Many pet owners have endured the struggles of housebreaking their animal companion. Potty training can be a tedious process that often produces mixed or poor results if not done correctly.
Since chinchillas live in cages and are rodents, most people assume that they aren’t able to be potty trained. I chose to write this article as a way to share some methods that can result in successful chinchilla potty training
How to potty train a chinchilla?
Most people are familiar with how to housebreak a cat or dog, however, chinchillas require a different technique for potty training. Although they can’t be taught to poop in a specific spot, chinchillas can be trained to pee in a designated area.
Summary of today’s article:
- How do I train my chinchilla to pee in a designated area?
- Can my chinchilla potty train themselves?
- Why can’t a chinchilla be taught to poop in a specific spot?
- Does chinchilla pee smell?
- A little patience will go a long way
Getting your chinchilla to pee in a specific place is the best way to keep their cage clean and also ensure that they develop the most sanitary bathroom routine possible. Let’s take a closer peek at this idea and discuss how it applies to your chinchilla.
Step #1. Start Training When The Chinchilla Is Young
Like many learned behaviors, potty training has the greatest success rates when the chinchilla pupil is young. An ideal age to take on this task is when the chinchilla is less than one year old.
It is very important that your chinchilla is already acclimated to their cage prior to potty training, so be sure to give a new chinchilla adequate time to adjust to their home. Although younger chinchillas respond best to potty training, older pets can have good results as well.
You may find that a mature chinchilla learns more slowly, but this is not necessarily representative of their ability to be taught. When training an older chinchilla, you are having to break old habits and establish new behaviors.
If your older chinchilla is not responding to potty training right away, stay the course and allow them some additional time to learn. Patience is key with any type of animal training, so don’t give up too soon!
Step #2. Pay Attention To Your Chinchilla’s Preferred Pee Spot
Like many other animals, chinchillas may use a particular area to urinate. Observe your chinchilla’s behavior and note if they tend to gravitate toward one area of their cage as a pee area.
If you aren’t sure if this is happening, don’t be afraid to inspect their shavings or bedding for wet spots. You are going to end up cleaning their cage anyway, so you may as well take notes!
Once you know your chinchilla’s preferred pee spot, rearrange their cage if necessary to make utilizing this space easier for them. Examples of redecorating are simple things like keeping their hay and food dishes a reasonable distance away and not setting up toys near their pee area.
By keeping their pee space free of food and toys you are not only ensuring that their cage items are more sanitary, but also establishing boundaries. If your chinchilla understands that their pee is only meant for one area of their cage they will be more likely to follow the example on their own.
Step #3. Enlist The Use Of Potty Training Tools
To make the task of potty training your chinchilla easier, you will want to pick up a few necessary tools. Metal litter pans for small animals are readily available and will do nicely for potty training.
Beware of plastic litter boxes as your chinchilla will most likely chew on them! Place the litter pan in the area where your chinchilla tends to urinate.
If you decide to try litter, make sure that you use a brand that is specifically made for chinchillas. Litter is great since it helps absorb the urine smell, however, if you see your chinchilla ingest it, discontinue use.
Contrary to popular belief, litter is not necessary and shavings make a fantastic second option.
If your chinchilla pees on shavings or bedding in their cage, you will want to move those soiled items into the litter pan. Your chinchilla will recognize the smell of their urine and begin to associate it with the designated pee area.
It is recommended to use a scoop or hand broom with a dustpan to easily transport wet shavings. Keep soiled items in the pan for a day or two so that your chinchilla can better connect the urine smell with their litter pan.
Step #4. Reward Good Behavior
The keys to successful chinchilla potty training are repetition and patience. While working with your chinchilla, be sure to interact with them in such a way that they feel inclined to continue progress with potty training.
The best way to do this is through rewards and positive reinforcement. Each time you see your chinchilla use their designated pee spot, congratulate them and make sure to use a soothing tone of voice.
Chinchillas may not recognize all words, but they can easily pick up on your cadence of speech.
Rewards are also a fantastic way to let your chinchilla know that they are doing a good job. You may give your chinchilla healthy treats or chew toys when they have successfully peed in the appropriate space.
Chinchillas love treats and will associate good behavior with receiving something that they want. Treats given should be low sugar and nutrient-dense as you don’t want to encourage indulgences in junk food.
Gravitate towards items such as dried rose hips and apple wood sticks for potty training rewards. As with all treats, give these to your chinchilla in moderation.
Step #5. Address Potty Training When Your Chinchilla Is Most Active
Chinchillas are crepuscular, which means that they are most active during the twilight hours. This fact becomes very important when potty training as you will want to be teaching your pet new things when their minds are most receptive to receiving the information.
Try to work with your chinchilla near dawn or dusk to catch them in their most focused state.
You can expect to have the best results with strategic chinchilla potty training that you lead as a caretaker. That being said, it is not unheard of for chinchillas to potty train themselves.
Chinchillas can be very particular about their cage setup and will often engage in behaviors that make their home more suitable for them. A chinchilla who has discovered a preference for peeing in a particular area may continue that behavior purely because they find it to be most comfortable.
This is a great sign as it demonstrates that your chinchilla is not only very smart but also possesses self-awareness. Conversely, do not rely on your chinchilla to potty train themselves as not all chinchillas will reach this point.
A targeted approach will be much quicker and have the best outcome.
Chinchillas eat constantly and are always digesting food. Due to their insanely fast digestive process, it is not convenient for them to take the time to poop in a designated area.
Chinchillas are pooping constantly and will even poop in their sleep! Additionally, since chinchilla poop doesn’t smell, there is no trail for them to follow in order to establish a pattern of pooping in one particular area.
On the bright side, chinchilla poop is extremely manageable. You can utilize your scoop to effectively remove poop from the cage or even use a small shop vac.
Healthy chinchilla poop is very dry, so if you get pooped on, rest assured that it will not ruin your day like feces from some other pets!
Although chinchillas themselves do not smell bad, their pee is rather stinky. There is nothing special about chinchilla urine and you can expect it to have many of the same properties as pee from other pets.
Training your chinchilla to urinate in a designated area will dramatically cut down on pee smell as you will be able to clean the soiled area more efficiently. Even chinchillas that are potty trained may occasionally pee on their wooden ledges or ramps.
If you find yourself needing to remove urine from items in your chinchilla’s cage, look for cleaning agents that are non-toxic and safe for pets. An easy solution of one part vinegar to one part water will do the trick nicely.
Vinegar neutralizes the ammonia in urine and has a great track record for safety. Make sure that your chinchilla is not in their cage until all items you have recently cleaned are dry.
Chinchillas are intelligent animals and can be potty trained when it comes to urination. Teaching your chinchilla to pee in a designated area will cut down on cleaning time and create a more sanitary environment for your pet.
With a little patience and encouragement, you can teach your chinchilla a new skill that will make both of your lives a lot easier!