Your rat's environment is very important. You need to let him feel safe and comfortable as well as give him an interesting place to live and a home that is easy to clean and aesthetically pleasing as well. What exactly do rats like? Well, here are some tips:
- Rats need other rats. No matter what else, this is what you need to remember. A companion or two is usually enough for a rat to be happy. If you have limited space or a tight budget, spend those few extra dollars to get another rat. Even if you have lots of money for toys, you should get more than one. They will not ignore you or love you any less!
- Bars/wires are good! Rats like to feel like they are with you. Because they rely on their sense of smell, they will only feel like they can experience your world if as many parts of their cage as possible are made of wire. (In an aquarium, rats spend a LOT of time standing on their hind legs trying to smell your world.)
- Provide things to climb on. Rats love climbing. They enjoy climbing stright up the sides of their cage if given enough vertical room. Some will even climb upside-down. You may consider getting a branch or some parrot toys (especially in an aquarium, which has no "built-in" climbing surfaces). Baby rats will use hamster toys.
- Rats need a place to hide and escape drafts. Cardboard boxes will provide this security and give your rats something fun to do (chew it to bits). It's free and disposable. Super Pet Igloos are a good shelter that will last and is easily washable. A PVC pipe with an end capped is a good shelter too. (A rat without a shelter may end up sleeping under the water bottle to feel a little more closed in.)
- Rats like to sleep as high up as possible. Privide them a hammock or shelf to sleep on at the top of the cage. It's an odd phenomenon that all the rats in the cage will gather to sleep there most of the time. ;)
- Rats like to pee in the corners and where they sleep. The favorite sleeping shelf/hammock will need cleaned often. Make sure you can get to it easily.
- Rats usually don't like sleeping on litter. They like to use each other as pillows (see the first tip) or have some softbedding like cloth or paper. Alternately, they will chose a shelf or hammock with no litter or push all the litter on the floor of the cage (especially in aquariums) to one side and sleep. (So if you think you can fix the peeing quirk by putting some shavings in the sleeping place, sorry. You'll have litter all over your floor.) A good way to deal with this is by providing your rats dye-free paper towels or shredded paper to sleep on and replacing it every day or two.
- Rats like to dig and rearrange bedding. Buy/make a cage with litter guards or as deep a base as possible. Three inch bases don't work for diggers. Try Super Pet cages, or get a cage and buy a plastic storage box or cat litter box to be a bottom for it.
- A wheel? Maybe... Females and young rats are more likely to use a wheel. Males seem to prefer to sleep, eat, wrestle, then sleep again. If you choose to get a wheel, try a Wodent Wheel or other wheel with at least an 11" diameter and a solid running surface.
- Tubes are fun. Most rats like going through tunnels. When they are young, nothing is more fun for them than cardboard paper towel and toilet paper rolls. When they get older, you can use PVC pipes, but beware they may sleep in them and will poop in them. Inadequate ventilation makes this a real mess both to clean the pipes and on the rats.
- The best toys dangle or hang. Rats WILL pee on or bury any loose objects, whether they are chew toys for dogs or wooden toys or anything else. I've found that Super Pet Bordom Busters are neat toys. You can put nuts or other treats in them, and they hang. Other favorite hanging toys are hanging wooden bird toys with or without bells. They provide your rats something safe and clean to chew on (necessary for rat health), and some rats are enthralled by the sounds they can make by pushing the bells around.
Stuck in someone's frames? Don't see a navigation box on the upper left? Click here!