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Old 05-18-2012, 09:26 AM
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Default Rats

Compared to, say, hamsters, how smelly are rats?

I've been planning to get a bunny when I have a job, but lately I've been considering rats. My dad really dislikes the look of rats, but as long as there is little to no smell, I think he would deal.

I know males/females tend to differ in stinkiness. Which one smells less? (Talking about urine, plus general overall smell).

I've alway loved and wanted rats, but my parents wouldn't allow it. I'm hoping that now that I'm an adult, and will be responsible financially and do all the caretaking, that they will make an allowance. We'll see!

Any other info on them? I know most of the basics, (big cage, like company) but feel free to post what you know!
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Old 05-18-2012, 09:33 AM
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Females smell less. Over all I don't find them smelly though. I found my gerbils to be worse even. I also though kept my rats in open air cages always and allowed my gerbils to have tanks and tank toppers so they could burrow "underground". I don't remember how much my bunnies stunk because that was probably 10 years ago and they were kept outside in a fenced in deck. I do remember how their pee stains the ground and it always disgusted me. My dogs however loved their poop and could take or leave rat and gerbil poop. lol Helpful, I know.
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  #3  
Old 05-18-2012, 09:53 AM
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Thank you!

Yes, my dad HATES rabbit urine (our rabbit cost us our $1,500 pet deposit in a rent house years ago due to ruining the floors with pee) and it's taken me a lot to get him to agree on letting me get one (even though it wasnt the rabbits fault, it was mine) so maybe if rats aren't too smelly/ their pee doesn't stain everything, he'd be more willing to let me get one? Lol! He's mostly creeped by their tails, but I find them precious.
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Old 05-18-2012, 10:10 AM
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Rats smell. Nobody can tell me otherwise!! Well actually the RATS don't smell at all. Their urine and feces, especially their feces, REEKS! They are omnivores, which means their poop smells like a cat, dog, or humans, not the nice odorless poop that you get with rabbits, guinea pigs, etc. And they poop like a rodent, which means A LOT! So their cage smells.

Also they mark. Like they leave little pee trails everywhere. If they run across your leg, most likely they left a little spot or two as they ran by. I keep reading that they stop this once they get comfortable, and they seem pretty darn comfortable in the bathroom running around every night, but they still leave the spots everywhere.

I change their bedding (fleece) every single night. I wipe down their entire cage every single night. I take the cage apart and wash it in the tub at least once, usually twice, a week.

If they didn't smell, they would be the ultimate pet! They're active (females more than males), curious, and adorable. My girls won't sit with you and just be pet, they like to RUNNNN and run and run and run. They are wicked climbers and my Tulip is an INSANE jumper. Every night I am amazed at how far she can jump. The other night she jumped from my shoulder to the bathroom sink, it was over a foot and a half!
She also has no fear. She jumped from the top of her cage to a hanging towel and just dangled there while I scurried over, scared she was going to plummet to her death

As for diet, make sure you either feed a lab block (Harlan Teklan is probably the best, Mazuri is really good too but some rats wont eat it) or a complete pellet style diet (I use Oxbow Regal rat) and not a seed mix. I give my guys fresh fruits and veggies every night and I mix Chromium Picolinate powder in with babyfood for them as it has been shown to increase lifespan
They also get to try everything we eat. Eggs, they LOVE braunschweiger(sp), cereal, etc.

IMO you should try and foster for a rat rescue or shelter before deciding to get one, especially if your dad is worried about smell.
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Old 05-18-2012, 10:39 AM
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I don't find them stinky. My males were a little more odorous than my females were, but honestly it wasn't something too noticeable; it wasn't like you would walk in my bedroom and go "OMG IT STINKS." I mean, you're going to smell SOMETHING because they're animals. But IMO it's not a big deal.

It's hard for me to compare to hamsters because I was a kid when I had hammies, and I know I didn't clean as frequently/thoroughly as I should have. Plus mine were kept in Crittertrail cages, so lots of plastic parts and they were small cages so the odor was more concentrated. So... my hamsters didn't smell good... but I think that was because of me, not because they are actually stinkier animals.

As far as bedding I have used Yesterdays News (for my boys), towels/fleece, and aspen (for the girls). They all worked fine. Of course with towels and fleece you have to clean more frequently, I would replace the bedding probably every 2 or 3 days and throw it in the wash. Just to stay on top of the smell, if they went any longer than that I would start to notice a faint urine odor. Then everything got wiped down and fresh towels would go in. This actually worked surprisingly well as far as controlling odor. Should also add that I also had a little hand vac, so I could go in inbetween cleanings and vacuum up any poops if they were...accumulating. lol. I switched to aspen because I got sick of them chewing the towels to shreds, and that worked really well too and was much more convenient. Every week I would just throw away about 50% of the old bedding (focusing on the soiled areas) and then add more fresh aspen. Then ~every month I'd dump it all out so I could scrub everything. No odor with this either.

LOL I hate to tell ya PW, mine did not urine mark. Except on the rare occasion. And then I just assumed it was because they loved me.

They're just really freaking cute, too.
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Old 05-18-2012, 10:41 AM
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Ah that sucks! I'll probably have to wait to get rats til I have my own place. I know my dad won't stand for having my room smell like pee/poo (not that I want it to!!) and especially if they dribble pee, he'd probably flip lol.

Thanks for all the info though! I love ratties, but I highly doubt my parents will allow me to have one while still at home. =\

ETA: Whoops, just saw your post, southpaw. Maybe I could adopt an adult that doesn't mark?
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Old 05-18-2012, 10:49 AM
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Maybe I just got defective rats, cause all three of mine do!
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Old 05-18-2012, 11:12 AM
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I found them smelly as well. That's the one big reason I got gerbils instead. Rats also need a cage and that requires more maintenance as you have to wipe down all the bars and joints, levels, ramps etc frequently to get the pee off. I imagine that the more vegetable based their diet is the less their feces smell, so that may be why there are differences.

My gerbils stay in an aquarium, I keep them on hay and sand and change it often and they don't smell. But they are no where near the pet that a rat is!

I agree you should foster a pair for a while and see if the smell is a problem
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Old 05-18-2012, 11:29 AM
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Feeding them more veggies makes it smell less, but it still smells worse than chin/guinea pig foods. But then you lose those nutrients out of the diet that rats need.
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Gimme Drugs Not Hugs RL1 "Frodo"
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*All Siri's rally/obedience titles are to be considered handled by Megan,
because ain't nobody (read: me) got time or skills fo' dat.
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  #10  
Old 05-18-2012, 12:34 PM
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As many people have pointed out, ratties have a smell. LOL! It doesn't really matter on the gender. I will say that boys tend to be a little messier and spread it around more than the girls, which may be a factor in overall stinkiness. Although, I wouldn't say they STINK by any means, especially not if the cage is spot-cleaned regularly.

The thing I found to be most helpful in terms of smell is finding a good substrate. The best I found was aspen pellets. However, that stuff ain't cheap! Ugh! I ended up putting in a litterbox with the aspen pellets, and then the rest of the cage with CareFresh. Most rats will pick a corner and use it, so I just put the litterbox in that corner. Again, difference between girls and boys, the girls were more likely to use the litterbox. It's still not a 100% guarantee (though they are certainly smart enough if you wanted to put in the energy to train the habit), and it depends on individual rats, of course. In my experience, though... boys just tend to be lazier. LOL!



Also, make sure you use a wire cage, NOT a tank. It's far (far far far far far) better for their overall health, for one, and having regular air flow will also diminish any "amplification" of smell. (Air flow not to be confused with drafty air... drafts are no good!)

Again, I wouldn't say they are a really stinky pet, but it wouldn't be fair to say they are completely odor-free!
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