Hello I'm hoping those of you have rat companions can give me some advice. I was given two male rats on Friday evening. I got them from a pet homing website- free to a good home. Since I like rats ( my late brother kept rats) and I've had other rodent companions in the past ( gerbils, hamsters and mice) I decided to give these two young rats a loving home. They came with a big cage and 2 rat balls that they can go in for a run round and to be put in when cleaning the cage. The man brought them over and said he had been unable to clean the cage for a few days as he has a bad back and needs an op. He had taken them off a friend who could not keep them as he had a lot of animals already. They are a few months old and very healthy and active. They are friendly too and interested in everything and one of them especially comes to the bars for attention and likes being given paper to put in the ball suspended at the top of the cage where they sleep. I've called that one Roland as he is very amusing and fun. He is the dominant one. The other one is quieter and I have called him Walter. I noticed the cage was whiffy so I gave them Friday evening to settle in and get to know me a bit. I did open their door and gave them some food and they did not seem scared of me. I have read that commercial rodent food is not that good for them ( seems to cause tumours) and read many rat advice sites on what to give them to eat. So they have had the following to eat: organic tomatoes dried mealworms cranberries sultanas rolled oats wholewheat crackers dried tomato pasta twists dried egg noodles tiny bit of feta cheese organic pumpkin seeds organic sunflower seeds steamed petit pois peas streamed broad beans ( all small amounts I've not over fed them and they like all these foods). They have a good appetite. Yesterday afternoon I decided to clean the cage. They were sleeping but when I opened the door Roland heard me and came out of the bed so I had the ball ready ( as the man told me this rat would always want to come out if you opened the door) so I held the ball by the door and he walked onto the cage door and I gently lifted him into the ball ( that had what seems his fave food 3 of the tomato pasta twists in there). He was happy to be in the ball and ran round the room in it and also ate the pasta. He didn't even go to the toilet in there so he seemed to me to be unafraid. Walter was asleep the whole time I cleaned the cage out. I spent about an hour cleaning that cage. I swept out all the sawdust that was in there and wiped the platform and the ladder ( where their food bowls are) and also the bottom of the cage with diluted aloe vera hand soap as I had no pet disinfectant and couldn't find any in the pet section of the local discount store. I dried it all with a towel and put a big piece of cardboard on the floor of the cage and pieces in their toilet area. They always go there to do their business. I read that sawdust and wood shavings can cause respiratory problems in rats so did not go and buy any. I had planned to use shredded paper for their toilet area in the future. The cage still had a smell to it when you stood next to it, you know a wee smell, but I thought that would go away after awhile. But no the the smell got worse by the hour to the point it stunk up my whole sitting room and it is making me feel sick it is that bad. The gerbils, hamsters and mice never smelled this bad! The female hamster I had once would smell now and again ( estrus) and the mice and gerbils after a week ( when they needed cleaning out). The mice and gerbils smelt the least to be honest ( male and a female ). I looked after my friend's male house rabbit for 4 days a few months ago whilst he went to visit his sister and he smelt sometimes ( his pee) but all I had to do was remove the hay in the corner he had weed on and he would be fine. Another friend has a big furry dog called Milo who I have taken for walks and he has dropped Milo off to me ( when he had a long shift) so Milo would be in a tiny 4 roomed house I used to live in and Milo did not stink up my house either. I am amazed such small rodents can stink that much- they are as bad as ferrets! It is a very pungent wee smell. And tonight Walter was trying chasing "Roland" crazy fast around the cage and sniffing his bottom and trying to hump him. So I'm wondering if Roland is actually Rolanda! Maybe that is the problem? Rolanda is female and in estrus? Could that be the smell problem? Roland/a has been stuffing their bed like mad with paper last night as I told you- I am thinking he must be a she ( nesting behaviour? but Roland/a did not want to be humped and kept shaking Walter off and running away. They didn't squeak or bite each other though). My late brother kept rats as I mentioned, and at times the female ones used to get whiffy. His male ones never smelled bad. I used to go to his house and see his rats. I've also been to other people's houses who had rats and never noticed such a stink as what Roland/a and Walter are giving off. My mice were a male and a female and never smelled except after a few days in the corner where they weed when it was time to clean their home. (The female never had any babies). Same with the gerbils, who were a male and female and had 3 litters of babies! My gerbils lived in a glass tank with chicken wire on top and one time there were the parents ( Basil and Sybil) and 6 babies and no bad smells. I let Basil and Sybil come out to play every day. They were so tame. I am so sad about Walter and Roland/a as I cannot tolerate their smell and will have to contact an animal rehoming sanctuary to take them if I cannot get rid of this stink as it is making my sitting room reek. I want them to be cared for as they are sweet rats and I love animals and hate animal cruelty. I really do not know what to do. The photo shows Roland/a!