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Discussion Starter #1
I keep reading posts about having limited space for play time, or being afraid of letting ratties free range. Everyone over at Goosemoose knows about the play closet, but I figured that it might help out some of the people over here.

Basically the story goes that I had moved into an apartment with my boyfriend who turned out to be severely allergic to my rats. That meant that I could no longer get them out on the bed or the couch, and I was put into a position where I had a very small amount of space in which they could get exercise and have "out time." I came up with the idea of converting a closet we weren't using into a play area.

The construction began with measuring tape. I measured the dimensions of my closet and then made a trip to Home Depot. I highly recommend Home Depot over Menards or other home project stores because they are reasonably priced, and will cut your wood for you.

I bought a piece of thin plywood and had it cut down to the size of my closet floor. Then I bought individual linoleum tiles with sticky tape on the backs for something like $0.49 a piece. You just peel the sticker away form the back and stick it to the plywood. You can also cut them down if they run over the sides. This a very important part of the play closet, because urine won't soak into the carpet, and your rats won't be able to pull up the carpet and chew on it. If you already have a tiled closet floor, wonderful!

Since the closet was small, I would have to build up in order to create a fun space for the ratties. I wanted to create levels for them to climb and jump up. I bought a shelf that was approximately four feet long and one foot wide, and had the guys at Home Depot cut it into quarters. Then I bought elbow joints and screws, and stopped by a local flooring business for carpet remnants. Using wood glue and carpet cut down to size, I was able to cover the shelves and create a non-slick surface so the rats wouldn't go sliding off when they jumped from level to level.

A Goosemoose member taught me a nifty trick using small bungee cords and Chubes. For cages you simply hook the bungees through the bars and slide the Chube through, creating a suspended tunnel. For my play closet, I bought screws with loops on the ends and mounted the Chube on the wall.

Bird ladders, blankets, pillows, bargain cages picked up at yard sales, kitty furniture and PVC tubes are your best friend.

And now, the finished product. Note, this is the reincarnated play closet after we moved. The original was much smaller. It's also missing the linoleum floor cover because the old one was too small for the new closet, and I've been too lazy to make a new one. :lol:







 

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Wow, that's a work of art! I'm glad i'm able to let my rats roam, but that is the perfect thing for owners that are limited as to where their rats can play!!
 

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yes, that is a wonderful idea. how is it for cleaning though? and would you recommend something like this fr a rat's room instead of a cage? if so or if not, why? what things would you change (if anything) if this was used instead of a cage? (if aplicable)
 

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Discussion Starter #5
twitch said:
yes, that is a wonderful idea. how is it for cleaning though? and would you recommend something like this fr a rat's room instead of a cage? if so or if not, why? what things would you change (if anything) if this was used instead of a cage? (if aplicable)
Cleaning is simple, especially if you've got a linoleum floor. Just take out all of the fabric and wash it routinely. You can wipe down PVC and spare cages with baby wipes for quick cleanings, and soak them in hot water and vinegar/bleach/what have you when they require a more thorough cleaning. Kitty furniture can get a little rank, when urine soaks into the carpet, so I usually replace it every few months.

As far as being a rat's permanent dwelling, I've considered that, and decided that it makes me a little uneasy. The first reason why is figuring out some way to keep them inside. At my old apartment, I would shut the door to their play area, but they were only in there for short periods of time and I was always close by, listening for squeaks of distress or pain. You could shut the door on a permanent home, but that makes me very uneasy because if something happens and a rat is injured, you might not know until the next time you check on them. You could mount a plexiglass or wood half-door, but that requires more construction know-how than I have.

Another concern I'd have is how open it is. With a cage, if a rat falls, they only have about six inches or so to fall. With the set up I have, the highest level is about three and a half feet off of the floor. Granted, I've had rats fall from that height and higher before and be perfectly fine, but still... it's a risk I'm not sure I'd be willing to take. Especially if the closet is in a room that's far away or even on another floor from your bedroom. If someone is injured during the night, again, you might not know for several hours.
 

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on that note of little critters falling down, i wouldn't be worried about it. in a fall, you only accelerate to a certain speed and then you fall at a terminal velocity. so no matter how high you are when you leap out of an airplane, you will only ever fall at one speed (unless you gain like 80 pounds, etc, lol). terminal velocity depends on your weight and surface area, so it's been proven (i don't want to know how) that mice, hedgehogs, rats, squirrels, etc, will almost always survive a fall at terminal velocity (people can't because we are too big). unless they crack their domes open on something pokey, a simple fall shouldn't hurt them. :D i am a foutain of useless information.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Physics 101 or no, I still wouldn't want my 26-month-old manrat with hind end problems to fall 3 feet onto a hard surface. Call me crazy.
 

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what about replacing the solid wood door with an outside screen door then make sure the screen is metal (perhaps the door as well) then maybe change the set-up to prevent long falls? that might work if you wanted to make it permanent. i think my main concern would be making sure they can't escape. as far as not knowing when they get hurt i don't think that would be any different then in a cage, depending on where you keep the cage i suppose. maybe lining the walls with mirrors would make cleaning there easier as well. i know i LOVE having mirrors behind my cage for that reason (MUCH easier to clean the wall-no paint coming off or getting pee stuck in cracks). do you replace the carpet on the levels as well or do you find they don't get that bad? and if you do how to you get them off the platform (i believe you said you glued them down). would velcro work to keep the mats down or is it not strong enough? also, so you find that they chew the carpet on the platform much? and where can you find cheap cat tower-y things? even the small ones seem a bit pricy to me to be throwing out every few months.

sorry if any of this comes off wrong, its just that your idea is really quite neat and though i know i will not be able to do it myself for quite a while the thought of giving my rats a room (even a closet) is very palitable to me. so i'm trying to figure out the pros and cons of it all and see if there would be a way for it too work.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Replacing the screen door with one made from hardware cloth (I think that's what it's called... metal, little squares, similar to cage material) is a good idea. You'd just have to be more handy than I am.

The carpet on the levels really doesn't get that stinky. What I do is dilute some Anti-Icky-Poo and put it in a spray bottle and then spray the carpet and let it dry. I tried velcro in the old closet, and let me tell you, the glue on the back of the velcro tape is like gold to rats. Mine hung upside down just to chew on it!

You can get small, one-level kitty condos at Wal-Mart for around $10. Big Lots also usually has good deals. Someone even told me that Target has a cat gym for under $20.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
P.S. - I know I'm paranoid about wanting to know when something happens to one of my rats, but I had a very bad experience that made me a little more cautious. I'd been up reading one night, and kept the rat's cage in the second bedroom that I was using as a computer/study room. I suddenly heard screaming... not squeaking, screaming coming from the second bedroom and ran down the hallway to find Gracie with her head stuck between the bars of the cage.

I managed to hold her still with one hand while I worked her head loose with the other, all the while she was screaming bloody murder. Within minutes her whole face swelled up and I had to make an ibuprofren suspension on the fly until I could get her to the vet the next day. Ever since then I've wondered: "What would've happened if I'd been asleep with the door shut?"

By the way, that was a ferret cage with 1" x 1.5" bar spacing that I bought from Petsmart. I ordered a Martin's R-695 that night, at 1am.
 

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JulesMichy said:
Replacing the screen door with one made from hardware cloth (I think that's what it's called... metal, little squares, similar to cage material) is a good idea. You'd just have to be more handy than I am.
no, that's too big (for whay i was thinking of) and would be hard to apply to a metal door. the thing i was thinking of is a screen but instead of plastic its made of metal of some sort. i just can't remember the name for it at the momment. reachforthestars has it lining the outside of her FN cage. and my dad put it in the patio door after he got tired of having to replace the screen so much with the dogs and cats scratching at it. it goes in just like any other screen so, so long as the door is made to hold a screen then it shouldn't be too hard to put in. heck, you might even be able to buy one with it in it already. and if the door is the right size (and the closet has a swing door instead of a slide) then it would just be a matter of screwing the old door off the hinges and using the same hinges screw in the new door. i guess if it was a sliding door set-up you have the patio screen doors would work the same way. i guess the ease or difficulty would all depend on the set-up you have.

i've heard a rat scream before (she was terrified) its not a pleasent sound at all. adn it scared the crud out of me too. to find your rat then in such trouble... i can see why you wuld be pariniod. but how could you fix it so that you would always be there? you must have thought of it. what did you do to put your mind at rest even just a little?
 

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Of course I can't be there all the time. I have work and classes, just like anyone else. But I do try to minimize anything that would prevent me from knowing when something happens when I am home. I started sleeping with my bedroom door open at night, and when we were living at the apartment I kept their cage in the living room where I could easily hear them moving around from any room in the apartment.
 

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If you dont mind me asking JulesMichy... how much in all did it cost you to do this with your closet??
cuz i was ganna set up a rat place for TempleTon in my closet.. i didnt have the idea of the shelves on the wall but thanks that helps :) Actually thats not a bad idea. maybe ill find the nearest depot and se what i can do, i just hope you dont mind me taking a couple of your ideas...? although my closets set under the atick stairs so it might be a little harder for me to desighn. if you have any tips youd like to share please let me know.
 

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Alyssa - can you make your closet 100% escape proof? Considering the fact that both Alyssa and Templeton are intact, you really need to take extra measures to keep them away from each other.
 

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*sigh* Ok ill say it again...
"I was ganna set up a rat place FOR TempleTon in my closet."

I figured since TempleTons cage is much smaller than Alyssas Id put him in the closet till I get another cage(s). Alyssa can live in her cage till I get her a bigger one, but im worried about TempleTon in his cage... and I was told ((i cant remember by who)) that the closet would make a good temp. home.
And also yes I can make my closet 100% exscape proof, hey im good at this stuff... you know I turned a computer monitor into a cage for my Opossum, and it worked great.
 

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I think the terminal velocity rule might be for all rats exept frail elderly :)
what a fab closet, i could do some thinglike that with an old cupbord 9exept for the chew factor!
 

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Physics 101 or no, I still wouldn't want my 26-month-old manrat with hind end problems to fall 3 feet onto a hard surface. Call me crazy.
right, of course. what i meant, and i think i actually said it, is that unless there are other problems to consider (like age), a *simple* fall won't hurt them. :p and it was physics 241, thank you. :D
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Alyssa_Rat said:
If you dont mind me asking JulesMichy... how much in all did it cost you to do this with your closet??
cuz i was ganna set up a rat place for TempleTon in my closet.. i didnt have the idea of the shelves on the wall but thanks that helps :) Actually thats not a bad idea. maybe ill find the nearest depot and se what i can do, i just hope you dont mind me taking a couple of your ideas...? although my closets set under the atick stairs so it might be a little harder for me to desighn. if you have any tips youd like to share please let me know.
Hmm, all in all, probably around $50? That includes the toys that were in there, not just the supplies. Granted, I had a lot of them already.

Of course I don't mind you using my ideas. That's why I posted this! :D

Tips just include making sure you go through and mark with a pencil where you want the shelves and everything before you start screwing things into place. I ended up removing a piece of mounted PVC pipe because it was too heavy to be securely supported by my bungee cords, and it left huge holes in the wall... which I quickly discovered, the smell of freshly drilled wood is like crack for ratties, and they had fun chewing those holes until the day we moved.

Spackle is your best friend, for renters considering this. I went through with sandpaper and some putty and filled in all of the holes before we moved out. I got my full deposit back.
 

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I think an old cupboard with the door replaced with wire would be good. You would need to cut a hole in the shelves the create ladders between floors and cover most surfaces with lino so it could be cleaned. If you get anything old and woodend give it a good clean I recon wood might harbour plenty bugs.
 

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nice, thanks for telling me JulesMichy. Also i have this sorta hanging 4 shelf net thing in my closet ((its the only thing in it)) and i thought id be too high for Templeton to reach but he does... so would it work if i maybe let him have the bottom shelf as a hammock for whan hes in the closet??

I guess i can start making plans to start my closet project.. how tall should the door part be??
 
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