This article is from the WSSF 2006 AFRMA Rat & Mouse Tales news-magazine.
By Helen Pembrook
Shannon Bac, e-mail
QI found your name on the list of rat and mouse clubs website. I recently purchased two female 5-week-old rats. I’m having some difficulty figuring out what size cage is best. I originally purchased a wire cage (plastic bottom) that was 30″ long x 24″ high and 16″ wide and has a ¼″ spacing between bars. After getting the rats home, I could quickly see that they could probably squeeze out between the bars. I improvised and put them in a hamster cage that’s smaller but they can’t squeeze through. I’ve been trying to search to find out what distance between bars is acceptable for the rats to not get stuck or sneak through. I know the smaller the better, but it really starts limiting the cage size
Any suggestions you have to make both of us (me and the rats) more comfortable with each other would be great. So far, I’ve been able to spend 10–15 minutes holding them while sitting down without them getting too squirmy. Just looking for suggestions.
ARats should be housed in cages with ½ inch spacing between the bars, though a sturdy wire mesh is better than long bars. The cage you bought sounds like it is a rabbit or guinea pig cage. Often, these types of cages will advertise that they will house rats, but even an adult rat can still get its head stuck in ¾ inch spacing, so they are really not safe. You may be able to return it to the retailer. There are a couple of links to good rat cage suppliers on the AFRMA web page www.afrma.org that you can order over the Internet.
Rats are naturally curious and some are very active, especially when out of their cage. Females will be more active than males and will want to explore more than wanting to sit in your lap. They will always want to explore and wiggle some, so you are doing fine. Play with them several times a day, if possible, and give them a treat during and after play time to reinforce the good aspect of being handled.