Can Guinea Pigs Be Litter Trained? (Complete Guide and Tips)

Can Guinea Pigs Be Litter Trained_

Training your guinea pig to pee or poop is a crucial step in pig’s development. Many guinea pig owners know that guinea pigs are relatively fast learners and they are able to learn some basic and non-basic tricks from their owners.

In fact, almost every domesticated animal can be trained to a certain degree, especially some type of birds, small animals, and of course cats and dogs.

Can guinea pigs be litter trained? Yes, guinea pigs can be litter trained but this process takes devotion and time. There are certain steps and tips that need to be followed that greatly improve the chances of successfully litter training your guinea pig. It is important to know that not every guinea pig can be litter trained and that scolding or forcing guinea pigs will only result in them being stressed or depressed. Guinea pig’s litter training needs to be done with utmost care and trust. With our instructional guide, this process will be easy and entertaining.

It’s very important that your guinea pig knows the relevance of a litter box. A litter box is here to teach your guinea pig to pee or poop at the same exact spot.

As guinea pigs are mostly kept in the house, the importance of this training is very high. You don’t want your guinea pig to poop wherever it wants, right?

Now let’s see how you can train your guinea pig to use a litter box.

Related: Are Guinea Pigs Trainable?

How to Litter Train a Guinea Pig: Step by Step Instructions


1. Decide Where to Place a Litter Box

Decide Where to Place a guinea pig Litter Box

Where should you place the litter box? Well, you certainly can’t place it anywhere you want. The first step is to observe your guinea pig and see where it goes to the toilet. You can easily do this by sitting next to a cage and watching it when it needs to go to the toilet.

Usually, a guinea pig uses the same place as a toilet every single time. If you pinpointed the place, now it’s time to make a decision. That is the place where you should place the litter box.

The important thing is to make that place a bit darker than it usually is. This is a primal instinct of guinea pigs, as they aren’t predatory animals. In case a guinea pig gets attacked, it will most likely freeze in place and get eaten. When it’s very bright, a guinea pig simply doesn’t feel safe and refuses to eliminate at that place.

For this animal, it’s very important that the litter box is placed in a darker part of the cage, and that the guinea pig feels secure there.

Although we’ve now domesticated guinea pigs pretty much, some primal instincts stay within these animals and they must be respected.

To digress, watch where your guinea pig goes to the toilet and make sure to put a litter box at that place. Also, make sure that it isn’t very exposed.


2. Advocate Litter Box Use

Advocate Litter Box Use

If you’ve read and followed our first step, advocating litter box use should go without hassle. As the litter box is now planted at the place where guinea pig goes to the toilet, its instinct should tell it to use it as soon as possible. In most cases, the guinea pig will go straight for the box, pee or poop, and then move away.

However, if you aren’t that lucky and your guinea pig doesn’t use the litter box right away, here’s how you can improve things.


Add Some Food

Many guinea pig owners will often turn to this solution if their guinea pig doesn’t recognize the litter box. Placing food near that spot will make guinea pigs accept the presence of the litter box.


Use Hay

Use Hay

If you use hay as bedding, you can place some of the hay in the litter box. You can use fresh hay or hay that your guinea pig already used for “eliminating”.

While the fresh hay works quite well, hay that your guinea pig used is sometimes superior. This is because it can sense a smell of urine or feces and with a bit of luck, realize that it needs to eliminate there.

Related: Best Hay for Guinea Pigs: A Helpful Guide


3. Put the Poop in the Litter Box

What if your guinea pig still doesn’t use a litter box? In that case, you can put their poop in the litter box, if they eliminated outside of it. It may sound strange, but if a guinea pig sees that its poop is now in the litter box, it may give a bit of motivation to use it.

The hay in the litter box will get that smell from poop, which should make your pig pay more attention to it.



4. Do Some Training out of the Cage

Can the litter box be placed outside of the cage during the training process? Absolutely! This is one of the easiest ways to train your guinea pig to use the litter box.

Simply put the box outside and observe your pig for signs that indicate a need for a toilet. If you see the signs, pick up your pig, place it in the litter box, and let it pee or poop. This way, it’ll learn to use the litter box, even wherever you place it.

You should be careful and closely observe your guinea pig as it has a small bladder and needs to use the bathroom every 15-20 minutes.


5. Rewards, Please!

Rewards, Please!

Every time your Guinea pig uses a litter box, you should reward it. Giving it some fresh lettuce or cabbage is going to make your pig happy and glad that it listened to you.

With some food as a reward, a guinea pig should learn to use a litter box easily and in a few days, it can become a habit.


6. Change the Litter in the Box Often

A guinea pig is kept in-house, and as such, these animals aren’t dirty and messy. When it comes to the litter box, guinea pigs love using relatively clean litter boxes and despise dirty ones. Do you see where we’re going?

Training your guinea pig to use a dirty litter box simply isn’t going to work. A litter box should be cleaned every three days and washed once a week. Remember that the smell of feces and urine promotes using the litter box, so washing it very often isn’t a good idea.

As much as guinea pigs hate a dirty litter box, a box should still have a tiny bit of smell for a guinea pig to use it. That being said, avoid washing the litter box with cleaning agents. Instead, use only water to clean it and be sure to change hay every time you clean and wash the litter box.

Related: How to Clean a Guinea Pig Cage: A Step by Step Guide


Things to Avoid When Litter Training Guinea Pigs

What to Avoid When Litter-Training Your Guinea Pig

1. Scolding and Getting Angry

Like humans, animals love learning new stuff, but they can’t learn anything new if they’re stressed. Some guinea pigs can learn to use litter boxes faster and some do it slower, but the most important thing is that they CAN learn to use it. It’s a fact.

If you use scolding to persuade your guinea pig to use a litter box, you’ll only make it stressed and using a litter box… well, that’s not gonna happen!

As guinea pigs don’t know how to communicate with people, they won’t know why you’re angry and upset. You should also never punish or hit your guinea pig. Remember that these animals are quite timid and can easily die from a heart attack if they’re scared.


2. Using a Cat Litter

Using a Cat Litter

When training your guinea pig to use a litter box, never use a cat litter. It’s called a cat litter for a reason and should not be used for guinea pigs. Cat litter consists of sand. The sand allows the cat to defecate and then bury the feces with sand.

Guinea pigs don’t do a lot of digging and this clumpy cat litter can be accidentally eaten by a guinea pig. The tiny particles from this sand can choke a guinea pig, making it very dangerous.

On top of that, the cat litter consists of some chemicals that are there to reduce the scent of feces, which is something that’s not recommended for a guinea pig. Not only those chemicals are toxic, but also prevent your guinea pig from being motivated to use the litter box.

Remember that scent is very important for a litter box!


3. Getting Upset When It Doesn’t Use a Litter Box

Even when you successfully train your guinea pig to use a litter box, it may not always use it. And you know what? Some guinea pigs hate the litter box!

Although we’re talking about highly-domesticated animals, guinea pigs are still less domesticated than dogs and cats and may simply find a litter box repulsive.

Despite your best efforts in training and domestication, you should get over the fact that guinea pigs won’t use litter box every time.

Can Guinea Pigs Be Litter Trained_1

Summary

What have we learned from this article? We learned that guinea pigs can be trained to use the litter box. Furthermore, Guinea pigs are capable of learning more than that, if you have some spare time to spend with them.

Much like every domesticated animal out there, guinea pigs can be trained to behave almost as you would want them, but a strong bond and communication is very important when doing this training.

If you stay relaxed, your guinea pig is also going to be relaxed, thus learning new stuff with less hassle. If you liked our article please follow us for more advice on guinea pigs!

Related: Why Do Guinea Pigs Eat Their Own Poop? (Coprophagy)


List of Sources

Richardson, V., Care of guinea pigs, Veterinary Nursing Journal, 2014.

Mostwin, J. L., Karim, O. M. A., Koeveringe, G. V, Seki, N., Guinea pig as an animal model for the study of urinary bladder function in the normal and obstructed state, Neurourology and Urodynamics, 1994.

Künzl, C., Sachser, N., The Behavioral Endocrinology of Domestication: A Comparison between the Domestic Guinea Pig (Cavia apereaf.porcellus) and Its Wild Ancestor, the Cavy (Cavia aperea), Hormones and Behavior, 1999.

Donnelly, T. M., Rodent Husbandry and Care, Purdue University, 2007.

Oglesbee, L. B., Bladder and Urinary Tract Stones in Guinea Pigs, Blackwell’s Five-Minute Veterinary Consult: Small Mammal, Second Edition., 2011.

White, W. J., Balk, M. W., Lang, C. M., Use of cage space by guineapigs, 1989.

Hawkins, M. G., Ruby, A. L., Drazenovich, T. L., Westropp, J. L., Composition and characteristics of urinary calculi from guinea pigs, Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Associaton, 2009.

Quesenberry, E. K., Donnelly, M. T., Providing a Home for a Guinea Pig, MERCK MANUAL, Veterinary Manual.

NC State Veterinary Hospital, Caring for Your Pet Guinea Pig, Exotic Animal Medicine Department.

Clarissa Moolbrock

Clarissa Moolbrock is one of the founders and editor at Guinea Pig Tube. She is also an author of "Complete Guinea Pig Care Guide: The Essential, Practical Guide To All Aspects of Caring for Your Guinea Pigs" (available on Amazon). Being a veterinary technician helping animals and sharing her experience and knowledge with other guinea pig owners is her passion. Her life goal is to popularise guinea pigs as pets and that is why she has started Guinea Pig Tube website.