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Discussion Starter #1
I'm feeling more than a little bit overwhelmed at this point.

We got our three little ratties (Dixie, Bubbles, and Evie) about a week ago. My daughters and I thought that we'd done our research: getting a cage with enough room, finding the best food, researching bedding, watching YouTube videos by dedicated rat owners, etc. But we've been overwhelmed primarily by the sheer volume of feces produced by these three rats, as well as how often the poop finds its way out of the cage onto the dresser and floor. Spot-cleaning twice a day, even at their young age, is such a chore to find all those little poop pellets and pick them up.


  1. Our three rats (who are approximately 8 weeks old) live in a three-level wire mesh cage that is about 28" x 27.5" x 16" (71cm x 70cm x 41cm), with a metal tray on the bottom that is about 3 inches (7.62 cm) deep. This should be big enough for our three girls, right?
  2. We've been using fleece as the bedding as well as cover on the top two levels. But the rats have chewed up and utterly destroyed the fleece. I can't afford to buy all-new fleece each week. I originally chose fleece because I thought that, with spot-cleaning, we'd be able to change out the fleece once a week and be good. I'm now thinking of using something like CareFresh or KayTee paper pet bedding, though that will make spot-cleaning almost impossible. If I use the paper bedding, can we just empty the bottom tray out twice a week (without spot-cleaning) and be good? We'd still spot-clean the other levels.
  3. Should I get rid of the top level, which is rather small anyway? The rats do have a nice hammock to sleep in. This way, there would be just one level covered with fleece and the bottom would have paper bedding.
Please help, this is feeling unsustainable. :(
 

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Discussion Starter #2
4. I just saw the thread about Ikea Borris Mats and at first glance they look like the best thing since sliced bread. From what I'm reading, I could buy some of those and use them in place of fleece/bedding. Is that correct? Then just spot-clean the mats a couple of times a day and throw them into the clothes washer once a week?
 

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The general rule for rats is to have 2'x2' of space per rattie. I would recommend leaving one level in the cage and possibly try out some litter training! There are plenty of tips online of how to do some successful litter training for your ratties and they likely will pick it up fairly quickly.
If a rat chooses to tear up the fleece this can usually be avoided by adding other items in their cage for them to utterly destroy ;) In every cage I have I add in tissue boxes, toilet paper rolls, wooden toys both hanging and on the ground, baskets and lots of extra shredded fleece for them to carry around. These items are relatively easy and cheap to find/make and will entertain your ratties enough so that they won't tear up the fleece! In my personal experience when I used bedding (Carefresh and aspen) they would just double the mess :p They would not only throw their poos everywhere, but they would also shove all of the bedding out of the cage.
Ratties seem to like levels and hammocks both for separate purposes and I would recommend leaving the level in for them. It is another hard surface that they can jump up and down to which I find of value to the bebes!
 

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I'm currently trying this with my 4 (2 girls and 2 boys). I found similar mats at my local dollar store. Ive added a huge pile of fleece scraps to the cage as well and they seem to be content messing about and nesting ripping that up rather than the mats which is awesome. One of the biggest issues I had with the fleece was that my girls just riped it to pieces immediately. So far it's working well with the girls chewing very little and the smell is less than with the fleece or paper bedding too. Well see how it goes in a day or two when it's time to wash them for the first time.
 

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I use old towels for my bedding in my cage, I have a critter nation which comes with plastic mats that lock in place with a metal frame, I just tuck them underneath the plastic part. Although I don't know if your cage does that.

As for keeping your floor clean I'd recommend using a type of netting around the cage, like for a bird cage. I am not sure what they are called but they keep the mess from going everywhere.

Also, try going to the dollar tree and getting some random literature for the babe's to chew up. As for wooden toys, try and keep to toy SPECIFICALLY made for pets because often there are coatings spray or painted on wood that can harm rats.

Toys I would recommend would be old toilet paper rolls with little flaps so you can close each side in on itself, rats love puzzles and they can chew it all they want!

I hope this helped. If you have any more messages just contact me!
~~
 

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Discussion Starter #6 (Edited)
Thanks to everyone for the helpful information and advice. We've made some changes.
We've switched us to lab blocks, which should get rid of the mess from seed shells and the tiny seeds in their old food.
I picked up a smooth rock from our yard, washed and boiled it, and put it in their litter box. They appear to have begun using it already, which should help to reduce some portion of the odor which might have been coming from their urine.
We're also taking the poops from our spot-cleaning and putting it into the litter box in an effort to encourage them to poop in there. That part doesn't seem successful yet, though.
I've also ordered some of the Ikea Borris mats. In the meantime, we've taken the fleece out of their cage and have temporarily moved the girls to a large terrarium. The good thing about that is the fact that we don't have any poop being dropped on the dresser or the floor.
These measures have been helpful and made it easier to enjoy just holding and observing our little ratties.

Oh, I forgot to mention that we've got some chew toys for them, including a hanging thing made of wood and pumice. I've also put some toilet paper tubes in there for them to chew. They don't seem to like the little wood chew blocks we picked up for them, though.
 

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Only had the rats just over a week? Probably still exploring the area. Litter box training takes time. My older guy(19 mos.) took to very quickly, the 2 youngsters (9mos.) are getting better, its been 3 months of training. There is progress, my boys are not big fans of bedding, they just try and push it of the cage,,,I laid down cardboard on the floor, scored it with a knife, help soak up the pee,,, it is cheap and works, they love cardboard boxes to sleep in. As for chew toys,,, maybe try toys that are made for large birds, macaws, parrots, I have seen pumice stone perches , good to chew on, helps trim the nails. Do not use old towels, or cloth for bedding, to shreds, can come unraveled, the threads might wrap around their feet,,,not good, seen photos after that happened, one rat lost his foot, because the blood supply was cut off. You are on the right track,,,,take time,, it is worth it...all the best.
 

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In the meantime, we've taken the fleece out of their cage and have temporarily moved the girls to a large terrarium. The good thing about that is the fact that we don't have any poop being dropped on the dresser or the floor.
Whew! :D Fast and great steps! Just be careful with terrariums and be sure to move them back to a cage asap. Terrariums can effect their respiratory because of the change in airflow. Litter training will take some time, as everyone else has said, just be patient with it :) Enjoy!
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Quick question:
We've got a pee stone in their litter box, and they've been using it!
My question is: do I periodically wash the pee stone? Like on a weekly basis or so?
 

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Discussion Starter #10
We got the Borris mats from Amazon and have put them into the cage and relocated the girlies back out of the terrarium and back into their cage. Also took out the top layer. This is a better arrangement, as it leaves them two levels on which to climb and run, and it leaves room for their hammock.

Also, good news: tonight we saw that their freshly-cleaned litter box had a bunch of poop in it! This means that at least some of them are pooping in the litter box at least some of the time! That's a tremendous improvement!
 
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