Best Rat Toys: Enriching Your Pet's Playtime

by Morgan Mulac

Best Rat Toys: Enriching Your Pet's Playtime


It is important for both humans and pets to get some time to play, but for rats, playing is a very important part of maintaining a healthy and happy lifestyle for these adorable animals.

In this blog, we’ll go over the type of toys your rat needs, what considerations to keep in mind when searching for toys for rats, and ways you can DIY rat toys.

The Importance of Play for Rats

Rats are incredibly intelligent and curious creatures, which is why exercise and playtime is vital to keep them happy and healthy.

A healthy weight can be maintained for your rat by providing them with proper playtime. It is recommended that male rats weigh between 250 and 300 grams, and female rats should weigh a little more, maxing out at 500-520 grams.

Keeping a healthy weight for a rat is vital, as obesity can cause a variety of conditions such as joint problems as well as diabetes. Bumblefoot is also another common problem that can be caused by obesity.

Additionally, many toys, such as chew toys, can help grind down your rat's teeth and prevent malocclusion (misaligned teeth) which can be very serious if left untreated.

Mental stimulation is also another important aspect of playtime. With rats' natural intelligence, they can often get agitated without proper stimulation - this can lead to destructive chewing behaviors such as chewing on cage bars to escape their cage, as well as bruxing (grinding their teeth together,) and hostility when handled.

Ensuring that they can get enough proper time to play and exercise means that you will prevent many of these diseases and give your rat a long, happy, and healthy life.

Rat in a wooden hole

Types of Rat Toys

They are a variety of rat toys for various uses, some are best at providing them mental stimulation, while others are best suited to keep their health in tip-top shape. All of the choices below also allow your rat to stay in the cage during playtime.

Many of these toys are designed to replicate a rat's natural behaviors that you would find in the wild. We’re going to go over some of the most popular types of rat cage accessories and toys and what they’re best suited to.

Two rats sharing a treat in a wooden house

Chew Toys

Chew toys are very important to a rat's dental health. As mentioned above, chew toys can prevent conditions like tooth overgrowth and malocclusion.

Rat owners who are in search of chew toys should look for materials such as pumice stone, kiln-dried pine, and apple wood sticks like these.

Climbing Toys

Climbing toys are another item that is essential for a rat's health. In addition to satisfying their natural curiosity, climbing toys can help your rat get in some much-needed exercise.

In terms of climbing toys, there are many kinds available, including ramps, stairs, and suspension bridges. There are a number of these accessories that have been attached to the cage roof, allowing for a better viewpoint or, in the case of ramps, allowing easier access to the various levels of the cage. The biggest thing to keep in mind while looking for climbing toys is to avoid plastics, as these can be dangerous for your rat.

Rat on a wooden bike

Foraging Toys

Foraging toys are vital to a rat's mental health. This offers a source of enrichment for your rat to prevent boredom, and for owners who want to give their rat their favorite treat, this is a great way to go about it!

These toys can be made with a variety of different rat-safe materials like macrame, PVC pipes, wood, and even cardboard boxes. While most of these are designed to be sat in your rat's cage, a macrame foraging toy attaches to cage walls, allowing your rat to climb them as well.

Some of these items may come with stuffing for them, or other ways to make it a challenge for your rat to get yummy treats. But for box-style or PVC pipe toys, fillings like strips of paper or extra bedding material may be needed.

Rat playing on a tissue paper

Hiding Toys

The biggest cage essential you can get for your rat is a hiding toy since burrowing and hiding are among their most natural behaviors. We recommend putting nesting boxes in the corners of the cage for security.

Hideaways can be made from many different materials, including wood, cardboard, metal, and woven grass. Plastic hideaways like the ones found in pet stores are not suitable as many of them don’t allow for proper ventilation. Additionally, you should provide bedding for burrowing.

When choosing hiding toys, another factor to consider is the size of the entrance, you need to make sure that there will be enough room for your rat to be able to go in and out of the nesting toy without having any difficulty.

Rat on wood shavings

Hammocks and Hanging Toys

A hammock and toys that hang are also absolute cage essentials. As rats like to sleep higher up, hammocks make great nesting and sleeping places for them. Hanging toys also allow them the ability to climb and play.

There are endless hammock options to choose from, you can find single-level styles as well as the bunk bed hammock style that allow your rats to lay in them together. As for hanging toys, many of them fall under other categories we’ve mentioned such as foraging or climbing toys, so the aforementioned recommendations should be followed when choosing hanging toys.

Rat on a platform

Exercise Wheels

Exercise wheels are a fantastic way for your rat to get much-needed exercise day-to-day. Exercise saucers and wheels are recommended over exercise balls because they are far safer for your furry friend.

There are a number of reasons exercise balls are considered so dangerous, but ventilation, size, and the ball's construction are the biggest concerns. Generally, the inside of the ball isn't large enough of an area to allow any animals, not just rats, to run around in comfortably, and balls with holes do not generally allow for proper ventilation and may even break the feet of the rat if they get caught in the holes.

Our recommendation for exercise wheels is the Hedgie Spin from our site, this wheel allows enough room for your rat to run around comfortably without straining their backs, as well as being designed solid all the way around to prevent feet getting caught in the spinning wheel. It also has the benefit of being practically silent, so your rat can run at any time of night!

Key Considerations When Choosing Rat Toys

Whether you’re DIYing your rat toys, or buying them from a store, there are a few key considerations that you should keep in mind when choosing what to give your rat.

Rat on a wooden shelf


Safety is one of the most important things to consider when choosing between different rat toys.

For chew toys, climbable toys, and hanging toys, It’s important to ensure that non of the materials are toxic when ingested, as well as making sure there are no small items that could get lodged in the throat (true choking in rats is uncommon, but can still happen and be deadly if not caught)

For items like foraging toys and nesting toys, it’s important to make sure the items themselves have no sharp corners that could poke or cut your rat, as well as ensuring any fillings are free of toxins - such as making sure pieces of paper have no printing on them, as the ink can be dangerous.

Size and Complexity

Size and complexity are another safety concerns when choosing toys for your rat. Making sure your rat has something suited to them is vital, as items that are too small or not complex enough can make them feel cramped or agitate them.

Rat on wooden horse


Cleanability is something that is partly up to discretion, and partly up to what materials the toy is made of. Items like cardboard boxes, apple wood sticks, and any paper products can generally be thrown out once soiled. Any fleece items can be thrown in the washer on a delicate cycle with an unscented detergent. Toys made from metal and wood can be cleaned, however, once wood toys have been heavily soiled, it is ultimately better to replace them.

Rat on paper cup


Last but not least, durability is an important factor to consider when buying toys. Although most DIY toys are designed to be used only once or twice, toys that you buy from a store should still last you a reasonable amount of time. Rats will naturally chew on items, so purchasing options like wood toys and metal huts will ensure your rat can use them for longer periods.

DIY Rat Toy Ideas

A cost-effective and creative alternative to store-bought toys is DIYing them yourself. With just a few products you likely have lying around in your house, you can make a stimulating and enjoyable toy for your rat.

Foraging toys are some of the easiest options to DIY - one of our favorites here is using a roll of toilet paper with a slit cut out in them and stuffed with bits of paper and your rat's favorite treat.

You can also make a foraging box your rats will love out of a plain cardboard box (a tissue box can be used,) with a few treats and ripped-up paper products and other fillings in them. We recommend using paper bags, unused wine corks (clean corks can be bought at craft stores and online,) and torn-up toilet paper rolls.

Rat on wooden house

Keeping Your Rat Happy and Healthy

Rats are adorable animals that require plenty of playtime and exercise to remain stress-free and in good health. There are also items like hammocks or certain hanging toys that can double as cage decorations.

When it comes to choosing toys for your rat, safety is paramount. Additionally, the size and complexity of the toy, as well as its cleanability and durability should all be taken into account. You may also want to consider making your own DIY rat toys, as these can be both cost-effective and creative. Ultimately, it is important to provide a variety of toys that will keep your rat happy and healthy.


What kind of toys do rats like?

Rats like many different kinds of toys that can give them mental stimulation, options include foraging toys, climbable toys, and chew toys.


What can I give my rat as a toy?

You can give your rats store-bought toys, or DIY options yourself with toilet paper rolls, tissue boxes, and shredded paper.

What are fun things for rats to do?

Foraging and climbing are typical activities that rats enjoy, and there are many rat cage accessories and toys designed to stimulate and entertain rats. Foraging toys also add the benefits of your rat getting the reward of yummy treats!

Do rats like stuffed toys?

Rats can and will enjoy stuffed toys, but it’s vital to make sure if any stuffing starts poking out of the toy that you remove it, as the fluffy stuffing can get wrapped around their feet and cut off circulation.


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Author Bio: Morgan Mulac

Morgan Mulac has been working as a freelance writer for five years and has developed a passion for exotic pets. Dedicated to learning about exotic animals from all over the world, she seeks ways to share her knowledge with new owners about how to better care for their animals. If Morgan is not researching or writing about exotic pets, you can find her enjoying a cup of coffee and planning her next adventure.

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