Outwitting Houdini

At what point did the screen-top-on-a-10-gallon-aquarium method of keeping rodents become passe? I’ve got to spend this afternoon buying replacement parts for Juliet’s cage, which she is slowly but surely destroying, because the only rodent confinement systems currently available are made of either wire (perfect for the pet owner who enjoys running the vacuum five or six times a day) or plastic (perfect for the pet owner who enjoys setting humane traps to try to recover escaped rodents every few months).

Juliet’s cage is the plastic type. It’s very cute and has a nice system of plastic tubes, hideouts, towers, etc. for her to play in. The tubes look like fun. Unfortunately, Juliet does not think it’s fun to climb through tubes. Juliet thinks it’s fun to stick her bottom jaw through any available gap in the main cage area and expand that gap as rapidly as possible. If Penn Plax could somehow impregnate the plastic with a mixture of Quaaludes and Valium, I’m sure the “S.A.M. Down Under Jackeroo Home” would be an ideal setup for keeping a gerbil confined and happy … but without the assistance of tranquilizers, it’s woefully inadequate for a normal animal. (Maybe that’s part of the plan: If they held up better, I wouldn’t need to replace cages — at $40 a pop — every six months.)


If I didn’t have a 240-page grant to study this afternoon, I’d skip the pet store and head to Best Hardware, because I’m fairly certain I could build a much better setup using an aquarium and $15 worth of hardware cloth and cage clips … but I don’t have time to mess with it today, so I guess I’ll just have to buy a couple of spare parts and hope for the best.


UPDATE: The secret, apparently, is to look in the reptile section. It seems that screen covers for aquariums are no longer deemed appropriate for small mammals, but they’re still perfectly acceptable for snakes and lizards. I had to visit a PetSmart and two Petcos before I found one that had the 10-gallon size in stock, but I now have a screen-wire cover, two security clips, and a brand-new 10-gallon aquarium in the living room, just waiting for me to set it all up so Juliet can move in. Which is a good thing, because I can’t find a replacement for the part she chewed up on her current cage, which is being held together with various types of tape.

In other news, I read that grant application, rewarded myself with a trip to MaggieMoo’s, harvested two small pickling cucumbers from the garden, and noticed a boatload of tiny fruits forming on the spaghetti squash vines. I am now going to clean the rodents’ cages and call Dawn to see if she’s going to be around this evening so I can drop off a big box of hardhats that our friend Mike from Arizona shipped to me the other day. 

Oh, and I figured out what kind of birds are nesting out front: mockingbirds. Hopefully the mama will be ornery enough to keep the neighbor’s cats away from the babies when they’re big enough to start trying to fly. I love Callie, but she and I are going to have major issues if she starts killing baby birds in my yard….

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