Litter Training pet rats can seem tough, but it can actually be done quite quickly! My pet rats adapted themselves to their litter box very quickly! In about a week, they were doing their necessities in the litter instead of a random spot in the cage. Using the litter makes it so much easier to clean and keeps the cage more organized and hygienic.
So how do you litter train your pet rats, quickly? It’s very easy, you just need a litter box with pellets and some patience. Keep the pet rats droppings in the litter box and they will soon understand that there is where they shall go do their business.
But there’s more to it than that! So let’s go through the steps.
1. Set Up Your Litter Box With Litter
The first thing you need is a Litter Box. They’re not too hard to find and there are different sizes to them. They’re usually designed towards rabbits, ferrets and pet rats. But you can also find some for hamsters, for example. The latter is way too small for a pet rat, especially if you own more than one. It will get dirty in a day and you’d need to change its contents almost daily.
Update: We’ve created an article listing the best litter and litter boxes to use that you should check out here!
With that said, this litter box from Ware Manufacturing is a great choice.
It’s big and it comes with a grid, so your pet rats can walk onto it, without dirtying themselves. We usually take off the grid, just to make sure our
It’s a matter of preference, some people like to keep the grid, others take it out!
Now, we need some content for the box. This will absorb your pet rat’s urine and avoid a smelly cage, for longer. Pet rats don’t really smell, but after a week, you’ll definitely note a bit of smell. It is advisable to make a deep cleaning of the cage once a week.
We clean our house frequently, so it’s only normal for their house to need the same maintenance. As for the litter, I really like the So Phresh Paper Pellets. Pellets in general really work for pet rat litter in my opinion.
These are mostly made from paper and will absorb any moisture. They’re very safe for your rodent friends, so you don’t need to worry in case your pet rat decides to munch on them. Mine never really did that. At least, that I’ve noticed, but some rats like to chew everything!
Remember to use a different material for the litter than the one you use for bedding. This will make it easier to train since they will understand that the place to do their necessities is not the same as where they sleep!
Now, lastly, put the litter box where your pet rat usually goes to the bathroom in their cage. They usually tend to choose a spot to serve as a toilette. They’re very clean and don’t like to mix their spaces either. This makes the whole process much easier!
2. Dirty The Litter Box With Their Droppings
If you don’t have your pet rat yet, just choose one of the corners of the cage and leave the box there. Once they come, pay attention to where they leave their droppings. If they’re not choosing to do it on the box, change the litter box to the spot where you’re finding the droppings!
It will also help a lot if you start picking up their droppings and leave them on the litter box. Your pet rats are not yet used to the idea of having a box for their necessities. But once they find their drops on it, frequently, they’ll understand that’s the place they should relieve themselves.
In a few weeks, your pet rats will probably stop dirtying the rest of the cage and use the litter box at all times. Some ratties can be more stubborn and might take some time to use the box, but sooner or later they’ll use it.
Sometimes, pet rats can also stop using their litter box because it’s too dirty.
Mine tend to do that, by the end of the week. Even though we clean their box daily, they still pee in it and it gets dirty.
Rats are clean and will also feel uncomfortable with a dirty place. Sometimes we even change the pellets once a week, so they won’t start avoiding the box and start doing their necessities around it.
In short, leave the litter box in a place that’s easy for them to reach. If they’re not using the box, change it to the place where your pet rats leave their droppings and start picking these up and put them in the litter box.
They’ll understand that’s their toilette and start using it in no time!
3. Praise Your Rats For Using The Litter Box
If you see your pet rats using the litter box, remember to praise them by giving your ratties a treat. Just wait for them to be done before you do so of course!
Pet rats learn better by getting praised for doing good things than by being scolded for doing bad things.
They’ll very easily understand when they’re being praised and that a good treat means they did something good. However, they don’t really get they’re doing something bad when they’re scolded.
Our ratties understood at some point we’re not fans of them scavenging around our plants. They’ll do it, but once they know we’re looking they’ll run away and pretend they were doing nothing wrong.
Even though they were scolded, they’ll still do it.
So, don’t bother to scold them if they’re not doing something too bad. For example, there’s no use to scold them if they’re not using the litter.
This can even be counterproductive for you. Just put to use the tips we mentioned above and every time you see your pet rat using the box, give them a delicious treat afterward!
4. Keep The Rest Of The Cage Clean Of Droppings
Clean everything else very well, you want to send them the message that there is no other place to go to the bathroom than the actual litter box! Once they start noticing this behavior, they will mimic it and stop going to the bathroom anywhere else.
Every day, do a checkup of the cage and clean all the droppings from it. If your pet rat is still learning to use the litter box, clean everything else but the box.
This way they’ll understand that’s the place to go.
Once they start using their litter box every time, do a daily cleanup of the box. Take out the droppings or even change the pellets if you feel it’s necessary.
If the box starts being too dirty, your pet rats will start avoiding it and using the space around. So make sure the box is clean enough for them to use!
Litter Training Tips!
Clean Your Litter Box Daily
If your pet rats’ litter box gets too dirty, they will stop going to the bathroom there. They will want to avoid the bad smell and instead will just do it wherever they want.
We don’t like to use a dirty bathroom either and the same goes for our little friends.
Every day, when you wake up or when you get back home, grab some silicone gloves (they usually come in packs of 100 and aren’t too expensive) and take out all the droppings from the box.
Every 3 or 4 days, I’d say to change the pellets if you notice that your pet rats start avoiding it. The pellets will absorb their urine and it will get dirty and they might not like that as well!
This will only take a few minutes and not only will your rodent friends be happier, but their cage and room won’t become smelly either!
Use Multiple Litter Boxes For Larger Cages
If you have a larger cage with several pet rats, consider buying several litter boxes and putting one on each “floor”.
Some rats are just too lazy to go all the way up or down to the litter box, so covering all your bases is a great option. This will also allow you to just clean the ones where they go the most. If you notice one is not being used at all, just remove it from the cage or place it someplace else.
This is just like in family apartments or a big house. If there are more than two people living in the same house, we’ll probably need more than one bathroom. The same goes for our ratties.
If you own several of them and they live in a big cage, it is easier to have several litter boxes for them to share.
This way you’ll ensure better maintenance and cleaning of the cage!
Consider Getting A Larger Litter Box
Bigger litter boxes are usually targeted for bigger rodents, like guinea pigs or rabbits.
These can sometimes be the best for pet rats.
Litter boxes for hamsters are usually too small, especially for a grown rat.
You might have bought a litter box when your pet rats were young, or when you just had 2 pet rats instead of the big family that you have now.
If this is the case you should get a larger litter box for the cage. There are many options, but I really like the Jumbo size litter box from Ware Manufacturing. They’re quite big and easy to clean.
Plus these litter boxes won’t break easily, which means you’ll get to keep the same litter box for a long time. Usually for the entire lifespan of your pet rat!
Put A Litter Box Outside The Cage
Pet rats don’t have to be litter trained only inside the cage, you can train them outside as well!
Since we work at home, we have our ladies in our office with us. This means that the whole day, their cage is open so they can leave and enter anytime. They never really made their necessities outside of it.
If they need to, they usually go to their cage, do their business and go back to playing outside.
This is an option. However, if you do have a big room for them to wander around, consider having an extra litter box to put outside the cage.
Your pet rats can be playing and will know they’ll have someplace near to go to. Or, if they prefer, they can just go back to the cage. Two options, instead of one. It’s also perfect for the laziest ratties that feel that going into their cage again is too much trouble!
Having a litter box outside, will also encourage them to explore their surroundings and not need to rush back home when they need to go to the bathroom.
Frequently Asked Questions
What kind of litter should I use for my pet rat? People have different opinions, but I like the So Phresh Paper Pellets. Pretty absorbent and odorless. They’re made from recycled paper and are biodegradable which is always a plus for us!
How large should a litter box be? Mostly depends on the size of your cage, but for a medium or large sized cage, something like 12″ Width X 9″ Depth X 6″ Height should be enough, although the height doesn’t matter that much. I recommend the litter box from Ware Manufacturing, which has these measurements.
I’ve been trying but my pet rat doesn’t care about litter training! Although pretty rare, some rats just don’t care about litter boxes. If you’ve been doing the steps that we’ve talked about here and no progress is being done for a few weeks, then just accept it and move on!
Some pet rats take longer than others to learn to use the litter box. It’s all a matter of patience. Remember to not be on top of them every time nor scold them. This won’t work with them and will probably even have the opposite result.
Pet rats can be very shy once they move into a new home. Let them explore, smell and use their cage and change whatever needs to change on the litter box without bothering or stressing them too much.
Sooner or later your pet rats will be using their litter box!
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