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Alright, so the time has come for a new rat cage.
I currently have the rat manor from Petco and 3 adult females that get along very well.
I've decided to get a new cage just because I've had this one for several years and it's starting to rust a good bit.

I've heard a lot of good things about the critter nation and I was thinking about getting the double level. I know it's a lot of space for my three girls, but I plan to make the most out of it and I love the idea of them having so much room to run and play. Besides, I plan to add to my mischief in the future. If I got this cage, I'd want to litter train my babies and I don't know how tough this will be. I would want to add fleece liners since the bottom tray is so shallow. It'd be a lot of work and a lot of money for accessories and toys to fill up the empty space, but I think that in all it'll definitely be well worth it. One problem that I do face, though, is that one of my girls is always chewing on the cage bars and I'm worried about her teeth. They have plenty of wooden blocks, mineral blocks, branches, and sponge-like toys for their teeth.

Another option that I was thinking of was having a word-worker custom build one for me. This way they'd still have plenty of space, but I could have it built how I want it; for example, I could have them add removable shelves so it's easier to clean or a hole for their food dish. I'd also want to have fleece lining and litter train my girls with this one, as well. But I'm worried about having a wooden cage since I know that rats will still pee anywhere and if the wood gets ruined or stinky, there's no way to get the smell out. Plus, I heard that the ventilation in wooden cages aren't that great. But it would be nice to have a cage custom built how I want it and I think it would just look prettier in my living room than a cage with bars, but I'm worried that my girls might chew right through it.

Overall, I'm just wondering your opinions on this.
Should I go with the critter nation or is there something even better out there?

I would also appreciate any tips for litter training, my girls poop EVERYWHERE.
And any tips for switching to fleece liners, accessories ideas, and trying to get my one girl to stop chewing on the bars.


Also, time for cute rats pics.
Rat Cage Muridae Gerbil Animal shelter Cage Net Bird Metal Rat Muridae Muroidea Gerbil Mouse
 

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The Critter Nation is really a great cage. It's easy to clean and decorate. I had three cages before I got a Ferret Nation because the Critter Nation hadn't been developed yet, and as soon as I saw that the Critter Nation was available, I bought one. I highly recommend it.

Some people have had success with Bitter Apple or other chewing deterrents. I have 4 litter boxes in mine. I put them at the bottoms of the ladders. My cage has extra shelves. If your rats have places that they usually use, putting litter boxes in those places helps.
 

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Hey! I know critter nation cages are fantastic but I've never had one (including shipping to Australia, a double unit would be like $550-$800). I can however say that if you're worried about the wood in a custom cage, you could cover it with sticky book covering, either patterned or clear. Then just wipe clean!

To keep your rats from chewing the bars, you could use a chew deterrent, and then just cover some of the chew toys in a really thin layer of smooth peanut butter. Rats love that stuff, haha.

Also, for litter training, good luck! It can take anywhere from one week to 6 months, but on the occasion you can get rats who take to it immediately or not at all. I'd suggest a litter pan with a grate over it, and buy a litter that doesn't look like bedding OR their food. I used to use carefresh but I heard they changed the recipe to include sodium bicarbonate which can be really bad for a rats respiratory system.

Anyway, just pick a corner of the cage that your ratties usually poop/pee in, and put the litter box there. Then, whenever you see waste that's outside of the pan, pick it up and put it in the pan. Make sure to do this with the grate off at first, and after they start pooping in the box on their own, you can add it in. I've heard from some people that their rats won't poop if there's a grate on top, but I haven't had this issue.

The grates main purpose is to keep the rats from sitting in, sleeping in, standing in, eating, or eventually storing food in the litter. I was using a ball litter meant for small pets, but it looked like their food so they started pulling it out and eating it. Then I used shredded plain paper, but they ate that too! I finally settled on carefresh bedding, which they tried sleeping on, but stopped after I introduced the grate.

Unfortunately I'm back to shredded paper until I find something else, which means I have to pull it out of their cage frequently because they like to play with it too much.

Try not to change around the type of litter too much, haha. The rats will get confused as to where they should poop.

And just try to mix around the litter a couple times in between cleaning, so the litter can absorb the poop smell and it won't smell as much. Some rats will tell you when it's too dirty (my girls start pooping outside of the box after 4-6 days, so I change it then) but usually just change the litter/clean the box whenever you clean the cage.

I'm a bit long winded, but I hope I helped!
 

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The DCN was on sale from amazon for under $180 in the US recently, you might want to check that out as they change their prices often and that is a great price for that cage. I have 2 DCNs and I ordered metal Bass pans to use so that I could keep using litter. I never had luck with Fleece, as it would start to smell within about 3 days after changing it... even with absorbent liners. Some people also use cement mixing tubs from hardware stores in their DCNs, but these sometimes have to be cut down to fit and are quite tall.

The shelves in the DCN are movable, to an extent, and I have ever just taken them out and used hammocks and extra climbing things in their place.

Just be aware that a DCN is big... I am 5'1" and it is taller than me. They are on casters and can be rolled, but are heavy and would be a pain to deal with if you live in an apartment upstairs, etc.

I would be wary of a wooden cage... You would have to thoroughly stain / waterproof / seal it so taht urine wouldn't soak in and they would also be able to chew it. Martin's makes metal cages and can customize their designs... They are expensive as you have to get the powder-coated version to prevent rust and shipping is steep, but they would allow you to customize where you want shelves, where to put doors, etc.

I used to have the rat manor too and it was a nightmare to clean... the pee would get soaked into the rusted areas and smell horribly. It is easier to clean the DCN, but takes longer due to size. Something you may want to consider if you are looking to cut furnishing costs is to only furnish half the cage and split it using a bottom tray in the middle... I did this for a while. It allowed me to furnish one cage and when it got dirty, prep the bottom half, then move the rats down there and I'd have plenty of time to clean the top while they enjoyed the bottom half of the cage. This worked very well for me and made cleaning easier. Plus, half a DCN is still huge and about 2x the size (or probably more like 3-4x) of a rat manor.
 

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I second getting a litter pan with a grate. I opted for the ferret sized pan (I have a Rat Manor also, it fits well but to clean it you will need to take apart the cage) and took out all of the substrate except what was in the litter pan. After adding the litter box I religiously put their raisins -poo- in the pan. Really, at least three times a day do this. Shinji thought I'd gone mad but after a week he finally decided to help the human and deposit his refuse there and save me the hassle. When I change their litter I also keep a bit of the old and pour it over the top to act as a scent beacon. Don't get discouraged, Sousuke was a day one loo man but as mentioned Shinji took aa fair bit longer.

Something odd about my gents, and possibly of importance?? I change fleece and do a santize wash on the litter box and food/water stuff every three days. If I am off by a day they will not use the litter box. Dunno why but it merited typing.
 
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