• It’s What’s Inside that Counts: 15 Inexpensive Ways to Make Your Pet Rats’ Cage Fun & Comfy

    Posted on March 18, 2016 by in Behavior, Care, Housing, Intelligence, Interior Design

    Your Questions | About Pet Rats Answersabout pet rats, pet rats, pet rat, rats, rat, fancy rats, fancy rat, ratties, rattie, pet rat care, pet rat info, pet rat information, pet rat supplies, pet rat cage, pet rat cage interior, what to put inside your pet rat cage, pet rat cage décor, pet rat bedding

    QUESTION:

    Hi, I’ve had rats for awhile and have a relatively large 3 story cage for my two rats, and they have an igloo and a hanging bed, but I feel like I should be doing more for them as far as sleeping stuff and toys go. I’m in college and don’t have a very large budget, but are there any things you can help me with to make them a little happier? Thank you!

    ABOUT PET RATS ANSWERS:

    Great Question!

    Here are fifteen inexpensive ways to add both excitement and comfort to the inside of your pet rats’ cage:

    1. Boxes, Boxes & More Boxes!

    There are so many ways you can make boxes fun. Cut out doors on all sides so your rats have plenty of entrances and exits. A folded-up t-shirt on the bottom of a box makes it into a nice cozy bed. A soft, folded-up cloth on top allows your rats to sleep comfortably on the roof.

    2. Rope

    For young rats, get a thick rope, tie knots and hang it vertically from the top of the cage. If you have older rats, stretch the rope horizontally (making sure it’s not too high off the floor of their about pet rats, pet rats, pet rat, rats, rat, fancy rats, fancy rat, ratties, rattie, pet rat care, pet rat info, pet rat information, pet rat supplies, pet rat cage, pet rat cage interior, what to put inside your pet rat cage, pet rat cage décor, pet rat bedding, plain newsprint, pet rat newsprintcage). [Caution: Be careful there’s no chance they can accidentally get tied up or strangled.]

    3. Shredded Plain Newsprint

    This is one of my rats’ staples for their bedding. I spread wide strips of plain newsprint throughout their cage and my rats make incredibly elaborate nests out of it. They never tire of this stuff! I buy plain unbleached newsprint and shred it into strips by hand.

    4. Bandanas and Scarves

    Bandanas and scarves are super easy to tie to the sides and/or from the top of your cage to form a hammock.

    5. T-Shirts

    Use t-shirts you’re no longer wearing or new ones you buy inexpensively. When using old ones, make sure there aren’t any small holes in which your rats’ limbs or (even their head) can get stuck.

    Three ways to use t-shirts:

    • Long-sleeved t-shirts can be turned into hammocks by tying the arms and the bottom end of the shirt to opposite sides and/or the top of their cage. Stretch the ends of the t-shirt far enough apart so it becomes a full-sized hammock.
    • Thread two ropes inside a short-sleeved t-shirt. Go through the bottom of the t-shirt and run a separate rope through each of the sleeves. Hang the ropes across the cage so they’re parallel to one another. The ropes should be spaced far enough apart so the t-shirt is stretched out into a nice-sized hammock in between the two ropes.
    • Drape a t-shirt (or any other suitable cloth) over a rope so the two sides of the shirt reach the floor of the cage. Stretch the ends of the cloth to each side making it into a cozy tent for your rats. You can also just run the rope through one side of the t-shirt turning it into a “cave” on the cage floor for your ratties to explore.
    6. PVC Pipes
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    PVC pipes can be found in a hardware store or sometimes construction sites will have extra they’ll allow you to take

    These are the hard plastic pipes used in construction that measure from several inches to several feet wide in diameter. They’re usually aqua/green, white or black in color. PVC pipe is very inexpensive and pet rats love using them as tunnels. You can buy them from a hardware store. (Or, if there’s a construction site near you, ask if they have any extra you can have.) Place the tubes on the floor of your rats’ cage or hang using two ropes spaced about an inch apart.

    7. Gallon-Sized Plastic Bottles

    After finishing a gallon-sized bottle of orange juice or water, cut off the top portion and wash it out well. (You can even run it through the dishwasher on the top shelf.) Cut two holes several inches apart on a side of the bottle and hang it from one wall of their cage. Position it so your rats can access the hanging bed from a shelf or a floor in their cage. Line the cut-out bottle with a soft cloth such as a folded up t-shirt.

    8. Plastic Baskets

    Buy plastic baskets from a dollar store. Use shower hooks, rope, yarn or ribbons to hang the basket and line with a soft cloth after hanging inside your pet rats’ cage.

    9. Cardboard Mailing Tubes

    Choose tubes wide enough for your rats to comfortably walk through and even turn around while inside. Cut out several holes (big enough for your rats to get in and out of) along one side of the tube. Attach to sides of the cage cutting slots into either end that fit into the cage bars. An alternative is to skip putting holes in the side and string up the tube, creating a tunnel to go from box to box.about pet rats, pet rats, pet rat, rats, rat, fancy rats, fancy rat, ratties, rattie, pet rat care, pet rat info, pet rat information, pet rat supplies, pet rat cage, pet rat cage interior, what to put inside your pet rat cage, pet rat cage décor, pet rat bedding, pet rat fleece blanket

    10. Fleece Blankets

    They’re so soft and inviting. Use them as cozy sleeping bags and as linings for boxes. Fleece blankets can also be used to carpet cage floors.

    11. Wrapped Treats

    Twist unbleached plain newsprint around a lab block, several pieces of kibble or a treat. Your rats will love unwrapping their “gift”.

    12. Paper Cups

    Buy cups that are made only of paper. (i.e. Don’t choose cups that have a waxy, plastic coating.) Place a small hole in the side of the cup. Cut a length of string or twine long enough to hang the cup from the top of your pet rats’ cage. Tie a knot in one end and pull the string through the cup leaving the knot inside the cup. Place some treats, lab blocks or kibble inside and fold over the top of the cup. Hang the cup from the top of the cage. [Caution: Make sure the string or twine is located in a place where your rats won’t be able to get tangled up and, as a result, injured.]

    13. Chew Toys

    Chew toys are cheap and give your rats the pleasure of using their impressive teeth. Besides the dainty-sized Pretzel Sticks, there are the much larger Mega Munch chews. Both are wood from willow trees which is safe for pet rats.about pet rats, pet rats, pet rat, rats, rat, fancy rats, fancy rat, ratties, rattie, pet rat care, pet rat info, pet rat information, pet rat supplies, pet rat cage, pet rat cage interior, what to put inside your pet rat cage, pet rat cage décor, pet rat bedding, pet rat space pod

    14. Space Pods

    Very inexpensive and quite versatile, space pods can be used right-side up or up-side down. Both ways are equally fun for your pet rats.

    15. Something New

    Change things up regularly. Rotate toys, boxes and hammocks every few days so your rats feel like they’re continually getting new toys and cage accessories. A couple of times each week, place treats inside several foraging toys. Stash them in areas of their cage where your rats won’t see them right away. They’ll be delighted to find their treats later on while you’re at school, work or otherwise occupied.

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42 Responses so far.

  1. Oh yay!! This post is perfect timing! I recently rescued 3 rats and am trying to learn all I can about them since I have never experienced being a rat owner!!

  2. Cathy Armato says:

    These are great ideas, and perfect for a pet owner on a budget. I love that you helped out a budget minded college student. I’m sharing this to my DIY Pinterest board, thanks!
    Love & Biscuits,
    Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them

    • Hi, Cathy! I’m impressed that the college student asked how to enrich her pet rats’ environment. Thanks for sharing this on your DIY Pinterest board.

  3. Rats are so cool. Really great tips to keep them busy and happy- such easy DIY ideas but such fun

  4. FiveSibesMom says:

    What great ideas! I’m going to share over on Pinterest. When I was in high school, my close friend had a pet rat – what a sweetie! Loved newspaper!

  5. Sadie says:

    That looks like quite the castle! Love the animal print fleece. These are some great ideas.

  6. Really cool ideas! I’m sure these will be helpful to many people who have little rat companions. 🙂

  7. Our bunny Lulu LOVE boxes as well. Another thing she loves – which might also work for rats is an empty paper towel roll stuffed with hay. We give her one or two in the morning and I think it occupies her while we are at work. She has her box with hay as well, but she especially likes the challenge of pulling the hay out of the tube. Maybe rats might like it stuffed with newsprint?

  8. As a kid, I had many mice as pets. Loved reading about the Rats!

  9. Bryn Nowell says:

    Great recommendations that I’m sure can be applied for a variety of rodent family members! I remember the joy our hamsters exuded with the addition of a fresh paper towel roll.

    I’d also add the need for regular cleaning as, enrichment is difficult when living conditions are not up to par! We would clean our hamster homes every other day.

    • Hi Bryn,

      Thanks so much for your comments. I worry about my rats with paper towel rolls since they tend to try to eat the glue off of it. Every animal is different though…I’m sure not all will try to eat it.

      Great suggestion about adding the need for regular cleaning. Thank you! I have an entirely different section on cleaning but you are so right that enrichment is just not possible if the cage is dirty.

      Thanks Again,

      Jasmine | About Pet Rats

  10. MattieDog says:

    I love the Space Pods – all of the ideas/tips are low-cost, and easy to do to help out one of our littlest fuzzy animal family members!!

  11. I follow several people and their pet rats. They are really cool pets. ☺

  12. Jodi Clock says:

    Pets are pets, regardless of it’s a rat, bird, cat dog etc.. This is great information. Thank you for your post.

  13. PVC pipes are so cheap and what a great way to enrich your rats! Great advice for a first time rat parent too!

  14. Some great ideas for those who own rats. They need comfort, security, and stimulation, too.

  15. We don’t know much about rats…but we think it’s pretty cool they like boxes just like us cats!

  16. Great post! I don’t have rats but do similar things for my rabbit.

  17. I agree! Mental stimulation for all pets is important. Even my dogs love hunting for treats. We turn it into a fun game and they love it.

  18. Val Silver says:

    What lucky rats to have so many cool things to play with.

  19. Nichole says:

    Great tips! Lots of easy up cycling and DIY tips!

  20. Rachel says:

    These are great tips! It looks like they have a wonderful place to call home.

  21. Mental stimulation is good for all species! Mr. N likes finding hidden treats too.

  22. Carleen says:

    This is a really great list of ideas! So many good ways to keep them happy!