They’re Fairly Easy to Care For
Pet rats may be housed in well-ventilated, powder-coated metal or heavy plastic cages with narrow (no more than half an inch) bar spacing and mesh or grated lids. Pet mice are best housed in plastic, Plexiglas, or glass aquariums with mesh tops to prevent escapes. Metal cages provide better ventilation for pet mice but aren’t typically safe for them unless the bar spacing is a quarter of an inch or less, or they can squeeze through and escape. Cages should have a solid plastic or metal tray to hold bedding and that slides out for easy cleaning. Bedding should be shredded recycled paper or paper-based pellets, as paper is digestible if eaten and not dusty. Bedding should be at least a couple of inches deep to minimize trauma to the soles of the feet and to enable hiding and digging. Ideally, cages should be multi-level with ramps for running and shelves for perching.
Both rats and mice need sipper bottles for water that are refreshed daily, as well as one shallow, untippable, easily accessible food bowl filled with commercially available, species-specific pelleted food, and another food bowl for small amounts of fresh produce (like cooked pasta, egg, meat, cereal, or other human food treats). Highly salty, sugary, or fatty foods should be avoided, as rats and mice can pack on the pounds. Both rats and mice need smooth-sided exercise wheels in which they can run without their feet getting caught, plus a hiding spot (such as an upside- down cardboard or plastic box with a cut-out door). Both species also need different shaped wooden toys to chew on to prevent their continuously growing front teeth from getting too long.