Proper Cage Sizes
Updated: Jun 15, 2020
Lets face it there's tons of old information out there about rodents. So much of it totally outdated or honestly cruel. Cage size contributes to many terrible situations, I'm looking at you CritterTrails. I find the breeders and owner often disagree on many care topics. So it makes it hard sometimes to figure out who's correct. I mean different countries have different standards. So I look at it like, I like more space to live and play, so why wouldn't our rodent friends. I mean some species of hamster can run up to 10 miles a night in the wild. That's right 10 miles a night, hamsters, crazy right. Also remember they need proper size wheels. Lets break down the requirements down by species of rodent we care for here at the rescue and even some that we don't. But this will mostly be about the three we rescue.
Rats Cage Requirements- 2 sq. feet per rat. That's right 2 square feet per rat. Can't say that enough. Rats are social and need to be housed in pairs or groups of the same sex. Most cages sold in pet stores are not even big enough for one rat let alone two. This is because if you knew what they needed and the upfront cost of a proper cage the store wouldn't make a sale. Now I personal find rats have the most delicate respiratory systems therefore I can't recommend a bin cage. They need more ventilation due to having more ammonia in there urine cause they're larger animals. They also need some kind of substrate, Aspen and Paper bedding recommended, so they can dig around and play. Fleece isn't recommended, will explain more in another blog all about substrates. Avoid starter kit cages, most of the stuff they come with is garbage. Look for cages with some height cause rats love to climb. Here is a list of my top 3 cages and number one is number one for a reason.
Critter Nation- Comes in a few different ways single, double, add on. Single cost about $150 and can hold up to 6 rats. Dimensions are 36Lx25Wx24.5H with 1/2 inch wire spacing. Now that's without the legs, legs make the height 38.5. But they don't add actually space the rats use. Doubles are 49 inches without the legs and are $250. They can house up to 12 rats. You can buy a add on for about $120, same dimensions of a single, and you can make a single, double or even a triple.
2. Prevue 484 Deluxe Critter Cage- Priced at $230 and can house up to 12 rats. Dimensions are 37Hx23Wx50H with 7/16 bar spacing. 63 inches in height with legs.
3. Martin's Cages- Rat Tower Hideout- Priced at $127 and can house up to 3 rats. Dimensions are 24Lx14Wx36H with half inch square wire spacing.
Mice Cage Requirements- Now this one is hardest to figure out. Some say 200 square inches for males but only 50 square inches per female. I personally find this terribly out dated and wrong. I would recommend a 20 gallon long tank minimum for a single male and for a pair for females. I feel that 360-400 square inches is perfect for single males and for females 200 square inches for the first and then 100 for each additional female. Now males must be housed alone, unless neutered then can be housed with females, due to being territorial and will fight other males. Even litter mates will fight, best to not risk the mice hurting each other. And female mice do best in small groups but can be keep in pairs. Remember they're a social and pray species, so the larger the group the safer they will feel. Now for the top 3 mouse cage list.
IKEA Detolf- This is 900 square inches and can house up to eight females. Cost is $60 plus cost of a DIY lid. It's a great and affordable way to house a group of femals. Also great for dwarf hamsters.
2. Ferplast Duna Fun- Is 400 square inches and can house either 1 male or 3 females. The cost is about $80 and is 21.7Lx18.5Wx14.8H. Just don't use the wheel it comes with.
3. 20 gallon long tank- This tanks is 360 square inches and can house a male or a pair of femals. Cost will be $35 and up plus lid. Mesh screen or DIY lid works great. The plus side of tanks is you can see the tunnels your mice are making. It is so fun to see and watch.
Hamster cage requirements- Here is another one that is disputed but it's by owners and pet stores. Also different countries have different standards of care. Here in the USA we say 450 square inch minimum and in Europe they say 650-900 square inches. And I personally say go big or go home. Remember dwarf hamsters can run up to 10 miles a night in the wild. The Detolf is 900 square inches but isn't deep enough for Syrians or Chinese hamsters. That is why it didn't make this top 3 list, plus it was already on the mouse list.
1. ALEKO WHC001 Deluxe Fir Wood 3-Tier Hamster Cage- This cage has 1050 square inches of floor space plus other levels. It can house any type of hamster. It has a price tag of only $120 plus $35 shipping and is 44Lx24Wx23H. It is totally deep enough for burrowing but may be a pain to clean.
2. 55 gallon tank- This has 624 square inches of floor space. And great for any hamster in your life. The Cost is $120 plus cost of lid and is 48.75Lx14Wx21.25H with no other shelves. Easy to clean out and plus being clear glass you can see your cute hamsters better. Being almost 2 feet tall you can really make deep burrowing areas.
3. Prevue 528 Cage- Has 585 square inches and has a price tag of $75. It has 3/8 wire spacing and a 6.5 inch tub for burrowing. Its dimensions are 32.5Lx19Wx17.5H and does have one shelf that's over a foot long. This cage is a favorite of a lot of hamster YouTubers. I like it cause it works for hamsters, mice and can house a pair of rats. Very versatile cage for it price. Would have been number one if it had more floor space.
So there are nine awesome cage options for you. If you're not sure if the cage is right size just go online and look up rat cage calculator and just plug in the dimensions. Same is for square inch calculator for hamster and mice cages. Now I do have three more cages for you but these are more of a honorable mentions. Two out of three can be found at pets stores around the country and one is a DIY.
You And Me Rat Manor Cage- This Petco brand cage can house 2 or 3 rats and costs about $75-$100. The Dimensions are 22.5Lx16.5Wx32H with 1/2 inch wire spacing.
Kaytee Super Habitat- Finally a cage from Kaytee thats 540 square inches for $100. Its not perfect but its a start. Can house one male mouse, four female mice or dwarf hamsters.
DIY Bin Cages- Just make sure it's over 450 square and also get wire cloth to make ventilation for the cage. Cost $30 and up depending on size of Bin.
Now we would like to also just like to say a little something about a few other rodents cage requirements. We don't currently take in these animals due to being illegal here in California or to our own size limitations. We will know talk about guinea pigs, chinchillas, gerbils, degus and even squirrels. Let the learning begin.
Guinea Pigs require cages measured in square feet. They're social and should housed in pairs or small groups. Now the minimum for a pair is 10.5 square feet but remember bigger is always better. We suggest adding 2 square feet per piggy. Those little legs do love to run around.
Chinchillas are another social animal and should only be housed in pairs or small groups. Will need a cage 3 foot by 2 foot by 2 foot just for one and then 2 square feet per chinchilla after that. They're playful and need the space to do so.
Gerbils love to burrow and love bedding to do so. Again house in pairs or small groups and we recommend large tanks or glass or acrylic due to how much more they chew then other rodents. So for a pair a gerbils a 20 gallon long is the bare minimum. Really 30 gallon is best for a pair, then ten gallons every other gerbils. So a 40 gallon breeder tank can comfortably house 3 gerbils. Remember to also supply eight inches minimum of bedding for tunnel building.
Degus need big wire cages cause they will easily chew threw plastic. Kept in pairs like most rodents, they will need a cage 24x24x24 inches minimum. A single Critter Nation would house a pair perfectly.
Squirrels require the most amount of space for its size. The size requirements are the outside. Now if you choose to keep a squirrels please make sure their cages are taller then wide. We recommend a minimum cage size of 2Lx2Wx4H per squirrel. They love to climb more then other rodents due to living in trees. It would be best to DIY the cage so you can make it large enough for them to get plenty of exercise.
So this concludes the section about proper sized cages. Please remember bigger is always better when it comes to cages. Thank you for reading this and we here at Divine Rodent Rescue appreciate you.