Bruno and Fang
Teddy might chew on plastic once in a while but he could be safely housed in a plastic bin cage. Putting gerbils in a plastic cage would be asking for major trouble since they are capable of chewing through plastic almost as easily as chewing through cardboard. Even wire cages with plastic trays were out of the question.
While browsing through Amazon.com looking for gerbil housing ideas, I came across a topper for the 10-gallon aquarium. The Super Pet My First Home Tank Topper promised to double Bruno and Fang’s usable space. I immediately placed an order even though everything other than the topper itself was plastic. The topper also had a lot of positive reviews from hamster and gerbil owners.
The tank topper arrived a few days later and was easy to assemble and clip onto the top of the aquarium. I decided not to use the plastic house that was included with the topper and placed a wooden house under the lowest ladder to provide stability. I replaced the plastic food cup on the highest level with a small glass cup and filled it with gerbil food. I added another glass container of food alongside the cup. I also clipped the water bottle to one of the wire sides of the topper to bring it up higher. The topper has a large door on the top that makes arranging food and other items easy. Once I was done, I closed and latched the door and put a heavy rock on top to make sure it was secure.
Almost before the topper was in clipped into place, Bruno and Fang were racing up and down the ladders exploring their new space. Clearly, they were very happy with the new space and the new places to explore and play in.
The topper was a good investment and if Bruno and Fang were not such aggressive chewers it might still be atop their aquarium. Instead, it took just a few months for them to damage the lower deck and chew the lowest ladder until it was hanging haphazardly, making it difficult for them to use it. I was also concerned about the amount of plastic they might be ingesting.
Rather than replace the chewed pieces with newer plastic, I considered rebuilding the deck and ramps out of wood or other material and started searching eBay for ideas. That’s when I found several eBayers who were selling wire toppers to fit 10 and 20-gallon tanks. I found two different toppers for the 10-gallon tank and ordered the taller version.
The topper, made of 1″ x 1/2″ galvanized wire, is 18 inches high and fits on top of the 10-gallon aquarium. Other than the plastic trim around both doors and the third level opening, the rest of the topper is wire. This particular topper is sold by an eBayer with the ID of jsrlw.
When I replaced the old topper with the new one, I expected to see Bruno and Fang running up and down all the ramps and exploring the even larger space they now had. Instead, they spent most of their time in the aquarium and only occasionally did they venture up the ramps.
I watched when they were on the upper levels and saw that they were having difficulty walking on the wire floors. After I ordered 6″ x 3/8″ sheets of plywood and covered the wire floors, Bruno and Fang began spending more time on the upper levels than the lower level.
Here’s a front view of their cage; Fang is getting ready to use his Silent Spinner exercise wheel and Bruno is taking a sand bath. The Silent Spinner replaces their Wodent Wheel. So far, because of the construction of the Silent Spinner, Bruno and Fang have not chewed on it. The Wodent Wheel had a different fate; they chewed quite a bit of it before I read the fine print on the tag on the back of the wheel which said it was not suitable for gerbils. Unfortunately, the ASPCA, who recommends this wheel for hamsters and gerbils, hasn’t read the fine print yet.
This is a better view of the topper’s three levels with the balsa wood flooring. The top level is slightly less than 6 inches wide so I had to trim a minor amount off the balsa wood and cut out a small hole which fits over the ramp opening as they do not need a hole as large as the original opening.
And here they are taking a nap in the bowl with the bath sand. Rarely do they ever sleep apart and I’ve stopped trying to predict where they’ll sleep next. Their current favorite spots on the lower level are the bowl and the pile of shredded paper at the left, and on the top level the wood house and the grassy hutch which I bought for Teddy but moved from his cage when he showed no interest in it.
The hutch was an immediate hit with Bruno and Fang both as a place to sleep and something else to chew. I’ve already ordered a Super Pet Grassy Roll-a-Nest to replace the hutch when it is no longer usable.
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