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Why Rabbits Dig and Eat From The Litter Box



Reviewed By: Dr. Joel Robertson

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Rabbits are renowned for their unique behaviors, and one such activity that often perplexes owners is their tendency to dig and eat from the litter box.

This behavior can be attributed to several factors intrinsic to a rabbit’s natural instincts and dietary needs.

In the wild, rabbits are burrowers, digging intricate tunnel systems for shelter and protection.

Key Takeaway

  • Rabbits dig in their litter box due to their natural instinct to excavate and may eat from it as they often graze while eliminating, but excessive digging or eating could indicate boredom, stress, dissatisfaction, or health issues.

Why Rabbits Dig and Eat From The Litter Box

Why Rabbits Dig and Eat From The Litter Box

Rabbits dig in their litter box due to their natural instinct to excavate. This behavior can be exacerbated by boredom, stress, or dissatisfaction with their environment.

They may also dig to forage for pieces of hay, even if fresh hay is readily available. Furthermore, some rabbits may dig excessively if they are not feeling well or are unhappy.

Inadequate enrichment and lack of companionship can also contribute to this behavior. As for eating from the litter box, rabbits are grazing animals and often eat while eliminating.

This is why placing hay in the litter box can encourage its use.

However, if a rabbit is eating its feces directly from the litter box instead of producing and consuming cecotropes (a type of nutrient-rich droppings), it might be a sign of dietary imbalance or health issues, and a vet should be consulted.

Is It Normal For Bunnies To Eat Their Litter?

No, it is not normal for rabbits to eat their litter and they usually do this out of boredom or lack of space, but occasional nibbling won’t harm if the litter is rabbit-safe.

They might consume the litter out of boredom or lack of space.

If your rabbit seems to be eating too much litter, you could consider making or buying a grate to prevent access while still allowing urine to pass through.

How To Stop a Rabbit From Digging In The Litter Box?

Here is how to stop a rabbit from digging in the litter box:

Step 1: Understand the Behavior

Rabbits have a natural instinct to dig, so it is important to understand that this behavior is normal. However, if your rabbit is excessively digging in their litter box, it could be a sign of boredom or dissatisfaction with their environment.

Step 2: Provide Alternative Digging Opportunities

Give your rabbit alternatives to satisfy their digging instincts. This can include providing them with a dig box filled with safe materials like shredded paper, hay, or sand.

Step 3: Increase Exercise Time

Ensure your rabbit gets plenty of exercise outside of their cage. The more time they spend running around and playing, the less energy they will have for digging in the litter box.

Step 4: Review the Litter Material

Your rabbit may not like the texture or scent of the litter you’re using. Try experimenting with different types of litter to find one your rabbit is comfortable with.

Step 5: Use a High-Sided Litter Box

If your rabbit is kicking litter out of the box while digging, try switching to a litter box with higher sides. This can help contain the mess.

Step 6: Regularly Clean the Litter Box

A dirty litter box might prompt your rabbit to dig. Rabbits are clean animals and prefer a clean place to do their business. Regular cleaning can discourage digging.

Step 7: Consult a Vet

If none of the above steps work, it may be worth consulting with a vet. Excessive digging could be a sign of stress or other behavioral issues, and a vet can provide professional guidance.

What Type of Litter Should You Use In a Rabbit’s Litter Box?

  • Paper-based litter
  • Wood pellet litter
  • Aspen shavings
  • Recycled paper pellets

Paper-based Litter

Paper-based litter is a good choice as it is absorbent, relatively dust-free, and safe if ingested in small amounts. Remember to choose unscented kinds to avoid irritating your rabbit’s respiratory system.

Wood Pellet Litter

Wood pellet litters are also commonly used for rabbits. They’re highly absorbent, keep odor under control, and are generally safe if your rabbit decides to nibble. Avoid cedar or pine-based litters as they can cause liver damage in rabbits.

Aspen Shavings

Aspen shavings are another safe option. They’re absorbent and help control odor. However, some rabbits may not like the texture of wood shavings.

Recycled Paper Pellets

Recycled paper pellets are made from recycled newspaper and are safe, absorbent, and dust-free.


While it’s not exactly litter, placing hay in the litter box can encourage your rabbit to use it, as rabbits often like to eat while they eliminate it.


Q: Can I use cat litter in my rabbit’s litter box?

A: It is not recommended to use cat litter in your rabbit’s litter box. Cat litter can contain chemicals that are harmful to rabbits if ingested. It is best to stick to rabbit-safe litters such as paper-based or hay-based litters.

Q: How often should I clean my rabbit’s litter box?

A: It is recommended to clean your rabbit’s litter box at least once a day. Remove any soiled litter and replace it with fresh litter. This helps maintain a clean and hygienic environment for your rabbit.

Q: My rabbit is eating from their litter box, is this normal?

A: Rabbits may occasionally nibble on their litter, especially if it contains hay or pellets. However, if your rabbit is consistently eating a large amount of litter, it is important to consult with a veterinarian as this may indicate a nutritional deficiency or a health issue.

Q: Can my rabbit be litter trained?

A: Yes, rabbits can be litter trained. With some patience and consistency, you can train your rabbit to use a litter box. Place the litter box in a corner of their enclosure and gradually introduce them to the litter box by placing some of their droppings inside.

Q: Why does my rabbit dig in other places besides their litter box?

A: Rabbits may have the tendency to dig in other areas of their environment, even if they have a litter box available. This behavior is normal and can be attributed to their natural instinct to dig and explore their surroundings.

Q: How can I discourage my rabbit from digging in undesirable areas?

A: To discourage your rabbit from digging in undesirable areas, you can place physical barriers such as cardboard boxes or furniture to block off those areas. You can also distract your rabbit with toys and provide them with an alternative digging spot, such as a digging box filled with soil or sand.

Q: Can I use a litter tray for my rabbit?

A: Yes, you can use a litter tray for your rabbit. A litter tray with high sides can help contain the litter and prevent it from being scattered around. Make sure to choose a tray that is spacious enough for your rabbit to comfortably move around in.

In Conclusion

When rabbits dig and eat from the litter box, it helps them maintain their digestive health.

Rabbits are natural foragers and will seek out food sources that provide them with fiber, nutrients, and minerals.

Digging in the litter box also provides a stimulating activity for rabbits as they search for tasty treats to munch on.

Please take the time and leave a comment below if this article helped you, or you have any additional questions.

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