Introduction: How to Keep 20+ Rats Safe and Healthy in a Condo

Picture of How to Keep 20+ Rats Safe and Healthy  in a Condo

This cage is is based on the "grotto" style rat cage. It coast me about $150 excluding food supplies. I'm a busy collage student living in a two bedroom condo with my mother who isn't exactly a rat enthusiast. So to keep the cage clutter and coast down I made my own three story rat book shelf. I bought a press board book shelf for $70 assembled it and spar varnished it to make it urine proof. Then a carpenter friend of mine made me three separate doors to attach. I used a sewing machine and a grommet puncher to make three different types of rat hammocks installed them by using spare wood with hooks attached to the top of each unit. This cage is slightly cramped but very useful, it takes me all of ten minutes to clean on a daily basis. Let me know if you have any questions.

Step 1: Obtain Your Rats!

Picture of Obtain Your Rats!

Spend five months breeding 20 pet rats of your choice, mine are for the most part hairless dumbos, those two are thel great grandfathers! There names are pimple and pimples twin.

Step 2: Buy Supplies

Picture of Buy Supplies

Buy press board book shelf from wall-mart or ware have you.

List of things I used.
1. Yard stick
2. Sewing machine
3. Miter box and saw
4. Wood glue
5. Grommet and grommet puncher
6. Wire grid not wire mesh.
7. Hooks
8. Water bottles and food bowls
9. Spar varnish
10. Paper shredder

Step 3: Be a Rat Enthusiast!

Picture of Be a Rat Enthusiast!

Spend two days putting together cage and organizing it perfectly. Insert rats and watch as in 15 minutes they climb sniff chew pee and defecate on everything in site to mark there territory.

How to clean the cage:

Remove the rats and the food and water bowls, vacuum out the shredded paper with a wet dry shop vacuum then wipe down surface area with animal safe disinfectant. Restock bookshelf with shredded paper new food and water and old rats.


TiffF (author)2017-01-21

I tried to find a nice way to say all this but there simply isn't one.This is so inhumane and selfish. The depth of a bookcase isn't sufficient, really, for rats. However, if there are other "amenities" and lots of width/height, I think it's fine (I have a similar setup that I too built myself). The inhumane things are... have you ever bothered to take the time to view a rat rescue? Even in the small town I grew up in there were two within 45 miles of my home. There are SO MANY rats in the rescues that came from horrific pasts (since you're obviously oblivious-believe it or not, many counties would consider your housing situation and careless breeding to be neglectful and inhumane. .including the county where I used to work for their animal welfare service. Rats who, for example, somehow survived repeated attempts at being placed in a home freezer, while they were pregnant, in an attempt to freeze the babies in order to sell them as frozen pinkie rats to reptile shops. But as I said, some survived but were unfortunately left with neurological disorders but were otherwise wonderful and sweet and gentle. They were discovered by a family member that came to visit the home and that family member took them to the rescue and now there they sit, cuz it's not like they haven't already had it bad enough right? Or how about the rats that are blind because people don't do research first and they used Pine or Cedar bedding and the owners didn't want a disabled pet so they dropped em off at the rescue unwanted. Or how about the rats that were unlucky enough to be selected for snake food but the snake refused eat them, as is a common occurrence with certain rats and certain snakes for whatever reason. All they've known is terror and now all they know is cramped spaces, gee sort of like yours, and loneliness. what people fail to realize is that rats can recognize and feel affection and many other human emotions. they're the only rodent that can recognize a human face. Their intelligence levels are astounding. there's the whole other factor of keeping them in a cramped space which is illnesses and how quickly they spread from one rat to another. This instructable and your behavior is incredibly irresponsible and I'm going to see about getting it taken down. I hope you consider doing the right thing instead of thinking about yourself, think about these poor creatures that you keep breeding and bringing into the world are there are already Millions that need homes.

Skye2171 (author)2013-07-20

This is sick. Maybe like 6 rats tops.

moonchylde (author)2010-10-03

This is brilliant. I'm probably going to adapt this as a cage for the two ferrets that were "dumped" on my doorstep tonight... the guy couldn't keep them, and he brought everything we needed, minus a cage.

If this works, I may end up with a ferret cage on one side of the couch, and a rat colony cage on the other....

Brother_Bear (author)2006-10-24

Its really irritating that Dumbos rexes and other special breeds of pet rat isnt availble in sweden. and they are really cute :) Oh and the instructable was good aswell :)

Eric95 (author)Brother_Bear2008-10-31

Yeah, it is annoying, but normal pet rats are still really cute
Also, does anybody know where you can find the grids and stuff for building a normal cage?

moonchylde (author)Eric952010-10-03

Try hardware stores, look for wire closet shelving and accessories. A few of those and some zip-ties, and you got a cage.

NikkiHoward69 (author)2009-06-17

This is a very nice instructional. To cut down on costs, why not go to a thrift store and get second hand shelving units? I have seen some very nice tv cabinets and shelving units turned into beautiful bird aviaries (finches) and animal condos. What is "spar varnish"? I have never heard of this. I liked the idea of adding glass (or plexiglass) along the edge to keep some of the shreddings in. I use shreddings for my animal bedding, as well. It's the best use I've found yet for junk mail!! (But, I still like to send them all their crap back in the envelope that they have to pay for!!! LOL) Thanks for your work here.

no matter how much stuff you put in to try to keep the bedding in...they will find a way to throw it at you... lol

azntrooper93 (author)2009-07-31

and are cramped in their container... they need more room

mivzi (author)2009-08-18

Damn that's a lot of rats! They're adorable, though. I have a buddy who has a hairless and it feels like petting a grandpa. (: He's a sweetie though. I have a cage about that size for my 2 girls, are yours separated for a reason? Or are they able to climb from layer to layer? Mine is about that size, but they are able to climb from the bottom shelf all the way to the top one (there are 6 total). Maybe I should post an instructable on mine?

superkagome (author)2009-01-14

hey this is great! thanks for poting it! i think when i build mine i might but a lining of glass inside on each shelf to keep the shavings from falling out

Ph3nomin0n (author)2008-10-19

EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEW RATS!!! just kidding, nice instructable

chimp (author)2006-11-19

good idea, but personally i don't think this is suitable for them as there is nowhere to climb and the space still' feels too small for the amount of ratties kept inside. i hope they get to run around outside a lot. mine live free range and have a mini garden and water area to play in. it cost next to nothing. &......not to menton the ehics of breeding an animal that really should have fur. at least you love & care for them. go on, build an extension.....

SmileyAgin (author)chimp2008-02-10

I just bought 2 dwarf hamsters and will be getting 2- 3 year old degu's next week. How do you make a free range cage? would like to have a water area and mini garden that could be opened and closed for each breed to take turns using.

chimp (author)SmileyAgin2008-02-10

seperate doors with non-chewable partitions/ 2 houses stuck together. Copious use of latches. *Thick perspex would be good & wipeable. You can get it cut to size - has to be with a special blade that remains wet whilst it cuts so you cannae DIY!

Pyrocantha (author)chimp2008-10-10

Unless you get a tile saw, which you can rent and it waters the material as you cut...

chimp (author)SmileyAgin2008-02-10

there are lots of good sites out there (will post later) but the main things to avoid are: 1) do not use wood like mdf/ chipboard/ particleboard. Its meshed with toxic glues and is bad bad bad. for humans too. 2) dust free bedding (not woodchip) depending on how much space you have you can have a tiered cage (have the garden/water area below - or utilise the layout of your room. e.g i used to have rat-friendly plants & herbs + water in my interior balcony. the ratties would jump up, dig, mess around and then scuttle back to their house when they wanted to sleep/eat/rest. worked really well. animals will also form their own 'safe' pathways. dunno if there is enough room to write about how to build the perfect animal area.....

Pyrocantha (author)2008-10-10

WOW! Who knew that so much conflict could come from a person trying to find space for her lovely rats? We sometimes just have to do the best we can and the rest of people can deal or don't. I like it and thing that I may visit lowes because of it. I have 1 rat, but if my daughter moves back home, that will be two more. I have never petted a hairless rat and saw my fist one in person last weekend at the pet store. The "penis with feet" comment almost made me cry, I laughed so hard! Much love to you and the rats you love and saved!

inkstainedheart (author)2008-08-30

Wow--20 rats? I don't think I could handle having that many. One or two would be plenty for me! Cool project, though--I bet this would be great for pygmy rabbits, too!

sassy8girl (author)2008-08-22

i love hairless rats actually all hairless animals they look amazing i never see them in england though

parsephoni (author)2008-05-29

You did an awesome job on this, but it just isn't properly ventilated enough for pet rats to live in. Rats need a ventilated cage all the way around (except bottom) because their urine is high in ammonia and can cause respiratory problems without proper ventilation. It looks great, though! And, people, if you don't like rats, why are you even reading this?? STFU and GTFO this page!

Robyntheslug (author)2006-11-22

It's a lovely cage, the idea is definitely a sound one! As a rat owner, however, I notice that you're keeping an awful lot of rats for such a tight space... Any chance of your little buddies getting some more room? A general guideline for health and happiness is to figure in 2 cubic feet per rat. My 3 boys are housed in a cage that's about 2/3 of that size, with tunnels, hiding spots, toys and a litter pan. Even with cagemates, rats are easily bored, and thrive on figuring things out!

Well like I said, I live in a small place for now, its just me and my mom, 1 dog 14 doves, 3 parrots and 30 or so rats. It's crowded but I promise I'm not a animal horder. The cage is on the small side but all compartments only have 3-4 rats each and they have tons of free range time. However many of them are just lazy boys and spend there time huddled in a rat pile sleeping in one spot. I added hammocks and ladders to doubel the useable space. But this cage was just the first prototype. My future cages will be much better. WE just need to move out to a biger place, a place not as exenicive as hawaii.

huge rat pile = huge pile of hairless penises *giggle*

Where do you put them when you're cleaning the house out for them?

ratgirl (author)BranchMonster2008-05-13

I'm sorry, but is it that kind to compare a cute little animals such as a rat to a penis besides i don't think any of you would like it!

Whilst I am aware what's done is done, and can't be undone etc, it strikes me it would have been wiser to have not bred so many rats knowing full well you didn't have the space to provide a larger cage. Having typed that, it is a lovely cage, and would be lovelier if you had it for non breeding rats (i.e. same sex or neutered) with connections between the levels. I wonder if one reason the boys seem lazy is because they don't have enough room to climb around, and it is lethargy rather than lazyness.

The male rats are lazy and or lethargic because they have health problems mostly due to old age and the strand of hairless that they are. I actually should have clarified the intractable; I have about three rats per section. (In the image every one was checking out the new cage, but not every one lives in it) I do not regret having so many rats ( about 10) and do believe that I am a good rat owner. All of my litters are purposely breed, and the other half of my colony are rescued rats that had no ware else to go. So yes we are a little cramped in the condo, actually I'm the one cramped ;) I have the bed, they have 2 cages and the rest of the room when I'm home.

Yeah male rats are the snugglers, but three rats to on section that is very small you need a 2ftx2ftx2ft cage for a pair of rats...just me saying you should get bigger cages.

"actually I'm the one cramped" LOL. I know that feeling!

oh how sweet i got 149 animals most are rats i breed them and i have another two litters on their way.

ratgirl (author)2008-05-13

If i may suggest i'm a breeder for rats so just to make it a little more fun would be too put some ropes so they can climb. And some other toys I have an instructable all about a fun game for your rats.

musicalbee2003 (author)2007-07-20

I made my own cage, also based off of robin's grotto. It had adequate space for a max. of five rats (I only had one, and she was old when we got her, so it wasn't long before there were none). I suggest using towels for bedding, instead of chips, carefresh, whatever. You save oodles of money, and it's healthier for the rats.

Yea, I made this instructable when I first built the cage,not after it was actually in use, there will be a new one after I finish my second one. There is much room for improvement. I use shreded paper instead because it keeps the budget down and does not cause allergys in my rats and is echo friendly.

PikesPeak (author)2007-05-30

Welcome to Willard Condiminium Estates.

cold_fusion (author)2006-10-24

Yeah, as I was saying (and confirmed by that picture) those are some ugly rats (not that there are any non-ugly rats).

austin (author)2006-10-23


ve2vfd (author)2006-10-22

By the way, it would be REAL cool to have hatches between the levels with slides and ladders for the rats to move up and down! :)

Yes it would but, I have the boys on the top and the girls on the bottom and a breeding pair in the middle.

ve2vfd (author)2006-10-22

It's a pretty cool idea and a very nice execution, but aren't you afraid the rats will chew right thru the wood to get out? I've seen mice and hampsters chew thru particle board like it was cookies... apparently they like getting stoned on the glue holding the boards together.

There was no gule used in the construction of the cage just in attaching the spare wood with hooks to the top of the cage. I thought about he chewing part before hand and decided to make the frame of the doors out of teek a really hard wood, and then frame the frame with soft ply wood that they could chew threw if they wannted to and then I could replace it in say five months or so, but in general my rats are'nt big chewers and I have toys for them to chew on so I don't think it'll be a problem.

Fake_Name (author)2006-10-22

Why, exactly, Would you want to keep 20 rats? Do you breed and sell them? Provided you wanted to keep 20 rats, it is an effective and neat method for cage construction.

Yes I breed and sell them.

Tool Using Animal (author)2006-10-22

It's nice, the room color however, uggh? I'd be concerned that even with the spar varnish that the pressboard will eventually become urine soaked. when that happens have your carpenter friend knock one together out of ply, it'll cost less and last longer.

CementTruck (author)2006-10-22

My sister asked me to make something like this for her years ago. She had Hamsters on top, and rabbits on the bottom. I had to put cookie sheets in between the cages to catch the urine from the hamsters because the rabbits were alwys wet and smelled like pee. :0)

JordanZed (author)2006-10-22


About This Instructable




Bio: I bread hairless and normal haired rats, among other animals. I hate filling out these forms and generally tend not to say very much in ... More »
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