Sound ridiculous? It did at first to me, too.
When we adopted our second pair of rats, three years ago (Vi and PJ), my mother was working in the forest service, which involved camping the majority of the summer. My sister I really wanted to go with her, and with our new rats, we thought “why not?”.
We bought a big tent a few years ago to fit our four person family in addition to our stuff, and it’s also is great for letting rats run around.
This last weekend, we went on a one night camping trip with another family, and I took all three of my current rats on a camping “test-run”. Since we will be camping when we move to Michigan in a few weeks, I thought it would be good to work out any hiccups now, rather than having to deal with them later, on the road.
Vinny, being a seasoned traveler (he’s been all over Washington, Utah, and goes practically everywhere with me), wasn’t phased a bit by the camping. Additionally, since he is a bit handicapped, he doesn’t have to run around as much. On the other hand, the babies, Robin and Twiggy, necessitated plenty of run-around time!
Our current setup, is:
For all three rats, I use my large rodent carrier (pictured above), and also bring along my medium sized one, which I rigged into a “rodent-backpack” of sorts, to carry them on my back. My rodent carrier-backpack-thing. I rigged it up with a bungee cord and some straps– and BAM! Rat transportation made easy. No need to buy some expensive specially designed one! I use this for taking them to the vet, also.
For their larger cage, tt’s nice if you can put a small box in it for hiding, and plenty of rags. Bring extra bedding, too, if you’ll be gone for a long time (and just in case). A plastic bag to stow away the soiled ones is another must have.
I feed my rats a whole-foods vegan diet, with vitamin supplement. I have been planning on doing a rat diet post for eons, and I’ll try to link to it when I do! While camping, their diet its no different that usual– I simply feed them what we eat (sans marshmallows and chocolate, of course. Rat’s can’t brush their teeth!).
Your best option for getting your rats a good play time is in your tent, or RV if that is your kind of shelter. For either option, check if there is any rips or holes they could escape from, and NEVER leave them unattended in a tent. This is especially important if you have chewers! I doubt any rat owner would want to their campsite, and find a hole in the fabric and no rats to be found. Chances are, in that situation, you won’t find them.
If you have a rat backpack, like the one pictured above, it means you can go on a little walk with them, to get your ratties some fresh air and adventure! Depending on the landscape, letting them out in unknown territory outside is at your own risk. For young rats, I highly caution you, and actually recommend against it. They are speedy little buggers, and run very fast– ny impossible to catch! I generally save this outdoor fun for Vinny (ah, the privileges of being old and handicapped)!
Letting your rats out of the cage, even when at your campsite, is, again, at your own risk. It honestly depends on your rat and your ability to watch them well. IF you decide to let them run around in the grass and fresh air, without their cage (like I let Vinny do), watch them like a hawk and let no hawks near! Be especially wary of birds in open landscapes, and be wary of small spaces rats can crawl into in heavily planted areas.
Vinny enjoying the great outdoors.. and me watching closely over him.
Be careful. Be mindful. Be aware. USE YOUR JUDGMENT. That is really all there is to it! And of course, have fun :).
ps: If you live in Alberta, Canada, I’m really sorry to keep teasing you with all these rat posts :(.