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Topic: Big chinchilla cage  (Read 6987 times)
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brokenumbrella
« on: February 20, 2011 07:28:28 AM »

Hi everyone

Not sure if this counts as "craft"? But why not - and I thought it might be useful to anyone wanting to do something similar.


Here is the finished item - below are twelvety pictures of it during construction.




I took on two chins last summer from a friend who could no longer care for them. I was told they came with a cage Hooray! thought I.
Turned out to be this:



I really wanted them to have more space, so started looking for a new cage. There are some nice ones available but for the size I wanted, they were all way out of my price range.

So, given that Im terrible at maths, have no woodworking experience and am notorious for  not planning things through properly I thought, why not build one myself? (What follows is a lot of pictures of it in progress skip to the bottom for detail pics of each level)

First plan it all out carefully not doing this has been my downfall in the past. As you can see I had to make a lot of modifications after the initial draft! Ive designed it as big as possible within the space I had spare in my living room. Its got big doors to get in for cleaning, and is divided into two halves with a ladder leading from one to the other. That way I can block them into the bottom half whiel I clean the top, and vice versa; and if I needed to I could separate the chins, eg if I wanted to monitor how well one was eating.

Crucially, make sure its small enough to fit through your doors. In my zeal to give the chins as much space as possible, I first made it too wide, and had to disassemble the side panels and take a bit off. Its important that it goes through a door as I move it to a cooler room in summer.

The cost of wood and mesh was about 120, I spent a bit on brackets and screws, but already had hinges, bolts and doorhandles in stock. So quite a cheap cage for the size - it's about 140 x 120 x 80.



Then cut the wood to size and assemble the panels. Here is my workshop yes, its a kitchen, and not a particularly big one. I think the biggest hindrance to this project was the lack of space, it made things really awkward.



I dont have a workbench either but these bricks worked pretty well!
A tip for those thinking of doing something like this you cant just put in a screw at each corner, the panels wont be strong enough, and will flex when you pick them up. I didnt realise this and had to make an extra trip to town to buy lots of corner brackets.



Covering them with weldmesh 16g with holes as recommended by people on the chin forum. This was painful and time consuming. I ripped my hand open on a sharp edge of mesh and sprayed blood everywhere, which was fortunate because I realised how dangerous it could be for the chins, so I borrowed a file from work and ground all the edges smooth.



Then I needed to screw them all together, which is when I realised I dont have twelve hands. I didnt want to pay out for clamps, cos Ill probably never use them again, so I went round the village begging to borrow them from people. Got quite a few! Another tip ideally you should clamp it all together *before* you put the mesh on that way you can check that everything fits together as it should, and its easier to make any changes. Then you can take it apart, mesh it, and clamp it back together again. I didnt think of this till halfway through but luckily it wwas all ok.



Here is the half shelf in the bottom, and the supports for the main shelf in the middle.



These are the only screwed down bits of the middle shelf, the other pieces slot in tightly but lift out for easy cleaning. I'm not



I'm not 100% pleased with the shelves. They're made of planks rather than one solid piece, because I got given the wood free. It means there are little cracks where dirt will get trapped, but it also means it's easier to take them in and out for cleaning as they're lighter. I might redo them in future, or I might not.


It would have helped if Id built it where it was intended to go. But I managed to drag it there anyway. Perfect fit!



And here it is! The top storey isnt finished yet there will be more shelves, hammocks etc, as most of its just wasted space at the moment. But its taken me just over a week to do this and I was losing the will to live! So it will be finished off when I have a bit of spare time. I cant believe I thought itd only take me three days *sigh*

It's just stood on a bit of plywood for now, I'm going to try to get a metal tray made for the bottom though. The  tiny door on the bottom of the right side is for ease of exercising, I'm going to construct a passage from there to their play area so they can go in and out as they please.

Downstairs:

Upstairs:


They seem to really love it Smiley I put them in late last night and then stayed up for nearly three hours just watching them race around exploring everything.

Marnie and Tim realising they now have an upstairs:




So to sum up: my hands are ripped to shreds; my house is ankle deep in sawdust and mesh fragments; Ive not had a cooked meal for a week; but it was totally worth it to see them so happy. Also for the massive ego boost its probably silly but Im really chuffed that I managed to complete this my usual pastimes are things like embroidery and scrapbooking so I was a bit out of my comfort zone on this project!

If anyone wants to try this, and has any questions, I'll be happy to give advice if I can - although I would stress that this isn't my speciality, I've pretty much bodged my way through it, learning as I went along!
« Last Edit: February 20, 2011 07:38:59 AM by brokenumbrella - Reason: adding extra pics » THIS ROCKS   Logged
graced
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« Reply #1 on: February 20, 2011 07:50:13 AM »

It's lovely AND functional! How can you go wrong with THAT?! Cheesy
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« Reply #2 on: February 20, 2011 07:58:55 AM »

Wow this is awesome!!!! Hitting this rocks!

i dont know how clean chinchillas are compared to rats - do they use a litter tray to wee in? as a rat keeper - I know we cant use 'wood' things as their wee soaks into the wood and makes it smelly!

If this is the case - it might be worth painting it in plastikote / japlac which is a paint that prevents the urine soaking in. If you decide to do this - read the tins - lots will say 'suitable for children' which means it's not toxic for animals - but some won't!

Fantastic project though - I'm jealous of your skills!
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glitter_is_good
« Reply #3 on: February 20, 2011 09:13:59 AM »

Wow this is awesome!!!! Hitting this rocks!

i dont know how clean chinchillas are compared to rats - do they use a litter tray to wee in? as a rat keeper - I know we cant use 'wood' things as their wee soaks into the wood and makes it smelly!

If this is the case - it might be worth painting it in plastikote / japlac which is a paint that prevents the urine soaking in. If you decide to do this - read the tins - lots will say 'suitable for children' which means it's not toxic for animals - but some won't!

Fantastic project though - I'm jealous of your skills!

I was also just thinking about how this could work really well for rats!  There just aren't enough nice large cages on the market, and this one is really quite nice Smiley

You did a great job!
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brokenumbrella
« Reply #4 on: February 20, 2011 09:17:39 AM »

Wow this is awesome!!!! Hitting this rocks!

i dont know how clean chinchillas are compared to rats - do they use a litter tray to wee in? as a rat keeper - I know we cant use 'wood' things as their wee soaks into the wood and makes it smelly!

If this is the case - it might be worth painting it in plastikote / japlac which is a paint that prevents the urine soaking in. If you decide to do this - read the tins - lots will say 'suitable for children' which means it's not toxic for animals - but some won't!

Fantastic project though - I'm jealous of your skills!


They're not particularly clean - but there isn't much other option for shelving as they can't have plastic either. Chin cages tend to have wooden shelves which are periodically taken out and scrubbed, which is why I made it in two sections - I can shut them in the bottom while the top dries after cleaning  Smiley

That's a good tip about the plastikote though, thankyou - I didn't know there was such a thing so I will def look into it Smiley

glitter is good John Hopewell makes excellent large chinchilla cages - I wonder if they would be suitable for rats too, if you're looking for one? Not sure though because I don't know much about rats.
« Last Edit: February 20, 2011 09:22:20 AM by brokenumbrella » THIS ROCKS   Logged
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« Reply #5 on: February 20, 2011 09:21:10 AM »

Wonderful! How awesome of you to do this! I bet they are super happy. Way to go.
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Zephyr
« Reply #6 on: February 20, 2011 10:19:35 AM »

You did such a great job. Just wanting to give them a better home was great butthe finished project is awesome. Many kudos to you!
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aprettymess
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« Reply #7 on: February 20, 2011 11:29:30 AM »

wow  this is awesome! ive been wanting to make my bunny a proper cage. even though she gets free range time i feel sad when she is locked up in her no-fun cage...
bookmarking this  Cheesy
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brokenumbrella
« Reply #8 on: February 20, 2011 11:38:39 AM »

wow  this is awesome! ive been wanting to make my bunny a proper cage. even though she gets free range time i feel sad when she is locked up in her no-fun cage...
bookmarking this  Cheesy

thanks Smiley Is your bunny indoors or outdoors? I have a link to a page of creative ideas for indoor rabbit housing, if you'd like it Smiley
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aprettymess
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« Reply #9 on: February 20, 2011 12:12:39 PM »

yea def would love the link.
i have 2 outdoors. they get stir crazy when they need to be brought in for inclement weather.
i have 1 indoors and shes a baby still so i am working on domesticating her to the max. litter training and all. but she is my indoor bunny and i would be making her a home
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