DIY – Housing for Rats
DIY - Holding Tub for Rats
This article is going to show the steps for making a holding tub for rats and african soft furs. It can be used for mice, but a smaller hardware cloth size will be needed. It will be very picture heavy, so for people with dial-up, I apologize.
1 - 105 QT sterilite tub, or similar smooth tub with no lips or edges inside the tub itself.
1 - Roll of 1/2" hardware cloth, available at Home Depot or farm supply stores near the fencing.
1 - Pair of needle nose pliers
1 - Roll of stainless steel wire. Found by picture hanging supplies.
J-Clips and special pliers, found at farm supply stores by rabbit caging.
1 - Bag of 4" plastic zipties.
1 - Pair of side cutters / snips / dikes, or appropriate cutting tool for hardware cloth.
1 - Heavy duty knife to cut plastic lid / or electric cutting tool.
1 - Soldering Iron
1. Marking and Cutting the Lid
First things first! Cutting the hole in the lid for the hardware cloth. This is a crucially important step, because of the type of plastic we are dealing with, I highly recommend an electric saws-all or wheel grinder with a cutting edge to get it done quickly and without cracking the plastic. These are also really great tools to use for cutting the hardware cloth to size, instead of using little snips. Razor blades will work, but is incredibly difficult, and any pressure applied is likely to crack the plastic.
It just so happens that a magazine is the perfect size for this model's lid. With a permanent marker, draw around the magazine, flip it to the other side, and draw around it again. This is going to be the area we cut out.
I do not have a picture of the cutting process of the lid and hardware cloth, but I trust you will be able to complete it satisfactorily. Otherwise, I hope you saved your receipt.
2. Cutting the Hardware Cloth to Size
For the hardware cloth, you can use your magazine again to measure, or even a measuring tape for those with such novelties. I just laid the hardware cloth over the lid and made little cuts to mark the length and width, and then took my grinder to it and cut the hardware cloth to size (and ground down the edges to make them smooth).
The hardware cloth is larger than the opening, but fits inside the lip on the underside of the lid. They dont fit perfectly, but don't worry about it. It doesn't hurt anything.
3. Marking and Melting the Zip Tie Holes
Now an easy part. This isn't a science, I don't count the distance between each zip-tie, but eye ball it and every few inches I make a mark for the zip tie. Best to start in a corner and make your way around the lid.
Once all of the holes have been marked, use your handy soldering iron to melt the holes while located in a well ventilated area. Any tabs sticking up, or other obstructions can usually be easily melted off.
4. Attaching Hardware Cloth to the Lid
Now for your zen moment, using your zip-ties to attach the hardware cloth to the lid. It is repetitive, but easy to do. You will want to make sure to do the four corners first, and then work the rest of the lid.
Starting at one corner, from the top-side of the lid, send your zip-tie through the hole, around the hardware cloth wire, and back up through the second hold. Close the zip-tie very tightly! Repeat for the remaining corners.
Once the corners are done and lined up, finish the rest of the lid. Snip off the excess.
The tub is now just about finished. You could easily stop here if you have side hanging food hopper and water bottle holder. I will continue this DIY with how to make a food hopper hang from the middle of the lid, and attach the water bottle to the outside of the tub.
Food Hopper and Water Bottle
Now we are going to make a hanging food hopper from the middle of the tub lid. This is where the needle nose pliers and J clips will come into play.
1. Attaching the food hopper to the lid.
If you have not made a food hopper before, it is simple enough, but takes a little bit of time to cut the hardware cloth and fashion it into a long cube shape. Here is a link to a simple picture guide. (Grainy pics, will update at a later date)
I like to wait to put the bottom on the hopper until I have had a chance to put the lid with the hopper onto the tub, so I can make sure the hopper does not hang too low, because if it is, it will soak up urine and get soiled bedding all over the food. I like the hopper to hang approx. 1inch over the top of the bedding.
Cut a 5 x 5 square area out of the middle of the lid's hardware cloth.
From the underside of the lid, place your new hopper over the hole you just cut out. You will probably need someone to hold the hopper from under the lid while you work from the top side and attach it.
With your J-clips, attach the hopper. If you do not have J-Clips, this is where you can "weave" wire around the hopper and lid cloth to attach them together. It works wonderfully and make it feel sturdy, but J-clips are easier and quicker. (Paper clips work well too if you dont want to weave)
Now that was simple enough now wasn't it?
Like I said, I like to wait to put the bottom on the hopper until I have had a chance to put the lid with the hopper onto the tub, so I can make sure the hopper does not hang too low, because if it is, it will soak up urine and get soiled bedding all over the food. I like the hopper to hang approx. 1inch over the top of the bedding. For this hopper, it's just about 3 inches from the bottom of the tub. So now I will put the bottom of the hopper on.
Cut a piece of cloth that is 7 x 7 squares. We want to cut so that the wires are sticking out on all sides, but the 5 x 5 squares remain intact. We will use the wires like we did with the food hopper, and bend them down, over, and through the hopper, attaching the bottom piece.
Starting with the corners opposite of each other, bend the wire of the bottom piece down and through a square on the hopper itself, and squeeze it tightly shut.
Then, bend the rest of the wires on those sides from the bottom piece down and through the squares in the hopper, and squeeze them shut tightly.
Finish up the remaining two sides.
2. Melting the Water Bottle Hole, and Mounting to Outside
Using the soldering iron, we are going to melt the holes for the water bottle. This can be a tricky step, you want to make the hole just big enough for the water nozzle to get through. This way the rats wont be able to chew around the water bottle hole. I haven't had it happen to our tubs, but I have heard of people saying that this has happened to theirs.
Mark the approx entry point for the water bottle. The tip of the nozzle should be low enough, but not too low that it will touch bedding and possibly leak. This brand's nozzel bends, so the hole is up high compared to nozzles that wouldn't bend.
For this bottle, since it is flat, and will be pressing up flat against the wall of the tub, we need to go in with our soldering iron at the same angle that the water bottle would. This way, we can make a tight fit that won't stress our plastic tub, and possibly crack under the pressure. (Not sure if that makes sense...)
This is what it looks like when we do not go in on the same angle as the water bottle nozzle, the water bottle is being held straight out instead of laying flat against the tub.
If you were to try and push the bottle to lay against the tub, the plastic around the hole would crack and break.
And with the proper angle melted, the bottle lays flat by itself.
That's it! I hope you enjoyed reading how I make my rat tubs. This one was used for ASF weaner's since we've begun to really up our production. I neglected to mention that the tub is completely smooth and free of any ridges or corners on the inside so no rats can get a tooth and chew any holes. Very useful when working with rats!