Author Topic: Ideas for Play Areas?  (Read 3114 times)

Offline クリスタル

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Ideas for Play Areas?
« on: October 26, 2014, 10:21:58 PM »
I'm new to owning rats (I got my first two baby boys just two weeks ago) and I am just getting the hang of things with setting up their cage, cleaning it, their feeding/treat schedules, etc. When it comes to play time though, I am never sure where to play with them outside their cage! I always let them out to run all over my arms/shoulders about 2-3times a day, but isn't that not enough for them~?  :eek:

My ratties were a sort of a present to myself (ever since I was very young I've wanted pet rats) and my parents were okay with it as long as I paid for them and cared for them. They actually still aren't completely used to the idea of me having rats as pets but they do come and say hi to them every once in a while. When it comes to play areas outside the cage, they get real nervous about it. They see how fast my hyper boy Toki is and they definately prefer they stay in their cage. But they need playtime outside!

I have tried using my bed and my desk, which both have worked nicely for them - and I have toys for them to play with while they're out too. That was a couple times though. I am wondering if there any other ideas I could do that would make my parents comfortable with their outside play time without me having to do it when they are gone/asleep and aren't aware the rats are outside their cage. - Our bathroom is huge and there's places they can get lost. My room is big too and has lots of cords and hiding places. (Toki was under the bed several times, had to use treats to bribe him out and then he ran back under to eat it  :yelcutelaugh: )

Also any ideas to ease my parents uneasiness about them being out playing?
My Dad thinks they can climb plastic....and walls :doh:

Offline Vonda Z

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Re: Ideas for Play Areas?
« Reply #1 on: October 26, 2014, 11:26:33 PM »
You might want to consider creating a Play Pen for them to be used in your room. That will keep them from being able to get under your bed, into electrical cords, behind furniture, etc.

Probably the easiest option for you would be to buy several of those tri-fold presentation boards and duct-tape them or binder clip them together to form a ring. Make sure they are at least 2 feet high (might need a little taller if your rats are real jumpers, although when they get older and bigger, they won't likely be able to jump that high). That should be pretty easy to build and to store away when not in use. You can also use pieces of foam poster board or pieces of coroplast (corrugated plastic, often sold at hardware stores or signage shops).

Here is an example of something similar I found on the Internet:


For a more commercial play pen, some have used the Grrreat Wall (www.grrreatwall.com/Wall_Set_Up.html) but it looks like they may be out of stock.

Before our rat room, we built a play pen from 1/4" plywood - putting slits in the plywood halfway up the height so each piece can just drop into the adjacent side piece. This is the one we built:


This is more sturdy than using presentation boards but a little more difficult to make and to assemble and take apart.

Martin's Cages also sells some play pens (I have the Rat Play Pen with Pan), but they are not as easy to interact with the rats when using them. They are more like large and spacious cages without levels and with a lot more floor space. This is my Martin's Play Pen (setup at the time as a quarantine cage):




Offline BigBen

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Re: Ideas for Play Areas?
« Reply #2 on: October 27, 2014, 10:05:38 AM »
In general, I don't let my rats free-range.  The exception was three boys (all gone, now) whom I could trust not to chew and to return to the cage.  The play area is my bed and any adjacent surface they can reach.  I read a lot in bed, so the landscape is always changing with the various books, and I supplement with pillows and rat hides, both store-bought and homemade.  They always love burrowing underneath the comforter, as well as climbing the pillows and just generally running around

I used to worry about urine and feces, but I have never had a rat defecate in the bed.  They also try not to urinate in the bed, either, but if I don't put them back in the cage early enough, sometimes there are tiny puddles (fortunately, even an adult rat's bladder is quite small).  Younger rats generally need to return to the cage to do their business after about fifteen minutes; full-grown adults can go about half an hour.  If you provide the rats with either a way to return on their own to the cage, or some accommodation (such as a small cage on the bed), the rats can play for much longer.  The boys I allowed to free-range had a ladder that allowed them to get into and out of their Critter Nation as they pleased, and that worked quite nicely.

I have learned the hard way not to allow the rats to eat in bed--especially not unshelled peanuts and the like.  Otherwise you have to vacuum the bed before trying to sleep in it, lol!
What is a rat?  King-sized love in a pint-sized package.
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Offline Lennyk

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Re: Ideas for Play Areas?
« Reply #3 on: October 30, 2014, 10:24:05 AM »
You might want to consider creating a Play Pen for them to be used in your room. That will keep them from being able to get under your bed, into electrical cords, behind furniture, etc.

Probably the easiest option for you would be to buy several of those tri-fold presentation boards and duct-tape them or binder clip them together to form a ring. Make sure they are at least 2 feet high (might need a little taller if your rats are real jumpers, although when they get older and bigger, they won't likely be able to jump that high). That should be pretty easy to build and to store away when not in use. You can also use pieces of foam poster board or pieces of coroplast (corrugated plastic, often sold at hardware stores or signage shops).

Here is an example of something similar I found on the Internet:


For a more commercial play pen, some have used the Grrreat Wall (www.grrreatwall.com/Wall_Set_Up.html) but it looks like they may be out of stock.

Before our rat room, we built a play pen from 1/4" plywood - putting slits in the plywood halfway up the height so each piece can just drop into the adjacent side piece. This is the one we built:


This is more sturdy than using presentation boards but a little more difficult to make and to assemble and take apart.

Martin's Cages also sells some play pens (I have the Rat Play Pen with Pan), but they are not as easy to interact with the rats when using them. They are more like large and spacious cages without levels and with a lot more floor space. This is my Martin's Play Pen (setup at the time as a quarantine cage):



You wouldn't happen to know where to get boards like this? This looks like an amazing idea!

Offline Been to the Mountaintop

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Re: Ideas for Play Areas?
« Reply #4 on: October 30, 2014, 12:13:49 PM »
I got those white boards at Home Depot in the area where they sell signs. I got the biggest one and duct taped them together and every few boards I velcro them together with two strips so I can open it there. That way I can collapse the wall into a stack of boards. I have been adding onto it until now it goes all the way around the outside of my room so the entire floor area is OK if somebody gets off the bed during play time. I have a special concern because I don't trust the younger of my two cats near them AT ALL.
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Offline Lennyk

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Re: Ideas for Play Areas?
« Reply #5 on: October 30, 2014, 12:30:04 PM »
That's an awesome idea! I'll have to check it out. I've been looking for a way to safely enrich my kids out-time and since I'm living in my Aunts house right now, she's kind of wary around me letting them run around anywhere.

Offline クリスタル

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Re: Ideas for Play Areas?
« Reply #6 on: October 31, 2014, 12:18:36 PM »
Thanks for the great ideas!!  :thumbsup2:

I want to try the one with the large sign boards.
This seems to be the easiest and most economical option.

Lets hope it works out for both my rats and my parents.
« Last Edit: October 31, 2014, 12:22:03 PM by クリスタル »

Offline クリスタル

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Re: Ideas for Play Areas?
« Reply #7 on: October 31, 2014, 09:56:03 PM »
I've run into a problem with the new play area I tried.  :BlueDumboBigEyes:

When I put my boys into their play area (constructed from the boards as "walls") they freaked out!
Especially my hyper boy Toki! He ran around and was tearing at the boards and trying to dig under them. Then my other boy was scared of the new place in hid in his hidey house.

I am thinking i should maybe put some treats they like in there next time......

Any suggestions to make it go smoother next time?
 I'm not sure what I did wrong

Offline Lennyk

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Re: Ideas for Play Areas?
« Reply #8 on: November 01, 2014, 01:08:07 PM »
What dimension were the boards that you guys found? I found some 36x24 but that didn't seem quite right.

Offline Been to the Mountaintop

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Re: Ideas for Play Areas?
« Reply #9 on: November 02, 2014, 10:54:46 AM »
I set mine up with the 3" side going up and down. If there is cloth to cuddle in or an igloo to hide in and things to do, they may run and explore or try to burrow under (I think this is their nature, not fear) but they don't jump out. At least mine never have.  Any climby things need to be in the middle or they will hop over the wall and out. Like off the bed and over and out. Some of the favorite out time toys are free--empty kleenex boxes, toilet paper tubes, a purex measuring cup turned sideways, and empty paper bag.  :)
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