Double SRS/ Explorer

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Rhian33
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Double SRS/ Explorer

Post by Rhian33 » Mon Aug 10, 2015 1:56 pm

We are going to be freshening up our rat room next month with a bit of paint and tiled floor as part of the renovations we are thinking about creating a double SRS (can't go upwards because of ceiling height, but can go sideways).

We are thinking of removing a bottom panel from each cage so the oldies are able to enjoy a double with cage but we are still able to hang enrichment easily. I have 2 questions for those of you who have done this - the first is do you think that removing 1 panel is better or worse than removing the whole side of the cage? The second is how have you attached the cages securely? I was thinking jubilee clips as they are metal yet still fairly easy to undo if needs be.
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Rootigger
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Re: Double SRS/ Explorer

Post by Rootigger » Mon Aug 10, 2015 10:02 pm

I did this with two Explorers, and it might be slightly different with a double SRS, but here's my experience.

Mine is joined with the two bottom end-panels intact, and the two top end-panels removed:
Image

The bottom end-panels are bolted together through the existing pre-drilled holes and it is really sturdy - I can wheel the whole thing around (when empty) with no trouble whatsoever.

The remaining cage panels are joined together using plastic cable ties, mostly through the existing holes although the roof panels are just cable tied to the side panels. I had intended to replace these with something stronger/more permanent but haven't actually needed to (and they have been in place for a good few years now.)
Image

There's a mesh panel on the roof of the cage, down the central join. When you remove the two top end-panels, you're left with a gap. I used sections from a Critter to fill this gap, and these panels are (still) attached with plastic cable ties - I haven't yet needed to replace them.
Image

The whole thing:
Image


Since the original build I've only made one modification, and for the same reasons you're thinking of - to help oldies access both sides of the cage and maximise the floor space available to them. I fitted a Runaround rabbit door (which you'll be familiar with!) and it works a treat - it was relatively easy to cut through the bars using a hacksaw blade (although bolt cutters would have been a lot easier!) and then the plates just bolt together through the bars. The kit also comes with a perspex 'door' so you can close it off if you ever need to in future (e.g. to make younger rats climb up and over) but I haven't actually tried using it yet, so I'm not sure how well it would stand up to potential chewing. I fitted the door fairly high up to account for the deep trays but rigged up a cargo net each side of the door to create ramps, which worked really well for oldie access.

Image


Keeping the bottom end-panels in place gives you a sturdier build and more attachment points, and you have a double-width upper floor to fill with ropes and climby things, which works well for me. It would probably be a pain to attach things without any central panels (and I'm not sure how sturdy it would be in this case) but I suppose you could do the reverse and leave in the two top end-panels to create a double-width base level...although not sure how trays would work, and you'd need a very strong and secure join on the central line of the base since it'd be more accessible to the rats than a roof join.

Overall, I absolutely love the resulting double cage and the space is brilliant. It does take a bit of getting used to when setting it up and thinking of layouts, and you'll need plenty of furniture (which I know won't be a problem!) Other things to consider are that full clean-outs take a *lot* longer, and I get through more substrate having two base trays. But these are fairly minor things, I haven't had any problems with the cage itself and the rats love it.
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Rhian33
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Re: Double SRS/ Explorer

Post by Rhian33 » Mon Aug 10, 2015 10:18 pm

Lot's to think about! Thank you so much for the detailed response. I don't think i'll need the top mesh as srs's have a thick frame all around the top (and bottom) as the top and bottom panels are different to explorers. Unfortunately I don't think there are and pre-drilled holes for bolts hence my idea of using jubilee clips and as there's the thick rims around the top, bottom and side panels i'm hoping it'll work. Failing that I think i'll steal your runaround idea :lol:

I'm definitely sorted with cage furniture and i'm prepared for extra time for cleanouts but i'm hoping that bigger cage = less frequent cleaning assuming the number of rats stays the same? I normally take the whole lot out weekly and give it all a good scrubwith hammock changes mid week. Presumably with double the space it would only need a full clean fortnightly?
Angharad, Barb, Bella, Carys, Demerara, Ida, Nancy, Sasha, Sinead, Siobhan, Spice, Sugar, Veronica :smileyrat:
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Rootigger
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Re: Double SRS/ Explorer

Post by Rootigger » Mon Aug 10, 2015 10:39 pm

No problem! Sounds like a fully open double will potentially be easier with SRS's rather than explorers, very interested to see what you find out!

I do clean out less often - still skip out litter trays daily and change hammocks every few days but substrate lasts a good 2-3 weeks and I only do a full clean (stripping everything out completely for a fresh layout) once a month or every 6 weeks (mostly because it's such a big job) with minor change arounds in between and cleaning furniture as and when necessary. So overall you probably save a bit of time daily/weekly but need a mammoth effort every month or so (maybe it's just me but I allow the best part of a day for a full clean!) So I usually stagger it - change substrate one week, strip out the furniture the next etc.

Edited - typo!
Owned by Merryn,Bee, Timber, Mouse & Wren
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Sometimes the smallest things take up the most room in your heart - A.A. Milne

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Rhian33
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Re: Double SRS/ Explorer

Post by Rhian33 » Mon Aug 10, 2015 10:45 pm

Right. Will get on with it and show you the results in September when you drop your guys off :D

Getting excited now!
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Re: Double SRS/ Explorer

Post by Rootigger » Mon Aug 10, 2015 10:58 pm

Aha - worth talking to fuschia too. I thought I remembered someone making a double SRS and just checked show your setup (under mix and match terraces). I'm sure she'll have some tips!
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Sometimes the smallest things take up the most room in your heart - A.A. Milne

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Re: Double SRS/ Explorer

Post by Rhian33 » Mon Aug 10, 2015 11:10 pm

I was hoping she would reply too. May give her a prod in a day or so in case there's something srs specific that's worth pointing out
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Re: Double SRS/ Explorer

Post by acapae_wolf » Tue Aug 11, 2015 12:51 pm

Rhian poked me to contribute my non-explorer-or-SRS-specific-knowledge, so hopefully some of this will be worthwhile... :lol:

Not either of the cages mentioned here, but Ellie S had a double Liberta Tower cage. With which she very generously waited to mod until I was there to help her :lol: So similar overall dimensions and things, but without the option to leave half of an end side in place in the middle, since the side panels on the towers are just one single panel. Having it open as one big space did make us go hmm stability-wise. It probably would have been okay if you'd been careful with it, but in the end we took one of the end panels and turned it sideways as a long internal shelf. Not at all something you can do here, and not probably you'd want to do either, but stability was the main consideration behind it as it was a bit wobbly until that point when we tried to wheel it around.

More directly related
Rootigger wrote:although not sure how trays would work, and you'd need a very strong and secure join on the central line of the base since it'd be more accessible to the rats than a roof join.
This is the main ongoing problem Ellie had. She had a tray in each half, and then an annoying gap in the middle where most of the substrate ended up. I can't remember the details, but one long tray wouldn't have really worked because of it not being a completely flat base due to the edging etc. of the join. I think she put something solid underneath the bases that overlapped the hole, which helped a bit.

So from that pov keeping the lower halves of the end panels would make sense. But on the other hand, I completely get wanting to have a very long in-cage length for them to run. Climbing is climbing, really, and climbing in a straight line vs in a different volume isn't that much of a difference vs walking/ running speed when considering the same. I guess you could argue that they'd still have free range time for doing that, but if you have the ability to mod it, then why not try to double the fully connected floor space. Neotoma also has/ did similar with the Aussie version of the Tower where she had two joined side by side and then later 3. Completely open without retaining anything in the middle so the rats could run from one end to the other. It might be worth talking to her about base trays/ joins/ stability for some ideas there, even if again the details won't be exactly the same.

Re. method of connection, Ellie had originally been going to use Jubilee clips as well as cable ties, but didn't in the end. They were very strong and non-chewable, but they were also rigidly circular vs the cuboid shape needed - cable ties hugged the contours much better, increasing overall stability. I'd maybe buy a few and experiment? Maybe they'd be more useful at certain point interspaced with something else or something? When I joined my aviaries I used garden wire, but the logistics of that was very different to the logistics of the combinations being talked about here.

eta - I can't remember who, but I'm fairly sure someone's joined two sideways but keeping the middle base in. So that there was a full length to run, but it wasn't opened out top to bottom. Definitely not something you'd do, but interesting nonetheless. Probably more useful if I could remember who it was though...
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Re: Double SRS/ Explorer

Post by Rhian33 » Tue Aug 11, 2015 1:07 pm

Thank you Beri. Certainly given me lots to think about. I definitely will buy a few different things for connecting and see what works best. I see your point about the rigidness of the Jubilee clips. I'm used to the 30cm diameter ones at work which inevitably have a bit more give having a larger radius.

As far as the gap for substrate goes that's something which happens now anyway so am prepared for it. I have deep metal trays which I planned to continue using so hopefully that will be enough but I may try and find something to block the gap at some point. Good point about the stability. I was hoping to secure the cages together top and bottom along the depth with as many fastenings as possible and use the side panels I'm leaving in to add stability in the middle as well. I've chosen the bottom panels for removal as (rightly or wrongly) I don't force my rats to free range. Most come out of their own accord into the rat room each night when I open the cage door but once they hit a certain age/back leg function they choose not to come out as often. I thought if there's a larger footprint then scatter feeding along the whole width would help keep them moving a bit more.

I definitely don't want to put the middle back in as I find my rats stay active for longer if I keep them climbing for as long as possible but certainly worth a mention.
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Re: Double SRS/ Explorer

Post by acapae_wolf » Tue Aug 11, 2015 1:15 pm

Yeah, I was more thinking of the last person in terms of wondering what they had used to join the two together.

Re-stability, I'm sure you could do something with the internal layout to help that. Like a strategically placed big perch or rigid parrot toy or carefully placed branch or something. Especially anything going front to back over the join-type area. Obviously not as strong as fixed metal parts, but it's a tactic I sometimes use (without explicitly sharing the whys) e.g. the red-painted java perch at the top if my multi aviary is pushing the top of the left hand panel out. It was wanting to droop in, which would have left a possibly multi-sized hole at one point of the modded roof attachment. Pushing it out made that hole vanish.

I do like the idea of a really long floorspace.
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Re: Double SRS/ Explorer

Post by Rhian33 » Tue Aug 11, 2015 1:50 pm

Maybe I'm missing something but I'm not expecting to really lose a lot of rigidity. I will only be losing 1 small panel from each cage which sits inside a sturdy frame of other panels. I will be able to use fastenings to secure the stands together as well as the bottom panels, back panels, top panels and the top middle which I won't be removing. Is there something I haven't considered?
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Re: Double SRS/ Explorer

Post by acapae_wolf » Tue Aug 11, 2015 2:03 pm

I wasn't saying it would be. Like I said at the start, I have no experience with joining explorers or SRSs. Indeed I pointed out that Alison managed it having Aussie towers with the sides fully removed with 3 in a line of a cage with less edging in the first place - which is much less supported than what you're considering. Just saying that if stability was an issue re. the joining methods used, there are further mods you can do. I think testing joining methods is the way to go though, hence suggesting trying it out :)
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Re: Double SRS/ Explorer

Post by Rootigger » Tue Aug 11, 2015 2:11 pm

I reckon you'd be fine stability-wise because of the way the SRS is built, especially if you're leaving the two top end-panels in place (but I wonder whether you might end up wanting to remove them too...) A fully open double-width base would be great, mine do race around the bottom through the door but it's not the same degree of freedom.
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Re: Double SRS/ Explorer

Post by acapae_wolf » Tue Aug 11, 2015 2:16 pm

Rootigger wrote:(but I wonder whether you might end up wanting to remove them too...)
:lol: :lol:

When are you starting?
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Re: Double SRS/ Explorer

Post by Rhian33 » Tue Aug 11, 2015 2:30 pm

I may well do at some point. It should be fairly easy as the panels unbolt from the front and the side and can just be slid out.

Will be stating this mid September Beri. We'll be re-painting the room from the 10th and tiling the floor then we'll start on the cage modding plans once we've finished that. I will try and take pics of my progress.
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