Best Litter for Rats + Top Litter Boxes

Training rats to use a litter box can be a worthwhile experience, especially if you start when your rats are young.

But, before you can think about litter training your rats, you need to choose a litter box and appropriate material to use as litter.

There are plenty of commercial litter options available, but they aren’t created equally. Some products control odor more efficiently than others, while some are downright dangerous for your rats’ health.

So, what type of products should you choose? And which ones should you leave at the store? Check out our care guide below.

Which Litter Box Should I Buy For Rats?

When it comes to choosing a litter box for your pet rats, there really isn’t a right or wrong choice.  You can purchase a corner litter box from your favorite pet store or re-purpose a plastic container.

Choosing a litter box

Some people even use small cardboard boxes, but they need to be replaced often. Thin plastic should be avoided because your rats might chew it and accidentally ingest small pieces.

The benefit of buying a litter box designed for small animals is that they often connect to the cage or have a grate covering the top of the litter box. These traits are useful for avoiding constant litter spills in your rats’ cage.

One thing you will want to think about is the age of your rats and their mobility. Avoid deep litter boxes for babies and less agile rats because they won’t be able to get into them easily.

Bestselling Rat Litter Boxes…

4 Best Types Of Litter For Rats

Paper Pellets

Paper pellets are a popular choice of rat litter box material. They’re usually odor free, dust free, and are easy to clean up. Popular brands of paper pellets are Marshall Premium Ferret Litter, ExquisiCat Naturals Paper Cat Litter, and Fresh News.

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Fresh News Recycled Paper, Original Pellets Small Animal Litter, 10 Liters
686 Reviews
Fresh News Recycled Paper, Original Pellets Small Animal Litter, 10 Liters
  • Small Animal Litter: No more lingering pet smell; Fresh News Recycled Paper Litter has super...
  • Odor Control: Keep your pet's habitat fresh and smell free! The moisture-locking pellets with...
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  • Non Allergenic: Spend more time with your pet without worrying about cleaning its cage; Fresh News...
  • Healthy Environment: Fresh News promises to provide a non toxic and hygienic space for you and your...

Paper Shavings

Paper shavings are soft, highly absorbent and dust free. Because it is so effective at absorbing urine, paper litter is great for controlling odors. Make sure you look for unbleached, natural paper when opting for this type of litter box material.

Small Pet Select Unbleached White Paper Bedding, 178L
2,853 Reviews
Small Pet Select Unbleached White Paper Bedding, 178L
  • White bedding makes it easier to spot "used" Litter and clean up only messy areas
  • Soft and absorbent - Made with unbleached paper fiber
  • 99% dust free and is safe and comfortable for small pets
  • Sludge free and never recycled print
  • Paper bedding is measured based on volume not weight, as the density of paper varies so much. Jumbo...

Aspen Bedding

Aspen shavings are a great low-cost option for rat bedding that is safe to use in your rats’ litter box. It doesn’t seem to mask odors as long as the first two options on this list, so you might need to change the litter box more frequently. Another common complaint about aspen shavings is that they are messy and difficult to sweep up.

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Kaytee Aspen Bedding 8 cubic feet, Multicolor, Model:100032006
1,026 Reviews

DIY Shredded Paper

If you’re looking to save money, shredded paper is the most cost-friendly option out there. Before using shredded newspaper or flyers in your rats’ litter box, confirm that they were printed using soy-based ink.

It’s non-toxic so if your rats accidentally ingest some of the ink you don’t have to worry about them becoming ill. Shredded paper doesn’t control odors very well, so you will need to empty the litter box daily.

4 Rat Litter Box Materials To Avoid

Cedar & Pine Shavings

You need to avoid using cedar and pine shavings because they emit aromatic phenols that are toxic for rats and other small animals. Long term use of these products has shown extensive damage to the respiratory system and liver in rats.

Scented Litter

Scented litters might smell nice to us, but they are a problem for a rat’s sensitive respiratory system and should be avoided altogether.

Clumping Cat Litter

Clumping cat litters shouldn’t be used because it can cause an intestinal obstruction if your rats ingest it. It’s also quite dusty, putting them at risk for respiratory distress.

Corn Cob Litter

Corn cob litter is absorbent, but it rots quickly, resulting in the development of mold. This mold forms new bacteria that could be harmful to your rats. Like clumping cat litter, there is the risk of your rats eating the corn cob litter and suffering from intestinal obstruction or choking.

Setting Up the Litter Box

Now that you have selected the best litter box material for your rat, it is time to find the best spot to place the litter box – this will be helpful when litter box training your rat.

Most rats naturally prefer doing their business in one spot, usually in one corner of the cage. Before putting the litter box in your rats’ cage, wait a few days and look to see if there is an obvious spot your rats seem to prefer.

This is where the litter box will have the most success being used. If your rats don’t seem to prefer a spot, you can pick one for them.

Don’t Forget to Clean the Litter Box!

It won’t take long for ammonia to build up from urine and feces so it’s important to empty out the litter box regularly.

How often you change your rats’ litter box will depend on the number of rats you have and the type of litter you’re using, so use your best judgement to determine the best schedule.