Small Rodent Basics
Rats should be kept in large wire cages that allow them to climb and run around. A cage 50cm x 50cm x 30cm is suitable for one rat. The cage should be placed in a draft free, dry environment with access to natural light but not direct sunlight. The cage should include items for them to climb in/on e.g. plastic tubes and ropes, they also enjoy comfortable bedding areas so a wooden box with a lift able lid should be provided filled with hay.
Mice and Gerbils ideally should be kept in medium sized aquarium with multi-levels and a wire mess lid. A cage of 45cm x 30cm x 20cm is ideal for 2-3 mice/gerbils. The cage should contain plenty of hidey holes in the form of wooden boxes and cardboard tubes.
Always remember a bigger cage is better, these sizes are a minimum size for comfort.
Rats, Mice and Gerbils like to have plenty of substrate within the cage to allow for digging and tunnelling behaviours. A good substrate is wood shavings and in the case of the rat some straw or hay to make a bedding area with.
The cage should be cleaned out on a regular basis of once to twice a week depending on the number of animals in the enclosure.
Rats, Mice and Gerbils are omnivores which means they like to eat a variety of different foods from fruit and vegetables to titbits of meat e.g. chicken. Ideally feed your small furry on a commercial complete food with additions of fruit, vegetable and meat titbits in moderation but try to avoid high fat seeds like sun-flower seeds, as they can be prone to obesity. Water should be available at all times and can be given in a water bottle or ceramic dish. Bottles are generally cleaner than ceramic dishes.
Rats, Mice and Gerbils are social creatures and enjoy the company of others of the same species. Ideally they should be kept in same sex pairs or same sex groups as they have a high reproduction rate, meaning two animals can become 10-20 in only a matter of a year!
Rats can be kept on their own but prefer to have company.