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Omg I bought an Exo Terra 40 gallon with the screen top and I came home to my cat in the tank too. He fell in at some point so he panicked and tore the thing apart trying to get out before giving up and sitting there waiting for me to get home. Luckily my Leo was not hurt. Just scared but she cuddled my neck while I fixed her tank and then she crawled back in and was fine.
I got a metal mesh screen to put over it. Zilla Reptile Pet Terrarium Cover Fresh Air Screen, 36" x 18" https://www.amazon.com/dp/B000QFQ30K/ref=cm_sw_r_apan_i_AFXFNE52DANHC2SZ72J7?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1
It is a bit bigger than the tank so I used gorilla tape and taped it to the tank to keep it from wiggling. But even with it on my front doors open no problem and the wired thermostat isn't affected because of it being a little too big it gives room.
I couldn't get my cat to stay off of it. People suggested an automatic puff sprayer thing but others said that it was like cat mace and so no... And I also saw about spike pads and I wasn't doing that. Foil didn't work my cat just stole it and shredded it elsewhere. Spraying with water didn't work. And when I yell at him to get down he does but that doesn't keep him from getting back up later. So I gave up. Now that I have the reinforced screen I feel more confident he won't fall in and get hurt or hurt my Leo. He loves her. He likes to sit up there and watch her or lay down and sleep. He doesn't mess with the lighting or heat. So I gave up. I know that's not the answer you want but that's what I did... Lol.
My other cat jumped face first into her old tank the first night we got her (cat) and she hasn't attempted to mess with a tank since then 😂 damn invisible force field took her out 😂
Yeah I ordered it from Amazon (Zilla Reptile Pet Terrarium Cover Fresh Air Screen, 36" x 18") https://www.amazon.com/dp/B000QFQ30K/ref=cm_sw_r_apan_i_H7DT8Z9TE1CT87842X30?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1
I read the reviews and people listing my exact tank and measurements said it fits over with some room to spare and they can still open the front doors. There are even people in the reviews that have pics of their cats sitting on them because of the exact same thing.
So I'm gonna find a way to mend the original screen that he collapsed and then put this metal one on top of it.
Stronger, metal screen mesh lid
Here is a review from someone in your exact same boat:
I purchased this to go over the top of my Zilla 36x18 "Critter Cage" when the original lid screen was damaged by my cat with an overzealous sense of curiosity. He likes to lay atop and soak up the heat that was meant for my 2 Mali Uromastyx reptiles in the terrarium below. Attempts at repairing the original tank lid proved to be a waste of time as the screen would only collapse again when the cat decided it was time for another sunbathing session. A lid this size was extremely hard to find, that is until I went to Amazon.com. When I did find it, I was still a bit nervous it would not fit my "Critter Cage" becasue of it's unique "slide-front" lid design. I'm happy to report that not only does it fit like a glove, but it also holds the weight of my buff kitty in search of a tan! Problem solved!
Okay good. Which tube uvb did you get?
Here are some things you need to adjust:
1) You will need to replace the screen. Thrive lids block 65% of the light/heat that gets through which is very bad. Here is a good replacement
2) I would also swap out the reptile carpet for paper towel. It harbors much less bacteria. And make sure you get some f10 cleaner to deep clean the tank 1x a week to get rid of bacteria
3) do not get any sort of colored light. Red blue purple black are all no no’s. If your tank is going below 65 at night, get a ceramic heat emitter instead
4) make sure you have 2 hides at a minimum for decor. Slate and wood also make good basking spot materials
5) the analog gauges you have? Absolute crap. You’ll want to get some digital gauges to measure ambient warm and cool temps and well as a temp gun to measure basking temps.
Since it seems you are a novice owner I don’t recommend feeding mealworms they have a higher risk of causing impaction and it’s not worth the risk and medical bills. Stick with the following: crickets, roaches, BSFL (aka calciworms) and silkworms. Those are all staples that you can feed everyday. Feed 3 times a day and use multiple feeders.
If you want more information and resources please lmk
I got something like this for my 10 gallon hospital tank since I use a fan on it. Zilla Reptile Terrarium Fresh Air Screen Cover https://www.amazon.com/dp/B000QFQ30K/ref=cm_sw_r_apan_i_PAY7740RY1A1GTWN60SF. If you want a glass one just double check the dimensions. If it's a common tank type it should be easy to find. H2Pro 36" Glass Canopy, Fits Aqueon 30/40gal Breeder (35.84 x 17.01 x 0.16in), Clear (A36GT) https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08DCP2667/ref=cm_sw_r_apan_i_CPVSJRJ4BV6Z3PNYRGHZ
Great! You’ll also need a screen/mesh lid unless you make your own. Here’s one on Amazon for $23
Zilla Reptile Terrarium Covers Fresh Air Screen, 36x18-inch https://www.amazon.com/dp/B000QFQ30K/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_glt_fabc_VP9E7065WW6S0X9ZM5WM
Most bird cages have vertically spaced bars to prevent the feathers from being damaged. The "fluttering" movements bird feathers makes contact more often with horizontal bars than vertical.
I remember reading somewhere that vertically spaced bars are dangerous for mice and hamsters. Veritcal bars are harder for them to climb and maintain a grip.
If a mouse should fall they have nothing to grab onto to stop. If their head happens to be in between the bars as they fall they have nothing to brace against to pull their head out.
The result is a mouse with it's head stuck between vertical bars falling until it's neck hits something horizontal.
This is something most people would never think about. So, please don't take this as a judgement of your care. You are on here looking for answers. That's more than most would do.
Another problem with larger bird cages is they don't have a deep pan at the bottom you can fill with bedding. I have seen smaller ones on Petsmart's site, but there isn't enough floor room for mice.
Mice need beddidng at a minimum of 3 inches so they can build tunnels. If you provide less than that you are not supporting their natural instinct to dig and burrow.
Deep bedding is an easy way to provide another activity for your mice. Keep in mind tunnels also help mice feel more secure as they move about their habitat.
Take a look at this packet. It gives you some guidelines when shopping for adequate housing.
Pet Mouse Fanciers - Proper Housing
Life stage also matters. Pups can fall through the smallest spaced bars. If there are babies in the group you need to give them a solid sided habitat like a glass tank, terrarium, or bin cage where the mesh venting is at least 5 inches above the bottom.
Some other things to consider...
Mice need a lot of continous floor space more than they need height. They are foraging animals so most of their activity occurs on the ground looking for food.
You can provide lots of hanging platforms, bridges, hides, and chew kabobs to satisfy their need to climb.
Dried branches from a tree that was not chemically treated and is mouse safe, drfitwood, grapewood or resin accessories from the reptile aisle in the pet store add a more rustic look.
You can find wood platforms that look like tables online which can be used like a loft. Bird ladders can be cut to make shorter ladders or bendable bridges made of orchard sticks can act as a ramp.
You can drill holes in the side of bin cages to add support for a second level.
I prefer bin cages. They are cheaper than any other option and you get the most space for your money. These totes make excellent habitats...
Sterilite 106 Qt Latching Storage Box
This is a screened top I made from the lid...
Sterilite 106 qt. Screened Lid
You can also use this 36 x 18 terrarium cover...
Zilla Reptile Terrarium Covers Fresh Air Screen, 36x18-inch
For larger groups...
Sterilite, 200 Qt./189 L Stacker Box
This screen will cover most of the tote width wise. It is a little longer so you will have overhang on both sides. You can cover the gap with part of the tote's lid and secure in place with pet safe silicon, duct tape or screws.
Zilla 11435 Fresh Air Screen Cover, 48-Inch by 18-Inch
Babies also have a "flea stage" after they open their eyes and before they are adult sized. Their legs are strong, but their bodies are small so when they jump, they can spring as high as 2 feet. You want to keep a vented lid on the tank or bin at all times.
This is a really good video for making bin cages. She uses zip ties instead of screws, washers, and nuts. Wish I had thought of that. Hardware isn't cheap...
Erin's Animals - Bin Cages 101
I just bought this lid to use instead. Says it's heat safe https://www.amazon.com/dp/B000QFQ30K/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_i_D2q.FbE7RE9SW?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1
10 gallon would be fine for a few days to a week. The mice are going to need 3 to 4 days of down time once their home witout much interaction with you. Talking to them is fine. But don't handle them just yet.
Give them out of tank time daily (after the 1st 3 days. You could try a towel lined bath tub (drain closed) or on a bed covered with an old blanket.
Make sure the sides of the blanket do notf all off the side of the bed. They may get down to the ground that way.
Close the door of the room you are in just in case.
Consider using a bin smaller than 50 gallons without opening up the sides. A glass tank doesn't have air flow on the sides either. Giving the mice more room would make a differece and you'd have a good size bin should introductions not work out.
This 26.5 gallon (106 quart) bin at Home Depot is only $12 to $16 depending on sales. It's not as tall as the Sterilite 50 gallon but still taller than a 20 gallon tank...
Sterilite 106 quart Latching Lid Tote
A 36 x 18 inch terrarium screen fits over it nicely so no need to make the lid into a screened top unless you want to save money. Here is the one I own from Amazon7...
Here is a screened top I made from the bin's lid using 1/4 inch garden wire...
Sterilite 106 qt. Screened Lid
You can use this bin as back up if they all get along or keep them in it as their permanent home.
Mice need this time to adjust to their nrw surroundings. If try to handle them right away, it may backfire and scare them making gaining their trust harder. Give them space and work with them on their terms. You can't force the bonding process.
Here are a ton of links I give to people new to mice. I know you have amother group but maybe you might find something useful...
Pet Mouse Fanciers - Bringing Your New Mouse Home
Emiology - Bringing New Mice Home - What to do and expect
A Complete Guide to Fancy Mouse Care
Pet Mouse Fanciers
The Rat and Mouse Club of America
Creek Valley Critters - How to Tame Pet Mice
Emiology - How to Bond with Your Mice
Pet Mouse Fanciers - Handling and Taming
Emiology - How I introduced My Mice
Can All 8 of My Mice be Friends?
Pet Mouse Fanciers - Keeping Mice Together and Introducing Them
Pet Mouse Fanciers - DiY
Pethelpful DIY Rat Toys
Pine bedding is not really safe for mice because of their sensitive respiratory systems. I know some people use it for other rodents, but mice are a different case. If other people use pine successfully, they are very lucky.
Here is an article from petmousefanciers.com on the topic of habitats, in general. Scroll down to the section on Bedding. But, I would read the whole thing as it helped me when I first started keeping mice.
I find petmousefanciers.com to be a very helpful site. If you create a profile you can get even more information from the forum.
Other helpful sites:
Glass tanks vs. Plastic Totes...
A 20 gallon Aqueon tank at Petco measures 30.5” x 13” x 13.125” (L x H x W.) and retails for $37.99 at Petco. Even with the $1 per gallon sale, you’d still spend $20 on just the tank.
You also still need a cover. The 20 gallon cover retails for $14.99 at Petsmart (Petco didn’t have a listing but I know they sell them).
Aqueon 20 gallon glass tank
20 gallon screen cover
The glass tank is just under 25 lbs. I ended up with a lot of bruises trying to get this to the bathtub for a thorough cleaning.
Total price $52.98 with $1 per gallon sale $34.99
A Sterilite 106 qt. storage tote (33.75” x 13" x 18.75”) at Home Depot retails for $15.98. You get a lot more space for your money. Plus, storage totes were built to keep rodents and bugs out. In over 4 years I have never had a mouse chew through a plastic tote or even try. But, I have had them squeeze through the bars of a cage with the appropriate spacing for mice.
A Zilla 36 x 18 terrarium screen fits nicely over the top of this particular tote.
Sterilite 106 qt. storage tote
Zilla Terrarium Cover…
The plastic tote is under 5 lbs.
The total price: $38.97
If you were thinking of something smaller than a 20 gallon, the same rules apply. I wouldn't go any smaller than a 15 gallon tank. The smaller you go the more time they need out of the tank.
Also, for the price, you can buy more of the same tote and always have a fresh one handy.
Water Bottle Attachment
I found that Velcro is the best option to attach a water bottle to the side of the tank. The other option is buying a bottle guard and attach it with duct tape or caulk.
When buying your tote, make sure the sides are straight not angled. A water bottle attached to the side will not function properly if it is on an angle.
If you can’t find a compatible tank cover, you can cut out the center of tote’s lid and replace with ¼ garden/chicken wire. You can get cut without the proper tools and handling. If you are under 18, you need adult supervision to do it.
There are videos online that show you how to build DIY tote habitats. Again, if you are under 18 you need an adult to help or at least supervise.
Holmz 64 qt. stackable storage container (28.75”x10.625”x16”) at Ace Hardware for $8.99 for it.
Cover option: 20 gallon tank cover
Sterilite 76 qt. storage tote (25.75” x 18.375” x 13.25”) at Walmart for $9.98
Cover option: 15 gallon tank cover
Sterilite 200 qt. storage tote (39.75” x 17.875” x 21.5”) at Home Depot or Walmart for $24.99.
Cover option: 48” x 18” Zilla cover (Amazon) …however, this one has a lot of overhang so you may want to turn the lid into a cover. At the very least, punch holes in the top. The diameter should be as big as a pencil but smaller than a dime (mice can squeeze out of a hold that size).
I hope that helps. 😊
I'm a bin cage fan. I had 15, 20, and 50 gallon glass tanks. The larger ones were so difficult to clean. I don't like the 20 gallons because they are just too narrow.
Here is a list of storage totes I’ve used or currently use as habitats for my mice…
1 to 5 Mice
Holmz 64 qt. stackable storage container (28.75”x10.625”x16”) at Ace Hardware for $8.99 for it.
Imaginarium 20-gallon tank cover from Petco $17.99 … or DIY using tote lid
Sterilite 76 qt. storage tote (25.75” x 18.375” x 13.25”) at Walmart $9.98
Imagitarium 15-gallon tank cover from Petco $12.99 … or DIY using tote lid
6 to 9 Mice
Sterilite 106 qt. storage tote (33.75” x 13" x 18.75”) at Home Depot $15.98
Zilla 36” x 18” tank top from Amazon $22.99 … or DIY using tote lid and ¼ “ garden wire
9 to 12 Mice (or a play area):
Sterilite 200 qt. storage tote (39.75” x 17.875” x 21.5”) at Home Depot/Walmart $24.99.
Zilla 48” x 18” tank cover from Amazon $33.99 … or DIY using tote lid and ¼ “ garden wire
For additional recommendations refer to the cage calculator at Pet Mice Fanciers http://www.petmousefanciers.com/iportal
· Use Velcro to affix water bottles. The bottle must be empty and at room temperature when applying the Velcro or it won’t stick.
· If you don’t have a surface available to store your tote, consider a skinny folder table. I purchased mine at Walmart originally to use as a desk.
· If you choose a different tote not listed above. Make sure the sides are straight up and down. Sloping sides will cause most water bottles to malfunction. The bottles must remain straight up and down.
Here is the list of totes and alternative lid options...
1 to 3 Mice
3 to 9 Mice (takes up as much space asna 20 gallon long)
· Also note, just because I indicated the number of mice doesn't mean you have to keep them in that small of a habitat. As long as you fill the space with enrichment it will benefit them. If it's left empty it can make them lonely.
o Enrichment ideas:
o toilet paper rolls dumped in a pile or stacked in a pyramid and taped the together.
o basic blunt ended (and clean) kitchen items like a spatula, spoon, small coffee mug,
o empty egg carton (no dried raw egg present)
o ceramic figurines (with approval from owner)
o small plastic toy car (knowing it may be destroyed)
o cat toy (new/clean) with all small parts that can be chewed off removed. Balls with bells are especially fun for them. Be careful of anything that rattles. The mouse could open up the toy and choke on the tiny beads inside.
o tree branch/wood/drift wood (keep in freezer over night before putting in habitat to kill bugs)
o Wood bridges (check amazon small pet/hamster toys)
o Bird toys like coconut hides.
o Toys you make yourself (google DIY hamster or rat toys)
Here is a the storage tote list I mentioned above...
If you have space for it, a 36" x 18" clear tote works really well for a habitat. Home Depot sells a Sterilte 106 qt or 110 qt. for $13. I have 3.
If you buy one, make sure the sides are straight vertically. You can use velcro to attach wather bottles but the sides must be straight or the bead will fall backwards causing the bottle to leak.
Zilla makes a 36 x 18 screen tank top I use as a lid. It's $23 on Amazon...
Zilla Reptile Terrarium Covers Fresh Air Screen, 36x18-inch https://www.amazon.com/dp/B000QFQ30K/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_i_30joEbDRXEB0K
I've made the lids into a screens too.
Also note, just because I indicated the number of mice doesn't mean you have to keep them in that small of a habitat. As long as you fill the space with enrichment it will benefit them. If it's left empty it can make them lonely.
Get a hardtop like this. Problem solved.
I personally prefer using clear storage totes. I used to have all glass tanks 15 to 50 gallons. One shattered (no mouse was in it) and the larger ones were just too heavy to move which made cleaning it a huge task.
A lot of people have asked me what kind to buy so here is a list of storage totes I’ve used or currently use as habitats for my mice…
· If you don’t have a surface available to store your tote, consider a skinny folding table. I purchased mine at Walmart originally to use as a desk.