Following on from the Sand, Potties & Pits page.....

- POTTY TRAINING TIPS                   - CLEANING & SAND CHANGING
 

TIPS FOR POTTY TRAINING YOUR HAMSTER

 

Most hamsters will instinctively potty train themselves, some will need little clues as to what that bowl of sand is for, and a few will simply always insist on peeing in their bedding or tubes.

  • It is best to provide a sand bath and/or potty in the habitat as soon as you bring the hamster home.

  • DO NOT provide a large deep burrow area of bedding substrate until your hamster is potty trained! He is likely to nest in it and pee there too....and that is a hard habit to break!

 

Hamsters will usually pee in one particular spot only; usually in a corner, but some may do this in their bedroom too.

  • It is best to start training by removing the soiled substrate, cleaning the spot properly, and place the potty over that spot where s/he normally pees, and then put a few pieces of the soiled bedding on/in the sand. Most hamsters get the idea pretty quickly.

  • Once s/he’s completely trained, you can gradually start moving the potty to where you want it to be, but be prepared to move it back again if the bedding starts being used again, or place a 2nd little potty over that spot.

Hamsters do tend to like the pee zone to be quite close to their sleeping quarters, almost like an en-suite:

  • If s/he is also peeing in the bedroom, you may want to put the potty (or a 2nd little potty) outside the bedroom with some of the soiled nesting in the sand...and clean the bedroom/nest every day to remove the pee scent from that spot.

  • Similarly, if s/he is only peeing in the bedroom, place the potty almost at the entrance of the nest with some soiled nesting on/in the sand, and clean the nest/bedroom every day until he stops peeing in there.

  • If your sand bath is not very big, you will want two containers to ensure that both bathing and toileting can take place, with the toilet container near the nest.

A lot of hamsters prefer their toilet/s to be private! This could also be one of the reasons why he may be peeing in a corner or in his bedroom, instead of in your well-intentioned placement. In this case, you should look at making some kind of a "wall" around the potty, or switching to a large jar placed on its side and covered with cardboard, moss, paper, whatever please you. Alternatively, under a shelf near the bedroom can work, but away from the front of the habitat (but make sure you can still access it easily to clean every day).

 

Many hamsters will pee inside their plastic tubes and, if they have not had a potty before, it may be a difficult habit to break and get them trained to use a toilet instead.

  • You can try to place the potty at the entrance/s of the tubes. Simply wipe some of the pee onto a small piece of toilet paper to put on top of the sand, and thoroughly wash all tubes in hot vinegar water to remove all traces of urine.

  • If this doesn’t work, you may need to remove the tubes altogether for 2 or 3 weeks until success (or until you are certain that there won’t be success…give it at least 2 weeks before you give up). Provide cardboard rolls or solid ramps until the process is complete, before returning the tubes.

  • Keep in mind that your hamster may continue to pee a little inside the tubes, even though s/he uses the potty, but this is to create traction along steep slippery slopes of plastic. Similarly, some hamsters will pee inside smooth plastic wheels for this reason. Such items will need to be well-cleaned at least two or three times a week to prevent odours and from attracting little bugs (tubes need to be fully dismantled each time).

 

Even if your hamster never takes to using the potty for urinating in, it is still important to provide the sand for bathing.

 

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CLEANING AND SAND CHANGING

 

Obviously the sand will become soiled as your hamster uses it and will therefore need to be changed or refreshed.

  • Potties: Lift out the urine patches on a daily basis and top up as necessary. If you are using non-clumping sand, it is recommended that a full empty and refill takes place once a week. Clumping litter needs replacing every 2-3 weeks.

  • Baths:  If your hamster doesn't pee in the bath, do a full empty and refill every 2-3 weeks.

  • Sandpits: Full empty and refill with every deep habitat cleaning session.

(If your hamster ever has a mite infestation, it is better to change sand in baths and potties on a daily basis for the first week after starting treatment)

 
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Photos courtesy of Hamster Society (Singapore)