experience with the Lixit Glass Bottle Recycle Kit. After using them for about 4 months, we thought we would revisit the topic.
As we mentioned in our previous posts, our rats did not like the narrow tubes of the small (5/16" tube) kit, but were fine with the medium (7/16" tube) kit. The 7/16" tubes can be a tight fit on cages with 1/2" bar spacing. The long bar spacing of the Critter Nation seems to work just fine, but the shorter bar spacing of the Martin's cages is a tight fit, and the tube has to be squeezed through. This means that when the bottle is removed, you have to be very careful to hold the stopper while removing the bottle, or you run the risk of the stopper getting stuck between the bars and the bottle pulling off the stopper, spilling the water. I did this a few times before it became engrained in my mind to make sure I held the stopper with one hand when removing the bottle to make sure it didn't come out of the bottle.
I also found that you don't really need the mounting kit when installing the bottle in a Martin's cage because the bar spacing is both short and narrow, holding the bottle in place via the tube. You do need a spring or a piece of elastic to hold the bottle upright, but you do not need the mount that the stopper rests on. This also makes it easier to remove the bottle from the Martin's cages. Since the stoppered tubes can be purchased separately, you can save some money by skipping the kit as long as you have a spring long enough to hold the bottle in place.
The other thing that I noticed is that if you do not change the water frequently, bacteria can build up on the stopper. This is not unique to this bottle - the same can happen with the gasket in standard water bottles, but you won't notice it because you rarely touch the gasket. In fact, any time you have water left standing too long, bacteria is going to start to build up. I normally change the water every day, but sometimes miss a day. I have noticed no build up under either circumstance. But I left a water bottle on a carrier once, and several days later, when I went to remove it, I noticed a slimy feel to the end of the stopper that was inside the bottle. That slimy substance is bacteria buildup, and if you notice that forming on the stoppers, you are not changing the water/cleaning the equipment frequently enough. Fortunately, the stoppered tubes are dishwasher safe, so after changing the bottles, I rinse the tubes out well and put them in the dishwasher with the Snapple bottles to sanitize everything. As long as you change the water regularly and keep the parts clean, you won't have a problem. If you do have a problem, at least it is easily recognizable, and you can make adjustments to your practices to correct it.
Aside from those issues, the water bottles work great. They have never become jammed and they have never once leaked. They will be a relief when we go on vacation, since I won't have to worry about water bottle problems happening while I have a pet sitter watching our rats. My only remaining reservation is that I am not sure how well these wide tubes will work with babies, since all of my rats are in the 1-2 year old range at the moment, but I do have the original 4 stoppered tubes in the smaller size that I can use for younger rats if they have problems with the wider tubes.
A Better Water Bottle: Lixit Glass Bottle Recycle Kit
Installation Instructions for the Lixit Glass Bottle Recycle Kit
Lixit Glass Bottle Recycle Kit - 7/16" Tube Size (Medium)
A DIY Mount for the Lixit Recycled Water Bottle Kit