American Fancy Rat & Mouse Association

This article is from the WSSF 2005 AFRMA Rat & Mouse Tales news-magazine.

Critter Critiques

Otto Environmental Housing Review

By Karen Robbins

While getting all the new housing from Tecniplast and Ancare to try, I found another company that has lots of enrichment devices for all kinds of animals. This is Otto Envrionmental in Wisconsin. For these tests I bought the plastic Rodent Dome (6″ size) to try out on groups of female mice, the Stainless Steel Dome to try out on single male mice, several of the cardboard Refuge mouse houses—these were only 11¢ per Refuge, and a Round House to try out on male rats.

Rodent Dome

The Rodent Dome comes in a colorful (I got a purple one), unbreakable polyethylene plastic dome in three sizes—a mini 3″ one for $3.29, the medium size at 4.5″ for $4.65, and the large 6″ one for $6.55. These are actually balls that they cut in half and sell, similar to the Super Pet® Ferret Roll-about Ball but smaller. I gave this house to a cage of females and they loved it! Being a plastic, they chewed the 3 doors a little bigger but have stopped now. I tried it out on a couple more cages of mice and they all love this house! So much so, that I bought more so each cage of females can have a house like this. I only use it in a cage of 3–4 females as it won’t hold any more than this of the large English mice.

6″ rodent dome
A 6″ rodent dome from Otto Environmental Photo by Karen Robbins.

Stainless Steel Dome

The Stainless Steel Dome is entirely stainless steel. It looks like a bowl that they turned upside down and cut three holes in it. Its size is 4½″W x 2½″H with three 1¼″ holes. It sells for $6.49 each.

This house would have to be for my smaller males as the openings aren’t very large and being stainless steel, they can’t chew the holes any larger if needed. I found an adult small, thinner male that liked the house so much, I let him use it until he died. One good thing with this house, you won’t have to worry about it being chewed to nothing and have to be replaced like a plastic or cardboard house.

Stainless Steel House
A Stainless Steel Dome house from Otto Environmental. Photo by Karen Robbins.

Mouse Refuge

The Mouse Refuge is a cardboard house 4″ x 4″ x 2½″H with 4 openings. It is basically a cardboard “cup holder” tray where they cut each individual “cup” section out and make a house. This is definitely something for the smaller mice even though I did have one of my full-size English males squeeze into it. The smaller males chewed the openings larger and even chewed the top right off so they could use it. They were all shredded fairly quickly—faster than they shred the Shepherd Shacks®. They seem to be well liked by the mice even though they are a tad small for even my small males.

Mouse Refuge carboard house
The Refuge cardboard house from Otto Environmental. Photo by Otto Environmental.

Round House

The Round House is actually in the reptile enrichment section on their web site labeled for reptiles, but being it is 10″W x 4¼″H, this is a good size for rats. It is labeled as a perfect toy for reptiles and small animals and comes in a granite look. I paid $18.95 for this size. It also comes in a large size of 14″W x 6″H. Since this is plastic and fairly expensive for a “chew toy” and knowing how destructive my females can be when it comes to plastic anything, this house was going to be tested out on my non-chewing males. I gave it to a cage of three males. They didn’t use it as much sleeping inside as they did lying on top of the flat roof. I would put it in one corner of the cage at cleaning time, and the next day it would be moved to another corner of the cage till the next cleaning. There was always one male in particular that would always be hanging out on top of the house. They did a tiny bit of chewing on the edges but being a granite look, it’s hard to see where they chewed.

Round House
A Round House from Otto Environmental. Photo by Karen Robbins.

All of these houses get a squeak, squeak, squeak, big squeak of approval!

These products may be purchased on Otto Environmental’s website. They have lots of different types of enrichment devices for rodents. Don’t forget to check out the reptile section for rat toys and houses.

NOTE: These houses are available from Otto Environmental, LLC., 6914 N. 124th St., Milwaukee, WI 53224, (414) 358-1001, e-mail: Their web site is *

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Updated May 4, 2015