Need advice on a cage for 2 pet rats
January 21, 2009 2:34 PM   Subscribe

Need advice on a cage for 2 pet rats

I'm about to get two pet rats (haven't decided if they will be males or females yet) and am looking for a suitable cage for them. I'm looking at the Rat Manor and the The Rat Lodge (R-680) but both are fairly pricey, especially when you add shipping.
Can anyone recommend anything less expensive that would still be roomy enough, chew-proof and safe for the rats? It would be especially great if it were something I could purchase at a store in NYC vs. ordering online, I'm excited and want to get the rats as soon as possible!
As an alternative, is there anything else that could be converted to a suitable rat cage, even if just a temporary one until I get one online (I know fish tanks are often used but I don't have one), or a way that I could build one relatively easily out of something (I'm not totally inexperienced with tools, but I'm afraid sawing heavy duty wire or hammering wood together would be out)
posted by wretched_rhapsody to Pets & Animals (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I had pet rats for years and they had everything from big wire cages like the ones you linked to, to simple, spacious, handmade wooden boxes and honestly, they didnt seem to to care. Just give them room to run around (and take them out and play with them) and they'll be happy rodents. One word of warning though, complex wire cages sometimes result in the dorky little guys getting their toes/claws caught in the mesh and you really dont want to hear rats screaming in pain because they broke their phalanges out of sheer corn-kernal-sized brain stupidity. That's why I got a big open box with toys rather than a cage.
posted by elendil71 at 2:50 PM on January 21, 2009

I was reading up on making my own rat cage out of hardware cloth like this, before I lucked out and found a birdcage someone was selling on Craigslist for a steal, so I definitely recommend checking there. The cage I got is squat and wide, not tall like a lot of birdcages seem to be, but the addition of a few shelves, ladders and hammocks made it perfect for my two girls. Any cage will do, really, as long as the gaps between the bars aren't too narrow or too wide - an empty cage can easily be dressed up with levels, shelves, climbing toys, etc.
posted by illenion at 3:20 PM on January 21, 2009

Whatever it is, make sure it's easy to clean because rats like nothing more than pissing on everything.
posted by turgid dahlia at 3:50 PM on January 21, 2009

When Young Squirrel Girl's pet rat was still around, I was tempted to convert a large plastic dog crate into a suitable home. (The rat died before my plan could be implemented.) I sometimes see dog crates being given away on freecycle, or check craigslist for used ones.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 6:24 PM on January 21, 2009

Look for the real deal on Freecycle and Craigslist... I think I saw a full setup a few weeks ago from someone who had to move. Fish and turtle tanks are common too.
posted by aquafortis at 10:01 PM on January 21, 2009

Yay for rats!

I'd generally recommend against fish and turtle tanks for rats, though, except as a short-term solution. They have good protection from drafts, but the flip side of that is that ventilation in 'em tends not to be very good, leading to ammonia buildup, which can be an issue for the health of your rats, as well as being smelly.

Also, the ones that are large enough to house two grown rats comfortably are going to be heavy -- as turgid dahlia noted, rats love peeing on everything, and rat pee ain't very pleasant to the nose when it builds up. Consequently, most rat owners change the bedding at least once a week, and I'd recommend washing down the cage about once a month a or so. When your cage weighs just shy of thirty pounds and is so big you can't get your arms around it comfortably, it quickly gets to be a royal PITA, particularly in city settings where you can't just hose it down on the deck and let it dry.
posted by joyceanmachine at 6:49 AM on January 22, 2009

Thank you! It turned out that I needed to pick up the rats from the person I was adopting them from over the weekend, and craigslist etc. had nothing, so I ended up just going and buying the rat manor cage at the pet store. They seem very happy with it, but I am definitely going to cover the wire mesh shelves with something to make sure they don't hurt their feet.
posted by wretched_rhapsody at 9:44 AM on January 26, 2009

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