Posted in Hamster
Did you know that hamsters can be litter trained / potty trained? You can train your hamster to do their business in a specific corner of the cage, or in a specific “litter box”. It is completely optional to litter train your hamster, but many people choose to litter train because of the benefits of having an easier time cleaning.
This guide will explain those benefits and then will walk you through the steps so that you can learn how to litter train your hamster.
Why should I litter train my hamster?
The main benefit to litter training your hamster is that it makes cleaning much easier!
- You will save time cleaning your hamster’s cage because only one corner will become dirty. You will have to do a full cage clean out much less frequently if you just spot clean one corner of the cage.
- You will save money on bedding. Because you are doing a full cage clean out much more infrequently, you won’t have to buy as much bedding for a full cage cleaning.
- You will save time cleaning your hamster’s wheel. Some hamsters that aren’t litter trained pee in their exercise wheels. This causes the wheel and cage to smell and you will need to clean out the wheel daily to keep it clean for your hamster to use. If you don’t clean it, the hamster will continue to use the wheel and the pee could stain their fur! Some hamsters have more of a tendency to do this than others.
- You will save money on toys. Toys will last much longer if your hamster is litter trained, because they won’t become pee stained. For hamsters that pee on everything, it’s very hard to get wooden toys because they ruin easily. With a hamster that is litter trained, wooden toys will last a long time and look very nice in your cage. Having a litter trained hamster will also help keep plastic toys clean so that you don’t have to spend time constantly wiping them off.
- It could help you with vet visits. If your hamster becomes ill, your vet might require a urine sample. If your hamster is litter trained, it will make it very easy to get a sample to bring to the vet because your hamster always goes in one spot.
Choosing a Hamster Litter Box and Litter
Once you’ve decided that you do want to litter train your hamster, you will need to choose a litter box and a substrate to put in the box.
One thing to note is that you don’t even necessarily need a litter box. You can also train your hamster to just use a specific corner of the cage. However, a litter box can make it easier.
Hamster Litter Boxes
Here are some popular options for litter boxes:
- A hamster litter box from the pet store
- A glass jar with square sides (turned on its side, not right side up)
- A ceramic container
Here are some popular options for litter to put in the litter box:
1. Chinchilla Sand
a. Pros: This is a favorite for hamster litter boxes because hamsters seem to like doing their business in it. It’s also relatively cheap.
b. Cons: Some Syrians with very long hair might get the sand stuck to their fur. It’s also not good for hamsters that have a respiratory illness or an open wound.
2. Paper-based cat litter (like the brand Yesterday’s News)
a. Pros: It won’t stick to your hamster’s fur or be problematic for respiratory infections or open wounds.
b. Cons: Some hamsters simply don’t like it and won’t use it as a litter box.
Litter Training Your Hamster
Now that you’ve got the litter box and litter set up, it’s time to get to the actual training. You will need to make your litter box smell like a litter box in order to get your hamster to want to go there.
If there is a corner that your hamster is already using, simply take some of the soiled bedding there and place it in the litter box. Place the litter box in that corner because your hamster is already used to using that location as a bathroom.
Another easy way to do this is to put your hamster in a hamster ball for a few minutes. When your hamster poops in the ball, dump the poop out into the litter area.
Once the area smells like a litter box, your hamster will pick up quickly and start using that location to use the bathroom.
What if my hamster won’t use the litter box?
Some hamsters are easier to train than others. Some hamsters will start using the litter box right away. Others you will need to be more patient. Some hamsters will take to peeing in the litter box, but not pooping, or vice versa. Here are some things you can try if your hamster doesn’t take to the idea right away:
- Continue putting poop and bedding that smells like pee in the litter box to see if your hamster catches on. Do this every day for at least 2 weeks to see if your hamster will pick up the habit.
- Wipe the smell of pee off of other items in the cage and put the paper you used to wipe it off in the litter box. Some hamsters pee in their wheel and they will consider that their toilet. It might even be necessary to remove the wheel or other toys that the hamster pees on for a few days until the hamster gets in the habit of peeing somewhere else. Remember to only do this for a few days because it is important that a hamster has a wheel and toys to keep busy. However it might be necessary to remove them just for a few days for training purposes.
- Try putting the litter box in a different location. Some hamsters prefer using a corner. Some hamsters prefer using a spot that is close to their house (or even inside their house). Notice where your hamster currently goes – that’s the spot you’ll have the most success with the litter box. After your hamster is litter trained you can try moving the litter box to a different location, but for training it is necessary to put it in the spot your hamster prefers most.
- Try a different litter. Many hamsters seem to prefer using sand for a litter box. Others might prefer a different substrate. Experiment with a few different kinds to see what your hamster prefers.
- Try a different litter box. Some hamsters might prefer different sizes and shapes for a litter box. Your hamster might think the litter box is too small. Some hamsters prefer a space that is more enclosed, and might take better to using a glass jar as a litter box.