Product Review: Just Testing, A Litter Comparison
The following information is based on a study that I have performed in my rattery over the past two months. Please bear in mind that this information is my with experience these products, and your experiences may differ.
My goal was to gather information about the main non-cedar, non-pine beddings available here in Illinois. Each of the four beddings was tested in three types of cages:
What follows is a summary of my findings, along with advice for use based on my experiences.
Gentle Touch--This bedding was the absolute best for odor control. It is a brown pellet, rather dense, made of processed aspen wood and aspen bark. The adult rats had no reactions, odor control wasphenomenal, and the pellet is dense enough that it isn't easily kicked out of a cage with a set-on tray. It works well in all cage types. The only problem is that after 3-6 days (depending on traffic), it begins to break down into powder. This is not a major problem, except for with baby rats under 2 weeks of age. The dust tends to clog the babies' noses, resulting in nursing problems and slow growth. When the bedding is changed to a different type, the babies resume normal growth as well as exhibiting less congestion and nasal discharge. This bedding is recommended for any cage type, for rats over 2 weeks of age.
Clean n' Comfy--This is a corncob-based bedding. It looks like regular cob bedding except for occasional bright green nuggets, and has a distinctive scent which is somewhat pleasant. No rat of any age reacted adversely to it (even Naughty Louise and Bluebelle, who ate some). I have used this with babies under 2 weeks, but I am concerned about recommending it because of the possibility of ringtail, a reaction of very young rats to an overly dry environment in which portions of their tails become constricted, causing permanent damage. This condition has been associated with the use of cob beddings in the past. I was also concerned about mold, but never saw any when using this product. Odor control was good. The main disadvantage was its low density; my big girls in the medium size wire cage with the set-on tray had a delightful time kicking it out onto the carpet, much to my dismay. However, it worked fine in the wire-floor ferret condo and in an aquarium. It does not seem to break down under use, and is not dusty.
Yesterday's News--This is a recycled newspaper bedding in pellet form. The odor of the bedding itself is so mild as to be neutral. It is slightly dusty. Absorbency is good, but odor control is mediocre--only slightly better than the dreaded pine shavings. It does not break down under normal usage. This is a bedding I sometimes use with moms and their litters under 2 weeks of age. I am a little concerned about the dust, but it doesn't seem to bother the babies. The pellets are quite dense and do not easily scatter, so this bedding is neat and well suited to all cage types. No rat in my rattery has had an adverse reaction to it. Price was a little higher than other types.
Critter Country / Cat Country--This is a wheatgrass plant fiber pellet. I tested Cat Country, which (according to the manufacturer) is the same as Critter Country. I did this because I was able to buy it more economically in larger bags--up to 45 lbs. This bedding, I found, will also break down, but not as quickly as Gentle Touch--it usually lasts 5-8 days before breakdown starts. It has a fairly strong hay scent which fades after the first day. Absorbency and odor control are both very good. Density is also good, preventing messes from cages with set-on trays. The rats have reacted well to it, too--no problems. I have not used it with babies under two weeks of age, due to its tendency to break down and my bad experience with Gentle Touch in regards to dust blocking the babies' noses. However, I have used it with no problems for older babies. It can conveniently be used in any cage type.
Well, there it is--I hope this "review" will help people who are gathering info about various beddings. Currently, I am testing CareFRESH and Sani-Chips, and I plan to expand this file when I have more info. Is there something you could add, or any comments, questions, etc? I would love to hear from you.
Manufacturers--Please send all products for testing to:
13075 Springdale St., #302
All products reviewed become the property of Rat & Mouse Club of America.