Same or different playpen for chinchilla & hamsters/gerbils

yeti316

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I’m redoing my small animal room, which houses 2 hamsters (separate cages) and 2 gerbils (cage mates), in order to make space for my new 9 year old chinchilla.

Until now I had a portion of the room permanently set up as a playpen for the hamsters and gerbils. Obviously only to be used by one animal at a time, and I would just do a spot clean to remove any poo, but they were all able to play with the same toys and no one seemed stressed by this.

Now that I have the chinchilla I’m considering two options to make space for a playpen for him.

One is to keep my playpen set up for my gerbils and hamsters as is, and use the other portion of the room as a play space for the chinchilla. So the gerbils & hamsters have a play space, the chinchilla has his own play space, and they never go into each other spaces or interact with each other’s toys (okay I know chinchillas are good jumpers but he’ll be supervised and if he does jump the wall I’ll just remove him from the forbidden area). Only 1 animal (or 2 gerbils, since they live together) will ever be out of their cage at a time, so there’s no risk of the animals ever coming into physical contact with each other.

Okay but now I’ve had this other idea but I don’t know if it’s problematic so please advise.

my other idea would be to just rodent-proof the whole room and then all animals would use the whole room as a play space (again, never at the same time, obviously). I would do a quick vacuum between play sessions to clean up any poo, but they would all interact with the same toys. The other thing worth mentioning about this set up is that the hamsters / gerbils would be able to walk up to the base of the chinchilla cage. I plan to put a blockade around his cage so they couldn’t climb his cage or get to him in any way, but they could look up at him from the floor, and if he’s on the lower level of the cage there would be only 18” of vertical space between them. I wonder if this would be stressful for the chinchilla though?

would appreciate some thoughts on this because I hope to get the room all setup this weekend. Many thanks.
 

Amethyst

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I would not have them play in the same area, too high of a risk of spreading illness between them (more so from the hamsters and gerbils since they aren't as clean as chinchillas, but gerbils do come close), especially since chins chew everything. It may be overly cautious but it's better to be safe then sorry. When I have an assortment of rodents the chins were in a different area for play (they all lived in cages in my room). So long as the hamsters and gerbils can't physically get to the chinchilla cage it should be ok. Chins can be territorial and have been known to kill wild mice that have ended up in their cage and bite other animals if they get too close.
 

Jawramik

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I have a somewhat similar question, so rather than making yet another thread, I'll just ask it here.

As I've mentioned elsewhere, I have a Jespet playpen I got for my chin. It's great, we both love it and I use it frequently with her. However, I also have two rats, and I've wondered about being able to use it for them, too (though not at the same time as the chin, obviously).

I know that disease can easily be passed between rodent species, so here was the plan I'd envisioned: I'd put down a fleece blanket over the floor of the pen while Margaret or the ratties are in there, then when playtime is over, I'd spray down and scrub the inside (floor, walls, roof) with vinegar, then leave it out in the sun to dry, and be sure it was completely dry before using it for the next species. Nothing inside the playpen (fleece, toys, hides, litter boxes, etc.) would be shared. Would the vinegar and sunlight be enough to knock out any potential pathogens? For whatever it may be worth, both Margaret and the rats have all been examined by an experienced small animal vet and all received clean bills of health within the last two weeks.

Of course, if there's just no way to safely use the same playpen for both species, then I won't do it. The rats don't technically NEED a playpen. They mostly prefer to be with/on us when they're out of their cage, and they're not voracious chewers, so we can let them loose in the bathroom when we clean their cage without worrying about them destroying the baseboards and cabinets. I'm also willing to buy a second playpen option, though I don't relish the idea of having to find a place to store it (we're fast running out of space). It would be really nice if I could safely use the same playpen for both species....but only if it could be done safely.
 

Amethyst

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I have a somewhat similar question, so rather than making yet another thread, I'll just ask it here.

As I've mentioned elsewhere, I have a Jespet playpen I got for my chin. It's great, we both love it and I use it frequently with her. However, I also have two rats, and I've wondered about being able to use it for them, too (though not at the same time as the chin, obviously).

I know that disease can easily be passed between rodent species, so here was the plan I'd envisioned: I'd put down a fleece blanket over the floor of the pen while Margaret or the ratties are in there, then when playtime is over, I'd spray down and scrub the inside (floor, walls, roof) with vinegar, then leave it out in the sun to dry, and be sure it was completely dry before using it for the next species. Nothing inside the playpen (fleece, toys, hides, litter boxes, etc.) would be shared. Would the vinegar and sunlight be enough to knock out any potential pathogens? For whatever it may be worth, both Margaret and the rats have all been examined by an experienced small animal vet and all received clean bills of health within the last two weeks.

Of course, if there's just no way to safely use the same playpen for both species, then I won't do it. The rats don't technically NEED a playpen. They mostly prefer to be with/on us when they're out of their cage, and they're not voracious chewers, so we can let them loose in the bathroom when we clean their cage without worrying about them destroying the baseboards and cabinets. I'm also willing to buy a second playpen option, though I don't relish the idea of having to find a place to store it (we're fast running out of space). It would be really nice if I could safely use the same playpen for both species....but only if it could be done safely.
Personally I wouldn't unless you are really good at making sure each time the rats use the pen you clean it, even if they are only in there for a couple minutes. I know I'm bad at remembering to clean something sometimes if I say just put the animal in there for a minute and think I'll just clean it before I use it again. If you are good at remember to do that though then vinegar (I would use cleaning vinegar, then rinse if off with water) and sunshine should be enough to clean it between uses, assuming the rats or chin aren't sick.

Chins are not normally carriers of diseases, but rats are, meaning they can carry pathogens in their systems that could make the chin sick, without the rat showing any illness themselves (to be fair so do cats and dogs ;) ). I assume by "clean bill of health" they just did a normal physical, no tests or anything done to check for disease, viruses, or bacteria (not something they would normally do unless the rat is acting sick), so there is no guarantee they aren't carrying something so cleaning between is important.
 

Jawramik

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Personally I wouldn't unless you are really good at making sure each time the rats use the pen you clean it, even if they are only in there for a couple minutes. I know I'm bad at remembering to clean something sometimes if I say just put the animal in there for a minute and think I'll just clean it before I use it again. If you are good at remember to do that though then vinegar (I would use cleaning vinegar, then rinse if off with water) and sunshine should be enough to clean it between uses, assuming the rats or chin aren't sick.

Chins are not normally carriers of diseases, but rats are, meaning they can carry pathogens in their systems that could make the chin sick, without the rat showing any illness themselves (to be fair so do cats and dogs ;) ). I assume by "clean bill of health" they just did a normal physical, no tests or anything done to check for disease, viruses, or bacteria (not something they would normally do unless the rat is acting sick), so there is no guarantee they aren't carrying something so cleaning between is important.
Really the only time we'd likely be using the playpen for the rats would be during their weekly cage deep-cleaning. It would just allow us to have them safely contained in the same room with us rather than being shut away in the bathroom, which I think they would enjoy. And the vinegar and cleaning rags would already be out and handy! I'd just want to be sure to do Margaret's cage and have her in the playpen first, since it sounds like I don't have to be as worried about the rats catching something from her. Then I'd deep-clean the playpen and put it in the sun once the rats were done using it.

All the critters had physical exams and had some fecal samples examined/tested. I'd have to double check all what they tested for in the poops, but I know girardia was one thing they looked for, and everything came back negative.

Thanks for your response! I really appreciate you taking the time to answer all my questions. :)
 

Nan

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Really the only time we'd likely be using the playpen for the rats would be during their weekly cage deep-cleaning. It would just allow us to have them safely contained in the same room with us rather than being shut away in the bathroom, which I think they would enjoy. And the vinegar and cleaning rags would already be out and handy! I'd just want to be sure to do Margaret's cage and have her in the playpen first, since it sounds like I don't have to be as worried about the rats catching something from her. Then I'd deep-clean the playpen and put it in the sun once the rats were done using it.

All the critters had physical exams and had some fecal samples examined/tested. I'd have to double check all what they tested for in the poops, but I know girardia was one thing they looked for, and everything came back negative.

Thanks for your response! I really appreciate you taking the time to answer all my questions. :)
Hi there, just thought I’d weigh in since I love our Jespet for our chinchilla. My concern for your rats is that it seems to me that the mesh panels of the Jespet could be gnawed though without too much trouble by a rat. (For some reason my chinchilla has never done that.) While the canvas bottom comes up several inches on the sides, if one of your pets is standing on a play structure, the mesh is easily reachable, and it wouldn’t take long to create a hole large enough to crawl through. I have little experience with rats so maybe that wouldn’t be a problem, but it’s something to consider.
 

Jawramik

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Hi there, just thought I’d weigh in since I love our Jespet for our chinchilla. My concern for your rats is that it seems to me that the mesh panels of the Jespet could be gnawed though without too much trouble by a rat. (For some reason my chinchilla has never done that.) While the canvas bottom comes up several inches on the sides, if one of your pets is standing on a play structure, the mesh is easily reachable, and it wouldn’t take long to create a hole large enough to crawl through. I have little experience with rats so maybe that wouldn’t be a problem, but it’s something to consider.
Our rats aren't huge chewers. I've certainly had rats in the past who would destroy anything they could sink their teeth into, but these girls aren't like that. They'll nibble at the wood toys we give them, but they don't even chew plastic. We would, of course, closely supervise them while they're in there (just like I supervise the chin for similar reasons), but I'd be surprised if it was an issue with these girls.
 

Nan

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Our rats aren't huge chewers. I've certainly had rats in the past who would destroy anything they could sink their teeth into, but these girls aren't like that. They'll nibble at the wood toys we give them, but they don't even chew plastic. We would, of course, closely supervise them while they're in there (just like I supervise the chin for similar reasons), but I'd be surprised if it was an issue with these girls.
Well then, since you’ve said you’d clean when they’re done, and only use it when you need to deep clean their cage, I’d say use that playpen! Much nicer to have them with you, and I agree, finding space for all the accoutrements we acquire for our furry friends can be a challenge. (My husband refuses to buy a bigger house, go figure.) Good luck!
 

Amethyst

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Really the only time we'd likely be using the playpen for the rats would be during their weekly cage deep-cleaning. It would just allow us to have them safely contained in the same room with us rather than being shut away in the bathroom, which I think they would enjoy. And the vinegar and cleaning rags would already be out and handy! I'd just want to be sure to do Margaret's cage and have her in the playpen first, since it sounds like I don't have to be as worried about the rats catching something from her. Then I'd deep-clean the playpen and put it in the sun once the rats were done using it.

All the critters had physical exams and had some fecal samples examined/tested. I'd have to double check all what they tested for in the poops, but I know girardia was one thing they looked for, and everything came back negative.

Thanks for your response! I really appreciate you taking the time to answer all my questions. :)
Giardia is one concern, and one of the most common issues chins can get, however rats can also carry other diseases, here is a site that lists a few Do Pet Rats Carry Diseases? 6 Diseases, Symptoms and Tips | Mercury Pets (I realize some are not very likely but something to keep in mind anyway).
 

Jawramik

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Giardia is one concern, and one of the most common issues chins can get, however rats can also carry other diseases, here is a site that lists a few Do Pet Rats Carry Diseases? 6 Diseases, Symptoms and Tips | Mercury Pets (I realize some are not very likely but something to keep in mind anyway).
Oh, I'm very aware that just because all the critters got a clean bill of health doesn't necessarily mean that they're not carrying something they could pass on. The vet tested their poo for some other stuff as well, but even so, they don't test for everything, and there are pathogens that wouldn't necessarily show up in a fecal sample. That's why we keep all the animals as separate as we can (separate cages, separate rooms when possible, never sharing toys/accessories between species, etc.), wash our hands in between handling different species, and will thoroughly clean the playpen after the rats use it.

I wish I had the space to be able to give each species a pet-proofed room of their own where nothing, not even the floor space, would be shared, but unless I win the lottery or a wealthy long-lost relative dies and leaves me their fortune, that's not going to be a viable option for me any time soon. Still, a gal can dream....
 
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