Cleaning Up the Mess
Rats are cool, but they’re also messy. They like to chew, shred, dig, and build nests, which can result in food, bedding, and litter ending up where you don’t want it. Of course, rats also pee and poop, and it’s your responsibility to ensure that they’re not sickened by their own waste. Designing your rat cage with their habits in mind can make keeping everything clean a lot easier.
If you have a wire cage, make sure that the bottom tray has tall sides and is made from thick plastic. This will prevent rats from chewing holes in the plastic and keep the mess inside the cage. The bottom of the rats’ cage should be filled with an absorbent litter such as shredded paper, recycled newspaper pellets, or wood shavings (not cedar). Or, if you’re game, you can try litter training your rats. In this case, line the bottom of your rats’ cage with an old towel (they’ll still pee around the cage since it’s an important marking behavior) and place small litter boxes in one or more corners of the cage. Fill the boxes with an absorbent litter like those mentioned above.
To litter train your rat, place any poop that you find in the litter boxes and show your rats where they should be going from now on. Continue to do this, and when your rats finally get the idea and poop in the box, have treats and tons of praise ready to show them they’ve done exactly what you wanted.
Litter training makes clean up simpler, but however you choose to proceed, you’ll need to replace all the litter at least weekly and thoroughly wash out the entire cage on a regular basis; in other words, before it begins to stink.