Anyone who has ever owned guinea pigs will know first hand how much they poo! Regular cage cleaning is essential for guinea pig health. Here we explore the question can you litter train a guinea pig? If you’re new to owning a guinea pig, then start with our Getting Started section first.
Can it be done?
It’s important to remember that all guinea pigs are not the same. Some guinea pigs will find it easy to learn to poo in a new place whilst others may never understand it. Never force your guinea pig or hold them in place to make them poo. Kindness is key.
Some guinea pigs are happy to be litter trained and seem to pick it up really quickly. We’ve had guinea pigs in the past, that have always used just one corner. This makes it so much easier to train them since they are already partway there!
Our current guinea pigs liked to view everywhere as their bathroom so it took some adjustments. It’s all about being flexible and ensuring you find a method that suits both you and your guinea pigs. Trial and error are key here as something will work and others not. Keep trying and find the way that is right for both of you.
Don’t see it as a failure for you or your guinea pig. Even well-trained guinea pigs will have the odd accident here and there.
Understanding toilet behaviour
Guinea pigs only have small bladders and can only hold in urine for 15 mins at most. This means they urinate frequently and it’s usually quite a lot too! The good news is that most guinea pigs like to urinate in the same spot.
It’s usually in the corner of the cage and somewhere that is either undercover or behind something. Our guinea pigs used to actually move their toys out of the corner so they could urinate there!
Since they like to use the same spot, it makes it much easier to know where to put the litter tray. It also means they are happy to use that corner even if you put something new in there.
The reason guinea pigs use the same corner of the cage is due to their natural instincts to avoid predators. Predators can be attracted to guinea pig urine and use the scent to track them.
Instructions of littering training your guinea pig
Discover their favourite spot
As mentioned above, guinea pigs like to use the same spot to litter in. The next time your cleaning out the cage, ensure you notice where most of the poo and urine is. It should be relatively smelly!
Setting up the litter tray
Choose your litter box carefully. Litter trays intended for rabbits are not usually suitable since they are too big. The perfect litter tray is low enough for your guinea pigs to climb into without being too steep. However, it shouldn’t be completely flat either, otherwise, the waste will just roll out onto the cage.
There are special ones that fit snuggly into the corners or ones that are more rectangular. Ensure you choose one that is right for your cage design, your guinea pigs personality and your own preferences.
If you can’t see one you like or are short of funds, then make your own. Any old plastic tub will do as long as it’s free from sharp corners. Ensure it is completely clean and free from any harmful chemicals. I have used an empty ice cream tub in the past when my guinea pigs were babies!
Give them rewards
Similarly to training most other animals, the key to successfully training your guinea pig is through their stomach! Every time your guinea pig behaves how you want them to ensure you offer them a treat. Make sure it’s not only delicious but also healthy.
We recommend rewarding them every time they step into their new tray for the first few times. Then reduce this to every time they urinate in it.
After several days, your guinea pigs should be using the tray every time they need to empty their bladder.
Remember – don’t panic if your guinea pig doesn’t get the hang of this straight away. It can take some guinea pigs longer. Keep trying and rewarding as needed.
Guinea pigs like to eat, sleep and use the toilet all in the same place. Our current guinea pigs love to do this! It may sound like a problem, but it’s actually really easy to litter train them. Instead of leaving their hay loose in their bedding area, they have a litter tray each. Inside each litter tray is hay.
Both piggies use only these trays now for all toilet needs and we simply empty the tray out daily and wash it.
Keep the litter box clean
No guinea pig will use a dirty, disgusting litter box that desperately needs a clean. Ensure you frequently empty out the litter tray daily. If you have more than four guinea pigs using it, then it will require emptying more than this.
In the beginning, don’t fully wash out their urine scent. As horrible as this sounds it will help keep them using it, even after emptying.
Once they are always using the tray, then it can be given more of a deep clean.
An interesting point, guinea pig urine stains the litter tray a lot. As long as the tray is clean then the staining isn’t that much of an issue. You are welcome to put sheets of newspaper down inside the tray in order to soak up the urine.
Never scold your guinea pigs for not using their litter trays! Some guinea pigs need much longer than others to understand litter training. All guinea pigs are different. Some pick it up straight away whilst others take longer.
Remember your guinea pigs are not doing anything wrong. It is their nature to just go to the toilet wherever they want to.
Keep cleaning your guinea pig cages as usual even if your guinea pig is litter trained. Clean cages are essential for happy, healthy guinea pigs.