Rat Cage Guide
There are a lot of options when it comes to housing your mischief of rats! You can buy or DIY, its up to you how much money and time you plan to invest in your pets' home.
Cage Basics: Buy or DIY?
Make sure to check out the image gallery of cages below!
Looking for a list of cages and supplies? Check out this Amazon list I created that has everything you need.
So, what are the basics of the ideal rat cage? A metal wire cage with 1/2" bar spacing is what most owners choose to house their rats in. When you buy your cage, make sure that it comes with solid plastic or metal (not just bare wire or wood) flooring on all levels and platforms to avoid hurting your rats' feet. The bare minimum amount of space per rat is 2.5 cubic feet, but I strongly suggest getting as large a cage as will fit in area you home your rats. Rats, energetic females especially, love to explore and climb their habitat.
The 'gold standard' cage that is most popular with pet rat adopters is the Midwest Critter Nation. It can be bought new on Amazon as a two story or "Delux" and also as a single story home, and is very well made. I have found it the easiest of cages to clean, as both doors on the front of the cage open. (TIP: you may be able to find the Critter Nation cage cheaper used online, look on your local Facebook rat groups, marketplace or other for sale websites like Craigslist.)
The first rat cage I ever bought is a two story cage made for ferrets. It is sold by under many different brand names, but this is the cheapest listing for it that I have found on Amazon. I cut out 1/2" hardware cloth panels and ziptied them over the large bar spaces so that the rats could not get out.
Keep scrolling after the images for info on DIY cages! Hover your mouse or tap the screen for more info on the cages!
Plastic tub cages are versatile and easy to make! Most importantly, they are cheap!
If you're feeling crafty, want to save a little money or just like the idea of a do it yourself cage, then you might want to try making your own enclosures for your rats! I recommend using the biggest clear storage tubs you can buy at stores like Walmart and Target.
I start with the biggest lidded storage tubs I can find, that are at least 100 quarts, or 32" long by 19" wide and 13" high: Sterilite is a good brand to look for. You want tubs with lots of length and floor space, not narrow, tall tubs. Rats need lots of floor space to roam and run around in! I only put 2 rats in a cage this size, personally, but no matter what sized cage you use, its important to let your rats out (in a play pen or rat-proofed room) to get exercise, too!
The most important thing you'll need to do is cut 'windows' for maximum air flow in your cage. Rats have sensitive respiratory systems, so its important not to stick them in a tub with no air holes. You need to cover these windows with wire mesh, attached to the plastic tub with zip ties or wire. I use hardware cloth from home improvement stores like Home Depot. Here is a pretty inexpensive roll of 1/2" metal mesh wire that I myself buy.
You can simply cut a big window in the lid of the tub and cover it with wire, but I strongly prefer to cut a window in the back wall, front of the cage AND the lid. This also makes it easier to attach toys, water bottles and hammocks if you have wire to hang things from.
The easiest way to make a hinged door on the front of the cage for your DIY tub is to use a metal cooling back that is made for ovens. Here is a set you can get on Amazon, they are roughly 15" long by 9.5" tall. You can easily find these at big box stores like Walmart and Target. You can attach the door using zipties or wire, just drill holes at were you want your door hinges to be.
To maximize room, I sometimes buy two tubs of the same size and stack them to create more room. I cut matching holes in the lid of the bottom level and in the floor of the second level of the tub, fastening the cages together with zipties. I use wooden or rope ladders to provide access between the levels for the rats to climb.
See the gallery below for some examples on how I've made my own DIY cages from plastic tubs! There are also lots of how-to videos you can watch on Youtube.
Check out the image gallery below for examples of my own DIY cages! Hover your mouse or tap on the images for more info!