My New Pet Rat Houses April 2012

In 2011 I was forced to give up my rental house because my life mate had been unemployed for 2 years and couldn't find work. I exhausted all my financial resources trying to support both of us.

I had been buying a piece of land a few miles away that up until this time had been used as a seasonal campsite. Because of lack of financial resources I was forced to move to this property and try to make it liveable. Trying to accomplish this goal of a place for me and my pets to stay has been a challenge. There is very little space for us to live. I felt it was my responsibility to continue to care for them even though my situation had changed, deteriorated.

I didn't feel I should hand them over to a rescue because it is my hope my situation will improve if given time. So because of limited space I tried to figure out a way to create housing for my pets that could keep them safe and comfortable until more options for increased space can be accomplished. Thus I came up with these new houses. They are 30 gallon plastic totes converted into housing units. They are about the size of many of the wire rat homes I've seen on the market. They are 16 inches wide, 19 inches high and 23.5 inches long.

Let me explain why I chose this kind of set-up for my pets.

1. They are very sturdy and can be stacked one on top of each other without falling over which saves space. And saving space is a real concern for me right now.

2. They are light weight and easy to move around, clean and have locking lids.

3. I can see inside them to watch all the fun activities my furry friends are doing.

4. They allow for climbing as there is wire meshing on all four sides.

5. They have good cross ventilation, with openings on all sides allowing air to come in at all angles. There are also air holes on the lids too.

6. They are big enough for a medium igloo hut and an 11 inch running wheel and still enough space for them to walk underneath the wheel. The huts allow them to sleep on top of it if they get too warm inside it.

7. It is easy to sanitize all areas inside it. Keeping bacteria out of the housing unit is the number one thing most breeders are concerned about, because bacteria can trigger staf and strep infections. It is very hard to completely clean a wire cage unless you take it outside and power wash it. It is very hard to wash down the undersides of ramps and wire shelves in a wire cage set-up,thus urine and feces can be left behind. After you have your rats get sick from bacterial infections that are caused from poor cleaning you soon realize what an important factor being able to clean their housing really is.

8. They are tall enough that the rats living inside it can't chew the ties that hold the wire in place. My rats rarely chew the ties, but if I do get a chewer in the group I switch to wire based ties which they can't chew at all.

9. They protect the pets inside them from predatory animals such as the family cats and dogs.

10. The wire meshing I use is too small for people with small children to get their fingers into the units. The locking lids also make it impossible for small children to open the lids. I get customers with small children visiting all the time. In the past a Mother will turn her back and a finger gets into the cage and gets nibbled on. This protects my rats and my customers from accidental biting.

It is recommended to use this size housing for a couple full grown rats, if used for long periods of time. In this picture there are four young males that are still very small, being only ten weeks old. As they get bigger two of them will be removed into their own housing.

It's very surprising how many breeders use these type of houses for breeding Mothers and young ratlets...but they make the mistake of only putting wire mesh on the lids or just on the front. I wanted to show that this housing is only acceptable if there is enough cross ventilation. At least the front and the back should having wiring...but I think having it on all four sides is the best.

Special notes: Be sure to put the wire high enough in the unit that the ratties have to stand on their hind legs to reach up and grab the wire. This lessens their chances of being able to chew the ties. If the wire was down low enough for them to walk around and see out they could chew the ties up. I think this is one mistake people make when they create these type of housing and why their ratties chew their way out.

Also by putting the wire mesh up higher the bedding stays in better and doesn't get tossed out on the floor from digging or playing in it.

And lastly, by putting the wire up higher it allows you to put 3-4 inches of bedding in the bottom which helps keep it cleaner longer and smells to a minimum.

Having wiring only on the top is not acceptable if you are stacking them as they can run out of air in a short period of having the wire mesh just on the top makes these no better than an aquarium setup where the rats aren't allowed to climb and there is no clean air supply reaching the area where they are sleeping.

I hope you will see there are many merits to creating and using these types of totes, if done correctly.

I'd also like to note that my pets get time out of their housing on a regular basis, as they bring me much joy. They make me laugh and smile and are probably the only things cheering me up at the moment. Going from having a cushy life to not having much at all, has been very difficult for me and my furry friends. But I know they understand I'm doing the best I can with what life has thrown at me.

These totes were created using a Dermel 561 bite with a guide attachment tool and a 408 sander attachment for removing rough edges.

The holes for the plastic ties are made using a 7/64 drill bit and the water bottle opening is created using a 1/2" drill bit.

The totes were purchased at Walmart. As of April 2012, they cost thirteen dollars each.

The small wire meshing I buy at TSC stores. It costs $10 for a 2'x 5' roll. This size roll is enough for 3-4 bins.

The small plastic ties were bought in groups of 1000 at Home Depot for a couple dollars.

Last Updated On: 06/27/12
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