After safety, the most important things you can provide for your pet rat are cleanliness, exercise and enrichment—and how you set up your pet rat habitat can affect all those elements. Keeping your pet rat house clean is crucial for your rat’s health, reducing the risk of disease and infection. To make sure your rat’s cage stays sanitary, provide enough bedding for both burrowing and excretion, and remove soiled areas of bedding frequently—especially if they’re damp. Clean out uneaten food once or twice a day. Periodically clean the entire cage, wash the interior, and swap out all the bedding for fresh new material. It’s also important for rats to have enough space in their home that they’re not sleeping and standing in their own waste.
For exercise and enrichment, rats need structures that they can climb. Hammocks and cubbyholes give rats comfy and secure places to rest, while branches and ladders let your rat use their unique ability to climb. Solid structures that create variety will give your rat a pet house that’s fun and interesting to explore. Wheels can be a good way to let energetic rats exercise—but if you add one to your rat habitat cage, make sure it’s a solid structure, as rats’ tiny feet can get caught between the bars of wire wheels.