One day, I was trying to clean or something and Fiona was just too clingy so I set her down on a nearby craft dresser where she immediately started exploring. She was only free for about five minutes, but it was long enough for her to realize that exploring is awesome. After that day, we were never able to keep her on the table. We’d walk away and find she had somehow gotten down and was running around the basement. We moved everything away from the table so there was nothing for her to jump or climb down to, but she still found a way. It soon got to the point where we’d open the door to let the rats out and Fiona would be on the floor within 30 seconds. She just leans over the edge of the table and falls down to the cement floor and dashes away.
For a while, I was just letting her run around down there for ten minutes. She would always eventually try to get upstairs so we could catch her easily. Sometimes, we allow her free time in the upstairs living room, but if my husband is home, this is no good because he doesn’t understand our friendship with rats. Also, if Fiona came to a door or anything blocking her way, she would start gnawing or ripping up carpet and we just couldn’t have that. I had to keep the both of them locked up in their big cage more and more. We tried letting just Sugar out to run on her wheel, but she seemed confused as to why she wasn’t being allowed back in her cage. A couple times, we forgot about her and found her curled up sleeping in another cage, but still on the table like a good girl. This made us feel guilty.My solution was to build a play place for them using cardboard boxes and tubes I’d collected at my workplace. The tubes are wide and made of sturdy cardboard so they were just crying out for me to do something with them. One of the boxes had dividers all through it which I found perfect for making a cardboard maze. I used that box and three others, attaching them all with the tubes using an Exacto knife and duct tape. For two boxes, I had a screen top that I presume once covered a huge, long aquarium.
I first decided to see what Fiona thought of one of the taller boxes. I dropped her in and was surprised to find she could jump out. This box is probably a good three feet tall and she was able to use one side to ricochet off of to get to the top. I was amazed by her stealth, but I think she was mostly motivated by fear. I still went forward with my building plan, but considered adding windows to the tall box so it wouldn’t be so dark in there. For this I borrowed some cage wire from a neighbor and simply duct taped it on. So here’s how it turned out. I’ll let you know what the girls thought of it after they’ve had some time to try it out.This is the tall box Fiona was able to jump out of. Each box is connected with a tube.
Three sides have a window like this one. Both rats jump up to it and grab the bars with their little hands, not unlike prisoners in jail.
The bottoms of these slats have holes carved in them so the girls can maneuver through.
Here's what the whole thing looks like. The box lids get closed and I put a gallon paint can on to keep them secured.