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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I'm getting two rats soon, and my parents think I am spending way too much on them. I have a critter nation, but I need to buy new trays, so all of those combined is $150. Then on other stuff, wheel, water bottle, toys, etc, I have everything I need picked out, but not bought yet, and the cost of all those is $125. Is this too much? How many toys do you need to buy? I can't really think of what I would get rid of... but it's so expensive! I'm buying 5 toys, a lava ledge thing, 2 chews, a wheel, a water bottle, a litter box, ramp covers, a play pen thing, an exterior ramp, and two hidey houses. Is this more than I need?
 

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First of all you can scrap the wheel, rats are usually not interested at all. They tend to enjoy mental stimulation more than physical so running without getting anywhere seems pointless to them.
Good toys for rats include climbing ropes, bridges, tunnels and hammocks. You can also save money by giving them cheap or homemade toys. Cardboard boxes make great hidey houses and they love to chew them up. I don't know what sort of shops you have available to you but i tend to go into cheap shops and buy bird toys. You can usually get loads of wooden bridges, ladders, swings etc... that rats go mad over! Little bag of cat toys are great too and super affordable! Oh and cat teasers make a great game to play with your rats!

I don't know how high your cage is, i have the Liberta Explorer which is also a critter nation dupe, and my rats don't need an exterior ramp, they jump in and out. For my slightly lazy male rat i just put his food tub there to help him.

To save more money you could construct your own playpen out of cardboard sheets or 'rat-proof' your room. I use cardboard sheets to block off areas i don't want my rats to go and it works like a charm. My boy is out right now wrecking havoc with some cardboard boxes! :)

The more toys the better but that doesn't mean you have to buy them all right now. I pick up bits and bobs whenever i can.

Here are some more ideas, this website is brilliant: http://www.dapper.com.au/toys.htm

Hope everything goes well with your ratties, i'd love to see some pictures when you get them! :)
 

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Discussion Starter #3
My last rat loved her wheel, is that not normal? I've heard that when you introduce it early, they have a higher chance of using it. I have a critter nation, so they can't really jump out of it. I have a cardboard playpen now, but it is awkward to fold up, falls apart a lot, and my mice have started chew under it. I have my room rat-proofed, but not mouse-proofed. The playpen is really for my mice, and to keep the rats out of the mouse play area. I don't know how long it will be before I get my rats, I have to pay for them myself... I'm trying to save up but $300+ is a lot to make when you don't have a job. It could be months. But I'll definitely get pictures when I do!
 

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I don't have my new rats yet, but I plan to buy all of their stuff online (it's cheaper and easier for us than buying it at the store) and my estimated costs are around $152.63 - $232.63 in total, depending on how much I end up paying for a cage.

Like Jess mentioned, you don't need to worry too much about toys. I plan to get my ratties a hammock or two, a hide-y place, some perches/ropes to climb on, food bowls/water bottle, food (oxbow + a seed mixture to be given as an occasional treat), treats, bedding, a couple of different chews, and a cage. Beyond that, you shouldn't need to worry about getting much else for the time being. There's always plenty of time to add things into their cage later on.
 

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If you have a dollar store near by, go there for dog "rope toys". You can link those together using baby rings (the plastic kind..or plastic shower rings) to make climbing ropes. They also LOVE the baskets from the dollar tree... You can hang them using shower curtain hooks. I recently went to the dollar tree and got 2 baskets, a package of plastic shower rings, and 6 rope "toys" to outfit one section of my DCN.. Grand total of $9 for all.

Most of my rats don't use a wheel.. I've had 2 rats out of 11 that use them. I would put the wheel low on your list of priorities. I'd put the climbing ropes, baskets, and hammocks higher. You can make hammocks out of washrags and shower curtain rings if you need to and you can give them toilet paper tubes, tissue and cereal boxes to use as chews, hides, and toys. I give my rats all of our used cereal boxes and tubes and change out as they get smelly.

I would buy some hanging "bird" toys with wooden chew parts... But you only need 1 per cage. I also give mine a nylabone or other dog chew toy and a litter box.

I buy their food crocks from tractor supply, which has heavy duty ceramic ones for about $3 each.

Basically, you can make this as expensive or cheap as you want to go. If your parents are concerned, save the wheel and ramp covers and expesnive toys for later. ... When you get gift cards to amazon or other stores, use those to buy rat toys a little a long. The best investment $ wise that I've made has been a lixit space pod (hanging house that they love) and buying some sets of hammocks for them so that I can take old ones out and replace with fresh as I wash them. If you know how to sew, or your mom does, you might be able to make hammocks at cost of the materials, which is much cheaper.

And btw, I would not even use the ramps in the DCN. My rats can climb between the sections super easily and it gives them more exercise.
 

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Get a wheel. Silent Spinner is great, IDK what rats you had ignored them but females and young males tend to love them. Ditch the house, use boxes. The 12 pack boxes work great. Newspaper if they nest is fun for them. Look for ferret toys, they can be cheaper and are a lot easier to find. Look in clearance sections of pet stores. Get creative and find uses out of everyday things. A lot of rats prefer water bowls and stainless steel ones are cheap and easy to find. Cheaper than glass water bottles, similar no bacteria benefits. Mine love playing in it, dunking heads, cleaning their hands. I couldn't get one of mine to drink from a bottle, and I wouldn't go back to bottles. Can get dirty but as long as you clean it once or twice a day, you'll be fine. Mine don't really mess with chew toys like blocks and stuff. They like a wood ladder made for parrots to chew on. Greenies they love, haven't tried Whimzees though. They should like elk/deer antlers but I haven't tried it. Would last a while though, full of vitamins and minerals. Some rats like the cat ball toys. Bell balls, some like crinkles, some like rattles. Cat toys on wands with feathers are a hit with mine. drsfostersmith.com has a lot of stuff for great prices, free shipping over $50.
 

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Don't forget you will need to buy a substrate to go in the litter box, something like Yesterday's News. Make sure to budget for food and litter, which you will be buying often.

What kind of Play Pen are you getting? That sounds like something you can strike, as most rats are happy to just crawl around on the couch or table :D

Bowls can be had at any thrift store. Lately I'm not even using bowls because I discovered my rats prefer to forage for their food. But some small ramekin-type bowls may come in handy.

I would not get the hidey houses because it's SO easy to make a disposable nest box out of cardboard. Even an empty tissue box works great. Rats will appreciate the variety of having a new box every week or so.

This is really a great exercise in budgeting! You can see how many items you can get for less elsewhere, strike the things you don't really need, and make sure you have enough saved for regular food and litter purchases, and the inevitable veterinarian visits.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
So I think I'm going to scratch the hidey houses, but still get the wheel. The playpen is really more for my mice. And I already have bedding for my mice, I can use that as litter. I think I'm going shopping soon to see if I can find any cheaper substitutes for the toys i was going to get online. All good suggestions! Thanks!
 

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Wheels are great. A majority of my rats (both male and female, young and old) have used them. Sure, not all rats will use them, but the ones that do really enjoy them.
 
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