Best cage layout

Topics on cages, accessories, layouts, free ranging, and enrichment
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Lillian
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Best cage layout

Post by Lillian » Thu Aug 22, 2019 2:57 pm

Hi I’m looking to adopt some more rats in the future, my past rats had a savic one story cage. I would want to adopt more this time I’ve seen a three story cage I’m interested in would that be big enough for about 4 rats? And I’m unsure as to how to set it out, my past boys were on back to nature litter with hammocks, igloos etc. I’d like to use fleece this time as it’s less expensive and more efficient I’ve seen people use clips to secure the fabric on the cage floors. Can anyone give me any advice? Thank you in advance. :)

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[cub]
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Re: Best cage layout

Post by [cub] » Thu Aug 22, 2019 3:07 pm

There's a whole subforum of cage setup threads that you can look through. They're arranged by type of cage so you can look at the ones that are most like the cage you have/want: viewforum.php?f=42

Unless you're getting older or disabled rats with significant mobility issues, I'd look at taking out the levels in whatever cage you're getting and replacing them with rope and other active toys. The more active the setup, the better. Make sure you can also fit in a decent-size wheel; Tic Tac make 16" metal wheels these days, and if you're buying everything all over again I'd just go for one of those. 12" is the minimum but I've had plenty of rats demonstrate that they prefer a larger wheel than that.

Fleece is in most cases a pretty poor choice as a cage floor covering. It doesn't absorb much so it gets smelly fast, and it doesn't allow the rats to dig or forage. Most people use horse substrates (chopped cardboard, heat treated dust extracted shavings, or hemp) as a cage base substrate; cheaper than Back 2 Nature as you buy them in big bales, and allows the rats to forage and nest. Back 2 Nature is good for litter trays though.

ETA: Isamu Rat Care has done a playlist of cage setup videos. All the videos are fairly specific but they contain some good general ideas: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=P ... qx84h_tjvx
Poo-shoveller to: Calyn and Zephyr Mick Jagger (Edgeworth).
Fondly remembering: Din the Sith Lord, Zephyr Donovan (Phoenix), Xeltan, Lita (NLA32), Lia (NLA28), Zephyr Delanynder (NLA28), Falere (NLA36), Mirala (NLA36), Zephyr Opold, and Rila.

Lillian
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Re: Best cage layout

Post by Lillian » Thu Aug 22, 2019 4:50 pm

I’ll take a look thank you. I’m going to start over again I want to get the cage setup done and make sure I have everything right before I actually get some rats. I have fleece for my Guinea pigs, well like blankets? They’re not really fleecy. And I put absorbent pet cloths underneath. I wash them everyday to stop them from smelling. Would that be okay? I used to buy chopped cardboard and shredded paper for them to forage in. Which if I do use cardboard I will still add that to cage probably on the bottom floor but have the ledges with fabric on. I’ll always use back to nature in their litter trays. I’m looking to get a group of young rats and the cage I’ve seen is a good size so I can fill it with lots of activities and hammocks etc. :)

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cyber ratty
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Re: Best cage layout

Post by cyber ratty » Fri Aug 23, 2019 1:36 pm

I would start talking to breeders now, they will be able to advise on what their rats require - it would be a shame to get everything set up only to find your chosen breeder has different criteria for homing to. Also, there's likely to be a reasonable waiting time, long enough to allow you to prepare.

No, fleece is never suitable as a flooring for rats. As Cub said, it doesn't permit natural activities such as foraging (scatter feeding is best), burrowing, and nesting. You won't want it for covering shelves either (I presume by 'ledges' you actually mean shelves, given that a ledge, which is useful, is going to be too small to cover anyway) because flat surfaces do nothing for rats, and it's far better to remove them and fill the space with a great layout that encourages activity, and keeps the rats fit through climbing (up and down), balancing, jumping, stretching, etc. :luck:

amy104
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Re: Best cage layout

Post by amy104 » Fri Aug 23, 2019 1:54 pm

The cage liners made for Guinea Pigs often have wadding in. This will be really dangerous for rats as they will almost certainly chew holes in the liner and could get toes etc caught in the liner. They also scent mark alot more than piggies, they will get smelly quicker but if you start washing them everyday the rats will get really upset and scent more.
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[cub]
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Re: Best cage layout

Post by [cub] » Fri Aug 23, 2019 3:57 pm

I dunno, Edgeworth quite likes ledges as a place to sleep when it's hot. ;)
Image

I do use ledges in my layouts, primarily to create a safe route down cages so that my more daredevil rats aren't as likely to just take the fastest, gravity-assisted way down. :lol: I also find them useful as accessibility aids for older rats with mobility problems, though that shouldn't be an issue for a while yet if you're wanting a group of youngsters. Most of my ledges are too small to be attractive to pee on so don't need any special consideration, just the occasional wash. The larger ones I paint with Plastikote enamel, which is a child-safe (and therefore pet-safe) paint. It takes a few coats to waterproof the wood but it's served me well for years. I'm not sure how well fleece would work as a covering; since it doesn't absorb much, stuff tends to soak through quickly, so I imagine a fair bit of urine would end up soaking into the ledge regardless.

I occasionally put larger platforms in my cage, but only when I have rats with very serious mobility problems, when they can be very helpful. (So if your cage comes with big platforms, don't throw them away if you have room to store them.) However, they do just turn into toilets: every time I've had a platform in the cage, I've been mopping up lakes of urine on a daily basis. Some people put litter in them, but I find that this just turns them into litter trampolines and I get litter and poo flung everywhere as the rats bounce on them. So I only use platforms when necessary. Rats should have regular playtimes out of the cage anyway, so running around on the floor is my way of giving them the flat surface experience. I imagine that does make a nice change from the various uneven surfaces they have in their cage, but the thing is, uneven surfaces provide more exercise and enrichment opportunities. Walking across a flat platform is easy; walking along a rope or a swinging bridge is much more challenging. And for any pet kept in a domestic setting, where they don't need to fight for survival, adding challenge back to their lives is important.
Poo-shoveller to: Calyn and Zephyr Mick Jagger (Edgeworth).
Fondly remembering: Din the Sith Lord, Zephyr Donovan (Phoenix), Xeltan, Lita (NLA32), Lia (NLA28), Zephyr Delanynder (NLA28), Falere (NLA36), Mirala (NLA36), Zephyr Opold, and Rila.

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[cub]
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Re: Best cage layout

Post by [cub] » Fri Aug 23, 2019 4:14 pm

Here's my current cage layout, to give you some idea of what I'm talking about. Other than the litter tray in the top right corner at the back, there's no other large expanse of horizontal surface until you get down to ground level. The largest ledges are the two on the right hand side of the top of the cage. All the other ledges are quite small, and I also make use of perches (some intended for parrots, some intended to just be chew toys, but if a rat can stand on it, it's a rat perch).

I make sure there's enough beds that all of them can sleep separately if they want (important in the summer as it can get quite warm in here), but other than that I don't give them lots of hammocks. I do have a lot of fall-breakers because I've got slightly clumsy older rats, but they're largely in the form of ropes, nets, and ledges/perches. If my rats were younger, I'd have a more challenging layout: fewer ledges, fewer thick easy ropes, more challenging perches and thin ropes.

Image
Poo-shoveller to: Calyn and Zephyr Mick Jagger (Edgeworth).
Fondly remembering: Din the Sith Lord, Zephyr Donovan (Phoenix), Xeltan, Lita (NLA32), Lia (NLA28), Zephyr Delanynder (NLA28), Falere (NLA36), Mirala (NLA36), Zephyr Opold, and Rila.

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cyber ratty
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Re: Best cage layout

Post by cyber ratty » Sun Aug 25, 2019 3:12 pm

[cub] wrote:
Fri Aug 23, 2019 3:57 pm
I do use ledges in my layouts...
Oh I do too - I simply used the term ledges because the OP did. I've edited my post now for clarity. ;)

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