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Recommended Bedding

Aspen:
Hardwood, can be chipped or shredded. Fairly cheap, absorbs and contains odor well, but is often dusty and has a bit of a wood smell. Can also be a pain getting stray pieces out of carpet and fabrics.

Carefresh / Kaytee Soft-Sorbent (AKA Soft Granule Blend):
Paper pulp based, fluffy, soft bedding. Absorbs and contains odor well, but the standard brown-grey Carefresh has been noted to get soggy and smelly if not changed frequent enough. Carefresh Ultra/Colors is better in terms of odor control and absorbtion, but more expensive. Can be dusty and is fairly pricy, especially when filling large cages. Great for nesting boxes, sensitive rats, and small cages. Always buy unscented.

Polar Fleece:
Recommended for liners because it does not thread or fray when chewed and does not require sewing. It is not the most absorbant, though, and wicks the urine, so it needs to be washed fairly frequently. It is fairly cheap and comes in lots of different patterns. Can be washed in a household washing machine with mild detergent, baking soda, or vinegar. Fabric softener is not recommended.

Yesterday's News / Fresh World / Bio Catolet (UK):
A recycled paper pellet bedding. Mid priced, dyes are completely safe, does not stain, absorbs and contains odor well, but is a little dusty, and foreign/unsafe things such as plastic bits, wire, etc. can be found in it. Great for litter pans. Always buy unscented.

Finacard (UK):
Shredded cardboard bedding. Fun for your rats to nest and play in, but may not be the best for odor control. Can be dusty.

Towels / Cotton / Carpet:
Other fabrics can be used as liners, but be sure to watch out for fraying and stray threads, which your rat's feet could get caught in. It's also recommended that carpet is covered by another fabric as it is difficult to wash. Some carpet can also have adhesive that could be dangerous if chewed by your rat.

** It is also highly recommended that wood and paper base bedding be frozen prior to use for at least 24 hours to kill any bugs such as lice or mites that may be living in it. **

Not Recommended Bedding

Pine / Cedar / Other softwoods:
These contain toxic phenol (scent) oils. Prolonged exposure to phenol oils can cause severe respiratory and liver/kidney disease.

Corn Cob:
Can grow mold when moist, hazardous to rats and humans. Can be harmful if ingested by rats.

Clumping cat litter:
Cat litter contains clay and dust and is harmful to the respiratory system.

Alfalfa / hay:
Undigestible by rats, potentially hazardous if consumed.

Prolonged use of these beddings will likely result in respiratory diseases and health complications later in the lives of rats.
 

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Litter Training Guide

Litter Training

So you've heard about litter training your ratties, but not sure how to do it? Here's a guide to getting started ratty potty training.

There are many pros to litter training your rats, such as...

- Cage stays more clean and sanitary
- Odor is minimized
- Saves money on full cage changes
- Less work when cleaning cage

There are really no cons to litter training, unless you prefer to do full litter changes.

Litter training can be a long process, and requires some patience. Some rats will just never get into the habit. Some rats will be fully poop trained, but never pee. This is especially true for males. Some rats catch on quicker than others; for example, it might be harder to train an adult that has been un-trained all their life as opposed to a baby.

But in the end it's worth it, and I would recommend it to any rat owner. Every poop in the pan is one less you have to pick up later on. It also comes as a big surprise to many people when you tell them that your ratties are litter box trained! It is also really easy to put out a litter pan when your rats are out of the cage or free range, so you don't end up with a poop pile under your bed or in the corner.

Specially designed litter pans can be purchased from any pet store. They come in many shapes and sizes, from square, to corner, to housed. I personally prefer large corner pans with high backs, but the choice is yours. Some come with hooks to attach to cage bars, others you will have to tie or weigh down yourself. You can also use low, flat tupperware containers, or anything else you see fit.

It is very important that your ratties can distinguish between the living area and the toilet area. Having two different types of bedding for each is very helpful. For example, you could use fleece in the main area, and Yesterday's News in the litter pan. Do a full cage clean before starting litter training, and place some of the old soiled bedding in the litter pan, so they get the idea that the pan is where to go to the bathroom. You might have to try a couple different litters. I had great success with newspaper pellets. If your rats find great joy in kicking all the litter out of the box, you can try a litter pan with a powder coated grate, or heavier, dense paper or hardwood pellets, but be careful that they don't contain cedar, pine, or other softwoods.

Most of the time, rats will have a preferred corner to do their business in, which you can use to your advantage when training them. Place the pan in the corner that they normally do their business in. If they don't have a preferred corner or you can't tell which it is, just place it anywhere, and move it if they seem to prefer elsewhere in the cage. If you have a large, multi level cage, it might be necessary to place a few litter boxes throughout the cage. Placing a clean rock in the pan may help, as some rats prefer to pee on rocks. It also helps weigh the pan down to stop from being tipped over, and keeps their nails filed down too.

You will have to be on the ball with spot cleaning and picking up any stray poop that wind up out of the box, likely a couple times a day. Be sure to reward with treats and love if you catch your ratties using the box. Replace the litter once every couple of days, but be sure to always mix in a little bit of soiled litter, until they are fully used to using the box. Within no time, your ratties should be using their box and cleaning time will be much easier on you. The biggest key is to be patient and persistent. Good luck!
 
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