Skip to main content

How to Litter Box Train or Potty Train Your Guinea Pigs

My interest is in small animals. I found out many years ago that having a pet is very therapeutic and soothing.

This is the cage that we used to potty train the guinea pigs. I bet you didn't think it was possible to potty train your guinea pig.

This is the cage that we used to potty train the guinea pigs. I bet you didn't think it was possible to potty train your guinea pig.

Yes, It's Possible to Potty Train Guinea Pigs

Bathroom training guinea pigs is possible to do, though it might take some time. The project is worth it though, because the cage will be much cleaner as a result.

Rodents are not like canines or felines; they do their business where they sleep, eat, feel comfortable, or even where they stand. They are not going to bark or purr at you for attention to use the bathroom. Dogs will bark to be let out, and you will understand what they need and when. Animals that can semi-communicate with people will make pet-to-master understanding a lot easier.

Most animals have a safe area that they use to eat, sleep, or whatever else they do. When we go out and need to use a toilet, of course it would feel more comfortable at home; it's the same exact thing for animals.

Are They Hard to Train?

Guinea pigs or other animals normally use the same location to potty and eat. Training a guinea pig how to potty in the right area is possible but may take some time, effort, and understanding. There are no potty training pads that are made for guinea pigs; hence, it is harder to potty train them. It all depends on how fast your guinea pigs pick up the hint you are giving them.

Smaller animals usually need more time to adjust to the environment they will live in, including their owners. When they are in the wild, they will move to different areas, but usually they try to stay in one location for as long as they can. Change does not come easy to anyone, whether it be for human or animals.

How to Poop Train Your Guinea Pigs: Step-by-Step Guide

  1. Create a Dark Area for the Litter Box
  2. Place Their Food in the Same Dark Area
  3. Incorporate Bedding in the Litter Box
  4. Don't Change the Potty Area as They Adjust
The guinea pigs' hideout, this is the place where they eat their treats and also use as a bathroom

The guinea pigs' hideout, this is the place where they eat their treats and also use as a bathroom

1. Create a Dark Area for the Litter Box

One way to train your pets to potty in the area you want them to go is designating an area that is covered on all sides to keep it dark for them. The darker the area, the better it is for the guinea pigs. If you noticed in the first picture, the night lamp was strategically placed to keep the playground (or the place where you don't want your guinea pigs to poop or pee) nice and bright while keeping the bathroom provided for them nice and dark. This will create the illusion that it is “safe” even though the whole area is fine.

Why Is the Darkness Important?

Guinea pigs have little to no defense in the wild. If you startle them, they will just freeze and pray for their life. They will not attack and cause a blood bath with their twenty or so teeth. Because of their inability to escape predators, they have a limited resource for survival. Guinea pigs do most of their business in the dark, hence they potty in areas where predators can’t track them—or they try to. They are very easily threatened, but they still love to run around and play. Guinea pigs that are domesticated have a lot less ability to survive in the wild, but they still maintain their instincts of survival, no matter how little it is and no matter where it is.

Guinea pigs, in general, are so vulnerable. They are very cautious where they pee because they don't want their predators to know where they are. Their urine is also used as their means of communication to other guinea pigs; that is why they prefer it to be in an area that is safe for them. So, they have this idea in their heads that it is safer to be in a dark area. If it is dark, they think there is a smaller chance for predators to find them.

2. Place Their Food in the Same Dark Area

Another thing is to place the food that you are giving them in that exact same dark area because they also love to poop where they eat. By doing these two things, you have pretty much created a perfect safe environment for your guinea pigs—and, rest assured, you will no longer have issues with your guinea pigs' poop and pee all over the cage. They will slowly begin to build an understanding that the area to potty in is inside—and only inside—the dark area that was set up for them.

The bedding in this picture is pine chips, the chewing log and pigloo is to provide more dark area.  There is also hay and bamboo inside the area.

The bedding in this picture is pine chips, the chewing log and pigloo is to provide more dark area. There is also hay and bamboo inside the area.

3. Incorporate Bedding in the Litter Box

This is how you set up and maintain guinea pig bedding inside the dark or covered area mentioned above:

  • First, you need to have a litter pan or a small or medium-sized container built for your guinea pigs to poop in.
  • Then, you just add a piece of old newspaper underneath the bedding and add a guinea pig wood tunnel or igloo for them to sleep in.
  • When you need to change it, just remove the whole potty box or litter pan and take out everything that is on it and put another old newspaper underneath the bedding—and you’re done.

What if I Use Fleece in My Cage?

Bedding for guinea pigs is usually used for the litter box to help "train" them. But this is really not the case. If you follow the instructions in the previous section, then the bedding will work like a charm for you. Other than that, if you are someone that loves fleece for your guinea pigs, the method of potty training mentioned above for guinea pigs will give you the option to use both fleece and bedding at the same time. It is a lot easier to clean out the bedding in a litter box than to use cloth, such as fleece, throughout the cage and get poop all over it.

Cleaning Tips

Some people clean their cage twice a day, which means changing the fleece and washing it. When your guinea pigs are potty trained, there is no need to do it because their poop is contained in one area—the same place the bedding is.

I have also written detailed instructions on how to properly clean your guinea pigs' cage.

This is how it usually looks, although some days there will be wood chips outside if they kick or popcorn like crazy. The top is a bit dirtier, since we use that area to house them as we clean up.

This is how it usually looks, although some days there will be wood chips outside if they kick or popcorn like crazy. The top is a bit dirtier, since we use that area to house them as we clean up.

4. Don't Change the Potty Area as They Adjust

Once they have adjusted to using one area to potty, try not to make any changes too soon. When their environment changes, what they learn becomes unlearned. Changes meaning moving their potty area to a different location, not changing what is inside the area.

Training Takes Time . . . But It's Worth It!

When your pets have an area to potty, it makes life a whole lot easier having them. Cleaning becomes easier, and you can start making the cage a bit fancier if you so desire to do it. It helps with expense as well, or shifting expense from buying litter material to toys for them.

After they are used to it, they will do most of the pooping in that area. The “outside” area will still occasionally get some of their trash, but it is a whole lot less.

More on Guinea Pigs

  • How to build a guinea pigs cage?
    Having guinea pigs are fun but what about its cage, the ones that are sold is quite small and it gets even tighter as they grow. The C&C cage would be ideal but not everyone know how to. So, read on for more info.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

© 2012 Dave Rogers


Joshua Diets on July 08, 2020:

Why does my pig pull poop out his butt with his mouth and lick up his pee? How can my guinie pig eat a whole 12" carrot and then half Of an apple in one sitting? Is 3.5lb big for a guinie pig? My guinie pig dont have twenty something teeth? It has 2 on top and one bigass one on bottom? I can see when she yawns.

Lil Josh on August 10, 2019:

Is it safe to use cat litter or sand for their "toilet" spot? How can I keep it enclosed and dark, something like your pink igloo seems to be a good idea, just put newspaper or the litter box underneath? To keep the rest of the cage lighted, Should I put a lamp at night? or both day and night? Thanks! The pee and poop smell is driving crazy...

Dave Rogers (author) from New York on May 10, 2019:

No it's never a problem. It's just how neat you want them to be is all, but never a problem as long as they're kept clean

Hailee Gladders on May 03, 2019:

Is it a problem if my guinea pigs aren’t potty trained

Greenrider on January 16, 2019:

"Guinea pigs have little to no defense in the wild. If you startle them, they will just freeze and pray for their life." Lmao

@ Guinea pig keeper on March 05, 2018:

You and your tips were very helpful!!!!!!!!! Thank you so much.

Bryn on January 02, 2018:

Can I give my guinea pig cheerios?

Dave Rogers (author) from New York on December 30, 2017:

@hamster pro 321 If they pee a lot that's good means that they are drinking a decent amount of water. Just like humans, it's good to intake a good quantity of water every day.

hamster pro 321 on December 21, 2017:

hi I have 1 guinea pig and she is peeing like crazy! She has been peeing in her potty every single week does this mean that's good?

Dave Rogers (author) from New York on November 25, 2017:

Sorry for the late reply, that box is plastic, kind of like the one that are used for signs.

YMR on November 19, 2017:

What is the white, rectangular box tiki are using to contain the bedding and hideouts?

Yvette on November 19, 2017:

What is the white, rectangular box you are using to hold the bedding?

Jay on September 25, 2017:

I had that log and I have a green house. Btw I got 3 guinea

Stephanie on August 21, 2017:

That's funny we have the same castle same color and same edible log

Treelady on August 09, 2017:

Some seem to naturally use mostly one corner. Those guys are much easier, just keep that corner scooped every day. I use the flat spreader the hardware stores sell ($2) for smoothing cement. Some are "let it fly" types and I have encountered one who would p&poo on everything except the floor

Mrmanlymanofall on February 23, 2017:

Thanks mine is a poop machine hope it works! Oh ya, quietriot, bestest is not a word

QuietRiot on February 21, 2017:

This is the bestest article I have ever read about Guinea Pigs environment. I have struggled cleaning my Buzz's cage. Used LOTS of new paper. The info about the dark area was extremely helpful. I had no idea. I felt bad that his cage is dark from blankets I used to prevent drafts. Thank you very much ;)

Larry on January 19, 2017:

I had three males. I was stunned at how much they ate and crapped. Within 24 hours the cage would go from clean to turd central...literally 100s of turds. A full cleaning of their cage once a week was pushing it. They shed like crazy and cutting their nails is tricky. I originally wanted to adopt two but the rescue added a third aggressive one. He terrorized the other two. Would never have them as pets again.

Dave Rogers (author) from New York on December 18, 2016:

@A Smith When I started trying to get the guinea pigs to use a litter box. I focus my research on rodents in general, all rodents have similar habits. I don't have any books to refer you to as I did all my research online. I like that idea about how you have students work with caring for the guinea pigs, demonstrate responsibility and more. Good luck with your research, wish I could help more.

A Smith on December 18, 2016:

I am currently researching this topic. I am planning to adopt 3 young female guinea pigs for my 4th-grade students. My students rotate in three groups during each school day and since the pigs need socialization I knew I needed at least two. I have contacted a family that breeds them and they have a litter that should be available in a month for adoption. I plan to build the enclosure now and introduce them into my home at first before taking them into the classroom. I hope to send them home on weekends with selected students, but only after the students have demonstrated their capability both in the classroom and by researching the care and feeding necessary. Daily care will be by selected students in the classroom at first, and they will have selected opportunities to socialize with them during class on a daily basis. Are there any books or other advice that you would recommend to me for reference?

Dave Rogers (author) from New York on October 18, 2016:

you're right except without the food, I try keep their food as clean as possible.

Guineahope on October 18, 2016:

So, let me get this straight, you use hamster bedding in a shoe box ( or something) and put it in a dark area with their food???? Was I right?????

Dave Rogers (author) from New York on September 19, 2016:

They are turd machines indeed, even if they eat at a minimum rate. But their mess is easy to clean up. They can become a handful especially with more than two. I had tried that and wasn't able to keep up with the cleaning.

Dave Rogers (author) from New York on August 02, 2016:

Sorry for the late replies, I don't have any info on baby care for the piggies, but from what I was told they need to be given attention a bit more when they are young, but I'm not sure about food, there are food sold for baby piggies but usually food should be on the softer side for them to digest better. when I raised them I crushed whatever pellets that was for baby guinea pigs and mixed it with some type of squash or pumpkin, hand fed them for a peroid till I felt it was good enough which was about 4 weeks.

The piggies usually stay away from the pooped area, I used to section the litter box to three and the middle is where they did their business and the side section is where they slept. after a few months I decided to just use one litter box for everything but changed the bedding every other day and sometimes daily depending on how much they ate and how it smelled, but their fur was always clean as I showered them bi-weekly.

The top is also a litter box, they use that when the bottom is bad, surprisingly they are picky as heck and perfer clean areas. when I see them on top a lot I know I need to clean. I also have litter boxes on the floor in case they need to go when they are out of their cage.

Thanks again for reading

Sarah on July 19, 2016:

Is the box in the top also a litter box?

Piglet on July 06, 2016:

Thanks for the great article and for going into the helpful details. Will they choose to spend all their time in the litter box if it's the only dark and covered place, or will they leave after doing their business? I am concerned about their fur getting smelly from hanging out in their yuck.

Emily on June 25, 2016:

This is the best Guinea pig iformashin l every had because in 1 or 2 years befor l get two Guinea pigs they will be the best but l have a dog and a cat so it's going to be anoint thanks emily

Donna on February 08, 2016:

Thank you for the great advice on giving guineas a great lifr! Just got teo babies yesterday...dobyou have any info on baby care? They are siblings...don't know if they are males or females yet hut they a re cuterbthan heck.

Dave Rogers (author) from New York on November 10, 2015:

@goatlover The area you want them to potty in should be dark, try to cover the area about 50% of the way. The dark area gives them security, as if they are hiding. I use a fleece to cover part of the opening, initially I covered the entire space where they potty. Little at a time I start to move the cover, in about 3 months I was able to remove it entirely. They realize that is the area to poop in after it was removed and continued to go back there. But when it's full they'll start pooping all over the place, so you'll need to maintain keeping it clean. I hope this helps.

goatlover on November 09, 2015:

I am trying to train my guinea pigs to go in the pooping area(their food and water are there too) but I am having no luck they are pooping everywhere. Do you have any tips to help me with my problem.

Dave Rogers (author) from New York on June 28, 2015:

@ GuineaMom The litter box is a plastic box made from corrugated plastic sheets, I bought a couple of sheets to make into a box to fit into the cage. And have some spare just in case, cleaning it is easy but I do change the plastic litter box every time it becomes difficult cleaning. So far I have changed it once, and it's been years. I hope this helps answer your question and thanks for checking it out.

GuineaMom on June 28, 2015:

How do you make it so that the potty area is removable for cleaning.? Is that the only part of your cage that is the plastic.?

Dave Rogers (author) from New York on February 08, 2015:

I'm glad you found it informative, and thank you for reading :)

Tired of cleaning cages on February 07, 2015:

Yes! I didn't know it could be done! Thanks for the informative article!

Dave Rogers (author) from New York on March 06, 2013:

@Melissa A Smith .. cleaning up a piggies cage can get annoying and when they get hungry or not enough attention, I've notice they start to make a mess. Almost like they are seeking attention.

Melissa A Smith from New York on March 06, 2013:

I used to have to clean guinea pig cages and after that I swore I would never own one. Voted up.

Dave Rogers (author) from New York on September 30, 2012:

@CavyCrazy Thanks for the comment, that's why we don't use one, I don't believe using that for anything, it's pretty brutal not only for the spine but their feet too. But I see the toys, that wasn't supposed to be there, thanks for giving me a heads up

CavyCrazy on September 30, 2012:

You are never supposed to use running wheels/balls for Guinea pigs. They ain't good for their spine!

Dave Rogers (author) from New York on September 19, 2012:

@Vintagetreasures We had the same problem when we fisrt got the guinea pigs, when I decided to train them I was just hoping that they were like other small mammals and I guess they were which helps a lot with cleaning. I hope you will find this helpful when your kid gets the guinea pig. if you have any questions just let me know. And thanks so much for the comment :)

Terri on September 19, 2012:

Great hub! We've had guineas in the past and cleaning the cage was always the worst thing. My 8 year old wants her own guinea pig and I think I'll try you cage and potty training ideas!

Dave Rogers (author) from New York on July 28, 2012:

@prasetio30 Thanks for reading and your comment. Am glad you like it

prasetio30 from malang-indonesia on July 28, 2012:

Very informative hub. Thanks for writing and share with us. Voted up and take care!

Dave Rogers (author) from New York on July 25, 2012:

@Angela Kane Thanks for reading thos, I had to try everything I can think of that was successful with other animals because their cage started smell like a garbage dump if I missed a day of cleaning

Angela Kane from Las Vegas, Nevada on July 25, 2012:

Great hub, I had guinea pigs as pets so I understand the hassles of trying to keep their cages clean.