Housing & Bedding
Many mistakes are made when it comes to the housing of rats. There are some misconceptions doing the rounds about what's ok for your rat and what's not. Here's a quick guideline that should help you back on the right track.
Busting the myths:
Cedar and Pine shavings are the worst choice of bedding you can make. These shavings give off an acid that damages rats' already sensitive respiratory tracts. This acid actually destroys cells within the respiratory tract and trachea. Studies have also shown that rats kept on wood shavings have a particularly high liver enzyme count.
Besides this, the dust factor in the wood shavings irritates the rat's respiratory system and aggravates it even further.
Some alternatives available on the South African market at the moment are:
Another issue is the cage sizes. There are many cage calculators available online to assist you with this, but the rule of thumb is that you need at least 60cm squared per rat. Another thing to consider is that female rats are more active than males, so need more space. A good cage calculator to work with can be found at http://www.ratanooga.co.za/housing_cagecalc.asp
Rats also love snoozing in hammocks and snooze cubes, these can be found at a select few pet shops but there are plenty of South African suppliers to order from online, and they are also fairly easy to make. They also love the "cheap" toys, like cereal and tissue boxes.