Those who are new to rats may be surprised by how much “stuff” they need. While breeders don’t all agree on what is necessary for your rats “set-up” (the cage, furnishings, substrate, etc), all of us want enriched environments with plenty of opportunity for the rats to burrow, nest-build, exercise, climb, and play.
I have a comprehensive list of stuff I would like owners of future Blue Apple rats to have before I home out to them. But if you want a general place to find out more about rat care, try some of these resources:
- The National Fancy Rat Society forum. You can join the NFRS and access every article and forum entry available to breeders. It is worth the membership to do so when, in the middle of the night, your rat is doing something you’re worried about and you want some advice or information in a hurry!
- Rat Care UK, The admin/moderators are excellent on that forum, but not everyone on that forum is reliable so do pick and choose.
- Isamu Rat Care on Youtube. I love this channel. While, I set up the fabulous bioactive cages like Jemma has, I do use a lot of her tips on creating the most natural and enriched cages I can for my rats. You will learn about what rats really need, how to evaluate different substrates, cages, health issues, and (important!) how to introduce rats to one another.
Oh, and don’t forget one of my favourite people in the rat world! Alison at RATWISE has made it her mission to help educate owners (and breeders, too!) on the best ways to look after and provide for our beautiful pet rats.
Some cages have wire shelves. While, these do not cause bumblefoot, they are still kind of horrible. And if a rat is not used to them, it’s possible for them to injure a foot or leg. They can be covered lino, but are best removed altogether. If the cage has a wire grid over the floor, remove it as it’s not helpful and will hinder natural behaviours. It will also stink if the bars aren’t coated, and pretty much stink if they are! You want a deep base of substrate (Snowflake Supreme, Bedmax, Littlemax, Aubiose, Green Mile, Finacard or combination) for your rats to be able to dig in. You can find many different substrates at Ratrations.co.uk. You can buy them at equestrian shops, too, but usually in large quantities that you’d have to store safely so they don’t mould or get infested with rodents outside!