Post by Markpd on Jan 29, 2021 13:38:41 GMT -8
So after reading a few websites about apparently how much Gerbils like larger areas of sand vs a sandbath, and peoples posts here about separate play pens and bin cages, I thought I'd combine them.
This is for temporary cage out time, not a permanent extension. I think my boys in particular are bad candidates for having multiple linked cages (more on that later), even if it's ok for some gerbils.
So I bought a 96 ltr box (75 x 38 x 41cm external dimensions) from ebay for £18 (the seller has now run out of that size).
25kg of children's play sand (by Tarmac) for £5.75 from a local landscape gardening suppliers (the slightly cheaper B&Q and Wickes had run out of 25 kg bags in my area!).
Ducting tube so they could make their own back and forth, in theory! I had wanted to get 3m of it (so I didn't risk falling short), as I didn't think 2m would cut it, but the seller only had 2 or 5m lengths for sale . In retrospect I should have asked them if they could cut me a 3m length (didn't think about that at the time!), and in actuality 2m would have just about been ok! So I ended up wasting money on a 5m tube (£40), when I could've just bought a 2m tube for £16!, and I now have a spare 2.5m of the tubing left!
Anyway I put about 2-3" of sand in the box (a little bit overkill in hindsight), which was about 1/2 the bag. Added a sandstone rock, a large stone, a coconut hut (3 for £15, sucked into a bargain!), grapevine branch, cardboard box and a spare bendybridge I had. Cut the tube to ~2.5m long, and made a lid out of some spare welded mesh I have.
Prior to getting the sand I'd already hooked up the tube to the top of the left hand tank lid, and took the right hand lid off to let the boys explore . Blake as usual shot straight over to the Rotastak at 1st, with Avon close behind. A few minutes later Avon came out, and didn't even notice the tube and went back down into the tank! . Some minutes later Blake came out and explored as usual and found the tube (yey!), he went down it a couple of feet, then doubled back, then back in again and went a bit further, then doubled back again, etc until he finally got to the box!
Fast forwards a few days, the sand's in now, the tube shortened and at a shallower angel, Blake runs down the tube in 1 go (he's pretty much used to it by then), gets to the sand, has a quick run around and then doubles back! Lol, thanks Blake!
He does double back again to re-enter it though . Video here
It would probably have taken Avon a couple of weeks to find the tube, so I caught him and plonked him into it's entrance, then he went in (and doubled back a few times like Blake, lol).
There's a longer video (4mins) of them both having a good explore here, if you're interested.
So aside from buying shorter ducting, 1 other thing I might have done differently if I was starting from scratch, would be to buy a box that isn't so tall, although it's handy it's that tall in one manner as it means they can't jump out of it (which was my reason for getting a tall one in the 1st place), but seeing as I made a lid for it anyway, that made it rather pointless being that tall, no big deal though.
A few problems showed up pretty quickly after setting this up, 1 was that Blake took a liking to the tube, he wouldn't just chew it, he actually tried to eat the rubber before I stopped him! I've mostly stopped him chewing it (so far) by laying the end of the tube flat (see 2nd photo vs 1st one), I think the low edge of the tube was bothering him (and Avon to a lesser degree). Last few visits he's barely touched it, other than to pull it sidewards occasionally out of his way! lol
The next problem I found, once he got stuck into digging the sand, when he hit the bottom of the box, or the corner, he would obsessively dig , I haven't found an answer to that yet, other than just putting him back in the tank when he gets obsessed by a specific corner.
And one other problem which has shown up in the sandpen (as well as the Rotastak), is that because Avon either just doesn't go there, or doesn't stick around for long, Blake appears to get it into his head that it's his territory. I say that because when Avon does show up, Blake is very 'pushy', especially in the sand pen, on one occasion he was vigorously sniffing his butt, humping him and scent marking him, that was by far the most I've seen him do that and on this occasion I blocked Blake from doing it anymore, Blake then chilled out after that. In the Rotastak I've noticed that if Avon turns up a few minutes later or more than Blake, they often have a quick wrestle and both butt sniff, then it's over.
But last time they were both in the sandpen, not much happened, so I will keep an eye on it. But I may have to only allow one in at a time if the argy bargy gets too much and happens to often I think.
If anyone has any good/better ideas on how to deal with the problems, I'm all ears!
That aside, Blake loves going in there now, he went straight to the sandpen 1st rather than the Rotastak today