AFRMA

American Fancy Rat & Mouse Association

This article is from the Spring 2000 AFRMA Rat & Mouse Tales news-magazine.

A House for your Mouse (or rat) (Cages)

By Nichole Royer


A House For Your Mouse (or rat) (Cages) - Part 1


Note: The number of animals appropriate to each cage will vary greatly by the age/sex/size/personality of the specific animals kept, and often a fewer number than indicated would be ideal. The rule of thumb with cages is “the bigger, the better.” Please use good judgment. The opinions expressed are of the author, and may differ from those of other fanciers.

Mouse in House

One of the most common questions asked by first-time rat and mouse owners is, “What should I keep them in.” If they ask five different people this question, they would most likely get five different answers. This can become very confusing.

The reason for those differences are simple. Each person has their own wants and needs. Space, cleaning facilities, type, age, and sex of animals as well as the amount of money each owner is willing to spend, all combine to make up an ideal cage for an individual.

I am going to cover the most common types of cages. The prices I am quoting are those common within AFRMA and at my local pet shops. The number of animals appropriate to each cage will vary greatly by the age/sex/size/personality of the specific animals kept, and often a fewer number than indicated would be ideal. Please use good judgment. The opinions expressed are of course mine, and may differ from those of other fanciers.

Glass Aquariums

Glass aquariums come in many sizes and styles. With the addition of an adequate wire mesh lid, they make very acceptable housing of both rats and mice. Aquariums can often be found inexpensively at garage sales or even on sale in pet stores. Old aquariums with metal frames are heavy, but many fanciers like them because the edges can get bumped without breaking the glass. They are also easy to replace broken panes of glass. You can replace the glass with Plexiglas for a lighter weight tank.

Pros: Inexpensive, draft free, animals are very visible, very easily cleaned and disinfected, prevents shavings from being scattered. These are the preferred cages for mice.

Cons: Can (and will over time) break, heavy and hard to handle, may be difficult or expensive to find a suitable lid, poor air circulation, condensation may form on inside, in warm weather they can be hot and stuffy.

5-Gallon Aquariums
5-gallon aquariums
5-gallon aquariums. Photo by Nichole Royer.
  • Price: $1–$15
  • Size: approx. 14¼″ x 8½″ x 10¼″T
  • No. of Animals:
    Mice: Single male, male with female during breeding, female with litter (first 3 weeks).
    Rats: Hospital cage or temporary holding of one kitten.
  • Comments: Can often be found very inexpensively at yard sales.

10-Gallon Aquariums
  • Price: $5–$25
  • Size: approx. 20″ x 10½″ x 12¼″T
  • No. of Animals:
    Mice: 3–5 females and accessories.
    Rats: Maximum 2 females, female with litter for first 2–3 weeks, or 1 male.
  • Comments: Frequently on sale at Petco for $9. Can be found at yard sales.
10-gallon aquarium
This 10-gallon aquarium is home for 2 rats. Photo by Karen Robbins.
10-gallon aquarium
Several mice are enjoying this 10-gallon aquarium for their house. Photo by Larry Ferris.

15-Gallon Aquariums
  • Price: $10–$40
  • Size: approx. 12″ x 24″ x 12″T
  • No. of Animals:
    Mice: 5–7 females and accessories.
    Rats: 2 females/2 males or pregnant/ nursing moms.
  • Comments: Heavy. Great for raising rat litters.
15-gallon aquarium
This 15-gallon aquarium is large enough for a “Barbie Jeep” as these rats’ play toy. Photo by Karen Robbins.

20-Gallon Aquariums
  • Price: $15–$60
  • Size (20 gal. long): approx. 30½" x 13" x 13¼" T (they do come in several different dimensions)
  • No. of Animals:
    Mice: up to 10 females and accessories.
    Rats: 2–3 females/males or mom with babies.
  • Comments: Heavy and awkward to handle.

Large Tank
This large tank is ready to house several rats. Photo by Harley Hauser.
Larger Aquariums
  • Price: $20 on up (often relatively expensive)
  • No. of Animals:
    Use good judgment as to number of animals.
  • Comments: Great for accessorizing, you can add lots of toys. Very heavy and should not be lifted/dumped. Clean by scooping out shavings or use a shop vac, then spray with disinfectant and wipe. With some ingenuity you can add shelves/swings/wheels, etc.
Large aquarium
A large tank set up with lots of toys for these rats. Photo by Karen Robbins.
Large aquarium
Another large tank housing several rats. Photo by Karen Robbins.

Part 2 will cover plastic carriers, tube systems, and lab cages. *

Go to Part 3: wire cages and miscellaneous cages.

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Updated March 5, 2014