What Is The Least Stinky Pet Rodent?

When finding a small furry friend for your home, you will most likely find yourself wondering which rodent is the least stinky. These small mammals make a great addition to the pet family, but they can be smelly like any other animal.

The least stinky of all the rodents are gerbils. These small creatures hail from arid regions across Asia, India, and Africa. Due to the dry climate, gerbils urinate less, have drier feces, and usually less stinky fur. 

Adding any pet to your home can be a big undertaking. Always make sure you and your family are aware of what kind of care your rodent will need. The best way to make sure your new rodent is stink-free is to keep up with regular cage cleanings. 

Are There Rodents That Don’t Smell?

With all the different types of pet rodents you can own, you may be wondering if any of them don’t stink. While some species tend to produce less odor, no animal is going to smell like roses 24/7. Setting realistic expectations for care is going to be the strategy if the smell is worrying you.

That being said, you can also be a bit more strategic with how you choose your new pet. Consider trying to find an animal that hails from a drier climate. This will usually mean they produce less waste and therefore stink less. 

Gerbil looking curious
Gerbils take the top spot for cleanliness

When it comes to keeping rodents, how much they use the bathroom is a critical factor in odor control.  

Here is a list of several pet rodent species, so you have an idea of how smelly they tend to be:

  • Gerbil – This tiny fellow takes the top spot for cleanliness. Gerbils are going to be the easiest to take care of when it comes to cleaning. They clean themselves regularly and have less odor-causing oils in their fur.
  • Chinchilla – These “ground squirrels” hail from the high altitudes of the Andes. This climate is arid and cold, so chinchillas have a dense fur coat that keeps them warm and keeps out dirt and grime. Chinchillas also groom themselves regularly like gerbils.
  • Rats – While we might associate these intelligent rodents with street dwelling vermin, their domesticated brethren, the fancy rat, are relatively easy to take care of and clean. They may not have the same odor-free existence as the gerbils or chinchillas, but if their cage is cleaned regularly, you shouldn’t have too many issues. Rats produce smellier pee and feces, and keeping multiple rats in a cage can get messy.
  • Guinea Pig – Also hailing from the Andes, these guys are similar to gerbils and chinchillas in their grooming habits. They also tend to use the same spot in their cage for the bathroom, making for easier cleanup. Guinea pigs tend to poop more often than other rodents, but they don’t produce smelly feces with their hay-based diet. 

For most of these pets, the smell factor will come from the ammonia present in their urine. Combine that with all the stinky bacteria in their feces, and their cage can get smelly with just a day or two without cleaning. While some pets tend to groom themselves more, this is no substitution for proper care.

What Are Some Ways You Can Combat Odor?

Any rodent that is kept in a cage can make it smell if left uncleaned. While a lot of these animals are intelligent, don’t expect them to clean up after themselves. The trick to keeping a rodent’s cage clean is making sure you are keeping up with replacing the bedding. 

Hamster in cage

As a general rule of thumb, you should try and replace the bedding in your rodent’s cage at least once a day. Even the best bedding needs to be replaced frequently. Not only are you making sure the cage will produce less odor, but it will also mean your animals aren’t wallowing around in their filth all day. 

Some rodents can be trained to use a specific region of their cage for the bathroom, similar to a cat being litter trained. Gerbils can learn to do this, and so can rats. Usually, you need to find something like a ceramic tray to be distinguished from the surrounding bedding.

This will not replace the need to change the bedding, though, but it might make it, so you don’t have to do it every day. 

Finding a quality bedding can also make a difference in odor. Here are some of the best types of bedding:

  • Paper-pellet Bedding – This type of bedding is cheap and absorbent. One downside is that it tends to get mushy when used, so it needs to be replaced when soiled.
  • Shredded Cardboard –  Much like paper-pellet, shredded cardboard is nice and absorbent. It is also non-toxic.
  • Cloth Bedding – This can be a great option if you are dealing with any allergies. It does need to be cleaned daily. 

Do not use:

  • Cat litter – While this may seem like a good idea, you rodent may eat some of the litter, and it could cause some serious damage. The dust that is produced can also cause some distress to their tiny respiratory systems. 
  • Cedar or Pine – These types of bedding smell good, but they can emit toxic chemicals and fumes that will poison your furry friend.

Choosing a proper bedding material will make sure you are creating a safe environment for your furry friend and battling odor. 

You also need to make sure the cage is an adequate size for your pet. Having to cramped living space will make for a stinky cage, especially with multiple animals in one area. 

What is the Best Way to Clean a Rodent’s Cage?

Calendar and clock

With any animal, you need to make sure you are taking care of them regularly. For rodents, this means creating a daily, weekly, and monthly cleaning schedule.

Here is an example of what you might be doing:

  • Daily – You should be spot-checking for poop every day. While we have the convenience of the bathroom, your pet depends on you to make sure their waste is taken care of. You should also do a quick wipe don’t of all the cage surfaces with some pet-friendly cleaner. Now is also an excellent time to replace water and food. 
  • Weekly – You should replace the bedding once, if not twice a week. This depends on what type and how many rodents you are keeping but is generally good practice. Even if you have super absorbent bedding, you can still see and smell a build-up of ammonia, which can be quite smelly and dangerous for your pets. Everything they eat out of or drink from needs to get a good cleaning as well. 
  • Monthly – This is the time to do the deep clean kind of tasks. That means taking everything out of the cage and using a non-toxic cleaner to take care of the cage, toys, and feeding equipment. Replace any bedding and litter as well.

While these tasks may seem like a lot, if you intend to keep rodents, you should be keeping up with every one of them. Rodents make great pets because they are a great way to teach responsibility without the risk of having a bigger animal in the house. If you are having trouble cleaning, try and share the workload with other members of your family.

If you are planning on keeping a rodent, the smell is always going to be a factor. Gerbils and chinchillas make for the least stinky rodents. These are pets that come from drier climates that naturally produce less smell; all of them will need proper care to keep fresh.

This means keeping up with a regular cleaning schedule and choosing the right bedding for the cage. With just a little attention every day, you and your rodents will be happy and odor-free.

Lee Cameron

When I was younger, I had guinea pigs and hamsters as pets. There was limited information back then as to how to take care of rodents, and indeed information on the various types of rodents that could be kept as pets. In this website, I hope to make it an easy, one-stop information portal on raising rodents!

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