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Rats Rule! => Home Squeak Home => Topic started by: stkmw02 on April 09, 2017, 03:39:26 PM

Title: New Rat - Cage Questions!
Post by: stkmw02 on April 09, 2017, 03:39:26 PM
After our last rat passed, my husband and I said we wouldn't own any more due to their short life spans.  We donated all of our items to a local shelter and have been rat-free for about five years.

A few weeks ago, a coworker asked if I would help with the science class's rat experiment (dietary) and possibly provide a home for a rat when the experiment ends.  So, we're welcoming Snow, a female white rat, to the family.  I have a few questions, as I see some cage options have changed since we last raised rats and the living situation for Snow will be much different.

What home cage do you recommend?
Snow will live with us during nights, weekends, holidays, and summers.  I'd like a cage that is metal, since our previous Kaytee My First Home Deluxe cage had plastic shelves that were a pain.  We'd also like something small, since we will only have Snow. I was hoping for something with a smaller "footprint" than the 24x36 Single Story Critter Nation, but if we can't find something comparable that is probably what we'll get.  I notice Martin seems to have smaller sizes, but I'm not familiar with their company.

What work cage do you recommend?
Snow will stay in a separate cage in my school library when she travels with me to work.  So, for about 9 hours a day.  Since she will also have interaction during this time, I'm not overly concerned with the size of this cage.  I want to avoid a tank, but am wondering if that might actually be the best option? 

What transport cage do you recommend?
Since Snow will be traveling with me daily, I'd like her to have a small, comfortable, and safe car-carrier.  I'm most interested in the Living World  Pod carriers, but am not quite sure which size would be best.  Or, perhaps there are better options out there?  Small is 9x6.8x6.1 Large is 11.8x9x8.3
Title: Re: New Rat - Cage Questions!
Post by: BigBen on April 09, 2017, 05:49:46 PM
The current government standard is a minimum of 5.0 cubic feet for a rat cage, even for only one rat.  It helps if there are levels, since rats love to climb.  Part of the requirement is that there be an area in the cage tall enough for the rat to stretch to its full height on its hind legs.

Martin's (http://www.martinscages.com/products/cages/rat/http://www.martinscages.com/products/cages/rat/) makes excellent cages that are reasonably priced.  You can get a powder-coated Rat Lodge (R-680) for $105.00 (galvanized is not recommended, because it absorbs the smell of urine).  It is a lightweight cage that you could carry into the tub or shower and hose off.  If you put it together with plastic cable ties instead of the metal C-rings Martin's supplies, you can then easily take it apart for travel or storage.  That could be your home cage.

For school, get a Rat Cabin (R-670).  It is significantly cheaper and yet is 93% of the minimum allowed cage size for laboratory rats.  I suspect that the school could plead that the closeness to the minimum, together with the amount of out time and the home accommodations, makes this cage acceptable under the circumstances.

For transport, I use a Grreat Choices small-breed kennel.  It is a lightweight rigid plastic carrier with a metal-mesh door, and can be disassembled for easy cleaning.  Line it with a bit of fleece, and you're good to go.  Last time I checked, both PetSmart and Petco carried Grreat Choices kennels, and the one I am talking about is the smallest.  Don't get one of those soft-sided carriers with plastic mesh unless you like the idea of looking for a missing passenger under the seats of your car, lol!


Title: Re: New Rat - Cage Questions!
Post by: Been to the Mountaintop on April 11, 2017, 10:25:52 AM
The most important thing to make Snow healthy and happy is to get a companion. Check out this lovely video. Alone they can become both unhealthy and neurotic-not good for a school pet.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cDy3bMRuobE&ytbChannel=Whiskey%20and%20Womble%27s%20place (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cDy3bMRuobE&ytbChannel=Whiskey%20and%20Womble%27s%20place)
Title: Re: New Rat - Cage Questions!
Post by: stkmw02 on May 04, 2017, 09:16:49 AM
Thank you so much for the suggestions!!!

First, the only reason we intended to keep Snow as a single rat (having owned pairs and families previously) was due to her isolated upbringing as an experimental rat.  These rats were handled since birth and social with people, but were not socialized with other rats.  Attempts to introduce them involved aggression.  We initially brought Snow home on her own and observed her behavior for a few days to determine if she would adjust normally to her new environment and lifestyle.  It was evident that a companion would be helpful as she was not active during cage time, and since her litter mates did not have a positive record of pairing with other rats of similar or older ages, we opted to try introducing a younger rat.  Luckily, Snow took to the baby maternally and instantly began grooming and bringing food to Margalo.  The two bonded well with no aggression, though both are now not interested in socializing out of the cage.

At home, we went with Prevue Pet Products Rat and Chinchilla Cage 495 Earthtone Dusted Rose, 31-Inch by 20-1/2-Inch by 40-Inch  (https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B001W8MDKO/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o03_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1).  I liked that the ramps and ledges were solid metal, avoiding both foot injuries and chewing/urine staining issues.  We sewed a fleece liner for the top shelf as a test and used velcro to secure it.  So far, there have been no "accidents" and no attempts to chew the liner.  We also have one of the Snak Shak small logs on that shelf with scrap fleece, which seems to be the favorite sleeping place.  The middle shelf is currently uncovered, as I recall my previous rats seeking cool surfaces during the warmer months.  If that isn't the case this time, we will most likely cover that with fleece as well.  There is a Snak Shak log there too, with fleece scraps, as well as a wood and rope climbing toy with a bell.  This shelf also shows no signs of bathroom accidents.  The floor of the cage has a Kaytee water bottle and a small plastic food bowl (so far, no chewing there, but I'll upgrade to ceramic if necessary).  There is a large Snak Shak log with fleece scraps in it which appears to be the preferred place to hide for eating, and a Snak Shak climbable branch that doesn't seem to be used at all.  Currently, the floor is not covered and foods and bathroom accidents drop into the pan below, which is empty.  I clean it daily, but have noticed more and more "accidents" in the corners and along the back wall of the cage.  We have a Kaytee tall corner litter pan with a Quick Lock, and are having some issues with the girls pushing behind it and urinating and pooping there instead of inside it.  As a result, even with daily cleaning, the cage is very stinky.  In terms of preventing this and reinforcing the potty-training, I've considered the following... 
1) either getting a Ware Lock-n-Litter or drilling holes to secure the pan to the cage so they cannot squeeze behind it,
2) filling the pan below the floor with litter and accepting the accidents,
3) covering the floor with fleece to see if it deters the accidents (this would also make me feel better about their little feet). 
Any feedback or other suggestions would be MUCH appreciated!!

(I will also share this in the appropriate area of the forum, but figured I'd include it here too)

For transporting, we settled on Living World Pet Carrier, Purple/Grey (https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B006JVPL6W/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o05_s01?ie=UTF8&psc=1).  It's on the smaller side, but seems to work well.  I may need to purchase a larger size in a few months if it is out grown.  I use the same fleece scraps to line it for comfort.  Snow and Margalo have not yet tested it in the car, as we are waiting for them to settle before beginning the commute.  This Friday will be our first test run.

At school, we decided on the Ware Manufacturing Chew Proof 4-Story Hamster Cage (https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B003SZSZM4/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o01_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1).  Since our space was very limited in the library and we wanted to avoid plastic components and remain within budget, this seemed like our best option.  We just set it up and have not yet begun to personalize it, just a water bottle (not Kaytee, this one is thicker plastic and not as clear) a ceramic food dish and a Snak Shak small log to start.  We're looking for a smaller litter pan for this one, and still deciding whether to line everything with fleece or use bedding in the bottom.  Again, feedback welcome.  Snow and Margalo have not yet been introduced to this cage.
Title: Re: New Rat - Cage Questions!
Post by: Been to the Mountaintop on May 10, 2017, 02:34:20 PM
I've had luck fastening a hammock in a travel carrier with shower clips. Adds to the space available, gives space to cuddle, and the gentle rock seems to "soften" changes in speed and direction.