Monday, October 28, 2013

Rat cage progress

Edit: We changed the rats' food to a better brand and they lost weight, allowing them to squeeze out of their cage. I would now recommend using the "pantry shelving" if you build your own rat cage, which has 5/8" spacing.

So after I built the last rat cage, we got three more rats. I am a sucker for rescue animals, what can I say?

I knew we needed to build a new cage, but we needed a custom-built base. I got the cage itself built pretty quickly (from Lowes 12' 16" deep wire shelving), but the base was another story. I built one base and, despite measuring multiple times, it wasn't the right size. Blargh. So today I forced B to help me build the base. We (I) decided to start by putting the cage on a piece of plywood we had.

"But wait!" you say. "Plywood? You can't use that as the bottom of a rat cage." That is true, but I've also purchased some acrylic sheeting and a plastic cutting tool. I have a plan.

We used the time-tested method of "put one piece of wood up to the thing you're trying to measure, then put another piece of wood against the first piece of wood." The cage has rounded corners and a lot of little bumps, so getting accurate measurements can be tricky, at least for us.

Then we cut the first side to size. I took a leap of faith and cut the two short sides, measured as above for the long side, then cut the second long side the same length as the first one. It worked out. We cut the plywood after we had both short sides cut so we could use them to mark the lines.

I screwed everything together then put the acrylic in. I held it in place with clear sealer, but I might need to get aquarium sealer. I'm not too worried about this, since it's supposed to dry for a week (it turns clear after drying) and then it will be covered with bedding, but you never know. If I'd thought of it when I was at the store I would have just bought the aquarium sealer, but I didn't so I didn't.

A note about the acrylic: I bought the 0.08" thick sheets from Lowes at first, but I think if I had to do it again I'd go with the thinner sheets from Hobby Lobby. It's not like the rats are very heavy and might crack it, although I suppose it's possible the cage itself could crack them. In that case I'd only use the thick plastic on the bottom. This is because if you're screw ups like us, you'll have the acrylic measured at the store but it won't end up being the right size, so you'll have to piece it in. The thinner plastic sheets from Hobby Lobby are, of course, cheaper, but they're also a million times easier to cut.

And here's where we are now. It needs to be painted, and I think it needs some sweet corner hardware, but it's a lot closer than we were.

I'm going to leave it on the floor for now since it's pretty tall, but I'd like to find a little cabinet or something to keep supplies in. I added heavy duty felt pads to the bottom so it doesn't mark up his floor any worse than it already is. Next up: roof, doors and shelves.

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