Improve Your Pet Rat’s Cage by Adding Some Homemade Accessories
Although rats may be scary to some people, they are increasingly popular pets, especially among children. They easily adapt to small spaces and do not demand as much from their caretakers as dogs and cats do. However, rats do require some dedication and commitment if you decide to keep them as pets. One way of doing this is by providing their environment with the ideal conditions for their physical and mental development. For rats to live a long, healthy and happy life, they need to exercise their physical, cognitive, emotional and social skills.
In this AnimalWised article you will learn how to enrich the environment of your rodents with ideas for toys and games that you can make at home using your creativity and recycling materials.
1. Ladders for pet rats
You may think this is a simple addition to your pet's cage, but it allows your pet to exercise, use their energy, and maintain a healthy weight, preventing obesity and other diseases.
One of the simplest things you can use to enrich your rat's cage is to add a homemade ladder made from popsicle sticks. Ideally, you should use ladders made of wood and avoid those made of plastic, as your rat may be tempted to chew on them. Both plastic and metal can contain substances that are toxic to rodents.
You only need two materials to build a ladder for your pet rat: Sticks and non-toxic glue. Before you use the sticks, we need to wash them thoroughly with neutral soap to remove any impurities or food residues.
Some will be left vertical to form the base for each side of the ladder, while others will be used horizontally to form the steps. Keep in mind that the more sticks you use, the taller the ladder will be. Therefore, before you start gluing the sticks, we recommend you to estimate how the height and the size of stair, taking into consideration the size of the cage itself. A good idea is to combine stairs with platforms and tunnels to create a maze in your rat's cage. Make sure you do not overcrowd your rat's living space and leave room for them to move, eat and rest freely.
If you want to know how to best take care of you pet rat, keep reading this article on rats as pets.
2. Cardboard tunnels for pet rats
Rolls of toilet paper or kitchen paper can be combined into a simple tunnel to enrich your pet's cage. Cardboard is one of the most useful materials we can reuse to make toys and games for pet rats and it is not toxic nor dangerous. We will show you how to make a more complicated tunnel to keep your rat motivated.
For this you will need some cardboard rolls (toilet paper, kitchen paper, etc.) and a cardboard box (you can recycle tea cans, milk cartons, shoe boxes, etc.). You will also need a cutter (or other tool for cutting) and non-toxic glue.
The preparation is very simple. First, you need to use the cutter to cut some circles in the cardboard that are about the same diameter as the rolls. Use a compass or the paper roll itself to mark the circle on the cardboard before cutting it out.
Then insert the rolls into the holes you have cut in the cardboard and use non-toxic glue to attach them. The number of circles will depend on the size of the cardboard, the number of rolls, and how complex you want the maze to be. If we want to make the maze more complex, we can use several boxes and many connected rolls.
In each box branch different tunnels that can be interconnected and interspersed with stairs, platforms, wheels and even obstacles to create a path of physical and mental stimulation. This homemade tunnel can also be used to stimulate your rat's intelligence. You can hide various treats throughout the maze and to encourage your rat to use their senses, especially their sense of smell.
If you need inspiration in naming your new rat friend, don't miss out on our article on the best pet rat names.
3. Platforms to increase the productive surface of the rat's cage
A platform is an easy and inexpensive way to increase the surface area of your rat's cage and provide them with an extra level on which to play and entertain themselves. A platform is basically a raised surface.
If you want to build it yourself, you can use a square, round or rectangular piece of wood attached to four legs with non-toxic glue. You can also use a sturdy wooden or cardboard box to build a second level in your rat's cage. If you add a platform, you should also think about access ramps to give your pet rat maximum mobility.
If you are interesting in proving the best diet for your pet rat, then keep reading this article on what can I feed my pet rat?
4. Hammock for pet rats
House rats and hamsters both like to swing. House rats love to have fun and nap in hammocks. They also exercise by climbing up and down on the hammock. Even though you can find hammocks for hamsters and rats in pet stores, we would like to suggest you to recycle some old clothes and turn them into a nice toy for your rodent.
To make a hammock for your pet rat you will need an old piece of clothing, scissors, ribbons, a needle and sewing thread. The first step is to choose the garment you want to recycle and clean it well before using it. The ideal fabric should be strong and resistant to tearing, such as fleece or pure cotton fabrics. Then, using scissors, cut out a rectangle that matches the size of your rodent. Remember that the hammock needs to be big enough for your hamster to move around, lie down and stretch out.
Once you have cut the rectangle, take the needle and string to sew a ribbon to each end of the hammock. At the end of this step, you can place the homemade hammock for your pet rat in the cage and tie the ribbons to the bars of your choice. If you add small carabiners to better secure the hammock to the bars, you can improve the workmanship and provide more security. Line the hammock with additional fabric so you can easily change the fabric and clean it without having to remove the entire thing. Change the fabric weekly, and clean the hammock once a month.
If you want to know more about pet rats and their different types, then don't miss out on this article on types of domestic rats.
5. Hiding place for pet rats
Providing your pet rat with a hiding place so that they can retreat when they need to hide is essential. A good hiding place should be dark and quiet since they will spend time there resting or sleeping. Your rat will be healthier and happier if you provide 2 or 3 separate hiding spots.
You can use cardboard boxes to make a puzzle hideout for your pet rat. To do this, you will need a cardboard box with a lid that is large and deep enough for your rat to get in and out and move around inside. You should also have a knife or scissors and some pet rat toys. Make sure there aren't any food remnants or packaging materials in the box, like staples, tape, or addresses. If there are, scrape them off or cut them off. Line the box with something soft, like an old blanket or shirt. Poke some holes in the box so your pet can get into it and hide some toys or treats inside.
If you are curious in learning more about you pet's behavior, then keep reading this article on how to tell if you pet rat trusts you.
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