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Rats Rule! => Rat Care Corner => Topic started by: PVTNate on January 09, 2012, 02:25:20 AM

Title: Rat keeps chewing the top of her cage?!
Post by: PVTNate on January 09, 2012, 02:25:20 AM
Hey everyone! So to start off I'm wondering why my rat keeps chewing the top of her cage? Its an aquarium and its the plastic part that goes around the top. Its a 40 gallon aquarium with 6 rats in there so there is plenty of room! They have many toys and chew sticks wood sticks all that fun stuff. They get out At least once a day and additionally if i can i usually pop open the lid and stick my hand in there to pet them once a day as well because we all know its hard to pass up those cut faces!;) so anyways I'm wondering why its just one of them? She only does it at night and they are pretty active during the day! Well please help! Thanks!:D
Title: Re: Rat keeps chewing the top of her cage?!
Post by: maesie on January 09, 2012, 03:40:16 AM
Rats chew... and there is not a whole lot you can do about it. I find once they decide on something that needs chewing it's hard to stop. Maybe try changing the cage around, make things different, change their toys etc...Aside from that, unfortunately no aquarium is suitable for keeping rats, regardless of size. I'd start by suggesting looking for a new cage something with lots of levels and lots of different things for them to do. Check out the cage section here, there's lots of great info and photos there.
Title: Re: Rat keeps chewing the top of her cage?!
Post by: Suebee on January 09, 2012, 09:35:48 AM
I used to have 2 rats in a 20-gallon when I started out, and that always seemed cramped to me.

Can you get a cage topper for it, instead of just a plastic lid?

I agree, once they decide something must be destroyed, it's hard to get them to stop. Persistent little buggers!  :wink5:
Title: Re: Rat keeps chewing the top of her cage?!
Post by: TGQ on January 09, 2012, 11:02:15 AM
Aquariums don't make very good homes for rats due to their quick ammonia build up and lack of ventilation. Also, they lack shelves and things to climb. My girlfriend had her rats in an aquarium for the longest time and one ALWAYS chewed the top. It is probably a boredom chew. I suggest switching to a martins or cage that fits your number of rats and provides the right ventilation. (check craigslist. some great deals can be found.)
I don't know if you have a 40 gallon breeder or a 40 gallon long, but the long would fit no rats as it is too narrow. The breeder one, according to the cage calculator ( ) would fit 3 rats if the space is used wisely. I strongly recommend switching cages.
Title: Re: Rat keeps chewing the top of her cage?!
Post by: betuana on January 09, 2012, 11:51:58 AM
Some rats are chewers - they just tend to chew more than others. I have one girl who kept gnawing on her martins bars for a while, I think I have FINALLY gotten enough different varieties of chew toys in there to get her to stop - she wasn't damaging anything but it was making me kinda crazy to see her chewing. The other girls in her cage never bothered. Its a personality thing, but generally once they discover they can chew something, they keep doing it. (She still chews the bars...and its just a couple bars in one and then, she just also chews on the other things I provided too). I would avoid any cage where plastic edges are accessible and related to the containment, since with a chewer that poses an escape risk. Do they have a wheel? Wheels are a great way for them to  burn energy, and tend to be well accepted and used, especially by female rats. Make sure to get a mesh surface (not bars), or solid surface running wheel for their safety, and that might help her burn some of the energy that is driving her to chew (won't stop it though, will just reduce it).

I had 2 rats in a 40g breeder critter cage for a while YEARS ago, when my living situation offered me the option of 'solid sided housing' or 'get rid of the rats' (my landlords at the time decided their preexisting mouse problem was to be blamed on the presence of my rats 'attracting' the mice...even though it should really do the opposite...). I even felt that THAT was kinda crowded.

To prevent ammonia buildup it was necessary to clean it at LEAST every other day, and preferably daily, I had all sorts of other things inside added to create levels for them to climb, hang hammocks, hang a wheel on, etc (wheels are GREAT for helping girls burn energy). But I was VERY happy when I finally moved out and was able to go back to using a cage. I do still have to wonder if the one girl's chronic respiratory issues weren't due to having spent several months living in an aquarium, despite my extra efforts to keep it clean and well ventilated.

I also had to repair the top very regularly. They chewed it and tore it apart frequently. Generally the rule can be taken that if they figure out they CAN chew it and do damage, they WILL. (This set of girls also decided that plastic water bottles were good chew toys, I went through 3 in a week when they discovered that (after an extended time of no problems) before I found glass ones.) That's another reason a cage tends to work better, the better designed ones (martins, critter nation, etc) don't have any plastic they can accessibly chew (the sides of the martins trays are outside the bars, and therefore out of range of teeth, vs the superpet ones that sit ON the plastic tray instead of in it, making the edges available for chewers). I would strongly recommend looking into a critter nation or martins cage for them. The ventilation will be much better, it provides climbing exercise too (a wheel is still almost a must with females though!), and less of an issue with chewing potentially leading to an escape issue.

With CAGES (with 4 sided and top ventilation) it is recommended rats have a MINIMUM of 2 cubic feet per rat. I honestly believe that with the reduced air flow, aquariums require more space than that, and unfortunately a 40 gallon just does not provide that (if it were a cage of the same dimensions, it would support 3 if all the space were carefully used, which is only half of what your tank is currently housing). Not to mention tanks are heavy, which can make it difficult to move them to thoroughly clean them. I would recommend you look into either getting a powdercoated R-695 cage from martins cages ( ) ...which technically still only supports 5 rats, but would be a far better setup and much less likely to lead to problems (its about twice the size of a 40g breeder tank, with better ventilation and less escape risk!), or a critter nation (a single level can support 6 rats if used well, at 36"x24"x24"), as these would provide your rats with much needed space, ventilation, and would reduce the risk of the one chewing her way out of the top eventually. With a tank...for 6 rats you'd really be looking at a MINIMUM size of 90 (48x18x24...6 rats at the 2 cubic foot rule...which I think is too small for a tank living situation)-120 gallons (48x24x24)  with cleaning at least 3 times a week, preferably more. Tank toppers are also an option if you can find one big enough (martins cages could custom make one for you I'm sure), but the bottom part would still need to be cleaned several times a week at a minimum, since the ammonia can still build up there and cause problems (the cage top just lets them escape from it better, and gives them much needed climbing space). So tank topper can HELP, but aren't really an ideal solution. If your living situation absolutely requires the housing must be solid sided (in which case a tank topper probably wouldn't be allowed either), then looking for a larger tank, and finding a more secure top for it (possibly making one or being sure to purchase a top that is all metal, etc), is important for the number of rats you have there. But I think you and your rats will be happier with a cage, as far as space, expense, time needed  for cleaning, health, weight of cage, security, etc etc. So please look into that as a possible option (and moving to a secure cage would stop her from chewing the top of the aquarium as well!).
Title: Re: Rat keeps chewing the top of her cage?!
Post by: PVTNate on January 14, 2012, 02:01:14 AM
I checked online and it is actually 75 gallons, so I'm not sure how much of a difference this makes. I have thought of purchasing a new cage I just dont know where I'm going to put the 75 gallon one once i get it out of my room:/.. I'd prefer not to get rid of it because it is kinda sentimental to me because I had all my baby rats in there! hahah I'm lame i know;) But that you all so much for your info, and I will check it out! :) They do have a wheel BTW and they LOVE IT! :) My girl that chews is very hyper, sweet, but hyper so this could explain things...
Title: Re: Rat keeps chewing the top of her cage?!
Post by: RattusNorvegicus on January 14, 2012, 02:10:34 AM
Could you possibly sell the 75g?
Title: Re: Rat keeps chewing the top of her cage?!
Post by: PVTNate on January 14, 2012, 03:36:25 PM
Do they have cage toppers for the 75 gallon? I looked online and it seems they only have cage toppers for 10 and 20 gallon:/