Choosing the Right Rat Cage

So you are new to rats and you don’t know if you have the right cage. This is a question that comes up often at RatChatter Forums.

There are a lot of great cages to be found, you can buy them at pet stores, virtual internet pet stores, let’s not forget eBay and DIY (Do It Yourself – see our DIY Page Here).

So which cage is best for you and your rats?

First you need to take into consideration how many rats you currently have, are you going to be getting anymore, are your rats males or females*?

Size Does Matter
You should have 1.5 to 2.5 cubic feet per rat, we recommend the 2.5 cubic feet per rat. So now you are probably wondering well how do I know if I have 1.5 to 2.5 cubic feet per rat? Well there are some very nice cage calculators on the internet.

  • Ratty Corner Cage Calculator (2.5 cubic meter per rat)
  • Fancy Rats UK Cage Calculator
  • Ratz R Us Cage Calculator
  • If you don’t want to use one of the calculators listed above, you can always do the math yourself.

    FORMULA (in inches, based on 2 cubic feet per rat)
    Multiply the cage dimensions (length by width by height) to get the volume of the cage in cubic inches.
    Divide the result by 3456.
    The result of that is the number of rats your cage can comfortably hold.

    EXAMPLE Martin’s R-690
    24″ x 14″ x 36″ =12,096
    Divide by 3456
    19,440/3456=3.5 rats

    Rat Cage Materials
    Commercial Rat Cages also come in a variety of materials; galvanized wire, powder coated wire/metal and plastic.

    Galvanized Wire: Although a sturdy construction and makes for a nice cage, what we don’t like is how the rat urine can get right into the wire. This type of cage would need frequent cleanings of all the wire.

    Powder Coated Wire/Metal: There are some fantastic cages out there that are now Powder Coated, this is our choice for a Rat Cage, they are low maintenance, very appealing to the eye and virtually indestructible.

    Plastic: Although very appealing to the eye, easy to clean and less expensive than galvanized wire and powder coated cages, we find females especially tend to chew holes in them.

    Ease of Cleaning
    Another thing to look at when purchasing a rat cage is the ease of cleaning. So you see a nice cage in the store or on the internet and it never crosses your mind how you are going to clean it. Here are some things to think about when looking at a rat cage:

  • How many doors does it have?
  • How big are the doors?
  • Can the doors be removed?
  • Can I get my arm in there, can I reach all the way to the back and clean it comfortably?
  • Does it have a removable tray/pan?
  • Is it too big for my bathtub?
  • Bar Spacing
    Another thing you need to look at is the bar spacing on the cages. With older males you can get away with a 1 inch bar spacing, but with younger males, babies and females, you will need to look at a smaller bar spacing, approximately 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch, depending on the size of the rat. Just remember, if the rat can get their head through, then their body will fit.

    Ventilation is a necessity when it comes to Rats and their cages. Unfortunately our little ratties can develop lung problems. This is why it’s crucial for your cage to have lots of ventilation. Please do not put your rat in an Aquarium, I don’t care how big the aquarium is, your rat needs ventilation in his/her home.

    Don’t Limit Yourself
    With all this talk about “Rat Cages”, you don’t have to limit yourself to an actual “Rat Cage”, you can be very creative in adapting “Ferret” cages, “Chinchilla” cages and “Bird” Cages, just remember to check the bar spacing. Never use a Hamster cage for your ratties, they are too small, your ratties need room to play and grow.

    *Females are smaller than males, we base our calculations on the 2.5 cubic feet per rat calculation for females. Therefore, we put less males in a cage vs. what the above calculators state.

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