How to Create the Perfect Rat Cage

Updated on March 3, 2016

Make Your Rat Feel at Home

Provide your pet rat with a fantastic rat cage where they can truly feel at home and express their natural behaviors. It is not just a matter of splashing out on a nice cage; you will also want to add all kinds of snuggly items and toys for your rats. This article will tell you just what to do to make your rats happy.

How to Choose the Best Rat Cage

Your rat's home is his castle, after all. Here are some things to consider to help you make your choice.

Size. Yes, in this case size does matter! Rats need room to investigate, play, frolic and roam, and the bigger the cage the better. Of course you will get your rats out of the cage often for free-range time, but the fact is you can't be there all the time. You need to sleep, don't you? You can rest easy knowing your rats have enough space to play until you let them out the next day. Plus the bigger the cage, the more toys and hammocks you can easily fit inside.

Gaps between bars. Oh those sneaky ratties, they will squeeze through the smallest spaces. That is why cages designed for ferrets and other larger animals may not be suitable unless you have a very big rat. Did you know an adult rat can squeeze through a half-inch gap? As a guideline, you should not be able to fit your fingers easily through the cage. Small gaps are good.

Ventilation. Sadly, our rodent pals are prone to respiratory diseases, and that is why old aquarium tanks are a no-go when it comes to creating the ideal environment for our pet rats. These tanks do not provide proper air flow, and can become a hotbed of bacteria leading to deadly infections. Choose a cage with wire bars to ensure your rats can breathe freely.

Cost. If only we had thousands of dollars to splurge ... alas, most of us don't. You may need to shop around and check online for some great deals. Don't worry, you can get a great, spacious cage for a bargain price. If you can't even afford that, you could try making a cage, but consider too, before adopting your rats, that you should reserve some money in case you have vet bills down the road.

Ease of cleaning. To keep your rats healthy, you must clean the cage at least weekly. Since this is a regular chore, be sure to get a cage that is easy to clean. Many cages have a pull-out tray at the bottom which helps. As long as you can reach every corner, you will be fine, and you can give the wire a good scrub too.

So now you are well equipped to go shopping for your rat's home.

Adding Fun to Your Rat's New House


Who wants a bare empty cage? Not me! Once you have bought the perfect rat cage you will want to make it the ideal home for your pet rats. Here are some things you could consider:

Hammocks. It is well known that pet rats love hammocks. Plus, it is a joy to watch them snuggle together in pure bliss. You can make a hammock out of a square of fleecy material, or buy one from a pet store or online.

Snuggly rags. If you have any old clothes you don't mind seeing the back of, cut them up and make them into bedding material for your rats. You can also use sleeves of old jumpers as tunnels and hoods as cosy pouches.

Mirrors and bird toys. Some rats love to check themselves out in the mirror (well, they are pretty). Look in your pet store for bird toys that may be suitable for your rats to chew, climb on and have fun with.

Ramps, tunnels and ropes. Multi-level homes are great for young rats, so add ramps so they can explore the rooftops of their new home. Remember, though, elderly rats are better off in a one-level home. Tunnels and ropes are also great fun for rats—they love to climb.

Untreated wood. Wood is fun to climb on and great to gnaw. I am sure you have already discovered that your pet rats adore to gnaw, and this will fulfill their desires.

Add a stone. Sounds boring, eh? Well if you place a rough stone in a position where your rats will have to walk over it to get to their food bowl, you will find it keeps their nails trim and you won't have to deal with the horrible task of trimming nails.

Hiding places. Ensure your rats have places to hide away from the world. You can buy special wooden boxes and igloos for this purpose.

Use your imagination. Depending on the size of your rat's cage you can really go wild. How about adding a shallow swimming pool made from an unused cat litter tray, propped up at one end with a book, to make a shallow and deep end. Fill it a little with water and add some shells or rocks, plus some frozen peas for them to fish for. This is a great way to keep rats cool in summer.

How to Have More Time With Your Pet Rats

I wish rats lived longer - don't you?

The biggest complaint from rat owners is that their pets just don't live long enough, and worse still, they often pass away from nasty illnesses such as tumors or respiratory infections. The good news is there are ways to prolong your rat's life and keep them happy and healthy.

If you love rats, share your stories here. Perhaps you have discovered something that your rats love to play with in their home, or maybe you just want to say hi. Leave your comment here.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

Questions & Answers

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      • profile image


        2 months ago

        The best way I find to spend more time with my 4 rats is to almost always have them on my bed. I fold my clothes there which the love to climb on and play. And every other chore I can do on my bed or in my bedroom I do. I take them out of the house but only one at a time. They love the attention.

      • profile image


        9 months ago

        Hi I'm getting my first rat's tonight at the age of 66, I've got them from a friend who rescues them, he has given me advice about how to look after them, they are albinos very young about a year,

      • profile image


        9 months ago

        We’ve had our rat for 5wks and know he knows my voice I let him out for a bit and she come and loves to lick us.

      • profile image

        Vivvie Davidson. 

        17 months ago

        I have had my wee baby rat for just 3 wks now and I simply adore her. I love getting her out in the evening and cuddle her. I think she is begining to recognise my voice as whenever I call her name she comes out from her bed and follows my voice.

      • profile image


        2 years ago

        A good way to prevent respiratory illness in rats is to pop a drop of wild organic oregano oil in their food each day. The oil strengthens lungs and boosts the immune system. Also apple cider vinegar in their water reduces urin smell and guards against intestinal parasites and does wonderful things for their immune system.

        I also give them raw garlic, various herbs, some kefir, coconut oil olive oil and broth. All of these things guard against cancer and give them a lovely shiny coat and reduce smell of poo. Incidentally, these things are also good for humans. I'm hoping that with all these things my ratties will live long, happy, healthy little lives. Certainly no problems so far.

        I do not feed a commercial food. It's all real food. I think this helps too.

      • profile image


        2 years ago

        I've had pet rats since I was 14, I'm 17 now, and since then have had six rats, three of which I currently have. I've had many, many creatures in my life, but rats have been just the greatest, most loyal pets I've cared for. I truly wish they would live longer, as my three rats that have passed died from tumours and respiratory diseases. My rats now, Aarianna (who has three mammary gland tumours :( ), Carina and Rhoda (who were being sold as fancy rats, but for some reason never grew hair) now live in a Ferret Nation cage, and they just love all the room! They love their exercise wheel, and dark chocolate (I like to give them 85%). To anybody who is looking into getting a pet rat for the first time, I'd just like to tell you to do some serious research, and the main thing to know about them is that they are prone to respiratory problems, and since they have many mammary glands, both male and female can be quite likely to grow benign mammary tumours which are very expensive to remove and keep gone, since it would require complete removal and spay/neuter to keep the tumour from growing back. Rats are very, very social, and unless given much of your time devoted to them, they can become lonely and depressed, which can damage them both physically and mentally. Rats are really fantastic pets, and during their lives will be devoted to you, and love you so much!

      • profile image


        2 years ago

        I have a pet rat and in her cage I put in a tube with yellow cotton fluff, she loves the cotton fluff and the tube. Sometimes I find her hiding in her tube. My rat loves avacado and milk which I don't give her that often.

      • StewartClan profile image


        5 years ago

        I love our pet rats. We have seven at the moment, but we are getting another two babies in a couple of days. This is a great lens, very informative. I am going to make a three level hammock for our new babies today or tomorrow.

      • profile image


        5 years ago

        I've had many different types of animals, but rats are one of my favorite. I wish more people would give them a chance. (but I do love watching people do the "icky rat dance". Thanks for the ideas.

      • profile image


        6 years ago

        Great lens! this info was useful to me and my rats! I'll make some more tunnels and a hammock... maybe today! :)

      • TransplantedSoul profile image


        7 years ago

        My daughter had several rats over the years. They were wonderful. Yes respiratory issues were a problem.

      • tandemonimom lm profile image

        tandemonimom lm 

        7 years ago

        Very helpful lens on housing a pet rat! We loved our pet rats, but as you say, they just don't live long enough. :-(

      • profile image


        7 years ago

        a perfect rat-cage will be a best and sutiable cage for the rats according to numbers of rats..

      • shandigp profile image


        7 years ago

        did you know that the link for the info about doubling your pets life span doesn't work? it took me to a white page with a search box.

      • profile image


        7 years ago

        i think the most valuable thing is that provide a perfect and peaceful environment to rats..this the most important thing which I considerâ¦


      • noner profile image


        8 years ago

        I'm trying to save up to buy a new cage for my girls. I think the good cages have trippled in price over the past few years.

      • LaurenIM profile image


        9 years ago

        I've never had a pet rat because I hadn't the slightest idea how to care for them. I've thought about it but now that you've explained about the rat cage, I'm starting to think about getting a pet rat again. I really like the cool ratcage in your "Adding Fun to Your Rat's New House" section. I'll be checking out your website link for more information. Thanks!

      • profile image


        9 years ago

        I had a dream about rats last night. I am pretty sure it was because I was reading your Lens. Thanks for that! In my Dream it was a Pet Rat, and oddly Cute! Must say, it's a pet idea I hadn't thought of. Thanks for sharing! :)


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