Other than food and an appropriate cage, bedding is probably one of the most important items an owner will introduce their rats to. With the sensitive respiratory systems that rats have, proper and clean bedding. Wrong or dirty bedding will quickly lead to respiratory infections. Below, we will cover a few of the popular bedding types with which we have personal experience. There are several other good bedding choices that many breeders love, but below are some readily available choices for pet owners.
Characteristics and Tips
A good bedding:
- Should be nearly dust free.
- Should wick moisture.
- Should neutralize ammonia.
- Should not give off any sort of volatile vapors.
- Should always be put in the freezer for 24 hours before using (to kill any parasites).
Kiln Dried Pine and Aspen ** Preferred **
While aspen is like a gold standard in the rat community, kiln dried pine is rather controversial. Many studies have been conducted to prove that industrial kiln dried pine is just safe and effective as aspen. In the US, most major brands of pine bedding is mandated to be kiln dried. Currently, we use a thin layer of pine pellets from Tractor Supply Company topped with a generous layer of Mini Flake from Ace Hardware.
Fleece bedding is popular among a lot of pet owners in the rat community. Fleece is commonly used for hammocks and other enrichment items in the cage. When used as bedding, it does offer a good deal of comfort for rats. Fleece will wick some moisture to a point. It doesn’t do a good job of neutralizing ammonia. We don’t prohibit our adopters from using fleece as a bedding; however, fleece bedding MUST be swapped and cleaned every 1-3 days to ensure respiratory issues don’t arise.
We strongly advise against using any paper bedding (e.g. CareFresh). Adopters using paper bedding forfeit our health guarantee. While paper bedding itself isn’t bad, inks or dyes on recycled paper (e.g. newspaper) can be toxic to rats. Paper bedding will not wick moisture and does nothing to neutralize ammonia. Additionally, the pet owner needs to be aware that rats could eat paper bedding — enough of which can cause intestinal blockages. Small amounts of paper bedding can be used as supplemental nesting materials as long as the rats don’t start ingesting it.
DO NOT USE! The smells and aroma that makes cedar so appealing to humans are also very dangerous for rats. Cedar bedding will lead to respiratory issues with rats. DO NOT USE!