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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey guys! If you haven't read any of my introduction posts, basically I have an old, small, beat up cage setup right now. Over the course of the next few months, I'm wanting to accumulate everything I would need to do a completely new critter nation cage. Pretty much everything I have needs tossed out except for my travel cages (I have two single level 24"x12" cages I use for transporting my pets during long car rides).

I want to get a critter nation double unit, and I need help creating a list of everything I'm going to need to get so I can start slowly piecing it together. It's been a while since I've done a whole setup from scratch so any ideas are appreciated.

I'm planning on doing fleece liners for the bedding - so I could especially use help from people who currently have this cage with info on how much fleece (If I buy it at a fabric store, how much should I ask for?) it takes to make a whole set of liners, and about how long those liners will last. It would be nice to have a small stash of them right from the start, I would guess.

I guess what I'm asking is, if you were going to completely start over from scratch and get a new critter nation double unit, what all would be on your shopping list? Money saving ideas are also appreciated, as I anticipate this to be a rather expensive project by the time I'm done.
 

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This is my list of must haves. You can find 90% of the items on amazon.com

Space pod/Sputnik
2 x Scatterless corner litter pans
2 x Glass water bottles
PVC Pipe (Home depot)
Igloo/Pigloo
2 x Ceramic Bowl
2 x Baby ring pack
Cat balls
Black zip ties
Dog rope toys (Dollar Tree)
Big Cat balls (Dollar Tree)
Baskets (Dollar Tree)
Puzzle House
Knot knibbler
Wood chews
Kebab skewer
Aspen
Eco bedding/Paper bedding

I stay away from wood (unless it is cheap bird toys that I can easily replace since urine just soaks into it over time). I like to make each level of the DCN self-sustainable so I have 1 bottle, 1 bowl and one plastic house on each level at least. This means there are hardly any issues with resources being hogged and everyone has access to water and food on every level. Hammocks make for great space fillers and you can be very creative sewing.
In terms of liners for the cage, the cheapest option is one layer of fleece on one layer of u-haul furniture pad. Cheapest fleece is at Walmart for $2.95 (I believe) a yard or thrift stores. Joann on Black Friday usually has sales on Fleece. Last year was 75% which puts it down to like $2-$3 a yard for some pretty awesome colors and patters. We get 4 yards for a set of DCN shelf and pan liners but it depends on whether you are making the ones that sit on top or wrap around.
2 yards of Fleece and cotton makes a large set of hammocks - again, this will vary depending on what you make. Flats are cheap, honeycombs and cubes take a lot more fabric (for example).
 

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I'm getting a DCN next week so I'm stocked as well. :) BTW, amazon has them for $208 which is the lowest I've seen (I bought off ebay for $199 but would have purchased from amazon if it was that low when I was buying).

I agree with the list pawsandclaws posted. I also LOVE bolt on the cage food bowls. Like the "coop cup". I'm using some now but want to get the kind with 2 bolts. They are easy to remove and the rats can't tip them over like ceramic normal bowls.

I'd also add those metal cheap shower hooks to the list. I just bought a set of 100 for ~$9 and my girls chew plastic rings, so I have to have the metal to use to hang hammocks, etc.

Have you used fleece liners before? I'm going to try it with my new DCN, but my rats have chewed / destroyed the liners in the past so I will be using cheap fleece at first. Joann's has the "fleece essentials" for like $2.99 a yard now (on sale) it is not great fleece, but would be enough for you to try and see how it goes.

I used to keep gpigs and swear by the uhaul pads. They are great at absorbing urine under fleece and are cheap and washable.
 

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Another great thing for hooks-I use the metal shower hooks as well-is the baby plastic rings. The dollar store sells them and you can get a really large group of them from big lots, if you have one. My two favorite dishes are http://www.amazon.com/Lixit-Corpora...e/dp/B00063KH86/ref=pd_bxgy_petsupplies_img_y lock crocks and e-z crocks http://www.amazon.com/Louden-EZ-Crock-20-oz/dp/B0002EWOVW I have e-z crocks that are 15 years old and still not a single crack or break. The large sized ones make good toy boxes as well. You could put some loose fleece or some crumpled napkins in them for them to move to their own locations. If you place them around they make little ledges for climbing as well.
 

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I used to keep gpigs and swear by the uhaul pads. They are great at absorbing urine under fleece and are cheap and washable.
I used to have GP's too and used puppy pads under fleece. I'm finding my rats like to dig too much for that and are just digging and chewing holes in the liner. Are uhaul pads just moving blankets?
 

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Water Bottle: I'd go with plastic, all the expensive ones were terrible for me. They either leaked too excessively or no water came from them at all. While plastic bottles will also leak, it'll eventually stop within the first few seconds. I also own an expensive water bottle, they abandoned it.

Den: I would go with a plastic tray that can be found at a dollar store. You also need plenty of pieces of fleece for it so they can sleep comfortably. I bought an igloo and they've completely abandoned it.

Litter Pan: I switched over to one without a cover because the bars were a little disgusting to clean each day. If you decide to do the same, you need heavy litter such as large paper pellets.

Litter: All small animal litters are overpriced. Thats why I go down the cat isle and buy ExquisiCat Naturals Fragrance Free Paper Cat Litter from petsmart. I've recently tried Kaylee soft granule blend because it was on sale, it was a terrible idea. ExquisiCat doesn't seem to keep the smell down too well, nor does Kaylee's product, so I'm still kind of searching for a better alternative. I'm going to try So Phresh Odor Control Paper Pellet Cat Litter next, they seem to have better reviews when it comes to odor control and ExquisiCat seemed to have changed something that's making people unhappy.
 

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jhummel- Yes. UHaul pads are the same thing as their moving blankets. I switched from liners with my rats to aspen bedding due to the chewing you mention. I never had that problem with my guineas. I am trying liners again because I've ordered a DCN. My master plan is to order the stainless steel pans from bass to hold litter in the DCN, but a set of those will set me back nearly $100, so I'm going to try liners again. Putting bulldog clips at the corners can help with the chewing, but Im going to use cheap fleece (joann's has their "fleece essentials" on sale for $2.99 yd. right now) and Uhaul pads until I can save up for the bass pans.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks for the awesome replies, everyone! It is really helpful. Putting together a shopping list is a lot of fun - it helps make time go by a little faster too since it will be a while before I can afford everything. I think I'm probably going to buy the cage itself from amazon as long as the price doesn't go up - I have amazon prime too so would get free shipping on it.

I do have one question - where do you get the uhaul pads from? Puppy pads I know where to find but it seems like those would be more expensive. I've never really bought either though so I might be wrong on that.
 

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Thanks for the awesome replies, everyone! It is really helpful. Putting together a shopping list is a lot of fun - it helps make time go by a little faster too since it will be a while before I can afford everything. I think I'm probably going to buy the cage itself from amazon as long as the price doesn't go up - I have amazon prime too so would get free shipping on it.

I do have one question - where do you get the uhaul pads from? Puppy pads I know where to find but it seems like those would be more expensive. I've never really bought either though so I might be wrong on that.
You can order moving blankets from the UHaul online store, or a physical location near you may have them in stock.

Now that I'm figuring out how to use my material more efficiently, I can make a fairly large set of hammocks (about seven to nine items) from a yard and a half to two yards of cotton, and the same amount of fleece.

One thing I figured out quickly is to concentrate on any cute pattern you want for the fleece liners, as that shows the most. I use a solid colored and hopefully a bit more cost-effective fleece for the liners of the hammocks and cubes and such.

Also, I like to have three sets of liners for each cage, minimum. That allows me to chuck one or two sets in the wash, while still having fresh liners for after a good cage clean. I change my liners out a couple times a week--up to about three times now since I have a newer girl who isn't the greatest at her litter pan, as my other two girls are.

As for water bottles, I wouldn't waste my money on anything but the nice glass Kaytee bottle now, having tried several.

I'm fine with plastic bottles for bunnies, as they don't tend to chew them, and being herbivores, they stay a bit cleaner. I like being able to really get the glass bottles clean, though, for the rats. This model has neither leaked nor stuck, IME. I keep multiple bottles in each cage, though, both to prevent resource guarding, as someone else mentioned, and as a safety measure, if one of the bottles did happen to fail.

I don't want thirsty rats ;D
 
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