In April of 2009, it was decided that, out of fairness to my caged bucks, I should divide my ratroom into two seperate areas so that both girls and boys could run free and not have secret meetings behind the bike sheds.

 

And so, Project Ratroom Refit was begun.

Allow me to illustrate how my ratroom *used* to be.

This isn't to scale cos I'm not *that* good, but you get the idea.

There was a large open area for freeranging, but that also held all of the cages, both open ones for the freerangers to play with, and closed ones for my intact bucks.

The shelf on the right began at around waist height, and went to the ceiling. The cages underneath were buck cages most of the time. There was just enough room in the airlock for one person to get into, close the room door behind them, and then go into the freerange ratspace.

 

Years ago, I received a phonecall from a Wyevale Garden Centre who had some rehomes for me, rats, mice, and a rabbit (Dylan), and while I was there picking them up, they asked us if we could use an old metal and glass aviary that they were also throwing out. Being the magpies that we are, we said yes and went back to collect it at a later date.

It stood at the top of my drive for a few years, waiting for us to think of something to do with it.

 

My dad, as has been seen all over my website, is a master at just about anything to do with invention, construction, modification, he's a pet rescuer's dream, and he came up with the plans of what we could do, and I chose which one I thought would work best.

The first job was to get the floor completely tiled.

I had found over the years that linoleum wasn't the best idea for flooring, mainly due to the rabbits digging it up for the rats to chew, so the obvious choice was to lay ceramic floor tiles. I managed to do this at very minimum cost, we already had enough floor tiles to do much of the floor, and had been given adhesive, I just filled in the remaining space with the cheapest tiles I could find. I took my time over it, it took several months all through the winter to get everything together and done, but the end effect means the floor is easier to wash and sweep.

Note: never ask me to cut ceramic tiles cos I'm pants at it!

To make our new design as efficient as possible, we decided that the room door needed to swing outwards to give as much space for storage within the airlock. Not quite as easy as it sounds though, as we found out that the house has been moving over the years, and the doorframe was warped so the door had to be planed.

Um, at this point I'd like to stress the importance of planning in advance.

I kind of tiled over the floorboards that we needed get under to blank off some mains wiring and had to pull them back up again.

As you can see, we were lucky. The rats had somehow gotten to the wire above the floor and had nibbled, it could have caused a fire.

There is now no rat-accessible mains wiring within their space, that is unless they defy gravity and walk across the ceiling. Even then the wire is concealed within trunking.

There goes the old airlock, and you can see the newly re-hung door swinging outwards.

Here are the panels that split the ratroom in half.

The panels are aluminium and double thickness safety glass, Dad made two doors of strong wire mesh for entrance into each of the two sides from the airlock.

Because the panels had previously been used as an aviary and had been standing outside for so long, I went over them with the steam cleaner to make sure they didn't take anything nasty into my ratroom.

Although the panels were very light, being aluminium, they're huge and were pretty awkward to get into the house. Some of the paintwork suffered on the way in, but it's all for the good of the ratlets, so a neccesary sacrifice. The glass panels were brought up seperately as they were heavy.

During assembly. Looking from inside the girls' side, through the boys' side to the main door.

   

Looking from that main door into the boys' side, with the girls' side on the left (and Dusty Bunny being very helpful)

Standing in the boys' side, looking out to the main door.

Standing in the boys' side looking through to the girls' side and airlock.

Yes, that's me in the boys' side. First one to say I belong in a zoo gets a smack!

Looking into the girls' side. They were still caged at this point as we'd only just finished.

Once the rats were all secure and the panels were properly in place, the rats were let out into their new home, and we got on with the more fiddly bits. I wallpapered the airlock all by myself (of which I'm very proud), and Dad installed shelves for storage.

There's another shelf above the door, and Dad installed an extra light in the airlock. You can also see the trunking running across the ceiling which is the power for the extractor fans.

My ratty medicine cabinet. Every ratroom should have one, it holds any medicines that my rats are currently taking as well as things like vanilla essence for introductions, and first aid bits and bobs. I also have a clock in the airlock so I can see how much of my day I'm whiling away playing with ratties.

Rats should always have clean air so mine have three powerful extractor fans in the window, two on the girls' side, and one on the boys' side. Controlled by a timer, these can be set to come on and go off all through the day.

The fans themselves are covered with wire mesh so the rats are kept safe.

 

In the months preceding the refit, my rats had turned into destructive little monkeys and had started chewing holes in their water bottles if they ran out of water. Despite the fact there was another perfectly good full bottle inches away from them, they were chewing through the bottoms and caps, so rather than continue to spend silly money on new bottles, dad devised a way of keeping the bottles safe - keep them in the airlock! This way the nozzles still go through comfortably for the rats and bunnies to drink from, but the buggers can't chew holes in them!

Muahahahahaha, another ratty plan foiled!

Finally, this is how the ratroom now looks. The boys have less space than the girls, we chose to do this for two reasons, boys are usually lazier and less manic than the girls, so needing less space, and I actually have far less boys than girls.

Of course they can swap sides at any time if neccesary.

Jobs still to be done:

Tiling the walls.

Attaching shelves to each side for homes to utilise the full height of the room.

Proper installation of the air conditioning.

Installation of thermometers in each side to monitor temperature.

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The bucks and does have been living this way for a few months now, and in my opinion they've never been happier. The girls were obviously used to freeranging, most of my girls had never known any different, but the boys behaviour has changed considerably, as did the girls when they were first released into the freerange situation in 2005.

 

For a full tour of my ratroom, check out the video clip below.

 

 

2009 B REEVE