If you wonder: can hamsters be potty-trained? The answer is yes.
Hamsters are highly intelligent pets and can greatly respond to your training, especially with positive reinforcement.
In fact, potty training your furry friend will make his cage cleaner, which means more convenience for you and him.
In this post, we’ll provide you with the required steps to successfully potty-train your hamster.
Do Hamster Litter Boxes Work?
Hamsters, by nature, don’t randomly use any place as a bathroom. Conversely, they choose one or a few spots in their enclosure and use them continuously for that purpose.
Thus, with a bit of training, you can direct your furry friend to use the litter box as his bathroom spot.
When you successfully do that, the cage will become much cleaner, tidier, and odorless. Hence, this will make caring for your hamster easier.
Better still, some litter boxes come with supremely convenient features. For example, some boxes have removable trays that facilitate the cleaning process.
Other products include a sifting system, so you can easily separate waste from clean litter.
Overall, litter boxes are a win-win bargain for you and your little friend.
The 8 Steps to Potty-Train a Hamster
Here are the 8 steps for effective hamster potty training:
1 – Get a Litter Box
You’ll need to get a litter box to potty-train your little critter. You can purchase one or make it yourself.
Litter boxes are widely available online and in pet stores. They usually come with a scoop and a pack of hamster-safe litter.
Alternatively, to make the litter box yourself, look for a plastic enclosure or a glass mason jar at home.
Once you find one, make a hole in it that is slightly larger than the hamster’s size. It’s crucial to create an appropriate hole size.
This is because a small hole can discourage the hamster from using the box, as he will find difficulty getting in and out.
On the flip side, a too-large hole can lead to litter material getting out of the box, causing chaos in the cage.
That said, there is a significant difference between professionally made and homemade boxes.
The difference is that the materials of your homemade enclosure aren’t urine and feces-resistant.
This means you’ll need to replace the enclosure regularly, as it may cause a nasty smell if used for a long time.
2 – Use a Suitable Litter
If the box doesn’t come with hamster-safe litter or you made the box yourself, you need to know what litter to use.
Generally, hamster litter should be clumping, dust-free, and unscented. Given that, pellet litter is the ideal choice. It’s also the one your furry friend will like the most.
Whether it’s made of paper, grass, grain, or wood, pellet litter has excellent absorption. So, it’ll produce much less odor than other litter types.
3 – Put the Litter Box in the Hamster’s Favorite Potty Location
Making a potty corner on a random spot in the cage makes it highly probable that your furry friend won’t use it. To avoid this scenario, don’t choose the potty spot yourself.
Instead, wait until the hamster picks a particular potty location himself. You’ll notice that the hamster goes to the bathroom in one specific spot in the cage.
This is the spot where you should place the litter box.
Still, some hamsters may use multiple spots as a bathroom, especially if the cage is large. So, you’ll need to add a litter box in all these spots.
Once you identify the preferred potty location, prepare your litter box. First, pour the litter into the box and ensure it covers the entire bottom.
Then, gather some soiled bedding and droppings from the cage and add them to the box.
Adding these materials will make the hamster feel that the litter box is the proper place to use as a bathroom. Finally, place the box in the cage.
4 – Take the Hamster to the Box
Once you’ve placed the box in the cage, introduce your hamster to it. When the hamster is in the litter box, he’ll sniff it, trying to identify what it is.
Give him time to go around and explore the box. In no time, the hamster will understand that the litter container is for the bathroom.
5 – Separate the Other Areas of the Cage
While training the hamster on using the litter box, you should ensure he has comfortable sleeping and eating areas.
This is to avoid the hamster turning the litter box into a sleeping or food zone.
6 – Use a Clicker
If the hamster doesn’t understand the box’s purpose, you may need some positive reinforcement to teach him more about it.
For this, you’ll need a clicker to associate the clicking sound with a reward, like treats or petting.
When your hamster gets into the litter box, make a clicking sound and give him a reward. When he eliminates inside the box, do that again.
Repeat this process each time your hamster enters or uses the litter box. With consistent training, your hamster should start to associate using the litter box with positive feelings.
That way, using the litter box will gradually turn into a sought-after habit for him.
7 – Limit the Reward to the Most Desired Behavior
This is an advanced phase of the previous step.
After a few weeks, only reward the hamster for the main action: when he eliminates inside the box. Stop rewarding him for all the other indirect actions related to using the box as a bathroom.
This is to emphasize the importance of the main action over all other activities.
You may need to continue doing this for at least a few weeks. So, always keep the clicker within your reach, watch the hamster and reward him once he disposes of his waste.
8 – Keep the Litter Box Clean
To encourage the hamster to use the box regularly, keep it clean. The hamster may stop using the box if it stays dirty for a long while.
To clean it, scoop out the clumps from the litter daily. Wash the box and add clean litter afterward.
What to Consider When Potty Training Your Hamster
For the best result when potty training your hamster, here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Don’t use the same bedding material for the litter to avoid the hamster using the box as a bedding area.
- Avoid using cedar as litter or bedding, as it may cause respiratory problems.
- Be patient. Your hamster may take multiple weeks to develop this new habit.
- It’s common for hamsters to only urinate in the litter box at first, so continue training even if they do not defecate in it.
Can Hamsters Use Cat Litter?
It’s not recommended to use regular cat litter for your hamster. This is because this type of litter usually contains clay and sand.
These two components have small granules that can get into the ears and eyes of the hamster. He can swallow some of the litter as well.
As a result, using cat litter for a hamster can have detrimental effects on his health and may cause serious problems.
In addition, cat litter is typically rough and heavy. So, tiny pets like hamsters will face difficulty burying their urine and feces under it.
Therefore, the cage will be dirty all the time.
Can hamsters be potty trained?
You can definitely potty-train your hamster. To train your hamster, you’ll need to bring a suitable litter box and fill it with hamster-safe litter.
If the little critter doesn’t use the litter instinctively, you can use a bit of positive reinforcement to encourage him to do so.
Given that, your furry friend will get used to using the litter box as a bathroom within a few days to a few weeks.
I have a bachelor’s degree in Film/Video/Media Studies, as well as an associates degree in Communications. I began producing videos and musical recordings nearly 15 years ago. I am a guitarist and bassist in Southwest MI and have been in a few different bands since 2009, and in 2012 I began building custom guitars and basses in my home workshop as well. When I’m home, I love spending time with my three pets (a dog, cat, and snake) and gardening in my backyard. I also like photographing wild birds, especially birds of prey.