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Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Furniture Pad Liners - Update

Cage using Furniture Pad Liners
We've been using Liners made from Fleece and U-Haul Furniture Pad Liners since October and we are still very happy with them. They control odor very well for our small group of rats. Three girls in a DCN can go a week without a thorough cage clean - and have gone a little longer at times when I haven't been able to get to it as promptly.

They hold up much better for us than using pillow-case style fleece liners with towels underneath, as this group of rats loved to chew holes in the fleece to get to the towels and then shred the towels down to strings. It was very hard for me to repair some of the damage they did to the fleece and the towels were shredded to beyond usability and were becoming dangerous because of the presence of loose strings.

That said, it would be unreasonable to expect chewers to leave their liners perfectly intact. I went in expecting chewing, but hoping for less damage and damage that was repairable. So far, I have been pleased with the results.

Many liners get through the week without being chewed. It is not uncommon for some liners to suffer some nibbling on the edges. Most of the time, this damage is minimal and often doesn't even require repair.

I have one bottom liner that suffered significant chewing along the leftmost edge. (The damage to the top edge of the liner and to the bottom left corner are more typical of the usual damage I might expect. This kind of chewing is unusual - although it may become more common now that they have begun.

This liner was easily repaired by first topstitching around the chewed area to contain the damage, then using a zigzag stitch to reaffix the fleece and furniture pad.

It is possible that this damage was encouraged by the use of a binder clip to secure the liner in place. I am currently trying to place the liners without securing them with binder clips, to see if this makes a difference in the chewing. It is possible that if they are free to pull on the edges of the liners, they won't do as much damage. It is also possible that if they can pull the liners to their desired location, they will then sit there and do more chewing. Only time will tell.

About a month ago, the rats also decided to chew the top liner used in one of my Christmas-themed designs. This chewing was significantly different than the normal chewing as it tore the fleece further in towards the center of the liner, and the damage was not restricted to the edges. They were trying to pull the fleece into their tree trunk hide and ending up chewing the fleece along one edge of the hide so they could then gather it inside. Fortunately, they did not chew through the furniture pad, just the fleece, so I could easily reattach the fleece to the furniture pad using a zig-zag stitch.

To try to discourage this type of chewing in the future, I have created a small circular liner pad that I use under the tree trunk hide.

This allows them to pull this pad inside and chew it instead of the liner. So far, that has worked well, as I have not had any similar liner damage - just small damage to the circular pads, as shown.

The two liners shown here are the worst of the damage done so far, and I consider them to have been repairable. Most liners survive with just small nibbles along the edges - many of which do not require repair, although I do like to stitch them up to try to discourage further damage in the same places.

Related Posts:
Using U-Haul Furniture Pads with Rat Cage Liners - Part 1: Construction
Liner Instructions for Critter Nations and Martins R695 Cages
Using U-Haul Furniture Pads with Rat Cage Liners - Part 2: Early Review