Guinea pigs do a lot of poops every day and this can make the cage look messy very quickly, especially if you use fleece in your guinea pig’s cage. A guinea pig that is trained to use a litter box would be extremely beneficial, helping keep the rest of the cage cleaner for longer.
Although you can’t potty train guinea pigs in the same way as you’d train a cat to use a litter box, you can encourage them to use a certain area or areas of their cage when they need to pee or poop.
We’re going to explain how to determine which places in your cage are best for a toilet area and how to set up a litter box for your guinea pigs.
Guinea pigs have particular toilet habits. You will probably find your guinea pigs already have some favourite spots where they like to pee and poop.
In fact, guinea pigs generally tend to do their toilet business:
It’s worth taking a good look in your cage before you clean it so you can see for yourself which places your guinea pigs prefer to use as a potty area.
The places our own guinea pigs tend to use the most as a toilet are the dark corners of their hideys and under their hay rack.
We recommend setting up two litter areas if you have the space in your cage. But if your cage is not big enough, you’ll probably need to stick to one toilet area so there’s enough room in the rest of the cage for your guinea pigs to run around.
Guinea pigs always pee and poop a lot when they’re eating hay. If you use fleece liners they can become very soggy very quickly in this area which means frequent washing. If you use a disposable bedding, this can also quickly become very soiled and smelly.
Putting a litter box underneath the hay rack will keep the soiled bedding confined within the box. Using this method, you can easily clean the litter box out as and when necessary without having to do a full cage clean quite so often.
If you use fleece liners, you could put a pee pad under the hay rack which will help a lot and is a good idea if you don’t have room for a litter box. But if you have the space, using a litter tray is more beneficial as it’s more contained.
You’ll need to make the area as dark as you can. This could be done several ways:
Bear in mind that your guinea pigs may prefer to poop in their other hideys unless you make this area extra dark.
Once you’ve decided where you’re going to set up the toilet areas, you’ll need to get a litter box. This will keep the soiled bedding in a contained area which helps keep the rest of the bedding fresher for longer.
You’ll need to use a litter box that is sturdy enough and isn’t going to tip if your guinea pigs put their feet on the sides of the box. Here are some litter box ideas:
We find a reasonable sized cat litter tray works well for this purpose. But your piggies also need to be able to get in and out of it so make sure the sides are not too high either. Some of the smaller trays are a bit too light and flimsy for this purpose.
Corner litter boxes can save space and some fix on to the cage sides too which will prevent them from tipping over. But some of these are very small so make sure the tray is large enough that your guinea pigs will want to use it.
We’ve seen some guinea pig owners use plastic storage boxes with a doorway cut into them for access. This is a good litter tray solution as these boxes are generally quite sturdy. By making a doorway for access, they won’t need to jump in and out which could make it better for older guinea pigs or those with mobility issues who might find this more difficult. But do make sure the doorway doesn’t have any sharp edges where your guinea pigs may get hurt.
Some people also use a cardboard box but bear in mind that this will become soggy and will also have to be replaced each time it needs emptying. A plastic box or litter tray is a lot easier as you can simply empty and easily clean it.
Once you’ve got your litter box, you’ll need to fill it with some kind of safe litter or bedding.
Guinea pigs have very delicate respiratory systems and artificial fragrances and dust can cause them great harm. So, it’s important that you don’t use cat litter or any other kind of litter that is made for another type of pet.
There is a good chance there may be something in other litter options that is not safe for your guinea pigs.
You can also use kiln dried pine pellets in your litter box, which will help absorb any odours.
Avoid using newspaper or shredded paper as they will become soggy quickly and the ink from the printing isn’t good for them. However, you could line the box with newspaper providing you cover it completely with another type of litter.
Once you’ve set up your litter boxes and everything is in place, it’s a good idea to let your guinea pigs know where you’d like them to use the toilet.
To help your guinea pigs get into the habit of using these specially designated areas you should start by putting a few poops in the litter tray.
The scent should encourage them to use these spaces and may help them become accustomed to using the litter box more quickly.
If the litter tray becomes heavily soiled your guinea pigs might find another spot for their toilet business so it’s important you regularly change the soiled litter to encourage them to use it.
Each time you clean out their litter box, always put a few poops back in the tray to remind them that this is the bathroom.
Setting up a litter box under the hay rack and in a dark corner should minimise the amount of poops elsewhere.
One thing you should never do is scold your guinea pigs for not using the designated potty areas.
It’s important to understand that you won’t be able to train your guinea pigs to go in a litter box 100% of the time and it’s inevitable you’ll always have some pees and poops around the cage or in their other hideys.