I've only had them since November, so I don't know if it's normal for them to smell this bad. I sure hope not. I clean their cage very thoroughly once a week, but no matter how much I scrub everything, even the table the cage sits on, it still stinks. I just cleaned it and it still smells gross. : The weird thing is that I can't figure out exactly what about it smells. When I clean the cage I smell everything after I've washed it and alone, the different pieces don't seem to smell. But I get it all put together and the general area still smells gross.
Any ideas? They're awesome pets, I just wish they didn't smell so bad.
ETA: I should clarify that the rats themselves don't smell, it's just the cage/cage area.
After you clean the cage, you could rinse in vinegar. We use straight vinegar in a spray bottle to wipe out our rat cabinet. It helps a lot. Vinegar will corrode metal, though, so it might not be such a great idea for metal cages.
You can spot clean more frequently. We use litter boxes (plastic take out containers held down w/velcro) & clean them daily. We use yesterday's news in the litter boxes. The rats are so-so about using the box. They do their business there about 75% of the time.
We use compost-able and washable stuff in our cabinet. The hammocks are just old cloth diapers with grommets in the corners--easy to wash. They get funky pretty fast. In colder weather I give them smallish cardboard boxes to nest in. They get funky too, so I just replace them as necessary/as fresh boxes are available.
We feed our rats all kinds of stuff--commercial rat blocks when we're busy, homemade rat diet when we have the time. I have noticed that they smell a lot better when we are feeding them better.