When starting out in the rat fancy, the first thing you need to look into is where the little guys will live.

Here are some of the cages I've used in the past.

When I started out, my lovely Dad made my first cage. Built from scratch, it was perfect for what I needed at the time. The very lowest level was where they could dig around in their litter, the next level up was their dining room, the top level was kind of their hallway, and the orange box, a later addition, was their nest box (made from an old breadbin).

Sadly I found out that rat wee soaks into wood, and boy, does it start to whiff,  so this ended up on the bonfire.

 

This is another cage I started out with, this housed my boys and was made from a couple of L-shaped cabinets, bolted together, with holes through the walls for the rats to get through, and doors on the front. This is the only only pic I have, and it was from a video clip just after I'd cleaned them, so theyr toys hadn't been put back yet.

This cage is excellent. Dad saw it standing outside a pet shop, in a bad state. The shop wanted 30 for it, so we raised the money, Dad completely refurbished it.


Originally it held birds, and is actually three cages on top of each other. The trays come out of each cage for easy cleaning, and Dad put in shelves of Perspex as extra levels. I've now had a hole put into two of the trays so that the whole 8 feet of height can be opened up as one cage, which can still be closed off into individual cages if needed.
The beauty is that the bars are very close together, so it houses small rats very well.

 

This is a very good cage, made by FOP of Italy. I actually have two of these and I've comfortably had up to 6 adult bucks in one, although they were very lazy squishes. Ideally these cages should house 4 bucks or maybe 5 or 6 does.

It has 3 solid plastic shelves which secure at whatever height you need, with little white clips. Everything comes out for easy cleaning, and there are two doors, one in the front and a large one on top.

My only criticism is that the bars are spaced too wide for young rats, they're able to squeeze through.

 

Here are two more of my cages. The one on top is a handy cage, always ready for an unexpected new addition or two, although the bars are spaced quite wide so not suitable for babies.

 

The one below it is quite a good cage, with three doors in the front at different levels. My dad made a door on the top to make cleaning easier, otherwise it was very difficult to get into. Yet again, I have two of these cages.

I've had up to 3 adult bucks in here or 5 does, they're quite well suited to young rats as the spacing of the bars is quite small.

All of the shelves come out easily, and there are wire ramps which fit into the shelves. They also came with the red igloo you see inside.

 

This is by far the best kind of cage on the market in my opinion. I love it, and so do the rats. It's a Superpets Ferretrail cage. It came with 7 shelves which just snap onto the bars at whichever height you like, there are two doors in the front, and two on each side, plus the top lifts up completely, so is the most accessible cage you can have.

The top two side doors come off, and you can buy sockets which fit into the doorframes, that you can attach Ferretrail tubes to. The rats *adore* these.

The only downside to this cage is that it's best used for adult rats, not babies, as the bars are spaced quite far apart and small rats can get out (as my Sophie demonstrated).

 

This is my playpen, used for supervised out-of-ratroom playtimes with rats who can't be trusted to come when called, and also used for introductions. I rarely use this outside, but when I do I have a lid that fits on top for safety.

Inside I have a Wodent Wheel, a see-saw made by my dad out of chipboard and a carpet tube, and, yes, that's a wine rack, which makes a very handy ratty climbing frame which folds up for storage, and a rope.

 

Last of all, this is the type of cage that I *really* dislike.

Actually, I don't like any cages with wire levels, it's just my own opinion, but I think they're not nice for the rats, plus they're ugly to look at. These cages seem to be the popular choice of many rat owners, perhaps because they're easier to clean than cages with solid levels as the mess falls through the wire, but I personally don't like them. Whether or not wire levels are part of the cause of Bumblefoot or not isn't the point for me, I have two of these but I only use them when circumstances force me to, and I don't recommend them to any rat owner.

 

Alternatively, if you want a *real* ratty experience, you may consider making a ratroom....

2008 B Reeve