Free roam space advice

Topics on cages, accessories, layouts, free ranging, and enrichment
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Firecat
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Free roam space advice

Post by Firecat » Fri Feb 28, 2020 1:32 pm

Hi all

I've had rats before (7 over two groups) and am hoping to get some more in the future. I'm planning things in advance now I am older and wiser re rats and my aim is for floor time to open the cage and let them roam the attic room where they will live. Ideally I need to be able to cordon off an area, partly as the attic is large and partly as there are parts I don't want them going to (my consoles for example).

Does anyone have any tips as to how I could make temporary walls? I know from experience rats can easily get over 2 foot walls, presumably there is a height that would be too much for them, is there a hard and fast rule (if I do it right, I can always add height I suppose :) ).

All floor time would be supervised, so it doesn't have to be foolproof, but I'd rather not have to chase rats behind desks! :)

I think every other potential hazard (getting under or into things) I can manage.

My only other 'issue' that is putting me off is I remember when my second to last rat died and I had to rehome the last one :( But I just need to make my peace with that (or, you know, get more when I get to that stage... though I understand I lucked out a bit with my last lot as the calmest one from group 1 lived longest and was happy being the old gentle giant to the youngsters who joined him).

Thanks all

Feolthanos
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Location: South Yorkshire

Re: Free roam space advice

Post by Feolthanos » Fri Feb 28, 2020 2:03 pm

First off, they can get up and over and reach over to things that you wouldn't believe. They are incredibly agile, so whatever you do, make it bigger then you think :roll:

The clip together plastic boards are a go to. Since my set up is temporarily however (I just have it up for newbies before they eventually get the whole room) I just have the cardboard that the large cage came in to block off part of my room. The bottom edge work well to stand it up with a weight and stops them trying to push under, and the top edge discourages them from trying to jump it as there's something over them when they get close.

I would seriously consider making the rest of the room as rat proof as possible however, just in case they get free you don't want any immediate danger.

Also think about how you are going to get over it yourself and what else they'll be in the free range area. Remember that rats will also climb the outside of the cage and if you're going to have boxes, cat scratch posts and other items to explore they all become things to jump off off.

CorbinDallasMyMan
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Re: Free roam space advice

Post by CorbinDallasMyMan » Sat Feb 29, 2020 7:36 am

Rats can be great jumpers and I struggled with playpen walls for a while. When I was using smooth opaque materials like cardboard or coroplast (correx), I found that the walls needed to be around 70 cm tall (28") to prevent escapes. Then I switched to clear acrylic (perspex) and I found that playpen walls could be much shorter. Because rats have poor eyesight, they can't see the tops of clear walls so they just treat them like some sort of invisible forcefield that rises to the heavens.

When I used opaque materials for playpen walls, my boys were obsessed with finding a way out/over the playpen walls. After switching to clear acrylic, they seem barely aware that they're being held captive. It's like magic. My clear playpen walls are as short as 50 cm (20") in spots and I've never had a rat even attempt to escape.

Cost can be a bit of an issue with acrylic. I was able to get used pieces cheaply at my last job but if you're paying to have pieces custom cut, it can be a bit prohibitive. Acrylic sheets can also be difficult to cut without proper equipment. Cut edges can be sharp so I sand them to keep from cutting my toes as I step over the short playpen walls.

Feolthanos
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Location: South Yorkshire

Re: Free roam space advice

Post by Feolthanos » Sat Feb 29, 2020 8:24 am

CorbinDallasMyMan wrote:
Sat Feb 29, 2020 7:36 am
so they just treat them like some sort of invisible forcefield that rises to the heavens.
:lol:
This is quite possibly my favourite rat related comment

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[cub]
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Re: Free roam space advice

Post by [cub] » Sat Feb 29, 2020 11:26 am

CorbinDallasMyMan wrote:
Sat Feb 29, 2020 7:36 am
When I used opaque materials for playpen walls, my boys were obsessed with finding a way out/over the playpen walls. After switching to clear acrylic, they seem barely aware that they're being held captive. It's like magic. My clear playpen walls are as short as 50 cm (20") in spots and I've never had a rat even attempt to escape.
Wow, that's brilliant. I use 1m high coroplast but if I ever felt like splashing out I'll keep that in mind!
Poo-shoveller to: Calyn (NLA28).
Fondly remembering: Zephyr Mick Jagger (Edgeworth) the big lump, Din (NLA28), 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: Free roam space advice

Post by cyber ratty » Sun Mar 01, 2020 11:59 am

Firecat wrote:
Fri Feb 28, 2020 1:32 pm
My only other 'issue' that is putting me off is I remember when my second to last rat died and I had to rehome the last one :( But I just need to make my peace with that (or, you know, get more when I get to that stage... though I understand I lucked out a bit with my last lot as the calmest one from group 1 lived longest and was happy being the old gentle giant to the youngsters who joined him).
Don't wait until your rats are old before adding more - I'd advise adding 2/3 kittens every 12 - 15 months to keep your group rolling forward and to give the rats a lovely mixed age group. Use the carrier method, and introduce the kittens when they are about 10 weeks old. :luck:

Firecat
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Re: Free roam space advice

Post by Firecat » Sun Mar 01, 2020 7:04 pm

CorbinDallasMyMan wrote:
Sat Feb 29, 2020 7:36 am
Then I switched to clear acrylic (perspex) and I found that playpen walls could be much shorter. Because rats have poor eyesight, they can't see the tops of clear walls so they just treat them like some sort of invisible forcefield that rises to the heavens.
I saw you post something similar on an old thread and am hoping to make use of the idea if I can, I’ll have to price it up.

And cyber ratty, I’d love a rolling population so everyone was always happy. Hopefully I can find a localish breeder who I can use (when I got my second group previously I tried to get breeder rats, but found everyone I contacted ignored me, so ended up desperate and having to get pet shop rats. It all worked out and they were darling rats, but tbh if I can’t find a breeder this time I likely won’t bother).

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cyber ratty
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Re: Free roam space advice

Post by cyber ratty » Mon Mar 02, 2020 10:49 am

Whereabouts are you? We may be able to suggest some breeders for you.

Firecat
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Re: Free roam space advice

Post by Firecat » Tue Mar 03, 2020 8:53 am

I'm Sheffield/Barnsley (with scope to travel).

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cyber ratty
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Re: Free roam space advice

Post by cyber ratty » Tue Mar 03, 2020 10:33 am

You've got a good cluster there that I'd recommend - Lilliput, Renegade, Galactic, and also Kinra (Emmie Redfearn) which will be on the NFRS list in April. All of them are in Sheffield.

Contact details are here https://www.nfrs.org/breeders_list.html

And Emmie's FB page is here https://www.facebook.com/KinraRats/

I believe some of them don't use a waiting list as such, so may not respond if they don't have litters at the time, but there's a reasonable chance one of them will have babies within a short timescale. :luck:

Feolthanos
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Location: South Yorkshire

Re: Free roam space advice

Post by Feolthanos » Tue Mar 03, 2020 11:13 am

Firecat wrote:
Tue Mar 03, 2020 8:53 am
I'm Sheffield/Barnsley (with scope to travel).
I'm Barnsley based too.

You have Lilliput, Renegade (limited breeding atm), Endeavour, Gallifrey and Bazzzinga all within the Sheffield/Leeds area. Probably some others too.

Firecat
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Re: Free roam space advice

Post by Firecat » Tue Mar 03, 2020 1:34 pm

Thanks both.

I'll not name names, but I did contact some of them previously... but I'll not hold that against them :)

When my ducks are in line I'll contact them and see if I can get some new children x

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