Not all rodent litter is good rodent litter.
There are many types of bedding and litter on the market for rats and mice 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 small pets 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 small animal owners innocently buy it because they get a lot for a little money and it smells good. But please, do not let this persuade you into buying it. It could mean your pet’s life.
Another type of litter to avoid using is clumping cat litter. While it may control odor and moisture very well, this type of litter clumps when wet and thus gets ingested by rats, mice, gerbils, hamsters, guinea pigs or any other small animal that grooms a lot. The clumping litter sticks to the feet and fur of the animals and is inadvertently eaten during the grooming process.
Beddings and litters that are highly recommended are easy to find and fairly cheap. Gentle Touch Aspen Pellets, CareFresh, Yesterday’s News, Cell-Sorb Plus, Aspen shavings, and Biocatolet are recommended due to being recycled paper based litters or, in the case of aspen, wood litters that don’t contain dangerous phenols for your pets. There are other brands out there that are fine to use, just be sure to do your research and make sure they do not contain any harmful phenols or chemicals and that they are not too dusty, as dust will irritate the respiratory systems of small pets.
Another alternative is to use cloth bedding that is washable. Jay-cloth is popular for a cloth bedding. There are no threads to catch on small toes, they can be washed and re-used, and are relatively cheap. Fleece or fabric remnants from the toss bin in your local fabric store are also good alternatives if you don’t mind doing weekly pet laundry.
Old t-shirts, sweatshirts, shorts, etc can also be used as blankets or turned into makeshift hammocks. Just be sure they have no loosely-woven threads that may get wrapped around toes or other appendages.