Do Pet Rats Like To Dig? -What Can They Dig In?

Rats are an absolute joy for many who decide to keep them as a pet. Pet rats are a treat to watch and live with, being one of the more active and lively pets around.

They love to move around, explore, and even snuggle with you sometimes. They are loaded with curiosity and natural urges. One of those urges that your pet rats can’t help is burrowing or digging around. It’s one of their many needs that they’ll always want to satisfy.

Pet rats like to dig in fact they actually love this activity very much. It satisfies their natural instinct to burrow as well as their curiosity. They enjoy digging around almost everywhere and all over the place.

While wanting to dig is a natural trait for pet rats, it can often get really annoying and become an inconvenience when they make a mess of all the bedding.

This is especially the case if you don’t have the correct cage set up for them, or a dig box available for them to mess around in.

Digging is a natural behavior and instinct for all rats whether they are wild, untamed or pets. Now the question arises as to why? Why do pet rats like to dig?

Why Do Pet Rats Like To Dig?

This question can be answered if we look at the life of a rat living in the wild. Rats by nature like to stay inside burrows where they can feel and be protected.

It helps them be protected from predators, bright lights and other uncomfortable feelings that they might want to avoid.

Burrows also allow the rats to store their food for times when they can’t go out looking for it.

Studies show this trait is the same in domesticated and lab rats because all rats resort to digging and burrowing consistently throughout the day and in varying frequencies.

The same is true with your pet rats as well. Your pet rats also dig and bury their food because of that natural instinct that they have. It occurs in wild rats and domesticated ones all the same.

This is true for any other pet rodent that you can keep, they’ll usually share similar traits with their wild counterparts.

Even though they are pets, the basic instincts of a wild rodent remain mostly the same. Pet rats like to dig around and burrow just like any other rat would.

What Do Pet Rats Like To Dig In?

Now, that we know that pet rats like to dig and burrow, let’s look at the things that they like to dig in.

Your pet rats would love to dig in anything that they can physically move and go through.

In most cases, bedding is their perfect target because it’s soft and easy to move around.

But if you leave them out in the open and unchecked, you will see them trying to dig into things like your mattresses, sofas and other places where clothing and furniture are around.

Given their natural habits of digging burrows into places with easy accessibility to food, you shouldn’t be surprised if they try to find and dig around where you store their food.

Basically, if your pet rats are left out in the open, they can go about digging in almost any place around the house.

So even if they’re very trained and you trust them, it’s best to keep your rats in their own cage so you won’t lose them when their instincts to start digging kick in.

But having said that, you cannot overlook and ignore those instincts as well. You need to make some arrangements for those behaviors to be satisfied in order to keep their overall well being and health in check.

But how can you do that? The answer is a Pet rat dig box. Let’s take a look into what a pet rat dig box really is and what all is required to make one.

Dig Box For Pet Rats

As a pet rat owner, you might find yourself wondering whether to keep your rats caged when they dig or have them out in something else.

But leaving them out in the open for long periods of time can lead to dangerous situations and sometimes can cause you to lose them altogether.

So what can be done? Your rats love to dig and the fact that they are mostly kept in cages with metal liners means that they don’t get enough chances to do that.

Making sure that they get all of their chances to dig is one of the best ways to keep them satisfied though.

Your pet rats don’t need too many things or fancy toys to stay happy most of the time. That’s why making a dig box yourself is one of the best things you can do for them.

It’s cheap, easy to make, and there are a lot of materials that you can choose from to make it with.

They’ll usually enjoy digging around in it more than playing with a factory-made store-bought toy most of the time. So how do you make one?

Making A Dig Box For Your Pet Rats

You can make a cheap rat dig box and you can make one that is bigger but a little more costly in the end.

It’s honestly all the same to them, the main difference is the amount they can dig at one time.

Each dig box can be inside or outside of their cage. Just make sure they have enough room for it along with their usual items if you plan on having it inside the cage.

For the basic type, you will need a cardboard or plastic box with loads of bedding or any pet rodent safe material for them to dig around in. Here are the steps to make the cheap dig box:

  1. Take the box and fill it with the material of your choice.
  2. Spread some treats throughout the box for them to find.
  3. Make a small hole for your rats to go through in the box top.
  4. Place the top back on the box and let your rats test it out.

For a larger, more advanced version, you will need a bigger container or box, a small pipe or tube, compressed coco coir soil, and any rodent friendly plants like parsley, basil, cilantro, etc. Now let’s look at the steps:

  1. Take the storage box and make a hole on one side to pass a drainpipe through.
  2. Dampen the coco coir soil and spread it around in the dig box.
  3. Plant the edible plants into the digging box.
  4. Connect the pipe or tube to the hole in the dig box.
  5. You can place the top back on the box or leave it off.
  6. Once ready, let your rats play.

They might be cautious and a little hesitant the first few times they try it, but once they get used to it they should just leap right in and start digging.

They’re sure to rip everything in the box apart and eat everything pretty quickly, but just because all of that is gone doesn’t mean they’ll stop digging.

When it’s all gone, they will still go around digging and burrowing inside the box happily. All pet rats are different so you can add some other treats and things that they specifically like to help keep them interested.

Just always make sure to use rodent safe materials when making anything for your pet rats to be completely safe.

Rats are inquisitive, curious, and playful. Digging and burrowing is a part of their nature and they won’t be as happy without it.

Making use of dig boxes will take care of their need to dig and will keep your pet rats happy, and as lovable and adorable as they always should be.


Hi, I'm Mason, I've kept small animals as pets since I was 8 years old. I love to learn and talk about them basically every day. Over the years I've adopted small pets like hamsters, gerbils, and guinea pigs.

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