What are the best elements of a rodent cage? Let’s start with some basic guidelines: ventilation, cleanliness, safety, and stimulation. With these principles in mind, there are some practical steps you can take to ensure that you are building the best cage for your little rodent.
When considering the structure itself, you want to make sure there is plenty of fresh air flowing through the cage. Ideally, air should flow from all four sides and possibly even the top of the cage. If you are using a bin cage, this entails building windows on both sides of the cage, at least. A plastic bottom, wire sides, and a top that is secure and escape-proof may also work well. You can also use a good-sized aquarium for small rodents as long as the top gets plenty of air flowing through it.
A vital consideration when building a cage is that it will be easy to clean. Regardless of how attractive and stimulating the cage is, if it isn’t easy to clean, you will be doing yourself and your little pet a great disservice. Good hygiene is essential to the health of rodents, as they can easily become ill if their cages are not regularly cleaned. Bedding should be changed at least once a week, whereas the cage must be spot-cleaned daily. Bowls should also be cleaned every day, as well as toys. With this in mind, avoid wood cages since rodents tend to chew on wood, and it will be nearly impossible to disinfect the space.
Rodents are playful, fun-loving creatures that need plenty of stimulation to lead happy, healthy lives. So what are some ways you can create a good environment for play and exploration? Stimulation can come in hammocks, tubes, mazes, and exercise wheels with a solid plastic floor without openings. (Avoid wire wheels, as a small rodent can get their feet trapped.) Cereal boxes, tubes of discarded paper towels, and shredded paper also provide plenty of entertainment for your pet rodent.
Bear in mind that floor space is more important than the height of the cage, as rodents like to dig, gnaw, and burrow. If you want to add more height and introduce more variety, stacking adjacent tunnels could be a great idea.
By safe to roam, we mean the rodent can freely explore its environment without running the risk of escaping from it. Rodents are curious little creatures, masters of escape, and can easily outwit you if you’re not prepared. Unsupervised play and roaming around the house can lead to mischief with not only furniture but also electrical wires and other hazards.
Inside the cage, sawdust, sand, corncobs, and wood shavings should all be avoided. Wood shavings, for instance, can lead to respiratory tract infections when eaten.
With these considerations in place, you can create a great cage for your rodent, one that will tend to their needs, ensure their safety, and provide a safe, fun environment for play and exploration.
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