Please help with awful rat smell!

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Please help with awful rat smell!

Post by Jaydykes27 » Mon Jul 18, 2016 11:39 am

I recently got 2 male rats and the smell of them is just awful. I've had to move them into a bathroom that I can close the door on because they were way to smelly to have in the living room.

They have a very large cage, are mostly litter trained when it comes to poo, but I think their pee is the problem. Every level of the cage has two layers of fleece over the plastic. But they like to wee everywhere, I think the worst place is when they pee in the plastic pods they sleep in so it gets on them and then they smell bad.

I try and spot clean the cage every day and change the fleece liners about every 4 days. When I change the fleece liners I use pet safe unscented detergent on the plastic levels, as well as using the steamer to clean every thing in the cage. But it still stinks about 2 hours after I cleaned them.

Im using the pet food they gave me at pets at home when I adopted them, I know it's not the best so am hoping somebody has suggestions on what food is the best for them and makes their poo smell better.

I've never known an animal smell so badly so quickly and in the past I've had 3 rabbits, 2 mice and a hamster that all their smell combined didnt smell anything like this.

Does anyone know any essential oils that I can diffuse/spray/put in the steamer to stop the smell.
Rats have by far been the most expensive pets I've ever had and I really really can't afford to keep on replacing toys and liners every two weeks. The smell is so bad it makes my mum feel sick and she says that if it doesn't get better she's going to put them up for adoption.


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Re: Please help with awful rat smell!

Post by ElizabethW » Mon Jul 18, 2016 1:37 pm

It might sound ironic, but it could be that you're overcleaning the cage a little and this is making things worse....rats like their home to smell of them, and if 'their' smell is being removed too often they make mark even more to compensate. Do you have any shelves in the cage? It's well worth taking them out if you do, as most rats (mine included :roll: ) like to use them as a loo. With regards to the plastic pods, you could try making a hole in the bottom of them so that if they are peed in, it should drain out rather than them pickling in it. This thread might be useful to you: ... 41&t=29747

Is it only fleece that you use in the cage? This could also be part of the problem, as it will absorb urine and smells very quickly. A paper based substrate (there are quite a few makes, if you do a search on here you should find some more info) is the best thing for rats as is it is absorbant and helps cut down on smell - it also promotes natural behaviours such as digging and foraging, which they love to do.

I'm not an expert when it comes to food, so will leave advice on that to someone else, but there are very good mixes out there and you can even make up your own (there should be lots of info on that in the Feeding section.) We use the complete mixes from and you can save on postage either by buying in bulk - if you don't have a cool dark place to store the food you can freeze it - or combining the food with other things such as substrate.

Personally I wouldn't use essential oils or other smelly things near the rats as they can irritate their airways. You can buy an odour remover called Tap-A-Drop which is supposed to be safe around rats, but I haven't used it and I know some members are wary of its claims...there is a useful thread on air fresheners here: ... tap+a+drop

Hope this helps a bit :luck:
Perkin, Bramble, Teasel, Oswald :love:
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Re: Please help with awful rat smell!

Post by Gem_xxx » Mon Jul 18, 2016 6:57 pm

Just to repeat what's been said-

Firstly you are cleaning too often and they will scent mark to over compensate.
Secondly get rid of the fleece, there are so many other options for substrate out there that absorb urine and smells better.
Thirdly take out the shelves and add in more climbing opportunities such as perches and rope ladders etc.

As for feeding look into the shunamite diet- you can adapt it to suit you. The pets at home nuggets are quite high in protein if I remember rightly and certainly will not help with smells. What extras do you feed?
Gemstone Rattery (also on facebook!)

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Re: Please help with awful rat smell!

Post by squeakrat » Mon Jul 18, 2016 8:23 pm

If you give them cardboard substrate and some ripped up newspaper, it's likely that they'll drag bits into their pods to make a bed. This will soak up some of the wee so it's less likely to soak into the rats! You can clean out the old bits of paper every couple of days to stop it smelling too bad.
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Re: Please help with awful rat smell!

Post by Feline » Thu Jul 21, 2016 11:35 am

I drilled holes in the bottom of my rat's Sputnik pods so the wee doesn't stay in there with them.
Hammocks get rotated in the washing machine- I don't wash them all at once, but change one for a clean one every day (I have at least 2 sets of hammocks).
Some substrates seem to be better than others for controlling odour. I use Fitch bought from Amazon in big bales for my 5 lads. They live in my lounge so I don't want them to smell either!

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Re: Please help with awful rat smell!

Post by Minnarva » Thu Jul 21, 2016 7:41 pm

Same as what others have said and also pee rocks! Which is a smooth flat rock about the size of your palm to put in their litter trays. I've noticed a difference straight away after putting some in my cage. For some reason they just like peeing on them.

Also, maybe think of the placement of your litter trays. Mine used them more after I added in another and put them right next to where they sleep.

One of mine still pees in the Sputnik once a day (*cough*Gus*cough*), but I put some of that shredded recycled paper stuff you can get from P@H in there to soak it up.

Finacard is what I use as a substrate where you can get a huge bale, plus like 4 bags of paperlit litter for like £26. I got my rats back in March and I'm still on my first bale.


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Re: Please help with awful rat smell!

Post by Mulberry Jane » Sun Aug 07, 2016 2:56 pm

How old are your boys? I find bucks go through a smelly adolescent phase, then come out the other side. Bucks do smell musky but don't go on being pungent in my experience. If they are young bucks, hang on in there, leaving them in the bathroom and following the other suggestions, and things should improve in the next few weeks.
Jane @ Mulberry Rats ... and Mulberry kittens too.

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Re: Please help with awful rat smell!

Post by danih » Sat Oct 15, 2016 2:12 pm

Apologies for adding to an old thread.

I have had 2 male rats neutered in the past - one to calm the behaviour, the other to let him live with my girlies. Neuturing made a huge reduction to the smell.

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