Do Pet Rats Smell?

I love rats! They are some of the friendliest small critters you could have as pets. They are so sweet and full of empathy. Non-domesticated rats tend to have odors, though. You’re looking to see if pet rats smell as bad as those non-domesticated rats, let’s find out.

Pet rats do not smell. Rats, like other animals such as cats, groom themselves to stay clean. When it comes to odor, they are no smellier than any other domesticated rodent. If a rat starts to smell, there are usually other factors involved.

As rat owners, we want to keep our rats in tip-top shape. If a rat starts to smell bad, since we know that they are not naturally smelly, we should act immediately to find out what the problem is. If you are unsure why your rat is omitting a foul odor, keep reading to find out.

What Causes Rats to Smell?

The most known cause of non-domesticated and domesticated rat odor is an unclean habitat. Rats tend to use urine to mark their territory and, as that urine sits, it starts to smell like ammonia. Rats smell like ammonia when they sit in their habitats without having their habitat cleaned.

After urination, it can take up to 24-hours for our rat’s habitats to start smelling like ammonia. We need to be sure to continuously clean and take care of our rat’s habitats just like we take care of the rats themselves. An unkempt habitat could lead to sickness and possibly even death.

Do Male Rats Smell Worse Than Female Rats?

Male rats do smell worse than female rats. Male rats are territorial and will urinate on their surroundings to mark their territory.  Female rats are not as territorial and mark less frequently. The more a rat urinates, the more potent the smell of ammonia becomes.

If a female rat is taken care of properly it should omit no foul odor at all. Male rats will always have some sort of smell but making sure that their surroundings are clean reduces the potency of the smell. 

Do Wild Rats Smell Worse Than Tame Rats?

Wild rats do smell worse than pet rats. The main reason is that they do not clean their habitats. As rats sit in their habitats, they start to smell like their habitats. This is why, if you’ve ever had a rat infestation, your house will start to smell like ammonia.

This shows us how important it is to take care of our rat’s homes. A rat should not sit in its own urine for any more than 24- hours. Habitats need to be constantly cleaned in order to keep rat odor at bay. Keeping the potent smell of ammonia out of our rat cages also helps to keep our rats healthy. 

How Do You Keep Pet Rats From Smelling?

Pet rat odor can be eliminated by keeping their habitats clean. It also helps to consider training them to pee and mark in the litter area of their homes so that the habitat is easier to clean. Ventilation plays another role in how bad your rat’s habitat will smell. 

Cleaning the Habitat

There are a lot of ways to clean your rat’s habitat. I believe it is best when starting to remove everything out of the cage and make sure that when your rat goes back in, everything is dry so that the rat does not get sick. There are a lot of good cleaning supplies on Amazon for cleaning your rat’s cage. Here is an inexpensive cleaning kit that I’ve put together that should help you keep your rat’s habitat nice and clean. 

These products can all be found on Amazon and should definitely help you safely clean your rat’s habitat. 

Training Your Rat

I have found that rats are pretty easy to litter train. Teaching them to urinate in their litter helps make habitat cleaning easier. You can also give them something, like a rock, to mark. This is especially helpful when you have a male rat that marks its territory often. This way, cleaning off the marking rock will significantly reduce the smell. 


It is important that you are able to air out your rat’s habitat. When smells sit in a spot without some ventilation, they fester and grow more powerful. Having the ability to air out your rat’s habitat will certainly help the stench become less potent.

Everyday Habits to Form

It helps to change your pet’s bedding every day. Here are some good products that can be found on Amazon and will help reduce odor keeping your rat’s bedding fresh. 

Other good habits that should be performed every day include; checking for and removing droppings as well as uneaten food. Rat droppings, although less potent than their pee, can cause your rat to get sick. Remember to never use a vacuum when cleaning up rat droppings. Rat’s can transmit diseases through their waste and that can be just as deadly to you as it is to your little friend. Uneaten food can also cause the habitat to smell bad, as it tends to rot the longer it sits. 


Pet rats, male or female, should never have a bad smell. Having a clean habitat for rats is the best way to reduce rat odor and prevent rats from getting sick. If your rat is not smelling like ammonia and has a sickly smell to it, be sure to call a vet and get your little buddy checked out.

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