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For me, 3 to 5 is the magic number. The reason for the range (rather than a single number) is because 1) I like to keep a mixed-age mischief so I try to cycle in new rats once every year to year and a half, and 2) I always try to get rats in pairs. Purchasing/adopting single rats can be more stressful for them with quarantine periods and introductions and such.

I had as many as 6 rats at one time and, while it was super fun and interesting to watch the social dynamic, it was a bit much for me.

Personally, I think a good starting size for a cage would be big enough for at least 3 or 4 rats. I understand your hesitancy to get more rats given your current cage size. You might want to start thinking about a plan for when your rats get older or if one were to die suddenly. Being that acquiring rats in pairs is much safer than purchasing single rats, you might find yourself with at least 3 rats at some point.
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