Dedicated Rat Room & Free Roaming Questions

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Evermore

Member
Joined
Oct 10, 2019
Messages
5
Location
Ottawa, Canada
So, my husband caved in and is letting me convert our spare (unused and empty) bedroom into a Rat Room. We [might] be accepting my sister's now-empty double CN to combine with a second CN. While I've made a lot of toys/beds/etc. for my girls, I have no experience combining cages and have a few questions.

1. My primary concern: Are 2 Double CN cages together too much space for 3 rats, or is it a case of the more space, the better?

2. Are zip ties sturdy enough to hold two Double CN cages side-by-side, or is it advised to use metal ties?

3. Any recommendations for protecting the floor while the little beasts free-roam? We have laminate now. Previous free-roaming was always on vinyl or bathroom tile, so I never worried about it.

4. Adding extra shelves to a cage: What sort of materials do you recommend? I have coroplast I use for scatterguards; but feel it's too light to adequately support their weight and hyperactivity.

5. Any type of door-blocking gate/pen anyone recommends? If I can avoid it, I want to let the door stay open for ventilation even while I am in there (supervising) their free-roaming time. I do have a small animal playpen, but the gaps in the wire are a little too wide for the young ones (about 1").

Any help or suggestions are appreciated!
 

TheFatRatGirl

New Member
Joined
Aug 21, 2019
Messages
4
Location
Bristol, England
So, my husband caved in and is letting me convert our spare (unused and empty) bedroom into a Rat Room. We [might] be accepting my sister's now-empty double CN to combine with a second CN. While I've made a lot of toys/beds/etc. for my girls, I have no experience combining cages and have a few questions.

1. My primary concern: Are 2 Double CN cages together too much space for 3 rats, or is it a case of the more space, the better?

2. Are zip ties sturdy enough to hold two Double CN cages side-by-side, or is it advised to use metal ties?

3. Any recommendations for protecting the floor while the little beasts free-roam? We have laminate now. Previous free-roaming was always on vinyl or bathroom tile, so I never worried about it.

4. Adding extra shelves to a cage: What sort of materials do you recommend? I have coroplast I use for scatterguards; but feel it's too light to adequately support their weight and hyperactivity.

5. Any type of door-blocking gate/pen anyone recommends? If I can avoid it, I want to let the door stay open for ventilation even while I am in there (supervising) their free-roaming time. I do have a small animal playpen, but the gaps in the wire are a little too wide for the young ones (about 1").

Any help or suggestions are appreciated!
Yay for you! I'd love to have a rat room! :D

1) Usually there's no such thing as 'too much' space. The only exception would be a pair of territorial males sort of 'claiming' a side each but it's almost unheard of and, if males are fighting, that's just a problem in and of itself rather than something to resolve with a smaller cage. Basically, the more space you can provide the more opportunities to fill the cage with enrichment = happier rats!

2) This depends on whether or not your rats are chewers! If you think they'll chew plastic then you'll need metal ties. If they aren't big on chewing plastic then using a lot of thick zip ties should do the job.

3) I have laminate floor in my bedroom (which is where the rats freerange) and it holds up really well. i just give it a quick wipe every now and again. You could place old towels down if you're really worried but I would just wipe any mess after each use if I were you.

4) This one is one I find tricky because; wood starts to stink of pee; all my past rats have LOVED peeing on plastic shelves so it would just build up over time; coroplast - like you said - is too flimsy; and metal is expensive/ hard to find / prone to rusting etc... I don't use shelves at all now as I find it allows for a more active cage layout. My rats navigate solely by rope / cage bars / wooden 'nibblers' etc.

5) Thick cardboard can work well. I wouldn't worry too much about closing the door just for freeranging time though.

Hope this helps :)
 

Evermore

Member
Joined
Oct 10, 2019
Messages
5
Location
Ottawa, Canada
Yay for you! I'd love to have a rat room! :D

1) Usually there's no such thing as 'too much' space. The only exception would be a pair of territorial males sort of 'claiming' a side each but it's almost unheard of and, if males are fighting, that's just a problem in and of itself rather than something to resolve with a smaller cage. Basically, the more space you can provide the more opportunities to fill the cage with enrichment = happier rats!

2) This depends on whether or not your rats are chewers! If you think they'll chew plastic then you'll need metal ties. If they aren't big on chewing plastic then using a lot of thick zip ties should do the job.

3) I have laminate floor in my bedroom (which is where the rats freerange) and it holds up really well. i just give it a quick wipe every now and again. You could place old towels down if you're really worried but I would just wipe any mess after each use if I were you.

4) This one is one I find tricky because; wood starts to stink of pee; all my past rats have LOVED peeing on plastic shelves so it would just build up over time; coroplast - like you said - is too flimsy; and metal is expensive/ hard to find / prone to rusting etc... I don't use shelves at all now as I find it allows for a more active cage layout. My rats navigate solely by rope / cage bars / wooden 'nibblers' etc.

5) Thick cardboard can work well. I wouldn't worry too much about closing the door just for freeranging time though.

Hope this helps :)
Extremely helpful; thank you! It didn't even cross my mind to - maybe - exclude the shelves/replace them with other climbing materials. The young ones would love that (especially Ripley, she is ridiculously acrobatic and feisty, and has more than enough energy for all 3 of the rats combined). My only concern would be the old girl (she's 3 years old now), but as long as I keep areas where food/water is accessible and give her plenty of enrichment as well, I don't see how lessening the number shelves would be an issue.

Think I'm going to go with the metal ties to be on the safe side. I haven't had any of the girls chew plastic (just fleece and paper and cardboard); but since we also have a cat, I'll err on the safe side. Even if he is a little afraid of our oldest rat. No clue what he'd do if something smaller escaped.

Thanks again~
 

TheFatRatGirl

New Member
Joined
Aug 21, 2019
Messages
4
Location
Bristol, England
Extremely helpful; thank you! It didn't even cross my mind to - maybe - exclude the shelves/replace them with other climbing materials. The young ones would love that (especially Ripley, she is ridiculously acrobatic and feisty, and has more than enough energy for all 3 of the rats combined). My only concern would be the old girl (she's 3 years old now), but as long as I keep areas where food/water is accessible and give her plenty of enrichment as well, I don't see how lessening the number shelves would be an issue.

Think I'm going to go with the metal ties to be on the safe side. I haven't had any of the girls chew plastic (just fleece and paper and cardboard); but since we also have a cat, I'll err on the safe side. Even if he is a little afraid of our oldest rat. No clue what he'd do if something smaller escaped.

Thanks again~
I should have mentioned, when using ropes and such it's a good idea to have large 'catch' hammocks a bit further down to break anybody's fall; especially with older rats in the cage. They probably won't need it, but better safe than sorry!
 

jorats

Loving rats since 2002.
Staff member
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Messages
45,173
Location
Northeastern Ontario
Your rats are so lucky! I had a rat room for mine but I didn't let them free roam. I was too worried of them chewing up on everything. lol But they had hours of out time. They seem to love it.
 

Evermore

Member
Joined
Oct 10, 2019
Messages
5
Location
Ottawa, Canada
I'm super stoked to have had my husband suggest dedicating the spare room to the mischief. We'll also be putting our crafting projects in there, boxed up and stored when not in use - including his illustration work. To be honest between the double-double CN and his illustration table, there won't be a whole lot of free-roaming space, but there will be some.

UPDATE: My sister brought the 2nd CN over. It needs a lot of TLC and probably a paint job before it's usable, but it'll keep me busy for a while. My fleece delivery also arrived... 11 18"x20" sheets + 1 yard of another colour. Just waiting for the sheep-textured fleece sheet to show its face (and budget for a sewing machine, oof); and I'll be all ready to go spoiling the heck out of these girls.
 

ViciousCurse

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 28, 2019
Messages
70
Location
Minnesota, USA
I'd love to see pictures when you do finish!

Has anyone used puppy pads for free range for their rats? I live in an apartment and since most of it is carpet (ugh) I can't really afford to let my rats mark as they please (personally I don't care, but management does). My boys are fairly well potty trained, but they are unneutered boys and still do mark. I thought about setting up a little play area for my boys in my room and using puppy pads. Is that good or should I use something else?
 

Evermore

Member
Joined
Oct 10, 2019
Messages
5
Location
Ottawa, Canada
I'd love to see pictures when you do finish!

Has anyone used puppy pads for free range for their rats? I live in an apartment and since most of it is carpet (ugh) I can't really afford to let my rats mark as they please (personally I don't care, but management does). My boys are fairly well potty trained, but they are unneutered boys and still do mark. I thought about setting up a little play area for my boys in my room and using puppy pads. Is that good or should I use something else?
I have heard of people using them, though I haven't personally (yet). I'm wondering the same thing... sounds like they wouldn't be ideal for heavy chewers, but if it's for supervised free-range time, I can't see why it would be an issue (particularly if the puppy pads are beneath a layer of towel or fleece or something).
 

Evermore

Member
Joined
Oct 10, 2019
Messages
5
Location
Ottawa, Canada
Okay! Finally an update. I didn't have a chance to paint the cages, but I spent about 5 hours on this setup. This required a deep clean of the secondhand double CN I received (taking it apart, cleaning and scrubbing, then putting back together); a deep clean of my existing double CN; moving my existing double CN upstairs into the designated rat room; and then the linking together, rearranging, and cleaning the actual room itself (which until this point has been purely storage).

I have one pic, so far, which is pre-laundry load so sadly most of their soft toys were in the process of being washed. They'll be added back to the cage to make things more interesting today, and I'll be making another snuffle mat this week for them.

Currently, Ripley, Pidge, and Bianca have access to the double CN on the left and the lower part of the CN on the right.

We also adopted a new friend, Handsome Jack, from the Ottawa Pet Rat Rescue. His home is the top part of the right CN. He's neutered, and will be slow intro'd to the girls. Pidge is already infatuated with him and flirting through the bars.
 

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