Baby bunnies and litter training

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olnem

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Hi all
I have recently added two baby double maned mini lion lops to our family. They are brother and sister and we have named them Crystal and Sandy. We have had them since 8 weeks old and they are now 4months old. I have been trying to litter train them but finding it very difficult. To make it more difficult we have only one cage and had to start leaving Sandy out on his own at night as he is getting to full on with Crystal and will need neutering this month. Sandy is able to use the litter tray at night but crystal isn't as she stays in the cage.

I have two concerns really:
1. How do I litter train both successfully (given that sandy will need to stay in the cage once he has been neutered)
2. I am worried about the surgery as have heard / read a couple stories that have gone wrong. How do I stop him nibbling / licking his wound and should he have a nappy on while he heals?
 

Aki

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Hello,

- for the litter training, it's near to impossible with adolescent rabbits when they are not neutered. If your buck isn't spraying urine up your walls and furniture, you're lucky enough already ^^. It will be easier after the surgery. Put a litter tray in the cage too, under or against the hay rack. If you can't, it means your cage is a lot too small.

- Every surgery can end up badly, but neutering is a very safe procedure. If you pick a competent vet (check that he neuters rabbits often enough), the only real risk is a heart failure caused by a heart problem your rabbit already has. With a male, the post op is real easy. The two male rabbits I've had were eating and jumping around 2 hours after coming home and didn't really try to touch the wound or anything. Still, ask the vet for Metacam and give it during a few days after the surgery to avoid any pain.

- Don't put your rabbits together ever before at least a week after the neutering. Your doe is a lot too young to be a mother and if she got pregnant, it could kill her. Also, the brother and sister thing ^^.

- I don't know if you plan to do it or not, but you should really think about spaying your doe. A lot of people will only neuter the buck because it's a bit cheaper and bucks tend to be unbearable when not neutered, but as long as your doe isn't spayed the buck may try to mount her which she may not take too kindly (as in, she could try to gut him and succeed). Also, intact does seldom make it past 4 years old because of ovarian/ uterus cancers, mastitis, the stress of phantom pregnancies... It is very much advised to have her spayed when she'll be around 7-8 months.
 
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... Also, intact does seldom make it past 4 years old because of ovarian/ uterus cancers, mastitis, the stress of phantom pregnancies...

Not entirely true...the risk of cancer does increase as they get older, and at about the 5 year mark it increases at a higher rate; however, our does are intact (since we breed them) and none have died that young. When they're retired, between 4-5 years old we find pet homes for them and they've continued to do fine.

That being said, for a pet rabbit, then it is certainly best to spay using a knowledgeable rabbit vet.
 

flemishwhite

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I have limited experience...three bunnies. I think it's initially important to cage/pen them while young. An adequate area to lay down in and a litter box in the cage. Bun's being clean animals will use their cage litter box. Our litter boxes have always been newspaper lined with a copious layer of oat hay. Timothy is good OK too I guess. The oat hay really attacks the rabbits. They just love to chomp on oat hay and while they're sitting there chomping down, they'll pee and poop in the corner of the box.

Next when they know what the litter box is for, you can let them run in a limited area of you house. You must not keep them cooped up in a cage. You need to put down multiple litter boxes. Put the litter boxes where the rabbit want them, not where you want them. We did this for our previous bunny, and now for our new Flemmish babies. It's not complete happiness. With our multiple litter boxes, it's certainly plain to see that the girls are putting a lot of pee in the litter boxes spread throughout the house. However, they will still ocassionally put a tablespoon down of pee here and there....I think they are marking. Our previous rabbit, Bunny, did exactly the same thing and then stopped after about 4 weeks. Maybe our new Flemmish babies will also stop this marking after a few more weeks. With our house leather furniture and hardwood floor, bunny marking is not really a problem. If you have expensive cloth furniture, this will be a problem because bunny pee stains...it's milky white due to calcium from green vegetables. I think the peeing marking thing is solved by neutering them.

Our previous rabbit, Bunny, lived to be almost 12 years old. She became a perfect house pet. Immaculate litter box manners, no household chewing problems, affectionate and people bonded. Also, a good watch dog. Sleeping in our bedroom, she would thump if there was anything unusual going on. On a Sunday afternoon, she began thumping...turns out our teenage grandson had tossed a cigarette in the trash can and set it on fire.. I could smell smoke (neighbors fireplace was the thought) but thought nothing of it until the rabbit started thumping. ...well, anyhow bunnies can make really nice house mates, you just have to work with them a little to succeed in having yourself a really nice bunny.
 

flemishwhite

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I have limited experience...three bunnies. I think it's initially important to cage/pen them while young. An adequate area to lay down in and a litter box in the cage. Bun's being clean animals will use their cage litter box. Our litter boxes have always been newspaper lined with a copious layer of oat hay. Timothy is good OK too I guess. The oat hay really attacks the rabbits. They just love to chomp on oat hay and while they're sitting there chomping down, they'll pee and poop in the corner of the box.

Next when they know what the litter box is for, you can let them run in a limited area of you house. You must not keep them cooped up in a cage. You need to put down multiple litter boxes. Put the litter boxes where the rabbit want them, not where you want them. We did this for our previous bunny, and now for our new Flemmish babies. It's not complete happiness. With our multiple litter boxes, it's certainly plain to see that the girls are putting a lot of pee in the litter boxes spread throughout the house. However, they will still ocassionally put a tablespoon down of pee here and there....I think they are marking. Our previous rabbit, Bunny, did exactly the same thing and then stopped after about 4 weeks. Maybe our new Flemmish babies will also stop this marking after a few more weeks. With our house leather furniture and hardwood floor, bunny marking is not really a problem. If you have expensive cloth furniture, this will be a problem because bunny pee stains...it's milky white due to calcium from green vegetables. I think the peeing marking thing is solved by neutering them.

Our previous rabbit, Bunny, lived to be almost 12 years old. She became a perfect house pet. Immaculate litter box manners, no household chewing problems, affectionate and people bonded. Also, a good watch dog. Sleeping in our bedroom, she would thump if there was anything unusual going on. On a Sunday afternoon, she began thumping...turns out our teenage grandson had tossed a cigarette in the trash can and set it on fire.. I could smell smoke (neighbors fireplace was the thought) but thought nothing of it until the rabbit started thumping. ...well, anyhow bunnies can make really nice house mates, you just have to work with them a little to succeed in having yourself a really nice bunny.
A follow up message. At four months of age, our Flemmish babies are doing well with litter box behaviour. They live in a pen in our living room, and when we are home, we let them run loose in the house. We pen them up when we go to bed or when we leave the house. We have four litter boxes throughout the house and they are now very good...no more tablespoon pee marking. They are very good little girls. When we want them back in their pen to go for us to go to bed or for us to leave the house, we just give them light pats on the butt and say go to bed, and they hop off to their pen. They are very good little girl bunnies.
 

olnem

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Many thanks for you advice everyone I am finding it all very helpful. I spoke to someone in a shop the other day that also kept a house bunny and she also have lots of advice but shocked me when she told me that she house trained her male bunny in just 3 days as soon as she got him home and he was 8/9 weeks old. Mine are now 17weeks and still not potty trained. They are in separate living quarters now as well as he wont leave her alone. He is getting neutered next week. The lady in the shop also said that hers doesn't poo anywhere other than his litter tray and doesn't kick his litter out of his litter tray. Mine are again complete opposites and my husband gets very frustrated with them. To the point of saying they will go outside. They both went and weed on him last night too :-/ ... Not a happy man!
 

Aki

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Yes well, I also met people who had those perfect rabbits who never ate anything when mine ruined more books and earphones than I can count (also the zipper of a coat, two pairs of shoes, several electrical cords I thought were well hidden, a pillow, several duvet covers, shirts, the wallpaper....). Some rabbits are naturally clean (Aki, my female, was clean from the first week I got her but she's a clean-freak), but some others aren't (the two males I've had were a lot less clean - Tybalt was a pig before being neutered and un-neutered males spraying urine is pretty common). As a matter of fact, Tybalt still poos outside of his litter box sometimes. Considering that rabbit poos are tiny and dry, it's not really that much of a hassle to clean. As said before, most rabbits can't be litter trained before you suppress the hormone factor (knowing that having a rabbit who is not spayed in the house could still make a neutered buck have hormonal behaviors - my buck kept marking and such as long as my doe wasn't spayed even though he was neutered). So, neutering / spaying comes first. Yes, one rabbit out of a hundred will be not neutered and clean. Clearly, not yours. Moreover, I don't think it happens a lot when there is a couple of rabbits of the opposite sex, both intact in the same house. Then, nothing to do but clean the unwanted toilet areas with vinegar to erase the smell, put hay over (in, in front of...) the litter tray so the rabbits have to be inside of it to eat the hay (also, rabbits generally evacuate while eating, as the food pushes the waste outside, so making sure they eat their hay in the litter box is the best way to make sure most of the poos will go where you want them to be, which will also give your rabbits the habit of going to the toilet there), put straying poos in the litter tray as soon as you see them. It should make your rabbits quite clean in the long run, even if the poo part isn't 100%. But seriously, be patient. 17 weeks is very young. It always amaze me to see what we ask of tiny animals when they are babies when we don't ask half of it to human child. You can tell to your husband that he most certainly wasn't clean at 17 weeks so he can cut the bunnies so slack (and, just in case : I don't know where you live, but you don't put house rabbits outside all of a sudden in the middle of winter, it will most definitely kill them as they couldn't get used to the temperatures and don't have the appropriate coat - if it comes to that, what for Spring)
 

flemishwhite

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As said before, most rabbits can't be litter trained before you suppress the hormone factor QUOTE]

I would like to respectfully dispute this statement. My previous rabbit, Bunny, was neutered at the age of 5 years. She was an 100% uncaged rabbit, and she had perfect litter box habits. Yes, at the age of about 10 months when she was introduced to being a 100% uncaged rabbit, she went through an about 6 weeks period of time where she would mark areas of the inside of the house with a tablespoon of pee. We have leather furniture and hardwood floors mostly and this was not a major problem. Her marking behavior was most noticeable when she was first allowed free run, and then diminished very much until it disappeared about 6 weeks later. She was then and for the next many years be fully fertile and did not mark the house.

Our two Flemmish babies (big babies!!) are fully fertile. They have been living in our house for about 8 weeks. They have excellent litter box manners, but also when introduced to our house they did also start marking with pee just like our previous rabbit...once again ...leather furniture and hardwood floors made this not much of a problem. Then, just like our previous rabbit, they have stopped marking the house with their tablespoon of pee. There have been no incidents of them pee marking for two or three weeks...I don't think they will ever pee mark again unless we let them into some other rooms in the house.
 
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UPguy

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It is impossible to completely stop bunnies from chewing an occasional home item, unless there is very tight supervision. One thing that really helps is buying or cutting the chew sticks. I think my wife buys small apple sticks- they spend hours meticulously nibbling the bark off of the sticks (like corn off the cob). It really pulls their "wicked intentions" away from walls, furniture, molding, electric cords, etc.
Regarding potty training, we have found that in order to be successful with difficult ones, you have to confine them all night in a large cage with the pan inside. As they get tired of stepping on poo, they will (hopefully) choose the litter pan. Also (as someone else said), having a straw bin mounted on the cage wall immediately adjacent to the litter pan helps a LOT. They like to chew and pull out straw as they stand/sit in the pan. Maybe sorta like my brother likes to read while he...well, never mind.
 

flemishwhite

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It is impossible to completely stop bunnies from chewing an occasional home item, unless there is very tight supervision. One thing that really helps is buying or cutting the chew sticks. I think my wife buys small apple sticks- they spend hours meticulously nibbling the bark off of the sticks (like corn off the cob). It really pulls their "wicked intentions" away from walls, furniture, molding, electric cords, etc.
Regarding potty training, we have found that in order to be successful with difficult ones, you have to confine them all night in a large cage with the pan inside. As they get tired of stepping on poo, they will (hopefully) choose the litter pan. Also (as someone else said), having a straw bin mounted on the cage wall immediately adjacent to the litter pan helps a LOT.
I think this post covers a lot of good territory. To litter box train a rabbit, hopefully a baby rabbit, keep them in a cage with a litter box. They will instinctually use the litter box...they are very clean animals. They will learn that a box full of yummy hay (oat hay for my babies) is for them to munch at with one end and poop/pee at the other end. After they know what the litter box is for, you can turn them loose in the house..but you will initially need multiple litter boxes. They like their litter boxes in corners were they can put their butts in the corner and look out for ..predators! Put the litter boxes where the rabbit wants it. One of our boxes was on our couch she could sit in the arm rest corner. Also, my experience now with three bunnies, is that when you turn them loose in you house, the will begin pee marking. (unneutered rabbits) It's only about a tablespoon or so of pee...for us with leather furniture and hardwood floor, this table spoon issue was not a problem. Bunny pee can have a white residue(calcium) ..so for cloth furniture this can be a problem. Like with out previous bunny, this pee marking behavior is temporary...maybe 4 weeks. Our now fertile female Flemmish babies are no longer pee marking.
 

Blue eyes

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After they know what the litter box is for, you can turn them loose in the house..but you will initially need multiple litter boxes. They like their litter boxes in corners were they can put their butts in the corner and look out for ..predators! Put the litter boxes where the rabbit wants it. One of our boxes was on our couch she could sit in the arm rest corner. Also, my experience now with three bunnies, is that when you turn them loose in you house, the will begin pee marking. (unneutered rabbits) It's only about a tablespoon or so of pee...for us with leather furniture and hardwood floor, this table spoon issue was not a problem. Bunny pee can have a white residue(calcium) ..so for cloth furniture this can be a problem. Like with out previous bunny, this pee marking behavior is temporary...maybe 4 weeks. Our now fertile female Flemmish babies are no longer pee marking.
One can usually avoid pee marking in the house if one goes about it slower. Once bunny(ies) get used to using the litter box in their cage, only gradually expand their roaming area. I make use of an expanded x-pen to create a larger space around their cage/living area. A newly-trained rabbit then gets to roam in the expanded area (not the whole room).

As bunny consistently returns to the litter box, then he gets that space expanded again. By expanding the area in increments, the potty habits can remain without having to deal with potty accidents/markings. Offering too much space all at once, on the other hand, often results in those potty accidents and marking of territory. But by expanding gradually, bunny can eventually have access to multiple rooms/areas without feeling the need to mark territory.
 

flemishwhite

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One can usually avoid pee marking in the house if one goes about it slower. Once bunny(ies) get used to using the litter box in their cage, only gradually expand their roaming area. I make use of an expanded x-pen to create a larger space around their cage/living area. A newly-trained rabbit then gets to roam in the expanded area (not the whole room).

As bunny consistently returns to the litter box, then he gets that space expanded again. By expanding the area in increments, the potty habits can remain without having to deal with potty accidents/markings. Offering too much space all at once, on the other hand, often results in those potty accidents and marking of territory. But by expanding gradually, bunny can eventually have access to multiple rooms/areas without feeling the need to mark territory.
Good comment! We rabbit people really need to get it down as to how to "train" a rabbit to litter box behavior. To survive, they need to be in the house, and because they are very active animals, they need to run relatively free in the house...this is only possible with acceptable litter box behavior. Rabbits can be litter box trained...and remember their litter boxes don't smell bad. Bunny poop doesn't smell bad. The only bad smell can come from their urine if you leave it unchanged in the box and it begins to rot. Keep in mind that bunny pee, like human pee, from a healthy individual is bacteria free...it's a sterile liquid. there's nothing wrong with bunny pee unless you let it age and then begin to rot and make a smell.
 

flemishwhite

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Another litter box training comment ...!!! I think it's good to condition the bunny to think he/she is safe in the litter box...it should be a place of comfort and safety for the bunn. I don't think you should touch the bunn when he/she is in the box...Ok, Ok I've violated this rule slightly by sometimes rubbing their face with the back of my hand one or two times when they were in their box...but no more.

Predator animals have two forward facing eyes. Humans have this same eye pattern. Bunny brains are sensitive to two forward facing eyes. I believe you should not stare at your bunny when he/she is in the litter box. When I want to stare at one of my bunnies, particularly up close, I close one eye.
 

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