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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello all,

It's been a while sine my last post. My rats are doing well, but I've been having a smell issue lately. I have two groups of rats (3m/3f) in 2 separate cages. I use a combination of shredded aspen and wood pellets as litter (which is working great) but am having an issue with my girls peeing on the sides of their cage. All-in-all the girls smell waaay worse than the boys and the odor of their pee on their cage walls hits you in the face when you open the door to the critter room. I've been changing litter every other week, changing out hammocks / beds weekly (or more often) and wiping down the bars with baby wipes, but the smell of pee is still lingering and I'm not sure how to get rid of it between full cage cleanings (when I wash the cage). I have tried leaving some dirty litter and items in their cage so that they won't mark as much and I've also been putting vanilla extract in their water (which helps somewhat) but am still at a loss for solving the cage side-peeing issue. I've had no issues like this with the boys, so I'm wondering if I need to switch to a different cage that does not have a metal "floor" (the boys is an open cage with more height and no shelves / levels, just hammocks, etc.).

Has anyone tried using vinegar / water on the cage bars? If so I'd love your opinions on how well it worked. Also, has anyone tried putting up fleece "bumpers" around their cage sides to catch the pee? I now use bedding because mine ate their fleece liners, but I still have fleece left, so I'm willing to try... The cage is a petco rat manor, so it is difficult to put anything in the top level (like a large litterbox) and it is also hard to secure fleece or another liner to the cage bottom.

I'd greatly appreciate any advice you guys have. I love my rats, but my husband and family hate the smell and at this point, I'm considering not keeping any other rats after these pass due solely to the odor issue.

Thanks for your time and help!
 

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Are they litter box trained? If not you need to change the litter more often. I have used vinegar and it's wonderful. You can try getting a scrub brush, dipping it in vinegar and hot water, and then just scrubbing the bars, the vinegar won't hurt them, although they may sneeze a bit at the smell. I prefer white vinegar to red wine or apple cider vinegar.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for the reply. They are not litterbox trained, although I provide one on the top level of the cage... They do sometimes use it, but the main issue is scent marking (peeing) on the bars / sides of the cage. I have ever changed the litter in the bottom of the cage more often, but this particular combination seems very good at absorbing odors and urine. The litter barely smells at all by the end of the second week, while the cage bars will reek 1-2 days after cleaning.
 

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water and vinegar work great on the bars. I use vinegar on everything though. I spray down the cage. Soak litter boxes, toys ect in vinegar. Soak their bedding in it prior to washing.

I also use natures miracle and spray that on the bars sometimes as well. It's safe and I like the smell.

I don't know what cage you have currently, but if it's galvanized (or has chipped paint) the smell gets really deep into the metal and you really only mask it after cleaning and it will come back.

In that case, it's work dragging outside for a severe bleaching and scrubbing, rinsing. If there are scratches in the paint I would at least touch up those area's with rustoleum. Which means curing time on the paint. But it's well worth it imo. Scratches in paint are just places that will eventually rust, as well as hold smell-best to fix them if possible.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks for your advice! I will try vinegar next time I clean the cages. The cage is a petco rat manor and I believe it is painted...So that could be part of the issue. I am looking into getting another cage, so maybe that will help matters.
 

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I use white vinegar mixed with water and like 30 drops tea tree oil in a spray bottle and when you spray it down let it sit for like 5mins before wiping it with a sponge or damp microfiber cloth. I like microfiber cloths the most!

My girl Sansa used to mark on the bars when I had my girls in the top half of my double critter nation and a boy on the bottom. But she stopped after he got his own cage.
Good luck!
 

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I had the Petco Rat Manor and found the bars ridiculously hard to clean as well. But I think it had to do with how small the doors were. I was way too happy to get rid of that cage!

The cage I have now is a used Martins that held ferrets. It smelled pretty bad and I cleaned it with vinegar and water. Took most of the smell away right away!
 

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I have the same problem with my Rat Manor! I think the issue with my girls is that the pee just drips down from the second level and gets on the bars. Ii just wipe down the bars with each cage cleaning...
 

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I don't have a rat manor, but I think something that you could do with it is measure the platforms and then get some tall tupperware, plastic trays and then hook (binder clips would probably be the easiest to put in and remove for cleaning) them to all the platforms. Add a little litter to the bottom of each one or some fleece pieces for a sleep spot. When they mark it should be hitting the tray and not the bars, so much easier to clean.

I'd do a deep cleaning prior, or you won't know if it's working. Like a bleach solution that you let soak for a few minutes and then rinse thoroughly-I think those cages would fit in the tub.
 

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I'd definitely clean more often (especially changing the litter more often than once every 2 weeks). While it may not smell really, that's a really long time to let feces/urine just sit and have the critters be around it.

I have a double Critter Nation with six rats, and I do a full cleaning every 5 days - sometimes sooner if it's needed! I also spot-clean daily, tidying things up and changing out anything that's been peed on (and wiping down anything that's dirty). I change the litter boxes every couple of days (my idea is to use less litter, and change more often - much healthier environment for the animals). Once you get in the habit, it becomes second nature.

For cage bars, like others I just spray the cage down with a cleaner, let it sit for a few minutes, and then scrub it with a brush and/or wipe it down. If the cage is small enough, I just put it in the shower, turn the water on hot, and let that go for about five minutes. Then scrub it with dish soap, rinse it, and tada!

And I actually do put up something to stop any possible pee from getting out of the cage, in spots where I know they might. I use fleece fringe rope toys, and just hook them on the cage across the area I want to protect (usually the top-most shelf, for whatever reason). Like such --



 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Thanks for your input! I have some fleece ropes that I can use to block some areas..That is a great idea that I had not thought of before.

I will try changing their bedding more frequently. In the past when I did so, they smelled worse, faster, which is one of the reasons I had changed to every 2 weeks, but maybe that won't be the case this time.

I will try doing a deep clean on the cage, then doing vinegar / water on the bars each day to spot clean and see how things go.

I have already removed all of the smaller levels in the cage (to give me more room to hang things) but I do think part of the problem is what you said ratbasket- I think they are peeing on the edges / corners of the top level, then the pee is dripping down the sides of the cage. If there was a safe way to remove the middle level, I would, but I believe this is a structural part of the cage.

Thanks again everyone for your help! Hopefully using some of your advice, my girls will be less smelly. :)
 

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I have actually been thinking about removing my center level, the only thing stopping me is that I can't think of a way to get it out! I think that the cage would probably still be fine if you took out the center level. :) Good Luck!
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Thanks for the information and pics! I have some fleece rope toys that I don't use, so I may start using them as guards like you do and see if it helps.

I did a thurough cleaning on the girls cage tonight. I sprayed it down with vinegar water, let it sit, wiped it down and sprayed with chlorihexadine (not sure on the spelling, it's a veterinary disinfecting solution), wiped it again and let air dry. I replaced bedding, etc. as well. After all that, I can still smell pee on the bars of the cage... It was too dark and cold to wash the cage down completely and let it dry, but I will try that when the weather and light permits. I'm beginning to think it does have something to do with the cage itself and the possible peeing on the middle level of the cage / dripping down the bars. I have removed all smaller levels and replaced with hammocks, but the middle wire level is permanent (it supports the cage) so this wll always be an issue unit I get a new cage.

Out of curiosity, I took a whiff of the boys cage bars and they didn't smell at all... Their cage has not wire / metal levels though and is not painted (I assume it is galvanized or stainless steel).

Thank you again guys for your help and advice!
 

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It might be the cage! Out of curiosity, and I apologize if you've already mentioned it already, but what cage do you have exactly?
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Petco rat manor for 3 girls and the 3 boys are in a kaytee exotics cage. Both were purchased cheaply (the rat manor was on sale for $49 and I got the kaytee cage on ebay new for $45). I have removed all the smaller levels in the rat manor and the plastic levels in the kaytee cage... Now both have hammocks, space pods, etc. instead. The boys cage never smells, just their hammocks, which I change out and wash weekly (if not more often). The middle level on the rat manor is tiny (like 1/16") mesh and is impossible to clean. It is painted and I know that I smell some "rusty" smell when cleaning, so I'm sure that is playing into it somehow. I will try taking the rat manor outside this weekend and hosing it off with a high pressure hose head and see if that helps. I will likely keep both cages as backups when I get a new cage, but need to find a solution to keep the smell down for now.

I'm seriously looking into getting a DCN to replace both cages (or just give the girls a much larger cage). I think the DCN, although bigger, will be easier to scrub / clean.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
In this thread, if you scroll down, you'll see pics of my old cage setup. The small levels are out now, no liners (bedding in the bottom) and I don't put a liner on the middle level any more.. They were chewing it and it was horrible to remove / clean.
 

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A couple tbs of white vinegar in one spray bottle and a couple tbs of baking soda in another. Spray first with the vinegar and then with the baking soda. Then scrub with the rough side of a sponge. Works great for me. :)

EDIT: Use this on the cage, not the rats.
 

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I'd probably change the hammocks out sooner, and maybe wipe down surfaces daily. I know with my rats, especially with hammocks they like the best, the smell quickly thanks to them marinating themselves in pee :p I change hammocks as often as every day, though generally it's every other day. I don't really have a schedule with cleaning (and personally, I think that's best), I just clean whatever is dirty as soon as I see it. It probably helps that I have OCD... :D
 
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