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To keep Mamma, my hairless rat, warm when I first rescued her I put her in an old tank that my brother used to keep his snake in. It's got plenty of space, 18"Dx36"Wx20"H(might be taller, not certain about the height) and flexwatt tape wrapped around the base(there's also a thermostat to regulate the heat so it doesn't get too hot). The heat tape is why I put her in there because my house is chilly in the winter(I can't sleep with it too warm so turning up the heat isn't really an option). I know that glass tanks have ventilation issues though, so I ordered wire mesh to construct a topper. It was a bit more labor intensive than I was expecting but I managed to construct a topper that gave the cage two extra levels and an extra 24" of height! Plus all the ventilation the ratties could need. This cage is also ideal because it fits right in the corner behind my closet door with room enough to open it up so it doesn't take up much space in my room despite its size.

But I've been reading about homemade rat cages and saw that galvanized wire actually absorbs the smell of the rat urine and begins to stink after a while! Noooooo! I haven't started to notice much odor coming from the wire yet but with roommates already concerned that Mamma is going to "stink up the house", I want to nip this issue before it gets a chance to become a problem.

So with that said, could I possibly paint/spray paint the wire with something that will keep it from absorbing the smell of the urine? If I do, is there a certain length of time I should wait before I put it back on the tank? Would vinegar help keep the smell out?
 

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It takes a while for the zinc coating to break down, but it does happen eventually. Not to mention it will get rusty and flaky and gross. You can paint it, but the paint might not adhere well to the galvanized coating. I don't really know for sure. Here's a post I made recently on painting Bass pans (which are galvanized steel as well)

You are looking for an enamel based paint that does not contain zinc, lead, or chromate, and is advertised to bond with metal. Bonus points if it's labeled low/no VOC, non toxic, or child safe. I think the Rust-Oleum enamel paint is called Stops Rust protective enamel. It comes in as a spray or in a can - it's down to preference.


- Sand the pans with a fairly coarse grade sandpaper or wire brush, outside with a mask/glasses on.
- Scrub with soap and water, and rinse clean. Dry well.
- Prime, if desired - I'm not sure about the toxicity of enamel primers, you'd have to do a bit more searching.
- Paint, applying in thin layers and allowing time to dry in between coats. Take your time with this step.
- Vent outside or in an area with good airflow for at least a week to allow to gas off. Wash once more before placing in cage.
 
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