Bedding
Carefresh is the most known brand of bedding made from “all natural cellulose fibers”. It’s generally brown, but comes in other colors as well. It’s very absorbent, safe for small animals, controls odor well, and doesn’t stick to fur. Unfortunately, it is also rather expensive and only available in pet stores. There are cheaper knock-off brands available, for example Critter Care Natural at Walmart. We also like the National Geographic brand. Carefresh has recently changed their formula to include baking soda, which can be harmful to rabbits and smells bad, too. Hopefully, they will re-think their decision in the future.

Newspaper/Shredded Paper
Using newspaper or shredded paper in a rabbit’s litter box is a cheap option that works well for some people. If the rabbit eats the paper, blockage can occur which can be fatal and/or expensive to treat. Paper doesn’t control odors well and needs to be replaced frequently.

Yesterday’s News/Paper Pellets
Yesterday’s News is an all “natural, non-toxic, virtually dust-free, and highly absorbent, so they make great bedding material” for rabbits. The good thing is, it’s available in most grocery stores in the cat section. It can also be composted. We have not used this product before, but heard that it doesn’t control odors as well as Carefresh and that it can be difficult to scoop out only the soiled parts.

Wood Stove Pellets
Hardwood Stove Pellets that do not contain chemicals (such as accelerants that speed up the process of lighting them) are a safe option for rabbits. They are cheap, available in home improvement stores and grocery stores (especially during the winter months), and absorb odors and fluids well.

Cat Litter/Clumping Litter
Cat Litter is not recommended for rabbits. If ingested, it clumps up inside the digestive system and can be fatal. Also, it smells terrible anyway (but maybe that’s just our personal opinion).

Corn Cob Litter
While corn cob litter absorbs urine well enough, it is small, lightweight, and will be tracked all over the house. Having small, hard pieces of corn everywhere has turned us against it pretty much immediately. Also, some vets recommend not to use this kind of litter, because it may cause blockage when ingested.

Clay Litter
Clay litter is not recommended for rabbits. It’s very dusty and can cause respiratory issues. Ingesting it could also be fatal.


We hope this article helps you make a good selection for you and your rabbit. And if you were wondering what we use, here you go. The first picture shows our old set-up when we only had Bunny. We had Critter Care bedding (without baking soda) and added Timothy hay to one side of the litter box. Bunny only peed/pooped in the one spot and we added a handful of bedding to that spot once or twice a day, so he didn’t have to sit in it. We cleaned the box every 5-6 days completely. The second picture shows our current set-up. Bailey can’t jump, so we now have a potting tray. An old baby gate serves as a temporary holder for the hay rack, but once we move again there will be a more permanent solution. The tray is lined with a washable pee pad to prevent the bunnies from slipping. We used to add Critter Care on top, but since they changed their formula we have switched to plain National Geographic litter. The tray is big enough for both bunnies at once, which is nice.

Bunny Litter Box

Litter Box Potting Tray

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Author: Bunny Approved

28 Comments

  1. Holly Golightly
    Holly Golightly On February 21, 2014 at 6:23 pm

    Holly has a paralyzed right front leg and has a hard time jumping over the high edge of most liter boxes so I started using the bottom of dishdrying pan and puppy training pads. It is messier but she can manage it!

    • Bunny Approved
      Bunny Approved On February 22, 2014 at 5:53 pm

      That’s a great point, we should add a few options for disabled or older rabbits! Thanks for sharing!

      • ray
        ray On June 19, 2015 at 6:20 pm

        Hi, Its Ray. My 2 female bunnies are unspayed so they can have babies but its impossible to litter train them how do you litter train a bunny? Any tips?

  2. Savannah
    Savannah On February 21, 2014 at 11:16 pm

    Great ideas here. For your personal choice, how do you keep the Timothy hay and Critter Care separated? Is there some type of plastic partition? I think this would work for my bun, except she might try to pull her hay into the litter side of the box. As of now, I use a cheap square plastic litter pan that has rounded edges. She backs her bottom up over the corner and urine leaks out and underneath it. The corner ones are too small for her and she also likes to eat hay while doing her business. I use recycled paper pellets from my pet store. Thanks for your reply!

    • Bunny Approved
      Bunny Approved On February 22, 2014 at 5:52 pm

      Thanks! Our Bunny doesn’t dig and always sits in the exact same spot. He doesn’t move the hay around, so we are lucky. You could try hanging a hay rack right in front of the litter box, so it stays clean, but she can still reach it. Yeah, that is a common problem, rabbits like to put their bottoms against the sides. They make really cheap ones with slightly raised sides, that should help!

  3. Stacy
    Stacy On February 23, 2014 at 1:03 pm

    Oxbow came out with a fabulous product called Eco Straw litter. It is hay based and in pellet form. Absorbs beautifully and does an ok job of controlling odor. It is much safer if your bun likes to eat litter as well. We love it!

  4. Char
    Char On April 7, 2014 at 12:10 am

    Wow I love this page! I was looking at so many of the bunny care tips you posted! I have a rabbit named bella (we are actually not sure if it is a girl or boy) and I have had her since she was 4 weeks and she will be turning 3 in July, I tried litter training her for months when she was aged 4 months – 1 year but she would always lay in her litter box (corner one) and do her business in the cage. It has been a while since I have tried training (him or her) again and I wanted to know of you had any tips. We are pretty sure it’s a boy (awkward for the name bella) and he hasn’t been neutered and he has lived in the garage his whole life but we have a space heater for the winter and fan in the summer. He has a big open running area where he plays and stuff and only goes in his cage for protection when he’s scared and to do his business but sometimes he goes on the garage floor. Any tips for starting the training again???

    • Bunny Approved
      Bunny Approved On April 8, 2014 at 1:16 pm

      Thank you! Glad you like it. We have another article about how we trained Bunny, but I have to tell you that an un-neutered male can be very difficult to litterbox train, because he will naturally want to mark his territory. For this reason and many others I’d recommend to get him neutered. If you want to try first, here is the article: http://bunnyapproved.com/training-bunny/

  5. debra
    debra On May 25, 2014 at 5:50 pm

    To Char: Bella means “beautiful” in Italian for females and the equivalent for males is Bello for “handsome”. So that would be an easy change for your bunny if you discover it’s necessary! :)

  6. […] are very clean animals that will use a litter box when trained. Unfortunately, our little Bunny was not at all litter box trained when we first got […]

  7. Kristy
    Kristy On November 12, 2014 at 10:15 am

    Hello! Our biggest problem with the litter box is that our bunny keeps chewing them up! Any suggestions for a good chew proof box? Also… our bunny tends to sit in the box all of the time. We have no bedding on the bottom of the rest of the cage because we were afraid that he would use that as litter as well. We tried some grass mats and also a small blanket, but he tends to pee on them which makes a terrible wet stinky mess in the cage. Any suggestions would be great!

    • Bunny Approved
      Bunny Approved On November 12, 2014 at 8:16 pm

      Hello Kristy! Does he chew up plastic ones, too? Does he have hay right there to eat while he’s doing his business? And do you have other chew toys for him as an alternative? And is he neutered (if not, that may be your issue right there)? I think having bedding all over the cage is a waste of money and the rabbits often don’t like it anyway. What does he like to sleep on when he’s outside? Maybe a piece of carpet (if he doesn’t chew that) with a a fleece blanket or cotton towel in a corner would work? The towel can easily be cleaned.

      • Kristy
        Kristy On December 14, 2015 at 8:25 am

        Hello Again! As I was once again trying to find a better litter box online, I stumbled on this from a year ago! Nothing has changed. The bunny still eats every litter box we have tried! Yes, he has a plastic one and other things to keep him occupied including hay as well. Any other suggestions?

  8. […] Litter Box: Rabbits are clean animals that like to use a litter box with appropriate bedding once trained. Stay away from cedar or pine shavings as litter. I know they are cheap, but they don’t control the smell, you need to clean more often, and they cause health issues. Paper-based litters are much better! Here are a few litter box set-ups. […]

  9. Terry
    Terry On January 8, 2015 at 10:09 pm

    Hi – we brought our bunny home at 7 weeks old, and amazingly she was litter trained in 1 week. We use one of the plastic corner litter pans with a high back. She would do all her business in it and also lounge in it, and everything was neat and made for really easy clean up. Now she is almost 6 months and probably going to get spayed soon, but she started doing something weird a couple weeks ago. She is pushing all the carefresh bedding to the sides and doing her business on the plastic and the mornings she would claw at the plastic nonstop and kick the bedding from the sides out. I changed her litter pan and put fresh bedding tonight and she jumped into the pan immediately and methodically used her front paws to push everything neatly to the sides leaving the middle a corner with only plastic. What the heck is going on?

    • Bunny Approved
      Bunny Approved On January 9, 2015 at 8:45 am

      Hello Terry! That is actually not uncommon behavior in females. Definitely get her spayed and for now, try newspaper or washable pee-pads on the bottom of the toilet (the EZWhelp ones on amazon are great)! That way she can dig, but there’s still something to soak up the urine. Sometimes it helps to just add a layer of straw, too. And I’d make her a digging box – a box she can hop into and dig as much as she likes. You can fill it with old newspaper or plain shipping paper. Or just place an old cotton towel and the ground and let her dig that up. Hope this helps!

  10. lauren
    lauren On January 10, 2015 at 12:23 pm

    Thank you for the info and all the comments everyone. I had bunnies as a child, they lived outside and had free range of the yard and woods during the day. Every night they would go up the 3-4 foot ramp to their pen and we would lock them up and remove ramp to keep predators away. They were awesome!!!!! Unfortunately after like 6 yrs of the same routine one chewed his way out and they got out in middle of night and were killed by something. SO its been a VERY long time since we had bunnies. My 8yr old is finally responsible enough to have an outside/inside bunny (since we live closer to the city she wont be allowed to do what mine did) so I REALLY appreciate all the information given on this blog and comments…taking notes on what we need to do for a long happy life of our new bun bun.

    • Maryann Farrell
      Maryann Farrell On April 4, 2015 at 11:58 am

      Hi, if you are going to have an indoor outdoor bunny. Please be aware of Hawks . I sometimes let my rabbit out in our three season room for the air and sunshine that comes in a part of the room. When I checked in my bunny one day, there was a huge red tail hawk sitting on my wood fence about 3 feet away trying to figure out how to get into the screen. It scared me to death. I couldn’t believe how Hawks have become so accustomed to humans and lost their fear of us. He frequents my yard until this day. If I were to let my bunnies out. He wouldn’t think twice to swoop down and grab them. Hawks learn the patterns of other animals, son please be careful of letting buns outside. Plus we have neighbors cats who frequently stop by to see what they can kill. It’s a scary place outside for defenseless bunnies. Always keep a roof over the buns, a strong wire enclosure and a place where they can hide From predators and harsh weather. I like to let my bunnies out for fresh air, but I keep a cover over the pen and sit outside and read or do some gardening near by .
      Good luck with your bunny! It’s nice to see people their doing research:).
      Have a nice day!
      Maryann

  11. lauren
    lauren On January 10, 2015 at 12:33 pm

    I have a question….We want our bun bun to be free range in our home. Her home will be upstairs in my sons room with her litter box….should I put another litter box on the first story for her? If free range they wont poop and pee on floors will they?

    • Bunny Approved
      Bunny Approved On January 10, 2015 at 9:57 pm

      Hello Lauren! Glad you like our website! Bunnies usually choose one spot where they pee and poop. So while you could try adding a second litter box, it will most likely not be used except for a stray poop here and there as a way of marking it. If your rabbit is litter box trained, it will usually only pee in the litter box. They use poop as a way of marking their territory, though, so it is likely that you will find it in other spots, especially those the rabbit wants to claim as hers. Their poops are dry, hard, and don’t smell, though, so it’s not too bad. Definitely make sure the house is bunny-proof! Some rabbits can be quite destructive with furniture, so I would adopt a spayed/neutered adult bun from a rescue if I were you. They know the rabbit’s personality and can find a good match for you. Plus, you help an abandoned bun find a good home! Did you see this article? It might help! https://bunnyapproved.com/life-with-a-free-range-rabbit/

  12. lauren
    lauren On January 12, 2015 at 1:51 pm

    Thank you so much for the article…it definitely helped out! We decided our bun bun will only be free range in the home when we can have eyes on her/him and the rest of the time she will have her hutch and a play pen in my sons room. Thank you so much again…I have been all over the website taking all sorts of notes to make sure our new bun bun is save and happy.

  13. Holly
    Holly On March 10, 2015 at 3:38 pm

    Hi! This is a great site!
    About litter, I wanted to say that another option besides wood stove pellets is horse bedding! It looks *exactly* like Feline Pine, which is what I used to use. I can get a 40# bag of “Equine Fresh” for $5.50 at our local Rural King. The Feline Pine is a 20# bag for $11!! I’d swear it is the same thing! (I’ve had up to 9 rabbits at a time due to fostering and rescues and I wish I had known about this years ago!) Another advantage is none of my “litter kicking” rabbits have liked to kick out this litter.
    P.S. Love the bunny rules!

  14. Jori
    Jori On September 12, 2015 at 3:02 pm

    Hi, my problem is a litter trained rescue bunny that has had a hind leg amputated and he uses a litter box but his hind end is always getting caked with stool. I am now bathing him weekly and have to keep him trimmed around the whole back end. Is this a common with rabbits?

    • Bunny Approved
      Bunny Approved On September 12, 2015 at 9:48 pm

      It’s a common issue and it can happen occasionally, but if it happens all the time then it’s a good idea to ask a rabbit-savvy vet about it. Most of the time a simple adjustment in the rabbit’s diet helps. The Oxbow Digestive Health cookies may help as well. In your case it’s a bit different. Your bun might not be able to clean himself properly because he can’t reach without falling over. Check out DisabledRabbits, they have a great article on limb loss and how to help your bun stay clean: http://www.disabledrabbits.com/limb-loss.html

  15. Charles
    Charles On February 26, 2016 at 11:58 am

    Hello Bunny Approved!

    Thanks for your article regarding litter training. I have never had much of an issue until two weeks ago when I began bonding my neutered 2.5 year old male with a spayed 5? year old female from the shelter. The bonding is going well – they are in a small x-pen. However, she is still living poops everywhere inside the x-pen. I have tried all manner of litter setups to no avail. I have been cleaning them up. Now, you say I should NOT clean them up? The bonding area is small and within two days it will be pretty well covered. When might this stop? My original bunny was and still is clean. The shelter claims the 5 year old has always been neat and tidy. Thanks.

    • Bunny Approved
      Bunny Approved On February 26, 2016 at 12:44 pm

      It sounds like she doesn’t leave the poops because she’s not litter trained, she leaves them because she is marking her territory! You have to think, she’s in a new environment that doesn’t feel safe or like home yet and then there’s a potential enemy right there also. You can clean it, but she’ll leave more! :) It’s difficult to say when/if this will stop. If she was a clean bun before, she might stop as soon as they are bonded and she feels she has established her territory. She may also continue to leave droppings. As long as it’s not pee, it’s usually not a sign of her not being trained and it can easily be cleaned.

  16. Emma
    Emma On March 25, 2016 at 6:43 am

    I have a mini lop rabbit who is about 1 year and 4 months old now, and she has a cage with an undercover house bit, as most rabbit cages do. So we put a blanket in there, intending for it to sleep on. But she’s grown up using it as her ‘toilet’. So this is preventing us from letting her come inside as a house-hold pet because she thinks anything that’s soft like a towel or blanket is a toilet :(
    Is there ANY way we are able to train her out of this? Or is it too late?
    Please help!

    Emma

  17. Kate
    Kate On April 17, 2016 at 10:57 pm

    I have heard all over that feline pine is safe to use for rabbit litter, but I have heard nothing about feline fresh. I use this cat litter with my rabbit and I don’t know if it’s safe or not! It uses pine pellets like feline pine but I’m not for sure if it is safe.

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