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Using plastic or wire mesh cubes for prairie dog housing?

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Gryffindor
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Using plastic or wire mesh cubes for prairie dog housing?

Postby Gryffindor » Mon Dec 08, 2014 7:52 am

I really want to get prairie dogs next year so I'm trying to plan on what I'd house them in. Since odontoma is a problem in prairie dogs I want to avoid bars or levels/platforms in the cage that they could chew or fall from.

I was thinking of basically making a C&C cage but with either these http://www.ebay.com/itm/9-16-Cube-Panel ... 1520691736 (made from sturdy 1/5-inch thick pp plastic board)

Or these http://www.overstock.com/Office-Supplie ... oduct.html (wire mesh cubes instead of the bars you see with most C&C cages). This is a picture of a guinea pig set up made from these: http://www.rodentswithattitude.co.uk/fo ... .php?t=397

So my question is, would the plastic be a better choice or could prairie dogs possibly destroy the plastic? I don't know really know what pp plastic board is or how strong it is. And could it be bad due to lack of air flow? I know prairie dogs are prone to respiratory problems. But then I know some people house them in plexiglass enclosures, so I don't know how big of an issue that is.

I'm leaning towards the wire mesh but I don't know if they could still manage to chew on the wire? The mesh looks pretty fine though..

What would you guys use?
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Juska
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Re: Using plastic or wire mesh cubes for prairie dog housing

Postby Juska » Mon Dec 08, 2014 1:29 pm

As far as plastic and rodents (I had rats) I know it can pick up urine smells and it'll probably never come out. They can also chew through it...well, rats can, I don't know about PDs.

For my rats' cage I used powder-coated 1"x1/2" welded wire. They had levels but the smaller size of the wire mesh was pretty alright on their feet. It was a Martin's Cage. One of my three boys liked to chew on the bars but he never even got through the powder-coating.

Martin's sells guinea pig cages that have levels coated in rubber (and others that are just one level), maybe that might be suitable? They're awesome cages and I recommend them to anyone with small animals.

If PDs are chewers, they're gonna chew on the cage no matter what it's made out of, if they're anything like other rodent species.
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BlueBaby1023
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Re: Using plastic or wire mesh cubes for prairie dog housing

Postby BlueBaby1023 » Mon Dec 08, 2014 8:07 pm

I can say from experience that the C&C cages work well as a cheap alternative to a prefab metal cage. I've been using my C&C cage for my guinea pigs and rabbits for three years now, and it's worked really well. But, it's starting to get a bit rusty, the height and width makes it hard to clean, and the bars trap things constantly. All rodents chew, and my pigs and rabbits tug or gnaw on the bars on occasion. I would not use mesh because either because rodents have very strong teeth and mesh isn't sturdy enough to keep pigs in, let alone prairie dogs or rats.

Plastic hasn't been an issue for me, my pigs rarely chew it and my rats don't either (the bottom bin on their cage is plastic) but that's because I give them lots to chew on. My rabbits on the other hand absolutely love to destroy plastic. So, it really depends. A determined PD could easily get through plastic grids.

My suggestion would be to melamine sealed with aquarium sealant. Waterproof, nice looking, and if they chew it, it's a wood based product that isn't going to be much of an issue to their digestive tracts. That is going to be our next cage for the pigs once we get settled into our new home. Here is a few examples on youtube videos, but I would add a lid for your PDs and make the sides all melamine instead of with a plexiglass front like these cages suggest. Both were built for guinea pigs.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ssDF6aebbE

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xtNVWH3HmJM
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Re: Using plastic or wire mesh cubes for prairie dog housing

Postby Juska » Mon Dec 08, 2014 8:42 pm

Correct me if I'm wrong but isn't chemical melamine hazardous when consumed?
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Re: Using plastic or wire mesh cubes for prairie dog housing

Postby TamanduaGirl » Mon Dec 08, 2014 11:21 pm

I remember someone using an old full size satellite dish for the base of the cage so they could dig around naturally in dirt.

Juska wrote:Correct me if I'm wrong but isn't chemical melamine hazardous when consumed?


Yeah bad for the kidneys, like when they put it in a food as an additive in China.
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Re: Using plastic or wire mesh cubes for prairie dog housing

Postby BlueBaby1023 » Tue Dec 09, 2014 2:58 am

Juska wrote:Correct me if I'm wrong but isn't chemical melamine hazardous when consumed?


It can be in large quantities, as TG said. But the amount on melamine sheets is minimal. It's not even 1/32 of an inch thick on the sheets and the rest is a thick plyboard material (or at least it is on our melamine here in Florida), and as long as the side are high enough the PDs shouldn't even be able to get their teeth into it because it's so slick.

Even if they ate a square foot of the siding over the course of a year or so, it wouldn't be enough to hurt them. It's like we consume toxins like arsenic and lead on a daily basis, but it's not enough to hurt us unless we go over the threshold.
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Re: Using plastic or wire mesh cubes for prairie dog housing

Postby Juska » Tue Dec 09, 2014 6:44 pm

I don't know the specifics of it but this article says:

"Melamine has a low acute toxicity; the LD50, the lethal dose of a compound that would result in death in 50% of the tested animals, for melamine in rats is 3.161 g/kg body wt. Acute dermal toxicity in rabbits presents when the exposure is >1 g/kg body wt."

That doesn't seem like a lot, and that's the lethal dose. About half a teaspoon's worth? I know melamine can leach from dinnerware, even if all you're doing is something like eating hot soup out of them. Obviously since we're much larger the LD is a lot higher, but ever since that scare with formula and pet food causing all those deaths I just don't trust things made with it.

Either way, my point is I don't think I'd trust an animal that is prone to chewing with a cage lined with a potentially toxic substance. I'd stick with metal. Even then you have to be careful, if the bars are galvanized and nothing else is coated to it, you have to wash the cage first because it can cause zinc poisoning if they chew on it. That goes for rodents and birds alike.
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Ash
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Re: Using plastic or wire mesh cubes for prairie dog housing

Postby Ash » Tue Dec 09, 2014 7:13 pm

All the melamine I've seen for sale is how Meaghan described it: one side has melamine, and the other side is wood. I don't think a rodent would be able to chew on the "walls" of its cage. Yes, if you had something like melamine bars, that could be an issue.

So if the problem is that the prairie dog would be CONSUMING melamine, wouldn't it be pretty safe? There wouldn't be anywhere for it to really gnaw on.
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BlueBaby1023
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Re: Using plastic or wire mesh cubes for prairie dog housing

Postby BlueBaby1023 » Tue Dec 09, 2014 7:20 pm

Juska: Right, but that's melamine the polymer not melamine the building material. Melamine sheets have very low amounts of the actual chemical melamine. The white resin side which is incredibly thin is more than just the chemical melamine, it's a mix of resin materials.

There are a lot of people that use cages built from melamine and no one has reported any chewing issues with their rodents or marsupials. I've seen it used from rabbits and pigs to sugar gliders, and we built our ferret's cage from it.

Ash: That's exactly the way I meant. If you're making bars from it, it doesn't work, but for solid siding there is no purchase for little teeth to lock onto.
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1 Rex Rabbit
2 Ferrets
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Re: Using plastic or wire mesh cubes for prairie dog housing

Postby Ash » Tue Dec 09, 2014 9:17 pm

Gryffindor, here's a link to Home Depot so you can see what we mean by the melamine boards: http://www.homedepot.com/p/Unbranded-3-4-in-x-4-ft-x-8-ft-White-Melamine-Panel-461877/100070209

It's a very good building material--more costly than plain wood--BUT urine will seep into wood and eventually stain and ruin it. So melamine is better (imo) because it cleans up super easy. It's what I want to build my lizard cages out of eventually. The only thing that can make it difficult to work with is that you have to make sure it won't warp over time. So needs to be solidly built. On the front of the cage you could put wire mesh though.

Were you planning on building your cage, out of curiosity? Or were there some pre-made cages you were already looking at?

I think it's cool that you want a prairie dog. :) They're pretty cute!
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