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I am still learning about rats. I've decided I'm getting a Savic Royale cage and now I need to find out what stuff I can and can't put in there. Is there a general guide, or advice I can get from you guys? I'm guessing there are materials I need to avoid, what are they?
 

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Probably the most important thing is bedding. You might not know, but having the right bedding in your cage is really REALLY important. Don't ever use cedar or pine shavings as bedding. I know it's tempting because it makes their cage smell nice, but that exactly the reason you shouldn't use it. The smell is just too strong for them, and it can really mess with their respiratory system. No clay cat litter either, it's too dusty. And no corn cob bedding (unless you plan on changing it every couple of days), because it rots really quickly when it gets wet.

Better choices for bedding would be aspen shavings (no strong smells like cedar and pine), Carefresh bedding (sold in most pet stores), pelleted paper-based bedding (i.e. Yesterday's News cat litter), shredded paper (just make sure if you do it yourself the ink is vegetable or soy based!), or another really popular method is to use fleece. Currently, I use shredded newspaper so I can't tell you much about it, but there are TONS of threads on how to make and use fleece liners on here. :)
 

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Rats also LOVE hides and hammocks. You can buy a lot of hides at the pet store, just make sure you get ones that are big enough for when your rats grow up (assuming they're babies now)! You can also make your own out of plastic bowls/containers, PVC pipes, cardboard boxes, etc.

Hammocks can also be found at the pet store (usually being marketed towards ferrets, but they work fine for rats too). You can also find them online, or make them yourself! There are lots of tutorials out there. Also, a lot of rat rescues make hammocks and use them to raise money. I get all of my hammocks from our rescue, and they're really well made.

Some rats also like wheels, but that's kind of hit and miss. Girls are more likely to use them I hear, but again, not all of them. If you do get one, make sure you get one that's big enough for an adult rat. It should be large enough that their spines don't curve when they're on it.

You can also buy parrot ladders and hang them in the cage, or use rope dog toys. Ratties love to climb!

If you're looking for ideas for homemade toys/cage accessories, this is a really awesome website I use all the time: http://www.dapper.com.au/toys.htm
 

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Aspen bedding is a pain to get hold of in the UK, hemp however is similar and probably a little better. I like hemp and card (I think I mentioned in your other post). Check out www.ratrations.co.uk for both, I'd get a few bags of different types and see what you like best, the postage is a pain but if you get a decent amount alongside some of there lovely food then it works out pretty good (and if your near Norfolk you could hit there shop). Once you've found the one that suits you best then let me know and i'll let you know where the cheapest place to buy in bulk online is. Alternatively look for horse and farm suppliers locally, they often have bales of aubiose, greenmile, ecobed etc cheap (1 bale being more than big enough to last a typical SRS 3-6 months.

I mentioned in another post but UK wise you want to hit;

Ikea; Tie hanger (lots of loops of plastic in a massive cargo net style), there plastic bag storer (a brilliant rat sized tunnel) and the kids selection of hanging boxes and netting things for very cheap toys

Scarletts parrots - excellent range of perches, parrot toys etc, if your feeling flush some of the foraging toys are great at challenging your rats

Ratrations - good range of perches, ropes, accessories and toys

Petplanet or similar - for a silent spinner wheel (12")

Your or your friends gardens for some rat safe branches (aim for edible fruit or nut tree's, scrub well and leave to dry for a good couple of weeks), I've used ash, oak, cherry, apple, birch, beech and probably some others before.

B and Q for plant pots (great rat nest boxes), garden wire (can be used to hang anything up) and maybe some bamboo canes or dowling for extra climbing fun

Charity shops for kids hats, wine racks and rat safe kids toys

Here's some pics for ideas (bearing in mind mine is a triple, the bottom 2 sections is a normal srs)




one section


lots more photos here http://s170.photobucket.com/user/jnfettes/library/cages?sort=3&page=1
 

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I find it fun to make my own stuff or use unconventional things. The dollar stores here are great for stuff. I use hand towels, wash clothes and bath towels to line my cage. I have three sets now and change them out weekly. My cage doesn't smell at all. I do poopie patrol twice a day. My favorite thing I have gotten so far was some pipe and pipe fittings at Lowe's. I have a curved pipe fitting with a straight pipe and another pipe fitting. I have it so that the curve points up and the rats pop out. Paper tubes and shredded paper are fun but messy. I think the home made hammocks are the best because they are made by you for your rats. YouTube has lots of how to videos. Let us see when you decide!
 
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