This article is from the WSSF 2007 AFRMA Rat & Mouse Tales news-magazine.
By Karen Robbins
I’m always on the lookout to try new bedding products, so when I came across PAPERCHIP® pelleted beddings and was told they are better at absorbing ammonia than Cage Tech, I thought I would give it a try. Up until now, I had not found anything better at absorbing moisture and odor than the Gentle Touch™/Aspen Supreme™ Pellets. All other paper bedding products I had tried either had an ingredient to absorb ammonia that stunk so bad I couldn’t stand it or they just plain didn’t work, leaving the critter room smelling of ammonia in just a couple days.
PAPERCHIP® pelleted texture.
The PAPERCHIP® products are made by Shepherd Specialty Papers in Tennessee www.ssponline.com/paperchip.htm. These are the same folks that make the Shepherd Shack® that my mice like so well. These are pellets made from recycled newspaper and are the result of years of extensive lab testing and is an environmentally responsible product. They come in two different textures—soft or pelleted, and each is available in 35-pound bags. The soft texture is supposed to be crumbled pellets but I found these are just pellets of a more uniform size in length than the long irregular- length pelleted version. When I opened the bag, the only smell I noticed was when I put my head in the bag, and then it was just a slight newspaper smell. So far, so good. Now to try it in the rat cages and see how long it lasts.
I tried the pelleted version out with the rats. I currently use a layer of the aspen pellets in the corners of the cages, then a thick layer of aspen shavings on top. I found the PAPERCHIP® newspaper pellets don’t break down to a powder like the aspen pellets. This was nice as it didn’t get as dusty in the room during this time. During the course of several weeks trial, I found the cages lasted as long or longer on the newspaper pellets versus the aspen pellets. When the cages needed cleaning, they smelled like a combination of dirty cage, newspaper, and rat poop, with some ammonia smell when you broke up the pee corner.
I then tried the pellets with Sani-Chips® instead of the aspen shavings and found this to be a better combination. The small chips mixed with the pellets better, where with the flakes, when the rats shoved all their bedding around, they sometimes left nothing but flakes in the corners of the cages which don’t absorb moisture very well on their own. If you can’t get Sani-Chips®, the Aspen Chips by NEPCO (Northeastern Products Corp.) is basically the same thing (a heat-treated aspen chip). The NEPCO (www.labbedding.com) Aspen Chips come in a little bit bigger bag than the Sani-Chips® so lasts a little longer.
This is something I would recommend to others to use with their rats as an alternative to Gentle Touch™/Aspen Supreme™ pellets.
PAPERCHIP® soft texture recycled newspaper pellets.
Since these pellets don’t break down to a powder the instant they get wet, I thought I would try out the soft-texture pellets in Molly’s (my cat) litter box. These recycled newspaper pellets really work well in the litter box. Since they don’t break down to a powder like the Aspen Supreme™ pellets that I currently use, it is easier to scoop out the litter pan, and I don’t have to scrape the bottom to get out the wet parts. There is also less tracking of dust outside the box. I will continue using this in the litter box and give it a paw up in recommendation!
After several weeks of testing out in the rats’ cages, I started trying it out with the mice. Even though I found it worked well with the rats, it did not work with the mice. The cages would only be a little bit dirty (mainly just the pee corners) and the cage would stink of ammonia. With the Aspen Supreme™ pellets, the cage could be really dirty and there would be no smell. I will stick with the Aspen Supreme™ pellets for the mice.
NOTE: PAPERCHIP® recycled newspaper pellet beddings are made by Shepherd Specialty Papers, P. O. Box 64, Watertown, TN 37184, (800) 382-5001, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Their web site is www.ssponline.com.