Choosing Your Pet Rats’ Home

Nora & Vera

Nora and Vera inside a Rat Manor

When choosing housing for your rat, remember the larger the better. For two adult rats, in my opinion, the absolute minimum size would be 24” X 36” X 24”. Younger rats really enjoy multi-level cages and can make do with slightly smaller spaces. When rats age, however, they can’t climb as easily and actually sometimes lose their grip and fall. So, for seniors, it’s better to have a one-story enclosure. Click here for a handy cage size calculator.

The mesh should either be square or, if it’s rectangular, make sure the rectangles are large enough that your rat’s foot can easily push through it and, without any trouble, can get it back in again. There are many cages made with rectangular mesh that measures ½” X 1” which should be avoided. When rats climb up the sides of this size of wire mesh they can easily push one of their back feet through the mesh, turn their foot and then try to unsuccessfully get it back in, resulting in pain and injury.

Home Sweet Home

Home Sweet Home

For baby rats, I really like Petco’s “Rat Manor“. It has powder coated wire which lessons the likelihood of any rusting. They’re very well-designed and are even collapsible, making them easy to store.

Other cages that are large and well-made are those made by Critter Nation. Critter Nation cages have full-sized double doors. When opened, there’s no center bar obstructing you from being able to fit your whole body into the cage making it easy to clean and decorate. There’s a storage area beneath the cage and the whole thing is on wheels that lock. In addition, there’s a locking ramp (for the two-story Critter Nation 162) which is useful when you want to separate your pet rats. To order and view details about Critter Nation, click here or on the photo of the cage found on this page.

Here are a few things you’ll want to avoid when selecting a cage:

Chet5

Chet inside a Rat Manor

        • Any wood parts. Wood cannot be cleaned and liquids (including urine) will soak into it.
        • Any sharp edges on which the rats can injure themselves
        • Aquariums – I personally don’t think they’re a good idea because the air flow isn’t as free inside.
        • Any wire mesh on the flooring of the cage unless you cover it completely. If you were to allow your rat to walk regularly on the mesh, it could develop bumblefoot. Bumblefoot is a bacterial infection and inflammatory reaction that occurs on the bottom of rat feet, which is not always easy to resolve.

If you’re adventurous, you can build a cage yourself. I once built a cage that was so big I could get completely inside. Click here for a cage plan from The Rat Lady if you are interested in getting some ideas for building your own cage.

I am very fortunate to have been given a huge cage by one of my rat-loving friends. It has four floors and is about as tall as and even wider than a refrigerator! I can stick the whole upper half of my body into each of the doors on each of the floors.

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