Rats in double critter nation favor top half
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Thread: Rats in double critter nation favor top half

  1. #1

    Default Rats in double critter nation favor top half

    Hey, I was wondering if anyone else with a double critter nation has noticed their rats favoring the top half of the cage, and if anyone had any ideas on encouraging them to use the bottom more? My boys heavily favor the top half, i have their food all the way at the bottom so they have to go down to eat, but they rarely hang out down there, even when i move hides they like down there. I've seen a few people remove the big middle level of the cage and i'm wondering if that would encourage them to use the whole cage more since it would be more open?

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  3. #2

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    My boys barely ever used the lower level of the CN either so I just built a different cage and got rid of the lower level altogether. I think they just want to be up as high as possible (which is weird because it seems like the exact opposite of how wild rats behave). I have absolutely no idea how to get rats to use the lower level more.

    I didn't have a mid-level in my old CN because it wasn't a proper double unit cage. It was actually two single units that I stacked on top of each other. I hated not having that mid-level floor. I hated it. While rats do like to climb, they're not terribly good at it. Rats aren't an arboreal species. Without that mid-level floor, it was a long way to fall from the top of the cage to the bottom.To prevent potential injuries, I had to hang a ton of hammocks/baskets to try to make up for the fact that there was no actual level. It took forever to take everything down to wash and then put back up every week on cage cleaning day. I hated it. I truly don't understand the current fad of removing all levels just to replace them with other stuff that's more difficult to clean. I think levels are good. They increase the floor space of the cage and effectively utilize space. Some people remove the level on purpose. They seem to like it. It doesn't hurt to try it out to see if you and your rats like it. I hated it. Did I mention that I hated not having a mid-level floor? =)

  4. #3

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    Basically every rat will favor the top of a cage. Rats just like being up high the most. I have a single CN, but even so, my rats favor the top. I also keep my food and water at the bottom of the cage, along with some houses filled with nesting material. This way, my girls can drag the nesting material to the top, where they usually sleep. And when the rats want to sleep separately, or just feel like sleeping on the bottom level, they'll sleep in the houses I provide them down there. You can include food puzzles on the bottom level if you really want your rats down there, but honestly, most rats just prefer being on the top. (Removing the middle layer will give you more room to decorate, but I doubt it will encourage your rats to spend more time on the bottom level. After all, if they wanted to be down there, they'd go down even with the second pan in place.)

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  6. #4

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    +1 to Shadow's response. I don't use the middle pan in my DCN. I prefer this greatly. I do use the shelves and stagger them from one side to the other. I use a thick layer of wood chips and spread some of their food on the bottom in the evenings- this allows them to forage.

  7. #5
    Skritch Lover Coffeebean's Avatar
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    Since rats like sleeping up high I put all their fun toys in the lower level. I try to make it like a jungle gym area. It has their wheel, bridges, baskets, digging bin, bedding box, tunnels and I hide their food and foraging toys in there. The top level is exclusively sleeping hammocks and hidey "igloos" and one of their water bottles and a litter box. Now they seem to use both levels equally and maybe even the bottom level more often. Sometimes I wish they'd be in the top level more! But I just make the bottom level exciting and fun since rats want to sleep up high and I feel like I've struck a good balance now. I usually catch half up top and half down below. But they used to only be in the top level until making those changes.
    Last edited by Coffeebean; 05-19-2017 at 03:09 PM.


  8. #6

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    I absolutely love that cage you made, I saw it on tumblr too! Did you have your shelves on the lowest and highest options for the critter nation you used to use? I was thinking if i removed the big middle level i'd get an extra shelf half shelf or two and having them at the lowest and highest settings for each half of the critter nation maybe not one up high on the top half. But if you had your top half shelf at the lowest setting and the bottom half at the highest that is quite a distance between them.

  9. #7

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    I sort of wish the middle level had more than that one small opening, i know it was designed that way so the top and bottom can be easily sectioned off but I think that plays a part in them favoring the top half since they are so divided and they have only one option to go between them, only one rat can really be going up or down.

    Thank you all for the input by the way!

  10. #8

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    Rats do tend to favour being high up, so this comes with no surprise. I would remove the levels and replace them with boxes, hammocks and baskets attached to the sides to make the whole cage more of a single home.
    Good luck!
    Luna & Nyx

  11. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by charlypie View Post
    I absolutely love that cage you made, I saw it on tumblr too!
    Oh, thank you! It's working out really well for the boys. I was worried about not having those awesome full-sized Critter Nation doors but I've found that the new doors are still big enough to allow me to access everything and it's actually easier to hang hammocks with the new set-up!

    Quote Originally Posted by charlypie View Post
    Did you have your shelves on the lowest and highest options for the critter nation you used to use?
    In the lower unit, it was on the highest position and in the upper unit, it was on the lowest position. This left about 16 inches between each level, which is still a long ways to fall and the ramps don't even extend that far.

    Quote Originally Posted by charlypie View Post
    I was thinking if i removed the big middle level i'd get an extra shelf half shelf or two and having them at the lowest and highest settings for each half of the critter nation maybe not one up high on the top half. But if you had your top half shelf at the lowest setting and the bottom half at the highest that is quite a distance between them.
    That's not a bad idea at all! I actually love having two shelves in the opposing positions in each unit. I temporarily kept my boys in a single unit with the two shelves (one high, the other low) once and I loved that arrangement. I thought is was such a good way to maximize the cubic footage while providing a ton of floor space. If you want to make the investment, using three or four shelves but no middle level might be a really good layout! You'd still have a 16" gap between the 2nd and 3rd shelf but you could find a way to fill that gap. I think I would've liked my CN a lot more if I had purchased a couple more shelves.

  12. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by charlypie View Post
    I sort of wish the middle level had more than that one small opening, i know it was designed that way so the top and bottom can be easily sectioned off but I think that plays a part in them favoring the top half since they are so divided and they have only one option to go between them, only one rat can really be going up or down.

    Thank you all for the input by the way!
    Consider the closetmaid shelving found in home improvement stores. There is an 18" wide 1/2 bar spacing shelf that can be cut to length. You could have several of these going the length or breadth of the CN. I used one of these a while back as the middle level in addition to the stock shelving. Somebody on the forum also used the 'corner' shelving by closetmaid- it looked like it had lots of potential.

    Also, I'm not sure if you use the stock pans, if not, you could cut holes in the pans to allow more 'floor doors'. I just coroplast pans and make cut outs in the floor of the shelving for tubes or drop holes onto hammocks. Just makes it more interesting. My current design which is about to change is stringing a thick rope from top to bottom through the pan hole like a fireman pole.

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