Rats are great pets. They are friendly, loving, lovable, and they are amazing furry friends. However, they will start to stink if you don't do a good job cleaning their cage! There are a number of things that go into making a great home for your rats and it starts with regular cleaning. Many people believe that rats don't care how messy their homes are, but this isn't true. Pet rats love to be cleaned and love to have a fresh start to their week. You can easily give them this with a few good tips.
How often you need to clean the cage has everything to do with how big the cage is and how many rats you own. If you have a small cage and a lot of rats then it is important for you to do more frequent water changes. Fewer rats and a larger cage will make it a little less important. As a general rule you should clean the cage once a week. If it gets to smelling bad in the middle of the week adding a second cage cleaning is a good idea.
While you shouldn't use pine or cedar bedding, refreshing other types frequently can be a very helpful thing. To refresh it you can remove soiled bedding that you see and add a bit of fresh. This process only takes about five minutes and can make a huge difference in your cage. You can also do this with shredded paper, newspaper, or other home made beddings.
Cleaning Your Cage.
At least once a week you should thoroughly clean your rats' cage. You will want to place the rats somewhere safe or let them out to play in a play pen or with another family member. Exactly how you clean their cage will depend on the type, but basic instructions are fairly simple.
Empty out the cage. For cages with a bin on the bottom this can easily be done by dumping all of the old contents into a trash bag. For those with plastic trays you can do a similar thing with each tray. Other cages you may have to consider in different ways. You should make sure that you get rid of everything including any old food that is in there because it is likely to have gotten soiled.
Wipe the cage down. You can either place the different parts of the cage into the bath and clean them or you can use a cloth to wipe everything down. You should use 1 part vinegar to 1 part water. This solution will get rid of odors as well as clean away urine and other wastes.
Dry it all thoroughly. Before you put anything in the cage you should dry it out thoroughly with a cloth or a piece of paper towel.
Wash all toys. Any thing that they have that is made of cloth should be tossed in the washer. Anything made of wood or plastic should be washed with the vinegar mix. Don't let wood soak though or it will absorb the water and make a mess.
Refill. It is important that you refill it by placing all the cleaned toys in the cage. You should then add fresh bedding.
Really Bad Smells.
If your rats are producing really bad smells this is a sign that there is something wrong. The best thing you can do for them is take them to the vet. You should make sure that they are healthy before you worry about their cage.
Cleaning Stuck On Messes.
If your rats have had too much fruit, too much stress, or their water bottle is leaking onto their waste you may find that there are stuck on messes on the bottom of the tray or bin. These aren't exactly great, but you don't have to worry about dealing with them. Take a piece of paper towel and wipe the stuck on portions out. Then use the vinegar and let it sit there for a little while. You can even pour vinegar straight from the bottle onto the mess. Then you will simply wash it out like normal.
Make It Smell Even Better.
When you use wood shavings you have a very clean smelling cage. However, wood shavings are bad for your rats' health. That leaves products like CareFresh which don't really have a smell and other recycled products that even smell bad on their own. If you are wanting something that smells a little better mix the fresh bedding with just a sprinkle of scented Chinchilla dust. This dust is pretty cheap, lasts a long time when used a little at a time, and is pleasantly scented. It also won't bother your rats respiratory system (many rats have repository issues).
Rats are very smart and love to be stimulated. They will love it if you take this time to rearrange the items in their cage. If you leave everything the same every week it will get boring. Instead you should move toys around, hang hammocks in other locations, rearrange shelves, and add a few new things every now and again. For inexpensive ideas to use to add excitement to their cage check out Rat Cages: Accessorizing Super Cheap.
Cleaning Food and Water Dishes and Bottles.
It is important that you take the time to wash the food and water dishes. You should do this in hot soapy water with a dab of dish soap. Make sure that you do an excellent job rinsing the soap off (dish soap is poisonous!). If you use a water bottle you should make sure that you do a good job rinsing it out off and if it looks slimy then you should either use a piece of paper towel to clean it out or you should pitch it and get a new one.
Every couple of weeks you should sanitize your cage to remove odors and to kill off any bacteria. You should spray the cage down with vinegar and thoroughly wipe it out. Rinse it off good and make sure that it is super clean. Then spray down the whole thing with hydrogen peroxide and let it dry. You should also be getting the bars and making sure they are clean as well.
Your cage should smell good and be refreshed. By maintaining it frequently you will have the best results. Your rats will now have a clean home and you will have a good smelling room You won't have to know that your furry little babies are really rats!