This article is from the WSSF 2006 AFRMA Rat & Mouse Tales news-magazine.
By Karen Robbins
After years of searching, I finally found some new bigger size lab cages for the mom mice and mom rats than what I was using. I was searching for a cage at least 9″ x 13½″ x 6″ tall for the mom mice and newborn kids—nothing shorter than 6 inches. I currently have cages 10½″ x 19″ x 6″ tall that are good for the moms and litters once the kids start running around but wanted something a little smaller for the moms with newborn kids. The cages I was using for moms with newborn kids are fine for the small pet shop/lab mice, but after working with the big English show mice all these years, I needed something bigger for these mice.
I found a couple cages from different lab cage companies but finally settled on the Tecniplast 2150E polypropylene (opaque) bottoms that measure 14″L x 9¼″W x 7½″H with a floor area of 90 in2. I found that some cages sound great in the measurements but the actual floor space isn’t very much because of the really tapered sides. It comes out that the top measure is a nice size, but the floor measure ends up being really small. This 2150E cage is actually labeled for rats/hamsters but I would never consider using this for a rat! In the process of looking for cages, I looked in the rat/hamster sections as most of the mouse lab cages are only 5″ tall and just way too short and small for the big show mice.
The Tecniplast 2150E cage. This pregnant Ivory mouse is checking out the height of the cage. Photo by Karen Robbins.
The Tecniplast 2150E cage with inner fitting lid which is flush to the top of the plastic bottom. Photo by Karen Robbins.
The series 114 stainless steel lids for these bottoms have a U-shaped food hopper, hinged divider, bottle protector, and front spring clip closure. These lids are inner fitting (lie flush with the top of the cage bottom rather than sitting on top of the cage bottom). With these lids little mouse teeth are unable to get into the top corners of the cages to chew. The only disadvantage I have found with these lids is that you are unable to open the lid and leave it sitting on the cage while you are putting in/getting out a mouse. There is nothing to keep the lid from falling into the cage, so you have to take the lid off entirely to get to the mice. The 224 lids I got for the rat cages have little tabs on the lid so you are able to open the lid and keep it on the cage while handling the rats. The bottle section on the 114 lid holds a 16-oz bottle where my old cages only held 8-oz bottles. The food hopper holds a 1 pound coffee can of lab blocks so there is less time spent filling bottles and food hoppers.
I’ve found that my mom mice prefer opaque bottoms versus clear—they feel more protected. In the wild, mice have their houses in small enclosed areas, tunnels, etc., and clear cages don’t give them that sense of protection. I do have some clear cage bottoms I use for the breeding cages, but the mice all get lots of tubes, houses, nesting material, etc., so they feel secure.
I was a little concerned with the height being 7½ inches but the food hopper drops down 3¾ inches so even my smaller moms and their kids are able to reach the food with no problem. I actually prefer the height now for the big show mice as they have more head room.
On the wall where I have the mouse maternity section, I had to make the shelves deeper to accommodate these cages but they are working out very well for my use. In the process, I upgraded the shelves to melamine so the are super easy to wipe down and keep clean. These cages get a definite thumbs up in my opinion.
While looking for new cages for the mom mice, I was also on the hunt for bigger cages for the mom rats with newborn kids. I was only able to find two companies that had decent size cages in measurements other than what I was using. Again, Tecniplast was the company I went with for these cages. I got the 1500U cage bottoms in polycarbonate that are 19″L x 14¾″W x 8¼″H with a floor area of 233 in2. They had to fit on the rack I use for the rat maternity section.
The Tecniplast 1500U rat cage bottom with series 224 semi-raised lid from www.tecniplast.it and homemade feeder basket. The lid opens from the back which I later changed to open from the front. Photo by Karen Robbins.
I chose the series 224 semi-raised lids so there is more head room for the moms. This lid has tabs on the sides so you are able to slide the lid on the cage to get to the rats without having to take the lid completely off. The lid holds either two 16-oz or 32-oz water bottles. I only use one water bottle section for a bottle and the other section is left empty or can be used for additional food. These lids have a door in the top of the lid so you can access the rats without having to open the entire lid or take it off. The only thing I changed on these lids was to turn the door around so it opens from the front instead of the back.
I didn’t get the feeder baskets they sell for these lids as it takes up too much room inside the cage, and my moms usually make their nest underneath the feeder section of the lid. So, I made my own feeder baskets with ½″ x 1″ stainless steel wire mesh. I made them to drop down the same as the water bottle holder sections. I chose stainless steel to match the stainless steel lids and the fact they are super easy to clean. With galvanized wire, the food and gunk gets stuck to the wire and needs to be soaked and wire brushed to get clean.
In the process of finding new mouse and rat cages, I also found some new jumbo-size lab cages for the rats. Tecniplast makes a polycarbonate bottom 24″L x 17 1⁄8″W x 8½″H with a floor area of 320 in2—the largest on the market, number 2000P, with a series 224 semi-raised lid. The semi-raised lid goes up an additional 1 9⁄16″ above the top of the cage so the rats have more head room. Unfortunately, these cage lids don’t have outer sides in the water bottle sections so if you only use one bottle, the other bottle slot cannot be used for additional food. These lids sit on top of the cage bottom so you are able to open the lid and slide it on the cage bottom to get to the rats without having to take the lid off completely. These have two water bottle holder sections for the water bottles—either 16 oz or 32 oz. Again, these lids have a door in the top of the lid, but these are put on where they open from the front. These doors make it nice to quickly open the cage to put in treats or access the rats.
The Tecniplast 2000P rat cage bottom with series 224 semi-raised lid from www.tecniplast.it and homemade feeder basket. Photo by Karen Robbins.
Again, I opted to make my own stainless steel ½″ x 1″ wire mesh feeder baskets as the ones they sell for the lids are only about 5⁄8″ from the floor. The rats are unable to crawl underneath the feeder to facilitate full use of the floor space and the bedding would be pushed up against the feeder with the Tecniplast feeder baskets.
The only suggestion I have for the 1500U and 2000P cage bottoms is to make them 9–10 inches tall instead of only 8 inches so with the semi-raised lids, they are more the height where a rat can stand on its hind legs and stretch out.
Tecniplast is an Italian company with dealers in the U.S.A., Canada, South America, Europe, Asia, Africa, India, and the Middle East.
These lab cages may be purchased through Tecniplast or its dealers.
NOTE: Tecniplast 2150E, 1500U and 2000P cage bottoms and 114 series lids for the 2150E cage and the 224 series semi-raised lids for the 1500U and 2000P cages are made by Tecniplast, Tecniplast Gazzada S.a r.l., Via 1° Maggio, 6, 21020 Buguggiate - Va - Italy, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Their web site is www.tecniplast.it.