You can’t beat the humble cardboard box when it comes to creating things, playing and having fun with your pet rat. We’ve teamed up with BCS, a box making machine company, to inspire you with ways you can recycle and reuse cardboard boxes.
Not only are cardboard boxes a lot of fun, but they’re also a much more environmentally friendly way to furnish your rat’s house and create fun play things. Plastic waste is becoming a bigger and bigger problem in the world, so choosing to use cardboard boxes instead of plastic is a great environmental choice.
If you own a rat, you should already know that they need a lot of playtime and interaction in order to stay happy. They are very intelligent creatures, which means they need stimulation and variety to keep them from getting bored. Cardboard boxes are a simple tool that you can use to vary your rats’ experiences. They also allow you to get creative and make things. In our experience, the more fun you can have with your rats, the more time you’ll spend with them — which we always encourage!
Practical Uses for Cardboard Boxes
A very sturdy cardboard box can be a great way to temporarily house your rat while you clean his cage. Some pet shops and rescue centers provide strong carriers made from cardboard when you first get your rat. A box that is similarly sturdy could be used to transport your rat for short journeys. Make sure the box fastens properly; if it’s open, your rat might jump or climb out. Also ensure it has small ventilation holes in the top. These should be out of reach, otherwise they provide the perfect grip for ripping and chewing!
This should only ever be a temporary arrangement while you get what you need to do done. Rats can (and do) chew through cardboard, especially if they have nothing else to do! While it’s much harder to chew through a cardboard boxes from the inside, they’ll manage it if given enough time. Make sure you don’t keep your rat in there for too long. (It would also get very boring for them!)
Blocking No-Go Areas
Cardboard boxes can be cut into cardboard sheets. These make great ways to block off hideaways that you don’t want your rat to explore during free range time. If the cardboard sheets are tall, they are almost impossible to climb because they’re smooth and don’t provide any grip. Bear in mind, however, that rats can chew through cardboard. Make sure you’re always watching. For this reason, you also shouldn’t use it as the primary way to prevent rats from reaching harmful wires in places where they play often.
Cardboard boxes make fantastic nests for rats, especially smaller boxes. They’re a great choice because they’re cheap — in fact, free! — and allow you to ‘upcycle’ boxes that would otherwise go in the recycling. While recycling is great, upcycling is even better as even recycling takes energy which has its own impact upon the environment!
Cardboard nest boxes will need replacing. Cardboard is absorbent and holds urine and ammonia. Over time, they start to smell and will need to be thrown out to prevent both your room from smelling and the ammonia harming your rats’ health. However, it’s likely that you won’t get to this stage: you rat will probably chew through the box before it starts to smell!
To make a nest box, you can cut a small hole in the cardboard making it big enough for your rat to get into. Rats love dark hideaways, so a small hole creates a little den for them to escape into. Provide lots of bedding in their cage and they’ll likely turn it into a nest all own their own! You can always put some fleece or other bedding into the box for your rats if you'd like.
Cardboard Boxes for Playtime!
Hide treats in cardboard boxes
A great activity to keep your rats entertained in their cage is hiding healthy treats in cardboard boxes. Rats have an amazing sense of smell, so they’ll know there’s something hidden inside. Put their favorite treats into a box, close it and let them investigate! Gnawing through the box will keep them entertained for a while trying to get at the tasty morsel inside. Once they’ve found it, the box could then be left in the cage to be used for nesting.
Mazes and Box Forts
This is the ultimate way to use cardboard boxes in playtime and we think it’s one of the most fun! It’s a great way to get kids engaged too as they not only have fun creating forts, castles and mazes, but also spend time playing and interacting with the rats. If you have a lot of old cereal boxes and cardboard boxes, you can create great play forts. Cut holes in the boxes, create different levels and tunnels, and your rats will love exploring. To make it even more interesting, you can hide healthy treats in various places so your rats can go on a treasure hunt!
Cardboard boxes are a really safe way of doing this as rats can chew them without hurting themselves. It’s fine to use tape to attach the boxes together, but if you do, just make sure you watch your rats while they play so they don’t ingest the plastic tape.
Cardboard boxes are a really versatile material that are perfect when you have pet rats. They’re safe, chewable and environmentally friendly as you get to upcycle old waste. If you have more ideas about how rats could use cardboard boxes, then please share them in the comments. We’d also love to see your cardboard box creations in use!