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A litter-trained guinea pig means less clean-up for you!
If you have ever had a guinea pig, then you know how much they poop. In fact, a guinea pig can poop over 150 times each day – that’s a lot of poop!
You didn’t come here to learn how much guinea pigs poop (you already know). But you’re wondering, can guinea pigs be litter trained? The good news is guinea pigs can be litter trained. And not only that but they also eat their own poop! How efficient!
Have you ever seen your guinea pig duck his head between his legs? If yes, it’s very possible that you have witnessed your piggy eating his poop! Gross! This may be disgusting for us, but this process referred to as coprophagy. It’s quite natural as it is part of the digestive process for the animal.
Litter training your guinea pig will provide significant benefits
A cleaner cage is perhaps the most obvious benefit as it means your guinea pig doesn’t get as smelly. It also means that you don’t have to spend as much time cleaning.
And yet another benefit is that you won’t be shelling out money for new bedding quite as often.
It’s important, however, not to allow yourself to have unrealistic expectations. In very few cases does a guinea pig become 100% trained.
Most guinea pig litter training is less about actual training and more about incorporating a strategy of placing the litter box in a way that makes it more comfortable for the piggy to want to use it.
5 Steps to Litter Train Your Guinea Pig
1. Choosing the right litter box
One of the most important steps in litter training your guinea pig involves the purchase of the right litter box.
The box should be large enough for the pig to turn around comfortably but not so small that the guinea pig won’t want to use it. Smaller litter boxes tend to tip over easily and you may find that they are too small to hold any hay.
A rabbit or ferret sized corner pan can work quite well if your cage has an open corner. You can also try using a small plastic box with a cut-out on one side (be sure to sand down the edges so your guinea pig doesn’t get injured). If your cage doesn’t have a lot of extra space, you can try just using some newspaper in a corner.
2. Litter box material must be different than cage floor material
Your guinea pig isn’t stupid but don’t purposely confuse him. If you line his litter box with the same materials as the floor of his cage, then he is not going to understand that there is one section that he should use to relieve himself.
The material used in the litter areas must be different than what is on the rest of the floor so the guinea pig can easily differentiate between materials.
A newspaper base will make cleanup easier. Paper or 100% wood pellet material works well just be sure they are completely unscented (avoid cedar).
3. Give your guinea pig some privacy
Just like humans, your piggy will want a quiet, comfortable, and secure place in which to relieve himself. So, be sure that his litter box is in a private place.
You can consider draping a blanket over the box, and you will likely find that this will suffice. If your guinea pig’s cage has multiple levels, you may wish to place the litter box in the back corner of the lower level.
4. Reward for using his litter box
You can train your guinea pig to use the box by luring him in and out and rewarding him with a treat when he jumps into the box and stays there long enough to do his business.
Fresh vegetables or their favorite hay are good options.
As with most animals, if you provide a reward for the desired behavior, over time the animal will associate that behavior with a positive outcome.
5. Keep the litter box clean
Even though guinea pigs eat their own poop, that doesn’t mean that the litter box won’t need to be changed frequently. They still urinate and over time, the litter box will take on a very unpleasant smell if the materials inside are not changed out often.
How often the litter box needs to be cleaned will depend on how many guinea pigs you have.
Once every one or two days should be just fine if your piggy is using the little box effectively. However, if your piggy likes to sleep in his little box or spends quite a bit of time there, you will want to change the materials more frequently.
This video from TeachersPiggyPets provides a great overview:
And when things inevitably get a little messy, check out these tips on bathing your piggy’s behind if it gets a little matted.
Once your guinea pig has adjusted to using their litter box, make sure that you don’t change their living environment unless absolutely necessary. If their environment changes (the placement of their litter box within their cage), they will likely unlearn their new bathroom habits and you’ll be back at square zero.
When your piggy is given an area to relieve himself, cleaning his cage will become easier. The expenses of caring for your guinea pig will also lower as you will not need to spend as much time on flooring materials for the rest of the cage.
This means more budget for toys and fun activities for you and your guinea pig!
Reference.com – How Much Does a Guinea Pig Poop?
Wikipedia – Coprophagia
The Ohio State University – Ideas for Cavy Learning Activities Intermediate Level
TeachersPiggyPets – Litter Training Your Guinea Pig