Finding the right cage for your rat can be a difficult and confusing road. It is an important decision that will affect the rest of your rats’ lives. In this series we will discuss the pros and cons of different cages, beddings, and other caging accessories.

BEDDING

Pine and Cedar is considered very bad for the lungs and livers of all small animals. I’ve seen and heard people comment that it keeps the smell down and their rats “do fine” and the truth is that it is better at keeping smells down. The smell of pine and cedar is the enemy. It is the phenols that give cedar and pine the awesome smell and also damages livers and lungs of small animals that live on it. Pine and Cedar are big no-nos.

Shredded or compressed paper is usually a good bedding if you are willing to change your cages out fairly frequently. It does a good job of soaking up the waste. It feels softer and more comfortable to us, though I’m not sure the rats feel that way. I’ve placed half aspen bedding and half paper in enclosures for my rats and never seen a real preference for one or the other. Check for dust when you pour the bag out. *Some rat breeders are noticing that CareFresh is unhealthy and causing severe medical issues in rats and other small mammals.*

Fleece bedding can be luxurious looking. It looks like you are really spoiling your rats. It requires frequent and thorough cleaning. They can, and probably will, chew through the fabric at some point, leaving holes and frayed spots. Making replacement of the bedding necessary on occasion. It is more expensive to get it sewn for you, unless you can do it yourself, however it is also washable and reusable. After being washed and dried at least 3 times you will find that it is fairly absorbent. Poop also tends to sit on it and make the cage look dirtier so many people vacuum or sweep it off daily.   My rats don’t seem to have a preference over fleece, paper or wood shavings.

Shredded Aspen wood bedding is a safe wood. In my opinion it does a better job of keeping the smell down than paper and fleece. It is absorbent. However, it can be high in dust so check your bags for a lot of dust when you pour it out. Dust can cause sneezing or infections. Some brands are better than others about dust.

Corn Cob Bedding is seen on occasion. it can be a good bedding for adult rats. It is absorbent and tends to be low on dust. Some breeders have seen it get stuck in mouths of small babies, might not be suited for breeders.

Towels should never be used as bedding or hammocks in a rats cage. After chewing small holes in the towel the strings become dangerous. I have heard MANY stories over the years about rats hanging themselves or getting caught up in the string of a towel and being unable to get out.

**Check all bedding for mites when you buy it. Mites look like small specks of pepper moving on the bedding. If your bedding has mites you can freeze it overnight to kill the mites or return it to the store you bought it from.**