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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've seen some videos about rabbit sheds recently, and I was a bit inspired to maybe try something like it for my rats after seeing some of them snooze in the sun during a car ride. They currently live in a wooden shed that my dad built in the backyard (my mom is terrified of them and the shed was already a fight. They were originally going to be in my room, then it was the living room, then it was the den, now they've got the nifty house). I was wondering if anyone had any ideas to rig up an outdoor space that they could get and out of when they wanted, like an aviary attached to the shed or something. That way they could do some sunbathing when they wanted and if it got too cold or windy for their liking, they could go back into the shed. Any ideas?
 

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Could you concrete or pave an area for an extension? Then enclose it in mesh? That's all I can think of at the moment :)
 

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Whilst I think it’s a nice idea for rats to be able to play outside when the weathers good (but not too hot) I wouldn’t want them to have access all the time. Unlike Rabbits they don’t moult into winter coats, and they are just not designed to spend the amount of time outside that rabbits do (in the wild rabbits spend a good chunk of there day grazing, rats forage but ultimately for a limited time spell and tend to stick indoors to eat).

With this you get issues that at the extremes of temperature rats could easily get themselves into trouble, particularly if they get very wet, or too hot (actually heat is generally more dangerous to them than cold). If you add the tendency for unwell rats to try and get away from the group I could see it ending badly.

Instead I’d look at possibly a tall run that you can go into too (needs to be covered with mesh all round, including the floor, or it needs something solid under foot). I would also cover it, so a perspex roof, and perhaps one side. This will limit the amount of rain and wind its exposed to. Then I would either use it as a free range space, or have a flap (needs to be metal or none chewable) that they can go through into it, if you latch it open. That way if the weather is good (but not too hot) you can open it up for them.

You’d also need to be very confident the enclosure was secure. That means metal around edges and chew spots, decent mesh (chicken wire or hexagonal mesh is not going to last long, you want decent ideally coated weld mesh of 1x2cm or less).

Is this the first yaer you’ve had a rat shed? If so be careful over winter to keep the temperature in there above 10 degree’s (you can get cheap digital thermometers that tell you the minimum and maximum temps) and don’t let it get above high 20’s – 30 degrees C. You may need to insulate it. My girls get kept in an outbuilding and it is useful, but you do need to protect them from it being too cold or warm.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
This is the end of the first year that they've been in the shed. I typically have to worry more about heat than cold. I have an A/C that turns on automatically if the temperature goes about 80F. I have a footwarmer/radiator that keeps a portion of the cage warm, and lots of fleece in the winter. I keep them on aspen shavings as well.

I wouldn't let them have free access to the outdoor area. I'd prefer to keep it to when I could supervise them or when weather was nice out (AKA, not too cold, hot, rainy, or windy).

For the mesh, should I use PVC coated galvanized wire? What is perspex? What kind of metal should I line the edges with?
 

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So I took my rat outside and decided to relax on a big rock in the sunshine... I put the rat on the ground to frolic in the grass... but instead I started to see dirt flying out from under the rock I was sitting on.... Lots of dirt... in about 5 minutes the rat had disappeared under the rock, a couple of minutes later the tail was gone and in about 15 minutes she had dug a den under the rock large enough to put my whole forearm and hand into...

Rats are digging machines! The front paws work like tunnel borers and the rear paws kick out the dirt. In under half an hour a rat can dig a large enough den to be ready for furnishing.... So keep that in mind when designing your enclosure or you're more likely to find your rats in your house rather than theirs.

Best luck.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I was either going to do this on cement or on dirt with a 1/2"x1/2" mesh laid down on it.
 

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Perspex is transparent plastic sheeting, not sure what it's called in the US. I would go for the plastic coated galvanised mesh unless you can find a good powder coated mesh as that's much tougher
 
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