Rats make great pets. They’re easy to keep, require minimal maintenance, and don’t take up a lot of space. But one thing you will go through a lot when taking care of rats is bedding. Whether you have several rats or just one, bedding is a hot commodity for any rat owner.
It’s vitally important to find great bedding if you want to keep the smell down, as rats can get quite smelly, pretty quickly. High-quality bedding is absorbent, soaking up your rats’ waste and neutralizing the odors. With a few quick spot cleanings and the right bedding, you’ll be able to keep your rats’ enclosure clean, presentable, and odor-free. But with the wrong bedding, your rats’ cage will stink to high heaven, putting a damper on the enjoyment of keeping rats.
We want to make sure you and your rats are as happy as possible, so we set out to find the best rat bedding. The following 10 reviews will compare our favorites, but only three impressed us enough to recommend them.
A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites in 2023
|Best Overall||Kaytee Clean & Cozy Small Animal Bedding||
|Best Value||Carefresh Shavings Plus Small Animal Bedding||
|Premium Choice||Vitakraft Fresh World Small Animal Bedding||
|Oxbow Pure Comfort Small Animal Bedding||
|Brown's Naturally Fresh! Corn Cob Bedding||
The 10 Best Rat Bedding Options
1. Kaytee Clean & Cozy Small Animal Bedding – Best Overall
With so many great options available, it was very difficult to choose a single bedding to recommend for our readers. But, in the end, the Kaytee Clean & Cozy Small Animal Bedding impressed us enough to earn the honors of a top spot pick. This formula comes in large volumes of up to 85 liters, so even if you have a dozen rats, you’ll only have to order once in a while. Plus, it triples in size when you let it expand, so you’re getting a ton of bedding in a single package.
One great thing about this bedding is its high level of absorbency. It’s so absorbent that it can hold up to four times its weight in liquid, allowing this bedding to last longer than competing formulas we’ve tested. It’s also 99% dust-free, and unlike other “dust-free” beddings we tested, this one is actually very low in dust.
On the downside, we noticed that this bedding tends to turn into mush when a lot of liquid waste is introduced to it. However, we felt that we could forgive this one flaw in light of all the other great traits this bedding brings to the table.
2. Carefresh Shavings Plus Small Animal Bedding – Best Value
Though the Kaytee bedding is our favorite, we’re still big fans of the Carefresh Shavings Plus Small Animal Bedding, and we think it’s probably the
best rat bedding for the money. It’s one of the most affordably-priced rat beddings we’ve seen, though it offers decent quality in an entirely biodegradable and compostable formula. Plus, when you open this bedding, it will expand to twice the volume it takes up in the packaging, giving you even more bang for your buck.
This formula is a mixture of 70% wood shavings and 30% comfyfluff pieces. The comfyfluff pieces make this bedding softer and more absorbent, offering 60% more absorbency than you’d get with shavings alone. More than just absorbent shavings, this formula provides sufficient odor suppression, preventing foul odors for up to 5 days.
Unfortunately, wood shavings might seem like a good thing to eat for some rats. You don’t want your rats ingesting these wood shavings, so if your rats do eat it, you might want to switch to a different type of bedding. We also noticed that the quality of this bedding was inconsistent. Some bags were great, others were less satisfactory, though it’s great bedding on the whole.
3. Vitakraft Fresh World Small Animal Bedding – Premium Choice
Our favorite bedding options offer a good mixture of high quality and affordable pricing. The Vitakraft Fresh World Small Animal Bedding does well in one of these areas, and not so well in the other. It’s quite pricey, especially for the small amount you receive. However, as far as bedding goes, this one is great.
We love the Vitakraft low-dust formula. In the bags we tested, there was almost no dust to speak of, which is vastly different from most small animal beddings. This blend is made with 100% recycled paper, so it’s eco-friendly and effective. It absorbs up to three times its weight in liquid, controlling the odors caused by waste for up to 14 days.
If it was priced more affordably, this animal bedding might be a contender for our top position. As it is, the high price you pay for this bedding will prevent it from earning our top recommendation, though it’s still our third pick and our premium choice.
4. Oxbow Pure Comfort Small Animal Bedding
Able to absorb up to 800% of its weight in liquid, the Oxbow Pure Comfort Small Animal Beddings is one of the most absorbent beddings we’ve used. It’s made entirely from pure, never printed on paper, making it completely safe and very easy to clean up. Just look for the large, off-colored clumps and remove them.
More than just absorbent, this bedding also expands a lot; when you open it, you can expect it to expand by 250%. But the best thing about it has to be the consistency. Every time we opened a bag of this bedding, it felt, looked, and smelt like the same stuff. This is far different from some brands we tested, where each bag of the same bedding seemed like a totally different product.
Though there’s a lot we liked about this bedding, two major flaws kept it from breaching our top three. First, it’s surprisingly dusty. When you pour it into your rat’s cage, a large cloud of dust comes out with the bedding. Furthermore, this bedding is lacking in odor management. It just doesn’t do a great job of containing odors for more than a couple of days.
5. Brown’s Naturally Fresh! Corn Cob Bedding
As one of the most expensive beddings we’ve seen, Brown’s Naturally Fresh! Corn Cob Bedding would have to do an awful lot to impress us enough to earn our recommendation. While it does have some great traits worth checking out, the outrageously high price of this product prevents us from being able to recommend it. Especially since many of our rats ate the bedding! Apparently, corn is tasty to rats. Of course, it’s unsafe for rats to eat any bedding, as it could cause impaction.
Though it’s wildly expensive, this bedding does have a few worthy characteristics that we appreciated. The corn cob used for this bedding is heavier than many paper beddings, making it harder to spread and scatter, reducing the overall mess. Moreover, we found this bedding almost completely free of dust, which is pretty impressive.
Corn cob is excellent when it comes to suppressing odors. This bedding does a great job of absorbing and neutralizing rat waste and the associated odors. It’s also easy to sift through this bedding to remove pieces of uneaten food since the chunks of corn cob are so large. Still, the exorbitant pricing prevents this product from climbing our rankings.
6. Carefresh Small Animal Bedding
Carefresh Small Animal Bedding is a popular formula, so we were hoping to see good things when using it. And to be fair, things started off well. It’s a reasonably priced bedding, crafted from biodegradable and compostable comfyfluff. This allows it to be twice as absorbent as beddings made from standard wood shavings. Additionally, the comfyfluff pieces are excellent at odor control, suppressing the odor of ammonia for up to 10 days!
But as you’ll notice, this bedding isn’t ranked very high on our list. Part of that is due to the incredible amount of dust released with this bedding. It’s one of the dustiest we’ve seen, and it took about 10 minutes for the dust cloud to settle after pouring it into our rats’ cage.
Our other complaint is the odor. While this bedding does a great job of covering over ammonia odors, it’s got a pretty unpleasant smell of its own. We’d rather not trade one foul odor for another, so this isn’t a product we’d turn to while other options are available.
7. Living World Pine Shavings Small Animal Bedding
We always love affordably priced products, and the Living World Pine Shavings Small Animal Bedding is definitely an affordable animal bedding. It’s made from 100% natural pine shavings, which is why it’s so affordable. But pine does have some advantages, including that pleasant pine-shavings odor. Thankfully, this bedding is kiln-dried to kill any contaminants that could be potentially harmful to your rats.
Overall, the bedding wasn’t too bad, though it’s more abrasive than other beddings. That’s to be expected with pine shavings, but compared to softer materials like comfyfluff, these pine shavings feel a bit too jagged and definitely not soft. We also found some large chunks of wood in the bedding, which was a major turnoff. Those could hurt your rats, and if not, your rats might end up eating those large chunks! Either is an undesirable outcome, so this bedding earns a rather low rank compared to other options in our eyes.
8. Kaytee Pine Small Animal Bedding
A different formula from the Kaytee bedding that earned the top position on this list, the Kaytee Pine Small Animal Bedding is basic bedding made from pine shavings. On the plus side, it’s dirt-cheap and expands to three times its packaged size, offering decent value for the price. This bedding also contains natural pine oils intended to reduce bacterial growth.
Even though it’s priced affordably, we didn’t really like this bedding. It’s too lightweight and tends to spread around the house. Rats were kicking it all over, and when they burrowed, this bedding went flying. Unfortunately, the texture of this bedding is also suspect, as it’s very abrasive. It’s like little chunks of sandpaper! Except, not every chunk is little. We found quite a few large chunks of wood in this bedding, which was the final straw for us. It’s not the worst bedding for rats, but it’s certainly not one we’d recommend above our top three.
9. Small Pet Select Aspen Bedding
If you keep dozens of rats and need a bedding solution that comes in large volumes, then you might like the Small Pet Select Aspen Bedding, as it comes in sizes up to 113 liters. It’s made from aspen shavings that are kiln-dried for pet safety. These shavings come from logs, rather than fibers, which could be potentially dangerous.
But this bedding has a very strong chemical odor, which we don’t feel comfortable keeping our rats in. These shavings are also thick and chunky, making them less absorbent than other beddings we tested. Plus, those big shavings aren’t great for burrowing in, making this a poor choice for rats. Worst of all, the chunks in this bedding have sharp edges that are just waiting to cause scrapes and abrasions on your rats. We’d steer clear of this bedding since there are so many other options available that are safer for any rodents.
10. Fresh News Paper Small Animal Bedding
This paper bedding from Fresh News is made entirely from recycled paper, so it’s eco-friendly. Furthermore, it’s a 100% non-allergenic formula, making it safe for rats and people alike; even those suffering from severe allergies. Still, we have more complaints about this bedding than praise.
To start, it’s a rather pricey product. This bedding is more expensive than most others we tested, though it’s made from recycled materials! Worse, we found several chunks of plastic throughout the bedding, embedded into the paper pieces.
As if that weren’t enough, we found this bedding to be the dustiest of all that we tried. When you pour it, the dust cloud it creates is larger than the amount of bedding it releases! And since it’s so lightweight, you’ll have pieces scattered everywhere, making a large mess for you to clean. To top it off, this bedding does a terrible job of suppressing ammonia odors, making it an all-around poor choice for rats as far as we can tell.
Buyer’s Guide: Selecting the Best Rat Bedding
At this point, you can run with our recommendations and be certain that the bedding you’ve chosen will be a great choice for your rats. But if you find that you’re still having trouble comparing these different beddings, then this buyer’s guide is for you. In it, we’re going to talk about the most important traits to compare on these beddings, which will help you make a more informed decision about which product is best for you and your pets.
How To Compare Rat Beddings
All of these beddings are meant to fill the same purpose. They’re supposed to provide a safe and comfortable place for your rat to lay and burrow into. Simultaneously, they should keep down odors and soak up waste, making it easy to keep your rats’ cage clean. But how can you tell which beddings are best? We think the best place to start is with the following traits. See how different beddings compare in these specific areas and you’ll know a lot about how each one will perform.
Small animal bedding can be made from a variety of materials, including paper, wood shavings, corn, and more. Each material has its own benefits and drawbacks, including dust levels, price, accessibility, absorbency, and more.
Some of the best performing beddings were able to absorb up to four times their weight in liquid. Others that didn’t perform as well could only absorb twice their weight. You’d do well to find the formula that can absorb as much waste as possible. This will help keep your rats’ enclosure clean and make it easier to spot clean.
Rats might be great pets, but they can get smelly fast without attention. Good bedding will do a lot to subdue the ammonia odors associated with rat waste. Some beddings we tested performed poorly in this area though. For us, odor control is one of the most important aspects of any rat bedding.
It’s unhealthy for your rats to eat their bedding. It could cause impaction. Most beddings won’t even be attractive to your rats, though some, such as corn cob beddings, might entice them to start eating. We’d steer clear of any beddings that your rats seem to show an affinity for chewing!
Though many types of pet bedding claim to be dust-free, we’ve found that this is rarely true. Still, some beddings produce far more dust than others, releasing a large cloud when you pour the bedding into your rat’s cage. Not only does this make a big mess, but it’s terrible for your rat’s lungs as well as your own.
We’re not talking about the weight of the package; rather, the weight of each piece of bedding. Light beddings get thrown around a lot. When your rats burrow, the bedding will be thrown from the cage and spread out across the room, making an unsightly mess for you to clean. Heavier beddings don’t spread as easily, reducing your overall cleanup time.
You might get a great batch of a certain bedding, but is it always that good? Some beddings were very iffy regarding consistency; you might get one great batch, then one that’s awful. We prefer the beddings that are more consistent, so you always know what to expect when you open them.
Volume and Expansion
How much bedding is included in your package? It’s usually measured in liters, and some beddings only come in very small volumes of a few liters, while others come in packages of over 100 liters. Also, consider how much each bedding expands. Some beddings double in size when you open them, others expand to four times their original size! This means getting a lot more use from the same volume of bedding, increasing the value of beddings that expand more.
While you could run out and buy the most expensive bedding for your rats, you probably won’t be getting the best value. It’s often true that you get what you pay for, but there’s also a tipping point on your returns. We think the best value is to be found in beddings that perform well and offer a lot of product for the price, so you can save some money, time, and frustration all at once.
Your rat’s bedding is arguably the most important part of its enclosure. It must remain clean and tidy if you don’t want your rat’s cage to be a nasty mess, stinking up the house and ruining the fun of keeping rats. Luckily, we’ve found some great rat beddings that can help contain the mess and smell. You’ve read about them in our reviews, but we’re going to quickly summarize our favorites once more so they’re fresh in your mind.
Our number one pick is the Kaytee Clean & Cozy Small Animal Bedding. Available in large volumes, this product expands to triple its packed size, offering a great value. Plus, it absorbs up to four times its weight in liquid, providing better absorbency than most competing products.
As one of the best values in rat bedding, the Carefresh Shavings Plus Small Animal Bedding is our pick for best value. This highly absorbent formula is biodegradable, compostable, and prevents odors for up to 5 days. Best of all, it’s priced very affordably for any budget.
Able to control odors for up to 14 days and absorbing up to three times its weight in liquid, Vitakraft Fresh World Bedding is our premium choice.
Featured Image Credit: Martin Javorek, Pixabay