This section contains information about the things your rats need to have a safe and comfortable living environment.
What type of nesting material should I give my rats?
Shredded paper (e.g. clean white kitchen roll) or soft bedding material (sold by pet shops) should be provided as nesting material. Avoid newspaper because the ink can be toxic. Cotton wool shouldn’t be used because it can cause dangerous blockages if eaten and can become wrapped around legs, causing constrictions.
How often do I need to clean the cage out?
The cage should be thoroughly cleaned once a week. It is recommended to leave a small amount of their old bedding (unsoiled) behind at each cleaning so that their familiar scents aren’t completely removed during cleaning. Check the cage two or three times during the week and remove any bedding or nesting material that is soiled with urine or faeces. Good cage hygiene is crucial to the health of rats, so doing this is very important.
How big should a cage for rats be?
You should get as large a cage as possible for your rats so they can get plenty of exercise. Having too many rats in too small a cage is also stressful for them, so this is another reason to get a big cage. The cage should have different levels so that the rats have opportunities to climb.
Where should I put the cage?
The cage should be indoors, out of draughts and direct sunlight. It should be away from busy or noisy areas, such as near a TV or music system, as noises and vibrations are stressful for the animals. The temperature should stay steady at around 20°C. Take care to protect rats from predators, such as the family cat.
The cage should be well secured so that the rats can’t escape.
What type of material should I use on the floor of my rats’ cage?
The cage floor should be covered with a suitable material such as non-toxic woodchips, or commercial rat bedding (e.g. wood pulp or paper-based materials, available from pet shops). Cedar or pine woodchips should not be used as they are toxic.
Rats are very prone to developing respiratory disease (disease of the lungs and airways), so dusty materials such as woodshavings or sawdust should not be used. Soiled bedding can also cause respiratory disease to develop in rats, so it’s important to clean the cage frequently. (please see “how often do I need to clean the cage out?”)
Do my rats need a nest box?
Yes. Rats need a quiet and dark nest box where they will sleep during the day. The nest box needs to be dark because rats can be very sensitive to light, especially albinos.
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