RAT HOUSES
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Rat Houses & Cages
It is important to house your rat in a rat appropriate cage, that accounts for the number of rats in the cage and the size of the rats.
It is also vital to their health that you know what bedding is safe and what bedding is damaging to their health.
Houses, hammocks, hiding places and toys will provide your rat with a variety of options to keep themselves occupied when you are unable to play with them.


A few rat cage notes:

  • Before evening putting the rat into the cage, clean and sanitize the cage.
    Next, check the cage for any sharp corners or hooks, broken or cracked glass and/or anything that potentially could injure the rat.
    Than, look at the size of your rats head and make sure the spacing on the cage bars is close enough together that your rat will not be able to escape.
    On aquariums make sure the top can be securely closed, so the rat will not be able to push off the lid, if the lid is a little loose, you can put a rock on top to help stabilize it.
  • Make sure your rat cages have plenty of air ventilation & circulation.
  • Wire cages have more air circulation than aquariums.
  • If you use aquariums make sure you have a very ventilated cover.
  • Using cages with wire bottoms can cause your rat to have foot conditions.
    The wire is rough on the rats feet and can cause medical conditions such as Bumble foot(Not the only cause of bumble foot), or cause the rat to get his foot or leg stuck.
  • If you have a wire cage bottom, try to put wood, Plexi-glass, linoleum, vinyl flooring, tile or any other type of hard surface flooring you find works onto the floor.
    It is O.K. to have some wire cage material to walk on but it is important that the rat does have a hard surface area to walk and sleep on as well.
  • The Rule to never forget when finding a good cage for your rats is:
    The bigger the cage the better!
  • Do not place cages directly in front of windows, direct sunlight and drafts.
  • Do not clean cages with poisonous, harmful smelling cleaning supplies, that could leave an odor behind, these may cause health problems for your rats.
  • People clean cages with many different cleaning solutions, some use plain soap and water (antibacterial soap preferred), Lysol, surface cleaner, vinegar etc.
    Make sure any and every product you use to clean any of the rats items, is safe and not poisonous to you and/or them.
    When using any product to clean a cage, make sure you thoroughly rinse out the cage afterwards (to prevent the rat from getting the solution on themselves and/or ingesting it.)
  • It is necessary that your rat has at least one house, box or some sort of shelter in their cage.
    Providing a rat with shelter is important as it makes them feel safe, and it gives them a good place to take a nap in peace.
    Rats love to play, hide and run around, so providing them with houses, beds and toys is important to keep them occupied and to provide them with amusement.

    Bedding:

  • Be very aware of what bedding is safe and unsafe for rats.
  • Pine & Cedar bedding is extremely harmful to rats. The wood contains phenols and can have toxic effects on rats respiratory systems. (Pine and Cedar are softwoods)
  • Rats kept on pine and cedar bedding are likely to have Poryphin (Red/brown discharge) staining coming from their eyes and nose, wheezing, gasping, sneezing and possible nausea.
  • Most pet store employees have no idea what is and isn't safe for your animals, do not take them at their word, if they try to tell you Pine and cedar is safe for rats -do not listen to them.
  • Aspen is safe to use for rats. (Aspen is a hardwood.)
  • When looking for a bedding to use, look at the package and consider how much dust the bedding contains.
  • Dusty bedding can cause your pets to have sneezing and breathing troubles.
  • Some beddings that claim to be dust free, still contain dust, as the bedding settles in the bottom of the package and/or cage.
  • Also do not use bedding that has a strong scent, this can irritate your rats nose and lungs.
  • Do not use cotton fiber bedding, (Looks like cotton balls)(Specifically Cloud 9 bedding) it has come to my attention that the rats can get tiny fibers wrapped around their bodies barely visible to the human eye and can cause injury, eventual amputation or even death (*Especially harmful to babies.*)
  • Store bought bedding can sometimes contain small bugs & mites living in it, which is not good for your rats, so be aware and examine the bag closely.
  • One way to avoid bugs in the bedding is to put the bedding in the freezer for at least 2 days.
  • Newspaper bedding is a great option -usually much cheaper than store bought bedding and easy to clean up.
    No need to worry about poisonous inks as almost all newspaper these days use soy ink which is safe and non toxic.
  • You can also use other scrap paper, such as old notebook paper, junk mail, or rolls of brown packaging paper.
  • You can lay flat sheets of newspaper on the bottom of the cage and then shred some strips of paper to put on top. The shredded paper on top will help soak up urine and give the rats material to build nests and houses with.
  • Rats get cold too. So, having blankets and towels for them to hide in or under is also recommended.
    Blankets:
    Fleece blankets are recommended as they have no strings or stitching your rats nails or toes could get caught on.
    You can buy a blanket and cut it up or buy bulk fabric from the fabric store.
    When using cloth towels make sure there are no loose strings or large holes in them. Be very careful on what fabric you use if you are going to drape it over a box to cover a doorway -rats are well known for chewing holes in them and then trying to walk through the newly chewed hole and getting stuck.
    Blankets, scarves, & old clothing also works well for rat blankets. (Remove zippers and buttons if the clothing has any.)
    Paper towels & Napkins also make good bedding and nesting material. -Especially for Pregnant females.

    Water:

  • Make sure your rats have plenty of water available in all of their play areas (Water in every room your rat plays in.)
    Water dishes usually don't work well in cages, but rats do enjoy them, so if you have water bottles and water dishes out in the rats free range area this will give them a choice of which they would like to use.
    Some rats will dunk their paws and heads under water in water dishes to help clean themselves.
  • Rats also like to play in and drink from small water fountains. (Make sure the paint and material the fountain is made of is safe for the rats.)
    Hammock ideas:

    Rats enjoy hammocks to lounge, play and sleep on.
    You can buy store bought hammocks for ferrets or other animals but they tend to be/get rather expensive as the rats will chew them to shreds eventually.


    If you have multiple rats living in the same cage it is important to have a few different sleeping areas.
    Cheap Hammocks:
  • Cut off a pant leg or an arm sleeve on clothing and hang those onto the cage.
  • Scarves can be attached to the cage by ties or hooks.
  • Baskets can be hung from the tops of cages and make great hiding spots for rats. (Make sure they are made from safe materials -plush baskets seem to work better than wicker)
    Here is an interesting truck rat basket.


  • One easy way to make a homemade hammock (for wire cages):
    Get a towel, scarf or fabric item and run it through the front and back of the cage bars, decide at what height you want the hammock and make sure you insert the fabric the same number of bars down on both sides. Then pull the fabric up through the bars and wrap it around the bars until it is tight and won't fall down.
    You can also cut ties on the ends of the fabric and tie the hammock onto the cage.
    You can also use paper clips, clothes pins, twist ties, rubber bands, Velcro, or other types of hooks to hook the hammocks onto the cages.
    I use these big office size paper clips.


    If you needed proof the rats don't mind towel hammocks here are some in use!





    House ideas:

  • Cardboard boxes make great rat houses, just find a box that is a good size to fit into the cage or in the area you are putting the house. Cut out doors, windows, balconies, different levels, cubby holes, etc. You can design the box as simple or as fancy as you want.
    Cardboard houses are not permanent houses, as they will get dirty, run down and urinated on, but they make great temporary houses and sometimes can last months.
    To make your cardboard houses last longer and easier to clean you can cover them in clear packaging tape -this allows you to be able to wipe the box surface off from time to time.
    If you have more than one rat, it is best to try to make houses with two doors, this way they both can get in and out even if one is sleeping right in front of the door.
  • Ice cream buckets can also be used as rat houses, just by simply cutting a door.
  • Plastic Storage containers can also be used as houses, if you cut a door.
  • Old lunch boxes with doors cut in them can make good houses if they are large enough.
  • Shoe boxes with a door cut in them make snug hiding spots.
  • Tissue boxes make good hiding spots -and they already have a door.
  • Pet igloos make good hiding spots and are easy to clean.
  • Soda packages/boxes can work for hiding in too.
  • Your rat won't run in the animal ball you bought them?
    Well, heres a solution, run a few twist ties through the ventilation holes and attach it to their cage for a nice new room.
  • Tubes work well for play houses as well.

  • This is a plush toy house -perfectly rat sized!

  • This is a small wood house that came with a plush toy dog -well needless to say i took out the stuffed animal and now the house is great for the rats.

  • Small plush baby toy house. Makes a nice rat house for small rats.

    How many rats can i fit into a certain size cage?

    Rats come in all sizes big and small, a Jumbo rat will need more space than a small sized rat.
    Several rats will need more space than a lone rat. (Which should be rare -Keep rats in pairs!)
    Rats need to have enough space so that everyone can find a spot to sleep in, preferably you need to have many sleeping areas. This allows the rats to sleep alone or together depending on their moods.
    Not all rats get along so it is important to only house rats together that like each other.
    The bigger the cage the better, you should be able to tell by knowing your rats size and knowing the size cage you are wanting to house them in how many should fit in their comfortably.
    A cage should have more than one level. Half levels are alright -they don't need to be full levels.
    If your rats are in an aquarium then boxes and other toys need to be put into the cage so they have places to go and explore and climb.
    If you are questioning if your cage is large enough for a certain number of rats, than your cage probably should be bigger!
    Click here for a Rat to cage ratio calculator


    Below are some pictures of the various beds, couches, houses, hiding spots and rat areas i have for my rats.


    How to make a rat couch:
    Here is one way to make a rat couch.
    Find a shelf that could be converted into Rat furniture. (I saw this shelf at the Thrift store and new is was destined to be a rat couch.)
    Clean the shelf, find some foam or some sort of soft bedding and cut it to the size it needs to be. You can decide weather you want to make just one bottom cushion or make back and side cushions as well.

    Than i covered the foam with a blanket, that way i can take it off and change it for easy washing. (Now wasn't that easy?:)


    My Rat's, "Rat Mansion"

    Wooden Doll/Barbie house which i played with as a kid.
    We changed the slanted roof to a flat roof, so we could set our plants and knick knacks on the top of the house.
    I spent a few days cleaning, decorating and painting it.
    This is a 3 story house, with 10 rooms, 3 staircases & 1 closet.
    The house has one section that is 2 stories and another section that is 3 stories high.
    This house has Plexi glass windows, has open and closeable front door, garage door and some room doors.
    This house is made of wood, and has some vinyl siding in a couple of rooms. The floors are wood, linoleum & carpeting.
    This house measures 5 feet wide, 2nd level measures 2 feet 2 inches tall and the 3rd level measures 3 feet 7 inches tall.
    The house is complete with rat beds, couches, sticks, toys, food, water and a digging box occasionally filled with growing herbs.


    Two story rat house:

    Two story wood shelf rat house, connected by a set of rat stairs.
    The stairs are made of wood and covered in fabric to soften them and protect the rats feet.
    The top level has a two story box house to hide in.
    The bottom level has a Lincoln Lodge wood house to hide in.


    Rat Shack:

    Wooden "Rat shack" two story house with 2 doors on the bottom level and 1 door on the top level.
    The roof also opens up from the top.
    Inside the house is a small animal bed to add extra coziness inside.
    I did some wood burning decorating on the house.


    Rat houses:
    You might call them cat houses but i call them Rat houses!
    These carpeted houses are great hiding spots for your rats to take a nap.


    Couches:

    Give your rat, a rat sized couch and maybe, just maybe they won't chew on yours!
    Doll couches are perfectly rat sized.


    Rat Beds:
    Doll/Barbie beds work great for rats, providing them with a nice and comfy spot to sleep.

    Here is a doll -now rat bunk bed.
    I put cardboard under the blankets on the bed to keep the rats from falling through, if the blankets get moved around.


    Wooden doll bed & plastic Barbie bed.


    Here are two more rat beds i use, these two are placed under the bed at the moment for them to sleep on.

    Fisher Price Plastic rat bed
    The bed comes apart in two pieces so you can put a blanket in between the pieces to protect from spills. I also have a towel that hangs down in the front, so the rats have more privacy.


    Plastic doll bed, makes a nice hideaway for rat kids.

    Strawberry Shortcake House:
    This house has 3 levels. The top level is one room with a ladder leading to the second level. The second level has 2 rooms, and the bottom level has one indoor room and 2 outdoor rooms. I placed a litter box in the back of the house and cover the shelves with newspaper. For some reason the rats really like the second level, and don't go on the other levels as often.


    Food Central:
    Entertainment stand main bedroom food area.
    Floor in front of the food area is covered in place mats to protect the carpet from spills.
    In front there are also some bones and wood chew toys.
    Bottom level is covered with newspaper, has food dispenser and water dish.
    Stairs lead the rats up to the second level where there is newspaper laid down and a box to hide in.


    Bed rat territory:
    This is the rat area in the headboard area of our bed.
    This area includes the top of the headboard, complete with rat hiding boxes.
    The lower shelf has two rooms with sliding doors and an open center area with food and water.
    Notice i keep a towel over my pillows to protect them from rat messes.
    "Rebel" and "Ashes" are in the picture lazing' about.

    Here is a more up to date bed rat area picture with Raindrop.


    Pillow animal bed:
    This is a dog bed -turned rat bed! Makes a good place to curl up and hide.


    Pound Puppy houses:
    Pound Puppy plastic houses make good rat houses!


    Lincoln Lodge
    "Lincoln Lodge" wood houses for small animals make a great spot to nap.


    Canvas shelf
    This is a canvas shelf which you hang sideways on the wall, i thought it made the perfect rat tent and the rat kids agree.
    (This one was bought at Ikea.)


    Rat Stairs:
    These stairs tend to get moved around quite a bit and have been in many different locations.
    At the Moment the stairs are right in front of Stormy's cage, leading up into the window.


    Here are some pictures of the rat cages i use from time to time.




    Huge cage, currently occupied by 8 males.

    Large Cage, currently occupied by 5 Females.


    Rat Toys & Games

  • Rats like to have lots of wood and paper to chew on.
  • Some rats will play with toy balls, and push them around and chase them.
    (Plastic balls, balls with bells, etc.)
  • Sometimes rats will chase strings or yarn. (Much like cat would)
  • Some Rats like running in plastic balls, well others just can't seem to figure out what to do with their tails.
  • Some rats will run on a wheel, but make sure it is a large rat wheel. Rats who run on wheels can develop "wheel tail" which is when they run around all the time with their tails up just like if they were running on the wheel. (This is not a medical condition and can be easily fixed by the rat not running on a wheel anymore.)
  • I have given my Rats a few little stuffed animals for them to cuddle and play with.
  • Rats love making newspaper houses (especially at 3 in the morning -he he), it will keep them busy for hours.
  • It is also fun to play a game of Hide and Seek with your rats.
  • I like to pin my rats down and then put them on me and act like they are pinning me down.
  • Rats will sometimes chase your fingers if you move them around slowly.
  • I like to make all my Rats give me kisses before i give them snacks.
  • Young rats love to chase and pin each other.
  • Some rats like to chew on other rats neck fur, to show they like each other.
    If you find scabs around your rats neck and you have rats that live or play together watch them and see if they are chewing on each other -before thinking they may have mites or bugs.
  • Rats like to chew on bones. (Food bones or dog bones.) (It may take a little while to find bones they like)
  • Rats like to chew on wood, my rats like Green wood over dried out wood.
  • Rats like to dig in dirt, such as in houseplants, or outside in a dirt pile or garden.
  • Rats enjoy having a digging box.
    Get a small tray or container (litter boxes work great), fill it with dirt, plant some edible plants or herbs and give the box to the rat.
    Rat will enjoy many hours of fun digging in the dirt and eating the plants.

  • Rats also will enjoy a small swimming pool.
    Get a small container (Litter boxes work great) fill it about 1/2 to 2 inches (Depending on how big or small your rat is) and throw in some peas, corn or other treats for the rat to find, and then put your rats inside. It may take them a little while before they notice the food, so you may have to help them find the food. Swimming pools are especially good on hot days.


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