Your Pet Rats' Habitat: Learn What They Need to Thrive

Some rat owners are under the impression that sticking a couple pet rats in a cage with some food and water creates a happy home for them. But there's more to it than that. Here's how you can give your pet rats the best environment possible.

Cage Size

Rats are bigger than other rodents like hamsters or mice which you might keep as pets. Because of this, they need more room to run around in order to stay healthy. A good rule of thumb is to provide a minimum of two cubic feet of available space for each rat. Keep in mind, however, that some may need more room if they seem to enjoy being alone. Plus, giving them more room never hurts.

Safety Considerations

In addition to the size of the cage, you must also pay attention to the safety of your pet rats. Follow these simple precautions:

  • Always use a solid base for the cage. Using a cage with a wire bottom can cause their feet to swell and become infected over time.
  • Only buy a cage that has plastic or metal bars that allow for plenty of ventilation. Under no circumstances should you use an aquarium or similar enclosure, as it will expose your pet rats' sensitive respiratory systems to dust and the ammonia smell of their urine.
  • Provide the rats with a cage made of a material that's easy to clean, such as hard plastic.
  • Make sure the bar spacing is small enough so that your rats can't escape. Allowing your rats to get out unsupervised could cause them harm.
Add Space for Better Health

If you have enough room, purchase a cage that can be expanded with tube systems. Rats have a blast running through these tubes and will play by chasing each other around, giving them plenty of exercise. If space is somewhat limited, look for a multi-level cage instead.