What do I do about rat urine?

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Dilori
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What do I do about rat urine?

Post by Dilori » Tue Jan 07, 2020 4:53 pm

My 2 boys are excellent at using the litter tray to poo in, but they seem to urinate everywhere and I don't know what to do about it.

I do spot checks and clean their cage out regularly, and they are both very healthy - but I've often had to throw away their gnaw toys because they seem to urinate all over them and they're hard to clean.

Also I need to wipe the rats fur down, and I've got wipes for small animals but one of my rats hates being cleaned and will bite and squeak each time I try to clean him, like he's distressed. So I just hope he keeps himself clean.

Lastly, I picked one of my boys up the other day and a spray of urine hit me in the face, and ever since I've had an infection on both my eyelids. So if rat urine can infect me then surely it can infect them too?

How can I neutralise their urine? Is there something I can add to their drink? Their urine is my only worry, not for myself but for them. I don't want them to start getting ill from their own urine.

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cyber ratty
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Re: What do I do about rat urine?

Post by cyber ratty » Tue Jan 07, 2020 5:25 pm

I can honestly say that in 19 years of keeping rats I've never been sprayed with urine - I think you must have been extremely unlucky! Urine from any source will have bacteria in it, and eyes don't have a lot of protection, so that would explain your infection, but it's not a high risk on normal skin.

If you only recently got them, then they may be scent marking more than usual to make their surroundings smell familiar. That's one of the reasons not to clean too thoroughly, so it may be that you are spot cleaning too often and they are increasing their output to keep up with you. ;) Don't clean out more often than once a week.

I presume the chew toys you mention are wooden - in which case just give them a soak or a scrub with ordinary washing up liquid, and let them dry out before replacing, there's really no need to discard them.

I find my boys will use a toilet corner if it is placed up high next to their main bed. When you wake them up, give them time to use the toilet before getting them out so their bladders aren't full.

What do you use on their cage floor, and what other bedding materials do you provide? If a cage is set up well, rats shouldn't need any help in keeping themselves clean, and their own urine certainly won't pose a risk to them. Are you able to post a picture of your cage so we can make suggestions for possible improvements?

Dilori
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Re: What do I do about rat urine?

Post by Dilori » Tue Jan 07, 2020 6:20 pm

I use a bit of dust-free hay and rat-friendly paper shreddings at the bottom of their cage, and grey pellets in their litter tray. They love to forage.

Maybe I do more spot checks than I should, but I worry about them living in an unhealthy mess and ammonia build-up. I heard rat urine can become toxic to rats.

I have washed their wooden gnaw toys before but it ruined them, they began to soften and crumble to bits, so I threw some out. They need wood to gnaw on though.

Posting a picture of my rats cage here sounds like a smart idea, I will do that as soon as I get home. :)

mothernaturesson
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Re: What do I do about rat urine?

Post by mothernaturesson » Tue Jan 07, 2020 7:24 pm

my boys wee everywhere its never sprayed out though, maybe they had some on their tail and it flicked?

Just make sure youve got plenty of absorable substrate down

ive got three girls too and theyre so much less wee-y its unreal!!!

Dilori
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Re: What do I do about rat urine?

Post by Dilori » Tue Jan 07, 2020 7:43 pm

mothernaturesson wrote:
Tue Jan 07, 2020 7:24 pm
my boys wee everywhere its never sprayed out though, maybe they had some on their tail and it flicked?

Just make sure youve got plenty of absorable substrate down

ive got three girls too and theyre so much less wee-y its unreal!!!

He sprayed wee as I was picking him up for his daily cuddles. He was facing towards me. He likes a cuddle with me every day, he's a very cuddly rat (not like his mate).

mothernaturesson
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Re: What do I do about rat urine?

Post by mothernaturesson » Tue Jan 07, 2020 7:53 pm

awwww he sounds lovely

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cyber ratty
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Re: What do I do about rat urine?

Post by cyber ratty » Wed Jan 08, 2020 8:13 am

Dilori wrote:
Tue Jan 07, 2020 6:20 pm
I have washed their wooden gnaw toys before but it ruined them, they began to soften and crumble to bits, so I threw some out. They need wood to gnaw on though.
Ah!! In that case the toys you have are the type made from compressed sawdust and sugary starch, and not suitable for any animals. Buy some parrot toys made from chunks of actual wood instead - these ladders are excellent multipurpose accessories https://www.scarlettsparrotessentials.c ... dge-medium. (Incidentally, whilst they enjoy a nice chew, they don't 'need' it - if you've come across the myth that rats need to chew to keep their teeth in check, then that's false, they keep them the right length by grinding the top and bottom against each other.)
Dilori wrote:
Tue Jan 07, 2020 6:20 pm
Maybe I do more spot checks than I should, but I worry about them living in an unhealthy mess and ammonia build-up. I heard rat urine can become toxic to rats.
I've never heard that, do you have a link? It's probably another of the many false myths out on the internet.
To reduce ammonia build up, add some more absorbent substrate - chopped/shredded cardboard (e.g. green mile) and/or kiln dried dust extracted shavings (e.g. pureflake extra) works really well. You can get small quantities from rat rations if you can't store full bales.
Rat's are fine living in very unhealthy messes (consider the wildies that live in sewers!) ...not that you want your cage like that, but the point I'm making is you don't need to worry so much about it. In fact it is important to leave poo around for a few days because rats practice coprophagy and need access to certain poos.

Dilori
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Re: What do I do about rat urine?

Post by Dilori » Wed Jan 08, 2020 11:19 am

I hear a lot of contradictions about what's good and what's not good for rats. I watch a lot of YouTube videos by pet-lovers, and each one says a different thing and I never know what to believe. But I have heard that rats can be prone to respiratory infections if the cage isn't cleaned enough. I've had my boys since late September and so far they seem very healthy, so I must be doing something right.

Dilori
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Re: What do I do about rat urine?

Post by Dilori » Wed Jan 08, 2020 11:41 am

.

Dilori
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Re: What do I do about rat urine?

Post by Dilori » Wed Jan 08, 2020 11:44 am

I'm sorry, I don't know how to post a picture. I wanted to post a picture of my rat cage.

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cyber ratty
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Re: What do I do about rat urine?

Post by cyber ratty » Wed Jan 08, 2020 1:19 pm

The problem with ease of access to information online is working out which is good vs which is bad... if you like youtube, then you can trust the Isamu channel. :luck:
Dilori wrote:
Wed Jan 08, 2020 11:19 am
... I have heard that rats can be prone to respiratory infections if the cage isn't cleaned enough.
It is true that if ammonia builds up due to poor hygiene (i.e. hardly ever being cleaned) and poor enclosure (e.g. a tank) then it would adversely affect them, but it's also detrimental to clean too often.

If you have a nice deep layer of loose good quality substrate then a small group of rats should be able to last 2-4 weeks between full cleanouts, but weekly is okay if you feel it's needed. Empty toilet corners 2 or 3 times a week, wash hammocks and accessories every week or two, and that should be fine.

You'l need to put the picture somewhere with public access, and then use the image tags (icon is of a mountain) around the url (the code from the browser bar). If you have flat shelves in the cage, they will probably just get weed and pood on, and don't serve any other use, so removing them is a good first step.

Dilori
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Re: What do I do about rat urine?

Post by Dilori » Fri Jan 10, 2020 12:31 am

https://images.app.goo.gl/nUo1KWoCgXwdipT66

This is not my actual rat cage but this is the exact same one I have. I know it has plastic shelves that you pointed out that they urinate on but I like to have different levels for them to have more choice of places to run around. Anyway plastic can be easily cleaned.

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Re: What do I do about rat urine?

Post by cyber ratty » Fri Jan 10, 2020 12:03 pm

It's impossible to know what improvements could be made without seeing how you have set the rest of the cage up, but rats don't need shelves to run about on - give them lots of ropes/branches/beams to climb around on and baskets/perches to sit in/on, and a couple of hammocks instead, and ideally a large wheel too.

You've got a nice base on that (it's a Freddy max), so you could fill it with a good deep layer of loose substrate.

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