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: