Does your pet rat cage have an odor?  There are many reasons that this can happen.  Is it cleaned often enough? 

 Are there too many pet rats in the cage?  It is most likely you smell the urine and /or feces.  What can you do to keep it from smelling? Rats are not normally a smelly animal.  This article will cover the answers to your questions and more.

Why Does Your Pet Rat’s Cage Smell?

It is most likely from the urine because after overnight, it starts to develop an ammonia smell.  If the cage is not cleaned, then it can snowball into a really bad odor, which can put your pet rat’s respiratory health at a risk.  You should try to wipe down every day, the surfaces where urine can accumulate.

Both the male and females will often go wherever they want to urinate.  The male pet rats also mark their territory by urinating on it and it is dribbled all over the place.  This is the way they are making a point, saying this is my territory.

Every place where your pet rat’s feet touch is a potential smell just waiting to happen.  This  isespecially true if their cage is in a small room where they sleep and play.  Just use baby wipes and wipe surfaces they have touched.  Your pet rat loves to run around their cage and they will get urine on various things.  If your cage has multiple layers with wire shelves, the urine will drip down and splatter when it hits the bottom of the cage.

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The odor can also stem from moldy bedding, leftover food, and dampness from where they have used as a litter box, so to speak.  Pet rats are generally not smelly but they could pick up smells from their environment.

grey rat in a cage

Daily Cleaning 

You should use disinfectant paper towels to wipe down your cage each day.  You can make your own by putting a roll of heavy-duty paper towels in a container that is big enough to hold the roll of towels.  It also needs to have a lid.  Using diluted white vinegar, slowly pour it over the towels until they are damp like baby wipes. You can use them to wipe down the cage each day.  

Deep Weekly Cleaning 

When you deep clean your pet rat’s cage it takes a lot of work and time but it is something that should be done once a week or at least every ten days.  If you have more than one pet rat, you make need to do partial bedding changes more often.  Put your pet rat into a temporary cage while you are cleaning. 

You can get these temporary cages at most pet stores or you can use a glass aquarium.  You just have to make sure that whatever you use, they cannot escape from. If you have any clean toys, put one in there so they do not get bored.

 During the deep clean you will have to pull out all the toys, shelves, and bottom of the cage to soak and then disinfect.  If you cannot disassemble the rest of the cage, make sure that you wipe it down as best as you can.  With the food bowls, you can wash them with warm water and mild dish detergent.

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After rinsing them to make sure that all the soap residue is out, put them on an absorbent towel to dry.  It is advisable to wear disposable or rubber gloves when cleaning their cage, especially when handling their uneaten food and bedding.  Scoop it out into a trash bag unless you are washing the bedding.

cute rAT cage

Since vinegar neutralizes ammonia, soak all of the pet rat rags and hammocks, if you use them, in diluted white vinegar before you run them through the hot water wash cycle.  Soaking them will also remove any stuck on pellets and food crumbs so they won’t get in the washer. 

You should also soak the toys and wheels in diluted vinegar for a few minutes and then to disinfect them, add a little bleach to the water.  Always make sure that their toys are rinsed completely to get the bleach smell off.  Before you put them back in the cage, everything should be dry.

When cleaning their cage, put a little dish detergent on a wet cleaning brush and scrub the bars and floor of the cage.  Make sure that you inspect the cage for any areas that are heavily soiled, especially the corners.  Rinse the cage well when done and let it sit to air dry in the sun for at least 30 minutes.

Once the cage is dry you can start to put things back as long as the toys, wheel, food dish, and bottle are dry.

Tips to Help Keep Your Pet Rat’s Cage From Smelling

  • Minimize how much cardboard, paper, and paper towels you give your pet rat.  They love to shred things and hide them around the cage but these things are not absorbent and quickly become smelly.  If you give these to your pet rat to play with, remove them when they are done with them.
  • If your cage has plastic floors, they seem to retain urine odors so you need to clean them more than the wire cages.
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Conclusion

  • Use a bottle brush to clean their water bottles at least every other day.  Use hot soapy water and make sure they are rinsed completely with no soapy residue left behind.
  • The cage should be well ventilated and kept between 64 to 79 degrees F. with a humidity level between 30 and 70 percent humidity in the room where the cage is.  This will help to decrease the ammonia odors from the urine.
  • Use bedding that is absorbent but do not use pine or cedar litters because they are toxic to your pet rats.
  • When you start to smell your pet rat’s cage, then it is time to clean the cage.
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