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Discussion Starter #1
So I've been trying to litter train my two young male rats (they're about 6 weeks now) for the past two weeks. I thought it was going well at first, like they started to get the idea that I wanted them to use the pan and they were only pooping on the lowest level of the cage for a few days straight, but they keep backsliding for reasons I can't understand. Today I woke up to see poop everywhere in the cage including places they've never pooped before! I keep checking the cage multiple times a day to put poops in the litter tray, but they do most of the pooping at night so it doesn't seem very useful. Two weeks in I think they might be pooping in the litter 1/10 times when a few days ago about half the poops were in the litter. About two days ago they suddenly started pooping a lot in one corner on the second floor when they never used to poop there before.

They also prefer playing in the litter, even when it's filled with poop! They're always play-fighting in the litter (which results in litter getting everywhere), and one of my rats stashes food there and eats it there. o_O I swear that same rat deliberately pushes litter out of the tray just to get attention when we go in and clean it all up. I've seen him do it! I try to interrupt their fights when I see them doing it in the litter and just pick them up and put them somewhere else in the cage, but they're still kicking up litter.

Is this totally hopeless? I don't think I'm ever gonna get these guys trained at this rate.

On the other hand, they don't really poop on us anymore. They don't fear poop on us (unless we're trying to bathe them or something) and they seem to have figured out that regular pooping on human means going back in the cage with no treat.
 

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I'm no expert. Far from it, really, but I do have anecdote.

I think that 6 weeks is still pretty young. Interestingly enough, I got each of my three rats at 5 weeks old, though spread out, so I actually now have an 11-week, a 10-week, and a 7-week old rats.

I also felt like I was losing the litter battle. The two oldest rats would ignore the litter tray. In fact, they liked to take the litter out. The second oldest even pooped in the igloo where she slept (I question the intelligence of this rat).

Then three things happened. I'm not sure which, if any, was the catalyst. I got my DCN in the mail. I bought a larger litter tray (previous one was a triangle about an inch and a half on the two sides; this one is more like five inches on the two sides). I got my third rat. If you're keeping score on the numbers I posted, this was about when my older rats were 9 and 8 weeks old. And it was like magic.

There was still some poop around the cage, but most of it was in the litter tray. Even the youngest started using it after a few days. The older rats had to be over 2 months old to figure it out, but the youngest took to it pretty quickly. It may have been a group effort. Maybe only one of them got it and communicated this to the others.

I still get the occasional stray poop, but the litter trays (yep, we got two for the DCN) are always full. We empty the trays at least once a day, but we try to get to it twice or even thrice a day if our schedules allow.

So your rats are still learning. They probably got it in the litter possibly through experimentation. Maybe that's why they're backsliding; they are still figuring out their home. They just need to figure out that the tray is a good thing. Just keep on shoveling it. I read about using a plastic spoon, and I have to say that it's a good tool for poop. If you can shovel it while the rats are watching, then even better, but they'll get the hint eventually.

I only really caught a rat pooping in the litter, but when I did, I gave her a treat. It's hard to reward them for pooping unless you are really vigilant.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks for the anecdote! It really does make me feel better, haha.

I do think we've been confusing them by moving things around in the cage, but this is new for us and we're just figuring out where the best place is for things to go, too! (plus I keep getting excited and making new rat toys and things and then moving things around to make space for them).

Can I ask, whats a DCN? (New rat owner, I know nothing).

We ordered one of those grated litter trays to stop them from kicking it up, but they may well refuse to poop in that entirely...

They do seem to do best right after we've cleaned the cage, but I don't think I have the patience to clean the whole cage every day or two! I've been using a tissue to pick up poops... I like your plastic spoon method and I think I'll get one of those~ Every time they catch me picking up poops with a tissue they start trying to rip at the tissue and take it from me! Maybe they think I'm hiding food from them or it's just some kind of game. They definitely like tugging things, I've noticed.
 

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I have 4 litter trays through out my DFN. 1 for every (half-)level. It seems to work pretty well. Though one tray has been deemed a food storage spot for some reason.
 

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Can I ask, whats a DCN? (New rat owner, I know nothing).
DCN = Double Critter Nation.

You can also get a SCN, which is of course cheaper. There are also the Ferret Nation cages, which are a little different, but I'm not versed enough in that to mention the differences.

I read one review that the DCN helped with litter training. Maybe it's because I didn't have to move things around like I did with the itty bitty cage, so there was no confusion. Also, I used fleece to line the cage, which makes scooping poop easier, since you can spot them more easily. I gave up on the bedding stuff. Now I use Ikea's Borris mats, which accomplishes the same thing as fleece but with less chewing.

Like I said, I don't know which of my major events tilted the balance, but having the DCN didn't hurt. The wide doors allowed for easier scooping without twisting my arms and neck around to find poop.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I've got a multi-story cage from Martin's Cages... the Rat Highrise, I think? I've seen the Critter Nation cages, and from what I can tell the biggest difference is the bigass doors on the CNs. I'm pretty satisfied with the cage I got, though.

I put fleece down in the cage, but I made the mistake of getting dark blue, and it's hard to see the poops sometimes. Oh well, at least it doesn't look as dirty?

I kept moving things around for various reasons... I put the water down on the first level because I suspected the reason they weren't using the litter was because their hideaway was in the top and the litter was on the bottom and they were too lazy to go all the way down when they woke up from naps. I wanted to lure them to the first floor by putting the essentials there. :p And to put the water down below I had to move the wheel up to the second floor, and once I did that they immediately started pooping under it.
 

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Have you tried a pee stone (a flat smooth stone you put in the litter tray - I use round river stones)? For some reason rats like doing their business on them. Our litter tray has stacks of poops behind the pee stone, and hardly any elsewhere. They definitely like it.
 

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Hi There!

I wrote a post about litter box training in my Tumblr blog. Here's the link in case you find it helpful. Scroll down a bit to find the heading "Litter Box Training": http://aboutpetrats.tumblr.com/post/109959123929/hey-in-one-or-two-weeks-ill-adopt-three-male

I also have some funny stories about pet rats and litter boxes. This is a link to my blog on my website about two girl rats who had a sense of humor when using their litter boxes: http://aboutpetrats.com/2287.html

I agree with Kuildeous that your rats will eventually learn to use their litter boxes!

Good luck and keep us posted. :)
 

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Those look ok, smoothness-wise. It doesn't matter what kind of stone, really; it must just be biggish and not too rough (also for cleaning purposes) and stable enough for a rat to sit on. So not small ones mixed with litter, but one single biggish one for them to perch on.
 
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