American Fancy Rat & Mouse Association

This article is from the WSSF 2011 AFRMA Rat & Mouse Tales news-magazine.

Pet Projects

Making Rat Lab Block Metal Feeders

By Karen Robbins, photos by Karen Robbins

This next article will cover the making of solid metal lab block feeders for rats that you mount on the outside of wire cages. With these feeders you fill them up from outside of the cage and the rats eat through the wire from inside their cage. These follow the same concept as the lab cage wire bar lids that have a food hopper in the lid so you can maintain them without having to take the lid off. The animals get their food by biting off pieces between the wire bars. The food is kept more sanitary and you know that they have plenty of food available.

This is also similar to the metal feeders used by rabbit and cavy breeders that are mounted on the outside of the cage with a small hopper tray that projects inside the cage. However, we can’t have a tray on the feeder that holds the rats’ food as they would take all the blocks out and stash in the corner of the cage defeating the purpose of keeping the food cleaner by being in the feeder! They could also climb through the feeder and have a grand time being free!

By using some kind of lab block feeder, you not only keep the food clean, know how much they have available at all times, save money on your feed bill, but it is also a form of enrichment by giving them something to do by working to get their food instead of having it sitting in a bowl in the cage. Treats such as grains or cereals can be scattered about the floor of the cage for foraging activities.

12-hole cage
My large 12-hole unit for groups of rats. It has 32-oz bottles and large stainless steel feeders and pull-out trays.

Outside Metal Feeders

I needed a different feeder (from the wire feeders) that could be attached to the outside of a wire cage—in my case my custom made 12-hole units my dad made that had ½ x 1 inch wire fronts/ doors—but had the same concept of being able to feed the rats easily and it would hold a lot of food. These are attached to the door and the rats eat through the wire just the same as a hanging inside feeder basket. I’ve had these made in two sizes—small for my smaller unit with smaller doors to attach to, and the larger size for the larger unit’s doors. It is tapered in the back so the food will settle down the feeder as it gets eaten.

Large MetalFeeder
A closeup of one of the large metal feeders. This one is made from stainless steel sheet and does not have the top folded edge—the edge has just been ground smooth so it is not sharp.
Small galvanized metal Feeder
A small galvanized metal feeder. The small piece of metal on the door is a bottle protector.
Original template small feeders
The original template for the small feeders. These had edge tabs on the top that were folded over so there were no sharp edges. Later, my dad made the feeders without the top edge tabs. This shows holder tab clips that would be added after the feeder is made. These were made from 26 gauge metal. Diagram by Harley E. Hauser.
Template for large feeder
The template for a large feeder. Attachment holder tab clips would be added after the feeder is made. Diagram by Harley E. Hauser.

Supplies Needed
  • 26 gauge galvanized or stainless steel sheet metal (stainless steel is great as it is easier to clean, but the galvanized is fine)
  • Tin snips
  • Grinder to grind the cut edges smooth so you nor the rats get cut on the edges
  • Sheet metal bending brake to bend the metal
  • Spot weld, solder, or rivet the bottom to the sides; also to attach the holder tab clips if you don’t cut them out as part of the feeder (if you cut the tab clips as part of the feeder, make sure you measure correctly as to where the feeder will sit on the wire).
Small metal outside feeder
A small metal outside feeder with folded top edges. Bottom and attachment holder tab clips are riveted on. This is made from galvanized sheet metal.

Specifications (can be made to your specifications; following are what I use)
  • Metal Outside Small 3″W x 3″D bottom/4″D top x 5″H
  • Metal Outside Large 8″W x 3″D bottom/4″D top x 5″H

  1. Make a template out of sturdy cardboard
  2. Trace outline and mark bend lines on the sheet metal
  3. Cut out the feeder
  4. Grind cut edges smooth
  5. Bend the metal to make the feeder (for the kind with the top edge tabs—fold the 2 bottom tabs then fold the top edge tabs: center first, then the 2 sides, use pliers or steel plate to get it crimped completely down; fold the bottom and sides of the feeder)
  6. Spot weld, solder or rivet the bottom tabs to the sides
  7. Make the 4 holder tab clips if separate: ⅜″ x 1″
  8. Spot weld, solder, or rivet the holder tab clips if you did not cut them out as part of the feeder
  9. Attach the feeder to the cage by bending the holder tab clips around the wire and crimp flush against the feeder then fill with food. Put it at a comfortable height for the rats to eat from on the inside of the cage—5″ from the cage floor is good. *

Go to Making Rat Lab Block Wire Feeders. Making Mouse Lab Block Feeders

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Updated April 7, 2015