Pet rats need a place where they feel safe. A place where they can play, climb, jump, eat, drink, and sleep. Rats should not be kept free range. They should always have a cage to go to (even if it is only to sleep in).

All pet rat cages should have 1/2″ between bars. Any bigger and your pet rat could squeeze out. You would be amazed the spaces they can get into.  All rat cages should have metal bars. Aquariums and critter keepers are not acceptable cages for pet rats.  They do not provide the ventilation needed for respiratory health. Remember ANY plastic used in a cage can be chewed through.

When you are thinking of how to house your pet rat there are many things that go into what kind of cage you should get.

How many pet rats do you want or plan to have?  

You want at least approximately 2×2 of floor space for 2 rats and add approximately 1 cubic foot of (floor space or hammocks and other areas) space per additional rat. The more hammocks, ropes, toys, and separate feeding areas the better.

Of course, more space is usually better. There is one time that I disagree with that statement. If you have a nervous rat, keep it in a smaller cage at first, it will feel more secure.

Do you plan on having boys or girls or both?

Girls typically need more usable space and more activities to keep themselves busy. They like to forage, hoard, chew, climb, and explore.

Boys need the same space and activities, however you can expect for them to slow down and be more lazy at around a year old. At this point you want more hammocks and sleeping spaces.

If you are housing boys and girls it is a good idea to keep boys and girls in separate rooms. This prevents males from getting territorial to the other males in a cage. They typically get territorial when they smell females. (This said I have not had that issue in my rats, every rat is different)

How much room can your cage take up?

Many pet rat cages have multiple levels. These are great if  you don’t have a lot of floor space.

Does your cage need to keep out dogs, cats, and young children?

Some cages are much more stable than others. If you have dogs, cats or young children, it is a good idea to make sure that your cage is sturdy enough to withstand whatever may happen.

Dogs- Cages should be up on a sturdy surface or have its own stand to stay out of reach of dogs, especially terriers, which were bred to hunt rats and other small critters. Even if your dog is well-behaved with your rat be sure they cannot get together if you are not watching them.  You also want a strong heavy barred cage.

Cats– If you have cats be sure your cage is somewhere where the cats cannot knock it off of anything. Also, make sure the bars are 1/2″ at the widest spots. Also, some cats may play with or bite tails that are sticking out of the cage, which can lead to unintended injuries.

Young Children – Rats and children can get along wonderfully. Young children should always be supervised when handling rats. If you have very young children you may want to get a cage that is hard to open or that you can put child locks on.