Choosing the best bedding for your pet rat can be hard sometimes. Naturally we worry about our pets and want only the best for them. There’s lots of options around and that can make our choice even harder!
What’s the best bedding I’ve found for pet rats? Carefresh Complete Pet Bedding is so far the best pet rat bedding that I’ve found. It checks the major checkmarks, being unscented, comes in a large package so you have bedding for a long time and it’s Dust-Free which is super important for pet rats!
But there are many more options available, so let’s talk about them and what you can do to make your pet rat bedding the best it can possibly be.
What Bedding Should You Use For Pet Rats?
Choosing the right pet rat bedding is very important! Not only will your rats feel better and have a healthier life, but they will also make less of a mess and leave less odor in the room.
Their bedding can also have an impact on you. You might be allergic to some materials, for example. Or you just can’t find certain beddings.
There are different types for you and your pets and I’m sure you’ll find one that meets your needs. Without further ado, here are the best options, and right after, what to avoid.
Natural Paper Bedding
Just like the one I mentioned at the beginning of the post, the Carefresh Complete Pet Bedding is one of the best options out there for pet rat bedding!
It’s very comfortable and soft and most importantly, clean. Very low on dust and easy to clean. This is important both for you and your pet rats. They tend to have a very sensitive respiratory system and too much dust won’t be good for them.
Again, if you’re prone to allergies, dust might also be a problem for you. So this is a problem you won’t have with paper bedding.
Another thing I really like is that the bedding is very absorbent. This means that it will take longer to get dirty and to start to smell. We clean our ratties cage once every week. And even then it’s normal to start noticing some smell coming from it.
However, paper bedding can control this odor very well. You’ll certainly notice the difference right away!
It is still advisable to change dirty parts of the bedding daily. Our pet rats tend to use some parts of the cage more than others. For this reason, a daily checkup and cleaning are always advisable for everyone’s comfort!
Cloth bedding is a very common choice as well since it’s cheap and you can reuse old clothing that you’re not using anymore. We use it a lot and our ratties love it as well.
Mainly using fleece cloth is the ideal way to do it. But anything, as long as it’s soft and that doesn’t lose too many fibers is good. For example, I wouldn’t recommend wool for this reason. There’s just too many fibers in it.
Again, pet rats and rodents, in general, tend to have weak lungs, and these fibers won’t help. Plus, pet rats like to chew a lot and wool isn’t safe.
You can reuse old fabric or shirts to make some cheap Cloth bedding!
We mostly use old fabric or old shirts we don’t use anymore. Just plain fabric with nothing added to it. Then we cut them in smaller squares and put in different places of their cage. These are usually for their beds.
But I also give them an extra piece of cloth, since sometimes they like to move things around or even hide their food, underneath it!
We change the bedding every time we do a deep clean up of the cage. Once every week. But if the cloth gets too dirty, maybe changing in every 2 or 3 days might be a better option!
Shredded Paper Bedding
Shredded Paper is also a good option, especially if you can’t find beddings for rodents nearby you or can’t afford them.
Be careful though. You should use only blank paper. Newspapers are a big no-no as well as printed paper. The ink used in these can be toxic for your pet rats. They can chew the paper, therefore ingest the ink and it can make them sick if they ingest it in big quantities.
Of course, if you know for sure that the ink used in a certain paper is non-toxic, then there should be no problem.
However, to play on the safe side, I’d say to use blank paper, shred it to pieces and use as bedding.
Although cheaper, this option is not the most hygienic one. The bedding will most certainly get dirty with your pet rats urine and the smell will show very quickly. The paper isn’t designed to handle it and will deteriorate and start to smell.
This means that you might have to do a daily clean up of the cage, taking out the dirtiest paper and replace with clean bedding.
One of the reasons that I prefer cloth bedding is that I can just wash everything very well and re-use it. There are always clothes that we don’t want or don’t need anymore ready for use. Even if the cloth is too old or too dirty, I can easily replace it.
It’s a good and safe option for your rodent, as long as it’s designed for them. This is a very popular choice. This bedding is processed to eliminate any kind of dust and pieces of wood that can harm your pet rats.
It can just be a bit of a mess though. Similar to the paper it’s not as absorbent as the paper bedding for example. Big parts of this bedding will become dirty and you’d have to clean it daily.
Another con with this kind of bedding is that it can make a mess! Pet rats like to dig, this is normal behavior and, well, in that aspect aspen bedding is perfect for scavenging.
But, this means your pet rats might start to dig everything and you’ll probably have lots of bedding to pick up around the cage and everything.
If you’re not a fan of that extra mess, then I’d say to go with another option.
On the other hand, if you ever want to make a scavenging or digging box for your pet rats to play, aspen bedding is actually perfect for it! Just add some treats to it and let them have some fun.
As for this kind of bedding, I really recommend the Kaytee Aspen Bedding. It’s very soft and safe for any rodent. They’re almost dust free and try to eliminate any wood debris. There are also different packs with different sizes.
You can find bedding with smaller particles or bigger, depending on your taste and the kind of pet you own.
Pellets are a very good option. They’re usually made out of recycled paper and are a good absorbent.
They’ll keep the cage fresh and odor free and won’t make a lot of a mess. If your pet rats like to dig, this bedding is also very good for that!
Since they are pellets it is also very normal for your ratties to want to chew on it. These are perfectly safe for them and it will help the maintenance of your pet rat’s teeth.
However, this is the kind of thing we use for their litter box.
If you use pellets for their litter box, then you should use another kind of bedding for the rest of the cage.
Otherwise, your pet rats will just become confused and will not differentiate their litter box from the rest of the cage.
If you haven’t introduced your pet rats to a litter box and are curious about it, I wrote a whole article on how to teach your rodent friends to use it. I highly recommend checking it out, since this will help you keep a clean cage, for longer, both for you and your pet rats!
As for the pellets I really like the So Phresh Paper Pellets. They’re a really good absorbing and will keep the cage free of bad odors for quite long. Even though we use these for the litter box, they’d certainly behave the same if used as bedding for the cage.
Avoid These Dangerous Pet Rat Beddings!
Corn Cob Bedding
Corn is overall something you should try to avoid for your pet rats. As long as you’re sure it’s fresh, it’s perfectly fine to give it to them as treats. For example, canned corn or even better, frozen corn.
However, the dry corn we see in some food mixes or bedding can start to rot and grow mold. The fungus in the corn is a very dangerous hazard for pet rats and are known to be carcinogenic.
Now, yes we’re talking about bedding here, but remember that rodents will chew everything. This is why it’s so important to get safe bedding for them. That’s their normal behavior. They need to chew on things in order to keep themselves healthy.
Even though their cage will certainly have a good supply of toys to chew, they’ll always munch their bedding.
With corn cob bedding you never know if it’s filled with fungus or not.
To stay on the safe side, I’d say to go with other, safer options like the ones mentioned above!
Cedar And Pine Bedding
Cedar and Pine Bedding became quite popular at some point. The reason for it is because they’ll keep the cage odor-free for long and actually give it a more perfumed environment. Plus they have natural insecticides, meaning they’d kill and keep bugs and lice away.
However, these are toxic to some animals. Especially rodents!
Rodents have very fragile respiratory systems and breathing the cedar and pine natural properties can cause serious problems for them.
Avoid using cedar and pine beddings, they are highly toxic for rodents!
This is why this kind of bedding is highly inadvisable and it’s actually quite hard to find nowadays. If you do appear to find it, go for other safer options for your rodent friends.
There’s more than one kind of bedding to choose from, some that you can even make at home, so there’s really no reason to go for something made out of cedar or pine.
Can You Use Cat Litter For Pet Rats Bedding?
No! It’s a hazard for both your pet rats stomach and respiratory systems. Cat litter tends to be scented, to hide bad odors for longer. For a cat, this won’t be such a big problem. Not only they’re not in their litter for long, but they also have bigger and stronger lungs.
This kind of litter is designed for bigger animals, and a pet rat is way smaller than a cat and their litter is on their environment at all times. The smell that comes out of it as well as the dust can be toxic for your pet rat or just too much in general.
Sooner or later your pet rat could show respiratory problems caused by the litter.
Asides from the dust and the perfume, again, your pet rats will definitely end up chewing the litter components. And these are also not made to be ingested, meaning it can be toxic for your pet rat.
Cat litter is made for cats and not for smaller rodents. This kind of litter can even be bad for us, so imagine for a small pet rat!
Stay away from it and use it only if you own a cat, otherwise, you have no need for this!
DIY Rat Bedding – Homemade, Cheap And Easy!
You might think I’m done with beddings that you can use for your pet rats cage, but no! We talked about the shredded paper as bedding, but you can use other materials besides printing paper.
You can also use cardboard, cut it in smaller pieces or shred it and use it as bedding. Cardboard tends to be thicker and so it will absorb any urine or other liquid better. We sometimes use it for digging boxes and our ratties love it!
Another option is to use toilet paper. It’s pretty cheap and you’ll definitely have it at home at all times. It will ask for more maintenance since it won’t be as absorbent, but still a good option as long as you do a daily clean up of the cage.
Even if you have a litter box for your pet rats, it is more than normal for them to pee all over the cage.
Again, it’s important to note that the cardboard or paper you use for bedding doesn’t have toxic ink. It can stain your pet rats fur, cause some kind of irritation on their skin and, if ingested, cause an upset stomach.
As for the cloth option, you can also shred it, instead of lining the cage with it. Or both! A big piece of cloth for lining and then shredded cloth on top of it. Or even a mix of paper and cloth.
There are lots of options as long as they’re safe for your rodent friends. Try to avoid cloth that has loose fibers and inked paper!
How Often Should You Change Your Pet Rats’ Bedding?
It really depends on the kind of bedding you’re using. I always recommend doing a deep cleaning of the cage once every 7 or 10 days.
Change the bedding, clean everything in the cage and then assemble everything again, with new, clean bedding, water, and food.
But I also vividly recommend to check the cage daily and do a quick cleaning of it. For example, if you use natural, shredded paper, aspen or pellet beddings, you should look around the cage.
Use some silicone gloves and a small shovel. Take out the bedding that looks too dirty and wet. Once it’s clean add a bit of clean bedding to replace the bits you just took out.
This way you’ll make sure that the cage stays clean and odor free for longer!
As for cloth, it also depends on your ratties as well. We usually change the cloth from their beds around middle of the week. So they don’t soil it too much and it becomes too dirty and smelly. Then, at the end of the week we do a deep cleaning of the cage and changed all the cloth and put new and fresh bedding.
If your pet rats are very clean, you’ll only need to change the cloth from their beds, maybe not even that. If they’re the dirtier kind, it’s advisable to check the whole bedding and see if it needs to be changed.
Your pet rats, nor you, like a smelly and dirty cage, so it’s always good to check on it daily, to ensure it’s clean and suitable for them!
Are Your Pet Rats Eating Their Bedding? Here’s Why
It’s is normal behaviour for pet rats to chew on things. Their teeth are constantly growing and to keep them in a suitable size, they need to gnaw on things.
This is why it’s so important to have safe bedding. A lot of pet rats will end up chewing their bedding and it’s important to be sure it’s not toxic for them.
Remember to get them toys and food that is good for them to chew. They might still chew some of the bedding, but if they have other things to gnaw on, they’ll start avoiding it.
But don’t worry if you notice your pet rats eating their bedding. They’re probably not even ingesting it, they’re just chewing and you’ll notice dust and smaller bits of the bedding around the cage.
As long as the bedding is safe for them, it won’t make them sick. Plus pet rats like delicious food. Beddings are not really tasty, so they’re most certainly just chewing on it and throwing it out, than eating the bedding.
Give them nice chewy food and chewy toys and they’ll be more than happy with those as well!
Do pet rats need bedding? Yes! As with pretty much any pet, having a nice bedding for them will improve their life. They will also feel extra comfy.
How often should I change the bedding? Depends on the number of rats, how dirty they are and the bedding you’re using! But at least once a week you should change it in my opinion.
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