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How to Litter Train Your Guinea Pig
Guinea pigs are one of the smartest animals in the rodent family. You can train them to do all kinds of tricks and modify their behaviors with time and patience. This includes training them how to use a litter box, similar to a cat.
If you want to simplify your guinea pig care by minimizing the number of droppings that they leave around their cage for you to clean, train them how to use a litter box. Equip yourself with plenty of time, patience, and treats to practically guarantee success.
1. Create an area for the litter box.
Guinea pigs tend to be naturally clean animals. They will typically pick one or two spots that they feel comfortable in within their enclosure and use that as their bathroom. The best way to start litter box training is to place the litter box in the areas that your guinea pig has already chosen.
When you purchase a litter box, be aware that it is big enough for them to climb in and turn around. If the guinea pig can’t move well inside, they will not do their business in it. You might also need to create more of a “safe space” for your guinea pig by making it darker than the rest of the cage or hanging a blanket over it to form a litter box tent.
2. Set up the box with the right litter.
Once you have the litter box in the right place, you should fill it with bedding. Make sure the bedding you use is different than the material laid in the rest of the enclosure. It will make training easier for them so they can better differentiate the spaces.
Suggestions include newspaper or special bedding meant specifically for rodents.
3. Train the guinea pig to go into the litter box.
Once you have the box ready to go, watch your guinea pig for a while. They will likely want to explore this new entity in their cage. Let them crawl in and see what they think. If it was in the place that they originally used for their bathroom, then they might start to use it as their litter box right away. Don’t set your hopes too high, though.
When they have become comfortable with the box, train them to easily go into and out of it. In the beginning, reward your guinea pig with a treat each time they enter it. This will help them understand that it is a good space to occupy and make them more comfortable with it in general.
4. Put their hay rack near their litter box.
Adding a litter box to your guinea pig enclosure will often mean rearranging some of the other items in their enclosure to make everything work together seamlessly. Put their hay rack near their litter box to encourage them to come back to that area frequently.
5. Place stray droppings into the litter box.
The next part of training is teaching them that not only is the litter box a comfortable place to be, but it is also meant to be the bathroom. Each time you see droppings in other parts of their enclosure, use a glove to place them in their litter box. Keep them there for a while so your guinea pig will learn that it is the only place that is appropriate for droppings.
6. Reward them each time you see them using it.
If you ever see your guinea pig go into the box and use it for their bathroom, you are on the right track! Reward them heavily with attention and treats, so they understand that what they just did was a good thing. Doing so will make them want to use it to get those rewards in the future.
7. Keep the box clean.
Guinea pigs are naturally clean animals, so if their litter box is a mess, they will have no desire to use it. Once your guinea pig begins to use it frequently, you should try to give it a quick clean every day and a thorough clean once each week. If you have more than one guinea pig, you might need to do this more often.
Featured Image Credit: Kapa65, Pixabay
Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts’ knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.