There are many types of bedding and litter on the market and many of them are very good. But first a warning about the bad stuff. Pine shavings and cedar shavings are a big NO NO! The oils contained in these types of wood are toxic to rats and may cause them to have respiratory infections and difficult breathing.
Sadly many pet shops recommend the use of these two products and many first time rat owners, unknowingly, buy it because you get a lot for little money and it smells good. But please do not let this persuade you into buying it. It could mean your rats life.
Beddings and litters that are highly recommended are easy to find and fairly cheap. Gentle Touch aspen pellets (pictured at the right), CareFresh, Yesterday’s News, Cell-Sorb Plus, Aspen shavings, Biocatolet and many others. Just be sure there is no pine or cedar and not too much dust to irritate the lungs.
Another alternative is to use cloth bedding that is washable. Jay cloth is popular for a cloth bedding. There are no threads to catch rattie toes, they can be washed and re-used and are relatively cheap.
Old t-shirts, sweatshirts, shorts, etc can also be used as blankets, just be sure they have no threads that may get wrapped around toes or other appendages.
An abscess is a swollen area on the surface of the skin that feels squishy and has a scab on top. Often a hard knot can be felt in the middle of the abscess. They are usually caused by a scratch or wound the rat receives and bacteria gets into the wound causing it to become infected. A visible wound will not always be apparent before the abscess occurs. It is not uncommon for an abscess to appear overnight and enlarge very quickly.
In order for the abscess to heal it must be opened and drained of infection. If you have not had experience with abscesses it is recommended that the rat be taken to a vet to have it cleaned and drained. Once the vet does the initial draining you can continue the process on your own as needed. Many abscess require this treatment several times before it will completely heal. To drain the abscess you will need to scrape off the scab. Applying a warm compress to the abscess before doing this will soften the scab and be less painful for your rat. Once the scab is removed gently squeeze out any pus that is within the wound. The pus is usually thick and ranges from a white color to a nasty green shade and will have a very foul odor. Once the abscess is drained it should be flushed thoroughly. Antibiotic ointment such as neosporin may be applied to aid in the healing process.
Your vet will most likely prescribe a mild antibiotic to aid in the healing of the abscess. Once all infection is removed the wound will heal up and your rat will be healthy and happy again.