Hotel Rat Enrichment Co. was established in November of 2020. As new rat owners, we learned about the need for rats to forage for their food, providing them with essential mental and physical enrichment. We searched for foraging toys but quickly realized that there wasn't much available. There were plenty of bird and dog treat toys, but not many designed to meet the unique needs of rats, such as providing ongoing challenges, being the right size, or being easy to clean.
Disappointed with the limited options, we began working on our own foraging toy design, featuring elements tailored to rats' natural instincts and abilities. With the help of our home 3D printer, we brought the first prototype to life!
We assembled the new toy, filled it with peas and corn, and presented it to our mischief. It took them a while, but they eventually learned that it was full of treats they could work for! Although our rats ended up loving it, this first prototype had room for improvement. Some moving parts were prone to jamming with treat crumbs, and it didn't come apart for easy cleaning. We also noticed that our rats would sometimes leave a door or slider untouched, not realizing there were treats inside. This led to the addition of small holes in the lids to ensure they can always sniff out the goodies!
After a couple of prototype iterations and a change of material to recycled PET-G plastic, we shared the foraging toy in a rat-focused Facebook group. Many people shared our frustration of not finding toys designed specifically for rats, and some wanted one for their rats! We were surprised and humbled by this response, leading us to consider making more of these toys — that was the day Hotel Rat was born.
We spent the next 18 months designing and refining a range of foraging toys. All our toys have been designed by us, tested and approved by our rats 🐀✅, and made in our workshop. No rats have been harmed in the process, but a heck-load of treats have been foraged for!
The most rewarding aspect of our journey so far has been discovering, and partnering with our amazing local rat rescue, Rachie's Ratirement Home. The community around the volunteer-run rescue is truly incredible, and we're grateful to be involved ❤
One of our core values is giving back to the community as much as we can, because they are the fundamental reason that we exist; we plan to do a lot more of this as our journey continues. Through seasonal toy designs like Halloween and Christmas, we've been able to donate a percentage of sales to charities and organisations we are passionate about, keep an eye out on our social media pages for our next seasonal special!
We're proud of our focus on making rat enrichment more accessible. In addition to the enrichment toys we make, we also share ideas for free or cheap DIY enrichment through videos across our social media accounts, and our Enrichment Idea's page. We also offer our 3d models on the Print@Home page, enabling anyone with access to a 3d printer to make and modify their own toys at home 🧑🔧
Environmental sustainability is at the forefront of our decisions. Which is why our toys are strictly made from 100% recycled, food-safe plastic. We use plastic-free, recycled and recyclable, paper and cardboard packaging. To further extend the life of the packaging, we use packing material which can double as bedding for rats and we stamp a cutout guide on each end of the box where customers can turn the box into a hide for their rats 😊 The paper fill can be shredded into pieces and put back into the box, then scatter treats in the box amongst the shredded paper, creating an additional enrichment activity!
We have some exciting plans for Hotel Rat Enrichment Co. We're starting to experiment with injection moulding. This manufacturing method will reduce our material cost and production time, and we can pass these savings on to our customers, all while improving the overall appearance and quality of our toys. There are a few ideas we'd love to try, like recycling local plastic into rat toys. However, we won't be moving to mass-manufacturing or outsourcing manufacturing. Keeping the manufacturing local, based on demand, and within the business is incredibly important to us.
Head to our social media pages if you'd like to meet our mischief 😊
We cannot begin to express how grateful we are for the support we have received thus far. It's this support that has enabled us to continue running Hotel Rat, enriching little rat lives, and giving back to the community. We're so excited to see what the future holds for Hotel Rat 🐀🧠🥰