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post #1 of 7 (permalink) Old 03-07-2006, 07:52 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 20
Best of everything essential for your rodent Guide

Since I've starting my march break I've become quite bored and decided to make a complete "Best of everything essential for your rodent" guide. I don't want to talk on and on so I'll get straight to it.

*Step 1 - Cage
Best "Cage":


For almost any kind of small rodent (From mice, rats, hamsters, gerbils, all the way to Degus), glass aquariums are the best thing you can give them. With glass aquariums, you don't have to worry about any of your pet rodents escaping. They give your pets plenty room to run around (assuming you buy an appropriate tank for the number of rodents you plan to house). They allow plenty room for digging and you can even add levels (yes! add levels in an aquarium).

Typically, you need an extra 5 gallons for every small rodent (ex: 2 Gerbils = min. 10 gallons tank) The only drawback you have with aquariums (especially bigger ones) is that they are harder to clean.


Hagen Habitrail or Super Pet Crittertrail

*WARNING: Not suitable for Gerbils, or any other medium-large sized rodents

Although I've never used Habitrails/Crittertrails because I know my Gerbils would just chew through it, these cages would be acceptable for hamsters or other relatively small rodents. I don't suggest these cages for dwarf hamsters as they sometimes squeeze through the bars. Some rodent's gnaw at the bars so much they get bald spots on their noses. When you get complex tunnels it can get rather hard to clean, but it keeps your rodent entertained and makes sure they aren't bored easily.

*Step 2 - Bedding
Best Bedding:


Not only will your pet love you for giving them Aspen, they will burrow their own tunnels and dig their noses until they are too tired to continue. Glass aquariums and aspen make for a great combination because it gives them plenty of height to pile on the aspen (unlike cages, where you only have a few inches until it becomes wires) Aspen not only looks good and smells good, but absorbs pee and doo-doo rather easily. The only drawback is that it can be expensive in some parts. Allergies may occur and/on rashes (sensitive skin)

Personally, I give my Gerbils about 10 inches high of Aspen and they spend their whole day digging and what-not. It keeps them occupied and is especially great for rodents who have a natural instinct to burrow.



If you have asthma, or your rodent develops allergies/skin conditions due to Aspen or any other bedding, then Carefresh is what you want. I added a picture of Carefresh Ultra because it is getting ever so popular. The first thing people say about Carefresh is not that it doesn't absorb well (which it does a fair job doing) or that it doesn't smell good, they say it doesn't 'look' nice. Although I do admit that Carefresh does tend not to look pleasing, I buy the brown carefresh for my dwarves which makes it look more like aspen/wood shavings than anything else.

Carefresh is great because it is soft & comfortable. My dwarves couldn't dig in aspen because it was too hard but now that they've been switched to Carefresh they burrow and sleep in their little holes. A great alternative.

*Step 3 - Water bottle
Best Waterbottle:

After getting your cage and adding the bedding, the next step is to add the water bottle. Now, I suggest these kind of water bottles because they have a straight tip going straight down to prevent the hamster from chewing or destroying any part of the water bottle. If you get one of these, make sure the bottle is high enough for your rodent to drink without hurting his neck too much.

*Step 4 - Food Bowl
Best Food Bowl:

I cannot stress this enough! Forget a "food bowl" and use your hands to feed your rodent! Not only will it make them used to you have your hand in their tank (if might come in handy when you'll want to pick them up!) they will get used to your scent. If you don't have time to wait for them to come and eat from your hand, scatter their food across their cage and let them dig/find/work for it. Not only will it give them something to do, their natural instinct is to dig/look for food in their natural habitat.

*Step 5 - Their wheel
Best "Wheel":

Super Silent Spinners

*WARNING: Your wheel should never have "gaps" or "spaces" where your rodent runs. It might injure a leg.

Personally, I enjoy these super silent spinners better than the rest because, well, they dont make a noise! It comes with a stand to hold on its own if you have an aquarium or a plastic piece behind it to tie it to a cage. You don't have to worry about your rodent injuring themselves because the wheel has no holes for them to trip, and other rodents who come visit their friend while the wheel is spining cannot get caught between the wheel and the stand because the stand is behind. It is a little pricey though.


Mesh-wired Wheel

This is a great alternative. Again, it can go either in an aquarium or a wired cage. No spaces or gaps for your rodents to trip on and it is mostly silent (unless it gets really used).

Remember to keep in mind (only when shopping for a pet wheel): Size matters! The bigger the wheel, the harder your rodent has to work!

This covers pretty much all the essentials you need to keep a rodent living and happy. Ofcourse, I don't cover all the toys, games, houses, and all the extras you can add in this guide but it is always best to have everything possible to give your rodent an interesting and non-repetitive life! Have fun!
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post #2 of 7 (permalink) Old 03-13-2006, 03:05 PM
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 237
Some good stuff - you must be very bored, lol! However, I don't agree with some points, I'm afraid.

Rats should not be housed in tanks. They like to climb, tanks are not big enough for a pair of rats and what's more, rats suffer from respiratory problems and as they wee a lot, a glass tank will cause a build up of ammonia which will damage their health. Rats need a cage as these give them the opportunity to climb and provide the air circulation that they need for their health.

My degus love their cage too, and I can't imagine any sized tank being big enough to give them the opportunity to play and climb as they need to do. A tank with a cage topper is a good solution for degus, but mine love their cage.

It's easier to attach a wheel and accessories to a cage too.

My gerbils and Shaw's jirds loved their tank though, and the way that they dig I do believe a good sized tank is great for them. You can buy tank toppers which again would probably be a good compromise for jirds. Martins cages sell them.

I don't like mesh wheels either, I prefer solid ones as I think they're far safer. The silent spinner wheels you've featured are supposed to be good though I decided to go for a metal one straight away despite the expense as I know that degus like to gnaw...and gnaw.. and gnaw.. lol!

I could not feed my rats 24/7 from my hand. Initially, as trust training, it's great to hand feed, but it's important for rodents to have food available all the time. Mine get a dog bowl, eathenware type, as they can't shift it about and it's easy to clean. Both the rats and the degus, that is.

I do think you've made some really good points though! Sos orry for the moans. Just that lots of people will read this so I wanted to say what I have done as this comes from experience and from mistakes I have made in the past. I don't want others to make the same mistakes I did years ago.

Thanks for taking the time to type all this out. Maybe you should write an accurate and up-to-date rodent keeping book. Most of the info in books is wrong and hopelessly inaccurate, which is a shame as so many people still believe implicitly what they read in a book.
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post #3 of 7 (permalink) Old 03-16-2006, 04:51 AM
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 256
I have Gerbils and they are in a crittertrail X and yes they chew the slide and I have to remove it. but other than that I have no problems with it. In a tank it does not come with a wheel and the water bottle was hard to put in it also. I bought a high rise for them that didn't work out because it just made it harder to feed and be able to get them when we wanted them, The only good thing I can say about the tank is no mess with the bedding but even with that advantage I prefer the cage It houses 3 Gerbils very comfortably and they are taken out to play and to take thier roll in the sand while I clean thier cages I have 6 I clean. Hand feeding I do that with the snacks but I use the feeding bowls albiet it is dumped over with some of them the others throw bedding over it. I pick up the newborns when they are a week old and they get our scent.
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post #4 of 7 (permalink) Old 04-08-2006, 03:29 PM
Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 402
I have that wheel for my babies. But let me suggest that you use the aquarium and put a wired cage on top of it. That means no shavings get out and they get lots of excercise. I do that for my gerbil, so he can come up and see us, climb, and chew, but can burrow and make really intricate tunnels in the bottom of his cage. It makes him happy.
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post #5 of 7 (permalink) Old 04-08-2006, 03:31 PM
Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 402
And I agree, degus need wired cages, at least one on a big aquarium. They're very active and need a big cage in order to be satisfied. Ours is pretty huge and we made it ourselves. Two feet high and two feet around, a big huge square. It's not the best, but we're going to buy a few other ones as we go along.
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post #6 of 7 (permalink) Old 04-18-2006, 10:02 AM
Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 176
yes, the wire cages are good for them to climb, but they are bad for their teeth because they can break a tooth....
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post #7 of 7 (permalink) Old 04-18-2006, 10:13 AM
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 876
Most of the advice doesn't hold true for chinchillas--a rodent. Aquariums aren't at all suitable for chins, handfeeding all food isn't really practical, wire mesh wheels, as others have said, are dangerous...
I do think that for the little guys you have some great info on there but you may want to be more specific about it being for "small" rodents.
indychinchick is offline  

dwarf hamster, dwarf hamsters, food bowl, wire cage, wire cages, wire mesh, wood shavings

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