Rats are highly intelligent creatures and can be trained to do many simple tasks. Litter training is something that is well worth a little effort on your part, as it can save you lots of time in cleaning up and also money in buying bedding.
The whole training methodology works on the premise that rats are clean creatures and will go to the toilet where they smell that they, or other rats, have already gone. The procedure is as follows:
1. Find the corner of the cage that your rats usually go to the toilet, then place a tray filled with litter there. I use flat tupperware containers available from discount stores for about AUD$2 as a litter tray.
2. Toss in any raisins or wet litter you can find in the cage to make it smell like a rat toilet area.
3. Now this is the most important part... Remove all litter from the rest of the cage, or use a different bedding. It's essential that your rats can distinguish between the toilet area and the living area. e.g. I use Breeders Choice recycled paper pellets in the litter tray, and old towels and fabric strips elsewhere as bedding.
4. Place your rats in the tray to show them it's there. If they go elsewhere in their cage, say "No!" and place the rat (and the raisins) in the litter tray. If they go in the tray, praise them like crazy and give them their favourite treat. They'll soon get the idea.
Often this training method will only work for raisins, not pee... especially with male rats who are determined to keep their cage well scented. You can try removing pee smells by using products like Nilodor or vanilla, but often it just makes them more determined to re-scent it. Of course, there's also those stubborn rats who simply will not use a tray no matter how hard you try. Persist... after all, every raisin in the tray is one less you have to pick up later.
Litter training makes things so much easier on you. It's much simpler to clean out the cage (just scoop out soiled litter and replace as needed) and certainly cheaper. I think the rats much prefer the fabric and towels to live on anyway... it's less dusty, cleaner, softer on ratty feet, more fun to dig in and much quieter during those midnight skirmishes.
It's a good idea to have a litter tray for their use when outside their cage too... either as a separate play area tray, or simply access to their cage. When you get them out to play, place them in the tray so they know where it is. Every half hour or so, place them back in the tray to remind them it's there. If they use it, praise them like crazy and offer them treats.
I GOT THAT FROM DAPPER RAT... ITS A GREAT SITE. =] GOOD LUCK!
My girls tend to just go wherever they please...there may be a wet corner now and then, but other than that I'll find their urine everywhere.
I've also noticed that they will mark my hand when I put it in the cage....they'll just go up, sniff, lick, mark. They'll take turns doing that. In the same spot. I didn't even know rats marked like that. It makes me not really want to give them any free-range on the carpet or furniture. -_-
My boys trained easily for raisins using that method (though I never scolded them for going outside the box... unless you can catch them in the act, I don't think it would associate being naughty with the raisins, rather like rubbing a dog's nose in their mess won't teach them anything (except to hide the mess)).
And my boys really don't mark a horrible lot outside the cage. Not enough to be an issue anyway. I keep babywipes around, just in case.
I'm not bothered posting how to lol!!
Go onto Google and type in "Dapper Rats" it has a very good method.
All I can give you is a few tips. (I'm waiting for something right now, and I'm usually great with this subject..)
- Don't use the same litter that you are using as your bedding, this will confuse them.
- When they do the toilet in there be all goo-gaa and say "who'sha goo' BOY? whooooshaaaa good BOY? eh? AW GOOD BOOOOY! CLEVER!"
And finally, never expect them to be fully trained. A couple of mine, more like a few, are great - others not so bad - others terrible.
The best are Cream & Fred.
Anyway my point is don't think they will ever be fully trained, and if, they aren't - don't be angry with them.
In some ways their lives are short so why bother?
And also, in the wild they wouldn't think "I'm just off to use the pan over there, ok, Sheila?" LOL! :lol:
Just my way of messing about - good luck.