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I am wondering if the lingering scent to the surviving rat is a reminder to them that their cagemate passed away. If so, does this reminder cause depression? If the scent causes depression and sadness should the deceased cagemate's scent be removed immediately or left for a few days?
 

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Through searching and searching I stumbled upon the following in regards to my question: More sensitive rats have mourned the death of their cagemate to the point they fall ill from the stress causing their immune system to weaken and they may also get sick too. As for cage cleaning, you don't really have to do it to remove his/her scent - it may be comforting.
 

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When a rat dies in the cage, especially if you don't remove it immediately or find it immediately there may be certain sanitary reasons to clean the litter. I'd make that a priority.

But I think that rats have an amazing sense of smell and the smell of a certain rat is likely to linger around the cage and around your house for a long time to come... So I don't know if you can functionally remove every scent trace from a rat that's passed away if you really wanted to.

I suppose in nature rats go MIA every day and their packs go on... in our home, I've never seen a rat cleaning out another rats nest when one dies and they take it over. They just sort of move into the bigger or better nest that's become unoccupied if they like it.

But yes, rats do often mourn their fallen comrades. And a good cage cleaning may or may not help some rats. But I suspect that simply removing the odor of a rat that they loved and has gone missing isn't going to make them miss their friend any more or any less.

In the absence of any research to the contrary.... when it's time to clean the cage, I'd say clean it and let nature take it's course. Some things you do for your rats matter a great deal, other's seem to work out the same way no matter what you try... So maybe just do what feels most natural to you... I mean you've lost a friend too.
 
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