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So, at the moment I don't have any rats, I'm sort of in the 'planning' stage and making a mental list of supplies I'll need. Anyway, I was wondering what you use as bedding for your rats? Is hay a good choice for a floor covering? We used it in our gerbils cages, which they seemed to love, and saw no adverse affects (they all lived to a ripe old age, and suffered very few medical problems right up until they passed) but I've been looking around the forum and so far I haven't seen anyone using it. Kitty litter it is, then! Any other ideas?

Also, I'm think of buying a large bird cage to house them in, and renovating it to fit their needs. I know how good rats are at squeezing through tight gaps, so how far apart should the bars be to ensure the rats stay inside? So far most of the cages I've seen vary between one inch, and one and a half...with some at three or five eights.

And when it comes to toy ideas, would you say they'd have fun climbing a good thick rope? Possibly as an alternative means of getting to another floor, along with a ramp or habitrail? My dad enjoys messing around in boats, so I'm sure he could get me some, I'm wondering if I should ask.
 

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if you must get a cage that isnt a specific rat cage, get a ferret cage, or possibly a cat cage. the bar spacing should be no more than an inch apart, and even thats too wide for babies and small females. if a rat can get their head through a gap, the rest of the body can and will follow.

dont use hay for bedding or on the floor of the cage, its too dusty. a lot of people use kitty litter, the compressed newspaper type... yesterdays news in the states, dont know about canada. i use fleece blankets and squares, and tissues and newspaper strips. my boys dont care what they have as bedding as they'll sleep on anything, but the girls love shredding anything thats shreddable, and that includes the fleece...

none of my rats like ropes, but my neighbours rats do, so i would say go ahead and ask your dad for some. you'll find they also like boxes to hide in, sleep in, shred, whatever. tissue boxes are great. i also use cereal boxes and i know of people who use soda boxes.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
n.n Thanks for the suggestions!

Okay, hay is out then, I'll see what I can find in the kitty litter department instead. Are there any specific reasons I should avoid a bird cage? My main problem when it comes to housing is the fact that I live in a very small town, without much in the way of pet supply stores (they sell habitrail, dog kennels and fish tanks and not much more), though there's usually parrot cages to be found in the Buy/Trade/Sell pages and flea markets. My mom also has a friend who's husband is handy when it comes to building things, and he could help me with the renovations I'm sure it would need to make it livable for rats.

A lot of the 'bird cages' I've found online say that they could also double for chinchillas, would they be more advisable then say, a cage made specifically for parrots?
 

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Don't get anything Habitrail, those tubes are way too small for anything larger than a very young rat. Plus they're a pain to clean.

On your renovations, make sure you don't use wood levels, they soak up pee really easy and smell within a month.

A bird cage would probably be fine, as long as the bar spacing is alright. Also, those cheezy little doors that slide down aren't the best idea, rats can figure them out, or they get their tails/fingers smashed if then thing comes crashing down and you aren't expecting it.
 

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If I were you I'd get linoleum to cover the flooring. Rats need a solid surface to walk on so that they don't hurt their feet plus it's super easy to clean and really cheap. I got mine at Lowes for 30 cents a square (I only needed 6) Other than that just make sure they have a box filled with small pet bedding so that they can borrow and sleep and have a place to use the bathroom.

My girls also really enjoy having a wheel and different hammocks to play in. Bird toys like this http://birdtechtoys.com/images/bird toys/toy230.jpg ,minus the bell, are also really handy for giving them something to chew on. (My girls like a challenge so I hang it up on the top part of their cage).
 

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I understand the small town thing, where I live its 350 miles to the next city. I ended up with a large flight (bird) cage. Its 29"x17" and nearly five feet tall. The bar spacing is about 3/8 inch, perfect for keeping my wiggly girls in. I have outfitted it with four extremely simple to clean plexi glass shelves. To support the shelves I used three perches underneath the plexi glass, and used zip ties to connect it to the edges, It works wonderfully, is extremely strong, and is very simple to clean (I can completely sanitize the whole cage is less than ten minutes).

Pink
 

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Duckling said:
, I'll see what I can find in the kitty litter department instead.
Be sure if you are going to use Kitty Litter that it is Yesterdays News. I don't know of any other "safe" cat litter. You could also use shredded paper, aspen shavings, or Care Fresh. Personally I mix things around all the time. Some weeks I will use towels, others fleece, then I will use the shredded paper, the carefresh, the aspen. It all really depends. Also if you can get ahold of the small alfalfa pellets you can use those as well. They are reat for odor control and REALLY cheap.
 

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:Ash: said:
If I were you I'd get linoleum to cover the flooring. Rats need a solid surface to walk on so that they don't hurt their feet
this is incorrect. rats walk very well on mesh floors and levels. there is a misguided notion out there that wire floors and shelves will cause rats to get bumblefoot. its caused mainly by rats having wet feet from walking in an unclean cage... as in, urine not being wiped off the floor often enough.

rats can, however, hurt their feet and legs on wire floors where the spacing is so small that they can get their limbs jammed into the gaps.
 

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I have to agree with crapola here. I have had both wire and plastic shelves and have never had a case of bumble foot. I use linoleum on my wire cages fromt ime to time but only to make it easier on me for wiping up the pee.
 
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