What Is the Best Bedding for Pet Rats?
Pet rat bedding is important not only for your rat's comfort, but also for yours. A good bedding will absorb urine well and keep your pet rat dry and healthy.
How Often Should I Change My Pet Rat's Bedding?
Keep in mind that even the best bedding needs to be changed regularly. I recommend a change of bedding once a day—yes, it's a little extra work, but it means that your rats aren't wallowing in their own filth, and it also means that particles of rat faeces and urine aren't wafting through your home for days on end.
Of course, my pet rats are currently babies and not litter-trained. If yours are litter-box-trained and do not urinate and defecate all over their cage, you might be able to get away with longer intervals between complete cage cleans.
Types of Bedding for Pet Rats
I've structured this article with the best bedding for pet rats at the top, moving down to bedding that should never be used with pet rats.
The Best Bedding
- Paper Pellet Bedding: Paper pellets (like Carefresh) are an ideal bedding for rats because they're absorbent and fairly cheap. They will get mushy when they get wet and stood on, but you should probably replace them whenever they become soiled anyway if you don't want your home stinking like rat pee.
- Straw Pellet Bedding: Straw pellets work much the same way as paper pellets and are also suitable for rats because they're non-toxic and absorbent.
- Shredded Cardboard Bedding: Shredded cardboard bedding works well for rats because, much like paper pellets and straw pellets it's a fairly natural and inert substance that can be
- Cloth Bedding: Some people prefer to lay down cloth in their rat's cage and clean the cloth daily. This is a valid option, especially if your rat seems to be allergic to other types of bedding. It's important, however, that the cloth be in good shape; ratty tatty cloth can cause injuries if it gets wrapped up around your rat's legs or tail.
- Shredded Paper Bedding: You have to be fairly careful with shredded paper because the ink can be toxic to rats and it will also 'bleed' onto them, discoloring them if you're not careful. Shredded paper bedding should probably only be used if none of the above alternatives are options.
Bad Bedding—Don't Use This!
- Cedar and Pine Bedding: I'm really not sure what you can actually use cedar and pine bedding for, because they're not suitable types of bedding for any small animal I've ever owned. Both of these types of bedding smell great, but they give off poisonous fumes that can and will make your rats sick.
- Cat Litter: Cat litter, especially the clumping kind, can form clumps in your rat's stomach and make them critically ill. It also often has a dust that isn't terribly good for their respiratory system. Whilst you might be able to get away with natural, non-clumping kitty litter, it's really not at all advisable.
- Corn Cob Bedding: Another type of bedding that, as far as I can tell, is nigh useless with almost any animal. Corn cob bedding can cause issues when swallowed and apparently tends to get moldy. I wouldn't leave it there long enough to get moldy, though, and if you do, you probably have bigger issues than mold.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.