A cage is the single most important item in the care of rats other than their food. A good cage has plenty of ventilation, is spacious (at least 2 cubic feet per rat), has narrow bar spacing (1/2 inch spacing is generally good enough for babies/dwarves up to adults, and has levels and/or ramps to help rats navigate through the cage. Keep in mind, if you have chewers, plastic components like bases could be problematic. Though this article will discuss the cages we suggest adopters use to house their rats (and some we don’t), in truth, any small animal cage will do as long as it conforms to the basics just listed.
Small Animal Cages
MidWest Critter Nation $$$
These cages are used by a lot of breeders due to their size and conformity to the needs of raising rats of all ages and sizes. They have two door panels that open up the entire front of the cage — making cleaning and interacting much easier. While these cages are pricey, they are easy to assemble and disassemble. They come in a single unit, double unit, and an add-on unit to expand. We use two double units with the add-on to give us two triple units for our adult breeders and retirees. (See our Rat Room)
MidWest Ferret Nation $$$
These cages are essentially the same as their Critter Nation cousins. They come in the same three size options. Their bar spacing, however, is 1 inch. This spacing does make the cost of Ferret Nation cages lower than their cousins, but they are only suitable for adult rats. These are not suggested for dwarves or rats under 300g in size.
Martin’s Cages Rat Cage $$
These cages come in many sizes, levels, and price options. Most of their cages come with large door openings and will accommodate rats of all sizes and ages. The cage levels are not solid, so the adopter would have to take precautions against physical injury and potential bumble foot (e.g. lining with fleece). Personally, we have had a hard time to find these beyond the Martin’s website.
Prevue Hendrix Small Animal Cages $$
These cages come in many sizes, levels, and price options. Most of their cages come with large door openings and will accommodate rats of all sizes and ages. Any “ferret” branded cages would only be suitable for standard sized adult rats (not dwarves or rats under 300g). We use the 528 as a general medium sized cage for many purposes — like housing our dwarf rats. (See our Rat Room)
There is no standard bin cage. Bin cages are usually homemade and will vary in size, look, and cost. Bins are easy to clean and maintain. With the right tools, they aren’t very difficult to make. Just get a bin large enough to give each rat 2 cubic feet of space, hardware cloth, and zip ties or nuts and bolts. Simple as that! We use medium bins to allow litters to grow to adoption age and small bins for maternity, pairing, and hospital housing. (See our Rat Room)
There are many YouTube guides out there on how to make a bin cage. We suggest investing in a hot knife or some power tool (e.g. Dremel with cutting blade). Also, we suggest a minimum of mesh on two sides and the top. An easy-to-follow guide can be found at the end of this video:
Tanks and/or Aquariums
DO NOT USE! Any container without proper ventilation around the container is not suitable for rats. Don’t do it!