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I have a 4 level large cage that is wire. I have spots where they can reat their feet and also the wire is powder coated. Anyways my question is wouls I be able to use pine cat litter in the pull out tray to help minimize the smell (it would be a thin layer and its not directly in the rats face by any means) or would that cause health issues? I tried looking it up myself by I got mixed answers as always. Thanks.
 

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I wouldn’t use it, whilst the pellets themselves are not as bad in terms of surface area as a wood shaving when they get urine on them they break down and turn into sawdust, this is much worse in terms of exposure to the air and so the phenols are worse. I would actually use good quality pine wood shavings over this any day. You are better off looking for paper cat litter, I think yesterdays news is meant to be ok in the states, over here we use back to nature and paperlit and that’s great.

In terms of the wire shelves, I really don’t like them personally. Whilst they don’t cause bumblefoot like some internet rumours state rats generally prefer a solid floor. If you can I would remove as much as possible and replace them with hanging cat litter trays. You can put a bit of litter in the bottom of this and it keeps the smell down well, plus they have somewhere to dig around a bit. Digging and foraging through substrate is a really natural behaviour for rats and helps keep them entertained and happy.
 

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You can try natural charcoal or a box baking soda, the kidn that they make for the fridge wher eyou can remove the cardboard on either side so it supposedly works better. Both work really well at naturally absorbing odors. But if you like the tree-y smell that pine gives, you can use something like Aspen instead. It's much much safer for rats, and it has a similar pine type smell, but not as strong.
 

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If the rats are smelling a lot its most likley to be from the wire mesh they are walking on, because of all the corners in it it catches and holds smells really well. If you cant remove the wire then try cleaning it with a steam cleaner, it can help a lot. Also look into getting some lino or corregated plastic to cover all the shelves but you are far better off getting rid of the mesh flooring to be honest. A good cage set up and appropriate litter is the best way to reduce the smell from rats

In terms of masking the smell a fresh air globe type thing works well. This is a water diffuser you can add drops of essential oils too, it also somewhat cleans the air. They are about the best you can get and as you can pick them up for about £15 over here they are useually pretty cheap but do need to be plugged in to work.
 

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I wouldn't use it. Rats love to chew on stuff and if one of your rats were to ingest the pine cat litter it could cause health problems. I would recommend using aspen wood shavings (NEVER use red ceder shavings), carefresh paper bedding, or fleece.
Spot cleaning every day will help keep the odor down. I usually pick up little poops everyday and remove any wet (peed on) bedding. Honestly I really don't have odor problems with my rats or my cage that much.. I only have 2 rats but mine arent as stinky as i thought they would be :) haha
Hope this helps
Hannah
 

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I have a 4 level large cage that is wire. I have spots where they can reat their feet and also the wire is powder coated. Anyways my question is wouls I be able to use pine cat litter in the pull out tray to help minimize the smell (it would be a thin layer and its not directly in the rats face by any means) or would that cause health issues? I tried looking it up myself by I got mixed answers as always. Thanks.
If there is any smell, then more cleaning needs to be done. There is no reason your cage should smell. I wouldn't use anything to mask the odor because you shouldn't have any odor in the first place. If you do have odor, rather than masking it you'll need to clean the areas that are causing the odor. As Hannah7banana7 said, taking out feces on a daily basis along with changing out any wet or urinated-upon bedding will keep your cage smelling fresh.

I have a cage with wire flooring and I always keep it completely covered. I use flannel blankets for covering over the wire on each level of the cage.

That's great you're looking into ideas for this!
 

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Okay, another question, Now I understand clumping litter is bad for them because they can eat it, now what about baking soda clumping litter in the under tray where they can't get to it at all, would that have any adverse health problems? I would be putting the litter in the tray outdoors and waiting until the dust settled before bringing it to their cage.

Thanks.
 

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teh trouble with any clumping litter is that it starts to break down when urine falls on it. Honestly though i think your issue is the wire mesh floor, not the substrate, wire gets whiffy and really holds the smell.
 

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I would recommend switching to fleece or mats! It doesn't smell nearly as much (I sleep with my face right next to a cage with two adult males, and I vouch for that!), and it would make the wire much more friendly.
My cage is ALL mesh, which I cover with IKEA Borris mats (super cheap). Also, in the whole year I've had these rats I've probably only spent a total of 20$ on linings and litter (for the litterboxes), so it's a very cheap solution too.
 

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The problem is that I couldn't get them litter trained, after trying for a bit they wouldn't use the litter box, so they would just poop all over the mats.
 

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yeah, but it's super easy to swipe or vacuum (or even pick them up, put them in a litter tray, and maybe they will get litter trained. ;) ). and there's poops all over with litter anyways....
 

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It's not that hard to litter box train.....just takes patience and follow-through.

Inside their cage, I train them to urinate and defecate on cardboard trays covered with several layers of paper towels. (These are their “litter boxes”.) I start by placing a “litter box” in a corner of each level of their cage. In the beginning, if I find they are defecating elsewhere in their cage, I'll place a litter box in that location as well. If I still find any feces outside of their litter boxes, I place the poop into the closest litter box to where they’d defecated outside the box. I do this while my rats are in the cage. That way they can see what I'm doing and it helps them learn. If I see them start to urinate in an area other than their litter box, I gently scoop them up and place them in a litter box. While doing this I say "paper towel" so they associate the words with their litter box. I change out the used paper towels on a daily basis so there’s no odor build-up from urine or feces.

After they're litter box trained inside their cage, I can take them out on a sofa or in any room and put out one or more stacks of paper towels. If I’m on the sofa, I usually just place a stack in each corner of the sofa. If I’m in a room, I place a stack of paper towels in each corner of the room or any other area that looks like they’d like to use it as a bathroom. Generally 3-5 paper towels in a stack are a good number to be absorbent enough so that the surface beneath doesn't get soiled. When I first take them out onto a sofa or into a room outside their cage, I might place them directly on the paper towels and say "paper towel" even if they don't need to go to the bathroom. Usually they automatically use the paper towels as their bathroom when outside their cage. If they don't, I use the same method I use in their cage: If they begin urinating or defecating, I gently move them to the paper towels and say "paper towel". Likewise, if I see they're using an area for their bathroom where there isn't a stack of paper towels, I place the paper towels in their chosen location and then they start using them.

If I'm out and about with my rats on my shoulders, they usually "tell" me they have to go to the bathroom by getting antsy and acting like they want off my shoulders. I simply place them on paper towels and let them use the bathroom. (If I have them out on my shoulder, I generally have paper towels nearby in case they need to urinate or defecate.) After they use the bathroom, they’re ready to be back on my shoulder.
Inside the cage, it is more difficult to teach urinating in the litter box since we're not always there to catch them when they urinate elsewhere. (It’s easier to pick up the poop and place it in the right spot, but we can’t do that with urine!) I'd say that while in their cage, my rats defecate in their litter box 90% of the time and urinate in the box about 60% of the time. When out of the cage, they're pretty much 99% trained since I'm right there with them to guide them to make the choice to use the paper towels.

It’s really fun to train them and very worthwhile, too!
 
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