As any owner will know, guinea pigs may look clean and fluffy, but they tend to have a messier side. As they eat and drink, there is an inevitable build-up of waste, making their cage a rather unpleasant environment. Thankfully, you can litter train your guinea pig to significantly minimize the amount of mess.
While it can take for your guinea pig to master this skill, it will result in more hygienic living conditions, less time cleaning, and less money spent on bedding. So without further ado, let’s discover how to litter train a guinea pig.
Can You Litter Train A Guinea Pig?
Guinea pigs are intelligent creatures and can learn surprisingly complex behaviors, with litter training being one of them. Not every guinea pig will be able to get the hang of it but provided you follow the right steps, most will.
Patience is essential, as it may take several weeks to over a month for your guinea pig to be fully litter trained.
How To Litter Train A Guinea Pig
The first step to litter training your guinea pig is to identify where they prefer to do their business. Most guinea pigs will have a favorite area in their cage, so try to find this spot and position the litter box there. You can even use more than one litter box if your guinea pig has multiple favorite spots.
The second step is choosing a litter box. Ideally, it should be large enough for your guinea pig to turn around in. Also, line it with a different material from the rest of the bedding in the cage. That way, your guinea pig will be able to differentiate between the two.
The third step is to introduce your guinea pig to the litter box by luring them into it and giving them praise. After this, reward them with a treat whenever you see your guinea pig using the litter box correctly. This lets them know they are doing it right.
Additionally, if you see any stray droppings outside of the litter box, move them into the box. This helps your guinea pig associate the litter box with a toilet area and encourage them to go there more often.
Repeat these actions consistently, and your guinea pig will be litter trained in no time. So, put simply, the steps are:
- Identify their favorite toilet spots and place a litter box there.
- Make the litter box spacious and line it with a different material than the rest of the cage
- Lure your guinea pig into the litter box and give them a treat when they enter
- Give them a treat whenever you see them using the litter box correctly
- Move stray droppings into the box to further enforce the idea that it is the “litter box”
How To Potty Train A Guinea Pig
Guinea pigs can also be potty trained, which further improves cage hygiene. Like droppings, urine is usually expelled in a select few areas of your guinea pig’s cage.
If you can identify where these are, place a litter tray there. Again, just make sure the litter tray is a good fit for both the cage and your guinea pig.
As guinea pigs have tiny bladders, they tend to urinate every 15 minutes or so, making potty training more complicated than regular litter training.
However, if you can look for signs that your guinea pig is about to urinate – such as fidgeting or backing up – you can quickly pick them up, place them in the litter box, and then reward them for a successful act.
Best Litter For Guinea Pigs
Many litter types are available for guinea pigs, and each one comes with certain advantages or disadvantages for your pet. Wood shavings are one of the most popular litter materials, with aspen wood shavings being the safest type.
Two other types of litter that are great for guinea pigs are natural paper-based litter and fleece litter.
- Aspen shavings offer good absorbency. However, they do not provide much odor control, so regular changing is necessary.
- Paper litter is soft and comfortable, meaning your guinea pig will love the feel and be happy to use it. It also has excellent odor control. However, it still needs to be changed regularly, as it will usually break down in less than a week.
- Fleece litter provides even more comfort, and it’s also reusable, making it cheaper in the long run and more environmentally friendly. It’s also very absorbent. The only downside is that it needs to have an under-layer of newspaper or puppy pads to prevent odor from building up.
Note: aspen shavings must be dust-extracted, as guinea pigs have delicate respiratory systems and can react very badly to dusty litter.
Can You Use Cat Litter For Guinea Pigs?
Cat litter works wonders for cats and is usually composed primarily of clay-based materials. These litter types are often designed to ‘clump,’ meaning they expand when they come into contact with moisture.
That makes it extremely dangerous for small animals because it can expand in their stomachs if ingested, leading to intestinal obstructions and even death. Therefore, you should never use clumping cat litter for your guinea pig.
Other types of cat litter are made of natural paper or biodegradable materials. Generally speaking, these types are safe for all animals to use as litter and will not have any adverse effects on your guinea pig.
However, your guinea pig will be more comfortable with either aspen shavings, natural paper-based litter, or fleece litter, as these types are better designed for smaller pets.