Rats are curious, intelligent, social animals that can make wonderful pets for the right family. Those same qualities play an important role in how you house, feed and care for them. First off, before you bring your new rat home, you must get it a proper habitat. An ideal cage should be well ventilated and easy to clean, such as an escape-proof wire cage with a solid plastic or metal bottom. Rats chew on almost anything, so check the cage regularly for “escape routes.”
The minimum recommended cage size for one rat is 15 to 20 inches long by 15 to 20 inches wide by 10 to 12 inches tall. Cages with multiple rats must be significantly larger. Rats enjoy climbing and will make use of vertical space, so provide a cage that is taller than recommended and include shelves, ladders or tubes for climbing.
Besides food and water bowls, the cage must be large enough to house items for enrichment, exercise and a hide box. Rats are nocturnal, so provide a place for them to sleep during the day and to build a nest for enjoyment. Hide boxes made of wood and plastic are available, and your rat will likely chew these. A hide box can also be made from a cardboard box, a flowerpot on its side or something similar.
For the full article, pick up the 2012 issue of Critters USA or click here to buy the issue.