How to Potty Train Pet Rats

By Elle Di Jensen

Pet rats are quite hygienic and typically choose one spot to use as a lavatory. This characteristic makes them fairly easy to potty train, although success will depend upon the individual rat's willingness and personal preference for where she relieves herself. You'll need litter and a pan and will have to locate your rat's potty in a strategic place in her cage. It may take a little time for her to understand the concept, but successfully potty training your rat will cut down on how often you'll have to change the bedding in her cage.

The Box

Potty training rats has become so common that pet supply shops carry litter pans made especially for rats. They usually are shaped to fit into a corner of the cage, with two high sides to keep the litter from being tossed through the bars of the cage. Rats like to redecorate, moving things around inside their cages periodically, so look for a litter pan that can be attached to the side of your rat's cage to keep her from moving it.

Distinctive Litter

It's important to the potty training process for you to use litter inside the pan that is different from the litter or bedding that is in the rest of the cage. In your rat's mind this will help keep the litter box separate from the living quarters of the cage. Start using the bedding or litter you've been using in the cage just in the litter box and switch to a different kind of bedding for the rest of the cage. Your rat is used to using the "old" bedding or litter to potty on, so placing it only in the litter box and using a different type of litter in the box will get the idea across quicker.

Box Placement

The best place for your rat's litter box is in the spot that she typically uses as a toilet. If she doesn't seem to prefer one corner or spot over another, put the litter box in a corner as far away as possible from her food and water and away from the cage door. If your rat's habitat is multilevel, put her litter box in the lowest level.

Dirty it Up

Before you introduce your rat to her new litter box, give her cage the best cleaning ever, scrubbing, disinfecting and deodorizing it. Then fill the litter box with soiled litter from her cage. Place the new litter in the cage, then put the litter box in the location you picked. With the litter box full of stinky, old litter inside a sparkling, sweet-smelling cage, your rat should get the hint that that is the place designated for pottying. When you change the litter in the box the first few times, only remove about half of the dirty litter, leaving the other half in the box to reinforce the idea that the box is the spot to potty.

Offer Encouragement

An effective rat potty training technique is an approach that includes encouragement and reward. When you catch your rat in the act of using her litter box, tell her what a wonderful, smart rat she is and give her a special treat to let her know she did well.