Nest boxes very damp

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Nest boxes very damp

Post by FosterMom on Thu 11 Oct 2018, 4:44 pm

I am using a small (child's shoebox sized) plastic tub as nest boxes with a loose fitting lid with the exception of one girl who has a cardboard box of the same size. All nest boxes have paper-based bedding (toilet paper, carefresh, paper towels, occasional fleece pieces). I've noticed after the babies are born, they get extremely humid. As in, there is condensation on the underside of the plastic lid and the sides of the cardboard nest box is damp through. Most of the bedding inside is moist. Is this normal? Is this a problem? If it is a problem, how do I fix it? I don't want to constantly replace the bedding in the nest boxes because the litters are still young.

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Re: Nest boxes very damp

Post by MerciToujoursMaPetiteBoop on Thu 11 Oct 2018, 5:48 pm

I'm not sure how damp these situations might usually get, but since it concerns you, let us put on our thinking caps.  (And not the tall, pointy-top ones we have to wear when we sit on the corner stool in class.)  After all, if the babies are sleeping in wet bedding, it can chill them.

You know how when you breathe on a glass or a mirror you get a little patch of condensed water vapor?  In each of your nest boxes, there are several toasty little mousies, all exhaling water vapor every time they breathe, and the vapor is condensing into liquid water inside the box.  Plastic is especially impermeable and, so, susceptible to collecting condensation. That condensation may be dripping into the bedding as well.

You could try increasing the temperature in the room (just not past the mouse-safe range), because warmer air can hold more water as vapor.  Or you can dehumidify the air in the room so it will have more capacity to hold the exhaled water vapor.  But I'm not sure either of those options would have much effect on the microclimate going on inside the nest box!  That is hugely affected by the occupants.

Seems you may have to come up with an alternate way of covering the nest boxes that will allow for better escape, or capture, of the vapor before it condenses all over everything.  Maybe leave more of the box uncovered, or generously perforate the lid.  OR, maybe you could wrap or line the lid with an absorbent material -- maybe a cut of flannel or cloth diaper.

If nothing is working to un-damp the nests, you may just have to replace the plastic boxes.

As for the cardboard box, all I can think is that there isn't enough airflow.

More suggestions, folks?

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Re: Nest boxes very damp

Post by FosterMom on Thu 11 Oct 2018, 6:24 pm

I'm definitely going to up the temperature in the room a bit and try perferating the lids. Since they are recent fosters I don't think any of them would handle a nest box move well, so that would be a last resort. I might put a second (better) box in the tanks now (at least the ones large enough to fit) so that if worse comes to worst, at least it's just moving locations within the tank and not a total move.

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