Litter Training your rats is a great way to reduce the time spent cleaning their cage each day and creates a cleaner environment so that your rats aren't stepping or sleeping in their own waste.
Rats are clean creatures that tend to go to the bathroom where they or another rat has already gone. This makes litter training relatively easy. As always, be patient with your rats and maintain the routine. They will come around!
I use Marshalls Ferret Litter as it is virtually dust free, but you can decide what works best for you and your rats. Check out my recommended litters and beddings here.
I've found that it may be an easier transition to use their cage bedding in their litter box. They have been going to the bathroom in that bedding, so they will continue to do so. Of course, this means that you'll have to use a new bedding for the rest of the cage to create separation.
If you plan on switching to fleece, litter training is a must. This is the perfect time to transition them from going potty in their bedding, to going potty in their bedding...that is now located in a litter box!
You have many options when choosing a litter box. As always, choose what works best for you and your rats!
You may use a box, tupperware, pan, small animal litter box, shallow container, etc. You can purchase litter boxes online and in many pet stores, or you can find a suitable litter box at dollar stores.
I recommend using a medium to large size litter box. A rat may potty outside of boxes that are too small.
You also have the option of purchasing a litter box with a scatter guard grate on top to reduce litter being kicked from the box. It also enables your rats to use the litter box without stepping in their feces. It may be easiest to teach your rats without the grate and add it once they get the hang of litter training.
Click here to buy the litter box I recommend
Rats will use their litter box outside of the cage. Place a litter box in their play area or free roam space.
Your rats should learn to use the litter box fairly quickly, but some rats will take longer than others. Be patient and never give up on your rats!
Before You Begin:
Pay attention to the cage each time you clean it and find spots that contain the most poop! Most rats naturally use a corner as their bathroom, and this is where the litter box should go. If your rats don't have a designated area, or if you are getting new rats, it's fine to choose the corner for them.
It is VERY important that you stick to a routine with your rats in order to speed the process along. You will need to pick up each individual poop from the cage and place it into the litter box. In the beginning, you should spot clean at least twice a day. Your goal is to eliminate all stray poops from the cage until the litter box is the only place containing them. Your rats will soon realize that they should only use the litter box for their potty business...and they'll WANT to!!
Rats will not be 100% litter trained, and most will continue to pee wherever they want. You will have to spot clean every day to remove stray poops. You will notice that there are less poops after they are trained, than there were before the training began.
There is no secret to litter training. No magic spell. It takes patience and a set routine to achieve results. Picking up your rats while they are pooping in their cage in order to place them into the litter box will only make them uncomfortable. Please allow your rats to learn on their own. The majority of rats will understand the concept of the litter box, but there will always be rats that prefer to scatter their droppings everywhere! Try for a minimum of 3 months before giving up.