Tips for Reducing Ammonia Odor When Raising your Own Mice and Rats
We were asked the question on how to remove strong ammonia smells associated with raising rodents and the answer got quite long that I decided to do a post.
It seems many people are now raising their own rodents to feed their hungry little or not so little reptiles as quality feeder mice or rats can be hard to come by and it helps save a little money. I also suppose if you are into raising reptiles you want to know what you are feeding them is a well fed and bred rodent. Seriously!
I’m sure there are plenty of you who know more about keeping and breeding rodents than I do and I’m equally as sure that you know there is always going to be the ammonia smell regardless of what you do, but I do have some suggestions.
You are probably already aware it’s the cage and the rodents creating the smell so taking the time to spend on cleaning them is what will ultimately help the most with the odor.
Make Sure Cages are not Overcrowded
Make sure the cages are not overcrowded and there is enough bedding. The more mice or rats in a cage the more urine and the more little feet are tromping through the urine. I’m guessing if the cages are large enough there is adequate room to move and more bedding to absorb the urine and the smell.
Plus it’s just more humane to offer these critters a little happiness without infection that can come from overcrowding and a lack of cleanliness.
Can you Potty Train Your Mice, Rats, Other Rodents?
I know some, maybe even a lot of you, are raising these little creatures for food but I have read some rodents can be potty trained; wouldn’t it be nice to just empty a potty box every day to help cut back on the smell, especially if you have a male in every cage.
Spot Clean in between Regular Cleanings
I’m sure raising your own food source for your reptiles is time consuming, but if necessary, spot cleaning before regular cleanings to remove large wet spots will go a long way to eliminating odors?
Is One Bedding Better Than Another?
What kind of bedding are you using? Is one bedding better than another? Try switching to another type to see how that works?
For example, I would think paper shreds would need to be changed more often and will hold on to the odor much more readily than hay or pine and I’ve read that some people think maple bedding stinks.
Cleaning the Tank or Cage
When you do your regular weekly clean and change the bedding, do you clean the inside of the tank as well? Or at least wipe down the sides of the cage? Not only will this help reduce odor, it will help keep your pets a little healthier. I know this adds time to everything you’re already doing but it will help with the odors.
- You can use 1 capful of white vinegar to 1 gallon of water for those that may need a deep cleaning, rinse and dry when you’re done washing the cage.
- For regular cleanings just use a drop or two of dish soap to a gallon of water. Again wipe down, rinse and dry.
Make sure the tank is completely dry before putting your rodents back in.
Good Ventilation is Very Important for Odor Removal
Ventilation is so important at keeping the air circulating out. If there is no ventilation all those strong smells are just getting trapped and hanging in the air and wafting upwards.
If there are windows in the room, keep them open when you can. When the weather is bad and it’s not ideally possible to keep the windows open, look into using purchasing a quality air purifier, a good one that uses a HEPA filter.
Natural Minerals to Absorb Odors
A great product you can try using is called Zeolite. This is a natural mineral that absorbs odors, not just masking odors. Depending on how bad the odor is you are trying to remove will depend on how much to purchase. If the smell is horrendous, you may want to place these bags around the room, especially around the cages.
If you keep your rodents in the basement of the house, try placing these on the steps leading up as well. Zeolite can help reduce and absorb odors for up to six months.
Zeolite can work at removing odors but depending how strong the smell is, it will take time and you will need to keep up with replacing the Zeolite when needed, which may be more frequent until you get the smell under control.
Zeolite could possibly be used in conjunction with an air purifier as well?
Washing the Walls of the Room where you Have the Rodents
If the odor you are trying to remove is a serious bad smell, you should consider washing the walls, it’s possible the odor has permeated them and a good cleaning can help. If the surface of the walls can be washed, start with a vinegar and water wash.
White Vinegar and Water Recipe
- 1 part White Vinegar
- 1 part Water
Mix these together and allow this to sit a few minutes then wash the walls down, rinse and dry. This can be repeated.
If you are still noticing the smell but it’s better, mix the following together for further odor reduction:
Baking Soda and Water Recipe
- 1 cup Baking Soda
- 10 cups Water
Make sure you mix the baking soda completely before washing the walls as baking soda is abrasive and you probably don’t want to scrub the paint of the walls. Again wash the walls, let sit a few minutes, rinse with clean water and dry.
Note: Don’t use white vinegar and baking soda together as the two will cancel each other out and you pretty much end up with salty water.