Let’s be honest. Buying supplies for a pet can really add up quickly, especially if you have more than one small exotic pet like I do. Buying extra toys every month isn’t always something I can afford to do, but its very cheap and easy to make fun, chewable toys for your babies from supplies you already have around your home and yard. Here are three ideas to get you started.
- The Hammock
Hammocks are a popular way for your pets to enjoy multiple levels in their cage and have a comfy spot to rest. Seamus and Tully, my two fancy rats, love having a large hammock to lay in. Hammocks are sold in pet supply stores for $5-$18 depending on materials and construction. However, most small animals not only mark their territory by urinating, but also chew everything in their cage. That means the $18 hammock you just bought will need to be washed every week with the house towels and then replaced every month. at $18 per month for 12 months, you’re investing $216 in hammocks per year for each cage you have. Instead, you can buy a yard of fleece fabric at wholesale value for $10, or on sale for less. One yard of fabric is 36 inches long and the width varies but is usually about a foot across. Most hammocks are about 6 inches by 6 inches or 6X10. That means your yard of fabric for $10 is worth 6 months of hammocks, and saved you $98. If you don’t want to buy fleece, using old bandannas, rags, towels, or blankets works as well. You will never have to wash them when they become dirty, and they are chew safe-nothing about this will hurt your pet if they chew it.
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To install a fleece hammock in your pet’s cage, firstly cut a square or rectangle of fabric 6X6 or 6 inches by any desired length. Since I have two rats who enjoy snuggling, I make mine on the larger side.
Next, take four paper clips, and puncture the four corners of your hammock. Paper clips are chew safe, and most rats and mice will not be able to destroy them.
To hang the hammock so it will not slide, find cross bars in your cage where the bars make an X. Loop the paper clip over the middle of the X and it will be locked in place.
Ta-da! You have just made a cheap hammock and saved any where from $98-$216 per cage!
- The Nut Ball
A very popular and pricey treat you can buy is a ball of twigs fashioned in such a way that it holds small nuts, yogurt clusters, and other treats for your exotic rodent. At $3 a pop, and they last less than a day, you could find yourself paying anywhere from $36 a year upwards depending on how often you treat them and how many pets you have. One of my rats can tear through a ball like that in hours, and I can’t give them just one or they will fight over the treat inside. Peanuts make my boys gaga.
You can use small twigs from your own back yard for this, and stuff the ball with food you already own. The tastier your pets find the treat, the faster they will chew open the ball.
Soak any thing long branches you find in water for a couple of hours or until they become flexible. You can begin to twist and form your ball any way you want. If the wood gets too dry, stick it back in the water. The ball will hold once it has dried completely, but while the wood is damp, stuff the ball with treats.
That’s all there is to it. This will save you extra money every year–$36+ depending on how many pets you have. Just toss it in the cage and they will love it.
- Hanging Treat Rope
This one is a little more advanced. Hanging ropes that dangle bells, wooden block, and granola bars are easy to make and get on the cheap. Often, the only thing you have to buy is rope. These can run in pet stores anywhere from $5-$8. That sounds relatively inexpensive, but $60-$96 is a lot per year for something that lasts 2 weeks to 1 month.
Buying a length of rope is inexpensive: 100 1-yard lengths of twine, which is pet safe, can be $2. This makes 100 toys for one east payment of $2. Making granola bars out of your pet’s food is as simple as baking the food coated in honey in a glass baking dish. You can also use Cheerios®, seeds, or anything you can think of! These can be tied up with strings and hung from anywhere in the cage.
This saves $58-$94 a year unless you want to go out and buy special food for the bars.
Since toy buying is clearly expensive, this is a great way to provide entertainment and healthy stimulation for your small exotic pet. My rats love these, and so will your pet, whether they are rabbits, guinea pigs, or beyond!