Section under construction
You do NOT need to read this section, but it's recommended that you do.
This section is meant to provide you with various information that you may use to help you decide on housing and bedding.
Below is various info regarding rat husbandry.
The cages shown below are acceptable homes for your rats. Below the picture is the name of the cage, the size, and my opinion on it. I have personally owned many of these cages. Your choices for a cage are NOT limited to the following.
The critter nation (double unit shown above)
You can't go wrong with this cage! It is the #1 recommended rat cage by fellow owners and breeders. This cage is large. For the double unit the dimensions are 24" x 36" x 63". The critter nation (CN) features high quality materials and design with full-width double doors that simplify cleaning, feeding, and accessing your rats. This makes cleaning easier! It can fit up to 12 rats in the double unit depending on how the space is used and what gender you have. The single allows for up to 6 rats depending on their size. A tip for this cage is buying the large cement mixing tub at home depot. Inserting it on the bottom unit of the double will act as a large litter pan that can allow bedding to be used. I use the tub in all of my critter nation sections. The best websites to buy it are drsfostersmith.com and Amazon.com.
- High quality design and materials
- Double doors mean easy access cleaning
- You can have a lot of rats in this cage which is great if you decide to get more
- Easy to assemble - You only need a rubber hammer to put it together
- A home depot cement mixing bin will help with bedding containment
- Small bar spacing - no chance of escape at any age if doors are closed properly
- Pricy - It's hard to find it under $200
- Takes up a lot of space
- Litter training might be required due to lack of bedding containment trays.
Prevue Pet Products Rat & Chinchilla Critter Cage
This cage is a good size and has closely spaced bars. It is pretty sturdy and made rather well. It has a drop tray, wheels, and solid metal shelves. The size is 31 x 20.5 x 40 inches. I personally feel up to four females and up to three males would be comfortable in this cage.
- Not too big but still roomy - Allows a good number of rats
- Has a drop tray so litter training is not really needed
- Made pretty well
- Small bar spacing - escape when door is closed properly is impossible
- Not too pricy - often on sale for only $88 on chewy.com - regularly $130ish
- It's hard to clean the shelves - Urine and poop tend to cake onto the shelving
- Hard to assemble
- Rats pee in the corners and it runs down the legs of the cage onto the floor
The Rat Tower (R-690) - Martin's Cage
This cage can be ordered off martincages.com. I personally own this cage and I think it's a great cage. Easy to clean, spacious, and it looks nice in the room. I own the powdered coated version and I would recommend that option over the galvanized version. It has multiple levels and ample space for a Kaytee silent spinner wheel. I would say up to five girls or four boys would be happy in this cage. Dimensions: 24" x 14" x 36"
- Great use of vertical space allowing a good amount of rats for the cage size
- Escape proof
- Easy to clean if no fleece is used
- Easy to use a silent spinner wheel in this cage
- Plenty of space for toys
- Not much room for a hammock
- Bars will need to be wiped down regularly to keep them clean
- Cleaning the pan requires you to take entire cage off pan
The Ruud Cage (R-699) - Martin's cage
This cage can be ordered off martinscages.com. This cage is a good size. It features seven levels including the bottom. I would say up to 8 males or 10 females would live comfortably in this cage based on its design. Dimensions: 30" x 18" x 60"
- Good amount of rats will fit comfortably in this cage
- You can fit a lot of toys
- You can fit a Kaytee silent spinner wheel in this cage
- Escape proof
- Easy to clean if no fleece is used
- Pricy - almost $200 and possibly more for shipping
- You will need to wipe down the floor bars to keep them clean
- Cleaning the pan requires you to take entire cage off pan which is a little annoying
You & Me Rat Manor
This cage is more compact that some other options here. It's dimensions are 16.5'' x 22.5'' x 32''. Great for apartments and homes with limited space, but there are some cons to consider. If space is used carefully it can fit max 2 males or max 3 females.
- Compact cage great for tight apartment living
- Careful use of space allows for three females
- Closely spaced bars - perfect for babies
- Climbing space
- Inexpensive cage option
- Easily found in stores
- Shelves can be removed for cleaning
- Entire cage must be removed from the base for cleaning
- Base tray is not very deep - bedding easily kicked out of cage limits
- If your rats toilet on the shelves, urine and feces will fall out of cage limits
The Feisty Ferret Prevue cage (Model CG-29092) -NOT recommended.
This cage is NOT GOOD FOR BABIES. It features four different levels and it has a drop floor. This cage is smaller than the Critter Nation double and although you may like it, there are a lot of cons to it. What you save in initial cost will not really "pay off" because the bar spacing is too wide for babies so hardwire clothe will need to be wrapped around the cage. In my opinion, the max number of girls would be 7 and the max number of boys would be 6 depending on their size. Dimensions: 31-Inch long, 20-inch wide, 54-inch high including stand.
- Cheaper than the critter nation. Usually around $160 or less
- Has a drop tray that allows you to not need litter training
- You can fit a good number of rats in this cage
- Poorly made - very cheap materials
- The drop pan is not deep enough for certain beddings
- The shelves are hard to remove for cleaning
- Bars spacing is 7/8" - too wide for babies
- If pushed around too much the welding on the legs may snap
- Not easy to use fleece in this cage to layer the wire
- Hard to assemble
Mcage - 3 Levels Ferret Chinchilla Sugar Glider Rats Animal Cage
I currently own this cage. The design of this cage maximizes space for your pets. This cage would house up to 6 dwarf rats comfortably. Two smaller standard rats would probably be happy with this set up, but I don't think it would be good for two big standard boys. You can find this cage for sale on Amazon. Dimensions are 24 x 16 x 24 inches.
- Good sized cage and doesn't take up much room
- The drop pan is low down so the rats can't disturb the bedding
- Very good price at only about $50 plus shipping
- Perfect for dwarf rats
- Easy to clean
- Made well
- Easy to store
- Very easy to assemble
- Design means it's very unlikely they will escape
- Can only house two standard females and not ideal for standard males
- You can fit a fair amount of things in it, but the space fills up quickly
Kaytee multi level exotics cage
This cage is a good size. It's a good price and allows for climbing, but there are a fair amount of cons to consider. You can find this cage in most pet stores or online. Amazon sells it for about $84 generally. Dimensions: 30.5" L x 18" W x 30" H.
- Good price - about $84 on Amazon
- Bars are spaced closely together - perfect for babies
- Can fit 3-4 standard males or 4-6 females or up to 8 dwarf
- Easy to assemble
- Hard to clean
- Doors are not very big
- Not escape proof - bottom made of chewable plastic
- Shelves and ramps can also be chewed
Recommended hamster cages:
Hamsters NEED a minimum of 450 square inch unbroken floor space. They suffer in the small hamster cages frequently sold on the US market. You can also use a 40 gallon breeder-style fish tank or you can make a homemade bin cage out of a large storage bin, hardware cloth wire, and binder clips. A crafting hot-knife can be used to cut the bin to make ventilation. If you would like to make a bin cage, please email or text me for pointers.
Bedding & Litters
Below are some bedding choices and some quick information on them. The choice of bedding is completely up to you. Most of these can be used in litter pans or as general bedding. The order of this list has no significance. I only listed pros and cons on some of these options. Your recommended options are the following:
- Corn Cob bedding
- Kiln dried pine (best to mix with paper bedding)
- Shredded paper, newspaper, cardboard (best to mix with pine and/or Granulated Sweet PDZ)
- Sani Chips
- "Yesterday's news" litter
Shredded paper (Micro cut shown)
Corn Cob bedding
Yesterday's news litter
Granulated Sweet PDZ (As litter or bedding aid)
Shredded paper, newpaper, and/or cardboard mixed with Kiln Dried Pine
Good choice for a home on a budget. The following shows the pros and cons to paper bedding mixed with kiln dried pine. I do not recommended using paper or Carefresh it by itself and I don't recommend using pine by itself. The best pine brand in my opinion is PetsPick Natural Pine Bedding which can be found at Walmart.
- Cheap, easy to supply
- Relatively low dust depending on the pine and paper
- Saves money to mix the pine and paper together
- Light weight
- Controls ammonia very well
- Controls smell well
- Only needs to be changed once a week depending on number of rats
- Paper "dilutes" the low levels of phenol in the pine
- Requires you to own a shredder for the paper
- Pine often has left over phenol after the kiln drying process
Fleece cage lining
Fleece is generally used to line the cage. Many rat owners use this option to cover the shelves and provide a soft surface. Fleece should not be used by itself; it needs to be used with litter pans and litter training. Fleece has a lot of cons. I have used it for a while in the past.
- Makes the cage very pretty - fleece comes in many patterns
- Provides a soft surface for their feet
- Frequent changes are a must - every 2 days
- Changing the fleece is a chore - a lot of work
- Doesn't neutralize ammonia
- Doesn't do much to control smell
- Requires you to litter train
- Must be used with a litter for the litter boxes
- Some rats chew it which can be a real pain for you
Plain paper beddings (Shredded paper, Carefresh, etc)
A major issue to using paper bedding by itself is that it does NOTHING to control ammonia. Ammonia is dangerous and it quickly builds up in the cage without a control. It's important to have an ammonia neutralizer or you may have issues with upper respiratory infections. Ammonia is from their urine and it can permanently harm your rats/hamster's by scaring their lungs.
- Depending on the type of paper bedding you use, it's very absorbent
- Can make the cage feel fresh and tidy
- Does nothing to control dangerous ammonia
- Requires very frequent cage cleanings to be safe (every other day)
- Does nothing to control smell - it controls smell better than fleece, but doesn't have truly effective control
Paper bedding mixed with "Sweet PDZ Granulated Freshener"
This is a unique option. A little while ago, my friend (who is also a breeder) told me to try this product made for freshening horse stalls. It's all natural and it controls odor and ammonia. I was a little nervous, I'll admit, but it turns out that this product is a really great option. Add about 1-3 cups of Sweet PDZ to the bottom of the cage and then add an appropriate amount of paper bedding. Initially, the granulated PDZ will make a decent amount of dust, but once settled it's dust free. I use this product to help keep control of ammonia/odor and it works pretty well. I can't vouch for it fully just yet since I only started using it recently, but so far so good. Agway sells this product! Here are my current thoughts regarding the pros/cons of it.
- Affordable - a 40 pound bag is between $20-$23
- All natural!
- Low dust once settled
- Controls odor
- Neutralizes dangerous ammonia very well!
- For use with paper bedding - you need just 1-2 cups of PDZ depending on cage size
- Dusty before settling