This article is from the Nov/Dec 1995 AFRMA Rat & Mouse Tales news-magazine.
By Nichole Royer
Anyone who has wire wheels knows how hard it is to get them really clean. The best way I have found is to soak them in a strong bleach/water solution over night. The next morning rinse the wheel thoroughly ( I use a high power hose) and they usually come out clean. For a wheel that just won't come clean, use a wire brush to scrub them. A wire brush is also the easiest way to keep your wire cage clean.
Nichol’s rat “Keely” enjoying her “ultimate” wheel from Fern Mfg. Note the covering on the wire shelf.
While at the craft store the other day I came across a great covering for those shelves made out of ½ by 1 inch wire that cause so many problems to our rats' feet. Most craft stores sell sheets of plastic needlepoint canvas. These flat plastic sheets are easy to clean, have holes in them so any liquid “waste” runs through, and come in a variety of bright colors. The only drawback is that the rats do chew on them and they need to be replaced on a regular basis, but for 30 cents a sheet (8½X11) its still a good deal. They are easy to cut and fit in place using just scissors, and I use the twist ties that come with my trash bags to hold them down (I trim the ends short so that the rats don't eat the wire).
When it comes time to replace your old wire wheels and cages you can avoid both these problems. Fern Manufacturing now makes solid sheet metal wheels which are coated so they are very easy to clean. They also make cages with solid shelves (coated) and I would recommend these as the best cages available today.