© 2016 by Raining Rats Rattery created by Jessica Wright

Cage Dressing...

What works for me.. examples of how I dress my cages:

Fleece liners: Fleece is best when it is anti-pill and only works best when paired with something else. Fleece is nice because it will not frey. Fleece is made to draw moisture away, it just needs to be drawn to something else to absorb like a textile blanket. I like to use normal plain fleece pillowcase liners on my CN pans then over top that I have a flannel pad that is flannel and textile blanket sandwiched between then sewn for strength.  This allows for a top layer, to pull through to the textile layer.

I also use fleece liners with the textile blanket sewn in place. but then layer, always layer...

 

There are many, many ways and opinions on how one must dress a cage for optimal smell control and cleanliness. Here I just list through my many years of owning rats what works for us here.

When thinking just how bad your rat may smell take a moment to think of our most common pets.. the dog and the cat just think if Fido didn't have that yard to dig in, pee, in POO in. If our dogs lived in small cages... they would begin to smell too! We all know cats will poop in a box... that smell up a bathroom right?? 

When you live with animals not of our own species (ha even some of our own) they are going to smell different. We either work with them and try and find what works for us or do not have the animal. 

For my bass pans or pans and non Critter Nation cages I like to sprinkle some pine pellet on the bottom of the cage pan. Then on top of this 1 pad a fleece pad (fleece, textile blanket, fleece sewn shut) then the cage smash this down and leaves me with a fresh fleece bottom. 

How to keep those liner put!? It is so very frustrating to have these wonderful liners that look fantastic going into the cage only to have the little boogers under the pads against the plastic with in hours of cleaning. What I do to remedy this is 1. Use layers (scraps and blankets), and have cubes for them to go in and under and push around. 2. Pin those suckers down best I can, using binder clips, grommets and hooks, or cable-ties. If you have a metal tray or no tray you can use a heavy duty magnet - I spoke with a Vet about this and it will have no ill effect on the animal at all. 3. Cooling tiles and pavers have dual uses. Leaving liner put and also for cooling and allowing 

Layers: Always layer!! I always create layers for my cages. Rats LOVE to root around in things. They are going to do it if you allow them to or if you do not want them to (HA) They need to nest. So I give them something to always nest in. 

Things like: 

Fleece, scraps

Cardboard boxes

Old hammocks/liners they may have already holed up

paper towels and Toilet paper (though these will need changed often)

Root Blankets (made to match that weeks theme of cage HA)

*I do not suggest towels and or fabrics that may fray. Little toes can get stings around their toes or tails. This can be very dangerous. 

Litter boxes.. I use huge baking pans. I find these to be chew proof, and easy to clean. They are lower lipped so even lazy Males are more likely to actually use them ;)

In these litter boxes I use pine pellets and or a mix of rabbit food. I like to have one on each ledge for young rats, you can move to less once they are older and potty trained.

Pee Rock: Sounds silly right?? Rats LOVE to pee on rock. I am sure they are just marking them but hey if it works right? Also the rock works as a way to keep the box put. I like to use just a broken paver. Flat, I then switch them with each cleaning and bleach the old and let the sun take over baking away the yuck.

Baskets: I like to offer plastic baskets for lil ones to use as a cleaning post, place to nap or spot to view you better :) Just make sure that the holes are small enough a rat can not get their face through where they can become stuck.

Chews : Rats teeth will continue to grow. This means you need to provide them something to keep those teeth trim. I love to offer wood ledges as sort of a dual use. Napping ledge, chewing post. Make sure your ledge is free of glue, and is only made from kiln dried pine or pet safe woods. 

Hides and Hammocks: Also offer a muggle spot to sleep. I like to offer one area per rat, or two rats. Rats LOVE to cuddle together but I also notice they like to go off and have a good nap alone at times too. 

This is a basic version of how I dress my cages.... I clean every week. This may include a spot clean (switch layer blankets and wipe down bars and switch litter box substrate) a basic clean (switch out hammocks and wipe bars, woods, switch litter box substrate and liners) or major clean involves removing all items and power washing and disinfecting.

Amonia build up comes from a dirty cage. This is harmful to your rats respiratory system. There for you want to make sure you launder your items. 

Substrates and litters:  

*KILN DRIED PINE - Is fine. so long as your lil' one isn't living in a tank of small container.

*ASPEN - I LOVE aspen. It smells wonderful, it keeps things fresh. It is however so dang messy! With any wood/paper  bedding you run the risk of mites.

*I HATE CAREFRESH!! - I do not care if its the white, purple, cozy, free and clean or whatever it all smells horrible once it is wet, so ultimately it has a short lifespan, and top it all off most are horribly dusty. 

*CLEAN OFTEN but! NOT TOO OFTEN - Rats mark various ways, most of the time they will rub and a sent on their fresh clean cage to claim as their own. If you clean their cage too often they will just do this more often. Once a week should suffice fine. I do a DEEP CLEAN about once ever 2 months. This means I pull all toys, hammocks, hides and such and wash and dry in the sun. I spray down the cage as well and dry it in the sun. 

*CORN COBB - This stuff is light weight so flys up out of the cage easy, but is good order control. But will also mold very easy. 

*RABBIT FOOD - Yep! Rabbit food! I find the cheapest of cheap rabbit food, has a great smell and is great at absorbing urine. I use this in my rats litter boxes. 

*Pine Pellets - Great stuff as its heavy, won't get tossed around to too much. and absorbs well. I use this in my ,litter boxes here for my guys.

Cages: 

Cages can be tricky there are SO many option out there and which one is best? Seems everyone has their own opinion but here is what I have found over my many years of rat ownership. 

Critter Nation: My most favorite! 

Single Unit stable for 2-4 rats

Double Unit for 2-8 rats

Pros: HUGE doors - you can shove tons in :)

          Great size

          Sturdy heavy duty

Cons:Heavy - so hard to roll to clean

           Hollow design, can rust over time

           HUGE (also can be a con sometimes

           Plastic low trays can be a mess and they can chew

Found ALL over, Amazon, Chewy any place pet supplies are commonly sold. 

Exotic Nutrition:

2-Level for 2-4 rats

4-Level for 4-6 rats 

Pros: ALL metal! wonderful construction

         Great size

Cons: One door, one side

           Shelf cleaning can be difficult

Link: Exotic Nutrition

Martins Cages

R-690 for 2-3 Rats

R-695 for 2-5 Rats

Pros: Lightweight, easy to toss into the shower

          sits inside pan

Cons: more cage like - ugly

            while doors are larger they are still pain

Link: Martins Cages

Prevue Hendryx Earth tone dusted rose chinchilla cage

Great for 2-4 Rats 

Pros: Lightweight, easy to clean- sorta

Cons: TINY door

             Grated bottom, no sides

All living things starter kit:

"okay' for 2 maybe 3 rats (females)

Pros: This cage has three doors and

          removable shelf for cleaning

          Pretty nice size if set up right

Cons: Plastic shelves with grooves urine gets in

            Plastic bottoms easy to chew

           Comes with worthless rat items.

Purchase many large chains

Kaytee my first home:

"okay' for 2 maybe 3 rats (females)

Pros: nice size.

Cons: Plastic shelves with grooves urine gets in

            Plastic bottoms easy to chew

           door latch bends out becoming faulty.

Purchase many large chains

You and Me Rat Manor:

"okay' for 2 maybe 3 rats (females)

Pros: could be a nice size

           All metal design

Cons: All wire shelf bad for feet​

            Small gage with causes bad feet and bumble foot

            Must be covered at all times.

Purchase many large chains

These cages are often sold as rat cages but are just WAY too small. NOT SUITABLE!! 

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