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I have my six girls in a DCN. I've been using fleece liners, but they just aren't doing it for me.

Alaina is an epic chewer, and just shreds the fleece into tiny pieces. With the hammocks it isn't so bad, because it's more like a disposable toy, but I'm only getting about two weeks out of a cage liner right now before its so torn up it isn't reusable, and I'm only getting that long because they are pillow-case style and I can flip them over. I mean, they aren't even making it to the point where they need washed. By the end of the week, my liners look like carefresh.

So, I've kind of given up on fleece. It's really cool, in theory, but Alaina just won't leave it alone. Right now I don't have anything on the pans (*See note below), and I'm just wiping them down once a day. The girls use a litter pan, so it isn't really too bad. It only takes a minute to wipe down. Would I be crazy if I just left the pans as they are? What are my alternatives? I know they make metal pans that are deep enough to put bedding in, so maybe I'll end up having to go that route.

*Note: I just did re-introductions with them, and they are currently only in one, very sparsely decorated unit. Intros went very bad last time, so we are taking things slow this time around. Because the younger rats try burrow under the fleece to hide from the older rats, I don't have any liners/substrate at all in the cage right now. I don't want anyone able to hide from anyone else until they really get their issues worked out. I do have a few smaller pieces of torn up fleece for them to nest with, because it gets cool at night in their room, but it isn't enough for anyone to hide behind.
 

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I use carpet. We had out carpet re-done not too long ago and I got some of the extra. It just calls for a little more when it comes to cleaning. I just use steaming hot water + dish soap to clean it then let it hang outside to dry off. It's too dry where I am for mold to grow on it but I don't know about you. You might need to let to drip for awhile just to become damp then blow dry it?
 

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I use aspen for my DFN, but I also have the levels totally separated. I have a concrete mixing tub on bottom and the scatter guard on top (you get some bedding strewn around since it manages to go under the scatter guard, but if you don't mind sweeping or vacuuming daily it's not that bad). The mixing tub does its job, but I feel like it takes away a lot of space (it was just the cheapest option) since it has sloped sides. If you're going to keep the levels separate and have the money, I'd get bass pans. You'll still need to put something over the shelves, but at least it's less fleece for them to tear up. I typically tuck my fleece around and under the pan then force it back down on the wire frame; this keeps mine from chewing them up...most of the time. The pillow case method would work for that too, but I don't spend the time sewing liners anymore considering they just get chewed. A cheaper option for fleece is big lots where they have $3 fleece throws that will make 2 doubled over shelf liners.
 

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Aspen using the metal pans from Bass (I got the stainless steel 3.5" ones). A mixing tub (cement mixing tub) will also fit, but is taller and not as pretty looking, but is a cheaper option. I only put about 1" of aspen, so there isn't enough to burrow into and hide under.
 

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Ikea should start paying me for the advertisement, given how much I recommend these... but my life wouldn't be the same without Ikea Borris mats! Love them for the boys cage!
 

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$6 per pan. I can't tell you how much shipping was... My husband got them for me for Christmas and called in the order. They don't have the option on their online ordering tool to ask for the extra 1/2". It is worth it though... Hardly any spills out. I ordered 2 "bottom" pans because I have the cage separated, but I want to order one with a cut out so that I can use it as one unit too. The stainless steel ones are very easy to clean and so far haven't rusted, etc.
 

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Ikea should start paying me for the advertisement, given how much I recommend these... but my life wouldn't be the same without Ikea Borris mats! Love them for the boys cage!
I went to Ikea to get three mats. They're 99 cents here; I guess they've gone up. I'm leery about them, as they wouldn't cover all of the tray in my DCN. From the sounds of it, that's not that big a deal. I guess I'll find out. I won't know until this weekend when my wife and I get our new (uncracked) tray and remove the fleece. I can already imagine the skeptical look on her face when I show her the mats. But if it saves on fleece costs, then I'm all for it.
 

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Pity the mats only come in one color and can't be bleached and redyed or something...
 

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Pity the mats only come in one color and can't be bleached and redyed or something...
Yeah, my wife was sad about that too, especially since we were using fleece with really cool skull patterns. We were able to buy them for $5 a yard at Joann's. But the way the fleece was getting chewed was going to get costly, especially since the fleece my wife likes were that cheap because of a sale.

But she cheered up when I told her she can make hammocks and toys for them using the skull fleece.
 

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Yeah, I just got a huge order of fleece since Hancock Fabrics had a 50-75% off sale... maybe I'll make my sets and sell off the extras for cheap since the workmanship tells you that I'm still terrified the sewing machine is going to eat me. XD Or many I'll make plushies... I haven't done that in a while.
 

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If you have trouble with your rats chewing the fleece, it's because they can't get the same burrowing fun and enrichment out of it. Try adding a large/deep digbox into the cage, that will probably help. It feels natural to them and they can dig and burrow. Also maybe stretch a small piece of fleece across one corner of the cage with safety pins just for them to chew on. It could be they love to shred things they aren't supposed to; but more likely they are trying to get that enrichment out of it. You can make a digbox out of a $3 16qt sterilite container from Target, and cut a hole in the top or the side. If you do this instead of having an open top, it will cut down on mess :)
 

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I also have concrete tubs in my Critter Nation, they were pretty cheap! I put Aspen bedding in them and I’ve had barely any spillage of bedding (not counting when my girls shove the bedding out of the bins on purpose).
Link to bottom bin, sorry I couldn’t find the top bin I bought!
 
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