Thursday, January 3, 2013

Litter Box Training: How to Potty Train Your Rat (Part 3 of 3)

I would have to say that litter box training, or potty training, as I like to call it, can be a huge time saver in your daily cage cleaning routine and is one of the most highly requested topics. There was so much info I wanted to get out to you guys that I had to break it up into a 3 part series! If you have not already read the first two parts of this series, I would highly recommend that you do as I have included some very helpful tips that will help you be more successful in getting your rats to use the litter box- inside AND outside the cage.

Part 1 of this 3 part series, on selecting what kind of litter box to use, can be found HERE.
Part 2 of the series, on choosing what type of litter to use, can be found HERE.

My litter boxes (in my old cage). Now that I have a new DCN cage, I find my rats are still able to use them sucessfully!
Okay, so if you Google the topic "litter box training rats" or any other variation of that topic, you will see a lot of videos and post about how to go about doing this. While some of my technique is the same, there is a few things I do differently. Most basically say if you find poo, put it in the litter box and the rats will figure it out. While I found this to be helpful, it just wasn't enough- the message wasn't quite as loud and clear as they made it sound to be. So I came up with a slightly different technique, working the rats up to understanding the concept a bit more. Its even a work in progress for my rats who were being litter trained the same way as all those rats in the videos I found online. Once I started using my method, I found myself cleaning the cage less and less so it's working! I got some new rats added to my mischief so that is where I am finding myself having to continue litter training.

1.) As described in Part 1 of this series, place temporary litter boxes in every corner of the cage. And I do mean every corner. This probably means you will need to use smaller that normal sized litter boxes such as small plastic boxes, recycled take-out trays, or small shoe boxes. This is probably the hardest part of my method of potty training, trying to find boxes that it in every corner! LOL! Thankfully, in my experience, this process really don't take long so you will soon be able to remove most of them.

2) Your rats will naturally relieve themselves in a corner. Since you have a box in every corner, they will always get it right! Some people say to praise your rat when they go to the bathroom in their litter box. You can do this but I don't feel that it really does all that much, its a moot point- think about it- your rats are going to have to potty during their most awake periods of time, and for many, this is when you are sleeping! Your best bet is to make it so they can always be successful on their own. Part 2 of this series explains why its best to use a litter that is different that what you use for the rest of the cage. You want your rats to be able to associate the smells of the litter box as being different than any other part of the cage and also to be able to sniff out the litter box when it is moved inside the cage, or to locate it if you provide one for when they have free roam time outside the cage. I guess you could say my method gets rats to potty train themselves, with little help from their owners, which I think makes it that much easier for us!

3) Getting your rats to use the litter box for poo is going to be a lot easier than getting them to use it for pee, especially for males who feel the need to mark everything, so don't be discouraged if they continue to pee everywhere at first! My rats, for example, caught on to pooping in the litter box very quickly since having a litter box in every corner meant that they couldn't miss! Some of my rats pee in the corners of the cages too so it was very easy for them to learn to pee in the same spot as where they pooped and it was those that I can say have potty trained the quickest. For some, like my boys, they continue to pee elsewhere but they are still young so I know I still have time for them to catch on. Should your rats poop anywhere else in the cage, use a disposable plastic spoon or other designated tool (I use a mini dustpan and brush) to scoop the poops up and place them in the litter box. Rats tend to use the same spots so by placing their poo where you want them to go, they will start to associate.

4) Once you see that your rats are pooping less and less outside of the litter box, or if you notice that they favor one corner (one litter box) over the other, you can then remove all the other temporary litter boxes throughout the cage and make the decision to either A) keep the litter box they do use in that particular location or B) move the chosen litter box to a location inside of the cage of your choice. If you move the box and see that your rats choose to continue using a particular corner, you may just want to go ahead and repeat the process a bit longer before moving the litter box again, or decide to leave the box in that particular corner permanently.

5) If you have multiple levels in your cage, you may want to be sure that there is a potty spot (litter box) on each level. My rats are good about using the litter box, but don't appear to be able to hold it (or are too lazy to go far, LOL) so I make sure they have a bathroom on each floor!

6) Once your rats are completely litter box trained, you can be confident that they will be much more reliable in using the litter box outside of the cage when you give them free roam time. 

I hope this helps! I would be very interested to hear how its working out for you all!!
Feel free to comment or message me at CONTACTME@RATWHISPERER.NET


1 comment:

  1. Good tips! I will definitely try if I get another pet rat.

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