Rats make amazing pets (in case you didn't already know that). They are full of energy and love. They aren't picky, but they love a cage full of things to do. It is even better if you can change things up on a regular basis. It doesn't really take much for them to go wow. However, it is easy to get carried away spending way more money then you need to. You can make a fantastically cool cage with tons of things to do without a lot of money. You can even afford to change it up every other week (or more often if you like!).

Around The House.
Rats weren't the first creatures to get the idea of saving by reusing! They love it when their people catch on and let them help to reuse. They aren't pick so getting creative is always a good idea. Here are some commonly reused items that almost every rat will love (every now and again your rat will let you know, "What were you thinking?!"

  • Boxes. Small and large boxes are a blast for a rat. You can put a box of any size in their cage as long as the box is big enough for them to fit in and small enough to fit in whatever size cage they have. Some favorites include Kleenex boxes (plastic removed) for the perfect cuddly little home and PopTart or Granola boxes (larger size for my three girls). But don't let that stop you. Boxes can also be fun to play with out side of the cage!
  • Newspapers. Rats love to rip stuff up (some more than others). Newspapers make a great option. They will tear it to pieces and bed with it. (Oh so comfy). If you don't have newspapers available to you, ask around many people have them and would love to give them up for a good purpose. You can also use old phone books. Where we live we get tons of phone books and I use these instead of newspapers.
  • Craft scraps. Do you knit, crochet, sew, or do other crafts that have beautiful leftovers? Many rats love "pretties" and would love to have your yarn, ribbon, crochet cotton, and cloth scraps. They make great items to collect, decorate with, and sleep in.
  • Tubes. Many rats love toilet paper tubes and paper towel tubes when they are little because they still fit in them. While all of them will grow out of them, some still like to chew them up and tear them apart. There are also a few larger options such as wrapping paper tubes and crochet cotton tubes.

Dollar Store Finds.
Each dollar store has different things to offer, but here are some things that are often available at the dollar store that rats love.

  • Baskets. Many times you can find wicker baskets, plastic totes, plastic baskets, and even stacking storage baskets. All of them make great rat toys. It is true that most of them will get dirty and they are likely to get chewed on, but for $1 it isn't a big deal. Use yarn or string you can tie baskets throughout the cage. Just make sure that there isn't a huge fall should your littler chewer work their way through the yarn or the basket.
  • Cat and Dog Toys. Many rats love cat toys and love dog toys even more. You can get ropes, chew toys, and other items for your rats. Hang them from around the cage.
  • Cotton balls. You can also get soft bedding for $1 a bag. Just a few cotton balls can be pulled apart (either by you or the rats) for loads of fun and a soft place to lay.

Pet Store or Pet Section.
The pet store or pet section isn't usually a great place to find great deals. However, if you know that you don't need to shop in the rat section you are more likely to find a lot of different items on sale that your rats will like.

  • Rodent section. Almost anything made for rodents will be loved by your rats. Don't go too small (a really small house might be a disappointment), but get these items when they are on sale.
  • Ferret section. Rats tend to love ferret toys even more than they love rodent toys. These are often a great size and can mean hours of fun.
  • Reptile section. Reptiles are often given hollow logs, cool caves, and other cool items. These can make great places for your rats as well. Just make sure that you are getting a deal!
  • Parrot section. If you have ever checked out the bird section at your local pet store you know that they have a lot of really cool items. Consider perches, branches, ladders, ropes, and chew toys. Bells and dangles are often appreciated as well.

Hunting Down Deals.
Don't forget to check out second hand stores, garage sales, and talk with your friends for many other great ideas. Get creative and remember that if they can climb on it, chew it, or drag it home to nest with they will likely love it. If they don't, you don't have to feel bad since you didn't spend much on it.

Change It Up.
We have a cage that I feel is way too small for our three rat babies. However, because we are limited in space it is the best we can do right now. So, I change their cage up about once a week. I have a huge tote full of rat stuff and I use these items to make a "new" cage each week. Everything that was in their cage last week is examined and if it is still in good condition then I toss it in the tote. All new items are pulled out to be arranged in a new configuration. They get pretty excited about it. Once a month I spend a small amount (less then $10) and buy them new items for the next month to mix with the old.

You can change your cage into a fun time and great mansion for your rats. It doesn't matter how big it is you have the power to make it a blast. A full and exciting small cage is better than a huge empty cage, the only thing better is a huge cage full of fun! So, don't spend a ton of money, but make their cage the best that you can.