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Thursday, August 15, 2013

How to Hang Your Hammocks

Hammocks Hung with Baby Links

So you've bought or made yourself some beautiful hammocks for your ratties - but there is just one question - how do you hang them? Fortunately, you have several options.

Grommet with Split Ring
Ribbon Loops

Hammocks are made with one of two types of hanging mechanisms: grommets or ribbon loops. Ribbons can be hung as is with any of the hooks described below. However, ribbons are tempting targets for chewers, and so when plausible, grommets are often used instead.

Grommets hold up better when you have chewers, but the most commonly used grommet size is 1/4" - which by itself is too small for some types of hooks. Because of this, you may want to add split rings to your hammock. Split rings are key chain rings and they can be inserted into the grommet to create a wider opening for attaching your hook. They can be a pain to attach initially, but they are stainless steel and thus will not rust in the washing machine - so you can leave them on the hammock permanently.

Hook Types

There are many different types of items that can be used as hammock hooks. The most simplistic option is a large paper clip. Some even use large safety pins, but I personally would worry about using something so potentially sharp around the rats.

Some options that I have tried include lanyard hooks, binder rings, baby links, and shower curtain hooks.

Grommets, Split Rings, and Lanyard
Hooks on a Corner Hammock
Lanyard hooks come in a variety of sizes, with the smallest and least expensive being the ones shown in the photo above. These small lanyard hooks will not fit well through a standard grommet, so they are best used in combination with split rings. These hooks clip securely to the cage bars and are fairly easy to clip and unclip. However, because of their small size, they do not allow the hammock to hang down very low when clipped to the top portion of the cage. Because of this, I find they work most effectively on corner hammocks, which clip to the side walls instead of the top of the cage. Note that when hanging a corner hammock in a Critter Nation, it is easiest to attach to the corner by using two lanyard hooks - one to each joining side. If you only use one, it will slide along the bar and not stay fixed in the corner.

When you want to hang hammocks from the ceiling and you want to hang them lower in the cage, you will need a larger type of hook. Larger hooks can be linked like a chain, allowing you to adjust the height of the hammock by adjusting the number of hooks used in the chain.

Binder rings are an inexpensive option. They come in a variety of sizes and consist of a metal ring with a hinge that opens. Some types of shower curtain rings are also made with this same type of hinge. While these hooks are inexpensive and easy to use, I have found that the hinge loosens and breaks too easily, and thus these hooks last only a short period of time. Some of them are loose right out of the box. These rings also rust if they are accidentally thrown in the washer with the hammocks.

Baby links are a favorite of mine for hanging hammocks, but they have a few drawbacks. Baby links are the plastic rings that are given to babies to teethe on and to toddlers to string together in chains. These links are colorful and safe for ratties and they can coordinate with your color scheme to brighten up the cage. They can also be entertainment for the rats. They are quite thick, however. They will not fit through the hole in a 1/4" grommet, so you will need to use split rings with your grommets. They can also be cumbersome to stick through the cage bars in a cage like a Martin's with small bar spacing. Because the link is always open, it is possible for the rats to occasionally slide the slip ring off of the baby link, causing one corner of the hammock to come loose.

Hammocks hung from metal shower curtain rings.
Another popular alternative is to use shower curtain hooks. There are many types of shower curtain hooks. I would recommend avoiding the kind with the hinges (like the binder clips). Plastic shower curtain rings are an option similar to baby links, although they can also be awkward to attach to the cage bars. However, they do snap shut, so you do not have to worry as much about the hammock slipping off a shower curtain ring. They can be purchased in a variety of colors and thus can be made to match a color scheme.

The most popular type of shower curtain ring for hammock hooks is the inexpensive pear-shaped ring pictured above. They can be purchased in bulk very cheaply from e-bay and are simple but durable metal rings that latch via pressure at an opening on one side. These rings are thin and can easily thread a grommet - although split rings make it even easier to slip the hammock on and off. They are also easy to slip around the cage bars. They are not as colorful as plastic shower curtain rings or baby links, but on the plus side, you don't need to change out your hooks to match every time you switch to a different cage theme.


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