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Discussion Starter #1
I have three rats and one of them was sneezing a lot yesterday. When I held her to my ear, I heard her lungs ‘rattling’, i could hear her breath. I’ve monitored all my rats very closely, I cleaned their cage, and they seem to be fine, but they do have a slight bit more porphyrin that usual. Bumble (the one I was concerned about) is not sneezing any more. When she was, before she sneezed, it looked like she was hiccuping? Should I be concerned? I know these could be signs of a URI, but they seem to be fine and they are still playful. I’m getting them a bigger cage (Double CN) in about a week, i found a used one. Their cage is fine for up to 4 rats, I got it used, very very old cage, but it has small doors and it’s made of galvanized metal (not good). The new cage will be easier to clean, will that make a difference?
 

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Maybe. It could also be related to the bedding you use. Are you using just fabrics or are you using some form of wood?
 

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Fleece has no odor/ammonia control so I'd suggest washing fleece liners very often. An absorbent layer underneath the fleece helps a little but in general, fabric is not as good as most loose substrates for odors/ammonia. I make mats out of fleece with an inner layer of absorbent UHaul furniture padding for the platforms in my boys' cage and I have to swap them out to wash every 2 or 3 days. Ammonia is very hard on a rat's respiratory system.

Critter Nation cages are really nice but the shallow pans that can't hold any bedding are a really terrible design. Unless you modify the cage, fabric liners are your only option. I'd strongly recommend looking into ways to modify your Critter Nation so you can use a loose substrate bedding (like wood shavings, a paper-based substrate like carefresh, or some sort of pellet litter), at least on the bottom floor of the cage. You can purchase deeper chew-proof metal pans from companies like Bass Equipment, you can make DIY trays, or you can pick up a large concrete mixing tub from Home Depot to put in the bottom of your cage.

A little bit of sneezing here and there isn't a big deal but it may be a sign that you need to pay closer attention to their health. Rattling breathing noises would be more of a cause for concern. I usually schedule a vet visit then I start to hear repeated breathing sounds.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thank you. I was listening to my girls breathe and theres a bubbling sound now. I’ll ask my parents if I can schedule a vet appointment. Also I have multiple sets of liners, they are double layer, so I usually wash every 4 or so days but I can do it more often, maybe 2-3 days. When I get my CN I will use UHaul pads just to absorb the pee. I was also thinking maybe sprinkling a little bit of baking soda under the liner might help? It’s very natural, and so it shouldn’t hurt them, but i’m still wary.... do you know anything about this?
 

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2 layers of fleece is no better than 1 layer of fleece. Fleece is not absorbent so you'll want to use something absorbent under it. I prefer using 1 layer of a very thin fleece over an absorbent layer. The faster that the urine can be absorbed by the absorbent layer, the better.

How often you personally need to wash them will depend on your own circumstances. Put your nose an inch away from them and take a big whiff. If it's bad, you should've washed them yesterday :) Keep in mind that urine starts producing ammonia in just 1 day.

Baking soda will help neutralize odors but you'll want to be careful about using it where your rats can have direct contact with it. Baking soda is basically dust and you want to keep your rats' environment as low-dust as possible. Washing your liners with baking soda is great. An open box of baking soda in the same room as the cage may help with overall air quality. Never give your rats access to large quantities of baking soda, though, as it can be dangerous for them.
 

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2 layers of fleece is no better than 1 layer of fleece. Fleece is not absorbent so you'll want to use something absorbent under it. I prefer using 1 layer of a very thin fleece over an absorbent layer. The faster that the urine can be absorbed by the absorbent layer, the better.

How often you personally need to wash them will depend on your own circumstances. Put your nose an inch away from them and take a big whiff. If it's bad, you should've washed them yesterday :) Keep in mind that urine starts producing ammonia in just 1 day.

Baking soda will help neutralize odors but you'll want to be careful about using it where your rats can have direct contact with it. Baking soda is basically dust and you want to keep your rats' environment as low-dust as possible. Washing your liners with baking soda is great. An open box of baking soda in the same room as the cage may help with overall air quality. Never give your rats access to large quantities of baking soda, though, as it can be dangerous for them.
I had an idea to mix baking soda/water to make a spray, and then after I dry the absorbent layer, to spray this on and let it dry, then put it in the cage. Do you think this would work? Dissolving a little baking soda in the water kinda defeats the dustiness I would hope
 
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