Substrate and bedding recommendations

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Rolando
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Substrate and bedding recommendations

Post by Rolando » Sun Jul 28, 2019 7:08 pm

Hi folks,

First time rat owner and poster on frf here looking for some recommendations and advice.

We have two new male dumbos and in the cage I am currently using a substrate called "Fibrecycle back-2-nature small animal bedding", a 20L sack was around £12 and it's basically recycled paper pellets. It seems to be keeping odour down and is good as a substrate but not really useful as a bedding the first bedding is a basic toilet paper type by "Animal dreams".

Firstly, I am wondering what you think the best substrate to keep odour down is, where you're getting it and at what prices? I bought my initial bags at my local pet shop but I'm aware of some online retailers and Amazon etc plus p@h seem to be good value on certain products.

Secondly, does anyone use hemp bedding? I've seen some online at around £22 for 6.5Kg and have heard that it's very absorbent.

Lastly, my two new rats are still only young and are peeing in their house. The tissue bedding is useless at odour control and whilst I'm changing it daily, the house and tissue seems to trap the smell. Any ideas?

Cheers,

Rolando

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ScissorCrow
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Re: Substrate and bedding recommendations

Post by ScissorCrow » Mon Jul 29, 2019 8:20 am

Hi

I use Finacard as a substrate I buy it from RatRations. It costs £10.80 for the bale and at least £7.80 for postage so I usually buy food, accessories, treats etc at the same time to make it cost effective. You can buy it direct from the supplier for £17.50 inc postage

They were out of stock of Finacard last time I wanted to order so I went to an animal feed store and bought a bale of Walmsey Premier Bed, it's cardboard but all cut into squares and is not as soft so I prefer Finacard. It might be worth seeing if any animal feed stores near you carry something suitable?
I got a bag of Hugro Hemp pellets in the past and they were awful, really really hard and I ended up mixing a tiny handful with my usual stuff just to use them up

It looks like I use a similar product to your Fibrecycle in my litter trays. I prefer the cardboard as a substrate as you can put it in deep and sprinkle their food around there so they have to forage and dig to find their food which takes them longer than just sitting at a food bowl picking out their favourites first.
Also the pellets are more expensive than the cardboard. I think I pay around £2.80 for a 7.5litre bag and that lasts about a month when I clean two litter trays twice a day. I think the cardboard bale lasts me 6 months.

I tried Megazorb and found it was so light and got everywhere, wouldn't use that again.

Bedding material I give them shredded newspaper, ripped newspaper, material cut from old clothes ie socks, t-shirts (just no loose strands they can get tangled in), toilet paper and some rats carry large pieces of the finacard up to their nests. I wouldn't use the cotton wool type bedding even though it's marketed as safe.

Rats pee in their beds. I have had male rats for 5 years and it's just what they do. Offering a litter tray right outside the box might help, mine either go to the back of the box or to the doorway to pee, so if the litter tray is right outside the door they might opt to use that instead.
I always put a layer of tissue napkin and newspaper in hammocks and sputniks (have you seen these plastic houses that hang from the roof? Rats LOVE them link) to absorb pee then mine seem to last 3 days before changing.

If your boys are young their poops will stink during that age phase, I think it maybe stops at 6 months or so. Can also depend on their diet, what do you feed them?

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cyber ratty
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Re: Substrate and bedding recommendations

Post by cyber ratty » Mon Jul 29, 2019 9:15 am

Welcome to FR, and to rat keeping. :D

I agree, shredded cardboard is great.

B2N is good for the toilet corners - put one on the floor, but place a second one high up next to their main bed, so it's easy for them to pop out to the 'en-suite', and that should reduce the amount of pee in the hammock.

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GeekyGoth
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Re: Substrate and bedding recommendations

Post by GeekyGoth » Tue Jul 30, 2019 1:53 am

Welcome!

I am addicted to aubiose. It is reasonably priced and goes a long way. It's designed for horses but fantastic for rats.
:love: Owned by the Fuzzy Hoards, Now and Always.
:dumborainbow: Nothing really dies as long as it's not forgotten. All my fur-babies at the bridge... play hard and be happy.

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[cub]
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Re: Substrate and bedding recommendations

Post by [cub] » Tue Jul 30, 2019 10:59 am

It's worth knowing that Fibrecycle also make a paper-based cat litter called Breeder Celect. It's actually almost exactly the same as Back-2-Nature: same material, but a slightly different shape pellet. (BC pellets are cylindrical, while B2N pellets are slightly flatter.) I order a few 30L bags at a time online, usually from either Pet Planet or Pet Supermarket, and I buy either depending on whichever's on the cheapest offer when I buy them.

Like everyone else says though, I only use BC/B2N in the litter trays as it's far too expensive to use them as a cage substrate, and they're not great for foraging or nesting either. If your boys are very bad about peeing in bed though, a handful of litter at the bottom of the bed will help with absorption. For less serious peers I find a couple sheets of folded-up newspaper is enough. I also have a litter tray right next to the bed, and that mostly helps. :lol:

There are lots of different substrate options as you may have gathered; the ones marketed for horses tend to be best as they come in large bales (so are more cost-effective long-term) and generally low-dust due to horses similarly having sensitive respiratory systems. A lot of people rate good-quality shavings these days (heat treated and dust extracted), and hemp (e.g. Aubiose) is also very popular. Some people mix Aubiose in with paper pellets in the litter trays too, to make the litter last longer.

I've tried most substrates now (cardboard squares, cardboard strips, Aubiose, small shavings, big shavings, Megazorb) and I have to say I keep coming back to cardboard strips. Green Mile is still my favourite overall, with Finacard a close second for post-op and old rats (it's much softer than Green Mile but less absorbent). What you and your rats get on with will be different from other people and their rats. If you do decide to order from Rat Rations (they do a good selection of food mixes and supplements), they sell various substrates in 1kg packs so you can try out different ones and see what you get on with before committing to a full bale.
Poo-shoveller to: Calyn, Din, and Zephyr Mick Jagger (Edgeworth).
Fondly remembering: Zephyr Donovan (Phoenix) the big dope, Xeltan, Lita (NLA32), Lia (NLA28), Zephyr Delanynder (NLA28), Falere (NLA36), Mirala (NLA36), Zephyr Opold, and Rila.

Rolando
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Re: Substrate and bedding recommendations

Post by Rolando » Fri Aug 02, 2019 10:21 am

Thanks to everyone who's replied so far, there does seem to be some standout products that keep cropping up so I'll try some of those. Interesting to hear that boys are worse for messy and peeing in their house, some things seem to cross the species barrier! ;D

Rolando
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Joined: Sun Jul 28, 2019 6:36 pm

Re: Substrate and bedding recommendations

Post by Rolando » Wed Aug 07, 2019 10:52 pm

ScissorCrow wrote:
Mon Jul 29, 2019 8:20 am
Hi

I use Finacard as a substrate I buy it from RatRations. It costs £10.80 for the bale and at least £7.80 for postage so I usually buy food, accessories, treats etc at the same time to make it cost effective. You can buy it direct from the supplier for £17.50 inc postage

They were out of stock of Finacard last time I wanted to order so I went to an animal feed store and bought a bale of Walmsey Premier Bed, it's cardboard but all cut into squares and is not as soft so I prefer Finacard. It might be worth seeing if any animal feed stores near you carry something suitable?
I got a bag of Hugro Hemp pellets in the past and they were awful, really really hard and I ended up mixing a tiny handful with my usual stuff just to use them up

It looks like I use a similar product to your Fibrecycle in my litter trays. I prefer the cardboard as a substrate as you can put it in deep and sprinkle their food around there so they have to forage and dig to find their food which takes them longer than just sitting at a food bowl picking out their favourites first.
Also the pellets are more expensive than the cardboard. I think I pay around £2.80 for a 7.5litre bag and that lasts about a month when I clean two litter trays twice a day. I think the cardboard bale lasts me 6 months.

I tried Megazorb and found it was so light and got everywhere, wouldn't use that again.

Bedding material I give them shredded newspaper, ripped newspaper, material cut from old clothes ie socks, t-shirts (just no loose strands they can get tangled in), toilet paper and some rats carry large pieces of the finacard up to their nests. I wouldn't use the cotton wool type bedding even though it's marketed as safe.

Rats pee in their beds. I have had male rats for 5 years and it's just what they do. Offering a litter tray right outside the box might help, mine either go to the back of the box or to the doorway to pee, so if the litter tray is right outside the door they might opt to use that instead.
I always put a layer of tissue napkin and newspaper in hammocks and sputniks (have you seen these plastic houses that hang from the roof? Rats LOVE them link) to absorb pee then mine seem to last 3 days before changing.

If your boys are young their poops will stink during that age phase, I think it maybe stops at 6 months or so. Can also depend on their diet, what do you feed them?
Hi,

I've tried the shredded newspaper this week and typically they have completely avoided their house in favour of their ledge! Not sure if this is because of the paper or of they've just realised they like the ledge! :)

I feed them a mix of Mr Johnson's advanced Rat food, Harrington's guinea pig and a generic small rodent mix. I also supplement with various fresh and dry foods such as herbs, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, breakfast cereals, pasta, whole grains and occasional fresh meat.

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