Care & Health of Rats

An essential aspect of rat husbandry is good hygiene. The enclosure and all furnishings must be cleaned regularly.

Rats are very clean animals, cleaning their fur as frequently as cats. Excessive odor only develops if the cage is not thoroughly cleaned on a regular basis. However, rats (especially males) mark their territory (enclosure) with drops of urine, which can cause a constant slight odor to develop. Both the entire enclosure and the furnishings (house, plastic tubes, feeding bowls, drinking bottles, etc.) must be washed with hot (vinegar) water once or twice a week. The floor plan is best rinsed off hot in the shower.

The grid should also be washed about once a month. Only use cleaning agents or disinfectants for cleaning if one of the animals is sick. During the cleanup—especially when the bedding is removed or replaced—the rats are moved to another location (e.g., a pet carrier). Instead of removing all the bedding and washing up all the furnishings when cleaning the cage, you can also clean the enclosure piece by piece. In this way, the smell of the pack is always preserved in the rat home.


Many rat keepers line their cages with newspapers. Newsprint is inexpensive and may be chewed by animals (the printer’s ink is not poisonous, but please do not use colored magazine paper). A disadvantage of the paper, however, is that it is not very absorbent and should therefore be replaced at least every 2 days. If you want to bed your enclosure and/or the toilets, you can use very coarse, untreated, and low-dust wood shavings (softwood bedding).

Dusty wood chips can trigger allergies and respiratory diseases and must therefore not be used! Dust-free but unfortunately less absorbent types of bedding are corn bedding and beech wood granules. Hemp litter, hemp pellets, and linen straw are very absorbent and at the same time low-dust. Non-clumping cat litter is also suitable for the rat toilet, but not the entire enclosure (because the edges are too sharp).

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