A rat's cage is his castle, the place where he spends the majority of his time sleeping, eating and playing. But, that castle can quickly become an unhealthy, stressful prison for your rat if it isn't cleaned regularly. Clean your rat's cage thoroughly at least twice a week while changing litter boxes and removing all uneaten food daily to ensure your rat remains healthy and happy.
Dangers of a Dirty Cage
A dirty cage may annoy you and other family members with its offensive odor but it can cause physical problems for your rat.
- Immediately after your rat urinates, bacteria begins the process of turning the urine into ammonia. A rat who inhales the ammonia is prone to respiratory illness.
- Bacteria often grows on feces that sits in bedding and litter, which can result in respiratory illness if ingested or inhaled.
Plan to thoroughly clean your rat's cage, including food and water bowls, at least twice a week. If you have a group of rats or only one rat, you may decide that the cage requires cleaning more often or less often. If you can smell your rat's cage from across the room, you will know you have waited too long to clean.
Bowls and Toys
- Fill the sink or a bucket with hot water and dish washing liquid.
- Empty your rat's food and water bowls and remove them and all toys from the cage.
- Remove any loose particles, such as feces, from the bowls and toys.
- Submerge in hot water, thoroughly washing each item with a sponge.
- Rinse each item to remove the soap.
- Place on a dry paper towel to air dry.
Remove everything else from the cage, throwing away soiled litter and tossing dirty bedding, if fabric, in the washing machine.
- Fill your bucket with water and dish washing liquid.
- Soak your sponge and clean the empty cage.
- Rinse all soapy water from the cage.
- Allow to air dry or towel dry.
Disinfecting Your Rat's Cage
You don't have to disinfect every time you clean the cage. However, you should disinfect regularly and if you have a sick rat or you are adding a new rat to the cage.
- Use a maximum of 1 teaspoon of bleach for every gallon of water.
- Dunk the sponge in the disinfectant and run over the entire cage, the bowls and the toys.
- Let sit for 15 minutes.
- Thoroughly rinse with clean water.
- Let air dry.
Check your rat's cage daily to ensure it remains livable between cleanings.
- Discard any leftover food in your rat's food bowl or hidden in his cage to avoid the growth of unhealthy bacteria.
- Make sure your rat hasn't urinated or defecated on his bedding. Wash dirty bedding and replace it with fresh bedding.
- Generally clean animals, rats can be trained to use a litter box. Stand close to the cage and breathe in. If the litter box smells, it's time to change it. You may need to change litter boxes daily, especially if you have more than one rat.