It is important to ensure our rats have everything they need to thrive and stay happy. We check things off on our checklist (either mental or physical) as we go: substrate, toys, litter… pee rock? What is a pee rock? Do rats need one?
In this article, we’ll take a look at exactly what rat pee rocks are, how rats use them, how to find them, and how they can benefit your mischief.
What is a Rat Pee Rock?
Pee rocks are smooth stones placed strategically around your rats’ cage, which encourage them to pee. Rat pee rocks can be small or medium-sized and are a very attractive place for rats to pee, probably because of how a rat would scent mark their environment in the wild.
Rat pee rocks aren’t a specific type of rock or stone; any clean, flat, and smooth stone you place in your rats’ cage that they can comfortably climb on and drag themselves over can act as a pee rock.
Some owners look for the perfect pee rock at beaches, while others prefer to find them in garden supply or pet stores. As long as the pee rock is small enough for your rats to use but large enough to climb on (it should be around 1/3rd of the size of your rats), is cleaned properly, and is smooth, it should be the perfect additional enrichment for your mischief.
Do Rats Need Pee Rocks?
Rats, by nature, pee all the time. They have their litter trays that they prefer to toilet in or their favorite areas in the cage in which to toilet. In addition, rats spread their pee around their home by dribbling it as they walk, which spreads their scent and helps them feel comfortable and relaxed in their environment.
A pee rock can give your rats dedicated places to pee, meaning less is spread around their cage (so less cleanup for you!) and can offer interesting “meeting places” for social interaction.
Where Can I Get a Rat Pee Rock?
Rat pee rocks can be found or bought. As long as the rock is smooth (jagged edges can be a hazard) and is correctly cleaned before placement in the cage, it can be a good pee rock.
Stones and rocks can be found on beaches where the stone is worn smooth by the sea or in aquatic shops where they’re used in aquariums. Even garden supply stores can have rocks perfect for your rat to pee on, but in any case, they must all be cleaned thoroughly before placing them into the cage. Scrubbing the rock with soap and water can remove any harmful bacteria or other pathogens.
Some owners choose one larger pee rock (or a couple) to use in their rats’ litter tray and around their cage, while others use smaller rocks and add a few more. The smaller rocks can be useful if you have a larger mischief (more to go around!) and can encourage rats to empty their bladders fully.
What Will a Pee Rock Do for My Rats?
Rats can appreciate pee rocks for a few reasons. Firstly, any new item introduced into a rat’s home will be an instant source of interest. Enrichment for rats comes in many forms, and a rat pee rock is something new they can investigate with their noses, tongues, and feet. Secondly, once the pee rock is established within the mischief, it can actually help your rats litter train.
Rats are clean and tidy animals; most rats will quickly learn to use their litter tray for pee and poop (but mostly poop). However, because rats will drag urine across surfaces to mark their territory, a pee rock will encourage this territorial marking and help them concentrate their urine in the litter box.
Do Pee Rocks Help With Litter Training?
Rat pee rocks can help your rats to litter train, but usually only concerning pee. Rats will more than likely learn to poop in their litter tray on their own, as they’d find a preferred place to poop in the wild and use it specifically as a toilet. But pee can be more tricky as they dribble it to territorially mark, as mentioned above.
Some rats will take to peeing mostly in their litter tray once they get into the habit of pooping in it, but a pee rock can make the litter tray more “attractive” to them. Because territorial marking is an innate behavior for rats, a pee rock can help them express this in an appropriate place that makes cleanup easier for you!
Pee rocks have to be big enough for your rats to rub themselves on because they actually stimulate the bladder, prompting urination!
How Can I Help My Rats Use Their Litter Box and Pee Rock?
Most rats will learn to use their pee rock and litter tray spontaneously. They’re very intelligent animals that don’t like to live in dirty environments, so a litter tray offers them the perfect place to poop. However, some rats can be more stubborn or need more encouragement!
The first step to litter training is to watch your mischief and see where they decide to toilet. Most will pick a spot and confine (nearly all) of their pee and poops there, so aim to place their litter tray here.
Next, collect some dirty substrate and poops from around the cage and put them into the tray with clean litter. This step can take a while if your mischief is particularly busy doing other fun things that don’t involve litter training, but persevere!
Little by little, you’ll see your rats use the tray more and other areas in the cage less often. Eventually, they’ll keep the vast majority of their poops to their litter tray, but keeping pee confined can be more difficult. This is where the pee rock comes in!
By placing the pee rock into their litter tray, you’re encouraging your rats to pee inside of it as opposed to marking all around their cage (while offering them enrichment). They’ll still mark around the cage (this is natural), but as each rat will aim to be the last to pee on the rock, it can drastically lower the amount spread around the cage. They’ll likely start using it straight away!
A pee rock can be any flat, smooth stone that’s small enough to fit in your rats’ litter tray. As long as it’s correctly cleaned, any stone found on the beach or bought in a store can be perfect for a pee rock.
Rats will usually investigate and use the pee rocks right away but combining the use of a pee rock with litter training can help them litter train faster.