Potty training a hamster is just as important as it is for the other common pets we keep at home. since it will help you have a cleaner cage and a nicer smell in your home
However, a hamster is not a dog or a cat; potty training your little furball can be quite challenging, so that’s why I decided to make a step-by-step guide.
Before getting into this topic, it is important to know that hamsters are quite clean, and their cage doesn’t smell as bad as other small animals/rodents like rabbits or guinea pigs. Generally the smell doesn’t come from their poo or pee, but from marking their territory.
Can you potty train a hamster?
Yes, you can potty train a hamster, but depending on your hamster’s personality, you might have more or fewer chances to succeed.
I know most guides and videos talk about this topic like it is a walk in the park, but considering that hamsters are quite stubborn and, truth to be told, not the most intelligent rodents, it might be quite challenging to change their habits.
If you want to increase your chances of succeeding when potty training a hamster, you have to do this as soon as possible. Training your hamster once it has already developed its habits will be way harder.
That being said, let’s get to the actual topic.
How to potty train a hamster?
There are 4 easy steps that you should follow to make sure you do your best when you potty train a hamster.
It is important that you are patient with your small pet, it can take a while to properly potty train your hamster. Also, an important thing to know is that you hamster might change their routine all of a sudden, especially when you clean its cage.
So you might succeed in potty training it for now, but this can change and vice versa, you might not succeed immediately, but in time, they will get to use the litter properly on their own.
4 Steps to potty train a hamster
Here are 4 easy steps you can follow to properly potty train your hamster:
1. Check the behaviors
The first step is to observe your hamster’s habits. Hamsters usually have a favorite spot to pee in, as I discussed in the article about why hamsters pee in their wheel.
They might not have a favorite spot when it comes to pooping, but that is not as important when potty training a hamster since their poop doesn’t smell that bad and it is solid, so it will not make a mess in the cage if they poop all over the place (which they will most probably do).
They might be more poop in one place, but they rarely have only one or two favorite spots to poop.
So, this is the first step you have to do, observe where they usually pee to know where to place the litter box.
2. Get a litter box or something that can serve as a litter box
Now that you know where to place the litter box, buy a good plastic litter box or use any other plastic bowl or casserole you have.
Hamsters usually pee in the corner of the cage, that’s why the most useful litter will be in kind of a triangle shape so you can cover the corner.
If you don’t cover the spot they use as a litter with the litter box, your hamster might get around that and pee where they are used to.
Buying a litter box that is specially made for this purpose will be easier. Here is a good triangle one that you can find on Amazon, if you hamster is used to peeing in a corner.
However, if your hamster is peeing in the middle of a side of the cage, an oval or rectangle one might be more useful. Here you can find an oval-ish litter box
If you want to save some money, you can use a plastic casserole. Clean it very well but without using too much soap since the hamsters are very sensitive to strong smells. The plastic container has to be heavy enough your hamster won’t move it or turn it over.
You probably have to make some adjustments to the casserole to make it a good litter box. So you have to cut an entrance on a side, big enough for your hamster to fit, and make sure you make the surface smooth without any places where your hamster might get hurt.
I saw some people recommend cardboard litter boxes, but hamsters can eat cardboard or chew very fast on it, so it might be a waste of time to keep changing it.
They can chew on the plastic as well, but they will go through it way slower than they will go through cardboard.
3. Choose the best litter
Choosing a good litter is as important, if not more as choosing a good litter box.
There are many options out there, but not all of them are safe.
Providing hamsters with safe litter that does not contain dust and is made from materials such as paper, chopped straw, wood pulp, or dried plant material is important. These materials are non-toxic and provide an ideal safe environment for your pet hamster.
Some companies even sell cotton-based bedding and litter. It might look nice since it can be in fun colors, but it is important to know that hamsters should not be exposed to cotton litter or bedding as it can lead to choking, intestinal blockage, constipation, or limb entanglement.
Here is a potty litter I found on Amazon that should be safe for your hamster:
Some people use sand as litter, but your hamster might use that for taking a bath instead of using it as a litter. That being said, this doesn’t mean it can’t work, if you want, you can give it a try.
If you buy proper sand for your hamster, it should be safe.
4. Get your hamster used to the litter box
Now, once you have everything set up, you have to do the following.
Place the litter box in the corner or the spot your hamster uses as a litter and a bit of soiled bedding and some of their droppings in the litter box and wait.
If you are lucky, your hamster might get to use the litter box right away. If not, you might have to put it in the litter so they get to know the place.
If your hamster is not a friendly one, and you can’t move it to the litter box too easily, you might have to place some treats inside the litter box to lure them in.
If you don’t succeed at first, don’t get the litter box out of its cage, it might get to use it later, so don’t give up.
Why should you potty train a hamster?
Potty training a hamster is important in order to have a cleaner cage.
As I said before, hamsters are quite clean, they don’t smell bad, but cleaning a hamster cage might be challenging if they pee too much in one place since that pee will combine with the bedding and get stuck to the corner of the cage.
And having in mind that you can’t use too much soap when you clean a hamster cage, it might be hard to clean a cage after a while.
Having a litter box will make it much easier. You just get the box out, throw out what is in it, clean it a bit with hot water, dry it, and put it back with new litter.
Observation: Your hamster doesn’t know that the new object you add to the cage is a litter box, and what that is.
They might use it as a new home where to sleep, as a sandbox to bath in, or just to sit in there and do nothing. This is not in your control, so don’t feel bad if it happens.
How often to change the litter?
Several things factor into how often a hamster’s litter needs to be changed, such as the type of bedding, the size of their cage, and the number of hamsters living in it(in the case of dwarf hamsters).
It is generally recommended to spot-clean the cage every couple of days, get rid of any poo and dirty bedding, and change the bedding entirely at least once a month. However, some of the original bedding should always be left in the cage to maintain your hamster’s scent.
Potty training a hamster is possible, and it is a good idea to at least try to potty train your hamster since it will make your job of cleaning the cage easier, and there will be a better smell overall in the cage.
However, I wanted to be realistic and explain the steps you have to do but also the challenges you can face since a hamster is unpredictable and quite hard to train.
Here is an article about taming your hamster while we are on the training topic, which is also challenging for some hamsters.
I hope this article was helpful and now you know what to do in order to potty train your hamster properly, if you don’t succeed, don’t feel bad, not all hamsters will do that.