Your Rats' cage and Environment

Your rats will spend most of their lives in the housing you create for them. If you get this right, you'll be richly rewarded with confident, active, friendly pets.

How much room do rats need?

A good rule of thumb to give your rats adequate space is to allow 2 cubic feet per rat, including a floor area of 2 square feet. But there is no problem giving them more space if you wish. Bucks like more floor space, whilst young rats and adult females love to climb, so the taller their cage the better. Giving new rats a smaller cage temporarily may help them bond with you as they have fewer places to hide away.

What sort of cage is best?

Wire cages make the best housing for rats:

  • They provide good ventilation
  • They're an excellent climbing-frame.
  • Your rats can see, hear and smell the world and in particular keep an eye on you.
  • You can interact with your rats through the bars.

but avoid wire cages with wire floors. Wire flooring can trap feet and also cause a condition called Bumblefoot (ulcerative pododermatitis). Bumblefoot leads to severe irritation and swelling of the hocks, and is incurable. Wire floored cages also have ammonia levels many times higher than cages with a solid floor plus litter. Excessive ammonia can cause respiratory problems in your rats.

How should I set the cage up?

Rats like stuff! They do not appreciate a bare cage. You can easily provide your rats with the playground of their dreams by thoughtfully placing ropes, tree branches, shelves, and sleeping places. Placing shelves in the cage will maximise the available space. If your new rats are particularly nervous give them more open style hammocks to sleep in rather than boxes or other places to hide away. That will help them get used to you.

What should I use for cage bedding?

There are several good bedding options:

  • shredded paper
  • shredded cardboard
  • hay
  • straw

Shredded cardboard is clean, easy to use bedding and environmentally friendly as it breaks down nicely. It's also dust free, absorbent and cheap. Wood shavings should be avoided as they may contain phenols which are bad for rats.