Issues with housing, toys or food
Roof Rats can generally use the same cages, toys and food as Norway Rats. Unfortunately, some of what is marketed for Rats can be of low quality or poorly designed. This is more of an issue for Roof Rats than Norway Rats, as Roof Rats are more active and “naughty” than Norway Rats, so they tend to expose and exacerbate any issues.
For example, many “rat cages” marketed to pet owners have plastic tub bottoms that rats can potentially chew on. Norway rats may never figure this out, but nearly all Roof Rats eventually will.
Looks for cages with solid metal bottoms, or drop in trays, instead.
Likewise, some cages have shelves or ramps made from plastic or other chewable materials. These won’t last very long. Look for shelves made from wire or solid metal.
Many rat cages have door latches which are held shut by friction or just don’t work very well. Roof Rats will possibly figure out how to open these, and they will be awkward to operate when getting Roof Rats in and out of their cage.
This door latches more securely:
Some cages have shelves and ramps which are not securely attached to the cages. Roof Rats are very active, and will dislodge these nearly every night. Very annoying.
Cage with shelves and ramp not securely attached
Some cages have shallow litter pans. Roof Rats, being very active, will quickly kick the litter out (and chew on the plastic pan as well.)
Roof Rats are active, and if you give them a wheel, they will run on it. Even adult male Roof Rats. However, they also have very long tails, which can rub on their wheel while they are running, causing injury. For this reason, we don’t give them wheels.
As with Norway Rats, it is important to keep Roof Rats’ litter clean to avoid ammonia build up. Litter made of wood shavings isn’t very absorbent, and unkilned soft wood shavings can be toxic to rats. We advise using paper litter.
Rats will chew on anything anything chewable. Roof Rats, especially. Many “Rat Hammocks” are made with chewable parts. Avoid these, as they won’t last long.
chewable rat hammock
Use hammocks with metal parts, instead:
Plastic pods will also be chewed, although they may last a bit longer:
Even water bottle mounts will be chewed, eventually:
For some reason, Roof Rats don’t chew on plastic water dishes. Go figure.
Roof Rats can eat “rat food”, but if you give them food with a mix of seeds and stuff in it, they will just pick out their favorite bits and ignore the rest. This will result in an unbalanced diet.
Better to give them lab blocks or pellets, and hand feed nutritions treats, like almonds. This also gives you a bonding opportunity with them. Look for food with about 18% protein.