Author Topic: My cage smells awful, new bedding??  (Read 1750 times)

Offline bmsgirl94

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My cage smells awful, new bedding??
« on: August 07, 2016, 05:06:02 PM »
Hi all! I have two male rats. They have fleece lining the cage and aspen in their litter box. Their smell is awful. After just 3 days my entire room smells. They live in my bedroom as I share a house and its awful. Im embarassed having people in my room. Any suggestions on curbing their smell?

Offline ILoveMyRatties

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Re: My cage smells awful, new bedding??
« Reply #1 on: August 07, 2016, 05:09:23 PM »
Forget about fleece liners, they are the worst. Use bedding only. Of all the bedding I tried, aslen is the one I prefer- great odor control but you will have to use it in your whole cage. What cage do you have?

Offline bmsgirl94

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Re: My cage smells awful, new bedding??
« Reply #2 on: August 07, 2016, 07:14:33 PM »
Single level CN

Offline ILoveMyRatties

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Re: My cage smells awful, new bedding??
« Reply #3 on: August 07, 2016, 07:54:42 PM »
You could use a cement mixing tub (Home Depot) for the floor level (need a little trimming on both sides, but I can explain how to do it) or a Bass pan. Mixing tub about $13 and Bass pan about $70 (shipping included for a stainless steel, less for the other option but you will have to paint it)- I have both. For the half shelf, I use an under the bed storage bin I got at Walmart that is $3-$4 or Bass pans sell metal half pans too.

« Last Edit: August 07, 2016, 07:56:28 PM by ILoveMyRatties »

Offline Vonda Z

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Re: My cage smells awful, new bedding??
« Reply #4 on: August 07, 2016, 08:00:04 PM »
If you use fleece, you absolutely MUST use an absorbent underlayer if you want to control odor - the thicker and more absorbent, the better. Thick bath towels or U-Haul furniture pads work the best.

I also recommend using a HEPA air cleaner with a carbon prefilter for gases and odors in the room with the rat cage. Make sure that the cleaner is rated for at least the size of the room.

I also believe that ensuring the room stays a comfortable temperature helps with odor - if the room is hot, the odor seems to be more prevalent. So in the hottest summer months, air conditioning is helpful - moreso than opening windows in my experience. If your room is small, you may need to clean the cage more often as there is less opportunity for the air to circulate and recycle in a small room. Keeping your door closed will help keep the smell from the rest of the house, but it will also confine the smell to your room and not give it as much a chance to dissipate - so keep your door open unless that adversely affects the rest of the house.

Do not use air fresheners, scented candles, febreeze or other scented products as these are hazardous to the rat's lungs.

Offline bmsgirl94

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Re: My cage smells awful, new bedding??
« Reply #5 on: August 07, 2016, 09:11:33 PM »
I use towels underneath but I don't have air conditioning and that isn't something I can change. I guess I'll have to switch to using the cement mixing tubs. @Vonda could you give me the tutorial?

Offline Michael C

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Re: My cage smells awful, new bedding??
« Reply #6 on: August 07, 2016, 10:17:42 PM »
I just recently moved in with a friend who has a cat so I now have to keep my cage in my room. I'm in the same situation as you. I know it's not ideal but it is what it is. I purchased a mid-priced air filter that does seem to be helping a bit. Right now I'm using a paper bedding on the base level but I really love my fleece liners on the shelves.

Here's what I love about fleece liners, they're super easy to swap out every few days.

I used Vonda Z's tutorial on making mat style fleece/UHaul pad cage liners.



Personally, I don't pin them down with binder clips because I've got one boy who destroys anything that he can't pull up. Every three days or so, I just dump the contents of the litter boxes and swap out the fleece mats and it's the next best thing to a freshly cleaned cage.


Offline ILoveMyRatties

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Re: My cage smells awful, new bedding??
« Reply #7 on: August 08, 2016, 11:44:44 AM »
If you use fleece, make sure to wash them with your sanatizing washing cycle. Bacteria turn urine into ammonia and that will make your rats very likely to have respiratory infections. Urine forms crystals on the fleece fibers that are next to impossible to correctly wash away, especially without using enzymes to digest that urine and make it water soluble and easily washed away.

Offline ILoveMyRatties

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Re: My cage smells awful, new bedding??
« Reply #8 on: August 08, 2016, 11:50:20 AM »
I can see how fleece and an absorbing pad underneath would work for Guinea pigs as they are little pee machines, lol, but the pee of rats is NOT heavy enough to go through the fleece to the underlying pad without the rat stepping in the pee first, then of course you get stinky rats😕. IMO fleece liners are the first thing that contributes to rats' respiratory infections. On top of that, rats will sleep under the fleece and breathing in the ammonia for hours! No wonder rats get so many respiratory infections🙁

Offline erbusbee

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Re: My cage smells awful, new bedding??
« Reply #9 on: August 08, 2016, 01:18:48 PM »
Even with HEPA filter and rats who were good about using a litter box, I've never gone that many days without cleaning a multi-rat cage.  If I have a solo guy, sure, but with a pair it's got to be done every other day, IMO.

Offline Kitsch Slapped

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Re: My cage smells awful, new bedding??
« Reply #10 on: August 08, 2016, 02:30:30 PM »
I can see how fleece and an absorbing pad underneath would work for Guinea pigs as they are little pee machines, lol, but the pee of rats is NOT heavy enough to go through the fleece to the underlying pad without the rat stepping in the pee first, then of course you get stinky rats😕. IMO fleece liners are the first thing that contributes to rats' respiratory infections. On top of that, rats will sleep under the fleece and breathing in the ammonia for hours! No wonder rats get so many respiratory infections🙁

I dont know if you know but thought Id mention it just in case: rats pee will soak in almost immediately if you wash your liners first. It might take a couple of washes and you DO NOT want use use any kind of fabric softener or it will not wick. I make and sell absorbent liners and thats the trick I always use.
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Offline ILoveMyRatties

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Re: My cage smells awful, new bedding??
« Reply #11 on: August 12, 2016, 10:19:17 PM »
I can see how fleece and an absorbing pad underneath would work for Guinea pigs as they are little pee machines, lol, but the pee of rats is NOT heavy enough to go through the fleece to the underlying pad without the rat stepping in the pee first, then of course you get stinky rats😕. IMO fleece liners are the first thing that contributes to rats' respiratory infections. On top of that, rats will sleep under the fleece and breathing in the ammonia for hours! No wonder rats get so many respiratory infections🙁

I dont know if you know but thought Id mention it just in case: rats pee will soak in almost immediately if you wash your liners first. It might take a couple of washes and you DO NOT want use use any kind of fabric softener or it will not wick. I make and sell absorbent liners and thats the trick I always use.

I did just that, never worked. I could see the drops of pee on the fleece. Only when the rat would step on it, the pee would go through the fleece. Plus it has zero odor absorbing capability, not to mention the increase risk of respiratory infection especially with rats sleeping under it:( since I stopped using fleece NONE of my rats ever wake up with porphyrin around their nose or eyes EVER! I think that says it all.

Offline Vonda Z

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Re: My cage smells awful, new bedding??
« Reply #12 on: August 13, 2016, 10:04:28 AM »
I dont know if you know but thought Id mention it just in case: rats pee will soak in almost immediately if you wash your liners first. It might take a couple of washes and you DO NOT want use use any kind of fabric softener or it will not wick. I make and sell absorbent liners and thats the trick I always use.

This has been my experience as well. I only see the beading of pee with new liners made with new fleece and it goes away with future washings. But I keep my liners around a long time - when they get chewed, I repair them by sewing closed tears or sewing a patch of leftover fleece or furniture pad over a hole - until they have been damaged completely beyond repair. So my liners are old and have been washed tons of times, and the pee wicks right through. The furniture pad layer absorbs just fine for me and I don't have a problem with odors as long as I keep my cages only half full and do spot cleans and run the air purifier.

But there are so many factors that weigh in and what works best for one doesn't work well for another and I have had to change the way I do things depending on the rats that I have at the moment (some are chewers, some are burrowers, some are markers, some are just stinky). So you try something and if it doesn't work, you try something different. There is no one size fits all and no perfect solution. I can't use Aspen in large amounts because I get really sneezy around Aspen. I use it in a bin that I put the bird bath for my finches in because it does a good job of controlling the water spillage without getting moldy or too messy, but if I use it in the entire flight, I can't be in the same room with the birds. Aspen also sticks to everything and gets everywhere. So for me, it has its place, but only in limited situations. For others, it may be the perfect solution.

Offline bmsgirl94

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Re: My cage smells awful, new bedding??
« Reply #13 on: August 17, 2016, 06:16:54 PM »
Could I use Yesterday's News in the entire cage? I've heard that is much more odor absorbent than Aspen. Honestly I think the Aspen is part of the problem.

Offline BigBen

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Re: My cage smells awful, new bedding??
« Reply #14 on: August 17, 2016, 06:49:27 PM »
Yesterday's News is not safe for rats.  In addition to the recycled paper it contains mill sweepings, which can contain pine and cedar, as well as odd bits of metal, etc.
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Offline Michael C

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Re: My cage smells awful, new bedding??
« Reply #15 on: August 18, 2016, 04:18:17 AM »
Could I use Yesterday's News in the entire cage?

Like BigBen said, Yesterday's News is made of up to 40% sawdust. I don't exactly know how/if this sawdust is processed but there are plenty of other products that are advertised as darned near 100% paper. While most of these other products do contain baking soda, ALT Ferret Litter, So Phresh Small Animal Litter, and Fresh News are probably safer products than Yesterday's news. If you're in Canada or your know of some amazing secret U.S. source, Harlan Teklad makes a pellet litter from pre-consumer recycled paper so it's even cleaner than the above options.

Offline bmsgirl94

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Re: My cage smells awful, new bedding??
« Reply #16 on: August 20, 2016, 10:13:01 AM »
I'd heard of Yesterday's News being used on this page before?

Update: The air ionizer/purifier has helped with the smell according to my boyfriend who is taking care of them while I'm gone for a few weeks. When I get back I'll be changing from Aspen to something else to better control the smell.

Offline bmsgirl94

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Re: My cage smells awful, new bedding??
« Reply #17 on: August 20, 2016, 10:18:07 AM »
So has anyone had personal experience with using Fresh News?

Offline Vonda Z

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Re: My cage smells awful, new bedding??
« Reply #18 on: August 20, 2016, 10:27:54 AM »
Be sure to not use the ionizer. All you need is a HEPA filter for allergens and a precarbon filter for odors and gases. True ionizers put ozone in the air. In order to be effective, way more ozone needs to be put in the air than is safe for human use. So, the ionizer is either too weak to be effective or it is putting too much hazardous ozone in the air. Ozone can damage lung tissue. Rats are far more sensitive to this than humans, so what is safe for us is still hazardous for rats. In all likelihood, the ionizer is not beneficial and is likely making the air more dangerous to breathe for both you and the rats.

There are many articles about the hazards of ionizers on the web that you should check out. This is one of the first that showed up on my search: http://www.brighthubengineering.com/consumer-appliances-electronics/93433-health-risks-from-ionizers/

I believe some ionizing air purifiers let you turn off the ionizer. If yours is this kind, I would do that. If not, you may want to look at air purifiers with true HEPA filters and carbon pre-filters but no ionizer.

As far as the Fresh News goes, it is one of the better paper pelleted litters as it is 100% paper (or was last time I checked). I can't speak to its odor controlling abilities because I only use pelleted litter in the litter boxes.

Offline Michael C

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Re: My cage smells awful, new bedding??
« Reply #19 on: August 20, 2016, 02:30:30 PM »
So has anyone had personal experience with using Fresh News?

Like Vonda, I use Fresh News in my boy's litter boxes but I have seen that some use it as a loose substrate on the bottom of the cage. It's really low dust so that's one benefit of using it throughout the cage. You would, however, want to pick a different type of substrate for the litter boxes (if you use them) just so your rats can tell the difference between pooping in the box vs. pooping on the floor.

Unfortunately, Fresh News isn't available at PetSmart/Petco. I find it at my small neighborhood pet supply shop but it's also available at Pet Supplies Plus (if you have one in your area).

While I can't find it on their website, the PetSmarts near me sell fragrance free Exquisicat brand paper pellet litter. If this is easier for you to find than Fresh News, they're basically the same thing.

Offline ILoveMyRatties

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Re: My cage smells awful, new bedding??
« Reply #20 on: August 20, 2016, 10:49:27 PM »
Just be careful with any paper litter that has baking soda in it. I believe Fresh News and Exquisicat have baking soda...if your rats eat/nibble on it, it can cause congestive heart failure.