• The Great Indoors…..and Why the Outdoors is Overrated

    Posted on January 21, 2016 by in Behavior, Care, Health, Play

    Your Questions | About Pet Rats Answers


    How do you get your rats to calm down enough to take them outside? Mine get really excited and start sprinting all over me like wet bars of soap trying to go hide wherever but I can’t have them doing that since there’s wandering cats in the neighborhood.

    I think they just see things out the window and really really want to go. I’ve seen pictures of people out in the woods or on the beach with their pets and I think that would be fantastic if I could manage, but I don’t know how. I’d keep them indoors and call it a day but they can spend an eternity just staring out the window… I feel bad.

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    Don’t feel bad! It’s much better for rats to stay indoors. It’s sometimes hard enough to keep them safe INSIDE, let alone outdoors. Besides, most rats do not have very good vision so I doubt your rats are looking out the window and thinking they want to go outside. If they could see, they’d see those cats you mentioned and then would definitely want to stay indoors. Rats are better able to smell and hear than to see.

    Every time I see people posting photos of their pet rats outdoors, I cringe. Having worked as a pet sitter, at a humane society and in veterinary hospitals for over 20 years, I’ve seen what happens when cats are allowed outdoors….and rats are so much more vulnerable.

    The Dangers of  Letting Your Rats Outside

    • HAWKS and other birds of prey can swoop down and pick up your rats. This can happen faster than you’d imagine. It can even happen when your rat is riding on your shoulder. Someone observing a hawk taking off with a wild rat in its claws reported she could hear the rat screaming for a long time while the hawk flew away into the distance. No one wants this to happen to their beloved pet rats.#pet rat carrier #pet rats #rats #pet rat care #pet rat cage cleaning
    • CATS are also very quick and adept at catching rats
    • FALLING – Some pet rats will climb a tree and then won’t be able to get back down. If do they attempt to climb down they’ll likely fall and die from the impact.
    • PESTICIDES – Grass and other plants are often treated with pesticides and fertilizers which are be toxic for your rats
    • PARASITES – Your rats can get external parasites such as mites, or internal parasites from eating bugs and bug eggs.
    • LOST – Rats can dart away quickly, especially when fearful. There is little chance you’ll get your rat back once it runs away.

    The above are just a few of the hazards your rats can encounter outdoors. The only safe way to  have pet rats outdoors is when they’re completely protected. They’re safe when snugly inside your shirt, a pet carrier or sitting with you in a screened in porch where you know there are no holes or cracks through which your rat could escape. A pet carrier, however, is your best bet.

    It makes me sad there are people who actually promote training rats to feel confident outdoors. They allow their pet rats to run through fields of grass, go for walks on sidewalks, climb trees, etc. It just isn’t realistic—it’s actually animal cruelty—to allow pet rats to go loose outdoors.

    How to Make the Great Indoors Even Greater

    Instead of taking your rats outdoors, do you have a play area for your rats inside your home or apartment? They can have a blast running around a room that’s set up just for them. You can make mazes, box castles, put out wheels for running and food toys for foraging. Here are some of the many things you can do to keep your rats entertained indoors:




    For tips on rat-proofing a bathroom, another great place to allow your rats to free roam, read Transforming Your Rat: from Shy to Social Butterfly

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    A box town is lots of fun to assemble. Even more fun is taking it apart the next day and reassembling it completely differently. Rats love learning the various routes created by the connecting boxes and tubes.

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    Your rats will thank you for giving them such a rich indoor environment AND for keeping them inside. They’ll also live longer, healthier and happier lives.


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2 Responses so far.

  1. Suzanne says:

    Great post. I love the idea of a box town. From all that I have read, keeping them inside is the best and safest way to go. Considering the size of a rat a house or apartment must be huge to them. There is so much you can create to keep them happy, healthy and safe.
    Thanks for sharing.

    • Hi Suz!

      The box towns are a lot of fun to make. I make up a new one almost every day….and feel like a little kid while I’m doing it. 🙂

      Good point that a house or apartment already does seem huge to a rat.

      Thanks so much for your comment!

      Hope you, Mary, your kitties and your family are all well,

      Jasmine | About Pet Rats