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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have two rats, and I currently use paper based stuff for bedding, however it stinks so quickly! I clean the cage twice a day (everything gets wiped down with water and vinegar, and feces are removed), and deep clean once a week, but find that after I put them back in the cage it quickly starts to smell horrible again - within a couple hours.

I never had this problem when I had only my one rat.

I can't afford to change the bedding so often - and because it's paper everything has to get changed, not just a section because I can't tell where they went pee.

I'm going to try switching to fleece because I like the fact I can wash it.

My question is how often do you guys change the fleece?
 

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I have 3 boys and I do like you do - spot clean daily and change litter boxes and stuff. On top of that I machine wash all the fleece hammocks, at high temperature, once a week; on the bottom of the cage I use Ikea Borris mats which I change once or twice a week (depending on how dirty they've gotten), wash and soak in a vinegar solution.

Though idk if your rats are litter trained? Mine are, and they're very good at it too, so that's why the cage doesn't get dirty/smelly quite as fast...
In fact, it never smells. Sometimes a whole week will go by without even one pee stain on the hammocks or Borris mats! I get so proud. :3
 

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You are cleaning too much! Overcleaning actually makes things far far worse. It will cause the rats to mark their territory hardcore leading to worse smell.

If your cage is getting such an odor that you feel the need to clean that often, then it is likely that your cage is not large enough at all. If your cage is too small then it is going to smell very very quickly.
You also want to make sure when you do clean your cage, to clean the items in the cage as well. Some things like wood or plastic can absorb the urine and leave a lingering smell. Cages also need to be deep cleaning in all the litter nooks sometimes too.

There is no one size fits all method for cleaning. It will depend on how many rats you have, how large your cage is, etc...

About once-twice a week is the norm.

Try littertraining. It is not likely to be perfect but it will help somewhat. Place a large rock in the littertray, it works like magic to draw them to pee on it. It is weird but works.

If you decide to switch to fleece, using it properly is key. It needs something underneath that is absorbent. I use dish drying mats, some use towels, ikea mats, bath mats, uhual pads, etc... the fleece should be washed in vinegar and never use fabric softner.

I clean my cages about twice a week for my large groups and once a week for my smaller groups.
 

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My 3 boys do not like bedding through the cage,,, it just ended up on the floor. I have a pre-fit metal liner with 2 inch sides, a litter box with a wire cover,,,they do use it,,,I usually leave just a little of the old material in the tray,,that way they return to it...was not really hard to litter train. On the floor of the tray I lay down corrugated card board,,,I score the top side to open it up....it is cheap...throw in some fleece,,,un-bleached paper tissue,,,spot clean daily,,,, deep clean with vinegar and water each week,,,,though from what I have read, here and elsewhere males are a bit more difficult to keep the cage clean , they do prefer to sleep in boxes,,snuggled in together...
 

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I find litter box training them and using wood pellets in the box seems to work the best for keeping smell down.

As far as fleece-I change it out as needed. I actually sniff things daily...because sometimes it gets gross faster than other times. On average, the girls get theirs changed out twice weekly and my boys once a week. Most litter boxes are about weekly, but if they use one box heavily it might get it twice a week.

I used to do full weekly clean ups and found this seemed to make things worse, especially with my boys who I think felt they needed to mark everything. So now I just deep clean a few things at a time and wipe down the cage/bars/floors and such as needed. Everything is still cleaned weekly, just not at the same time.

It can also be a cage issue. Some cages hold urine worse than others. Anything made of wood or galvanized steel can really get soaked in urine. Those kinds of things need to be really soaked, cleaned, and dried thoroughly. Wood items may need to be tossed. Plastic can also hold smell. Soaking once in while in a heavy vinegar solution can help. Some cages have nooks and crannies that hold smell/urine as well. You want to either pressure wash it in your shower, outside or if too big get a bottle with vinegar and water and really spray out those tough to reach places.

Lastly look around your cage. Is the wall, floor a desk sitting close to the cage getting hit with urine?
 

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I changed fleece out every 3 days when I was using it... and I used Uhaul pads underneath. Now, I use shredded aspen with a thin layer of horse stall pellets underneath.. This works great for absorbing moisture and smell. The bedding could go easily 2 weeks before a full change out. I also have litter boxes with just the pellets for them to use and those get changed at least weekly. What smells worse, I find, is the fleece things and plastic things they have. Those get changed out more often. I highly recommend the horse stall pellets.. you could try a thin layer below your current paper bedding and see if it helps. I get mine at tractor supply for $6 for a 40lb bag. I also suggest scattering a handful of soiled bedding over your fresh bedding.. this seems to help mine not mark as bad.

I agree about it probably being your cage or furnishings too.. I used to have a rat manor and it smelled awful. The cage itself was almost impossible to get clean and dried urine would cause it to smell.. Even with fresh bedding, hammocks, etc. and the cage "wiped down" it still smelled. I had to put it in the shower and deep clean it to get it to stop smelling.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Hey guys! Thanks for all the advice! My cage is huge! It's probably a 1.5 meters high and 1 meter deep. It has lots of levels (5, not including the giant hammock I have hanging). I think the problem was the bedding type I was using - I switched the bottom stuff out for a borris mat and put fleece over top, and that eliminated all odor, and it's been almost 24 hours now and seems to be holding! I am in the process of trying to litter train them albeit without much success - they like to defecate/urinate around the edges of their litter boxes rather than in them. But it's all rather new so I'll keep trying. I'll keep in mind what moonkissed said about over cleaning and spot clean from now on - my one guy Nugget does looove to mark his territory so maybe this will help with that. Again thanks
 

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There are a few tricks to minimising smell, its a lot more than just the substrate your using. I should mention here that I clean my rats out max every 2-3 weeks and don't find them smelling in between (and actually my none rat friends find them good too, other than the general smell of having animals they don't smell of urea).

1, Eliminate surfaces that they pee on - these are typically smooth shelves and levels. Instead free yourself up some extra space for ropes, branches and climbing toys and add a couple of hanging litter trays (just use cheap rectangular cat ones and drill a hole in each corner to hang) these can be filled with a bit of litter and let them pee on a nice absorbant surface rather than the shiny plastic that holds the smells so well.

2, Use an absorbent substrate / litter. Some things like fleece, paper, straw and hay don't absorb the urine at all, instead they let it filter through to underneath (your boris mat will absorb a bit but not much). What you want is something that will absorb and lock away the urine. Things like hemp, aspen, heat treated shavings and rat safe cat litters are good for this, if you combine with a less absorbent medium like shredded card then you can get a 2 layer thing going on with the most absorbent at the bottom and a fluffy top layer to keep the rats well above it. This generally works best for keeping the smell well under control.

3, Keep a low population compared to floor space - the size of your cage doesn't matter as much as how many rats there are compared to the floor or substrate area dimensions. So if you have 4 rats in a cage with a floor that's 80cm x 50cm they will need cleaning out more than the same number of rats with a floor that's 100cm x 80cm, combine a good surface area of substrate with a good substrate (this wont have much of an affect if your using something rubbish) and you cut the smell down a lot.

4, Feed the right food - too high protein, poor quality ingredients etc can all make your rats smell worse, especially if its a pooy smell you've got going on.
 

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I use borris mats on my upper half levels in my two DCNs. I find they start to smell in about 3-4 days and have to be changed out. I agree with Isamurat above. when I use the horse stall pellets on the same half shelfs, they don't smell for at least a week. As long as you have plenty of borris mats to change out, then you should be ok if you are fine with having to wash them often.
 

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With my two girls I use just plain fleece on all levels of my DCN. Change them out every three days and give the plastic trays a good wipe down with baby wipes. I dump their litter and give fresh at this time too. Keeps the smell to a minimum if not completely non existant.
 
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