Depending on the size of your cage and how many rats you have in your cage, will depend on how often you will need to clean your cage. Your cage should be cleaned on average once a week if you use just litter and have a good all over scrub once a month, but if your rats are litter trained you will have to wipe the cage floor and levels/shelves everyday to 2 days and take all toys and bedding out once a week to wash and give it a good scrub once a week.
When I clean my cage I use warm water, vinegar and small animal soap. There are heaps of cleaners out there, just make sure what ever you chose to use that you rinse out your cage thoroughly after washing it and let it dry before putting it back together and placing your fur babies back in there cage.
Litter and Litter Training
Choosing the right litter can be hard as everyone has their opinion. One opinion that is pretty well agreed upon is that sawdust and wood shavings are a big NO NO, they are a common cause of respiratory issues, there are a few out there that are dust free and are said to be okay but you will need to look into it and see if there is anyone in your area that sells it. I use Breeders Choice and most of the other rat owners I know use it to or other paper based litters.
So you are interested in litter training……
It can be a long process and not all rats are interested in doing it. The first thing you need to do is give the cage a good clean, when you are cleaning the cage pay attention to where they seem to poop the most and put some of there droppings aside. This is the spot where you want to place the litter tray. Once the cage is clean, dry and set up put the litter tray where you noticed the most poop and place their droppings you kept in the litter tray, this of course will make the littler tray smell like their poop. For the next few weeks (roughly about 3) you will have to check the cage regularly and pick up any droppings found around the cage and put them in the litter tray. After 3 weeks they should have the idea and you wont have to keep an eye on it as much, but you will still need to keep on them about it. If you let them go they will give up on the idea and you will have to start all over again.
Bathing your Fur Babies…
Rats are usually pretty clean so they don’t need much help in this area. But they occasionally do need some help, when they happen to rub up against something they shouldn’t, when their cage hasn’t been cleaned out in a while and they are smell just as bad as their bedding or when introducing new rats. There are a few different ways to do this depending on time and preference.
I usually give my fur babies a bath once a week, sometimes once a fortnight if its been really cold or twice a week in summer. I use the Fishing Pond as part of their bathing bathing experience so its a happy experience for them. I put down a towel and set up the fishing pond in the middle of it, next to the fishing pond I set up another 2 bowls of warm water one with a drop of sensitive baby soap and the other just warm water and a face washer in each, I also have a towel for drying to the side. I get all my fur babies out for some Free Range time, after they have had a few minutes play in the fishing pond I pick them up one at a time and give them a gentle all over rub with the face washer from the bowl with the soap till they are nice and clean make sure you avoid their face/eye area, I then give them a wipe down with the face washer from the bowl with just warm water to wash off any soap that may be left on the fur. I dry them off a bit and return them to the fishing pond. I have found doing it this they don’t seem to mind to much, I actually have a few that enjoy it 🙂 It only takes around 3min per rat to do and its a great way to keep them cool in summer, but in summer I only use the soap once a week and just wet them down a little water on the other days.
Other ways to do this is to is to half fill a tub or bath, have your sensitive baby soap open and ready, a face washer and a towel to dry them with. You may want to wear long sleeve shirt doing it this way as you will probably get scratched as they try to get out of the bath tub. Wet your face washer and put a small amount of soap on it, place a rat in the tub and wet it over, give it a rub over with the face washer, make sure to avoid their face/eye area. Rinse it off then take it out and dry it and move on to the next rat that needs a bath, you may need to change to water in the tub/bath. Just be warned that not many rats will enjoy being being bathed this way and may try to get out, which is why I suggest the long sleeve shirt. I prefer not to do it this way as they don’t enjoy it but if you are in a rush and need to get it done as fast as possible this is one of the fastest ways to get it done. Make sure you have a nice yummy treat waiting for them when they are finished 🙂