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Advice about housing male babies.

Posted: Tue Jul 28, 2020 6:20 pm
by crackfox
Hello, i'm new to this forum and indeed rat keeping. I recently lost my last gerbils to old age and have decided to get some male rats instead. I've never owned rats before but i've been doing a lot of research. The cage I want to buy is the large Blenheim rat cage but apparently the bar spacing is not suitable for baby males. I will ideally be getting them as babies from a local breeder so it wont be suitable.

My question is, i still have my old gerbilarium which is pretty big. I can add bars to the top and fill it with activity and sleeping areas. Obviously it wouldn't be a long term solution, it would just be until the males grew big enough to not be able to escape the Blenheim.

I ask because I know ventilation is an issue and i'm not sure how much the top being open wire bars would negate that. Height is 57cm, width is 40cm. Ideally i would like two male rats but I have heard getting 3 can be wise should one of them pass away before their time. Something similar happened to my gerbil pair and he got left without a friend midway through his life.

A picture of the setup -
Please let me know if you have any advice for me.

Re: Advice about housing male babies.

Posted: Tue Jul 28, 2020 8:00 pm
by [cub]
If it's the one that's got 2.5cm bar spacing, then it would take quite some time for the rats to grow big enough not to escape from it. I've only had fully grown bucks so I can only guess at how long it would take, but given that I would absolutely not trust any of my adult does with that bar spacing, I'd guess most bucks would need to be 6 months old or so before they'd be secure in that cage, which is far too long to be spending in a gerbil tank. And some bucks will never be secure in that cage; some are just slender all their lives and will always be able to squeeze through.

If you're absolutely set on that cage then I'd suggest getting something like a Coco large as a temporary cage (though it's big enough to be a permanent cage, which it basically has to be to house them for several months), and be prepared to modify the Blenheim with mesh panels. It looks like you'd also have an interesting time getting a deeper tray put into it to allow for proper substrate; I'm not sure how well cleaning out works with the small doors.

Re: Advice about housing male babies.

Posted: Tue Jul 28, 2020 8:14 pm
by crackfox
Thanks for your reply. What cage do you use out of interest? I thought those types of cages were perfect for rats. I was also considering getting the Savic Zeno 3 empire cage since it has good bar spacing for babies but it looks on the small side for two rats as they grow bigger. In an ideal world i'd get a Midwest Critter Nation but that's out of my budget and is a bit overkill in terms of space for 2.

Re: Advice about housing male babies.

Posted: Tue Jul 28, 2020 11:34 pm
by [cub]
I have a Savic Royal Suite 95, with a custom metal tray since the trays it comes with are pretty flimsy plastic. Unfortunately metal trays are hard to come by these days (the company I bought mine from has since closed); most people order sheets of perspex cut to size and then glue them together at home. You can even extend the depth of the cage this way by building the cage without the bottom bars and making a tray deep enough to sit on the under-cage shelf. Though perspex sheets are also a hard to come by at the moment. Hopefully all the shops will have their sneeze guards soon and this situation will resolve.

Bad default trays is a problem common to the big double door cages for some reason. The only exception I can think of is the Little Zoo Venturer, which is unfortunately pricey and hard to come by at the moment. (I feel like a broken record now. :lol: ) Despite this I do generally recommend one of the double door cages if you have the space and money. The access is so much better than anything else, and I've found that really helps with bonding especially with nervous or aggressive rats.

I'm not sure why you think the Zeno 3 Empire is too small for rats; it's only 10% smaller than the SRS 95, and the SRS 95 is the same size as the Critter Nation. I personally wouldn't get the Zeno 3 Empire though; the access looks difficult with two relatively small doors vs a cavernous cage. I've got a Freddy 2 which has the exact same door, and it's only just big enough IMO for that cage. The Zeno 3 is 20cm wider so you'd need fairly long arms to be able to reach the back corners. I've also heard the Zeno 3's flatpack design isn't very stable when it comes to cleaning out: to clean out the tray, you've got to lift off the entire top, and the top apparently won't hold together if you lift it like that unless you cable tie it together at the join. Or so I have read. It's a shame because Savic's design is usually very good, but I guess they haven't got the hang of flatpack.

I'd also say a Critter Nation definitely not overkill for 2 rats. I've had pairs in my SRS from time to time and it's not looked too big for them. Also, while you might start with 2 (or 3) you need to be prepared for a rolling group of 2-4 as a minimum, unless you intend only to ever have the one group of rats (in which case you'd need to consider whether you'd be prepared to rehome your last rat so they aren't left on their own).