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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Liam and I want to upgrade Gracie & Cocoa's cage. We have an old five drawer stand-up dresser we are going to use. We're removing all of the drawers, making a front screen door on hinges, and levels where every drawer would have been. The wood on the inside is unfinished though, and really ugly. I was hoping that somebody could recommend a good, non-toxic paint I can use to spruce it up a bit?
 

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Wow, that sounds like a great project! Hope to see pictures once you finish it! I would probably contact the local paint stores/Home Depot type places and ask if they carry non-toxic paint that is safe for pets/kids? That is the only thing I can think of. Anyone else have some good suggestions?
 

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I think you'll find this site tremendously useful:

http://www.dapper.com.au/grotto.htm

They have built their own cage from a bookshelf, and they didn't use paint for this particular one. Instead, they used adhesive contact sheeting. She does say, though, that you could do a non-toxic water-based paint, but I think you'd soon get the urine soaking through, and you won't be able to prevent the wood from getting bad because of that. I'd go with adhesive contact paper--perhaps a couple of layers--to cover the entire surface that they will come into contact with.

Here are the specific construction instructions:
http://www.dapper.com.au/cagebuild.htm

I love this cage!! I think it would be a fabulous project. Be sure to post photos to show your progress--I'd very much like to see the process of building it! :D
 

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Oh, and here's some specific advice from the Fancy Rats forum regarding the lining issue:

"Treating the wood– the trouble with wooden cages are that they hold the smell a lot, so you need to make sure you seal it in some way. This also has to be none toxic to the rats and ideally durable. One of the easiest ways to do this is to get some of those stick on plastic sheets you can get to line drawers and cover books and such, they come in some funky patterns. It’s worth noting though that the edges of your shelves will be chewed. In order to prevent this you can use aluminium ‘L’ section to cover all the edges of the shelves, and anything else they can get there teeth into, but this is not a cheap option, it will make it last though. You could also paint the inside of the bookcase with a none toxic paint of varnish such as japlac or plsticoat, though this is not as durable as I’d like on wooden surfaces. You want to coat all of the wood, even on the outside as rats can get muck everywhere, you also ideally want to protect the wall behind the cage too, using either durable kitchen paint or a Perspex splash back."

Found in this thread (p. 2): http://www.fancy-rats.co.uk/communi...42524&st=0&sk=t&sd=a&hilit=book+case&start=15
 

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Wow, using adhesive contact paper instead of paint...that is brilliant! I feel like a dork that I didn't think of that. Easy to clean and no worries about toxicity...so many reasons I can imagine how that would be so much better than paint!
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Those are awesome tips guys, thanks, and that website was really helpful.

I was not planning on painting the shelves, I actually was not planning on doing anything with them. The pee thing never even crossed my mind - I think those mats will be perfect! I was more worried about painting the inside of the cage. The dresser was really expensive when I got it, and the finish is beautiful, so I want it to look really nice - not very DIY.

Also, I have been thinking of making my own hammocks, beds, etc. How should I go about that.. what kinds of materials work well.. would all of my old shirts and sweatpants and the like work.. etc. And attaching them to the cage, how would I go about that? I have never done ANYTHING DIY before (I am too pampered for that - LOL!) so sorry for all the questions.
 

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I recommend fleece for blankets and hammocks. You need a fabric that will not fray and that doesn't have tiny threads in it, because their little toenails can easily get stuck in other kinds of fabric. So, use fleece from the clearance bin at your local fabric store. I buy mine in bulk when they have a good sale, and it lasts a long time.

As far as attaching them to the cage, I use binder clips, but that's for a wire cage. Not really sure how you could go about doing it with a wood frame. I'm sure the Grotto Cage website will have some tips on that, though.
 

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Yes, I made homemade fleece hammocks for my boys too and did the same thing as Breyer...got some great deals in the clearance section of the fabric store on fleece and flannel fabric (although I did splurge once when I saw some baby animal pattern fleece that was full price but I had to get it!) and I found websites galore that showed the supplies you need to make hammocks. I ended up getting a grommet punch tool and some grommets (also from the fabric store/craft store) and just cut out large squares of fleece, punched in 4 grommets in each corner and used those hanging clip things that look like a big paper clip (what do they call those again??) but binder clips like Breyer uses is also a favorite too, although I agree with Breyer that I am not sure how this would all work in a wood cage, or where the tips of the hammock would hang?
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
What about if I got something like snaps, and attached them to the inside of the cage to snap the hammock's onto? I don't know if that would hold weight well enough..
 

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Hmm, that might work? I guess you would have to test it out and see if weight holds with snaps? Just as an extra help, in case you find anything useful with this, here is a link with photos you might like to look at regarding construction and hammock/toy ideas for rats. Fun site. :)

http://www.80stoysale.com/rathouses.html
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I'll give it a look, thanks. =D
 

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One thing I noticed on the dapper rat site is that they used metal eye hooks actually screwed in place into the cabinet itself, which they then used to attach the hammocks to the cage. Something like this:



They are safe, provided they are securely screwed into the wood, and they are certainly stable enough to hold rat weight. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
That's perfect - thanks!
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·


This is the dresser we're going to convert. I've decided the top level will be a solid floor with a small door to climb down a ladder to the next level. THAT level won't be as deep so they can climb the wire from the level below to get onto the shelf. The level below is going to be a HALF level with a hammock on the other side, the level below that a full floor with another hole/ladder and the BOTTOM level a solid floor. =D We still have to remove the middle chunks of wood so we can have level floors, and of course paint it before we start the building process - it may take a few weeks until it's done but I will be uploading pictures as we go.
 

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it looks like its going to be awsome ^_^ cant wait to see the finishing touch
 

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Awesome! I'm so excited to see the in-progress photos! :D
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
I'm so excited to START! I was thinking of maybe leaving the top drawer in, to keep their food and extra toys, etc in. What do you guys think?

My dad is taking me out today to help me pick out the stuff we'll need - DIY is very new for Liam and I. So we'll hopefully be starting today, if not then pretty quick here. =D
 

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Leaving a drawer in could be really handy! Most cages I've seen have used the bottom space for storage, so I might be inclined to leave the bottom drawer in place, but you should do whichever you think would be easiest for the construction process! :D
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Haha, the bottom drawer doesn't work anymore - that's why we're converting it. We bought a whole new bedroom set because all of our furniture is falling apart. So it would have to be the top drawer. I think that would actually be a really good idea though - sorry ratties, looks like you only get four levels!
 
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