Bunny Control

Or, How do you get your pet bunny to stop sleeping in the litterbox?

My little girl bunny is gross. She’s all crusty. Both my bunnies are small breeds and so tend to be very skittish. Because of this, they rarely get out of their cage and NEVER let us clean them. Now, Daedalus is all crusty. I can’t get her to stop sleeping in her litterbox.
It’s not like they don’t have enough room. The cage is 5’ tall, 4’ long and 3 stories high. They use all 3 levels. The top level has a cat house which they sleep in, and on top of. So, I don’t know why she sleeps in the litterbox most of the time. Tomorrow, I have to bring them to a groomer because we just don’t have the skill or the equipment to de-crustify the little girl. Even if I clean the litterbox every day, she still sleeps in it and still gets dirty. :frowning:

So, I know there are other bunny owners around here. What do you do?

Just out of curiousity what are you using for litter? Maybe a switch to another less crustifying type might help.

Second, what is the flooring of the rest of the cage like? Might she be sleeping in the litter because it is substantially softer than the rest of the floor?

Our rabbits will spend a long time in the litterbox (we use Carefresh) if they are having digestive problems that is making them produce stickier than normal droppings. (This is usuall caused by too many treats (fresh fruit) or too many greens.)

I think the fact that the droppings are sticking to their fur keeps them from moving out of the box because they feel like they haven’t finished their business. They will spend a good portion of the day in the box sometimes under these circumstances.

I have a bunny who occaisionally sleeps in his litterbox, but not enough to pose the problem you speak of.

I did have the crusty underside problem before I changed to a mesh-floored cage. Now any “outside of the litterbox accidents” and water bottle leakeage go through the mesh floor and he doesn’t have to sit in the mess.

I can only tell you that after many years of bunny ownership I have come to the conclusion that they are very quirky little creatures, each with their own odd habits. My current bunny thinks he is a cat and will hide under furniture to pounce on your feet as you walk by. :eek:

This Condo is what they live in. So, the floors aren’t wire or in other ways stressful on their little feet. We use Yesterday’s News for litter. The poop isn’t sticking to her. I imagine it’s the urine making her all crusty since she’s all yellow on the bottom.
They usually eat just Blue Seal Show Hutch Deluxe pellets and fresh hay. We get our food from a grain store - not a pet store. And, our feeding habits were recommended by the woman who works there. She has a degree in animal husbandry and used to own bunnies so we trust her judgement. We occasionally give them lettuce (dark green or red) or dark red cabbage. Vary rarely, I’ll give them an apple. They hate carrots. Other than the rare apple, they don’t get fruit. They get plenty of water.
We’re thinking of downsizing their cage to the two-level model since they never seem to use the second level and the bottom needs to be replaced anyway.
The girl bunny was very traumatized by the pet store we unwisely got her from and I’m wondering if her attachment to her own urine and feces is a side effect from her prior living arrangement. But, we’ve had her for almost 4 years now. I had hoped she’d become a little more normal in that time.

Hey, I’m sitting not 10 feet from that exact setup!

Well, it probably isn’t the floor being too hard. I’ve heard the wire mesh floors can have that effect on some rabbits (keeping them in the litterbox).

I don’t have any other bright ideas at the moment except maybe switching to a smaller type of litterbox that she can’t fit her whole body in.

It just occured to me that maybe you might want to have a vet check her out just to be sure. If she were incontinent for example that might cause the symptoms you are talking about (especially the urine staining). Do you have a rabbit knowledgeable vet in your area?

BTW are you familiar with the House Rabbit Society? They have a lot of good info on their site. They mention the loss of litterbox habits as a symptom of some rabbit diseases.

Finally I would be wary of dietary recommendations from traditional animal husbandry trained people…the old fashioned way to feed rabbits was to get them big and fat quick so they could be killed and eaten. Rabbits that are being kept as pets can experience problems (kidney stones, diabetes) on such high calorie diets.

I’m relatively new to the bunny scene (have had years of experience with guinea pigs, though), but AFAIK, rabbits need greenery far more than “occasionally”.

From the House Rabbit Society (which Laughing Lagomorph just mentioned):

(Information obtained from: http://www.rabbit.org/faq/sections/diet.html )

Pellets shouldn’t be the main part of a house rabbit’s diet; they’re too calorie-dense and they can pack on the pounds easily. The main staple of an adult rabbit’s diet is timothy hay (not alfalfa, which is too rich and has too much calcium in it) and vegetables, with the relatively small amount of pellets. That’s what the Michigan Rabbit Rescue also told my boyfriend and I when he adopted his rabbit.

congodwarf, one of my bunnies likes to hang out in the litterbox, too. She doesn’t spend enough time there to get crusty, but I don’t like it, anyway. I gave them an extra litterbox (really it’s just a plastic storage box), and sometimes they use it for a litterbox, but it’s cleaner than the big litterbox. So now sometimes she sleeps in the big litterbox, and sometimes she sleeps in the small one. I’d suggest putting some hay in the litterbox over the litter to keep it a little drier.

I feed my bunnies timothy hay and timothy pellets (a little less than 1/4 cup each per day), and greens twice a day. They get treats two or three times a day (papaya tablets, craisins, Nibble Rings, Loftys, Just Apples, or Bunnie Brownies).

Yeah, they’re spoiled.

This is certainly true with traditional types of rabbit pellets (Purina Rabbit Chow, f’rinstance). There is however at least one maintenance-type pellet for older rabbits on the market now: http://www.critterstore.com/ox-289.html

We use it on our two 6+ year olds with good results.

I’ll try the hay over the litter. Hopefully, the groomer will be able to make her white again today so we can tell if the hay works. I’ve also been thinking of taking them off the Deluxe pellets. I’ll try the stuff you recommended Laughing Lagomorph .

We had been using the recommended diet from the HRS site but they got fat and their poop was runny. That’s why we started using the diet the lady from the grain store recommended. It helped with the weight and the poop but I’ve been gradually adding more leafyness to their diet. I don’t want to change anything to fast and make them sick.

I just thought of something. Daedalus likes to spill her food all over the cage and then she dribbles the water over it. I have no idea why - she doesn’t eat it after she does it. Maybe that’s what is making her crusty. I clean it whenever I see the muddly little pile but if she’s lying in it when I’m not here, it could certainley account for the crustiness.

Eww - I just noticed that Juno is licking Daedalus’ crusty butt right now.

Thanks for the suggestions guys - I’m gonna see how well the groomer does tomorrow and then take them to the vet. If she says they’re both in good health I’ll work on changing the diet again to something that will keep them from getting fat but is also healthy for them. If nothing works, I’ll just take them to the groomer more often. It’d be nice if they’d let me groom them but they get really pissed at me when I do it. I’d rather they get pissed at a stranger.

I use the Oxbow timothy pellets, too. I’m way too happy that there’s a store in town that sells Oxbow, so I don’t have to get it mail-order.

What kind of hay are you feeding them? Timothy or grass hay is the best–alfalfa is higher in protein, so it’s really only good for babies or pregnant rabbits. I use timothy hay, but you can get different kinds of hay from Bunny Bytes.

There is a bit of a debate in the pet bunny world over whether greens are good or not. Some bunnies do fine with no greens. I feed mine greens because they like their salads (especially parsley–they try to steal it from each other). They also like cilantro and other herbs–basil, mint, they like it all. You’re exactly right in gradually increasing the amount of greens–too much at one time can be bad.

They get grass hay. At least I think it’s grass hay. The grain store sells it in bales and bags. It’s the only hay I can find which is actually fresh. It smells nice.