According to a survey, 62% of US households have at least one pet. Whilst not the first choice for some, rodents can be fun company and very sociable to have around. In this article, we turn the spotlight on cages for rats. If you are thinking about getting a pet rodent you will need to look carefully at the huge number of accommodation options available. However, before purchasing your new rat cage, here are a few things you may wish to consider:
Select the right size
Rats need a minimum of 0.06 cubic meters (2 cubic feet) in order to run, climb, jump, balance and dig but all cages should be large enough to house at least four of them.
Decide where you want to place the cage
Identify a suitable place and design to fit in with the rest of your furniture and the room layout. Rats like human interaction so choose a room with some footfall but do protected them from excessive noise, which is stressful, especially during the day when they need to be able to sleep. Equally, rats can be noisy during the night when they are most active so the bedroom may not be the best place.
Rodents generate less noise on a wireframe on a plastic base than an all metal one. Placing the cage on hard flooring is also a good idea as this is easier to clean than carpet when they shed litter and food. Adding a kick guard of pre-cut Plexiglass panels to the side of the cage will also help with this.
Check your cage for wide bars for example where the roof and sides meet- anything over 1.5cm is a possible escape route which can lead to losing your precious pet. Avoid wired bases as these may damage their feet. They also need a loose substrate on a solid base for digging and foraging for food. Either remove the grill or cover it with a large plastic tray, such as those sold for the base of dog crates.
Go for large doors that allow you to remove the entire contents of the cage- including trays in order to clean all areas thoroughly. Larger doors also allow you to socialize and confidence your pet, help them if they are sick or injured, change hammocks and get larger accessories and quantities of litter into and out of the cage.
Maximise use of cage space
Fully opening front doors are best, but they have fewer anchor points for hanging ropes and hammocks. This problem can be overcome by leaving one door on each level shut and fixing accessories to it. Another solution is to only hang ropes and branches across the full width of the cage and just use the doors to place perches and water crocks.
In short, shop around and weigh up the pros and cons of each cage so that you can work out which one will best suit your needs and those of your rodent.