Bunny Proofing

Help! My Rabbit Is Digging in His Litter Box

This is the story all about how I solved the problem of my rabbit digging in his litter box – and guess what, it only cost $3 to fix!

Rabbits dig.

In the wild, that little precious bun bun you have in your home would be out digging up a storm – burrowing underground for shelter.

But a pet rabbit that loves to dig… indoors… in their litter box…

Not so precious.

This is the story all about how I solved the problem of my rabbit digging in his litter box – and guess what, it only cost $3 to fix!

Sherlock’s Foray at Digging in His Litter Box

Sherlock Bunz spent the first 5-ish years of his bunny life never really digging in his litter box.

I was able to have him conveniently using an open litter box with the hay piled directly in the front of his tray. No need for fancy hay feeders or expensive litter box setups.

But then something happened.

After he recovered from his ear surgery in August of 2019 (a story for another day), his litter box habits got all over the place. He had “accidents” that he rarely had before.

And for the love of… he started digging out all the hay and soiled litter from his litter box!

I tried a couple of different litter box and hay setups over the course of a couple of weeks, eventually resorting to putting the hay back in the litter box as normal… and poof, problem magically disappeared…

For about 6 months or so, until he started digging YET AGAIN. Only this time it was forceful and furious, and just plain messy.

His high-side litter box wasn’t cutting it like before. Even turning the low-entry front end against the wall didn’t work. He was determined to empty his litter box of all it’s contents – out onto the floor – finding little bits of hay in the process.

Foraging to the extreme.

Also, what a jerk! But a cute one 🙂

What I Tried to Solve the Digging Issue

Sherlock eating hay in the litter box.
I put the hay in an external container from the litter box.

1. Putting the hay in a feeder basket in front of the tray.

It seemed like Sherlock was digging in his litter box to forage for pieces of hay. He could have a fresh pile of hay in the box, but for some reason, he loved to dig up the litter and find the little pieces hiding underneath.

So I thought if I removed the hay from the litter box, that would fix the issue.

I had recently started pet sitting for a cute little gal rabbit, Minxie, and she had her hay next to the litter box in a big pet food bowl. She was still able to sit in the litter box while eating, but it was in its own container.

So I tried to construct something similar.

external hay basket for pet rabbit
I attached the basket to the outside of the litter box with 3m hooks.

I attached a small basket to the outside of Sherlock’s litter tray, attached with 3m hooks so it would stay in place.

This helped with the digging, but…

He got lazy! He rebelled! He was able to sit outside the box and munch on the hay, and he peed next to the litter box.

He also jumped IN the hay basket and peed there!

So I had to give up on that option.

2. Manually resetting his behavior.

I thought maybe if I annoy him enough he will understand that the behavior was wrong. Haha.

What that means is any time I saw him start to dig, I would run over to the box and manually flip him around and/or nudge him to stop.

It actually calmed the action. Sometimes he would jump out of the litter box and go lay down for a bit.

Luckily I work from home, so I can do this. But it was exhausting! And sometimes by the time I’d get to the box, it was too late and my floor was a mess.

I tried this tactic for a while, but it didn’t take. He was in the mood to dig!

3. Cleaning the litter box daily.

fresh clean litter tray
Ahh the fresh and clean litter tray.

I usually change Sherlock’s litter box every other day, but when he started digging out soiled litter, I thought I’d try being more meticulous.

Why? Because right after I changed his litter and put in fresh hay, he was less likely to start digging in it right away and scavenging for broken bits of hay. And if he did, at least it wasn’t super soiled and wet.

While it calmed him for a bit, it didn’t solve the problem. As soon as he got into a digging mood – watch out!

4. Using a high-side litter box.

sherlock's high side litter box
Sherlock in his fancy new high-side litter box.

After the previous tactics failed, I went out and bought a $40 high-side litter box (see similar on Amazon). I put the hay back in the tray. And poof! He stopped digging!

He had the occasional dig, but it was being caught by the high sides. Maybe he was just really happy to have his old routine back after all the changes?

But unfortunately, it didn’t last. He went about 5-6 months before digging again.

5. Putting hay in a basket hanging over the edge of the litter box.

hanging hay basket for pet rabbit
The hanging hay basket tactic.

After his hiatus, the digging got super fierce. He wasn’t just digging – he was really digging to clear out the box completely! So I started trying different setups yet again.

This time I put his hay in a basket that hung over the edge of the litter box. To eat it, he had to be inside the litter box still (no lazy pees outside!), and hopefully, this would keep the desire to dig at bay.

Unfortunately, no. Bits of hay still dropped into the litter box. And he really wanted to dig.

6. Blocking off the front with cardboard.

blocking the front of the litter box with a cardboard box
The flipped cardboard box helped for a short while.

Out of frustration, I flipped a cardboard box on its side and placed it in front of the litter box. I thought if anything, it would block the litter that gets dug out.

But he actually stopped digging!

For a day or two.

He quickly caught on that he could move said cardboard box, deeming it useless. When I locked the box into place, he peed on the rug next to it – probably meant to show his disapproval.

I then cut out a strip of cardboard and taped it to the front of the litter box.

destroyed cardboard barrier on the litter box
The destroyed cardboard barrier.

However, that didn’t last long at all. He tore that thing to shreds!

7. Turning the low-side of the litter box against the wall.

low side of litter box against the wall
I tried turning the litter box with lower side against the wall.

Ooh, so simple. I held off on this for a while because I wanted there to always be a high back when he would normally pee and do his business.

Obviously, this tactic also failed. He managed to dig litter out of the high front in ways I didn’t think would have been possible.

What Finally Worked?

After all the drama, I knew the only other option was to get a grid that would separate his paws from the actual litter.

I used this as a last resort for many reasons:

  • I’m not a fan of the grids. A bunny’s feet are sensitive and I needed to make sure that what I did get was not wire or harsh on his paws.
  • I don’t like the idea of pee sitting on top of the plastic grid bits that he then gets all over his fur.
  • I didn’t want another thing to clean every time I changed the litter box.
  • I didn’t want to spend $50 (AUD) for a new litter box system. These are the prices I was getting when looking at the pet store for sifting cat litter boxes.
  • I also didn’t want to spend more money on something that might not work well with my stubborn bunny.

So what did I do? What actually solved the problem?…

I bought a $3 tray from Dollar King.

how to fix a rabbit digging in litter tray issue
The tray that saved us! It only cost $3 at Dollar King.

The tray was about the same size as the high-side litter box with holes. I simply put down a small layer of paper litter and then placed the tray on top.

Even if he wants to, he simply can’t dig up the litter! I put the hay back in the box and we have solved the problem with a $3 tray!

Now the holes in the tray aren’t big enough for poo to fall through, but they do allow the pee to flow through to the litter below. I scoop up excess poo once or twice a day to keep it tidy.

Also, I put a small, small bit of paper litter on the backside of the tray just to soak up any rogue pee bits that don’t immediately fall through the holes.

budget grid litter box system for pet rabbits
Even with a little litter on the top to capture pee, he still doesn’t enjoy digging in this box. I think all the holes make digging not fun. This has solved our problem! (for now)

Yes, I have to clean this tray every time I change the litter. It’s still so much better than having to clean up the entire floor with soiled litter every day, multiple times a day.

So there you have it! How I solved the litter digging issue for just $3.

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16 replies on “Help! My Rabbit Is Digging in His Litter Box”

I have to try this!! My rabbit is waking me up all night long with his digging! And I can manage for it to not get on the floor *most* of the time but I can’t keep racing over and stopping him! I am so excited to find my own bin for this 😀

I’m having the same exact problem with my minilop, he’s an aggressive digger and I’ve tried all the methods you tried and failed. The tray might actually fix the problem for me too so thank you for posting this!

I hope the tray works! It’s still doing the trick for me. I took the tray out for a few days not long ago (because it is a pain to clean), and after a few days, he was back to digging. So the tray stays!

Hey, I’m having this issue with my female rabbit (she’s spayed but she must feel the weather changes and is trying to make a nest or something) recently. I’m just wondering if this causes their paws to get dirty from their pee or does the pee flow through to the litter pretty good? I’m excited to try this, I hope I find one that is the same size as my litterbox!

I was worried about that, too, and it’s one of the reasons I waited to try this until last. What I do is put a tiny bit of paper litter on top of the tray to soak up rogue pee that doesn’t fall through. It’s only a little bit… my bun doesn’t seem to dig that up, I think because the grid of the tray makes it annoying to dig anyway. It’s my best workaround so far and seems to keep his paws dry. While it takes a bit of work to use this extra tray, it’s way better than cleaning up soiled litter off the floor multiple times a day! 🙂

Thank you so much! I’m literally looking for stores that are open right now (lockdown) to hopefully buy one that fits because she’s driving me nuts right now!!!

thank you for all of the suggestions. My 2 mini lops are just destroying my floor and I am cleaning up after them at least 2-3 times a day. I am going to try all these suggestions as I too was worried about their paws. Your fix might save me some money!

I’m going to have to try this! I don’t know what to do! Our good bun started digging in her litter and it’s an absolutely mess! We tried giving her an extra litter pan and she just destroys both. She’s just shy of 6m, so I’m not sure if it’s hormones or what! She has also had a few pee accidents and poop accidents when she is out of her enclosure when she hadn’t before. Any thoughts or other tricks to try for that?

If she is around 6m, the additional pee and poo accidents are probably hormone-related. Have you looked into getting her desexed? It’s not only healthier for a female bun but it can help with correcting litter training issues.

Thank you so much for sharing your story! I have this same problem with my bunny, who I call Bunbun, LOL! He didn’t dig like this until just a few months ago. I have an oxbow litterbox that is smaller than a regular cat box. He also moves the box out of the corner of his habitat on top of the pile of litter he digs out onto the floor. It is so annoying, so I hope I can find a way to make this work.

I’m so glad I found this, Lola bunny has been destroying her litter box, went to the dollar store and bought a dish rack strainer and boom problem solved! Thank you so much!😊

Again Thank you, we actually use the silverware strainer for her Timothy and oat hay, she’s just over a year old and this started around 11 months. We change her litter daily but as soon as we changed it she would dig like a maniac throwing it all over her 6×6 penned area. We found your blog/ article and bought the dish rack now boom no more digging!

This post was so helpful!! I went to Dollar Tree and bought their dish drainer tray and it fits perfectly and works like a charm!! My bun was mad at first and thumped her feet and tried to pull it out but she’s ok now and no more mess!!! THANK YOU SO MUCH!!

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