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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Just wondering now that summers coming upon us, I use to keep my ratties in a cooled basement but moved and in order to keep them safe and happy what temperature should I try to keep my house at? I really don't want to invest in air conditioning unless I have to but we have many fans and none that blow directly at their cages. When is the temperature considered too hot for rats though? If I need to invest in air conditioning for the sake of my girls I'll definitely look into it but again I'd rather not.
 

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Rats don't sweat so fans are of marginal or no value... I pretty much set 83 degrees at the top of the safe range, but at that point rats are already pretty lethargic. I'd set the A/C for 80 or less.

Remember in nature rats go underground when it gets too hot or cold. They can't do that in your house.
 

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I wonder if you could build an ice box.

I'm not a very handy man, so please excuse me if I make something not so simple sound simple.

Say you put down a metal pan. You put ice cubes in that pan. You place a grille on top of the pan. Cover the whole thing with a plastic tub. When you head out for the day, put new ice in the pan. That way, there's a nice cool spot for rats to seek out when they get too hot. It's not quite the same as digging, but it may work. If it's heavy enough, then the rats won't tip over the water. If the grill is high enough, the rats won't damage themselves by touching the ice, though they may appreciate the opportunity to lick the ice.

Just a thought. Not sure how much such a contraption would cost, but it ought to be cheaper than air-conditioning.
 

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I'm loathe to endorse home-brewed kluges and Rube Goldberg solutions when animals lives are at stake (except for life and death emergencies).... I once worked in a food plant that used a monster swamp cooler to refrigerate perishable foods and it was amazing how well that worked, but building a swamp cooler takes some engineering know how too. Moving your rats into a cool basement might work, but I'd hate to be stuck at work for a double shift knowing my ice was melting fast because it was over 100 degrees outside.

Plus anything you build would need to be properly tested over time, preferably without putting rats at risk while you do your testing. Setting something up and going to work, means you aren't there when it fails and that's never a good plan.

In college 5 of my roommates were engineers, and I designed lots of things they built, some worked, some didn't, but the one think I learned for sure is you can't predict which ones will and which won't in advance. More often than not it took a few tried to get something to work right... unfortunately with overheated rats you only have one chance to get it right the first time.

Best luck
 

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Buy some big tiles (some type of stone), and you can place them in their cage, that will give them a place to lay down that's a bit cooler than their shelves. You could also refrigerate the tiles and swap them out around the hottest part of the day, just so they stay nice and cool. You could also, get a wet towel, drape it over part of the cage, and put a fan blowing at the towel, that might cool it off a bit.
 

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The wet towel and fan is sort of the swamp cooler concept. I fooled around a bit with some drawings but came up with some serious shortcomings having to do with mold and humidity saturation long before it significantly cooled a room. Building the swamp cooler outdoors and piping in chilled water might be cheaper than normal air conditioning. The commercial swamp cooler I saw was over 50 feet long and about 25 feet high ran multiple water cascades, had huge fans and monster pumps It did however chill a huge space in a warehouse. The thing was constructed in the 1950's and was still running in the 1980's It was maintained by a staff of plumbers. I assume it was cheaper to maintain than to replace, but I haven't seen another one on this scale ever or since. Exactly how much money you would save cooling a single room I suppose would depend on how much it would cost you to build or buy one of these things. I actually think there are still some being commercially made and installed for residential use despite their association with legionaries disease.

Honestly, a cheap or even free A/C unit from a friends basement or garage sale or craigs list or even home depot is your safest bet. Yes it will cost some electricity, but at least you can go to work and short of a blackout, know your rats are safe. Most truly bad plans start out with good intentions to save a few bucks.

Actually if money wasn't the object, I'm sure you could cook up a really nifty climate controlled rat habitat, so your rats could be comfy while you sweat watching them through the glass, but that would defeat the purpose of saving money.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Yah I actually looked into the cost of air conditioning and it's not that bad. It's mostly the electrical costs but I think if I only used it when necessary it might be ok. I honestly don't think the idea of homemade things would work super well because I work long shifts sometimes and I think even a wet towel would probably be dry by the time I came home on the really warm days. I like the idea of getting tiles though. I figure maybe if I have those they'd help on days when it starts off cool and then warms up a bit but not to the point when ud really need an air conditioner on.
 

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Actually the black rat, R. rattus is more of a tropical species and lives in warmer climates. As the rat fancy becomes more popular in warmer areas, I can see a real future for these guys as furry friends. They are not typically easily available, but there was a time that they almost became the fancy rat. For better or worse brown rats won out, but history continues to be written.

If you live in a hot area, black rats are an option that might save you on A/C.
 

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Here in the desert, we have pretty much nothing but swamp coolers which are great unless there's the slightest bit of humidity outside; you might as well just not have any sort of air conditioning at all at that point. It will get as hot or hotter in the house as it is outside, so on days like that, I have a stash of water bottles that I've filled with water and frozen (you can also use glass jars if you're afraid of chewing). It's a quick, easy fix and I've never had any of them seem bothered by the heat. My general rule of thumb is one bottle/jar per rat since all of them trying to huddle around one bottle will likely just make them even more hot.
 

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I live in Canada, and my bedroom is in a basement that's much colder then the upstairs environment, so I haven't had to deal with ratties over heating in their cages, in fact, I usually have the opposite issue. It's June and I am worried about my rats being too cold because I have to wear a blanket at night or else I'm too cold!

I know that rats control heat through their ears and tail though, so fans actually are said to help, and to not set to too high or they'll actually get too cold.

Putting a water bottle in the freezer, (a glass air tight container would actually be better because of curious rat chewing,) then wrapping the frozen bottle in a towel and putting in the cage is highly suggested on other forums. Ice cubes in a small dish of water is said to help because they can play and lick the ice cubes, as well as dip their tails in the dish. Frozen veggies in a dish of water are fun AND cooling, and many people use frozen peas.

Large, flat rocks and ceramics are cool to the touch very quickly, and rats like to lay on them, and Teracota actually pulls heat from the rats, cooling them down when they lay on it.

People suggested misting the rats with a spray bottle every now and then, but even misting their cage would be a good idea because the evaporating water takes heat with it, cooling everything down. I don't know if misting the rats themselves frequently is a good idea because if they are damp for long periods of time, they can develop infections in their skin, like wet tail and swamp foot, but maybe a light mist or two in the a afternoon will evaporate off their fur, taking away heat, with out them being damp all day. Moderation is key, I guess.

Keep the cage away from windows. Yes, sunlight is nice and vitamins and stuff, but sitting in dirrect sunlight will cook your ratties, but being near an open window with out the sun hitting the cage would help. (if you don't have AC. if you do, you're letting all the cold out and costing yourself money lol.)

Place them as low as they can go! What I mean is, if you have a basement that isn't extremely dusty, leave the cage down their during the day and bring them back up at night, (if it's cold at night like it is here.) Garages can be misleading! You may think the garage is the perfect place for rattie, but not all garages are cool, in fact, some turn into ovens that are worse then leaving them in the sun! Until you know your garage's temperatures during different times of day, I suggest only leaving ratty in their if you are in there, in case your garage is cold at 9, but by 11:30 the sun hits it and turns it into a ratty bake oven.

MAKE SURE YOUR RAT HAS CONSTANT ACCESS TO WATER. This seems obvious, but especially needs to be watched for in the summer. You never know if your ratties run out of water while your at work and aren't checked on for 4 hours. Normally, that's not too bad and you can just fill it and they are fine, but in the summer, they drink more because of the heat and can become dehydrated easily.
 
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