American Fancy Rat & Mouse Association

This article is from the Winter 2001 AFRMA Rat & Mouse Tales news-magazine.

Helpful Hints

Important Tips; Cleaning Wire Cages
Important Tips

From Monica Jung, La Quinta, CA

  • Recliner chairs are dangerous for rats! The recliner mechanism is a scissors-type device that could seriously Recliner Chair injure a rodent hiding under such a chair. Likewise, the steel springs under any type of platform rocker or rocker glider (or convertible sofa) could be hazardous. Rats love to hide underneath and inside chairs because of the stuffing and upholstery. Always ensure that pets are visible and accounted for before taking a seat on (or getting up from!!) any such chair if your rodents are out of their cage.
  • There is a lot of advertising for electronic pest and insect repelling devices. These plug into an electrical outlet and repel bugs and rodents for a whole house or a particular room. I would think that such a device would drive a caged pet rodent crazy. So be aware that though our rodents are not “pests,” but “pets,” they are one of the animal species that such repelling devices is designed to “banish.” Anyone using them to control insects may be inadvertently subjecting their beloved pet to “cruel, unusual, and unnecessary punishment.” Perhaps some pet owners who have had incorrigible, escape-artist rodents were using such devices and drove the poor little things berserk! The manufacturers slyly indicate that they are harmless to PETS, but mislead the unwary by considering our pets to be pests! These vendors should print a warning on the product!
  • Some paper shredders are automatic (photo-eye), so ensure pets cannot walk across the top of the paper feed slot as they could activate the cutting blades and get hurt. Unplug or invert the shredder when not in use. The rats are attracted to all of that nifty shredded paper in the shredder bin!
  • Power strips and surge protectors usually sit with open outlets on top (and are often on the floor). Tiny little feet and toes can slip down into the plug openings and also have a possible shock hazard from any “moisture.” Roll all power strips over on their sides!
  • Refrigerator Older model refrigerators have exhaust fans under and behind the bottom of the refrigerator. The whirring fan blades can injure a curious little nose, as they are not visible when spinning. They do not have protective grills. If your pet has a “part” in the hair on their forehead, suspect the refrigerator fan. Block any access to this area. The gaps along the edge of the baseboards are wide enough for a rat to squeeze through, even when the refrigerator fits its opening “wall-to-wall.” A 1″ x 4″ board may work. Be aware of the electrocution hazard under the dishwasher. One touch on the wrong wire can throw an adult man across the room.
  • If your rat is fleet of foot and curious, use caution when opening a side-by-side freezer. Rats can hop in to explore, so if your rodent is out, always ensure its whereabouts whenever opening and closing the refrigerator. This happened to me and luckily, the stealthy stowaway was rescued after only 15 minutes! There are gaps of space underneath the bottom freezer and crisper bins where pets can hide from sight! The crackling noises of the warm air entering the freezer mask the sound of the rodents moving around inside the freezer. Inventory the whereabouts of pets every time you open and close a freezer door. Likewise, any kitchen cabinet door, as well.
  • Watch any “self closing” drawers, such as those on file cabinets. If a pet is exploring, it may climb File Cabinet inside from under the bottom of the drawer nearest the floor and might then be harmed when the drawer glides closed on the tracks, not to mention being lost and un-retrieved for hours. I once spent four hysterical hours from 11 P.M. to 3 A.M. searching for a rat lost in such a manner. She was a sound sleeper, and I emptied the freezer three times before I found her in the file cabinet. I was frantic and retraced every step I could remember, over and over for the evening hours preceding her disappearance, and was ultimately exhausted and relieved when she was located safe and unharmed. She liked to sit on my desk when I worked and considered no day complete unless she had run up a tape on my calculator by walking on the keys.

Cleaning Wire Cages

From Nichole Royer
Wire cages are hard to get really clean, as are solid wheels and shelves. I found something that makes the job much simpler.


Two products made for cleaning cars—“Simple Green” and “Armor All Bug & Tar Cleaner”—make cage cleaning a breeze. Simply mix up a heavy concentration in a bucket of water.

I use a car washing mitt (the kind that looks like shag carpeting) to scrub my cages. Simply immerse the mitt in the cleaning solution, then scrub the cage, shelves, wheels, toys, and pan.

Because these products are specifically designed to take tar and bugs off of cars, they work wonders on cages. They also are great on “gummy” mouse wheels.

These products leave behind a harmless wax buildup, which makes future cage/wheel cleaning simple, and protects the metal.

Admittedly, thoroughly scrubbing cages takes much more effort and time then just spraying them off. I have found though, that if I scrub them every 3 weeks or so, it is easier to hose them off at other times. Also, I am seeing less damage to the metal from corrosion. *

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Updated April 21, 2014