Rat things

When I feel inspired I make my own rat toys and furnishings from superfluous and second hand materials. Rarely are two items alike. Maybe you can get some ideas from my page.
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I buy metal eyelets, usually with an inner diameter of 5,5 mm for the hammocks. Be sure to get the type with two parts (eyelet with washer) as the one-part model is more prone to falling out.
For larger hammocks I use 8 mm eyelets.
If I don't have a piece of superfluous material lying around, cloth table mats for placing your plates on are great for smaller cages. They are often more decorative than kitchen towels, and sturdier too. Being sturdy means a lot to me as a couple of my rats have been known to gnaw through a hammock in record time. (I once found one neatly split down the middle after one night!) As a rule kitchen towels barely last a fourthnight... I buy the table mats quite cheaply second hand from a charity or from a jumble sale. Occationally I can even get them new at a reduced price. However, for a large cage the small table mats are less useful. A pillow case may be more suitable, a table runner, or an old quilted tablecloth. The rats do not mind if they are covered in wash-resistant stains.
Dyed cottons usually have washing instructions "40 degrees C". I run mine at 95. Even if I wash them once a week they are usually chewed to bits before the colours are washed away.

"Shade sail"

shown in size 30 x 37 cm, for a 40 cm deep cage
The Shade sail is a standard rectangular (or square) hammock with eyelets in all four corners. I make them either from two layers of a fairly thin fabic, usually lightweight cotton, or one layer of a sturdier quality. The first two-layered hammocks I made had only one seam all around. When the rats started chewing the road to total destruction was very short. The new and improved model har an extra seam 1 cm from the edge.


shown in size 26 x 56 cm, for a small cage 35 cm deep and 50 wide
The Shelter is of rectangular shape with six eyelets: one in each cormer and one not quite half way down the side. As with the Shade sail it can be made with two thin layers or one sturdy material. The two-layered ones are made by folding one material around the back to create a small frame. In this way the seam is more out of harm's way. It takes more time for the rats to love it to bits.
I use this hammock for two different purposes. One is creating a shelf all along the back of the cage. The other is to screen off the sun, or give the rats a sense of seclusion. In order to use it for shade or shelter, half the lenght of the hammock should be slightly longer than the depth of the cage.


shown in size 32 x 48 cm
The A-tent is rectangular and with another rectangle sewn on across. I use 6 eyelets: one for each corner and two to hold up the tent. This too can be made from two layers of thin or one layer of sturdy fabric. For large models I use quilted fabrics.
You can actually turn the A-tent model upside down and suspend it only from the four corners. In that case only four eyelets are needed. This produces a two storey hammock. This one was made from two extremely thick table mats - too thick to get two layers through the sewing machine! My hand sewing cannot compete with machine stitching for tautness. For safety's sake I only use it right side up.

"Sleeping bag"

Well, it is a sort of hybrid sleeping bag and hammock...
Felted woolen hats with four eyelets form a cosy hideout for the rats. It is not easy to fasten the eyelets to a thick, knitted fabric like this. Even after felting the material is somewhat elastic and the eyelets may come off in the washing. Sewing on a few straps could be a better solution.

"Cloud castle"

The cloud castle stands on a large, rectangular hammock with four eyelets: one in each corner. The castle itself is machine quilted, and the pattern is - what else - stylized rats.
The Cloud castle can be used for play outside the cage or a regular hammock. It requires a large cage and needs to be stretched fairly tightly if hung.


Wine stand

My rats love to climb around our simple wooden wine stand. It can be treated with beeswax to make it last longer.
This wine stand is perfect for a number of one-rat hammocks. A sort of bunk bed for rats. Like children in a bunk bed they prefer to share one bed rather than sleeping separately - but that is all part of the fun.



You'll need uncooked rice, a Ziplock plastic bag and two sturdy cloth covers. There's nothing original about letting the rats sleep on a rice pillow, but none of the other web pages I've seen have suggested using a plastic bag for the rice. I think it is such a waste if I have to throw away all that rice after a few days of marinating in rat pee.

Rat houses

Flower pot

One halved, big, glazed flower pot is a grand house if you do not have too many rats. You need a diamond saw and something to protect your ears. Then you hope that the pot is not so brittle it will break.
1 flower pot = 2 houses, and the best part of it is that you can put them en the dishwasher!
A crowded place...

Lamp shades

Lamp shades come in many shapes and styles. Big shades made of metal bars and covered with fabric or paper have wonderful potential as rat houses. Usually a new, washable cover is required. A saw for cutting the metal struts and a file to dull the sharp edges also come in handy. I prefer the bell shaped lamp shades.

Cardboard pipes

Large cardboard pipes, of the kind you'll find inside a roll of carpet or vinyl flooring, can be cut to make rat houses. They do not last very long. Even if they are remarkably chew resistant they do aqire a pong and cannot be cleaned properly. However, the starting materials are free, and you'll get many houses from a pipe 3 meter long.
Use a fine toothed saw for sawing up the pipe. If you want to cover one opening you can cut out a circular piece of cloth with a diameter that is 8 cm larger than the diameter of the pipe. A broad elastic is all you need to fasten it. Here the pipe has been closed at both ends. The opening has been made with a small saw - by an eight year old, so you'll probably manage. To stop the pipe from rolling you can either tie it to the cage wall or make a stand to hold it in place. This stand, planned and made by the same 8 year old is simply four lenghts of narrow pine boards. The long pieces are as long as the pipe. The short pieces are approximately as long as the diameter. The long pine boards lie on top of the short ones. The eight year old used screws but glue would work too.

Display box

A large display box (20x 30 cm) from Panduro is one of the most convenient rat houses I've found for more than two large bucks. First I removed the cardboard wall and the plastic pane in front. I then pulled the metal struts and used a saw and a chisel to make an opening in the side. With an awl I made eight holes near the corners of the box. Eight small eyelet hooks were screwed in. The eyelet hooks are used for fastening a hammock tightly to the top and bottom. Actually the bottom hammock is optional, but my rats prefer a fabric floor mat to the newspaper in the bottom of my cage. The hammocks should be just big enough to be stretched tightly. The one in the picture is too big and was only put there because it was cleaner than the one in use... With the hammocks in place the rats use both the inside and the roof for sleeping.
Naturally any wooden board sawed to size and screwed together for a framework would be fine. In any case a coating of beeswax will make the wooden house last longer.

Shoulder bag

Bags are fashion items that tend to be thrown away or sent to jumble sales when their owners tire of them. Which is great news for rat owners! A simple shoulder bag can make a perfect rat house if you can find something to keep the roof up. For this one I have used parts of an old wine stand. The rats are as happy to sleep on top of it as inside and often do when the weather is warm.
A wooden bread bin can usually be picked up quite cheaply at a jumble sale. I have removed the bottom and sawn an opening for the rats. For a cage with many rats this is the best solution I have found, although the opening may have to be made at the back for stability. It has the added benefit of easy access to reluctant rats. The lid can be flipped open.

"Play pen"

Remove the fittings for the light bulb from a lamp shade. File away sharp edges, or cover with string. Make a circular bag to fit around the lamp shade and insert eyelets around the edge to close with a drawstring.
The rats enter by the opening at the top. Fill the inside of the bag with shredded silk paper and corn flakes or puffed rice, and invite the rats to go on a treasure hunt.

Cover for a travel cage

Cage cover

In cold and windy weather the travel cage can be protected by a cage cover. This one was made from a folded, thin fleece. I have also used tightly woven wool or quilted cotton. The rats do need air, so remember to open up the cover as soon as it is warm enough - for instance when the car heater has done its job. This travel cage is a Ferplasts Aladdino.
The cover is rectangular in shape. It is just big enough to allow the fabric to be gathered at the top of the cage. You'll need eight eylets for a cover this size: two on each side with some 12 cm between them. On the short sides of the rectangle the eyelets are placed almost at the edge of the material. The other eyelets have been placed approximately 8 cm from the edge. This is to cover the top completely. The cover is gathered with a drawstring.
Lay the cover out flat and place the travel cage in the middle. Fold the sides of the cover over the top.
A fleece or woolen cover should only be washed gently at low temperatures.
For an Altas 10 an equally simple cover can be made: Fold a fleece blanket in two, pin it together to form a tube to go around the travel cage, with the openings at the front and back. Make sure the pins are aligned top center along the cage. Pick out the pins to allow the handle to peek through at the top. Sew up your blanket, still leaving an opening for the handle, and a front opening. Use press buttons to close the cover in front.

Carrier bag for travel cage

Shoulder bag

When travelling by bus or train, carrying a shoulder bag is often better than lugging along the pet carrier by the handle. This bag is just a rectangular, lined bag where the lid and the shoulder strap have been fastened between the bag and the lining. The pocket was added just for fun, but it's functional. Such a sturdy bag must be partly hand stitched because of the thickness of the materials. This particular bag was made with a woolen liner and jeans fabrics.
Cleaning: 30 degrees C and no dry spin.

Matmor, 2008.06.19
last changed 2010.08.22
Home page address: matmor.info