Your pet rats need a home that is safe, secure, and provides places to exercise, eat, and sleep. A proper home is a great way to help make sure your pet lives a long healthy life.
A wire cage makes an excellent home due to good air circulation and the fact that rats love to climb. The cage should be at least 24″ x 12″ x 12″, but bigger is always better so go with the largest cage possible.
Since rats are chewers the cage you select should be chew proof, have no sharp edges and have secure doors. The wire openings should be no larger than 1/2″ to prevent him from escaping or getting a leg stuck. The floor of the cage should be solid and not wire mesh in order to prevent foot injury.
Aquariums can also make good homes for rats. They will let you view your pet, prevent spillage of bedding and are easy to clean. With tanks, a screened top that fits securely is needed to prevent escape.
Air circulation is poor in these type of homes so care must be taken to prevent your rat from overheating. If using an aquarium you will also need to provide extra toys to satisfy your pet’s urge to climb.
Bedding & Substrate
You should provide enough bedding in the bottom of the cage to completely cover the bottom and add a layer of cushioning. Your pet will rearrange the bedding and other items in his cage and possibly make nests out of the bedding.
There are many commercial beddings and substrates from which to choose. Cedar and pine shavings should be avoided. Besides bedding your rat will love other materials for making nests. Paper towels, napkins, hay, straw and grasses are good materials for your pet rat to shred and use.
You will need a source of water for your pet. Stoppered water bottles that attach to the side of the cage will prevent water spillage in the cage. Remember, your pet rat is a chewer so you will need a chew proof bottle or a bottle with a chew guard.
A pet rat will easily climb on and tip over his food bowl. A dish that attaches to the sides of a wire cage or weighted bowl can help prevent this.
Some rats, but not all, enjoy exercise wheels. Be sure to get a large wheel that is big enough for your rat’s size. Do not put your rat in an acrylic exercise ball. Your pet could overheat due to panic and stress.
Rats love to play. Providing them with bird, cat or rat toys, PVC pipe, empty toilet paper and paper towel tubes and untreated, unpainted wood for chewing will give your pet hours of entertainment.
Your pet rat’s cage should be cleaned at least once a week and leftover food that could spoil should be removed daily. For cleaning, replace the bedding, wash the water bottle, food dish, dirty toys, and the cage bottom with soapy water. Make sure everything is dry before returning items to the cage.