Whether it is a double unit or single unit, the critter nation has so much to offer pet rats. It has unbelievable amounts of floor space, super safe pans that don’t hurt little paws, and massive doors that make playtime easy. However, the cage looks super plain if you’re not sure about how to decorate it! We’re going to talk about several critter nation supplies and accessories that will come in handy for any rat owner.
One downfall of the critter nation cage is that it absolutely SUCKS as far as bedding containment goes. Therefore, the best solution is to line the pans with fleece! This is the #1 option for most rat owners. It absorbs urine, keeps the cage looking good, it’s safe for rats, and it will be soft on their itty bitty paws. However, fleece is probably not going to be the best way to go for those who have several ratties in a cage.
Cement Mixing Pans!
If you visit Home Depot (the website lists it too), you will find a large concrete mixing pan that is PERFECT for the CN or DCN. It will replace the shallow pans in the cage and provide you with a high wall litter pan that is virtually impossible to kick bedding out of. This is my favorite solution; I read about it somewhere then headed STRAIGHT to Home Depot to buy these pans. They are only $13 each; and when I saw how well they performed, I wanted to punch myself for dishing out $40 for a replacement pan for the DCN. My boys chewed through it, and boy I wish I would have saw this solution a few weeks earlier. They are VERY snug fitting; I had to use a pair of pliers to warp and bend the plastic a bit to get them to go into my cages.
Glass Water Bottles!
Yes, glass! As I’ve recently posted, glass water bottles are safer for rats than plastic ones. They will also last longer, meaning you will not have to worry about replacing leaky, scratched up plastic bottles every few months. I absolutely love the glass water bottles that I have, and am in the process of switching my entire set of bottles over. At $30 for a 32 oz bottle though, I’m looking at a lot of money myself! However, it is the PERFECT solution for someone with 2-10 pet rats.
Unfortunately, the ramps inside of the critter nation are wired. But, the cage DOES come with fabric ramp covers! The only issue is that you will need to replace these covers every so often, depending upon how frequently your rats chew on them. You can either buy these covers online from individual vendors, or you could make them yourself. They are fairly simple tubes of fabric; perfect for the beginning DIY’er!
Ceramic, Rubber, or Stainless Steel Food Dishes!
You are going to need food dishes that will not spill. Rats easily tilt them, in an effort to get to the food as easily as possible. Spilling the entire contents of the food dish isn’t only an option for them, it’s the entire goal. If you want to keep the food in one spot (that is, if you don’t own a hoarder rat who loves to stash everything; and most of them do), you’re going to need a spill proof dish. Ceramic food dishes tend to be very heavy, and are some of the top performers. If you tend to be clumsy during feeding time and frequently drop dishes on the floor, these may not be for you. Instead, I’d try rubber lined dish, preferably stainless steel. The rubber keeps the dish from being slid around the cage, while the steel is heavy and rust resistant, perfect for rat urine. The last thing you want is a rusty food dish!
Every rat owner, advocate, and breeder is different. This is MY story, and my experience with chewies. Now, I use wooden chewy sticks on occasion (I switch it up) and I do use rawhides. I like to get the natural rawhides. Many people say that they are dangerous for the ratties, but mine eat them at a slower rate than most I assume. It takes a while for them to get through them, and I have ZERO health problems due to chewies (whether it is wood or rawhide). They will commonly say that the rawhides will become hung in their digestive systems, or cause other problems. I have yet, over the course of several years and several ratties, witnessed this. Therefore, FEED AT YOUR OWN RISK. I see no problem with them; then again, many breeders would have a heart attack at one point if a rat got into soda. (It was believed in the rat community that rats could not burp, and they thought rats would explode after drinking soda. It wasn’t true; rats can burp.)
Scatter Guards! (For Bedding Users)
I cannot stress how important it is to have the best, home crafted scatter guard attached to your critter nation cage if you are using bedding. The common critter nation accessories line DOES NOT include a good scatter guard. While there are some out there, they just don’t seem to perform quite as well as their homemade counterparts. Whether you make it out of plexiglass or coroplast, it will probably come out cheaper and perform better than the ones that online retailers offer. However, if you do not have the time to make homemade ones, the premade ones are always available.
Rat Safe Cleaner for Pans and Cage!
There are lots of cleaners out there for cleaning your cages. Since ratties have super strong urine with which they mark their territory, it is going to take a really decent cleaner to remove the odor. There are lots of gentle cleaners that do a WONDERFUL job, so be sure to shop around some. This Kaytee Clean Cage Habitat Deodorizer Spray is very highly rated, and is a popular purchase on Amazon. I have used this kind before, but I switch between brands based on what is available in store (I always forget to order things like this online; I always wait until they run out then make an emergency run to the store!).
Outside Ramp- For Getting In And Out of the Cage During Free Roam Time!
If you are going to be allowing your fancy rats plenty of outside time, or free roam time, I highly recommend purchasing an exterior ramp for the critter nation. It is very handy to have, as it allows the rats to get in and out of their cage as much as they desire. The cage is their safe place, where they will run to if they feel unsafe or threatened. Generally, this would be impossible without a ramp.
If your rat spooks easily, this will definitely save you. The first place the rat will try to get to is their house, hut, or hammock inside of the cage. If the rat cannot get to its safe spot and is running in fear, it will frantically dart around the home until it finds a tight space that it can hide in. It could turn into an all day event trying to coax the rat back out.
Believe it or not, there are cage covers available for the double critter nation! You can use these to give your rats some privacy, especially if they are living in a high traffic area. Or, it might be ideal for concealing the rats in case you have a friend who is phobic of your pets. Sometimes, people are truly fearful of rodents, and that shouldn’t stop you from being a supportive friend. Rats may tear them up though, especially if you intend to use it frequently. I recommend keeping them on hand just in case, or for special needs.