Urine Trouble: What does Rat Pee Smell like?

Pet Care


October 7, 2020

Oh no! Something smells inside your pet rat’s cage. Did they pee? Is it rotten food? Maybe the cage is just dirty? As you probably know, rats are usually clean animals that groom themselves.

However, even with all that grooming, they still need their caregiver’s help when it comes to cleaning up their own urine since they do not have access to any cleaning products.

You might have gone through this before. With all the smells in your rat’s cage, you might not be sure when it is time to clean your furry friend’s pee. Not to worry, this article will teach you all about rat urine, including how to identify it, clean it, and be safe around it.

How to Recognize Rat Urine Smell

Rat urine is high in ammonia, which is a chemical component with a powerful odor. Because of this, rat pee smells like stale human urine, meaning it has a very prominent and unpleasant smell that is very hard to miss.

Aside from that, rat urine will leave a chalky residue if you let it dry, due to the high amounts of calcium it contains.

If you smell rat urine and do not have any pet rats, it means you might have some unpaying tenants in your home and need to be on the lookout for a sneaky furry pal.

How to Neutralize the Smell of Rat Urine

Rats are very clean and adorable animals when they are in the right environment, meaning they will groom themselves regularly. Nevertheless, rats can’t help but pee, and sometimes their urine will accumulate in their cages.

Like with all pets, maintaining proper hygiene in your furry friend’s living space ensures they stay healthy and live as long as possible.

When it comes to staying clean, rats are exceptionally well organized and do their business in a specific area of their living space. However, accidents can still happen. Every now and then, your furry friend might not make it to the litter tray in time.

Also, rats sometimes like to pee on each other for unknown reasons. The smell is not only very unpleasant but can also be harmful to your pet since they can get overwhelmed by it. Therefore, you must learn how to clean after them properly.

Using Vinegar

Vinegar is certainly a go-to for cleaning, especially with odorous things such as rat urine. You see, vinegar contains acetic acid, which is known for its bacteria-killing properties. This means that the clear liquid will help eliminate all the unpleasant microbes that live in your rat’s pee, not to mention that it helps neutralize the awful smell.

Nevertheless, vinegar does have a strong smell of its own, so it is recommended to dilute it with water. Also, allow the cage to dry well before returning your pets to their home.

Using Baking Soda

You have probably heard of people placing a small, open box of baking soda in a cupboard or a fridge to keep it from smelling bad. This is because baking soda helps diminish airborne smells, like fish in the refrigerator, dirty laundry, or rat urine!

You can place an open container of baking soda next to your rat’s cage, or sprinkle a little baking soda at the bottom of your rat’s cage before you add the litter. This technique is especially handy if you live in a small space. Just remember to change the baking soda every week for ultimate effectiveness.

Using Hydrogen Peroxide

There are two types of this substance: medical and technical. The medical type is available at any drug store. It is seen as a milder variety of hydrogen peroxide because it’s usually diluted with other types of chemicals but still has exceptional anti-bacterial properties. The chemical one is harder to find, but this one will oxidize the urine, leaving no residue behind.

Using Commercial Products

Aside from all these chemicals, many products are specifically designed to diminish or remove the smell of pet urine. You can certainly find them in your local pet store, but if online shopping is your thing, there are a lot of products available. 

For example, you can get an odor removing bag or a feeding additive. These products are generally well-tested, but you should still consult with your veterinary before adding them to your pet’s diet. You can even buy special odor control bedding!

What does Rat Urine Look Like?

The thing about rat urine is that, when fresh, it looks like any other type of urine – it is dark and yellow. However, the way to know whether your dog or pet rat peed on the carpet is to examine the urine when dry. Since rat urine contains a high amount of calcium, it forms white crystals when it dries out. Some people describe these crystals as chalk-looking.

Is It Bad to Smell Rat Urine?

When ingested, rat urine can cause a bacterial infection called leptospirosis or Weil’s disease. This disease harbors in the kidneys and spreads through contact with contaminated food or water. Because of this, some people believe that rat urine is inherently toxic and therefore is a great hazard to the rat’s caregiver.

That might be true, but only if you, as a pet owner, are planning on drinking your rat’s pee. On the one hand, rat urine has a very unpleasant smell due to its high ammonia content, since this substance tends to have a strong and “musky” aroma.

Nevertheless, it is only that: unpleasant. Rat urine smell is non-toxic and cannot make you sick.

But wait! It is essential to reiterate that the smell is non-toxic. As we’ve mentioned before, rat urine ingestion does pose harm to humans. I know what you are thinking, it is really hard to drink rat pee accidentally, but please just make sure that you properly wash your hands after cleaning your rat’s cage.

What Is a Pee Rock for Rats?

A pee rock is exactly what it sounds like: a rock that your rat pees on. They are usually small river rocks with smooth surfaces, which can be easily found online or at your local pet store. When buying a pee rock, please remember that they must be at least one third the size of your furry pal, so that they have enough space to pee.

The stone stands out from its surroundings, which appeals to the rat’s territorial instincts, making it a very appealing pee spot. Because of this, rats will drag their butts all over the stone, and if you have multiple rats, they will compete to be the last one to mark it.

If you want to make sure that your rat is attracted to the stone, place it in a way that makes it stand out from the surroundings. That way, the rat will see it as a new object of interest and will rush to mark it.

Introducing Your Rat to the Pee Rock

The first thing you need to do is make sure that you have a litter box inside your rat’s cage. After you have gotten one, put all the feces and a bit of soiled bedding in the litter box, since this will help the rat identify their own scent.

Next, place the pee rock right next to the litter box, and wait for your pet to recognize the foreign object.

Now, to make sure the pee rock stands out, clean the cage thoroughly, but make sure not to clean the litter box or the cage’s accessories (toys, wheels, hammocks, and other items). Your furry friend needs to be able to smell their own scent since you want to use your pet rat’s territorial instincts in your favor. 

After you have followed all of these steps, place your pet rat back in the cage. Slowly, they will notice that everything smells like them, except for one thing: the rock! They will then want to mark it, and your plan will have succeeded.

Cleaning Made Easy

In conclusion, rat urine is bad-smelling and unpleasant to the eyes. Still, it does not really pose a hazard if you clean the cage regularly and thoroughly. It’s also essential to wash your hands afterward, as you don’t want to ingest any of your pet rat’s pee accidentally. After all, cleaning up pee is an unavoidable side effect of having a pet.

This process can undoubtedly be made easier by using certain household cleaning aids, commercial products, such as chemicals, odor bags, and feeding additives.

However, please consult with your veterinarian if you plan to add any of the mentioned feeding additives to your rat’s daily diet. Even if they are beneficial in masking the strong smell, not every rat’s system would be able to handle them.

Still, there’s no reason for panic. If additives are not the right fit for your furry pal, this article has given you many other ways to deal with their urine. No worries, there is always a solution. Happy cleaning!