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Thread: General introduction with a few specific questions

  1. #11


    Thank you!
    Yes he's a boy!
    Very good points. I have read all your comments, except for daily eye wipes. Good to know. Another thing you have me thinking about is this....

    I plan on getting the Critter Nation today (used - I hope the guy doesn't flake out on me). Also, I plan on lining all the trays and bottom with fleece. This leads me to a concern that the hairless guy will want some areas that have some dedicated fluffy bedding. Currently he's using recycled newspaper. I'm not familiar with Eco Bedding. Got a link? I'll do a search. Anyway, now I suspect I will include a "house" within the CN that has a dedicated area with bedding in addition to the fleece lining. Thanks for the tips!!

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  3. #12


    Quote Originally Posted by Adam View Post
    I plan on lining all the trays and bottom with fleece.
    Fleece works well in Critter Nation cages because the plastic pans are so shallow (they don't hold a loose substrate very well a all). There are some nice benefits to fleece. First, it's synthetic so the surface will stay dry. It can also save you some money because, unlike a loose substrate that has to be thrown away regularly, fabric liners can be washed and reused.

    There are considerations when using fleece, however. Because fleece is synthetic and not at all absorbent, pee will wick through the fleece and pool on the plastic pan underneath. This will get smelly very quickly. It's highly recommended that an absorbent layer is placed underneath the fleece. Some people use Uhaul furniture pads, incontinence pads, or towels underneath the fleece. You can cut the absorbent layer to the inside size of your pan and then wrap fleece around it, using binder clips to hold it in place. This method works for some but it didn't work for my boys at all. They chewed the carp out of the fleece when it was wrapped around the pans. I ended up using this Ratropolis tutorial to make reversible "mats" with Uhaul furniture pads sandwiched between layers of fleece. I didn't even clip them down.

    Fleece liners, even with an absorbent layer, get smelly much, much more quickly than a loose substrate. They often need to be swapped out and washed a couple times a week. This was another reason why I liked the "mat" style more than the wrap-around liners. They were much quicker to swap out.

    Some people say you can't use fleece unless your rats are 100% litter trained. I totally disagree. It's definitely better if they're litter trained but they just need to be swapped out more often if they're not. I've never even had a group of rats that were "100%" litter trained. If you're going to use fleece, I would recommend that you at least provide them with a litter box and try to train them. I think it's actually a lot easier to litter train a rat if you're using fleece because it's easier to collect all of the poops and place them into the box.

    Quote Originally Posted by Adam View Post
    This leads me to a concern that the hairless guy will want some areas that have some dedicated fluffy bedding.
    Absolutely. This. This for all rats! You can provide your rats with different types of nesting materials so you can figure out what they like the best. Newspaper (blank newsprint is better because ink contains chemicals), paper towels, scraps of fleece of varying sizes, and crinkled kraft paper all make great nesting materials. You just want to avoid anything with long fibers or strings that can get tangled up.

    Quote Originally Posted by Adam View Post
    I'm not familiar with Eco Bedding. Got a link?
    Eco Bedding is just crinkly kraft paper marketed for pets. You'd want to get the green bag, not the blue bag. The blue bag is the "odor control" version that contains fragrances (which should always be avoided). Being that Eco Bedding is marketed for pets, it's crazy-stupid expensive. Staples sells the same crinkly kraft paper as a packing material and it's much cheaper. You can order a 10 lb. box online and have it sent to your nearest Staples location for $18.29.

    Quote Originally Posted by Adam View Post
    Anyway, now I suspect I will include a "house" within the CN that has a dedicated area with bedding in addition to the fleece lining.
    Definitely. I think it's a good idea to provide at least one hiding house/hut for each rat. This way they can be alone if they want. These don't have to be expensive. They can even just be cardboard boxes that you throw out each week with a cage cleaning. Soda boxes or small Amazon boxes work great. I also use small utility storage bins that I had laying around.

  4. #13


    Completely agree with the above post! I do buy the Eco bedding (which as explained above, it really just crinkled brown paper), and just put small handfuls in their houses each time. I also use tissues, ripped cardboard, pieces of fleece/blankets, and even holey clothing as bedding.

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  6. #14


    Hello all and thank you CorbinDallasMyMan for the great feedback!!

    Here's an update. I have quite a bit of news and need help!!

    I drove across Phoenix to buy a used Critter Nation only to find it was a Ferret Nation with chicken wire mesh all around it to make it rat safe. It was super dirty and needs TLC, but otherwise was in reasonably good condition. I spent $70.00 on a double decker. Not a bad deal. My thought is that I need the wire mesh on there until these guys get old enough to not be able to fit through the 1" spacing. I'm guessing 6 months from now (9 months old).

    Anyway, first of all, thoughts on that? The guy said he'd buy it back from me if it doesn't work out. So I need your input.

    Next up is the trays or really lack of. The trays are just flat piece of plastic that slip into the metal shelf frame. They are not "trays" of sorts. I'm not sure how much of a problem that is or will be. I can certainly find a tray to set on top of the racks, but IDK....Need some feedback on that issue.

    Other than that, the cage just needs to be cleaned up really well.

    The other big news is I have a second rat already. When my son went out and got his, the other kids with him all got one too. They were all the cheap feeders, except for one kid that wanted to one-up his buddies and spen $20.00 on a fancy one. That rat was sold in the pet section. I know, I know, this was NOT the plan and was not my intention to get a rat from a pet store, BUT, the kid that had the fancy one was already losing interest and his mom, although she really liked him, did not want to get a second one. So we have him now. He's definitely more social them Lemmi (the feeder rat). You can really see the difference in the two rats.

    Anyway, because they were in the same store, I did not see a significant reason to quarantine and at the same time, they'd still be in the same house. I put them together and they immediately started preening each other (well more the pet rat was preening the feeder rat). That then lead to to some rougher "play", it was not really play at all. Then it got rougher, and my wife started to panic. and then it stopped. The two went to opposite sides of their woefully small cage and have ignored each other since. They are both about the same size. So, I'd say that went pretty well.

    I need to get the Critter Nation up and running soon, but my son needs to do the heavy lifting on that project. He won't be home until very late tonight, so best case scenario is tomorrow, I'm thinking Sunday probably.

    Any words of wisdom, please send it my way!!

    And please, I have thick skin and I'm very new to this. If I'm completely out to lunch on anything, speak up and call me out on it. Please!!


    Last edited by Adam; 05-19-2017 at 09:52 PM.

  7. #15


    That's annoying- I hope the craigslist guy simply didn't know what he had and wasn't trying to be deceptive. The ferret nation, of course, has vertical bars, so this might be a factor in deciding to keep it. Horizontal bars are easier to 'decorate' and are more ladder-like for climbing ratties. Also consider that some males don't get very large and it might be a concern. Additionally, if you add new babies to your pack you will have to put the wire back on.

    Are the pans stock or are you saying this guy retrofitted something else to fit? The stock 'pans' really are flat but they do have a very small lip around the edges- nothing that would hold in loose litter, but it technically is a raised edge. I believe that you are planning to use fleece liners? If so, you can use these stock pans - many variations on how to use the fleece, I think Corbin mentioned a few options. If you are leaning towards wood chips or loose litter then you could look at other ideas. I make my pans 4 inches high out of cloroplast and don't use the stock pans at all.

    Keep an eye on the boys. The general rule is 'no blood no foul', but it will depend on your comfort level. If things get too rough, consider separating them and researching the 'carrier method' of introductions seen here:


    Edit: Check the cage for might want to consider repainting it if it is in very poor condition. However, this will need around two weeks to cure.

  8. #16


    Hi all,

    So I caved...I could not stand looking at them in the little critter cage. So I went to work on cleaning up the FN cage. It was super dirty, but cleaned up very well. So the vertical bar thing will most certainly be an issue for them. For now its quite perfect in that the wire mesh makes it super easy to climb. Plus my wife does not mind looking at the wire mesh. So happy wife....yeah.

    Ok, so they are both in the new home and the two rats and myself have all sighed relief. Honestly it was stressing me out seeing them in there little cage. Not its a joy to watch them actually get up to a short distance "run". They have not made their way up to the second level yet. That's still scary.

    So, for 70 bucks, he's hardly out much, plus, should he decide to get a proper CN, I can call up the guy and he'll buy it back. I should charge him more being that it is clean!!

    I hope to get this "mat" thing figured out tonight so that tomorrow we can all go shopping for rat gear.

    I will post some pictures too.

    Keep it coming folks. Keep teach me!!

  9. #17


    I did not catch it in the "mat" tutorial...

    You stitch the U-Haul pad to the fleece, right? Then after a week you put the entire thing in the washing machine? The whole thing is washable, right?

  10. #18


    Hey Adam, The mat style liners are a little more time consuming to make and pretty much require a sewing machine. Here's a video. There could be other ways to make things like this. This is just one way to do it.

    A quicker way to make liners for the pans is to first cut the absorbent layer (Uhaul pad) to the inside dimensions of the pans. Then, cut the fleece a couple inches larger than the pans all the way around. Set the absorbent layer into the pan, set the fleece on top of it, and wrap the excess around the sides of the pans. You can use large binder clips to hold the fleece in place around the edge of the pans or you can safety-pin the fleece in place on the underside of the pan (see link).

    How often the liners need to be washed will depend on how quickly they start to smell. I swap out and wash the liners in my boys' cage every 3-4 days.

  11. #19



    Actually, I really like this idea. Pretty simple and easy to do. I have the U-Haul pads now. I need to get the fleece now.

    My wife has the sewing machine and is happy and ready to do the work. I'll show her this video too. Thanks!!

  12. #20


    The difference between the "feeder" and "pet" marketed rats is often that ones taken out to be pets, while they typically come from the same place, are socialized by employees who handle them for fun so that may be some of the difference you're seeing. It may also be that your new little guy was made a pet because he was more friendly than the others.
    My recommendation for CN/FN is to put fleece on the partial levels and a large home depot cement mixing tub in the bottom to hold bedding. It tends to be a bit more sanitary than fleece and allows for burrowing and nesting. I removed my second full level bc my girls climb like crazy and just hang up lots of baskets and hammocks so they can't fall but if you want to keep that you could use the original tray and line it with fleece or get a second cement tub and cut a whole for them to exit through into it. I also use fleece "scraps" for extra bedding. Basically once my girls eat a fleece to death I cut it up and they use it to nest. They also chew the fleece less if they have enough nesting material, tbh.

    Edit: link to cement mixing tub:

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