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Update/ Cage tour

Its been quite a while. I’d apologize except this blog is mine so I have the right to post when I feel like posting.

The boys are doing great, and enjoying a new cage set up (video tour at bottom)

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I decided to go a different route with my liners. Now i have fleece, with the towel underneath without having any cotton underneath to  hold it in place, I don’t even use binder clips to hold the liners in place, and they haven’t been messing with them for the most part. I have to tuck them back in around the edges every now and again but nothing major. So far they haven’t chewed on them at all so that’s good.

I also have sewn completely new hammocks. I have decided to sew hammocks with one layer of fleece and the other with a cotton. This makes them lighter and less thick, and therefore easier to sew. Plus I think that they look quite nice.

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On the upper level I have an added wire level with some fleece blankets I’ve sewn along with pot holders from the dollar tree. I got the level for 75 cents at a superflea. It was once part of a dishwasher. I have it held in place with fishing wire.

I have a single layer fleece tube i sewed underneath it with an old wooden bird-ladder they like to climb and chew on.

The flowerpot in now filled with a dish towel i got at the dollar store and a brand new honeycomb hammock with a layer of cotton on the outside hung. I also moved the lava ledge and food dish here.

The very bottom level (shown above) also has a basket filled with scrap fleece that Owen likes to sleep in, a new hammock I sewed that is a bit like a bunk bed and the igloo.

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The lower level now has two simple hammocks I made hung on top and a pocket hammock underneath the shelf. The bird rope and ladder have been moved here and a storage been from the dollar store has been put in as an added shelf with fishing wire holding it up. The old storage bin in under the ramp and a new wooden arch they chew on is placed on the bottom.

Video

 

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How to properly set up a rat cage

Once you have obtained a good rat cage it will need to be filled with enrichment.

Houses

Rats sleep often on and off through out the day. Giving them plenty of places to go hide in that are placed on the floors of your cage is an essential furnishing to your cage.

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Cardboard boxes are the easiest and cheapest hiding places out there. They give your rat a nice dark place to hide as well as a thing to chew on. Mine seldom last over a week due to urine and chew marks, but hey, they are free because other wise they would have just been recycled.

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In my cage tour post I showed these storage bins upside down. I flipped them back upright because they were finding ways to knock over the top bin. The idea is still the same, I had old storage bins that weren’t getting used and placed them in the cage and put some fleece scrapes inside of the bins to make it cozier.

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My rats love to store food in this house and dig all the way to the bottom of the pot to sleep. Older rats might like the house better if you flip it on its side. If you have loose bedding you can fill it with bedding half way to keep it from rolling around.

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Almost every rodent owner (at least the ones in the US) have seen these. They keep one of these in almost every rodent cage at pet stores that I’ve seen. You can recreate a plastic igloo like this by cutting a hole in an old Tupperware.

Hammocks

Tutorials for all of the shown hammocks can be found by clicking on the photo. (Some do not include tutorials yet, but they will be coming soon, pinkie swear.)

I hang all of my hammocks with string, but safety pins have also worked for me.

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This hammock is great for the rat that likes to have a cover on top his head when sleeping.

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This is a honeycomb hammock. It is basically three hammocks sew together.

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This is a peek-a-boo hammock, I made this one really large, but you can make them any size you want.

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This is just a super simple hammock, no pockets, no cover, just a hammock. They run across this more than they sleep on it.

Climbing

Rats love to climb, and although the bars on their cage give them some opportunity to climb, adding some ledges will be greatly appreciated.

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My pocket hammock is in a difficult to reach place, and I had a fall trying to get to it (don’t worry I caught him). All of these toys I found in the bird section at PetSmart. The rope they will climb on to get to all of the hammocks I have hung there. They like use the ladder and ledge to get into the pocket hammock, and sometimes just like to perch them selves on them and stay there looking out at all of my room.

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They also LOVE their lava ledge

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I will see two or even three of them all trying to stay on this little thing. I don’t know what it is about it, but they really seem to like it.

Toys

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They really love using their wheel. Cecil and Toby will often run in it together at the same time. I would defiantly get a good large wheel that has a solid floor if you have young or female rats. If you have young female rats you might even want to get two depending on how many rats you have.

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click photos for tutorial

This Dixie cup treat toy is great to get your rats active and doing something with their time.

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click photo for tutorial 

This treat ball has the similar idea of the Dixie cup treat toy, in that it gets your rats excited, and keeps them entertained.

Other good toys include:

  • Cat toys(plastic or wicker balls work great)
  • Bird mirrors
  • Bells
  • Bird foraging toys

Just get a little creative and look in all parts of the pet store for good toys.

Food and water

I have found that glass water bottles work way better than the plastic ones. They can’t get chewed up (I have had to replace my plastic ones often due to chewing) plus the glass is BPA free. Although glass is more expensive upfront, you will save money in the long run.

Make sure that you have plenty of water available to your rats. It might even be a good idea to keep a spare on hand in case one breaks. I keep two in my cage. It is often nice to have two so that there is little fighting over the water.

Food dishes that are plastic don’t work well ether. Your rat will quickly flip it over and spill its contents everywhere. Having ceramic bowls is the way to go.

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Choosing a cage

A good rule of thumb when choosing a cage is the notion that females need a minimum of two cubic feet (per rat) and males need two and a half cubic feet (per rat)

This link is great for diterming if your cage will be large enough for the amount of rats you are going to be housing together-  http://www.rattycorner.com/odds/calc.shtml

Never buy a tank or aquarium! Rats are prone to respiratory infections and tanks’ lack of good air flow only adds to the problem. Plus, the wire walls on the cages allow for more toys and hammocks to be hung.

I have only owned two cages, so I can only tell you of my experiences with the two.

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This is the All Living Things Rat Cage. It is big enough for 2 male and 3 female rats.

Pros of the cage

  • The deep pan works really well if you are using loose bedding like aspen or paper based bedding
  • Set up was fairly easy
  • Folds for easy storage if you wanted to keep it as a back up cage or a cage used for socializing new rats with older ones
  • Wheels allow it to move easily if kept on the floor

Cons of the cage

  • The wheel that comes with it is junk, the rat’s tail and feet easily get caught in the mesh and it is really noisy
  • Cleaning is a pain due to the small doors and the fact that each level needs to be taken out each time you clean the cage

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This cage is the Critter Nation by Midwest. It can hold up to 12 rats.

Pros of the cage

  • Plenty of space to hold all of the cage accessories
  • On wheels, easy to move around
  • Plastic floors slide out for easy cleaning
  • Wire underneath each level allows you to hang hammocks anywhere in the cage
  • Storage unit underneath the cage to hold all of your junk
  • Doors open all the way out for easy access to all parts of the cage

Cons of the cage

  • Very hard to set up
  • Expensive
  • Takes up a lot of space
  • Low rising pans do not allow any type of bedding other than cloth

I would say that buying the largest cage you can afford and have space for is the best route to go. Rats are very active animals and require a lot of space to play in. Ferret cages make great homes for your rats, they can be a great option considering that most cages that claim to be made for rats are far too small to be the home of even one rat. One thing to keep in mind if you do get a ferret cage is that the spacing on the bars might be too big and you may need to invest in chicken wire to put around the walls of the cage and secure on with zip ties.

Other good cage examples

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Prevue Pet Products Feisty Ferret Home

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Prevue Pet 4-Story Ferret Cage on Rolling Base

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Marshall Pet Mansion

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All Living Things® Wrought Iron Small Animal Home

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Petco Rat Manor Habitat (just make sure to add some sort of lining like fleece onto the wire levels to avoid bumble foot)

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Cage tour

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I am housing my four rats in the double unit critter nation by midwest. I would highly, highly recommend this cage to anyone who has the space and funds for one. They also sell a single unit cage, which would simply be the same cage cut in half. This cage can house up to 12 rats, but just because I only have four does not mean that they do not use every last inch of the cage.

Pros of the cage

  • Plenty of space to hold all of the cage accessories
  • On wheels, easy to move around
  • Plastic floors slide out for easy cleaning
  • Wire underneath each level allows you to hang hammocks anywhere in the cage
  • Storage unit underneath the cage to hold all of your junk
  • Doors open all the way out for easy access to all parts of the cage

Cons of the cage

  • Very hard to set up
  • Expensive
  • Takes up a lot of space
  • Low rising pans do not allow any type of bedding other than cloth

Cage Set-up (video tour at bottom of post)

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This is the highest level of the cage. I keep a water bottle up here with a tile I got from home depo for free, a box that gets changed out every week and a pillow I made out of scrap fleece and stuffing.

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Hung up on the roof of the cage I have a honey-comb hammock and bird rope I got at petsmart and a paper mache house. (tutorials will be posted soon for both). On the floor of the of the cage I have two storage bins I had that I flipped upside down and filled with fleece scraps, and a chew toy I purchased at petsmart.

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The bottom shelf of the cage is where I keep their food in two ceramic bowls. The bowl to the left is always filled with dry food and the the bowl to the right is filled with fresh veggies, fruit, cheese or meat once a day. I also have a flower pot filled with fleece scraps and a bird ledge I got at petsmart.

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On the roof of the bottom level I have a simple fleece hammock hung and a toilet paper roll treat string (tutorials will be posted soon). Along the wall of the cage I have a lava ledge. The floor of the cage is where I have their wheel, plastic igloo, another box that gets changed weekly and their litter box. I also have another water bottle hung on the door of the cage and a tile underneath it.

Video tour