"Rodent" odor question

Discussion in 'Cat and Pet Forum' started by *blackrose, Jan 29, 2011.

  1. *blackrose

    *blackrose "I'm kupo for kupo nuts!"

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    I am having a bit of a problem with my Short Tailed Opossum, Reggie. His feces absolutely REEK (I should have expected this due to his diet, but for some reason it didn't even occur to me) and I am having a very hard time keeping the area around his cage from not smelling to high heaven. This wouldn't be a problem, but his cage is in my sister and I's bedroom and it just is NOT working. At all. He is 10x more stinky than my ferrets (+ six dirty litter boxes) could ever hope to be.

    It is getting to the point where I need to figure out how to eliminate the smell, or he is going to have to be rehomed. :(

    I think a large portion of the problem is that the only place he defecates in his cage is where his wheel is at...and since his wheel is mesh, when he poops and pees on it, it stays on the wheel and gets mushed around before it falls off. Then when he runs on it, the smell of the feces and urine (both on and under the wheel) gets fanned throughout the entire room.

    I can completely clean his cage and scrub the wheel and it smells okay, but all it takes is for him to crap once (always on his wheel) and the entire room reeks again.

    Do you think changing the type of wheel he is using (so the feces and urine either just slides right off or falls through wire baring) help with the odor? Is there anything else I can try?

    He honestly doesn't smell *that* bad. Probably Sugar Glider stinky (similar diet), or male mouse stinky. But that combined with the ferrets and the fact that my room is shut up 24/7 to keep the ferrets in and the cat out...it just is not working. I would feel really horrible if I rehomed him just because he "stinks" (especially since other than that he is absolutely perfect), but I don't know what else to do.
     
  2. ~Dixie's_Mom~

    ~Dixie's_Mom~ ♥Chloe & Violet♥

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    I feel your pain! I had sugar gliders, and they smelled HORRIBLE. We ended up rehoming them, and while it wasn't the ONLY reason, it was definitely part of the reason. I still feel really bad about that, but it wasn't my choice, it was my dad's. But I do know how you feel. I hope you don't have to rehome him!

    The only advice I have is maybe clean his wheel every day? Or maybe try your idea of getting a new wheel, it's a cheap solution if it actually works. Good luck!
     
  3. MicksMom

    MicksMom Active Member

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    Can you move his wheel to another area of his cage? I'm thinking he might pee & poo where the wheel is now. Don't forget to clean the wheel real good before moving it, tho. ;)
     
  4. -bogart-

    -bogart- Member of WHODAT Nation.

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    get rid of the wheel maybe?
     
  5. Brattina88

    Brattina88 Active Member

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    I don't know that much about them, or their diet, but I had rats... If it were me, I'd take out the wheel all together :eek:
    Is that possible? I can totally see where it would be fanning the smell :( bleh. How big is the cage? Would it help if you got a bigger one?

    What kind of bedding are you using? What are you cleaning with (chemical wise)?
     
  6. *blackrose

    *blackrose "I'm kupo for kupo nuts!"

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    Even when I do clean his wheel, as soon as he poops it is like I never cleaned it in the first place. :/

    I'll try moving it again, but I'm pretty sure he poops on the wheel. I've rearranged his cage before and he always would go to the bathroom wherever his wheel was. He will literally run down from the top of the cage, jump onto his wheel, and poo. STOs tend to pick a "corner" and apparently his corner is his wheel. lol

    He ADORES his wheel, and I would feel really bad if I took it out. He runs in it literally all night long. It would be sort of like taking a wheel away from a hamster. lol I'm sure he could exist without it, but I'd much rather him keep it because it keeps him entertained. He could probably go without it if he were in a GINORMOUS cage (like, 55gal+) with lots of climby/hidey/interactive toys, but I don't have the room for something that big.

    He's in a 20 gallon tank with a tank topper on it. I really don't think it would help if I got a bigger cage - the one he is in is already considered on the "large" size for STOs - he just didn't have room for all of his stuff in just the 20 gallon. LOL I thought about tanking the 29 gallon tank from my brother that he has his crested gecko in and setting that up as Reggies cage to see if that would help contain the odor, but 1.) I don't have room for the 29 gallon tank and 2.) I don't even know if I could find a screen top for it.
    The wheel (and his bathroom corner) is in the right corner of the 20 gallon tank - he keeps everything else perfectly clean.

    I was using Carefresh for awhile (white ultra), then I switched to the Carefresh shavings. I picked up a bag of aspen just the other day, because I was low on money and I needed more bedding.

    Cleaning, I just suds it up and wipe it down. I do have Nature's Miracle.
     
  7. SailenAero

    SailenAero Hits the Mark

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  8. Brattina88

    Brattina88 Active Member

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    I never cared for Carefresh... but I don't know that much about Short Tailed Opossums so I don't really have any suggestions, I'm sorry. :(

    But, I did find with the rats (but I still use it for the ferrets, too) that cleaning with vinegar made a big difference. It cleans really good, it doesn't leave a residue, and its like a natural odor neutralizer. At first I thought gross I didn't want the house to smell like vinegar, but it really doesn't ;)

    This link has a whole bunch of tips, I reference it all the time... I haven't tried them all, of course, but I've tried several things from here and they've all worked so far :) Plus, I'm a big cheapo and vinegar is a lot cheaper (especially in bulk) compared to a lot of those expensive animal cleaners. I don't know if it'll work for you/your case, but I hope you are able to try it and I hope it works for you as well as it did for me :) Mainly I use a half-and-half solution of water and white distilled vinegar, I mix it fresh before I wipe down cages (or whatever I'm cleaning)

    Vinegar Tips - Cleaning with Vinegar
    I have read somewhere that someone used to leave a bowl or plate on top of the cage to neutralize orders, but I can't remember where I read that, and I've never tried it :p But I thought I'd mention it just in case.
     
  9. Grab

    Grab Active Member

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    I've never had a STO, but if they're like other rodents, even a tank with a topper on it is probably amplifying the smell. Tanks just usually aren't ventilated enough. I have used a large tank for a tiny robo hamster, but we cleaned it ridiculously often so it didn't smell 'hamstery'. I'd look into a large wire cage (you can find Critter Nations on Craigslist many times). I'd probably ditch the wheel too...a temporarily pouty opossum is probably better than rehoming.
     
  10. Romy

    Romy Taxiderpy

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    He might be pooping on it because the exercise is what gets his bowels moving.

    Have you seen this kind of wheel before? It would be a lot easier to keep clean than what you've got now, safer, and they're really quiet too.

    Home page

    They're a bit pricey, but will last longer than he will :eek:. And if it's come down to rehoming him over the smell, this might really help. Not sure how large he is, but the smaller size wheel might be plenty large enough for him.

    And this is going to sound weird, but adding a teeny tiny bit of food grade diatomaceous earth to his diet may make a big difference in smell too. We give it to our dogs as a mineral supplement and to keep their digestive tracks balanced, and their poo is waaaay less stinky than before. The particles work similarly to charcoal, trapping toxins in the digestive tract.

    ETA: agree with Grab about the ventilation! Enclosed cages trap humidity too, and that fosters stinky bacterial growth.
     
  11. ~Dixie's_Mom~

    ~Dixie's_Mom~ ♥Chloe & Violet♥

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    I know when I'd take the wheel out of my hamsters cage they would become REALLY inactive, and almost depressed.

    I took the wheel out of Bailey's cage for like three months one time (I know, I still feel horrible about it) because it was an AWFUL wheel and make HORRIBLE sounds when she'd run on it, and I needed to get a new one, so I took it out. She practically "hibernated" for the whole three months....it was so sad. She had nothing to do, so she just slept all the time. When I got a new wheel, she was like a new hamster.

    Maybe if you get rid of the wheel you could put some other awesome toys and things to keep him entertained, so he won't be as upset about losing his wheel. If he has another way to keep himself busy, and just has something to DO, it'll help a lot.
     
  12. *blackrose

    *blackrose "I'm kupo for kupo nuts!"

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    I'm worried about just taking the wheel out. When I first got him he didn't have a wheel, and he came SO much out of his shell when I finally put a wheel in for him and really perked up his activity level. Unless I could give him a cage twice the size he has and just fill it with logs and things to climb, I'm not sure I'm comfortable taking the wheel out. I'm sure he could exist without it...but I don't think it would be a very happy existence.
    This is from the best STO care site on the web:
    Ooooh, vinegar. I had forgotten about that. I'm going to fill up a spray bottle of vinegar water to keep on hand now (not only to clean his cage, but for the ferrets as well).

    Wouldn't a pure wire cage just make it worse, since the smell won't be contained? That is my thought process, anyways. It isn't that his cage is dirty (although it does stink when I need to clean it), it is the fact that he poops on his wheel and then fans the smell of crap everywhere.

    I'm sure that is part of it, but STOs are naturally inclined to pick a corner to use as their bathroom - they keep the rest of the cage perfectly clean. His corner just so happens to be his wheel. I've seen him just sitting on it, not running, and defecate. Then, of course, he has to look at the surprise he just made and start running, flinging poop everywhere. *shakes head*

    He's about the size of a syrian hamster, so he's not huge. The saucer wheels are cool - would he adapt to one, do you think, or would he not know what to do with it?
     
  13. Romy

    Romy Taxiderpy

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    I've only ever seen people use them on chinchillas, but they were designed by a chinchilla breeder and haven't been widely marketed. I had one years ago for our chins and it took them a couple of weeks to figure it out, but after that they used it more than the old one. I think they liked it better because they could stretch out and run more naturally.

    If he's that tiny there is a plastic version on the market that retails for $12-15. A lot of chinchillas don't like them because they aren't made to attach to the side of the cage and with just the plastic base are too unstable, but chins weigh 1-2 lbs. He might really like the plastic one. He might also figure it out faster if you spin it for him and put him on it? It might be worth a shot. Especially if he can use the cheaper version.

    Amazon.com: Flying Saucer Small Animal Toy, Large Purple: Kitchen & Dining
    A couple reviewers on Amazon said their rats and hamsters loved it, and the size was really good for them.
     
  14. Xandra

    Xandra Active Member

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    Take the wheel out for a week and see if that helps with the smell. If the lack of the wheel makes it less smelly then you've identified the problem and can work from there.

    For bedding you could try wood stove pellets, they're good for odor control. (eta I should add that I only used them for rabbits, where the main smell source is pee)

    Try the additive SailenAero suggested. Just start trying stuff out, and you will probably find something that works.
     
  15. *blackrose

    *blackrose "I'm kupo for kupo nuts!"

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    Just thought I'd update.

    It definitely is the wheel that is causing the problem. I rearranged his cage so the wheel was angled on the left side instead of in the directly in line with the top corner of the right side. This stopped my sister's side of the room from stinking...but it made the entire front half of our room REEK.

    I tried moving the wheel a different direction (still on the left side) and it made my entire half of the room reek. So the wheel is now back in the upper right hand corner, as that seems to keep the smell at the most minimum (probably a 6'x4' area on my sisters side that you can't walk through without dying, but it is just part of her side and she doesn't spend any time there anyway so it is tolorable).

    His bedding itself doesn't really stink (I cleaned out the cage last night and I could stick my face in the bucket I was scooping the soiled bedding in to and take a whiff and it didn't smell any worse than dirty dwarf hamster bedding would smell), it is just that darn wheel! I'm assuming it is because he poops on it and since the poop is fresh, when he runs he smooshes it and makes a lovely poop mash smell that is then fanned throughout the room instead of the poop just falling onto the shavings where the odor is absorbed and the poop dries undisturbed.

    I was going to try the flying saucer wheel, but now that I look at the size of it I don't think it will work. The Large won't fit in the cage without scraping the sides (12" diameter, and the cage is 12" deep), and the medium is only 6.5" - he's on an eight inch wheel now, and I'm not sure if a 6" wheel will be big enough for him.

    I'm going to pick up some Bi-Odor when I go into petsmart tomorrow to see if that helps...I used it for my ferrets when I first got them as kits and I didn't really notice any difference, but its worth a shot.

    Also, after experimenting with the wheel placement, it seems like the smell wafts a certain direction depending on where the wheel is. Right now with the wheel in the back right corner, the smell hangs around in the immediate space directly behind the wheel. If this is the cage (ignore the ___ lines):
    -------
    l____ x l
    l _____ l
    -------
    The wheel is where the x is, and right above the x (where "the smell" is at...oh, how ironic) is the area that reeks. Everywhere else is fine if I keep the cage clean, but that one area always stinks. If I move the cage up against the wall so "the smell" space becomes a wall, do you think that would help stop the smell from emanating everywhere, or would it just cause the smell to go in a different direction? I could probably put his cage over behind my desk, but if I had to sit at my computer and smell that odor I'd die. lol

    And since you all get to hear about how stinky he is, here is a picture of the cute little snot to make up for it:
    [​IMG]
     
  16. Brattina88

    Brattina88 Active Member

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    He's so cute! Is he soft? He looks soft... Are they social? Can you tell me about them? I've never seen one in real life! :) His pic has me interested!
     
  17. *blackrose

    *blackrose "I'm kupo for kupo nuts!"

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    He is soft. Not Chinchilla soft, but sort of like fluffy hamster soft.

    They aren't social with one another (like syrian hamsters, they will fight to the death if caged together - even breeding them is tricky), but with patience and consistent handling they can be social towards humans. I purchased him from a breeder that handled the litters and it shows with him. They tend to poop as soon as you get them out of the cage and I don't enjoy being crapped on (LOL) so I don't really handle him very much, but he takes food from my hands and lets me pet him perfectly fine. When I rearrange his cage he likes to follow my hands around and stick his nose into whatever it is I'm doing. If he gets scared he opens up his mouth in a yawn and shows all of his teeth (which is why people think Virginia opossums are so mean, but they are really just scared when they do that...) and if you press the issue he will bite, but you just have to be smart enough to not stick your hand by him when he's yawning at you. ;) Even if he starts to yawn, all I have to do is stop moving and give him a second to adjust and then he's fine and comes out to see what is going on.

    Here is a great website that has just about everything you need to know about them: Know Your STO

    If you have any more questions I'd be happy to answer.

    One thing I do want to point out is that a lot of people quote a 10 gallon tank as a minimum cage size. I have Reggie in a 20 gallon tank with a tank topper, and I can't even begin to imagine keeping him in a 10 gallon tank. o_O I did when he was a baby as he was tiny and could squeeze through 1/2" bar spacing, but I quickly upgraded him to a 20 gallon and he is so much happier now with the tank topper added on as well (he can no longer squeeze through 1/2" bar spacing). So a 20 gallon would be *the* smallest enclosure I would recommended, with bigger being better.
     

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