Complete Guide: Must-Have Rat Cage Essentials

Whether you are a first-time pet rat owner or a senior pet rat owner, it’s always hard to find the best products to spoil your babies. Despite the large amount of rat owners, I’m still shocked to this day the lack of rat products and how PetSmart, Petco and other chains are still pushing the incorrect toys and supplies for our rats. Well, here is your one stop blog of all our favorite items and must haves for pet rats we’ve found over 10 plus years of finding and trying the best supplies for the ratties. All of the products will be a clickable link to amazon.


How many hides should your pet rat have? This a great question and one we get all the time. You should have one hide per rat in your mischief plus one extra. Start with at least one hammock, preferably a few so you can keep them in a cleaning rotation. You’ll also need at least one floor-level hide like the igloo, this is a great place for them hide and eat or stash food. I personally recommend your 3rd hide be one with 2 entry/exit points like the tunnels or the Salvic 2 hide or space pod. Notice I do not have any wooden hides, this is due to cleanliness, the ammonia in the rat’s urine will have wooden hides expire quickly and could cause health issues.

Space Pod– A staple I think every rat owner should have one of these. Not only is it a great hide for levels and floors but you can hang it from ceiling almost like a hammock. This is definitely a fan favorite amongst all my rat mischiefs. Plastic of course makes it easy to clean. In the colder months I love to add a little bedding to the center.

Wall Basket- These are great for utilizing your cages wall space. The liners on these are washable, which I personally happen to love. A cheaper option is just plastic baskets and zip ties and fleece or bedding.

Classic Igloo– Classic can’t go wrong, just make sure you get the large size for standards.

Tunnel– Perfect sized tunnel for standard size rats. Goes great in deep bedding, on any floor level or my favorite zip tied to walls and used to get to another level, or from one hide to the other. The only downside is that they’re a little too long to clean easily but definitely worth it. Tip for cleaning soak in a hot tub with soap and then rinse out.

Fabric Tunnel– Our baby rats can’t get enough of this hide. I’ll have 7 hides in a cage and they will always choose these corner fabric tunnels. Easy to clean just throw in the washing machine. Will need clips to secure to cage bars.

Two Door Hide– It is extremely important to have a hide with two doors, especially when it comes to introductions or large male mischiefs. It’s also important in some instances to have a two door hide so no rat gets corned into a hide with no escape.

Salvic Igloo– Better quality igloo than the traditional igloo. Might even be a little larger and the air vents are brilliant addition for the safety of your rats respitory.

Corner Fabric Hide– Rats absolutely love corners and this is a great choice. The dangling fabric also makes a great toy and the roof can be used as another hammock.

Fluffy Hide– Like a floor hammock nice and comfy for your ratties. Also great for out of cage playtime. Mine has always gone through the wash very well, I even throw it the dryer.

Hide With Floor– An igloo with a floor, great choice to keep cool in the summer, or use with your favorite bedding.

Hammocks- The two level hammock is the best quality for your money. Cheapest option great option for owners who have big chewers that go through hammocks all the time. 2 pack great quality. And lastly the cube hammock holds up the best. (My oldest hammock.)

Coconut Hide– Only for babies and dwarfs, but you’ll be shocked how many can fit in this tiny hide. Don’t recommend for standard, they will love it so much and then outgrow it.

Fall Break/ Climbing

Fall breaks in rat cages are very important for your rats safety especially with tall cages. This can protect them if they ever fall from a high level of the cage. It is also great for climbing and adding enrichment to your rats cage. The more climbing they’re able to do the less you’ll have to worry about weight and health issues. They also keep your rat occupied. You’ll be amazed how well balanced they are using their tails.

Scarf Hanger– This is definitely the best for fall breakers you can use it wide like in these photos which takes up almost an entire critter nation or you can use at an incline for more of a ladder type climber. This is an item I personally think all large cages should have.

Wall Bridge– I love this bridge because it’s designed to hang from the cage wall like another level or on the door it’s super cute for them to be on when you open the door. great for cages that have large front door openings.

Bendable Rope– These ropes are very strong and bendable which is great for the rats to balance on and utilize cage space as fillers.

Dog Ropes– Dog ropes are great cheap filler for the cage. You can use small dog ropes or packs and tie them up with zip ties, But the best is XL dog ropes, they’re very easy for them to balance on and last the longest.

Bendable Bridges– These are best used for tall cages used from level to level. In the critter nations they fit perfectly between the level and cage wall to the top hammocks.

Seagrass Ladder– One of the best bang for your buck items when it comes to an appropriate fall breaker for tall rat cages.

Ladder– Can never go wrong with a ladder usually labeled under bird products and is great to be used as a ladder, diagonal, another level, or fall breaker.

Nail Care

This is largely a matter of choice for the owner. Healthy rats will take care of their own nails. They’ll wear them down naturally by running around and will also clip off the ends with their teeth if they think it’s necessary. Some rats are self-clippers and others aren’t, but I personally have never had a rat get overgrown nails. However, those little nails can feel like little blades especially for children or anyone with sensitive skin. To help your pet rats naturally file their nails it’s important to add lava ledges and sandpaper platforms in areas they always go. For example, under a water bottle is a great trick to get them to file their nails. And for extra sensitive children and owners this wheel is a life saver!

Lava Ledge– this Punic stone was my first purchase that made me realize I need these all over my cage! Not only is this the best at filing nails as far as ledges go this one is a fan favorite chew toy.

Paw grinding ledge– This might say it’s for birds but it has the same great quality in filing rat nails. These are much cheaper but I would say don’t last as long as my lava ledges.

Grinding Perch– Very similar to the one above but works great to use ladder style and utilize cage wall space.

Sandy Track Wheel– Keep in mind this is only a 12inch wheel. But for wheel loving rats especially the hyper dwarfs this wheel is a life saver. You can see a night a day difference in there nails compared to my cages that don’t have this wheel.

Chew Toys

Rats’ front incisors grow constantly, but they are worn down by rats chewing on hard foods pellets, chew toys, hides, the cage and even grinding the upper and lower pairs of teeth against each other. So not only is chewing a natural behavior to keep their teeth healthy. It is also to help with boredom and stress. Giving them plenty of chew toys will also help with keeping your more expensive items like hammocks and hides safer from being chewed. Make sure to stay away from colored wood and rabbit chews like hay or alpha.

Natural Punic Chew– Punic is a great safe chew for rats and I love that this one hangs from the cage and comes with a clip.

Willow Sticks– This a safe wood for rats to consume and I love this choice because you can not only just throw the whole bundle in but you can also separate them and get longer use by giving them just a few on floors and levels.

Willow Barrel– Another safe wood chew toy, will be so loved and destroyed quickly with joy.

Bird Chew Toys– Shocker bird toys are a huge win! There are way more safe bird chew toys out there. This is a great 6 pack of huge chew toys that you can put in one at a time or rotate as needed.

Apple Wood– The tastiest of the safe woods for rats. A large pack is great to give weekly or on cleaning days.

Foraging Toys

This is such an important step in the enrichment process in your rat’s cage. We have all heard how smart rats are, making it so important to stimulate their brain with foraging toys. What better way to stimulate them than to make treat time or fresh food challenging!

Chew Toy Pack and Foraging– Not only is this one of favorite safe chew toys brands but most of their packs of toys have foraging chews in them. This brand is a must have when choosing toys for your rats’ cage, The pattern D is my favorite.

Foraging wooden wheel– This foraging toy is from the same brand. Not only is it safe to chew and easy to put treats in but with the screw in the back you can put it anywhere in the cage even really high for an added challenge.

Foraging 4-way hanger– Last of my favorites from this brand is this 4-way chew toy that you can hide treats inside.

Skewer– The cleanest of the chew toys and honesty the one that takes them longest would have to be skewer. This is how we feed almost all of our fresh food for added enrichment.

Cup Foraging– Very Classic bird cup toy. I recommend adding this to a difficult area in the cage to make this one more challenging. It’s also extremely easy to clean and perfect beginner foraging toy. Dishwasher safe so perfect for fresh food.

Foraging Spinner– I saved my Favorite for last! I still have my first of these in great condition. Super challenging can take them a couple days depending on what I put inside.

Exercise Wheel

Rat wheels can be so controversial, just like many pet things there is a billion opinions, so for argument’s sake, this is just my personal opinion. I have the best success with using 9inch wheels for my babies but don’t waste your money on a small wheel they quickly outgrow. Dwarfs I think we can all agree only need a 12inch wheel max. Female standard rats I personally use a 12-inch wheel. Standard males I use a 15-inch wheel. The controversy lays in Wheel Tail, an injury that can occur from the rat not being able to straighten their spine while running on the wheel, this is why the size matters so much. With consistent running on a wheel too small the spine damage can cause there tail to get stuck in an almost curled up right position with perminate damage. I have had rats for over 10 years now and adopted hundreds and I have yet to see or had this happen. As a rat owner you should know all the facts to best decide if you want to choose a wheel or no wheel for your rats. To be extra safe, but really want to give your rats a wheel, be sure to spend the extra money for the 15inch wheel for any standard size rat. If the wheel ever gets squeaky or loud just add a little olive oil to the spinner, best trick I ever learned to get better sleep.

15 Inch Wheel– The safest size wheel to get for your pet rats.

Sandpaper 12inch Wheel– Ive already shown this wheel in the nail care section of this article, but I cannot recommend this wheel enough! Not only is this my favorite brand but you can even add refills of the sandpaper or many other options.

12 inch Wide Wheel– Same as the wheel above but wider perfect for our chucky rats that need a little more movement.

Cheap 12inch Wheel– Most afortable wheel half my cages still have these as I slowly upgrade you can even move it to the wall. Will definitely need more olive oil added regularly this wheel not so silent.

Playpen– If you choose no wheel this is a must, it’s also for those who want to give proper free roam time to their rats. Rats need at least 1 hour of free roam time a day, this is the only escape proof playpen, no bars for them to climb and over 2 feet so they can’t jump out. We all have busy lives and this a great way to give them there out-of-cage time and not have to worry or be next to them the whole hour. Even better choice for kids you can relax while your kids are in the playpen with the rats. I still have this exact one from 8 years ago in perfect condition and so easy to set up. I recommend using zip ties instead of the black clips it comes with for easy clean up and storage you can just fold it like an accordion.

Water Bottle

Of course your ratties will need water bowls and food bowl. But i wanted to share our favorite rat water bottles and why I love them. Its so important to make sure your rats always have fresh water at all times.

Silent Water Bottle– The only silent water bottle I have ever found in all my years of having pet rats. A must have if the rats are in your bedroom.

Auto Fill Water Bowl– Water bowl are great for rats, they love to use the water to clean themself, I think is the cleanliest option if you are thinkng of adding a water bowl.

Glass Water Bottle- Perfect for chewers and long lasting water bottle.

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