Red & Yellow Cedar Wood Bedding: Highly Toxic and Deadly for Rats
Cedar bedding has long been identified as a deadly bedding source for pet rats. If a breeder or rescue finds out that someone is using cedar, they will quickly run away from them; this includes other breeders and adopters. Once a rat has lived on cedar bedding, it will likely have permanent issues thereafter, even though they might not be serious. One hallmark symptom of cedar sickness is the porphyrin that will be around the eyes and nose. A pink eyed rat will be the most distressed appearing animal, as their porphyrin will appear brighter on their white fur.
How Does Cedar Hurt Rats?
Cedar trees have a particular chemical contained within the sap of the tree that just happens to be poisonous for us. While cedar is a cheap, beautifully smelling wood, it definitely does not make the cut for rat bedding. If the toxins do not kill them, they will wind up with severe respiratory illness and will likely have permanent lung scarring.
My Rat Was On Cedar Bedding and Is Sick, What Do I Do?
If your rat is on this wooden bedding, please stop what you are doing at this VERY second and swap it out for ANYTHING until you can get the proper bedding, like Carefresh or Kaytee paper bedding. Shirts, towels, newspaper, ANYTHING to get them away from that cedar IMMEDIATELY. The longer they are in the bedding, the worse the effects are. Sometimes, it only takes a few days’ for a rat to pass away; these are usually the more sensitive rats
My Rat Seems Allergic to Cedar Bedding and Other Wood Bedding
All in all, I DO NOT condone the use of wood bedding of any kind. Some breeders and keepers will tell you that Aspen Pine wooden bedding is okay (probably because it’s incredibly cheap). I do not feel that it is. ANY wood bedding I’ve used has caused some sneezing, hacking, and wheezing. Even in my massive, well aerated DCN. I tried to use it ONE more time because Carefresh costs a lot in my home (60+/mo) yet it still caused issues. Therefore, I don’t recommend it. It would be okay for a short period of time, but not long term.
Can Antibiotics Help a Rat Who is Sick from Cedar?
Unfortunately, antibiotics will not help a rat who was exposed to the toxins within this wood. However, rats can develop secondary infections due to the compromised immune system. Antibiotics become necessary when the irritation gives way to infection. Cedar poisoning coupled with bacterial infections could spell almost certain death.
Can I Use Bedding Similar to Cedar for My Rat?
You can use some wood beddings for rats without it killing them, such as Aspen. NOT on my recommendation though. As previously stated, I do not support the use of any wood beddings with pet rats. Dust and oils can become an issue with their sensitive lungs and noses. If you choose to use wood, don’t be surprised if you begin to see a lot of porphyrin production, sneezing, and wheezing. These are all symptoms of an irritated nose, throat, or lungs. Instead, the best beddings for pet rats are the ones that are made of paper products and natural hay products; such as Carefresh or rabbit food pellets.
Did Cedar Wood Kill My Rat?
If you housed your rat on cedar and it passed away, it is very possible that the poisonous oils within the wood killed the rat. If the rat was otherwise healthy and young, and it began showing symptoms of respiratory distress, it is likely that the cedar caused the rat’s demise. This has happened to many people, and it’s usually due to misinformation given by poorly trained staff in pet stores. There are many first time rat owners who lost their rats this way.
Researching a future pet is always the best thing to do before purchasing; but it doesn’t always happen to be planned. Accidents happen; my job is to educate the new owners, NOT chastise them. I want to help you guys and allow you to feel comfortable coming to me with questions. Many breeders/hobbyists/rescues are guilty of treating new owners like little incompetent children. We do NOT work that way here. It might be a bit off topic, but I felt the need to express how much I cannot stand people who reprimand rather than EDUCATE and SYMPATHIZE.