Topic: Cage cleaning
Lana wants to know how to get cages spotlessly clean. I am happy to share what I do.
I use a propane torch, wire brushes, and count on the sun to help me. I keep extra cages around whose job it is to sit in the open air out in the field and bleach themselves extra clean.
Years ago I agonized over every case of fur mites that erupted, and I spent a summer using Sevin (a pesticide) on the wood walls of the barns to get every last mite. That helped me for almost 9 months, but then they were back. I decided the chemical dousing was not healthy for anyone and have accepted living with a controlled mite population. However, that experience taught me the value of leaving cages in the sun, which was one tool I used to get the wire ultra clean and mite free.
I feel that after a long and dreary winter, each rabbit deserves to get a (spotlessly) clean cage and a new perspective. So, every rabbit gets one along with a position shift in the barn. I do this again in the fall after bunny season is good and done as we settle everyone down for the winter.
So, here's what happens.
Cage looks dirty and it's time for a change. I pop a new CLEAN cage in a new spot (barns are not crowded...remember that you need air space between the rabbits to keep P. Multocida, Bordatella, etc. at bay!) and put in a clean food bowl (dishwasher sterilized) and a new water bottle (bleach sterilized sipper tubes with brand new plastic 1 liter (former) seltzer bottle). If it is winter time, a plastic (bleach sterilized!) resting board gets clamped in to keep their little paws off the cold wire.
In goes bunny. He/she always gets a handful of hay plopped in the middle of the cage to chomp on while exploring the new home, the new window, and the new neighbors! (Every now and then an uncontrollable urge comes over me to have them ALL face East, or West and they get aligned spots. Very Feng Shui, eh?)
Out goes the old cage. It is unceremoniously dumped on the ground upside down. The wire brush makes quick work of whatever is hanging on the bottom, and the inside and sides are quickly brushed to get rid of the majority of hair felted around each wire. Now it gets to sit in the sun for a week upside down. After a week, out comes the wire brush again. Another brushing will get rid of whatever had been lingering. Out comes the propane torch, and the cage gets hung on the outside of the barn so I can stand while I torch every square inch at eye level. That takes about a half hour per cage. Then the cage gets put back in the sun to bleach/weather until the next season.
Once every few days, after feeding everyone, I go around both barns with wire brush in hand and scrape the bottoms of the cages. This takes 10 minutes and has a HUGE payoff as the cage bottoms cannot get truly clumped and matted in the "latrine" corners. This scraping/jiggling spooks some of the rabbits, and I can tell more about their personalities from this maneuver.
To read more: I chatted about some of this a while back here in the blog.