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Thread: Building a cage, need a little input

  1. #1
    Junior Member
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    Oct 2012
    Location
    Wyoming
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    6

    Building a cage, need a little input

    Currently our hedgie is in a wire cage (with a plastic bottom), but we've decided that we would like something bigger for him.

    So I've put together some basic plans for a wood framed 3 tier cage. I plan to use plexiglass for the front of the cage so that it we can still see the little guy and he can get natural light. But the wood will be more presentable and hopefully keep heat in nicely for him as well.

    For the wood I plan to use kiln dried pine and then stain it and varnish it. And then let it sit in the garage for a few days until everything has cured and there is no more odor. From what I've read kiln dried pine is about as safe as you can go in terms of wood (perhaps a hard wood like oak or cherry would be safer but I don't need a cage that can double as a bomb shelter!). And hopefully sealing it will ensure that there are no phenols present in his cage, and ensure that mites (should they ever be a problem) can't move into the wood.

    My main issue comes in the form of heating. I plan to perforate the walls and the front of the cage so that air can easily move through the cage, but I'm not sure that my current space heater is still the best solution for heating. I thought perhaps about trying to install something more "contained" by using thermostats within the cage and heating it from the bottom or top. Obviously forced air would be the best, but I'm not sure I want to install a complete HVAC system in his cage! But I also don't want to try to just make a double floor and put in radiant heaters in the floor and hope that it will be enough.

    I also thought about making the top two tiers as off-side triangles so that I could install a ceramic heater at the top of the cage and a thermostat at the bottom(ish) so that it would heat the entire cage from the top down.

    I was wondering if anyone had ever built a multi-tier cage and installed a heating system in it that was contained within the cage. I realize it's more of an undertaking than just heating the whole room, but it also seems silly to heat the entire room when only the cage needs to be warm. And as we plan to turn his room into a study it would be nice if the temperature in the room could be a bit more human.

    And to answer in inevitable question, yes I plan to use ramps to move between the levels, I plan to have them carpeted (I currently use carpet in his cage as it's easy to swap out and clean the dirty one) and wall them with plexiglass so that he can't dive off the top of one of them.

    Thanks in advance,

    Ben

  2. #2
    I would definitely seal the wood. Then you will be able to clean and sanitize it. Otherwise wood really doesn't work well for the hedgies. I am sort of intrigued by the idea of radiant flooring. Not sure how you could do it safely and inexpensively. How tall and how many levels? That may determine what type of heating you go with. I'd watch the carpet cause they can snag their nails on it-indoor outdoor may be better than others.
    Ann
    Connecticut Hedgehogs
    A USDA licensed African pygmy hedgehog breeder located in CT. We serve the tri-state area of CT, New York State and NJ as well as Western MA (and anywhere else you happen to be) Visit our website for more information

  3. #3
    Senior Member termonjai's Avatar
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    Jan 2009
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    Inwood, WV
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    We're building our 2nd hedgie habitat right now. It's only 1 level, but it's big (4' x 2'). We use a stain with polyurethane in it. We'll have a plexiglass front and an open/screened top for ventilation. On the side that the hedgie sleeps will be a ceramic heat emitter to ensure the habitat is warm enough. We're going with a rough tile floor again to help with nail trimming and the grout will be sealed. We're using fleece liners and yesterdays news for litter. Over all, it stayed pretty warm for our last hedgie. We kept the house at 70 during the winter and 76 during the summer. We're still in the building process so it will be completed and aired out in plenty of time before we bring our new baby home. Oh, we also put in an aquarium background to make it more scenic. I (hopefully) attached a picture of Winston's home and the one that we're still making.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Momma to Wilhelmina Wiggles, and Winston Willobee III who has crossed the rainbow bridge.

  4. #4
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Location
    Wyoming
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    6
    I was actually thinking about a tile floor on the ground level. I like the way it looks in yours so I think I'll go that way on the bottom as it won't get moved very often.

    I've decided to go with pine and stain it to match the future furniture, and then seal it for the exact reasons listed above. We're currently using a low pile carpet that Gibbs likes very much and hasn't had a problem with snagging.

    I can't find a decent way to radiant heat the cage. I may keep looking as it'll be a few weeks at least until I can start the build.

    But I think I'm going to do a little bit of an eccentric design. I'm going to make the bottom a deep drawer for storing food, spare fleece blankets and extra carpets. Then the ground floor will be square, probably 3x3. The second level will be a triangle coming from the back left corner to the front right corner. Then the third level will be a triangle from the back right to the front left. Then the top will be mesh with a ceramic heater on it. That way the heater in the center will be "seen" by each of the floors directly. I'm going to thermostat the bottom level in the "open" area (the area seen directly by the ceramic heater). Hopefully this will let me heat the cage from the top and keep the whole thing warm. I'll do some testing with thermometers at each level so that I can get the top to ~80*F and have a temperature gradient vertically down the house so that he can choose the temperature he wants. The triangles may be slightly squared so that I can have a little extra room for the ramps.

    I haven't drawn it up completely, but when I do I can upload some images if you guys would like to see what I have in mind. If I have a little extra time at work I may boot up SolidWorks and make a nice iso of the image. Otherwise it'll just be a 2- or 3-view of each level.

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