One of the most common photos of pet rats you can find on the web is pet rats on hammocks! But why do pet rats like hammocks so much?
Generally, pet rats love hammocks because they feel safer and more comfortable in a higher and secluded place. This instinct comes from the pet rat’s wild side of hiding from predators on the top of trees.
Besides that, I honestly think they just find it really comfortable!
How Big Should A Rat Hammock Be?
When it comes to hammocks, it’s good to go big! Of course, this depends on the number of pet rats you own.
However you want their hammock to be flexible, so they can comfortably lay on it. Not only that, but some hammocks even have a pocket, for your pet rats to sleep, while in the dark and in a closed space. Just like they love it!
This pocket needs to have enough space for at least one pet rat to sleep on and be able to move around without falling.
So, generally, I recommend finding a hammock that is at least 15”x15”, if squared. For a rectangular hammock, I’d say 15”x17”!
This is a very good size and can fit 3 pet rats, while still being very comfortable.
Now, if you own more than 3 pet rats, you have two options here: buy more than one hammock and put them in different places in their cage, or, get a bigger hammock.
Ferret hammocks are very big for example, so they can fit all of your little rodent friends!
By owning 3 pet rats or more, or if you have a big cage like the Critter Nation, it’s generally a good idea to have more than one hammock, just so they have several options.
This way, your ratties can choose on which level they want to go to sleep or relax!
Pet rats have different personalities and while most of them rather sleep in groups, you can find a rat that prefers to be alone sometimes.
If you want, you can even get a smaller hammock that fits only one pet rat, so, again, your ratties can choose from it!
Finally, there are different kinds of hammocks that you can find.
However, if your pet rats (or some of them) do not enjoy sleeping in hanging objects, there is another option: the Pod. This is a very nice sleeping place for your pet rats.
Even though it’s not hanging on the cage, it goes a bit above the floor. This makes it a very curious hiding/sleeping place that your pet rats will want to explore!
What Can You Use For A Rat Hammock (DIY)
It’s actually quite easy to make your own hammocks. And the good thing about it is that you can customize it as you want!
Most of the time, you probably have most materials you need right at home and, if you don’t own it, you don’t even need a sewing machine.
Believe me, I’m mediocre at best at sewing, and managed to make a very neat and comfortable hammock for our girls!
So here’s what you need:
- A piece of fabric. This fabric can be made out of cotton, fleece, or flannel. You can even mix different types of fabric on your hammock;
- Needle and thread;
- Shoelaces or any other kind of thick thread (this one is also optional).
Alright, overall this is what you should need to create your hammock. Starting with the fabric, you can either use old clothing items you have at home.
Sweatshirts and t-shirts work very well, for example! On the other hand, if you want something a bit more customized and on a theme, you can always find some cute patterns at a local shop or online.
The only thing I advise is that you get a large quantity of the fabric. It should be enough to create a 15” square or a 15”x17” rectangle. Don’t forget that you’ll also create some margins while sewing the whole thing together.
Personally, I always like to get extra material, just to be sure I won’t be short on it.
As for the hooks, you have two options: you can find some simple hooks on Amazon. You’d need at least four, to hang the hammock to the cage.
Then you just need some shoelaces, thick thread, or even strips of fabric to connect the hammock to the hooks!
Alternatively, and this is what I used for our girls’ first hammock, you can buy some shower curtain hooks.
These are usually quite cheap and you can connect them all to create a chain. After that, you just need to connect one end to the cage and the other to the hammock!
The great thing about these hooks is that they’re very easy to set up but you can also control and change how high or low your hammock is.
At any point in time, you can add or take out hooks from the hammock very easily. For example, if you notice your hammock is too high and your pet rats don’t feel brave enough, just add some more hooks.
Now of course there are several different types of hammocks you can make, this is just one example.
Check out this PDF, by ratropolis, filled with many different and easy-to-make hammocks and other hiding places for pet rats!
These templates are very well organized and explained and I think it’s worth taking a look if you’re thinking about going the DIY route.
Reasons Your Rat Doesn’t Like Hammocks
There are many reasons your pet rat doesn’t like their hammock.
The most common one is that they’re not used to the object itself.
Pet rats are used to small, close spaces to sleep on. Even though they are excellent climbers and curious by nature, they might distrust a new object at first.
This is especially true if they’ve been living in their cage for a while before a hammock was added.
For example, we had the hammock installed on their cage even before our girls arrived. This way, when they first got to their new home, they got to be familiarized with the hammock right away.
Even though they didn’t sleep on it for the first few days, they quickly took a liking to their hammock!
So a lot of the time, it’s good to be patient and let your pet rats get accustomed to the idea of the hammock.
Little by little they’ll feel more comfortable about it.
Another thing your pet rats might find different is the material. If you have no other bedding made out of fabric throughout their cage, your rats might be weirded out by the material of the hammock.
We always have some bedding made out of fabric in their sleeping spaces and this made the whole process much easier for them. Our girls were already used to the touch of clothing/fabric, in general.
If your pet rats aren’t too used to hanging accessories, they might be fearful of the hammock for that same reason.
Pet rats have incredible balance and will not fall easily. However, if they’re not familiar with a hanging object, it’s natural for them to feel apprehensive at first.
After all, it’s much more difficult to walk on something static than on an object that will move around, with each step you take!
Consider adding some bridges or ladders to their cage, so they can start feeling more comfortable with the idea. If you do notice the hammock moves around too much, you can also adjust it, so that doesn’t happen as much.
Your pet rats might also have some previous trauma about it. They might’ve fallen out of a hammock before, for example. So it’s natural for them to not feel at ease in one.
Since hammocks are made out of fabric, it’s totally possible that your pet rats might chew through the fabric.
This can create holes in the hammock or even break the hanging threads, causing an accident.
For that reason, I think that hooks are the safest option. Your pet rats will have a hard time chewing through those. So it’s very unlikely for them to break their hammock that easily.
As for the fabric, just be sure to check on the hammock from time to time. If you notice big holes in it, be sure to fix them or even replace the hammock if it looks beyond repair.
Pet rats also rather sleep in closed spaces, so they feel safer. If their hammock doesn’t have a pocket, they might feel a bit scared of sleeping in the open.
Even if everything looks safe and good for a pet rat, they might never take a liking to hammocks.
If that happens, again there are other options, like the Critter Space Pod. These pods are made out of hard plastic and go above the floor as well.
It makes for a great hiding and sleeping place for your rodent friends!
Tips To Get Your Pet Rats Used To Hammocks
As we’ve just seen, there are a lot of reasons why your pet rats might not like their hammocks. I even talked about small suggestions on what you can do.
But let’s be more detailed about it and see several tips for making your pet rats love their hammocks!
Make Sure It’s Easy To Enter And Exit The Hammock
One of the reasons your pet rats are not comfortable with the idea of a hammock is that it is difficult to reach.
It’s a good idea to leave the hammock in a place that is easy to climb onto. For example, I like to place the hammock in a place where it’s possible to leave and enter it, from different places.
The hammock could be beside a ramp or really close to a platform. This way, your pet rats don’t need to jump too far to get to the hammock. Just a small step and they’re there.
Another option is to leave the hammock low enough, so that your pet rat can climb onto it, easily, from the floor of its cage.
It’s important for the hammock to feel as safe as possible, so your pet rat can feel confident in it.
They go to their hammock to relax and for that to happen, they need to know they can hop on and off easily.
Leave Toys Or Bedding With The Same Material On Their Cage
As I mentioned above, your pet rats might not be familiar with the touch of the fabric. For that reason, they may be a bit apprehensive about their hammock.
Something you can do is leave pieces of fabric in other spaces of their cage. This fabric should be acting as bedding.
You can also buy or make your own toys made out of the same material as the hammock.
Having more objects to interact with, made out of fabric or clothing, will make things easier.
They’ll feel more curious about all these objects and will start getting used to the touch of fabric. Sooner or later, they’ll give the hammock a chance as well!
Leave Their Favorite Toys On The Hammock
A good strategy to make your pet rats more accustomed to their hammock, or anything new in general, is to leave their favorite toys on it.
If this is a toy they play with daily, then they’ll most certainly look for it at some point during the day.
The hammock is probably not the best place to be playing. However, it will force them to at least get into it.
Even if they leave it after picking up their toys, your pet rats will start to get more used to the feeling of the hammock.
After a few times doing this, your pet rats will start to feel more curious about their hammock and, hopefully, start spending more time on it. With or without toys!
Put Their Favorite Treats On The Hammock
If all else fails… use treats!
Treats are always the perfect currency for anything, really. Want your pet rats to come to you? Lure them with a treat.
Want them to leave their cage? Same trick! Want them to be familiar with their hammock? You know the answer by now: tasty treats!
Once a day, show your pet rats their favorite treat and lure them onto their hammock.
Be sure they see the treat. Let them come to you. If they’re curious enough, they’ll probably go up their hammock and take their treat.
It’s a very good sign if they decide to eat their snack on the hammock! It means they already feel quite comfortable about it.
On the other hand, if you notice they’re still reluctant about entering the hammock, you can just leave the treats on it. Just be sure they see you leaving the treat, so they know it exists and where it is.
Afterward, you can leave them be. Throughout the day, your pet rats might take their chances and grab their treats from the hammock.
Of course, this process might take some time. So do try to lure them with treats every day or every few days, until your pet rats are entering their hammock at will and without a bribe!
Your pet rats will also love the interaction they’ll have with you, during this process. Doing this small exercise, daily, will really help out when it comes to bonding with your pet rat, which you can read more about here.