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Build A Rat Playpen


How To Build Your Own Rat Playpen

This started life as an article on my other page, Hug A Rat Today (, and I decided to expand it and devote an entire Squidoo page about it.

It will describe how you can easily construct a playpen for your rats that is easy to clean and quick to set up and take down as needed.

(Illustrations created using Google SketchUp )


The Sides

Obtain four sheets of hardboard, 4' long by 2' wide. 1/8" or 1/4" thickness. Places such as Home Depot should carry this in stock.

The 2' dimension will be the height of your pen's walls. I found I needed the two-foot high walls because we had one rat that was a jumper. Even then, she managed to reach the top of the wall a few times.

Cut slots at 1 1/2 or 2" from each end (whichever measurement you choose, do it consistently on all cuts), 1' in length. The width of the slots should be the same as the board thickness. If you have access to a saw, you can cut the wood yourself, but if not, you can usually get them to make the cuts in the store when you are buying the wood.


Interlocking the Corners

Have someone help you hold up two boards parallel to each other, with the slots up.

Take another board and flip it with the slots downward. Slide the boards together by interlocking the slots.


Completing the Corners

Perform the same interlocking of the boards on the other side. You should now have a square pen, approximately 4' x 4' (slightly less because of the 2" offset for the slots).


Add the Floor

Your pen needs a floor. You can get a 4' x 4' sheet of hardboard and cover it with vinyl tiles, or perhaps a sheet of linoleum.

Another option is to use a large fleece blanket.

Lay this floor cover on your room floor, and then carefully move the pen on top.

Fill with safe toys for your rats, and you're done! Let the fun begin!


Of course, make sure you or someone else in the household is always supervising, just in case you have a jumper too or if a dispute breaks out.

If jumping is a problem, consider building a lid for the pen with a mesh screen to allow for air ventilation.

Scroll to Continue

Be careful of bumping into the pen or moving the walls while the rats are playing... you don't want to accidentally catch a tail or paw under the boards.

Give them a variety of fun but safe toys to play with, and perhaps a hanging hammock, for older ratties to take a breather.

Reader Feedback - Let me know how you enjoyed this page.

Rathugger (author) on July 18, 2012:

I paid about $5 per board at Home Depot in Canada.

anonymous on July 18, 2012:

how much did this cost?

anonymous on July 18, 2012:

how much did this cost?

anonymous on July 12, 2012:

great idea!!!! i made a playpen for the rodents i am going to take care of!

anonymous on April 17, 2012:

Thank you so much! This article was very helpful!

Darcie French from Abbotsford, BC on February 07, 2012:

My boys are adults, we have them in two cages put together, and even with all the space they much prefer to snuggle. If ever we have baby ratties we'll make a playpen like this one :)

JessyGene on January 19, 2012:

Great lens! I'm going to try making one of these when I get more baby rats

anonymous on July 30, 2011:

Excellent!! I made one of these with cardboard, but I will look at a more permanent one. Great!

Rathugger (author) on February 20, 2011:

@mdkarr: Sure, there's always room for modifications to this design. I've thought about replacing one side with clear plexiglass, for example, to give humans and rats a window through which to watch each other, or some sort of mount to attach a water bottle.

mdkarr on February 20, 2011:

Maybe adding a thin moulding around the floor so that the walls of the playpen just fit inside might prevent the accidental movement on to a tail as the moulding will keep the walls in place on the flooring. You may have to make the flooring piece wider by the width of the moulding times two.

anonymous on February 11, 2011:

LIke so cool!!!! I <3 rats and i need to learn how to make one because i might be gotting a rat for christmas!!!!!

anonymous on December 10, 2010:

Just what I needed. thanks! Will be making this. I want to have a playpen so my girls can get out more but though wire ones I've seen in store look like that could either climb up the bars or even squeeze through them depending on the thickness and expensive too! This seems like a cheaper more innovative way. Thanks again!

anonymous on September 18, 2009:

This is awesome! I was looking to make a homemade rat playpen, but needed one that was easy to take apart and couldn't think how to do it. Thanks!

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