Free Ranging Your Rats
Just like a dog, a rat needs time out of the house (or in this case, the cage) to exercise, explore and have some fun. How would you like being cooped up in your house all day, and only being allowed out when some giant came and picked you up? Not very much, I am assuming. Rats need to be let out of their cage to explore and stretch their legs at least once or twice a day for about and hour or two. I find a rat room to be the best way to go about free ranging, this way the area can be always 100% rat-proof and you don't have to set it up with proofing and toys every time. Unfortunately, most people don't have the extra space for this kind of thing. The second best way to do this is to have a room that is rat safe:
- No cords or anything sharp exposed
- Nothing bad that the rats could eat
- Nothing that would scare them (other pets, loud, active people, etc)
- No holes exposed into walls or furniture where the rats could get stuck or lost
- Nothing for the rats to hide under or behind out of your reach
Most dangers are quite obvious, though there are things you may not have thought about.
Many houseplants are toxic to rats. Either remove them or ensure the rats cannot chew on them.
Always be careful where you sit, especially if you have a rocking chair or sofa bed... rats love to explore dark hidden places. Remove shoes before walking in a rat zone and learn the "ratty shuffle" so you don't accidentally tread on anyone. Ensure all other household pets are locked elsewhere. No matter how much you trust them with the rats, instinct can overwhelm them and accidents can happen. Taping some cardboard so that it projects over the edge of bookshelves will prevent your rat from climbing up too high.