• A Common Scents Guide to Banishing Pet Rat Cage Odors

    Posted on March 31, 2016 by in Care, Health, Housing, Litter Box Training, Safety, Training

    Your Questions | About Pet Rats Answers

    QUESTION:

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    Replace cardboard boxes and any wood items frequently to keep your pet rats’ cage clean and odor free

    Hiya! Just a quick question, what is the best way to deal with the smell that comes with those little fuzzballs? I’ve noticed that even though I keep their cage clean as can be and even when I just cleaned it it still smells. It can’t be that it stuck to the cage because I have just gotten a new one ( like two days ago). Thank you!

    ABOUT PET RATS ANSWERS:

    That’s great you’re looking into this—-Many people mistakenly believe it’s normal and unavoidable to have a bad smell coming from their pet rats’ cage. This is simply not true! There’s no reason your rats’ cage should be smelly.

    Here are some questions to help you figure out where the odor is coming from so you can eliminate it:

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    Rats love building nests out of plain newsprint shredded into strips.

     What kind of bedding are you using? 

    Besides using cloth bedding, plain newsprint is inexpensive and easy to replace daily which greatly helps to reduce (and even do away with) odors.

    Do you have any wooden or cardboard objects inside their cage? 

    Both materials easily absorb urine. The only way to get rid of the smell is to get rid of the object itself. If you do use cardboard boxes and/or wooden toys inside your rats’ cage, these should be replaced regularly.

    Are there cloth items inside their cage?

    T-shirts, hammocks and fleece floor linings can also absorb and retain the odor of urine. The healthiest way to keep cloth items smelling fresh is to add a cup of distilled white vinegar to each load of laundry. Also, be sure and use laundry detergent that’s labeled “Free and Clear” (i.e. No perfumes or dyes).

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    Pizza boxes cut in half make great pet rat litter boxes

     Are your rats litter box trained? 

    If not, this is a great way to both make cleaning up after them easier as well as to keep your cage as odor-free as possible. Here’s an article on How to Litter Box Train Your Rats.

    Are any of your rats males? 

    If so, are they neutered? Unneutered rats often have a musky scent. I actually love the smell, but some find it offensive. Neutering can reduce this odor.about pet rats, pet rats, pet rat, rats, rat, fancy rats, fancy rat, ratties, rattie, pet rat care, pet rat info, why does my pet rat cage smell?, stinky rat cage, clean pet rat cage, pet rat odor, pet rat bad smell, pet rat sense of smell, bad smell damaging to pet rats

    I hope at least some of the above questions help you figure out how to get rid of the bad smell. You’re probably already well aware that odors can cause significant health problems for pet rats, especially if the smell is due to urine buildup.

    Remember, if YOU can smell anything bad, the odor is 100X stronger for a rat’s finely-tuned sense of smell. Since rats can detect the scent of landmines and tuberculosis, just think how powerful the odor that you’re smelling is for your rats!

    Best Wishes to You & Your Rats,

    Jasmine | About Pet Rats


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2 Responses so far.

  1. Ferz mum says:

    Two other causes of stinky cage that I’ve experienced:

    1) unneutered male poop can be really stinky. I can’t recommend neutering enough.

    2) some infections of the gastrointestinal tract can cause a putrid odor. One in particular is Giardia, a parasite. If obsessive cage cleaning does not get rid of the odor, you may want to get their stools checked by a vet–an O&P (ova and parasite)

    Happy ratting!

    • Hi there Ferz’s mom!

      Thanks for sharing your experiences. Great point about having a fecal test performed whenever stools are consistently abnormal—especially when there’s diarrhea and dietary causes have already been ruled out.

      That’s interesting you’ve found that your unneutered males have had stinkier poop. I haven’t found there to be any smell difference in female’s vs. male’s feces, neutered or not. I usually don’t have my male rats neutered since there’s no real health benefit. The only reason I’ve ever neutered my rats is when there’s been aggressive behavior.

      I wonder how neutering could change the smell of your male rats’ feces? I understand that various diets affect how an animal’s stool smells, but don’t see how neutering would change the scent. Neutered males’ skin smells different after neutering, however, since buck grease is then greatly reduced or eliminated. Buck grease gives them a muskier odor, which some people (including myself) actually like.

      In any case, thanks again for sharing your observations. It’s always helpful to hear differing perspectives!

      Best Wishes to You & Your Rats,

      Jasmine | About Pet Rats