Rats are pure joy to own! For those of you who are considering adding a rat to your furry family and wondering how to best care for them, this is the page for you! Others of you who are rat veterans but looking to sharpen up your Best Practices of Rat Care, thanks for stopping by!
Best practices for your Rat Cage/Pen/Enclosure
There are so many options nowadays for a "cage" for your rat. There are options to either buy and already built enclosure as well as plans readily available for DIY projects. Here are a few things to keep in mind when picking the enclosure that works best for you and your pets:
The minimum suggested space for 2 rats is 30”x15”x18”. However, more space is always better!
A minimum of 2 water bottles is recommended. If you have multiple rats, you should have more water bottles.
The best rat home is a home that provides a rat with options for entertainment. Add tons of accessories for climbing, hiding, etc. Again, there are so many options for buying or DIY- Have fun with it!
Here are some recommendations for bedding/substrate/litter
- paper based bedding (shredded newspaper, for example)
- Fleece or other like material
- Aspen shavings or kiln-dried pine
- NEVER use cedar or pine shaving that haven't been kiln-dried as the oils/sap in them are too harsh for the rats coat and skin and can cause health issues
- Clay cat litter can also be dangerous so avoid this as well!
The majority of your rat’s diet should be a good quality rat block or pellet. This should be always readily available to your rats inside of their enclosure
Fresh veggies offered in small amounts every day
You may also give fresh fruits in very small amounts daily to every other day. Be careful what fruits your rat is given as some may cause tummy issues
Reward treats or treats for occasional spoiling. These are generally high in fat so these should only be given sparingly and in moderation.
One of the most important and one of my favorite rat care items is... Exercise or free time!
This means getting them out of their enclosure and spending time with them. This is when you will bond with them and learn about each of their personality and simply makes for a happier rat. I believe in a minimum of 1 hour playtime outside of their enclosure every day! Of course, more is always better! Your rat will love to be involved with you as much as you let them.
Are you looking to adopt a companion pet pigeon? Here you can make sure that you have the proper care and essentials that you will need to get started before bringing home your new feathered friend.
The size enclosure you need will largely depend on the type of bird companion that you are looking for.
Let's cover Indoor Enclosures first:
The minimum size Indoor Enclosure recommendation for 2 birds is 48" wide by 36" tall by 27" deep.
However, if a larger size is available, then bigger is always better.
If you choose to go with the minimum size, make sure your bird gets at least a 2-3 hours out of their encloser each day. If you’re worried about messes, no problem. Just look into getting a “flyper” or pigeon pants. Yes, it is exactly what it sounds like!
Now, if you’re interested in Outdoor Enclosures:
The minimum recommendation for 2 birds in an Outside Enclosure is 4' wide by 6' tall by 7’ deep.
Again, as the saying goes- Bigger is always better!
Here are some things to consider including inside of your bird enclosure:
Perches- Make sure to provide perches at varying levels. Some breeds like to perch high while others prefer perching lower to the ground.
Water bowl- There are many different options out there. All are fine as long as it’s cleaned daily and refilled with fresh water. Dirty water is often the leading cause of illness in birds.
Nesting- Most breeds will enjoy having a basket or box to settle down in. Adding hay/straw will make for a cozy bed for your bird!
Now, let’s talk about Diet:
First and foremost, each bird’s dietary needs will vary. Indoor and outdoor birds will be fed differently.
Let’s cover some simple Best Practices when it comes to feeding your bird(s).
You can choose to feed your birds once or twice a day.
If your bird is going to be flying outside of an enclosed area on a particular day, we would recommend feeding them only once that day (if they are accustomed to being fed twice a day) or not at all (if they are fed once daily) when they return home. Again, wait to feed them until they return home that day. This is just one way to help to ensure that your hungry bird comes home!
There are many pre-made seed diets as well as pellet diets available at most animal feed stores. As an alternative, you can elect to make your own mix and determine what mix your bird(s) prefer!
As another Best Practice, the protein mix of your bird’s feed should be around 12-18%. The Fat content should be around 12-15%.
Avoid feeding your pigeons a diet that has a heavy mix of Corn. This is particularly true for your pigeons that are Indoors only. Corn is not necessary at all, in this case. For pigeons living outside during the winter, you can add corn to help thicken them up which will help to keep them warmer!
Also, avoid giving bread as treats. Bread provides no nutritional value to pigeons and simply takes up space that could otherwise be filled with something that they can use!
That all being said, each bird’s needs will likely be different. An average amount of food for an adult pigeon is 1 1/2 ounces of feed.
A Red Grit should always be readily available for pigeons. This helps with digestion in addition to helping add important minerals to their diet.
Vitamins and Supplements:
Vitamin D3 is a very important supplement to give to your Indoor-living pigeon. A natural option is to give your pigeon plenty of unfiltered sunlight.
Exercise, Free Time and Interaction:
Pigeons are very social, interactive birds. They are not like a finch or a canary. Those are birds that you put in a cage and watch. Pigeons are not that kind of pet bird. Think of them in the same vein as Parrots. They are smart critters and will bond with you and seek you out for attention!
As we said before, you will want to make sure to offer an Indoor Pigeon a few hours outside of their encloser every day. Again, a “flyper” or pigeon pants are great options to have handy for your indoor pigeons.
Something else to consider is how much time you plan to spend with your Indoor Pigeon each day. Considering their social nature and need for interaction, having 2 birds allows them to find that in each other in addition to you.
Outside Pigeons are a bit different. For Outside Pigeons, it is imperative that you have 2 pigeons together. For Homing Pigeons, having a coop-mate helps ensure they come home! It is of course up to you to decide whether you let them have flying time outside of their Enclosure. If you do let them out, keep in mind that Hawks are their biggest predators and can snatch them right out of the air, or on the ground for that matter.
Princess and Peso, our Homing Pigeons