Moving On Up
by Debbie Ducommun
September 1, 2012
New habitat designs present more choices than ever for retailers to offer small-pet owners.



Two key trends in cages are upgrading the lifestyles of small pets these days:  oversized habitats and higher-end cages that easily integrate into owners’ homes. These trends are driven by owners who not only want the best for their pets, but also want to include them in more family activities. Fortunately, manufacturers are offering habitats that are better looking, more portable and more luxurious than ever.

Ware Manufacturing, Inc., of Phoenix, recently launched two lines of small animal cages. The company designed its new Living Room Series line of small animal homes to be attractive enough to place in the living room or other high-traffic areas of the home to increase interaction and the pet owner bond.

 “The Living Room Series cages offer premium features to make pet keeping easier, including oversized doors, solid shelves and ramps, and slide-out floor grates or pull pans for easy cleaning,” says Heather Cappel, Ware’s creative coordinator. “Multiple levels with solid surface shelves are designed to offer lots of living and play space to encourage a healthy, active life.”

The Living Room Series Homes are available in five styles: the rabbit home, a two-level cage with an optional floor grate to keep pets clean and dry; the guinea pig home, with a comfortable solid surface floor and a fully opening top door for easy access; the ferret/chinchilla home, a three-level cage with an easy-to-clean pull-out tray and floor grate; and two ferret styles large enough for a family of ferrets, featuring fully opening side doors and movable shelves and ramps.

Ware also recently expanded its Animal House line to include several new sizes.

“Animal House homes feature a safe and comfortable ramp with a staircase design full-width contoured shelf and a chair-shaped food dish that is raised on three sides to prevent spilling,” Cappel says. “Locking doors on the front and top of the cage provide easy access to pets and have simple, yet secure, locks to prevent accidental escapes.”

The homes also feature an “Accessory Attic,” a special area in the top of the cage to store toys, treats and more.

Animal House homes come in 28-inch, 35-inch, and 40-inch sizes, with one-inch spacing between the bars, for small animals like rabbits, guinea pigs and ferrets; as well as two- and three-level 16-inch styles, with half-inch bar spacing for little critters such as hamsters, mice and gerbils. The 16-inch sizes also include a solid-surface running wheel to provide the safe exercise outlet all small pets need. The three larger styles lock, allowing the homes to be moved easily and safely so pet owners can keep their animals nearby. Each Animal House includes an optional nameplate to personalize the home.


A New Nation
Midwest Homes for Pets, based in Muncie, Ind., was an early leader in large, up-scale homes for small pets. The Ferret Nation and Critter Nation cages—the cornerstone of Midwest’s innovative housing for small pets—are still growing in popularity. Among the main features of these cages is their strong construction and durability, and the company continues to look for ways to improve its products.

Midwest recently updated the Critter and Ferret Nation cages to include two safety features. “We saw a need to make the Critter and Ferret Nation cages more sturdy and resistant to the active lifestyle of small animals,” says Jill Lockhart, marketing manager for Midwest Homes for Pets. “The addition of two small screws, one in the base support and one in the top panel, ensures a safe, secure, long-lasting cage for small animals.”

Consumer demand inspires the company’s product development, Lockhart adds. Midwest, she says, channeled what it learned from consulting members of small-animal clubs in designing the Critter and Ferret Nation cages. “We found that a durable, long-lasting cage that is easy to clean and decorate is a priority for pet parents,” she says. “As a result, the Nation cages were built with features that allow pet parents to maintain a safe, healthy environment for their pets that include full-width open doors and slide-out, washable plastic pans and shelves. In addition, these cages feature locking, swivel casters for easy maneuverability and large adjustable shelves with multiple toy and bedding anchor points for unlimited décor and personalization options.”


Debbie Ducommun has a B.A. in animal behavior and has worked in the animal field since 1982. She is the author of the book Rats!, the booklet Rat Health Care and, her most recent book, The Complete Guide to Rat Training: Tricks and Games for Rat Fun and Fitness.