Ambitious cage questions

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AviMavi

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I was recently lucky enough to spot a good deal on a triple critter nation on Craigslist- while the cage I have for my girls now is good, this will be absolutely fantastic for them! My one big thing that I want to try with this new cage is 'bioactive soil'. Has anybody here ever tried this with their own rats? It's commonly used for reptiles, but I have heard of a few other people using it for their rats.

The cage I'm getting doesn't have the plastic shelves or the wheely base, so I'm thinking I might line the bottom section with plastic and just fill half of it up. It should be almost like a permanent dig box, with bugs and things keeping it all fresh and odor-free. Should be good to tunnel in as well! Ideally, I shouldn't have to change out the soil very often, only add in new stuff or bugs. Maybe even keep a few plants in there growing for them.

Anyway, does this sound doable? I've only got the two girls, so they shouldn't produce enough waste to completely overwhelm the system once I get it set up since it'll have a lot of room compared to the amount of rat that will be using it. Anything I should add in or consider?
 

SQ

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When I have heard of people using soil, they have used soil which has been sterilized to kill organisms, parasites, disease etc
I have never heard of anyone doing what you are suggesting and can think of a lot of potential problems etc with it.
 

AviMavi

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When I have heard of people using soil, they have used soil which has been sterilized to kill organisms, parasites, disease etc
I have never heard of anyone doing what you are suggesting and can think of a lot of potential problems etc with it.
Yeah, there'll be a bit of a learning curve to it! I know people do this with hedgehogs, so I can see it working with rats, especially if I also use a litterbox so the ecosystem doesn't get overwhelmed with waste. And I don't wanna use just garden soil- it wouldn't work very well for this system, especially since I'd like for it to work as tunneling space as well. I'm thinking of some sort of mix of leaf litter, coconut fiber, sphagnum moss, and maybe a layer of sand towards the bottom? Add in some springtails, mealworms, isopods, earthworms, etc. and it should work!
 

SQ

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Why would you add in small animals?
That sounds like a horrible idea to me …. for both the rats and the poor animals
 

Wolfgirl

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Oct 10, 2019
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I've actually heard of bioactive stuff and was going to do a set up for my quail.
sQ you actually do get sterile soil, and then these bugs are considered good bugs from a reputable seller and not problematic at all. It is actually some of the healthiest set ups for reptiles as the good bugs break down waste and clean the soil. I've actually had many vets and zoo keepers recommend this type of set up.
Avi Mavi, I would say do a lot more research on reputable suppliers, and make sure the plants you use are rat safe. Plants need to be non toxic and free of any fertilizers or pesticides. Bugs can Not be from the outdoors as they could carry dangerous parasites, you must buy the bugs farmed saftely and parasite free from a supplier.
Remember though that if they do not use a litter box, this system can't possibly handle the load and you would have to clean way more and it might be an expensive flop.
Additionally, urine may kill the plants, and your rats will probably eat some of the bugs which may slow down the system further. Another thing with plants and soil is to watch out carefully for.molds especially if they are eating the bugs that would kill mold.
You may find yourself replacing bugs/ plants/ and dirt often if this doesn't work perfectly. However, I don't see a problem with you trying it, and would love to hear a report of how it goes!
 

LatteTheRat

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Jan 3, 2020
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california
Rats actually love looking for little bugs! We raise mealworms for our ducks and quail and Latte loves them so much! One reason why they probably like them to is because they squirm around nd tht appeals to their hunting instinct I quess. She also loves to chase after them when they're in the beetle stage it's so cute to watch:oops: Also when we had our hamster (RIP Blossom:() she loved mealworms in the worm stage not so much in the beetle stage though for some reason.
Sometimes I give her floor time and put few beetles in a little cardboard box. Latte loves to run over to the box, grab one, then run back to me and hide under my leg to eat it then she popcorns around and runs all over the toys I put out nd we have some tickle time <3:oops:
 
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