My birthday present for 2002 was a new bigger cage for the boys, which gives them loads of room to play in. It's a Superpet Deluxe Multi-Floor Ferret Home, and stands about 5 feet 6 inches high with the stand. The cage size calculator says it's big enough for nine ratties.
The cage has a lovely deep base, with rounded internal corners so it's easy to clean. The sides are flat panels which are fixed together with rubber fasteners. The fasteners are fine to begin with, but start to fall apart once they have been put on and taken off a few times, so I am gradually moving over to cable ties. I'm still trying to think of something which will hold the panels firmly but be easy to clip on and off.
I expected the openness of the shelves to cause problems, but they seem to be fine, especially now the boys use their litter trays. Each shelf segment is one third the width of the cage, so in theory you can arrange them as you want, but there are a limited number of positions where they don't foul on the doors. There is a small gutter around each shelf which catches most of the mess, so I just wipe around the gutter to clean up. I've added some corner shelves to give a bit of variety. The ramps seem to work better fixed to the cage bars with several cable ties rather than clipped to the shelves as intended.
There are six doors, two large ones on the front, and two small ones on each side. They have catches that push through the bars and lock, but they were so stiff that we bent them to just hook through because it was a fight to open them. When we first bought the cage it also had some sharp edges where the panels had been suspended on thin wire for painting, and bits of the wire were left stuck to the cage. A little time with a metal file and then touching up the paint solved this.
The biggest drawback of the cage is the weight. It weighs a ton! I get around this by taking off each layer in turn and hosing it down in the shower. It seems to take me up to three hours to do a full clean out, including the time socialising with the boys who explore the hall, kitchen, stairs, landing and bathroom during the process. Lots of careful foot shuffling while carrying bits of cage.
Another minor problem is that I can't put young rats in here, because the cage is meant for ferrets so the bars are an inch apart. The youngsters have to be around 300g before their heads are big enough to stop them getting through the bars, so the old cage still comes in handy until then.
It's arranged so that they have a full-width floor half way down, so they can't fall too far, and they have the wire base from the old cage suspended in front of the cage to use as a balcony. There's a sheet of pvc bolted onto the front of the cage to stop them climbing up or down from the door, so they're restricted to their balcony (excepting jaunts involving curtains or death defying leaps).
I paid £167.95 for my cage, but it's cheaper in the US at around $120. Presumably because of shipping costs.
Buy in the UK
Buy in the US
We've changed the stand (well, hubby has) so that it uses tougher castors without the long legs. The legs were bending when it was moved, and the castors were so small that they settled into the carpet and stuck. It now has the top of the old stand with the legs removed, wood bolted across the ends of the stand top, and castors bolted onto the wood. It feels much sturdier, and doesn't twist the way it did.
The cage now has an attic extension made of a rabbit cage from the same range. It makes the cage big enough to hold both of my groups of boys, one above the other.
Warning - something I didn't think of when we got ourselves some little girlie rats. Because girls are generally so much smaller than boys, some of ours can get IN through the bars of this cage. So think twice if you have a mixed sex rat family. Thankfully we were lucky and didn't end up with an unplanned litter.