Keep your rats happy and occupied
Rats are extremely sociable creatures. They need the company of other rats to remain happy and content. They enjoy playing rough-and-tumble games and exploring together. In more tranquil moments, they will cuddle up together. By far the most important thing you can give your rat is a suitable rat friend or two.
Rats are also scavengers – they love to forage for food and tasty treats. When feeding your rats, mix it up by scattering their daily allowance around the cage and hiding treats in toys or interesting items.
Rats love to explore and to investigate their surroundings. They are very busy little creatures, so make sure you provide them with toys and activities to keep them fit, healthy and happy.
Your rats will enjoy:
- Pipes and tunnels for running through
- Climbing frames like old wine racks and metal CD towers
- Hammocks. Rats love sleeping in them, they encourage them to carry out social grooming sessions with their cage mates and feel relaxed around you. Hammocks can be purchased or homemade from old jumpers, towels and sheets
- Ropes. These can be made by plaiting material together, or you can purchase a ready-made one.
- Sputniks – various-sized, plastic hides that can be hung from the ceiling of the cage
- Extra-large, solid exercise rat wheels such as a 12” Silent Spinner
- Pea fishing – a nice activity for hot summer days. Add a shallow dish of cool water to their cage, and float some green peas in for the rats to fish out
- Cardboard boxes, all shapes and sizes. Cut a few holes in them for added exploring fun. Old jumpers, socks and soft hats are always welcomed as bedding for your rats
- Litter trays are ideal if you would like to litter train your rats. Use one to three corner trays or small cat litter trays placed around the cage and on different levels.
- Dig trays. If your rats have a shallow cage base, why not give them a storage box filled with shredded paper for them to dig through and forage for food!
Choosing the right rat bedding
The wrong bedding for your rats can have a very negative effect on their health. Wood shavings or sawdust can be extremely harmful to your rats’ skin and airway, and can give you an allergic reaction too!
Bedding materials that are safe for your rat to forage or snuggle in:
- Small-cut, shredded paper. Easy to use, and best of all, it’s free! Use shredded paper to line the floor
- Finacard. A shredded card material, good for the base of the cage
- Hemp bedding such as Aubiose (non-fragranced)
- Cardboard squares around 1 cm square, ideal for the base of the cage
- Fleece or towels can be used in sleeping areas or as hammocks.
- Non-fragranced paper pellets, such as ‘back to nature,’ can be used to line their litter trays.
How to clean out your rats
Keeping your Rats cage clean is key to preventing serious health conditions such as respiratory problems and bumble foot – a very painful foot infection.
Clean your rats’ litter trays or toilet areas daily, wash down any soiled areas with pet disinfectant and wipe dry with kitchen roll. Carry out a full clean of the entire enclosure once a week, ensuring you also clean all toys and activities with pet-friendly disinfectant. Wash hammocks and anything else fabric in a washing machine with non- bio detergent at 60°C to kill as much of the bacteria as possible.
Take the opportunity to add a few new toys in the cage for interest, like a new tunnel, hammock or rope ladder, card boxes filled with a different substrate are also great for rats to explore.