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Rats are not known to have perfect toilet etiquette, to the dismay of their owners. Luckily rats are intelligent, and with some persistence and patience, rats can be trained to use a litter box and a pee rock.
What is a Pee Rock?
A pee rock is usually a large smooth-surfaced flat rock placed inside a rat’s litter box to encourage them to urinate inside the litter box. This may help reduce urine marking in other areas of the cage. Rats should ideally have a litterbox to place the pee rock in.
Rats will often use a pee rock by rubbing their bottoms against the rock, stimulating urination. Most rats spontaneously figure out how to use a pee rock.
An additional advantage of a pee rock is that the rock surface of the stone helps wear their nails down. This can be especially important for middle-aged to older rats who spend most of their time on soft substrates as they are more prone to having overgrown nails.
To make the introduction of a pee rock to your rats as smooth and efficient as possible, they should ideally already have an idea of how to use a litter tray.
If you would like to read more on litter training and how to stop your rat from peeing everywhere, look at this article.
Here are a few quick pointers on litter training:
Rats often have an area in the cage where they urinate and defecate more often than in other areas of their enclosure. You can utilize this behavior to encourage the rat to use a litter box as a bathroom instead by placing the litter box on that same spot. The earlier rats are introduced to litterbox training, the better they adhere to the idea. That being said, they are never too old to learn new tricks!
It is vital to fill the litterbox with different contents to their bedding on the cage floor to differentiate the area, as this will help the rats identify their new “bathroom.” You may also add some fecal balls into the fresh litterbox so that the rat can realize that this will now be the new appropriate place to eliminate in.
Your pet rat may not get this at first and may continue to soil in different areas for a couple of weeks. But if you consistently tidy their cage every day by transferring all soiled material into the litterbox, they will eventually get the message.
What Is The Best Pee Rock?
The rock should ideally have a smooth surface. However, having a slightly porous rock may be beneficial as it will help keep a faint urine scent which will encourage rats to use it, even after washing the rock.
A good Pee Rock should have a relatively flat top and bottom surface and have rounded edges. Almost like a disk or cookie shape.
There are two routes you can go with regarding the size of a pee rock. The most common recommendation is that the stone is large enough for the rat to sit on.
Alternatively, multiple smaller rocks can be helpful in that some rat owners feel that it encourages their rats to urinate numerous times on the rocks to scent mark all the rocks, which will cause them to empty more of their enclosures.
The disadvantage of using multiple smaller rocks is that rats may try to move them around the enclosure. Therefore, use a sized stone that they will not be able to remove from their litter tray.
Examples Of Good Pee Rocks
You can buy river rocks at a garden center. Look for stones roughly half the size of your palm or larger.
How Many Pee Rocks Should I Have?
One large pee rock is usually enough for up to 4 rats. If you have more than four rats, I recommend getting more litter boxes, each with a pee rock.
If you choose to use multiple small rocks, be aware that your rats might want to carry the rocks around their cage.
How Long Does It Take For Rats To Learn How To Use a Pee Rock?
On average, rats take between one and three weeks to learn how to use a pee rock.
How quickly rats catch on to using a pee rock depends on their temperaments. Some rat owners report that their rats catch on within a week, and other rat owners find that some individuals or groups of rats refuse to use a litterbox, never mind a pee rock!
My advice is to be consistent and give it some time. Experiment with different litter substrates and sizes and textures of rocks by providing two or three litter boxes as additional options to see which rock and substrate they prefer.
You can try using Critter Litter. This litter box substrate encourages elimination and absorbs moisture and odor. It may not help prevent your rat from bringing their food over to the litter tray but will at least promote elimination in a designated area.
Give every ‘experimental introduction’ at least two weeks before deciding that it does not work for your rat. Some rats are aversed to new things and need extra time and patience to get used to new things in their environment and new routines.
Usually, when one rat in the group adopts the new habit, the other rats catch on quickly as rats mimic the behavior of their cage mates. You can read more about rat behavior and what the research says about rat emotions here.
How To Clean A Pee Rock
Rinse the pee rock in the sink with boiling water until the water runs clear. This way, most harmful germs will be killed without removing all scent traces from the rock.
Do not use strong detergents such as kitchen or bathroom cleaning products, baking soda, and vinegar. We do not want to remove all traces of pee from the rock as this may cause them to discontinue using the pee rock.
My Rat Uses The Pee Rock To Eat Treats On – Is This Normal?
It is not uncommon for rats to take high-value treats to the bathroom and enjoy them there. We are not entirely sure why they do this but rest assured that this is considered normal behavior for rats.
My Rat Does Not Want To Use A Pee Rock. What Should I Do?
Be patient and persistent! Give them at least three weeks of introductory time. Then, keep moving droppings over to the litter box and experiment with different rock shapes, sizes, and textures.
If your rats show no interest in using a pee rock after this, you may rest your case. Some rats just prefer to eliminate wherever they want, which is entirely normal, although a little unsanitary, for rats to do this.
You would want to introduce youngsters to a litter tray and pee rock by keeping them with a litter- and pee-rock-trained adult in an ideal world. I know this is rarely possible, but you can dream a little, right?