Choosing a Rodent Cage that your pet will find
comfortable and will want to live in.
One reason that so many types of rodents are kept as pets is
that proper care for most rodent types is far less
complicated and exacting than for many other types of pets,
and most of the needs of the many various types of rodents
You will need a cage or tank that is large enough for your pet
rodent to move around and get exercise, the proper food for
the particular type of rodent, a supply of clean water at
all times, bedding for them to nest in, the proper
temperatures for that species of rodent, and something to
chew to keep the teeth at the proper length. Beyond that you
simply need information about your rodent as to whether or
not it likes cage mates, how to breed if you plan to do
that, and the like.
Cages for Rodents
Most rodents can be kept in a commercial hamster-type cage,
a generic small animal wire cage, or an adequately sized
glass aquarium (vivarium). Each type of housing has
advantages and disadvantages.
The plastic hamster cages are interesting-looking, but are
expensive and are not suitable for anything larger than a
mouse or hamster. Some rodents, such as gerbils, can't be
kept in plastic cages at all because they will eventually
chew through the plastic and escape. Hamsters have been
known to do the same, actually.
Aquariums are great for keeping the rodent's bedding and
possible odor from spreading into the rest of your home,
preventing the animals from gnaw and for controlling the
temperature if needed, but they can get expensive in the
sizes needed for several rodents or for even one rodent if
its species grows larger than a rat. They also impede air
circulation, which can be a problem for some rodent species.
Wire cages are the best housing for rats and any rodent
larger than a rat. Be sure that the cage is large enough
that the animal or animals can move about freely in the
cage, and that the mesh of the wire sides is small enough to
keep your pets inside. Remember that, for example, a rat can
crawl through any hole that its head can fit into, amazingly
Also, be aware that a wire mesh floor can irritate or injure
the feet of an animal so you may need to add a metal sheet
floor or at least plenty of bedding. If you decide to build
your own cage, as many do, be sure that the metals and wood
used are non-toxic.
You'll want to wrap the bottom three or four inches of the
sides to help keep the bedding inside the cage, since all
rodents love to dig and scratch.
Temperature for Rodents
Room temperatures of sixty-five to eighty-five degrees
Fahrenheit, (nineteen to thirty degrees Celsius) will work
for most rodents, but some rare types might have different
temperature requirements, be sure to research your species.
With nearly all rodent species radical temperature
fluctuations will cause stress, which results in reduced
growth and poor reproduction. If the temperatures in your
rodent room can not easily be regulated or are inclined to
be cold, you will need heat pads or heat strips from your
pet supply store placed on the outside of one wall if the
tank is glass, or under one third of the cage floor area. If
you do use extra heat, be sure to keep a constant supply of
clean water available, and ensure that the animals have good
ventilation and constant food. When animals are cold or wet
they must eat more to keep up body temperature, and even one
night of cold without food can starve a small rodent to
death. Extreme temperatures in either direction can cause
illness or death in small rodents.
Again, be sure to research your chosen rodent species so
that you can provide the best type of cage to keep your pet
healthy and happy.