Environment and temperature
Rats are vulnerable to high temperatures and should ideally be kept in a place that is very well ventilated and that does not exceed 25 Degrees © at any time. Domestic rats are indoor pets and should not be expected to stay outdoors.
Cage and bedding
A rat’s cage should be at least 30.5 Cm by 61 Cm (20 gallons), this cage should house a mazimum of 2 x rats but buy the largest cage you can. You can choose from wire cages or aquariums, or a combination of the two, stacked or joined with tubes. Just do be aware though that the cage should not have a wire base – this can be extremely harmful to the rattie’s feet. Most rats will also enjoy an exercise wheel, but hamster wheels are FAR too small…and wire wheels can be damaging to the rattie’s feet. If you can get a solid wheel for the rattie to run in, that would be the ideal solution.
IT IS IMPERATIVE TO REMEMBER THOUGH THATa wire cage is recommended because it provides much better ventilation than an aquarium. Consider the fact that the urine smell has nowhere to escape to in an aquarium – especially if you are keeping more than 1 rat in the aquarium. Imagine being locked in a room without a window where everybody is breathing and urinating – the smell of ammonia would be horrific. It would most certainly affect your breathing.
DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES use cedar or pine shavings which contain TOXIC hydrocarbons and are dangerous to rats. A safe alternative which is excellent at controlling odour includes Marlton’s Premium Pet Bedding. Be cautious when using clay catlitters as the dust from the litter may in some ratties, irritate the ratties nose/eyes/respiratory system.Bedding can made from shredded paper, felt, facecloths (which can be washed daily to ensure cleanliness). Use printed paper inside the cage with caution as some ink is toxic. Don’t use cotton, yarn or old rags for babies because threads can get wrapped around their legs or necks.
Rats like a snug place to sleep. A variety of clean household items, such as milk jugs, jars and ink-free boxes, are easily replaced when needed. I have found a product called the RODY (Guinea pig) IGLO that is available at most pet stores. It can house rats very comfortably.