How to Train Your Hamster to Use a Litter Box
Can a Rodent 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 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. 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.
If you notice that your hamster is trying to stuff his litter into his mouth, change the litter option, as some bedding can scratch the cheek pouches and some are hazardous, such as silica dust litter.
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 your wishes 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 it designates a potty corner and then add in 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.
If Your Hamster Is Deviant
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.