How to Make a Rodent Rack

Parts List

  • (4) 1″x4″x8′ Whitewood Boards
  • (6) 1″x2″x8′ Whitewood Strips
  • (10) 2″x2″x8′ Whitewood Strips
  • (1) 25′ Roll of 1/2″x1/2″ Wire Mesh
  • (1) 1lb. Box #8 2-1/2″ Coarse Thread Drywall Screws
  • (1) 1lb. Box #8 1-5/8″ Coarse Thread Drywall Screws
  • (1) 1lb. Box #8 1-1/4″ Coarse Thread Drywall Screws
  • (1) Box 3/8″ Staples
  • (7) Edstrom Vari-Flow Sipper Valves
  • (1) Piece 12″ shelf Board
  • (2) Stationary Casters
  • (2) Lockable Swivel Casters
  • (7) Mortar Mixing Tubs from Home Depot(ODJOB Brand)
  • (16) 1/2″ PVC 90 degree connectors
  • (6) 1/2″ PVC Tee connectors
  • (7) 1/2″ PVC End Caps
  • (1) 1/2″ PVC Male thread x Female cement connector
  • (1) 1/2″ PVC Female thread x Female cement connector
  • (1) 1/2″ PVC Ball Valve with unions on either end (Found at Lowe’s only)
  • (2) 10′ Lengths of 1/2″ PVC Pipe
  • (1) Can PVC Cement
  • (1)Roll Teflon Tape
  • (1) Rubber Washer (explained later)
  • (1) 34 quart Sterilite Tub (Water Reservoir)

Tools List

  • Mitre Saw
  • Table Saw
  • Drill with #8 Countersink Bit and Phillips Driver Bit
  • Tape Measure
  • Reciprocating Saw
  • Square
  • Pencil
  • Staplegun with 3/8″ Staples
  • 13/16″ Paddle Bit
  • Razor Blade
  • Hack Saw
  • 4″ Tin Snips
  • 2 Channel Lock pliers
  • 1 Case of Favorite Beer or 1 Bottle Jack

Step 1

Let me preface this by giving credit where credit is due. The original design for this rack was acquired from Sean at Exotics by Nature. This rack can be built to hold 8 or 9 tubs, if you just extend the height of the rack. I build it with 7 tubs because one more tub would be slightly to high for Monica. Step 1 begins by cutting (4) 68 1/2″ and (4) 21 1/2″ pieces of 1″x4″ boards. The 21 1/2″ boards can be cut from the drop-off from the 68 1/2″ cut. These boards will be used for the side rails and top and bottom supports. Next we cut (14) 2″x2″ boards into 28″ lengths, (21) 2″x2″ boards into 16 1/2″ lengths and (14) 1″x2″ boards into 24″ lengths.

Step 2

I then pre-drill three holes on each 28″ 2×2 about 3/4″ from each end and a hole 8 1/4″ from one end. These holes are used for assembling the frames that will make up the tops of the tubs.

Step 3

I then pre-drill the holes on the 24″ 1×2 about 2″ from one end and about 3 1/2″ from the other end. These will be the rails that the tubs slide in and out on. As you can tell, I like to pre-drill so that once I start assembly, I can stop less frequently.

Step 4

Here is a picture of the frames ready to be assembled. I insert a 2 1/2″ screw in each pre-drilled hole to speed the process. The middle 2×2 is what divides the space on top of the tub that will be used to hold the rat food after the rack is complete. The space inbetween the front of the frame and the feed support should be 6″ if all of the measurements were followed.

Step 5

In this step, we are attaching the 1/2″x1/2″ mesh to the assembled frames. The screen has been stapled to the frames and I am in the middle of trimming the excess from one side. The mesh comes in a 2′ roll, and the frames are only 20″ wide, leaving about a 4″ strip of mesh hanging over one side after stapling.

Step 6

This is a close-up picture of the stapled screen. I used to use a standard staple gun, but got tired of the blisters and bought a air stapler. That is the best investment I ever made.

Step 7

This is a picture of all seven frames assembled and ready to be screwed onto the side rails.

Step 8

In this step, I pre-drill the 68 1/2″ 1×4 side rails. I start from the bottom of the rails and drill a hole 9 3/4″ from the end. From that hole, I drill a hole every nine inches up the board for a total of seven holes.

Step 9

I then attach the side rails to one side of the frames using 1 5/8″ screws. The pre-drilled holes on the side rails face outboard, and the screws go through the side rail into the frames. The front side rail is set in 4″ from the front of the frame. The back side rail is set in 1 3/4″ from the rear.

Step 10

This is a better picture of the side rail spacing. In this step, the side rails have already been attached from the outboard side, and I have pre-drilled the holes from the inboard side into the side rails. I then screw the inboard side to the side rails utilizing 1 5/8″ screws.I do this to help strengthen the rack. After I have finished the inside screws, I then repeat steps 8, 9 and 10 for the other side.

Step 11

Next I use the 21 1/2″ 1×4 to attach to the side rails at the top and bottom of the rack. The supports at the top will be used to hold the shelf board that supports the water reservoir and the bottom supports are used for the caster instillation.

Step 12

In this step, I attach the swivel casters to the front board and the stationary casters to the rear of the rack.

Step 13

This is a picture of the board installed on the top supports that will hold the water reservoir. I said in the materials section to use 12″ shelf board, but I do alot of woodwork and always have alot of drop off pieces from other projects. I typically use a piece of 3/8″ or 1/2″ plywood to build this “shelf”.

Step 14

This step can be done prior to step 11, and that is when I normally do it, but for some reason I did it later this time. In this step, I install the slide rails. I use a piece of 1/2″ MDF as a spacer to get the correct gap between the frame tops and the rails. I then place the 24″ rails flush with the front of the rack on the side rails. The back of the slide rails should hang past the side rail as far as the frame. I use the 1 1/4″ screws to attach the side rails, so that you don’t end up with screw tips poking out of the side of the rack.

Step 15

At this point, your rack is officially complete. Water can be supplied however you would like, but we prefer a gravity feed system that will be installed in the next steps. Prior to starting the water supply system, we check the fit of the tubs into each slot.

Step 16

I know I said your rack was complete, but I forgot that your tubs will fall out the back without this step. In this step, I install a back stop to keep the tubs from sliding to far back. I usually use a bunch of scrap 1×2 that is left from the project. It doesn’t need to look pretty, because it will never be seen.

Step 17

This is the start of my “favorite” part of building a rodent rack. That was sarcastic for those of you that didn’t pick up on it. I will preface this part by saying that I will not give out measurements on this part, because I feel that it is important to measure each piece individually for the best fit. The one note that I will make is that you want the nozzle to be as close to front of the rack as possible. This makes the tub removable without having to work-it too much. You’ll know what I mean if you put your nozzle to far back. This is a picture of the water supply for each individual shelf. This is a hard part to explain, so please read the next steps and look at the pictures before you start cutting pipe. I like to cement together each shelf water supply before attaching each individual shelf.

Step 18

Here is a picture of all of the shelf water supplies on the rack. Please notice that the bottom shelf has a 90 on the outside instead of a Tee. All of the other shelves utilize a Tee on the outside.

Step 19

After each shelf is complete, I then install the level connecting pipes. I like to measure each one of these individually, because the shelves may vary 1/8″ or so from one level to the next. This becomes important with the clearance between the tubs and the water supply later down the road.

Step 20

This is a picture of the connection in the water reservoir. Measure the placement of the connector is critical. I place the reservoir in place on the rack and measuer the distance and height of the connector prior to drilling any holes. I then use the paddle bit to drill a hole in the sterilite tub. Put the male PVC connector in from the outside, place the rubber washer over the male threads, teflon tape the male threads and install the female PVC connector using two pairs of channel locks. The hardest part of this whole project is the acquisition of this washer. I buy these at ACE Hardware. However, only one ACE store in my area has these. Finding them is a search, and that is the best I can say. I have bought gasket material in the past and tried to cut my own, but have had no luck. I suggest that if you find something that works, by a bunch and stockpile them. With that said, I have never had one leak after I have installed it, even after many years of use.

Step 21

Here is a pic of the rack plumbing ready for the sipper caps. This is always the last step before connecting to the water reservoir. I drill a hole (sorry for not having the drillbit size, but it’s worn off) in the PVC end cap and thread the sipper valve into the cap. Ensure that you put extra teflon tape on the sipper valves. This is not an easy part either, as the valves will want to cross thread. All I can say is take your time.

Step 22

Here is a picture of the sipper valves installed onto the plumbing. One other point of interest is to be very careful not to get any PVC cement on the inside of the sipper valve while installing the caps, as it can clog up the valve.

Step 23

This is a pic of the rack plumbing finally connected to the water reservoir via a 1/2″ ball valve with a union on both ends. I have only been able to locate this valve at Lowes. Home Depot around here does not carry this.

Step 24

Here is a close-up of the sipper valve installed in the wire mesh. Notice, I do not cut the wire at all, as the sipper valve can be forced into the existing holes.

Step 25

I call this step optional, but I do have it on all of my racks. This is a piece of “cheese strap” that we use to help support the plumbing from moving.

Step 26

This is another piece of strap that is not used on all racks. However, if you find that you weren’t as vigilant in step 19 as you should have been, which I do from time to time, you can put a piece of strap in place to hold down the feeder line for the valve.

Step 27

Your Completed Rack. Congratulations.

Step 28

Here is an example of why you might need another rack in your rodent breeding project. We have been raising up a bunch of females in hopes of supplying more pinkies for the upcoming hatching season.

Step 29

This is what I call a family-oriented activity. Shelby and Bryce are helping Monica load the new rack with breeding stock from the rearring cages. I hope you enjoyed our instruction and can begin breeding you own quality food for your favorite hobby “Ball Python Collecting.” Maybe Boas for some of those out there that like those worm bearers. p.s. Please forgive any typos, as I have just finished that favorite case of beer that I mentioned in the supplies list.

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