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#1 AgeVivo

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Posted 01 September 2012 - 05:11 PM


This thread to discuss the materials for the experiment. Please don't hesitate to go to your nearby petshop and share with us what you take/suggest/prices etc.


#2 Mind

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Posted 02 September 2012 - 02:39 PM

First off, what are the basic pet rodent supplies?

Food and water dishes/dispensers
Artifacts for stimulation and exercise
Equipment/method for cleaning up waste
Food & Water
Adequate space and climate control

#3 AgeVivo

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Posted 09 September 2012 - 05:05 PM

Here is what I consider as good pet rodent supplies.
Do not hesitate to suggest other. Do not hesitate also to ask advice to petshop vendors.

1. A good cage

1.1- that animals do not escape. Cages are made of plastic (plexiglas in general) and/or metal bars. Myself I prefer full plastic (on the sides; on the top I don't care) both for esthetism and to have a clean space around (with bars animal throw things out). In case of plastic you should check that it does not have several holes on the side, so that your pets don't enlarge the holes and go out (if you still buy such a cage, put tape on the holes, on the external side of the cage, so that mice don't put their nose out and then use their teeth to enlarge the holes). In cage of bars make such that there is not too much space in-between (ask the vendors if you have a doubt) so that if you have mice they don't go out. Of note, in my experience if you put pets outside of the cage they will rapidly want to come back, but it is better to ensure that the cage is a true cage.
1.2- that allows you to put one big water bottle rather than use the mini ones that initially come with cages (otherwise you'll have to refill water at least twice a week, otherwise you put your animals at risk). A typical good case is when the bottle is supposed to hand ouside of the cage and the hole to put the tip of the water bottle is sufficiently large to pit a larger water bottle (don't expect enlarging yourself the hole: it is very difficult with plexiglas).
1.3- that is sufficiently large and easy to clean. Typical minimum size (for a few mice or a few rats; indeed rats don't require that much more space): [35 cm x 35 cm] x20 cm height. My cage is more 35 x 50 x 25, I have 3 mice but if I had the double I think it would ok. A minimum space is indeed required to have a playground; then animals like to sleep all together on one place. Some cages come up with numerous floor and tunnels, it is fun but complex to clean so I do not use it.

In the petshops where I have been, the type of cage I liked the best (and that I have now) is the "Paradisio cage". It costs between 30€ and 45€ (depending on the week; I don't know why prices vary so much from one week to another). Here are pictures:
petshop-paradisio-cage.jpg mice-cage-play.png cage-mice-bread.png

2. A large water bottle and a water cleaning solution
This is my own little trick rather than a standard method. As explained in 1.2 I prefer to use a sufficiently large water bottle so that you have time to react when it is half drunk and your animals won't lack water, even if you were to leave them alone for 2-3 weeks. When doing a lifespan experiment I think it is safer than to take the risk of having your animals die from thirst (!).

2.1- Water bottle As you can see in the next picture, for about 9€ you get a nice water bottle that is external to the cage (but the tip goes in of course). I would say that the minimum size is like a human-small-water-bottle (the ones you can buy in a food machine).
Do not put water in a bucket inside the cage: I had tried it at first, they had immediately filled it with their litter (!)
2.2- Water cleaning solution. I put a few drops of a methylene-blue-containing cleaning solution for fish, as petshops usually do for fish, over long term periods (if case of disease they use higher doses). Based on my own taste, it prevents water from turning bad after several weeks in the sun, which is not the case for vinegar or citric acid and other things. When I was young strong doses of methylene blue was a medicine against sore throats (it worked well actually). My mice and previous mice are taking it. This costs 7€70 but lasts 'forever'. If you are interested I can ship you some along with the treatment or placebo shipment.
petshop-waterbottle.jpg petshop-water-cleaner.jpg detox-water.png mice-cage-play.png

3. Expendable: very standard food, litter and straw

3.1- Standard petfood + mini extra from my own kitchen. I take the most regular food as possible for rodents, to ensure that they have a balanced diet. I give them too much rather than too little (ad libitum) because 'normal' mice and rats don't control themselves much better than we do and don't become obese. Cost: 4.50 € for approx 2 months (for much less time if you have rats, because rats eat several times more than mice). About once or twice a week I also give them mini chunks of curlies or bread or chocolate or cheese or cornflakes or nuts... because they are my pets after all.
I put the food directly in the cage, at no special place: they handle it very well.
3.2- Litter to absorb odors. When I change the cage (once a week, with rare exceptions), I first put about two cm deep of litter. It is very standard in petshops. Cost: 5€ for 2 months.
3.3- Straw. The animals like straw. They make beds/nests with them, or mountains and hide in it, etc. It is very standard in petshops. I put about 2 cm deep of straw on the top of litter. Cost: 2€35 for 2 months
hay.png bb180812.jpg

4. Toys and things to handle them

4.1- Ball(s) are useful
Rodents like to go inside a cavity. It can be straw but it can also be a house, or a ball. The advantage of a ball is that you can also use it to keep them somewhere away while cleaning the cage. Myself I use 2 size of balls because it is a convenient way (and nice way for them) to keep them in the sink while I clean the cage, as you can see in the picture. I have bought one small ball per animal but I actually think that it is better to buy one small (7€) and one large (10€) ball only, at least for mice.
balls-to-eat.png souris-noire-debout2.jpg
4.2- Optional: running wheel
This is IMHO optional. Do *not* take a wheel all in pastic because by experience it is not is a good type of plastic: they make holes in it and it is certainly not very good for them to eat plastic. WIth a running wheel the animals should live a little longer as is well known (published experiments in rats in the 80s or 90s from what I remember; increased lifespan under ad libitum feeding but not under calorie restrcition) but the order of magnitude is much smaller than what we are trying to reproduce. Lately I decided to give a wheel to my mice (they run on hard plastic and the sides are in metal; 10€).
petshop-wheel.jpg wheel.JPG
4.3- Other
The animals are curious: use your imagination. You can put a plate, a woodstick, waterever you want from time to time, to have them investigate and imagine a new playground with new rules. Avoid paper, tape, soft plastic as they would eat it. Mice particularly like to play like 'chimpanzees'. Of course, be careful not to make dangerous things (eg vertical heavy plate that may fall).

5. Environment, contrindications, handling

5.1 Environment
In general, think that these animals live in the same kind of environment like us: if it is cold for you, it is cold for them. If it is always dark or always bright they won't get well.
- I recommend to put the cage in a 'normal' place in your house (kitchen, living room, other) so that they will benefit from the good conditions and you will see if something isn't right.
- Do not put the animals in a place where the air is not renewed
- For when you go out for a few days, I recommand to buy a plug that automatically switches on and off (3€ next to my house) and plug a lamp on it: it will produce the required 12h day/12h night cycle.
- One noise should absolutely be avoided: dripping tap water at unknown intervals. Just like you, your animals would not be able to sleep. They would get fuzzy hair and would be ill-like (just like you when you wake up). Having a loud regular noise is not an issue (in the contrary, it prevents them from being disturbed by slight noise); just like us.
5.2 Contrindications
If you are allergic to cat hair, chances are that you are allergic to mouse hair too (rat hair perhaps, but less frequent). If you work in a rodent facility, check with the rodent facility that you are allowed to have such pets at home. If you intend to move in the coming few years and won't be able to bring your animals and cage with you (in the car, with a little care of course), then obviously you should not have pets.
5.3- Carrying them
It is not the only way but mice are typically carried by the tail whereas rats are typically carried by putting your hand under their body. Indeed mice could bite a little if you carry them like rats and if they are not used too (depending on how the petshop used to carry them) and rats are nice (they have big teeth but they don't bite unless they are terribly ill or you try to do something that obviously afrays them) and heavy so holding them by the tail may hurt them a little (a little like if you were pulled by a foot). In my experience learning how to handle mice or rats comes fast, and vendors can advise you and petshops also sell small brochures or how to take care of mice or rats.
5.4- Feeding them treatment of placebo
Along with the shipment of the treatment or placebo I will send you the right tools to give them on bread. Here are pictures for mice:
C60-tools.png C60-spoon.png C60-drop-test.png C60-bread-yumi.png

Minimal cost
For mice,
- Initial total cost ≈ 35 (cage) + 9 (water bottle) + 8 (water cleaner) + 17 (balls) +3 (plug) ≈ 72 Euros
- Cost per month ≈ 4.5/2 (food) + 5/2 (litter) + 2.35/2 (straw) ≈ 6 Euros
For rats,
- it might be around 80 € initially (larger balls) and then 10 € per month.

So overall not much compared for example to the excess-of-food that many of us eat. I would be interested in some of you could compare some of those prices with the prices you have in the nearest petshop to your house.

Edited by AgeVivo, 09 September 2012 - 05:08 PM.

#4 Mind

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Posted 10 September 2012 - 08:51 PM

Here is a summary of care protocols for rats from the rat fan club: http://www.ratfanclu.../caresheet.html

They also provide a checklist of materials:

large cage
bedding and/or litter
bed and/or house
water bottle
dry food dispenser
moist-food dish
rat food
treats for training
exercise wheel
activity toys
chew toys
litter box (optional)

#5 XxDoubleHelixX

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Posted 16 September 2012 - 12:06 AM

I would avoid toys/wheel...enrichment like that could give a false positive...I would find it weird/concerning if the animal colony in the paper put those in the cages. I normally go with just a plastic house for them to sleep (2 per large plastic cage). You could get a cage with a wire insert so you can just load the food and water bottle there. When you remove the wire insert, just flip the water bottle and set the wire insert on the main cage lid. Moist food dish and unrefined bedding could harbor parasitic contaminants and adversely impact the results. So I would just focus on cage with wire insert and plastic top, dry food, water bottle to slide in wire insert, rectangular plastic house, and a kind of refined bedding, nothing long-staw-like unless your autoclave. Did they say if it had to be olive oil that had a positive impact? If not, you could suspend in coconut oil, freeze, then break it into solid food pieces (like loading it into dialysis tubing for freeze). There are liquid diets that you could try suspending it in... I'll look so see if I have some pics on this comp to show...

#6 XxDoubleHelixX

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Posted 16 September 2012 - 01:22 AM

Well, cage images are certainly not something I keep easily accessed. But here are some shots of what I'm talking about...if it will let me post a picture...

Green arrows are pointing to the rectangular houses, 1 per two rats, per cage. Then the red is pointing to the metal insert which is supported by the cage rim, then the filter lid goes on top.

Some places close to what I'm talking about

(could probably house 3 rats @ ~300g/each in the large cage size)


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Edited by XxDoubleHelixX, 16 September 2012 - 01:40 AM.

#7 XxDoubleHelixX

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Posted 16 September 2012 - 09:29 PM

I found better images to show the cage layout. Ones with the purple bedding (mostly see it in grey) with breeding mice is great for long term "no-contact" since it possesses superior absorbancy (petsmart, etc). You'll see the water bottle and food hanging in the wire insert depression though, very easy to work with and clean. Need to keep contact from you to a absolute minimum. Especially if you already have rodent pets since they probably already carry mouse pox etc.

The other two images show the rat version. You can see how the wire insert sets on the outer cage lid, etc.

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#8 AgeVivo

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Posted 16 September 2012 - 10:00 PM

In my opinion -- it can be discussed and it can evolve, of course -- the three types of environments proposed above are perfectly Ok.

What XxDoubleHelixX is describing is close to what is done in scientific labs, What Mind found is more toy-and-fuzzy oriented. What I do is in-between. I believe that such variability is a force for mprize at home with C60: we test something that is supposed to largely extend lifespan, on various environments, just like different people lead different lives.

Best regards,

Edited by AgeVivo, 16 September 2012 - 10:02 PM.

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