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Housing Pet Rats - Rat Cage
Housing a pet rat can be simple, but you will need to consider the type of cage that you want to invest in. Your options range from aquariums, wire cages, and plastic cages. Once, you've decided upon a cage, you will need to find houses, toys, bowls, and bedding.
But, housing is not just a cage and toys. You must, also, consider where you will be putting the cage. Rats like your attention, so you may consider putting the cage in a room with high movement.
You want to keep the cage away from direct lighting and drafts.
Ratty Cage Options
Whichever type of cage you choose, it needs to have at least two square feet of surface area. Now, as for the dimensions of the cage, for one to two rats I would go no smaller than a 24"L x 12"W x 24"T. NEVER house rats in a small hamster habitat, solid plastic cage, 10 gallon aquariums, or ventilated storage bins.
Top Pros and Cons:
Pros: Litter cannot be kicked out onto the floor.
Cons: No ventilation calling for more frequent cleanings. Spend more money in order to get the same space as a wire cage. Build up heat. Hold in stale air.
Pros: Ventilation. Toys can be attached to walls and tend to have multiple levels, providing ample entertainment
Cons: Litter can be kicked onto the floor.
Pros: Wire walls with plastic levels are easier on ratty feets.
Cons: Litter can be kicked onto the floor. Rats can and will chew the plastic.
NEVER house a rat in a cage that has a wire bottom. Having wire levels and walls are great, but there needs to be some solid surfaces in the cage to prevent bumblefoot.
Bedding can be an important part of a rat's housing. The wrong bedding can cause respiratory illnesses, as some beddings have excess oils and aromas, that rat's, and all other small animals, cannot be exposed to for long periods of time (being more than one or two cleanings).
- Aspen wood shavings
- Lifemate- Hemp bedding
- Kaytee- Soft Sorbent
- Aspen pellets
- Pine wood shavings
- Cedar wood shavings
- Kaytee- Total Comfort (too dusty)
Stay away from beddings that are dusty, oily, and have aromas.
Clean the cage at least once a week. This will keep down any ratty smells that have accumulated. It will, also, rid the cage of ammonia, which if allowed to build up can become very harmful to your rats.
Rats are very intelligent creatures that do get bored easily. They need toys and ledges in the cage to keep them busy until you are able to spend time with them. Because a rat's favorite experience is playing with you!
Inside the cage you can add various toys such as:
- Hanging wood toys
- Cardboard tubes (toilet paper and paper towel rolls work great)
- Cardboard boxes
- Silent wheels
- Ferret toys
- Cat toys (NO catnip!)
- Ledges (attach to the walls of wire cages)
Get creative when thinking of toys you can make or toys you can buy for your rats. They'll appreciate it, and you'll have fun watching them play with their new toys.
Try to switch out the toys every other week or so. This will keep your rats entertained as they got a "new" toy. But, it's a recycled old one.
I prefer Martin's Cages. They are easy to put together, and easy to clean. There are a variety of cages to choose from, ranging from chinchilla cages, ferret cages, and rat cages. All are acceptable for housing rats, as long as you can guarantee that your rats cannot slip through the outer wires.
My three female rats are housed in the chinchilla high-rise (FC-430HR).
- 30" x 18" x 48"
- Four levels
- Full middle floor
- Three ramps
- Two balconies
- Your choice of a drop-in 3½" plastic pan
- Rat Munchies
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