Best Bedding For Rats

best bedding for fancy rats

Rats are incredibly clean animals that like to live in a spacious area, free of food waste and fecal matter. We’ll take a look at the pros and cons of some of the top choices. We’ll help you choose the best bedding material for your rat.

Starting with an important warning of one to avoid.

Pine Bedding For Rats

There are many suitable rat bedding options, but there are also some products out there that are simply not a good choice.

This is the case for both pine and cedar shavings.

When you look for the best bedding for rats online these options will come up time and again.

best bedding for rats

Unfortunately, pine and cedar are readily available and among the cheapest options.

However, they are also quite toxic to rodents.

Chemically speaking, pine and cedar expose your rat to aromatic hydrocarbons called phenols.

These phenols are what make the shavings smell good, and they are responsible for the antimicrobial properties of pine and cedar oils.

The toxic nature of the phenols is also what makes them a good pest control agent.

The toxic oils can be inhaled and passed through the skin of your rat if your use pine or cedar bedding. Inhalation can cause toxicity and lead to the destruction of cells in the lungs and the onset of respiratory infections.

If the oils pass through the skin, then the rodent’s body will try to dispel the phenols.

This requires the assistance of the liver, and this organ can become stressed due to the constant removal of the toxins. Liver enlargement may then follow.

Simply put, do not choose a pine or cedar type of bedding for your pet rat. It is unsafe and likely to lead to a wide range of illnesses.

Aspen Bedding For Rats

If you are looking for a good alternative to the traditional pine bedding, then aspen pet rat bedding is a good choice.

Aspen is very different from pine and cedar. It is a hardwood instead of a softwood, so it contains no toxic phenols.

Aspen is relatively soft and absorbent, so it will soak up urine and keep your rodent habitat clean and smelling fresh.

There are a few drawbacks to using aspen bedding. The wood shavings may vary in size between brands.

If smaller bits make it into the bag, then this can create a cloud of sawdust when you pour the bedding into the cage. Smaller pieces are also likely to make their way around your home.

Not only is dust messy, but it can be a contributing factor when it comes to the development of chronic respiratory disease.

The disease is typically caused by a variety of viruses and bacteria, but irritants can make the condition much worse for your rat.

Kaytee Aspen Bedding

If you want to reduce dust issues, then try the Kaytee Aspen Bedding Bag.

Kaytee processes their bedding materials to reduce dust significantly.

If you want to minimize the smaller pieces of bedding, for cleanliness sake, then take the 8 cubic foot bag of bedding material and grab it by the top seam.

Shake the bag vigorously so the smaller pieces settle towards the bottom.

Paper Bedding For Rats

If you are looking for something with a lower price point, but want to stay away from wood shavings, then paper might be the best bedding for rats in your home.

Keep in mind that the bedding will absorb urine quickly, and the cellulose fibers in the paper will turn to mush soon afterwards.

For this reason, the bedding should be changed every few days.

Carefresh Paper Bedding

Since paper bedding can also cause dust related issues, look for a dust-free product like Carefresh Pet Bedding.

This bedding material is 99% dust-free and made from renewable wood fiber material. The paper is also biodegradable and a great eco bedding for rats.

The Carefresh rat bedding also holds up well to compaction and shaping so your rodent pal can create nests and tunnels that stay firmly in place.

DIY Best Bedding For Rats

Of course, you also have the option of creating your own paper bedding by shredding newspapers at home.

There are a few things you need to keep in mind. You should use newspapers made only with vegetable or soy-based inks.

The vast majority of newspapers are made with these safer inks, but check on the newspaper business’s website just to make sure.

Also, if you have a white colored rat, then he may look a bit dirty from the ink. To avoid this completely, purchase inexpensive craft, butcher, or packing paper to shred.

Paper is an economical choice and considered by many to be the best bedding for rats for one simple reason……

Since you do not have to worry about costs, you can pile the bedding high!

This keeps your highly social rats busy creating their own paths and nests like they would in their natural habitats.

Fleece Bedding For Rats

Fleece is soft, warm and cozy.

This popular fabric also has the benefit of being safe as a bedding for all types of animals, because nails cannot get caught in it.

Unlike natural fibers like cotton and wool that are knitted or stitched together, fleece is formed from pillows of synthetic threads made from a plastic-based material called polyethylene.

While fleece is soft and safe as a bedding material, it is not advisable since the polyethylene material does not absorb water.

In fact, fluids will bead up and roll off the fleece.

If you use the material as a traditional bedding/litter, then you will end up with puddles of urine all around the cage.

Ware Double Fleece Rat Tent

One good solution to this issue is to purchase a fleece bed, tent, or sleeper that sits above the regular bedding. The Ware Double Fleece Hang-N-Tent Small Pet Sleeper is one good option.

Snap the clips to the side of the cage and let the tent hang at least several inches above the bottom of the cage.

Lovely Paws Fleece Blankets

If you want to let your rat make his own nest, then you can provide cut up strips of fleece and place them in your rat’s enclosure.

Inexpensive fleece blankets made for pets, like the Lovely Pet Paw Prints Fleece Blankets for Dogs Cats Animals work well for this.

Fleece can be washed and reused, so cut up enough strips so you can replace the bedding and wash the soiled material when there is a need.

Safe Rat Bedding

All of the bedding materials we have suggested are completely safe and good bedding for rats.

However, some individuals may be worried about the formation of mold and mildew on bedding materials.

Mold spores are irritants, much like dust particles. And mold can also cause much more serious respiratory illnesses than dust.

In fact, pneumonia infections found in many laboratory rats have been linked to the Pneumocystis fungi.

Dr Hemp All Natural Pet Bedding

If you want to keep mold from developing, then one good solution is to choose a hemp-based material like Dr. Hemp All Natural Pet Bedding.

The hemp material is extremely absorbent and can hold water up to four times its weight. This helps the bedding stay dry longer so mold cannot grow.

The material is also considered low in palatability. This means that your rat probably will not chew on or eat the bedding and become ill.

Hemp also requires very few, if any, pesticides to grow the hearty crop.

So, potentially dangerous chemical residue is not likely to come into contact with your rat, making it safer than hay and straw bedding materials.

Best Rat Bedding For Reducing Odors

If you have a rat, then you likely know that rat urine does not smell pleasant. For some pet owners, this may be quite the understatement.

Urine contains urea, and the nitrogen waste in the urea breaks down into ammonia. While the ammonia is present (and smells icky), rat urine is not really that concentrated with waste.

This is especially true if you are providing your pet with fresh water on a daily basis. So, you may not need to change bedding as often as you would change the litter in your cat’s box.

However, if you have more than one rat or if you have multiple males housed together, then marking and urine buildup may be an issue. In this situation, you may want to know what kind of bedding helps to reduce these foul odors.

Kaytee Clean and Cozy Small Animal Bedding

Well, aspen bedding can help, or you can purchase a product that is specifically made with an odor control blend. Kaytee makes one with their Clean and Cozy Small Animal Bedding in lavender scent.

The bedding material is the same as Kaytee’s plain and natural paper bedding, but an animal-friendly and chemical free lavender scent is added to it.

If you do not like the smell of lavender, then the bedding comes in Tahitian vanilla, summer storm, and birthday cake scents.

The scent does wear off over time, but you should be cleaning your rat’s cage by the time the odor fades. You should be cleaning soiled bedding out of the cage daily and adding completely fresh bedding at least one a week.

What Is The Best Bedding For Rats?

So, what bedding is best for rats? There are tons of safe and healthy options available that range from traditional aspen bedding to more eco-friendly hemp options.

best bedding for rats

The best bedding for rats is one that is safe, comfortable and keeps odor to a minimum. And there are a few choices that will each have benefits for your pets.

Just make sure that you avoid pine and other potentially harmful options.

Do you have a specific type of bedding that you love, or does your rat fling paper or wood shavings all throughout the house? We want to know, so tell us about it in the comments below.


  • Ayars GH, Altman LC, Frazier CE, Chi EY. (1989) The toxicity of constituents of cedar and pine woods to pulmonary epithelium. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology 83, pg. 610-18
  • Weichbrod, Robert H. et al, (1988) Effects of Cage Beddings on Microsomal Oxidative Enzymes in Rat Liver. Laboratory Animal Science, 38 (3) p. 296-8
  • Blackwell’s Five-Minute Veterinary Consult: Small Mammal, Second Edition. Barbara L. Oglesbee. © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Published 2011 by John Wiley & Sons.
  • Robert S Livingston,* Cynthia L Besch-Williford, Matthew H Myles, Craig L Franklin, Marcus J Crim, Lela K Riley. Pneumocystis carinii Infection Causes Lung Lesions Historically Attributed to Rat Respiratory Virus. Comp Med. 2011 Feb; 61(1): 45–52.


  1. I use a cotton fleece, like sweatshirt material because I don’t like the idea of useing a synthetic fibre fleece. Perhaps synthetics aren’t unhealthy, but it’s a polymer and I avoid plastics for myself, so I avoid it for my rats as well. I’m also able to attach it to all surfaces and ramps with velcro, you need only to use adhere the hooked side of the velcro on the cage and the soft side of the fleece will stick to that., it looks nice, it’s inexpensive and it’s easy to change and clean. I’ve never had a problem with with their claws hanging in it either. I use fresh lavender under the fleece, is see that some say it’s a repellent for rats, but it doesn’t seem to bother mine and it is a good repellent for other pests like mites and moths. I don’t have any scientific research for any of these ideas, but they seem logical to me and seem to work well. If anyone knows of any of these ideas that are unsafe to I’d like to here it.

    • That sounds similar to what I want to do, have a few already cut interchangeable pieces to just swap and go, can you post a pic?

  2. I just bought my first rats and have been using carefresh bedding. I was going to swap out most of my carefresh bedding for fleece pads because I was concerned with the possibility of dust inhalation or other secret additives (though those are supposedly 99% dust free) as well as the price of having to buy bulk bags often and use large quantities every few days (plus more for spot cleans.) However, I read that fleece pads don’t soak water, therefore the urine takes a while to sink down to the bottom of the cage and instead sits on the floor where your rats step on it longer vs more absorbent types of fabrics.

    The poster then suggested ‘underpads’ which are reusable pee pads (fabric puppy pads basically.) They are safe for animals and are intended to soak up urine. I will probably put some carefresh in a few heaps so that my rats can play with it, but I’ll place underpads on the floors, and probably swap them out every 3 days for washings (and pick up poos as I see them, which will be easier to find on a fabric pad) So I immediately ordered some online and I’m excited to try it. Just thought I would share in case anyone else would benefit from this suggestion.

    • You should never use pine because of the cyanide and phenol in the wood. This is coming from a 13 year old. I don’t know everything but I have most certainly done my work with this and pine is not the way to go.

  3. They say use shredded newspapers for bedding if it is done with soy ink. Well let me say something my husband is a mailroom manager at a newspaper and they use soy ink but it is the other chemicals that the papers go through on the press that can make newspaper unsafe for your pet rats.


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