Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Mini-Post: Litter-training pet hamsters....Can it be done?

As many hamster owners know, a hamster's cage can get dirty very quickly and require frequent cleaning. What many hamster owners don't know, however, is that a hamster can be easily trained to use a small litter box that is placed in his or her cage. When you train your hamster to use a litter box, you just have to clean the litter box regularly and you don't have to clean the whole hamster cage as often. This will save you a lot of time, frustration, and money on fresh bedding. Plus, the less hamster bedding you use the better it is for the environment. Luckily, because hamsters have a natural instinct to always go to the bathroom in the same spot, it is easy to train them to use a litter box.

To get started, you will need to head to the pet store and buy a small plastic dish to hold the litter, along with a box of special "hamster litter" pellets. It is very important that you don't use cat litter as it contains fine particles that will irritate your hamster's respiratory system. Major pet store chains like Petco and PetSmart carry the special hamster litter, or you can find it online at websites like Amazon. Once you have the litter dish and hamster litter, you are ready to go. Just put about an inch of hamster litter in the plastic dish, and use a spoon or scoop to place a small amount of soiled bedding from your hamster's cage into the litter. Now, place the litter dish in the exact same corner of the cage that your hamster currently uses to go to the bathroom. Make sure to "bury" it a little bit so it is the same level as the rest of the bedding in the cage.

Almost immediately, you will notice that your hamster smells his new bathroom spot and begins using it for elimination. While most hamsters will begin using the litter box immediately, other hamsters may take a few days to adjust. Adding more soiled bedding to the hamster litter box can make the scent stronger, encouraging your hamster to go to the bathroom there. Don't be alarmed if your hamster eats a few of the litter pellets. They are non-toxic and will not harm your hamster. Your hamster will quickly learn that the litter pellets are not food. By litter training your hamster, you'll create a cleaner and healthier cage for them and a lot less cleaning for yourself!

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