Habitat from furniture

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Habitat from furniture

Post by j.n379 on Mon 25 Jun 2018, 1:24 pm

Ahoy! I bought a shelving unit.


It's about 4 feet tall for reference. The back is junk so it'll be replaced. The doors are good but there's a 1cm gap so I'll have to fix that somehow. It's got 4 shelves.
I've started drilling holes in the side as an easy first step. Are there guidelines for holes per cubic foot of space? Or do I need to be doing cutouts with rodent netting to be enough air flow?
I've got a Dremel and a jigsaw for tools. Silicone and wood glue for anything I need to "glue". I used the wood glue on Jenga pieces to build her climbing stuff, she shows no interest in eating it and silicone holds all the aquariums together so I'm sure it's safe.

For the back... Maybe plexiglass? Or wood.
For the shelves I'm thinking they'll need a layer of waterproofing, maybe puppy pee pads I can replace as they get gross, underneath the bedding. Are those safe? Right now I use a layer of paper towel underneath her bedding in her tank and it barely gets wet in most places, but saves me a lot of spraying and washing.

She's a digger, not a nest builder. She made a nice nest from dog fur but won't nest with paper products at all. So one layer will have a big deep digging zone.

She literally hates me so I'm hoping the bigger cage gives her the stimulation she needs, and there's a breeder locally so I'll be getting her two friends as soon as the new huge house is ready. As it stands, she's happy in her small tank but barbers if I take her out, and after I clean it she panics for a while. When I leave her alone her fur grows back in. I want her to have a nice big space so that I don't need to interfere in her mouse life as often.

I've seen planted cages on Instagram so maybe wheatgrass on one layer if I can get clean enough soil. I garden so I've got lots of animal safe plants like lettuce.

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Re: Habitat from furniture

Post by j.n379 on Wed 27 Jun 2018, 3:25 pm

I'm also pondering on the idea of self-sustaining housing. In aquaculture farms, the plants and fish work together to keep clean, the fish eat plant pests and the plants clean fish poops. I wonder if there is a way to create enough natural area that there would not be as much need for cleaning? Just the climbing equipment and wheels and such, but if I were to get a good "nature zone" with proper dirt and clean plants, theoretically the poops would eventually become one with the dirt? Is this a pipe dream?
I think maybe using the current aquarium as the nature zone would make it easy to contain. If I pop it on to one of the shelves, 60% full of dirt/sand/whatever, she can dig her little holes and none will fall out into the rest of the housing. I can grow some plants in it before putting it in there, all indoors from seed to prevent pests, and she can have natural nibbles! She does eat it when I make her a baby salad from scraps.

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Re: Habitat from furniture

Post by Artistwolf on Thu 28 Jun 2018, 2:19 pm

I don’t mean to rain on your parade—I really don’t. Lol. But I have to mention that a mouse can be... crazier in a larger space. The bigger the space, often the more insecure they feel—they think they have to work overtime to defend their territory and, well, it doesn’t always make for super friendly mice. Which is why ten gallon tanks are recommended for a starting point, and bigger tanks are usually only used for very tame, friendly, secure-feeling mice. For new mice, I wouldn’t recommend starting them out in there. They would be a whole lot harder to tame up. Just felt I had to mention it.. sorry!

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Re: Habitat from furniture

Post by j.n379 on Fri 29 Jun 2018, 12:46 am

That makes sense. If I'm more concerned with health and happiness than tamedness though? My solo girl is a feeder rescue so she has deeply ingrained human=bad feelings probably because in her original home, human=mouse gone forever. She's not mean, she has never bitten, but she is disgusted by my smell on or near her.
The new ones were going to be tame from a responsible breeder, but maybe she would get along better with mice that are similar to her in temperament?
She for sure needs more space to climb around, she's always upside down on her lid entertaining us with her mission Impossible antics. The shelf was only $5 and in my neighborhood but if you think maybe a bigger tank would be better suited, I get that. I'll always have her tank here if it goes badly, I can put everything back the way it is now.

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Re: Habitat from furniture

Post by Artistwolf on Sat 30 Jun 2018, 2:49 pm

Oh, well that makes more sense then. If the new girls are from a responsible breeder, they should already be tamed, so I don't see that that should be a problem, and if she won't come around, then there's really no harm in it. Thanks for the explanation!
Be sure to post photos of the finished product!

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Re: Habitat from furniture

Post by CallaLily on Sat 30 Jun 2018, 6:41 pm

I don’t have any experience converting furniture into mouse housing, but this person on YouTube has converted some type of shelving into a “mouse metropolis.”  She also provides soil for digging/foraging and safe plants to nibble (along with tons of other enrichment). https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL-Oc_exncHt9hfSm7mnV1B4yVlbG-jeLU


There is also Erin’s Animals on YouTube that builds her own hamster and mouse cages. I’m sure there are plenty of tips you could pick up there too.


I think I might consider attaching 1/4 inch metal hardware cloth to the back - at least in part. Would solve any ventilation worries. Thinking


Large enclosures can absolutely work and are usually appreciated by most mice. That said it is often recommended to start new, untamed mice out in an enclosure closer to the minimum for the group. It’s often easier to monitor their health this way and work on taming.  Then once they’re  tame and you’re confident they’re healthy you can move them to their permanent housing. Keep in mind mice like things crowded and don’t like wide open spaces - so lots of hides, toys, etc are a must. And its a good idea to have a back up plan for if the group or enclosure doesn’t work out.  

Good luck and please keep us updated on your project!


Edit: I do not know for sure on the safety of puppy pee pads. Do you know what they’re made of? If it’s just layers of unscented paper it would probably be fine. But if it’s cotton or whatever that nasty absorbent gel stuff is in baby diapers, I would think not.

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Re: Habitat from furniture

Post by j.n379 on Sun 01 Jul 2018, 10:32 am

I watched Erin's animals this morning, so delightful. Great suggestions for videos.
I've got 1/8" wire cloth on the list for next week, and I'll look for varnish (as she suggested, food safe) instead of the puppy pads, I'm sure they're full of chemicals. This lady isn't a chewer at all but who knows what the next few will be like, and I want this to last pretty much forever. As soon as I got two rows of holes drilled I could tell they wouldn't be enough air circulation.

For space since everyone is concerned, I'm considering finishing the shelving up and then allowing one shelf for a couple weeks, then opening up access to the rest over time. Then she won't get overwhelmed by changes all at once. If I set up a system where I can close off the holes, it could also function to separate anyone who needs a mild quarantine for behavior in the future. Not medical quarantine since there is a chance of litter falling through gaps.

The new problem is I saw a video showing tiny quails living in large tanks so now I've got that in my head of like, omg baby tiny quail! Inside! Lol no, one giant project at a time I think.

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