Whitney has extensive domestic animal husbandry experience and has cared for various species.
Can a Hamster Really Be Potty Trained?
Believe it or not, it is possible to train your hamster to potty in one spot. Because they are clean animals, they generally go to the bathroom in one spot anyways, so all you have to do is find that corner and train him to use the litter box instead of the cage.
This will make your cleaning schedule a little easier. Plus, it will confine the waste to one spot that can be emptied frequently and easily. The cage will be cleaner, it will have less ammonia, and it will smell less.
Potty training is ideal for you and your pet. It may take a little time, but in the end, it is definitely worth it. Below, you'll find a list of basic equipment and tips for training your hamster how to use the litter box.
Equipment You Need
When training your hamster, you need to make sure that you have the right equipment. The good thing is that finding a potty is not that hard to do, as most pet stores and online pet supply websites will carry at least one type, none of which are very expensive.
The commercial litter boxes are typically covered, which keeps the smell inside the potty, but there are some that are just high corner litter pans, which work just as well. However, if you want to save a few bucks, you can make your own litter box.
Making Your Own Potty
When making a homemade hamster potty, you can use a small, sturdy plastic container with a lid. The instructions are very simple:
- Cut a 2- to 3-inch hole in one side of the container about 1 inch above the base so that the litter won't scatter through the cage.
- Then, sand down the edges so that there aren't any sharp points that may scratch your hamster.
Homemade potties will have to be replaced more often than a commercial one, but any plastic one will need to be replaced eventually as they are not chew-proof. You can also use a one-pint glass jar or a 1/2-pint glass jar and put it in the corner of the cage. This won't have to be replaced, but like any litter box, it would still need to be cleaned.
What Kind of Litter to Get
Once you've figured out what you're going to use for the actual box, you'll need to get the litter. Most commercial hamster potties come with a sample bag of litter, but this won't last long. Go ahead and purchase a box of litter refill. If you can't find hamster litter, you can buy dust-free, scent-free, clumping cat litter. If the litter has silica dust, you want to avoid it.
Other options that you can consider include pelleted litter made of wood, paper, grain, or grass. These options can't be scooped as easily, but they are super absorbent and do a great job of odor control.
Warning: If you notice that your hamster is trying to stuff his litter into his mouth, change the litter option, as some types can scratch the cheek pouches. Also, some are hazardous, such as silica dust litter.
Training Your Pet
Now that you've gotten all the supplies, you need to figure out which corner of the cage your hamster does his business in the most. That is the corner where you want to put the box. If you choose where you want the litter box, he will just ignore it and go wherever he wants to go anyway. If you're setting up a new enclosure for a new hamster, don't add the potty just yet. Wait until your pet designates a potty corner and then add in the potty.
How to Introduce Your Hamster to the Potty
- Once you've figured out where to put the litter box for your hamster, pour in enough litter to cover the bottom of the pan.
- Then, add a little bit of soiled bedding and a few droppings.
- When your hamster wakes up, put him at the litter box so that he can sniff and figure out what's going on.
- Don't force your hamster into the potty. You don't want to get your fingers bit, and you don't want to turn him off the idea of toilet training. Let the hamster investigate the box at his own pace. Most hamsters will eventually figure it out on their own.
What to Do If Your Hamster Doesn't Use the Box
If your hamster just isn't thrilled with the idea of a litter box and is using it for a different purpose, such as a bed or an eating area, figure out why. Usually, a hamster will sleep in the litter box if he doesn't have a separate sleeping area or if he just doesn't like his current sleeping area. If your hamster is using the potty to eat or (most common) hide his food, then he probably feels the cage is too small and is finding alternate places for his food.
In order to get your hamster to use the potty, consider your cage. Is it big enough? Does the cage offer enough room for a litter box, wheel, at least one house, and plenty of places to store food? If not, then you may want to consider a new cage for your hamster. If the cage is plenty big, then consider whether your hamster needs another sleeping area.
If your hamster is still deviant and doesn't want to use the litter box or is only using it to urinate but not defecate, that's common. Just pick up the pellets and flush them down the toilet.
Another common reason that a hamster may be uncooperative is if the cage is rather large and the hamster is using more than one corner. Just add a potty in each corner that the hamster is using instead of trying to force him to that one corner.
It may take time to train a stubborn hamster, but in general, most will get the hang of things. Sometimes, they just take their own time at it. Don't force the issue, which will just upset you and stress your hamster.
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.
Tongxin123 on July 23, 2020:
I just got a winter white hamster and he is doin fine! Just wanna ask can I use damn bath for the potty litter? Thx
bob on June 11, 2020:
cool cool cool cool cool cool cool
ANne on April 15, 2020:
the problem is that my hamster poops in its nest most.
Do I move it?
Sandy on January 14, 2020:
My hamster seems to have a problem peeing through the tubes and peeing on the wheel. I have 2 litter boxes but my hamster looks at it and ignores it.
baile on August 02, 2019:
So my hamster is using the bathroom under his wheel. Do i move the wheel?
selena on January 29, 2019:
Tip on November 12, 2018:
The best things to do is pit your hamsters poop in the spot you want him/her to poop and add beeding
NATHAN ALVAREZ on April 20, 2018:
Me be getting a ham ham tomorrow me other 1 be lost
Jules on March 26, 2018:
My hamster pees and poos in her look out which is too small to put a potty box she also sleeps there.
hamster pro 321 on December 21, 2017:
My hamster poops everywhere in his cage and finally found a spot to pee & poop now I can get a litter box from pet smart.
hamster pro 321 on December 18, 2017:
My hamster poops everywhere in his cage his 56' cage! I put my own litter box in his cage and Humphrey HATES it!!! I try to let him know the litter box but he hates it sooo much that he bit me what should I do?
Toxicpunkette on September 01, 2017:
You can tell where they picked a spot to pee because when you clean the bedding some of it will stick to one spot. They poop everywhere well at least mine does.
Nerissa on July 27, 2017:
Hi my mom said when my grades are up I'll get a hamster and I am on summer break and my birthday is COming up and I want one for my birthday so I was wondering if you can send me one plz with all the supplies plz
cheryl on May 13, 2017:
what if the hamster has a large cage and a unmovable wheel and has decided to use under the wheel to poop in.what are you to do then?
PAR on May 12, 2017:
All of my hamsters have learned to use a potty. I always be sure to commend them just like a dog or kitty by saying "Yeah pee in your potty"!!! It really does help keep the cage cleaner!!
DBS on May 06, 2017:
Someonne help what should I do for my hamster it urinates in the food bowl
Dylan on April 08, 2017:
Thank you so much! But I do have one question; what if he usually only uses the bathroom in his little house? Other than that, this has been very helpful :)
Privacy Problem on March 12, 2017:
How do I find where my hamster does her business the most? (She poops everywhere....)
Mom says don't put my name on October 15, 2016:
What if my hamster has chosen the spot right in front of the latch to her cage for a potty spot? I mean, she has a 4 level cage, but for the most part that is where she goes. Should I make a potty for every level, or stick to that spot??
maya on March 10, 2016:
I'm getting a hamster and i want to train it. Great tip!
Whitney (author) from Georgia on December 27, 2012:
I would suggest changing it daily at first until you can figure out your hamster's routine.
Susan on December 22, 2012:
how often should you clean out its litter tray? when, how do you know when to? and how.
Parker Bernard on November 22, 2012:
i am considering buying one of these because im buying two baby dwarf hamsters and i want them to be trained.....so i really hope it works! :)
Kiwi is my hamster on May 02, 2012:
Kiwi is sort of...relieving herself by her wheel, on the plastic. I'm not sure where else though, what should I do?
P.S. I've had her for about 5 days so I'm not sure shes chosen a corner...
hgkjbbu on April 14, 2012:
how often should you change the litter?
hamsta on April 23, 2011:
OMG! I didn't think it would actually work!!! I'm willing to try anything to get the smell out.If your hamster still won't cooperate after you've tried just about everything you should seriously consider getting a different litter box. He may not like the one he currently has.
Alissa from Rocky Hill, CT on August 12, 2010:
I've done this and it definitely works. :)
Whitney (author) from Georgia on August 09, 2010:
Try putting the soiled bedding where inside the potty, and putting the potty where the house is. Maybe that will help. Also thoroughly clean the house to try to get rid of any urine smells in and on it.
Roderick on August 09, 2010:
hi. my hamsters urines in the little house. where do i put the potty? pls help
Aysha Rafique on April 24, 2010:
I bought a hamster potty but it was terrible. It was the Super Pet one and it was flimsy and the lid kept on popping off. Without the lid the potty itself was useless. Instead I use a small ceramic bowl. That's just a head's up for anybody who is reading this. Anyway, I use sand as litter and it doesn't do a good job of absorbing it. But when I changed it to a hamster litter my hamster stopped using it as a potty. Is there a litter that has the same texture as sand but does a better job of eliminating the odour? The cage is kept in my bedroom so it's a must!