Guinea pigs are sweet, adorable little balls of fluff that provide us with a ton of unconditional love… and an absurd amount of poop. It’s no surprise since they seem to be in either a constant state of nibbling or a perpetual state of gnawing.
If you’re a guinea parent, you’ve undoubtedly come to the same exhausted thought: there must be an easier way to keep a cage clean. The reality is, what goes in, must come out, but do these cuties need to poop EVERYWHERE? Well, fellow piggy lovers, that’s where litter training comes in handy.
The advantages of potty training your piggy pal
As you can imagine, litter training your piggy pal has significant advantages. Not only will your guinea maintain a cleaner cage and a healthier environment, but it also means less money spent on bedding, and most importantly, less cleaning in general. If you’re having trouble imagining such a glorious perk, you’ll want to learn how this is possible with the help of our step-by-step litter training guide.
Do keep in mind, however, that although litter training dramatically improves the overall state of a cage, it may not result in 100% accurate guinea pigs. Hey, even the best of us sometimes have problems getting to the potty in time. But don’t fret, the more you practice these techniques with your pet, the more they’ll improve their litter box habits.
Guinea pig, meet Mr. Litter Box
When it comes down to it, litter training has a lot more to do with creating a comfortable litter environment, while managing strategically placed bathroom zones, and a lot less to do with actual hands-on training. In essence, it’s more of a re-training, as you’re trying to encourage your piggy to change their usual habits. Regardless, litter training significantly reduces the often overwhelming, seemingly never-ending task of near-constant cage cleanings.
#1 Choosing an ideal litter box
Ideally, a litter box needs to be a comfortable size that allows your pet a bit of room to move. Most corner litter boxes at pet stores are too small, so guinea pigs simply won’t use them.
When choosing a box, pick one that’s big enough to accommodate your pet and made from a heavy material that won’t tip over. Many guinea pig owners have a positive experience with Ware Manufacturing litter box. Alternatively, if you’re short on cage space, you can use neatly folded newspaper as a litter zone.
#2 Selecting a litter box lining
To differentiate between regular cage space and the litter area, you’ll need to purchase material to line the inside of the box. For example, if your C&C cage has a fleece lining, you can place newspapers in the litter corners.
#3 Creating the best “restroom” environment
As with humans, guineas enjoy their quiet, private time. To make a litter box seem more appealing, place it in a corner where they’re less likely to be disturbed. Try draping a towel or extra fleece over that section for more privacy. In cages with ramps, the hidden section underneath the top floor makes for an excellent “restroom.”
#4 Teach them to jump to avoid messes
To avoid knocking over their litter boxes, teach your guinea how to jump. With a little incentive, like their favorite dried fruit, you’ll be surprised at how quickly they’ll learn this trick.
#5 When perfectly placed, hay helps create interest
Like a water cooler at the office, well-placed hay can create an appealing gathering spot, which just happens to be near the litter box. That hay will keep your guinea coming back to the litter zone, and train them to stay there for longer stretches of time.
#6 Poop mishap? Place it in the litter zone
As tasking as it sounds, try to keep all pet droppings in the litter box. In doing so, your guinea comes to understand that they should be using their box when the urge strikes.
#7 Move litter box(es) to favorite hotspots
All piggies have a favorite hangout spot. Simply move their litter, or add an extra box, next to their preferred location. Some guinea pig owners had a positive experience with placing the litter box next to the food bowl, but you can merely leave it close to their feeding area. The choice is up to you.
However, since most animals prefer to keep their eating and bathroom spots separate, and to avoid the risk of fecal contamination, you may want to simply add an extra litter near the feeding area, and not directly next to your pet’s food.
#8 Well-placed potty break? Treat time!
The minute your guinea enters their litter, reward them. Needless to say, if you catch them using the potty as an actual toilet, give them a very special treat. This reward system will help you instill positive litter habits.
#9 Nobody likes a stinky bathroom
Don’t give your guineas a reason to avoid the litter. Keep the boxes as clean as possible, ideally, changing them daily. For piggies that like to doze off in the restroom, add an extra layer of dry guinea pig bedding , so they’re not sitting in an overly messy potty.
#10 Umm… Why is there a tent in my favorite hiding spot?
As guinea parents, we all know how much they love to tunnel and hide. These hiding areas are safe spots, and they go to these protected places to feel calm and relaxed. For litter training purposes, you can add a litter box to these sites, draping a towel to make a darkened, tent-like hiding spot. This structure gives them a chance to feel safe in their litter. However, you’ll need to keep that litter tent extra clean, so your piggy isn’t meditating in soiled bedding.