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Housing Pet Rats - Rat Cage

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Housing Rats

Housing a pet rat can be simple, but you will need to consider the type of cage that you want to invest in. Your options range from aquariums, wire cages, and plastic cages. Once, you've decided upon a cage, you will need to find houses, toys, bowls, and bedding.

But, housing is not just a cage and toys. You must, also, consider where you will be putting the cage. Rats like your attention, so you may consider putting the cage in a room with high movement.

You want to keep the cage away from direct lighting and drafts.

Ratty Cage Options

Wire Cage with solid surface

Wire Cage with solid surface

Plastic levels.

Plastic levels.


Whichever type of cage you choose, it needs to have at least two square feet of surface area. Now, as for the dimensions of the cage, for one to two rats I would go no smaller than a 24"L x 12"W x 24"T. NEVER house rats in a small hamster habitat, solid plastic cage, 10 gallon aquariums, or ventilated storage bins.

Top Pros and Cons:


Pros: Litter cannot be kicked out onto the floor.

Cons: No ventilation calling for more frequent cleanings. Spend more money in order to get the same space as a wire cage. Build up heat. Hold in stale air.


Pros: Ventilation. Toys can be attached to walls and tend to have multiple levels, providing ample entertainment

Cons: Litter can be kicked onto the floor.


Pros: Wire walls with plastic levels are easier on ratty feets.

Cons: Litter can be kicked onto the floor. Rats can and will chew the plastic.

NEVER house a rat in a cage that has a wire bottom. Having wire levels and walls are great, but there needs to be some solid surfaces in the cage to prevent bumblefoot.


Bedding can be an important part of a rat's housing. The wrong bedding can cause respiratory illnesses, as some beddings have excess oils and aromas, that rat's, and all other small animals, cannot be exposed to for long periods of time (being more than one or two cleanings).


  • Aspen wood shavings
  • Carefresh
  • Lifemate- Hemp bedding
  • Kaytee- Soft Sorbent
  • Aspen pellets
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  • Pine wood shavings
  • Cedar wood shavings
  • Kaytee- Total Comfort (too dusty)

Stay away from beddings that are dusty, oily, and have aromas.

Clean the cage at least once a week. This will keep down any ratty smells that have accumulated. It will, also, rid the cage of ammonia, which if allowed to build up can become very harmful to your rats.


Rats are very intelligent creatures that do get bored easily. They need toys and ledges in the cage to keep them busy until you are able to spend time with them. Because a rat's favorite experience is playing with you!

But, anyway...

Inside the cage you can add various toys such as:

  • Ropes
  • Ladders
  • Hammocks
  • Hanging wood toys
  • Tunnels
  • Cardboard tubes (toilet paper and paper towel rolls work great)
  • Cardboard boxes
  • Silent wheels
  • Ferret toys
  • Cat toys (NO catnip!)
  • Ledges (attach to the walls of wire cages)

Get creative when thinking of toys you can make or toys you can buy for your rats. They'll appreciate it, and you'll have fun watching them play with their new toys.

Try to switch out the toys every other week or so. This will keep your rats entertained as they got a "new" toy. But, it's a recycled old one.

I prefer Martin's Cages. They are easy to put together, and easy to clean. There are a variety of cages to choose from, ranging from chinchilla cages, ferret cages, and rat cages. All are acceptable for housing rats, as long as you can guarantee that your rats cannot slip through the outer wires.

My three female rats are housed in the chinchilla high-rise (FC-430HR).

It includes:

  • 30" x 18" x 48"
  • Four levels
  • Full middle floor
  • Three ramps
  • Two balconies
  • Your choice of a drop-in 3½" plastic pan

Rat Information


Jeffrey on July 09, 2012:

My rat, Jeffrey, loves me, but I think he's lonely. I got him from Petsmart awhile back, and do you think I should get another one? Should I get another male, or will they fight? And, is a cage that is 2 ft, 4 in. long, 1 ft, 8in. wide, and 1 ft. 5 in. high, big enough for two male fancy rats if they are only in there for say, 3 hours TOPS? I let Jeffrey out almost constantly, he's only in there at night and when I have to leave the house

Lexie Engdahl on April 21, 2012:

i have two ratties currently ( females taz and lily) i had a hammock in their cage but took it out because they would not stop pooping and peeing in it, it was a gigantic mess so i took it out. it smelled terribly! i also had toys such as a hanging wooden blocks and a bell on it. they showed NO sign of using it so again, i took it out. this morning i found that the towel they have under the cage was completely ripped up and chewed. that ment that they were very bored. i am going to the pet store tmmrw and planning to get bedding ( mine for them is like gross litter) a toy, hut , and cleaning supplies. any cheap sugguestions for anything like toys? i also had a rope that they never chewed on. i tried to litter box train them but they would just untie and chew the string attached to the side to keep it attached.

Elliriyanna on August 17, 2011:

rats need company I would suggest trying to get your rat a same gender cage mate .... I would look on amazon for ferret and guinea pig cages :)

and don't forget baby toys rats love them

and you CAN but this is really not the best environment for your rats alex

Anonymus on July 29, 2011:

What cage should I get for my one hairless rat? I'm trying not to go too far over 50$ and I really need some help. Any suggestions??

Alex on July 10, 2011:

i don't understand why one cant just use a lab cage or a converted plastic tub l ike i do?

melodyandes on May 10, 2011:

Great information. Thanks for sharing.

Aleks on April 21, 2011:

im getting two rats and i wanted to know if a 23.75" H x 18" W x 23.75" D cage is good for them?


this is my first invest on rats!

Mr. Jenkins on April 17, 2011:

So I bought a rat. It breaths heavily and shivers uncontrollably. should I be worried?

naomi on April 02, 2011:

so you'd recommend cause I'm in need of a need cage and yes it will be for one rat but I'm going big so I wont have to worry about a cage for a very long time. also questioon about rats that's been alone for I'm not sure how long but I'd like to get her a friend but I don't want to do so if it isn't in her best interest. thank you

Whitney (author) from Georgia on December 28, 2010:

I would recommend it.

Cosmic Moose on December 27, 2010:

I have a 1 story wired cage and i wanted to know if i should get a bigger one because i have 2 rats

suzanne on November 28, 2010:

koko(kolby) spaying costs about 150$ at my vet for rats. Get a price quote, if it's not in your budget I suggest same sex couples.

Tanii on September 22, 2010:

I love rats have a hammok made of cloth and string because they like to chew it and this makes it easier and cheaper to replace...They often eat sunflower seads and lettuce makes them fall asleep

Whitney (author) from Georgia on August 25, 2010:

Males are more laid back, and females are more active (in general). It's up to you as to which you would prefer. I've never heard of any major spraying concerns with males, but yes it is possible. You can get them neutered, but I would be cautious as to what vet you choose as neutering a rat just isn't as common as a dog.

You don't want to get a male and female unless you want babies. They will breed. Getting two males OR two females is the better option.

koko(kolby) on August 24, 2010:

should i get 2 girls or 2 boys cause i heard boys mark the territory but i also heard that if you get them nueterd they wont do that anymore, or should i just get a boy and a girl you know kinda like a couple

Whitney (author) from Georgia on August 09, 2010:

I'm not sure, but it's a ferret cage.

chloe on August 09, 2010:

what is that plastic cage called?

Whitney (author) from Georgia on August 09, 2010:

If you have two female rats, there's no reason to spay them. Spaying rats can be complicated as they're so small, which is why if you opted for the procedure, you'd need someone knowledgeable in small animals.

If you breed at or before 6 months, the babies wouldn't be much younger than the initial rats, which would mean the lifespans would be about the same.

koko(kolby) on August 08, 2010:

thanks for the advice also, is it a good idea to get 2 female rats and fix 1 then when the unfixed 1 gets a little before six months 2 breed them so that when they die ill still have the baby rats that i didn't give away?

Whitney (author) from Georgia on August 05, 2010:

The cages have chinchillas in them, but they are exceptible for rats. I actually housed my rats in a cage just like the wire one on the top.

It is a little small for three rats. It'd be fine for one or two.

Rats can smell. Males will have a stronger odor than females will. You'll want to clean the cage at least weekly.

koko (kolby) on August 04, 2010:

i also am 11 so i don't know much about rats (lol) also being that iv never had one before,so i wanted to know if they stink.cause iv had a rabbit,guinea pig,ect.and they DID NOT have a very nice smell!

koko (kolby) on August 04, 2010:

hey i found the cutest purple cage but the store commented that its great for hamsters!before i had a chance to tell him i a cage for a rat,the cage is 25"h 11.3"w 14.3"d i just wanted to know,is it too small to house 3 rats

christina on December 28, 2009:

hi my rattie has a home made cage made from wooden bath pannels from b&q and a mesh frount and a plastic base . it cost around £ 20

so don't always just look to buy a ready made cage .

another way to cut costs is to look at second hand cages . yes sometines they need a bit of TLC but its worth it .

my 2 degu's are in a huge 6 foot high cage that i bought second hand for £40 . allthough i ended up spending £20 on ledges ect and they have home made hammocks .

Anita on November 13, 2009:

You should never keep rats in an aquarium. The amonia build up causes serious respitory issues. Rats enjoy climbing and a tank does not offer that. A cage with about 2 cubic feet of space per rat works well.

Whitney (author) from Georgia on November 11, 2009:

There's not much under $100 that will be really really good, unless you get a single layer cage or a small ferret cage that has one or two balconies. If you're willing to spend a little more and have the cage shipped, I'd recommend

rats-are-cool on November 10, 2009:

I an looking for a rat cage that is preferably under $100. Can you help me

Whitney (author) from Georgia on October 15, 2009:

As long as the bottom of the cage is not wired, the wired ramps should be fine. Just try to offer as many solid surfaces as you can.

Kenzie on October 14, 2009:

Hi I was wondering if the the wired ramps and balconies will be ok for my girls feet?

Whitney (author) from Georgia on May 08, 2009:

That's going to be WAY too small for an adult rat. You need to get a proper cage.

Billyandhisratlouie on May 08, 2009:

ok so i have a blue rat(1) and i just bought him and i had bought this thing where you put it on top of the 10 gallon tank its wire and has two tiers and ladders is that good or do i need to go bigger it stands about 22 in high and the area of a 10 gal tank all together

Celyste on December 19, 2008:

Just to mention... you don't need to 'buy' hammocks and tunnels. Just take an old shirt and cut it up. From one shirt I get 4 hammocks (I cut the front and back panels in half) and 2 tunnels (the sleeves). You can use either paperclips bent open a bit, or safety pins to clip them up. Twist ties work too if you've rained them not to chew the twists.

Cheap and a great way to reuse instead of throwing out. (and it ensures you've lots to swap with so you can just do one laundry trip!)

Whitney (author) from Georgia on October 02, 2008:

I wouldn't paint a pet cage or the bottom. Rats chew, and if they ingest the paint, it could be toxic. Just a heads up.

mare on October 01, 2008:

Thanks ill try all that.. it's a wire cage but not wire at the bottom... i painted it cause of the smell.

Whitney (author) from Georgia on October 01, 2008:

What kind of cage is it? Wooden, plastic, or wire?

I would try cleaning with vinegar and peroxide. The mixture is GREAT to remove smells. Although, your room may smell like vinegar for a little bit, it's always worked great for my full cage cleanings. I'm not sure what kind of cage it is or why you painted it, but try the vinegar and peroxide mix to clean the cage top to bottom. Use a sponge and just scrub basically.

If that doesn't work, you may want to try a pet odor and ammonia eliminator. You can find them in the dog house training isle usually.

And, maybe consider bleach, but make sure to thoroughly rinse the cage before putting your girls back in it.

And, if that doesn't work, I'd suggest a new cage. Try Martin's Cages, as they have GREAT rat cages that leave the decoration up to you. Just make sure to purchase one that does NOT have a wire bottom with slide out tray.

mare on October 01, 2008:

Can anyone helpHi there i bought a use cage for my 2 female rats....It was very dirty with urine i mean it was bad the guy that sold it to me had 6 male rats in it..its a big 3story cage... So i cleaned it with my hose and javex i got all the urine out... But about 3weeks after my babys were in the cage it started to really stink...So i painted it... Now here's what's happening i clean the cage top to bottom every 2days.....My rats are liter trained and they only poo at the bottom...But they pee on the bars.... As soon as they pee even if i just cleaned it the smell is so bad...And i know its not just their pee cause my one female pees on my arm when she is excited and it doesn't smell the same... Could the male pee smell be coming from the bars when my females pee?And what do i do to get rid of the smell?Do i need to get a new cage?

Whitney (author) from Georgia on March 15, 2008:

I love Martin's Cages! I have 2 of them, only 1 set up currently. If I had the room, I'd set up the other and add a few more ratties. They're nothing but a bundle of joy.

Rat707 from California for 1 year on March 15, 2008:

This is kinda weird, I think Martin's Cages are one of the' best! lol well, what do ya know?! lol again great hub!

Krista 07 from Europe on November 15, 2007:

Oh okay! :)Oh dear, Ihope they like them. =/

Whitney (author) from Georgia on November 15, 2007:

Once they get used to eat other, they will share. So you should be fine with just one.

Also, yes, i think that ropes with notes are great. they can chew them and climb them.

I think Razzle is a cute name. You may want to wait for a decision once you've met the rat's personality.

Oh and as for the pet-looney cat toys, some rats love them. They'll carry them around and throw them. But, some rats don't really care for them.

Krysta on November 15, 2007:

Sorry, one more thing do you have any ideas for the new rat? She is a girl. I'm thinking about Razzle .

Krysta on November 15, 2007:

I just sent away for the ferret play tunnel! I went to Amazon . Do you think they will like the Petmate looney loops cat toy?

Krysta on November 15, 2007:

Okay should I buy two hammocks or do you think they would share it ?What about a rope with knots way they could climb? I've heard rats love to climb.

Whitney (author) from Georgia on November 15, 2007:

You could try a regular hammock and a cloth tunnel, since there are to full floors. My girls loved them both. I bought ferret ones. I tend to buy a lot of ferret things for my rats.

There are 3 rats in the cage, and they love it! Larger than the R-685 that I initially bought for 2.

Krysta on November 15, 2007:

Aww! That's a nice one ! does she like it ?

Krysta on November 15, 2007:

Yup , now I'm broke! ;-) Okay I'll thry that ! Should I put 2 hammocks in there?

Whitney (author) from Georgia on November 15, 2007:

Wow you really went all out! My girls are in the FC-430HR, it's in the Chinchilla section. You have plenty of room to add hammock, ropes, ladders, and tons of toys! They'll love it. Just make sure to swap out the toys every now and then, otherwise they'll get bored. Don't throw them out because you can swap back, and they'll think they're new toys (add at least 1 new one though). ;-) Money saving trick, well not really a trick, but maybe it'll help, as toys and such are sometimes pricey.

Krysta on November 14, 2007:

I hpoe she likes it!

Krysta on November 14, 2007:

I got THE RUUD CAGE (R-699) it's under rats.It cost me 167.00plus 10.00 extra!

Did I go a little crazy?

Whitney (author) from Georgia on November 14, 2007:

I love Martin's Cages! Congrats on the purchase. Which one did you get?

Krysta on November 14, 2007:

Thankyou Whitney,

I just got a "Martin's cage" for the new rat on Sunday.

tiffany on November 09, 2007:

I have a cage with plastic levels . And have 2 hammocks and a rope with knots that way she gets exercise when she goes to get water ! And she also has a little buddy named Peckit a dove ! I let them out together and they walk around every where ! Peckit has a hurt wing so she cant fly right now ! :-(

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