Guinea pigs are more intelligent than we give them credit for and with a little perseverance, it’s absolutely possible to get your little pet to use a litter box.
It’s not as simple a process for guinea pigs as it is for cats, and it can be a balancing act between finding out exactly what works best for your particular guinea pig.
There are different kinds of bedding, including hay, pellets, and even a fleece, that you can use as inside a Guinea Pig Litter Box. The material you use should be pet friendly and absorb nasty odors. Litter Box Pellets are one of the most commonly used materials along with fleece bedding which can be machine washed.
So, if you’re asking yourself what do you put in a guinea pig litter box, then fear not, because you’ve come to the right place.
5 Suitable Litter Boxes
Why You Should Litter Train Your Guinea Pig
It’s a great idea to get your guinea pig to do his mess in an assigned area for several reasons.
The first is that it’s so much easier to keep his area clean, whether that’s a space in the house, or a cage outside.
By training your guinea pig to use just one small area, such as a litter box or tray, it means no more having to clean out a whole area for the sake of a few toilet trips.
While the rest of the hay you may have put down just a couple of days ago is still perfectly clean, the smell of urine becomes too much so you usually have to clear out the whole lot.
By getting your guinea pig to use the litter box, you isolate the toilet to just one area, leaving the rest of his bedding perfectly clean and fine for another few days.
Secondly, it’s much more hygienic for the whole family. The house will smell fresher, your guinea pig will be less at risk of illness or infection, and you can clearly separate his toilet area from his eating area.
Will a Guinea Pig Naturally Use a Litter Box?
Guinea pigs aren’t like cats, who instinctively head for a litter tray because they associate litter with their need to bury their business. So, you should first prepare the tray, before you try and train the guinea pig to use it.
He has to associate the box with his toilet, so the best thing you can do is help him along by preparing the right kind of environment.
Materials to Use in Your Guinea Pig’s Litter Tray
In the same way that some people prefer different kinds of cat litter for their feline friends, others prefer different materials for their guinea pig litter boxes.
You may find that simply putting newspaper and hay inside a box will suffice, and it’s certainly a less expensive option. However, it won’t tackle odor issues. Not only that, but the materials used for a litter box shouldn’t be the same as the materials in his bed, otherwise he can confuse the two.
Cat litter should be avoided because it contains chemicals that can harm a delicate guinea pig. Instead, try some absorbent wooden pellets that will soak up urine and hide the pungent smell.
You can use wood shavings, which are softer than pellets, but be careful not to use pine shavings as they contain oils that your guinea pigs may be allergic to.
Paper bedding such as the type made by Carefresh is also absorbent and reduces odor. However, these solutions don’t come cheap, and if you’re cleaning the litter box every day or so, the cost can soon mount up.
Try a Bedding Fleece
Absorbent, washable and reusable, a bedding fleece can be a great idea for a guinea pig litter box. It’s more comfortable and welcoming than pellets, and much less expensive to maintain.
You’ll need to wash it regularly: every day or every other day at the least. Wash without detergent and instead put in a cup of vinegar with every wash to kill the bacteria. It will take a few washes to get a proper ‘wicking’ in your fleece- this means making it properly absorbent.
Give Your Guinea Pig Some Privacy
Guinea pigs are naturally shy creatures and none the more so when they’re doing their business. So, hook up an old towel over the litter box to tempt him to use it.
This is why a corner litter box is often the best choice, as it’s tucked away neatly and it’s easier to hang a cover.
Put Poops into the Litter Box
This might seem counter-productive, but your little guinea pig won’t immediately understand what the box is for. He has to associate the box with his toilet, so join the two together so he soon gets the message.
Don’t Worry if he Has Accidents!
Toilet training anything or anybody takes time, whether that’s a human baby or a guinea pig. Your little friend is bound to have a few accidents, but don’t worry about it. Stick with the training, and he’ll get the hang of it.
You will need to be on top of his toileting a lot while he’s training. It makes no sense to put the box there and expect him to find it by himself. Lure him in with a treat or two so he learns to climb or hop into the box.
When he goes into the box to do his business, give him another treat to reward him. He’ll soon associate going in there with getting rewarded, and like most of us, likes to be rewarded when he does something well, so he’ll keep doing it.
It’s Worth the Effort
You’re sure to find that with a little time and effort from both of you, your guinea pig will soon be a litter tray pro.
There are some guinea pigs who never quite get the hang of being litter trained, but it’s not the end of the world. Just remember it’s neither yours nor your pet’s fault. We can’t all be winners!