Author Topic: At long last...the DIY Rat Mansion is finished! (Lots of pics)  (Read 44156 times)

Offline katethegreat

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For the last two months, give or take, I've been working on a new cage for my girls. They previously lived in a Coast Cages Rat Mansion, which was nice enough, just a bit difficult to clean and it didn't go with anything in my house (a frivolous problem, I know, but I'm a graphic and interior designer so it really bugged me!). I built them a new cage using an IKEA EXPEDIT bookshelf as the base. (For anyone who's concerned, I did a lot of research into their chemicals and emissions, and found that IKEA's pressboard is much lower in chemicals like formaldehyde than normal treated wood--it actually has less chemicals than the drinking water in some major cities!  :shocked2: So I felt safe putting them in there.)

According to the cage calculator, it's large enough to hold 5 rats--I only have the two for now, of course, but I wouldn't mind a third eventually (maybe a neutered boy?). It's much bigger than the old one! Of course it's never 100% done, I'll always be adding more stuff, but I'm declaring it finished for the time being :)

I added legs, cut holes in the shelves for them to move through, built 6 doors with mesh, added mesh to the back, and ladders between the levels, for starters. It was so much work! I know I didn't spend any less than I would have on a big pre-built cage, but I really love it and the rats seem to as well. So without further ado, here it is all closed up...


And open...


Here's the top floor, with the multi-level hammock (their current favorite sleeping spot), Wodent Wheel, and toys:


The second floor, with a papier-mache egg chair I made for them, food dishes, tube (just a cardboard mailing tube with a scrap of fabric stuck on using water-based glue), toy, corner hammock, and water bottle:


The bottom floor, with their paper dig box, cuddle cup, and litter box:


Checking it out for the first time:


Arial scoping out the "pagoda" hammock:


Vetty saying hello:


I have a lot more pictures, plus information on how it was built, on my blog if anyone's interested: http://makemoore.com/2012/08/the-rat-mansion-unveiled/

(A little bit of nitty-gritty, since I know some of you guys will want to know: the whole thing is coated in laminate, which repels water, but I also went over the nooks and crannies with a water-based sealant. I wrapped each shelf in thick vinyl contact paper to provide extra moisture protection. The batting inside all the liners and hammocks is 100% cotton and thick so it'll be really absorbent. The girls haven't had any trouble finding their litter box, so that's been an easy transition :) Rather than powder-coat, I painted the doors, ladders and back screen with Rustoleum Specialty Appliance Epoxy, which is the hardest spray paint readily available. It's rat safe once cured, and I re-coated their first cage with it with no problems; Helvetica chews, and she never managed to get so much as a chip off. I'm pretty confident it'll resist chipping and odors with no problems, based on how well it worked in their first cage. I quilted the liners to hopefully prevent them from getting inside/make them lose interest in chewing. And I made 3 sets of allllllll the liners/hammocks/beds so I'll have backups when they inevitably chew them  :thumbsup2:)

So what do you think? I'm pretty excited about it, and they seem really happy! They've been worn out during the day from running around in all that space at night  :BlueDumboSmile:

Offline MiserySmith

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Re: At long last...the DIY Rat Mansion is finished! (Lots of pics)
« Reply #1 on: August 03, 2012, 11:42:00 PM »
That is awesome!
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Offline cagedbirdsinging

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Re: At long last...the DIY Rat Mansion is finished! (Lots of pics)
« Reply #2 on: August 03, 2012, 11:43:16 PM »
Love, love, love it! Great colors, great design, great job!

Offline HowlsOfAngels

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Re: At long last...the DIY Rat Mansion is finished! (Lots of pics)
« Reply #3 on: August 04, 2012, 12:30:38 AM »
That is awesome for a wooden cage, it looks so shiny, and it sounds like it's pretty rat proof as well. Kudos for making such a gorgeous and well thought out cage. :thumbsup2:
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Offline Madge

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Re: At long last...the DIY Rat Mansion is finished! (Lots of pics)
« Reply #4 on: August 04, 2012, 04:37:40 AM »
What an adorable cage. Looks like it was well worth the effort. Easy on the eye, something I'd like to do in the future whenever I have the cash and time. Kudos!

Offline gullideth

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Re: At long last...the DIY Rat Mansion is finished! (Lots of pics)
« Reply #5 on: August 04, 2012, 07:47:53 AM »
I LOVE your egg chair!!!  I must make one!!!

Offline Annahra

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Re: At long last...the DIY Rat Mansion is finished! (Lots of pics)
« Reply #6 on: August 04, 2012, 10:30:09 AM »
I wish I was this crafty :) Very cool!

Offline newratmommy

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Re: At long last...the DIY Rat Mansion is finished! (Lots of pics)
« Reply #7 on: August 04, 2012, 06:15:32 PM »
What a great cage. I love that it looks like a piece of furniture. :bow:

Offline RooRat

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Re: At long last...the DIY Rat Mansion is finished! (Lots of pics)
« Reply #8 on: August 04, 2012, 10:02:35 PM »
Looks awesome! I've got these in my bedroom, but they're home to my DVDs, CDs, and books.  :yelcutelaugh:
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Offline katethegreat

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Re: At long last...the DIY Rat Mansion is finished! (Lots of pics)
« Reply #9 on: August 05, 2012, 02:55:30 PM »
Thanks everybody! The girls are happy and so am I  :BlueDumboSmile: Madge, if you do decide to build something similar, the link I posted to my blog has a lot of information on how to do it! gullideth, the egg chair was super easy to do--just the regular papier-mache on a balloon, then after I'd done about 3 layers I taped half a Solo cup to the bottom and papered over that too :) Then just paint & seal, sew a little round cushion, and you're set!

Offline pt.lire16

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Re: At long last...the DIY Rat Mansion is finished! (Lots of pics)
« Reply #10 on: August 05, 2012, 03:12:08 PM »
impressive!

How do you make the liners?

Offline Gingerbear

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Re: At long last...the DIY Rat Mansion is finished! (Lots of pics)
« Reply #11 on: August 05, 2012, 11:28:58 PM »
Congrats on completion! It looks really awesome! :)

Offline applecavy

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Re: At long last...the DIY Rat Mansion is finished! (Lots of pics)
« Reply #12 on: August 05, 2012, 11:55:09 PM »
That is so impressive. Good job!

Offline VirgoWolf

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Re: At long last...the DIY Rat Mansion is finished! (Lots of pics)
« Reply #13 on: August 06, 2012, 07:31:18 AM »
 :shocked2: Wow!  :bow:

Soooo modern and beautiful! If I die, I want to come back as one of your rats! LOL Or you can just come design my house!  :BlueDumboSmile: LOL I took a course in Interior Design/Decorating, always been a passion of mine, but I'm lazy. I just bought a CN. LOL

What did you paint the egg chair thing with? I LOVE that!!

Offline mcguirks

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Re: At long last...the DIY Rat Mansion is finished! (Lots of pics)
« Reply #14 on: August 08, 2012, 05:21:27 PM »
 :eek: kudos!  I have neither the time or patience to make my own cage, even though I have drawn up plans before.  Your ratties are super spoiled!  I love the storage area at the bottom! :hyper:

Offline TheBandit

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Re: At long last...the DIY Rat Mansion is finished! (Lots of pics)
« Reply #15 on: August 09, 2012, 09:09:17 AM »
That is definitely one of the nicest bookshelf cages I've ever seen! It looks so well made. Using a shelf with an open back was a really good idea--that will help with ventilation so much. Great work!


Ratless. :(

Missing Erebus, Quiz, Bandit, Appa and Janus. Rest well, my loves. You were all magical and beautiful, and I'll miss you always.

Offline katethegreat

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Re: At long last...the DIY Rat Mansion is finished! (Lots of pics)
« Reply #16 on: August 24, 2012, 12:53:02 PM »
:shocked2: Wow!  :bow:

Soooo modern and beautiful! If I die, I want to come back as one of your rats! LOL Or you can just come design my house!  :BlueDumboSmile: LOL I took a course in Interior Design/Decorating, always been a passion of mine, but I'm lazy. I just bought a CN. LOL

What did you paint the egg chair thing with? I LOVE that!!

Thanks everybody! Sorry it took me forever to come back and answer this. The egg chair is painted with tempera paint (it's the safest type of paint, which is why they give it to very small children--usually it's just made out of egg and pigment, more or less) and sealed with a water-based polyurethane. I called the company that makes it (Minwax) and explained what I was doing, and they told me that once cured it would be safe even if they chewed it. So far, though, they're content to just laze around in it, and the poly keeps their pee from soaking in.

Offline RachsRatties

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Re: At long last...the DIY Rat Mansion is finished! (Lots of pics)
« Reply #17 on: August 25, 2012, 05:13:27 PM »
Gorgeous cage! You did an amazing job :D