A good environment for your pet rat is very important! We like to live in good conditions so it’s only natural that the same goes for our ratties. A good and clean cage, along with comfortable bedding and toys are the most important things to have in consideration.
How can you create a good environment for your pet rat? The first thing you need to do is find them a safe and spacious cage. Now you just need to fill it with not only safe and comfortable bedding as well as litter boxes for them to use. Finally, be sure to leave their cage in a warm and quiet place along with lots of toys so they can exercise and be entertained!
Now I know, this might seem very overwhelming, especially when you’re just starting. So we’re going to go step by step along with some product recommendations, so you can have a perfect home ready for when your ratties arrive!
The Fundamentals For Your Pet Rat Environment
There are quite a few things to keep in mind when thinking about your pet rat environment so we want to start with the fundamentals!
Keep in mind that you should have all of these before bringing your new ratties home. For example, pet rats need some time to get used to their new cage, so it’s better to get a new and spacious one right before you bring them home, so they don’t need to move from cage to cage too many times.
It’s also important to get safe beddings and toys for them, so there’s nothing threatening to their lifestyle! Before thinking about bringing a new pet to our homes, it’s always important to research and make sure we have the best conditions for them.
Now, I’ve done a lot of research already. That’s why I want to compile here everything you need to know and own to offer a good environment to your rodent friends.
I’ll talk about all of these further down the post. But here is a list of things to care about to keep a healthy environment for your pet rat:
- Safe, Spacious And Clean Cage
- Good And Safe Bedding
- Warm And Quiet Room
- Toys And Exercise
These are the main things that you should care about in terms of the environment for your pet rat! Let’s now talk about each in specific.
A Good And Safe Cage
The first thing you need to know is that pet rats are very social. For that reason, you should get more than one. Two is a very good number to start, then as you get used to owning pet rats you can start to raise this number.
I actually talked quite a bit about how many pets should you have in another post, so I recommend taking a good look at it if you have any doubts.
Now as for the cages, it’s very common to see pet stores selling hamsters or guinea pig cages for pet rats. This is a very common misconception, but a pet rat needs way more space than that!
Compare the size of a hamster with a pet rat. Even for hamsters, most of the cages are small. Pet rats need space to live on and exercise. We also need space in our home right? Putting a pet rat in a hamster cage is the equivalent of living in an elevator.
For that reason, I usually recommend ferret or chinchilla cages, for example, this Prevue Hendryx Cage on Amazon! It’s really spacious, with several floors, so your ratties can climb and explore. This cage is also really safe and easy to clean.
The only downside to it is that the space between the bars can be a bit too big. After all, it’s made thinking of ferrets and pet rats can easily fit through these bars.
You have to be careful with it though, be sure all the tips are well rounded or folded into each other, so it doesn’t harm your pet rats. Nevertheless, with that grid, you’re 100% sure your pet rat won’t escape.
Another reason to buy a big cage right away is that, even if you’re starting with only two pet rats, whenever you decide to have more, you don’t need to buy another cage right away. With the Prevue Hendrix, you can have up to 5 or 6 pet rats living together!
Beds and Hiding Places
Once you get a good and safe cage for your pet rats, it’s important to have enough beds, hiding places, litter boxes and toys for them to use and play with. Pet rats feel safer to sleep in dark and hidden places. For example, if you want a cheap option, cardboard boxes are perfect for them to sleep in.
We always keep cardboard or plastic boxes that are big enough for our girls to sleep in, this way we can change it every week. The main problem with cardboard boxes is that they’ll inevitably get some pee on it and start to smell, so you need to change them weekly.
Then you also have hiding places like the Lixit Critter Space Pod which they really love and it’s so funny if you have more than one pet rat. They like to sleep together so they’ll bundle up inside those, it’s the cutest!
The Space Pod is especially good since it’s very easy to clean. It’s made out of plastic so you just need to wash it once a week and change its bedding!
Fluffy beds like the JanYoo ones are not only comfortable but really cute! They have them with different shapes and colors. I recommend having more than one fabric beds so that you can wash one and while it dries you have something else to put on the cage.
Finally: Hammocks! These are really great since pet rats love to climb and to hide. Hammocks are definitely a favorite here at home. Our girls sleep on their hammock most of the times and you can either buy one or make one!
I really like the Niteangel Luxury Hammock it’s very big so it can fit more than one rattie and easy to set up.
Remember that pet rats will spend most of their time in their cages, so it’s important for it to be as safe and comfortable as possible.
And of course, it’s important to keep it clean. Usually a deep cleaning of the cage once per week along with minimal cleaning daily.
For example, we always clean up their litter box of droppings every day as well as cleaning any leftovers of fresh food they were given the night before.
The Best Bedding For Your Pet Rat
Bedding is very important. Again sometimes the things we find in some pet stores are not exactly safe for a pet rat. For example, people sometimes ask if it’s ok to buy cat’s litter to use for pet rat’s cages or litter boxes.
Be very careful with these! Cat’s litter are usually perfumed and have properties that are quite toxic for pet rats. Remember that they’re very small. Not only that but rodents, in general, are notoriously known to have very weak respiratory systems.
So you want to be sure to get the safest bedding possible. Generally speaking, you want something that isn’t perfumed nor dusty! I’ve talked about it more in my article about the best safe and cheap bedding for your pet rat here, so take a look!
Paper-based bedding is always the best way to go for. For example, I really like the Carefresh Paper Bedding packages. They’re quite big and will last for some time. Not only that but this bedding is very absorbent so you don’t need to change it constantly!
Just take out the wet bits you see in the cage daily, and then change all of it once a week, when doing a deep cleaning of the cage.
I really recommend checking the article I linked for other alternatives, including some that you can do at home!
Before going for the next topic, I wanted to note that the bedding you use for the cage should be different than the one for the litter box. This just makes it easier for your rodent friends to identify what is a bathroom and what isn’t.
For that purpose, I prefer to use pellets, since they’ll last longer and absorb the urine a bit better, avoiding bad odors. The So Phresh Paper Pellet is perfect. Again it’s made out of paper, making it very safe for pet rats and will keep the cage clean and odor free.
As for litter box cleaning, we usually make sure to clean out the droppings every day, along with any bits of pellets that are too moist. Then when cleaning the whole cage, we throw out the whole litter box contents and then fill it with new and clean litter!
Choosing Which Room To Keep Your Pet Rat’s Cage
Pet rats can’t handle heat or cold temperatures very well, so it’s important to have a room at a mild temperature. Around 25º Celsius (77º Fahrenheit) is a good temperature and make sure that they’re cage is out of direct sunlight.
As I said pet rats don’t do well with heat and direct sun can actually harm them. Their eyes are very sensitive and bright lights can cause injuries.
So be sure their cage stays in a quiet, mild place. As for the light, as long as it isn’t right next to a window, they should be fine!
Finally, be sure the room they’re staying at is a quiet place. For example, for us it’s in our office, so we can keep them company. It’s not a place with a lot of noise, save for the occasional computer sounds that are never too loud.
Remember that they’re smaller animals and certain noises can be too loud and bad for them. If you have other pets at home, such as dogs or cats, be sure that they’re at a safe distance as well!
Animals need some time to get used to each other and pet rats are very nervous. It is important to get your pets acquainted to each other slowly, while you keep an eye on them and for short periods of time.
Pet Rats Toys And Exercise
Pet rats need toys and exercise to keep an active mind and body. They play with each other sure, but that is not enough. Having a good set of toys, including spares so you can change them once in a while is a very good way to keep your ratties entertained!
I wrote a helpful post about all the best pet rat toys that you can get your pet rat, check it out for ideas and links! There’s not only toys that you can buy, but also toys and activities that you can do at home and use to play with them.
But in general, you should have a few chewing toys, places to climb and digging spots or boxes. We get them boxes with dirt and other things for them to dig and scavenge about very regularly.
Pet rats love to scavenge and discover new things so be sure to always include some treats with their puzzles or hunts!
Ropes, ladders, and tunnels are also perfect not only for them to move around the cage, but to play with. There’s really a lot to choose from and you can never have enough toys for your rodent friends.
Again, these are not only for them, but you can also join them in the exercise by playing with your pet rats and even teaching them new tricks. Believe me, they’ll love it!
Final Tips On Having A Good Pet Rat Environment
Pet rats are very clean animals, so they like having their spaces clean as well! As I said, you should do a deep cleaning of the cage once every week. Too much cleaning and the cage loses their scent and they won’t feel at home.
Just enough cleaning so their litter boxes aren’t all dirty and it won’t start to smell!
Make sure that their cage stays in a place where you spend most of your time. Pet rats like to socialize with their owners, so it’s important to be close so you can interact with them at any time!
Most important of all, pay attention to their needs and spend time with them at least one hour per day. This will strengthen your bond and keep them happy.
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