When talking about rats, people often think that they are dirty and unsanitary, but this is mostly due to a cruel misconception. Actually, domestic pet rats are very clean, for the most part. Indeed, they even spend more time grooming than cats! Moreover, there is a variety of breeds to choose from, including standard, smooth, rex, hairless, and tailless. Similar to dogs and cats, a pet rat is incredibly intelligent, affectionate, and needs lots of care and attention. Additionally, they also require a proper environment where they can feel safe and comfortable. Therefore, if you are going to adopt a pet rat, the first thing to consider is the house in which your lovely rodent will live.
What is the ideal habitat for your pet rat?
To choose the suitable house for your rat, the concept is simply “the larger the better”. As the pet rat is very active, they love living in a large vertical cage where they can do exercise and enjoy climbing around. Here are some instructions that you can follow before choosing the perfect home for your rat:
1. What’s the right size for my rat cage?
For a single pair of adult rats, the suitable size of the cage should be a minimum of 30″ W x 18″ D x 24″H for a one-story enclosure or 24″ W x 14″ D x 36″ H for a vertical multi-story cage.
Rats are super energetic and they need plenty of room to explore. That’s why a multi-level cage is also a perfect choice for young and adult rats. By the way, when your beloved rats become aged, you should change the cage into a single-story one to avoid any unexpected accident.
Moreover, the enclosure should be airy so that your rats can easily breathe some fresh air. In the long run, your rat could suffer health problems like breathing difficulties and lung infections if the airflow is not properly set in your cage.
2. What floor to use for my rat cage?
Make sure that the wire mesh is large enough for your rat’s feet. You should avoid the ½” x 1” size because it is too small and it might inadvertently hurt your rat. A larger wire mesh pattern is recommended so your little fella can easily walk through without any pain. In order to avoid these problems, you can cover the wire floor with a lino flooring or a secured wood board, which is also easy to clean up.
Furthermore, the cage should be floored with non-toxic wood chips or paper-based rat bedding that you can easily find from any pet store. Remember, wood shaving, sawdust, cedar, or pine wood chips are not recommended, and could be hazardous for your pet rat.
3. What should I put in my rat cage?
A boring plain cage is sometimes not enough for your rats to be happy. Once you buy the cage, do not forget to buy some toys and some furniture as well. We list all the essential equipment for your rat cage below:
- Hammocks and hideouts: as the rats are very sensitive to light, their house should be equipped with hammocks, igloos-shaped hideouts, or hiding places where your rats can have a comfy sleep.
- Tunnels: as you may already know, rats feel secure while hiding in a tunnel, so you can provide PVC pipes or wood blocks, as long as they are large enough for your rats.
- Adventure toys: toys are used for encouraging your rat to do activities and exercising. As rats are very intelligent, you should create an interesting playground equipped with many adventure toys, for example, ropes, ladders, exercise balls, or a wheel. If there is no toy provided, your rats could become lazy and overweight.
- Chew toys: every rat and mouse love chewing, Thus, chew toys like wooden hamster blocks and chew sticks are highly recommended. However, it is better to avoid any toy with small parts like beads for example, since they come with choking hazards.
- Water Bottle: a water bottle is a must. We suggest a BPA-free glass water bottle over a plastic one because it is almost a certainty that your rats will chew it up! About the size, a 16oz size bottle should provide enough water for 2 rats for about 2 days.
- Food Bowls: small to medium-sized ceramic food bowls can be used. Just make sure they aren’t placed under the water bottle to avoid the water dripping down on the food. Nonetheless, don’t be surprised if the food is gone so fast. Indeed, due to its natural behavior, the rat will often hide food somewhere and dig it up later when hungry.
4. Where to put my rat cage?
A domestic rat cannot survive the outside world so well, so you should place the cage indoor somewhere safe and enclosed. The perfect temperature for rats is around 20 °C with adequate airflow. Besides, your rats will be happy if they live in the heart of your house. Indeed, since they are sociable animals, they will want to stay at your side at all times.
Last but not least, make sure there are no TV screens or radios near the rat’s cage. Any strong light source such as screens or sunlight should be avoided to not stress out your rodent friends.
Now that you know all the essential information for your future rat’s home, we hope you and your pet have a great time without any hassle.