Product Review: MidWest Homes For Pets Critter Nation Cage for My Pet Rats
I am ecstatic that my rats have finally moved up the housing ladder! They have been upgraded from the Petsmart Kaytee Multi-Level Small Animal Exotics Cage to the MidWest Homes For Pets Critter Nation Single Unit Cage - and I'm almost a little embarrassed to say I paid about the same for both of those cages!
Just to show you where we came from, here is a picture of my Kaytee Multi-Level Small Animal Exotics Cage:
(Yes, I am mortified with this picture of the mess in my living room. Yes, I sew hammocks and cage liners, and, yes, my ratties are in need of serious cage accessory updating!!!)
As a starter cage for my first two rats, this Kaytee brand one was ideal. However, at Petsmarts' price of about $115, it was less than perfect now that I know what is out there.
The Kaytee cage had enough room for three rats if they were given 2.5 cubic feet each. Once we adopted our fourth (adorable) rat, it didn't take long to realize they had outgrown the Kaytee cage and the whole setup had started to look like a rats' nest!
The MidWest Homes For Pets Critter Nation Cage is fairly prominent with small cage pet owners. Based on its size, ability to grow with additional units, price and user friendly features, it was an obvious choice for an upgrade. This company also makes the Ferret Nation cage which has a slightly wider bar spacing. Because the ferret cage was so popular, MidWest Homes For Pets created the Critter Nation cage, designed with a 1/2" wide bar spacing, which is appropriate for smaller pets, including rats, chinchillas, sugar gliders, and hedgehogs.
After some research, I found 1800PetSupplies had the best price at $119 plus $12 for FedEx shipping, and they accepted PayPal. The low price may have been due to the cage's back order status, because the price has since gone up a bit. Even though they said they were back ordered for two weeks, I received my Critter Nation cage on my doorstep just seven days after ordering.
I was excited when I woke up from my nap and found the enormous Critter Nation box on my front porch. It had been raining, so the box was a little wet and slick. At 59 pounds, I had to tumble and slide it into my living room.
I was pleased to see the box was marked with "no tools required," but I quickly had to fetch a flat head screw driver to help pry the large box staples out of the box. (In fairness, I have a hurt hand. It's quite possible a strapping young lad could simply rip the box open with his bare hands!)
The box had a clamshell design which made it easy to unpack all the pieces. The contents of the box were packed securely and everything shipped without damage. The plastic tray which is sitting up in the picture was packed in bubble wrap. I was happy to see a fleece ramp cover included with the setI wasn't expecting that! ;
I went directly to the assembly booklet after unpacking the box. I had a chuckle when I read the note in bold printed directly prior to #1 in the directions:
"**NOTE: Although the Critter Nation can be assembled by one person, due to size, you may find it easier assembled with two people. A rubber mallet is also recommended."
I'm here to tell you, you will definitely need the rubber mallet!!!
Even though I am just one person, I took my chances. How hard could a "no tools" job be? After reading the directions through, I see they provided me with a small phillips head screwdriver. Perfect.
I assembled the base of the cage first and was really proud of myself when I got half way through. As I moved onto step #2, where I needed to slide the bottom shelf grid into the base supports, I realized I assembled the base wrong. The holes go on the inside just like the directions clearly stated.
I got it right on the second try. I wasn't able to tighten down the bolts well with the provided phillips head screwdriver, so I used one of my own. Under torque, the phillips head slots in the bolts stripped out a bit. The bolts also had a straight slot, so I used my large flat head screwdriver and was able to tighten them down.
Mid assembly, my rats began to get curious about what was going on. One popped her head out of the box of "rattie rags" and said hello.
After the base was complete (which, in my opinion, was the hardest part), things went together fast. The caster wheels simply push into place and the front, sides and back of the cage assembly slip into place and lock into each other. You WILL need the rubber mallet for these steps. If you don't have a rubber mallet, you could also use a hammer and a block of wood, or anything heavy enough to hammer onto the block of wood so the powder coating on the cage isn't damaged.
I got overly enthusiastic about things and forgot about pictures (oops!). I cut decorative fleece to fit over the plastic cage tray, clipped it in place with small binder clips, and slipped it in. The plastic tray for the bottom of the cage is approximately 35" x 23".
The wire cage top is held in place by two "swivel locks" which are affixed with flat head screws. One screw and swivel lock went in just as it was supposed to; the second did not. I believe the pre-drilled hole for the screw was slightly too large and the screw wouldn't grip. I could have taken the time to find a larger screw in the shed, but I opted for a zip tie. If this is the only thing that goes wrong with this assembly, I'm still fully satisfied.
The Critter Nation cage comes with a large metal frame for a plastic shelf. The shelf frame can be adjusted to three different heights within the cage and can be affixed to either side of the cage. The metal frame has "loops" under it so toys, tubes, and hammocks can be hung from underneath (a huge step up from the Kaytee cage). The plastic shelf is approximately 23" x 17".
The wire ramp is secured to the metal shelf frame with metal "ramp clips." The frame is sturdy and the plastic shelf covers the metal pieces to prevent injury to tiny toes.
The included fleece ramp cover slides onto the ramp and closes over the ramp with Velcro near the top.
Then I got entirely too excited again and put almost every toy we had in the cage. Then remembered I didn't take photos...again!!
Once I shoved all those toys in there and added the four rat girls, I realized they might want to run around a bit, so I took several things out.
The operation of the cage is a breeze! The door latches are strong and easy to operate (there will be no smart rat escapees) and the casters lock and unlock to keep the cage in place on a hard floor. The shelf underneath holds all their items neatly (I'll get a plastic container which fits the shelf to put their food and toys in.). The cage doors come all the way off by opening the door and lifting up on the hinges.
The biggest added bonus is an additional single unit cage add-on can be purchased to join to the top of this one, making it a double unit!
All-in-all, the ladies are satisfied and so am I. The one "defect" in the screw hole size can be fixed easily with a slightly larger screw. I did not even attempt to call customer service. Critter Nation comes with a one-year limited manufacturer's warranty.
My girls gained almost 3 cubic feet of cage space and about one and a quarter square feet of floor space. Their cage is exactly the right size now.
What is my over all product review for the MidWest Homes For Pets Critter Nation cage? I would buy it again in a heartbeat. I'm just upset I didn't buy this cage from the beginning!
MidWest Homes For Pets Critter Nation Cage
$131 (with shipping)
36"L x 24"W x 39"H
PO Box 1031
Muncie, Indiana 47308
Do you have any questions or comments about your Critter Nation cage? How did you decorate and accessorize your cage?
Thank you for reading,
Hammocks and Animal Accessories