Mary Ann and other rattie people had told me repeatedly that a Shop Vac was virtually a necessity for keeping rattie cages clean. I saw this posted on the rat list, etc. as well. Eventually, I got around to seeing for myself. I went to Wal-Mart and bought a 10 gallon Shop Vac. As I recall, it set me back about fifty dollars. I was hoping it would be worth it.
When I got it home, I put the wheels on and stored the warranty information. I installed the filter and found an extension cord and a compatible outlet and decided to clean some cages "just for fun."
I decided that it would be good for the ratties to get used to this very loud noise because they would be less shocked about other noises in new homes they might go to in the future. Therefore, I opened the top of the cage and gave the ratties the choice of remaining inside or fleeing to higher ground as they saw fit. I thought it would be interesting to see if their friendliness and boldness in other situations would have any parallels in their reaction to the "suck monster." I explained to them that, like me, the Suck Monster could not eat any ratties without barbecue sauce and there was not a drop of barbecue sauce in the house. They seemed a bit dubious. (Don't bother writing me any hate mail--I already realize I have a strange and twisted sense of humor. It comes from teaching 7th grade. Besides, no ratties were injured to produce this product review.)
So, I tried the Shop Vac. I liked it and I have used it ever since. In general, it makes cage cleaning neater because whenever I clean cages it's inevitable that when I'm pouring the dirty bedding into a trash bag, some of it spills. So, then I have to sweep. This saves me the sweeping step and saves me from having to lift and dump big aquaria or heavy litter pans. Plus, it's just so much fun to vacuum stuff up like that. Yes, I realize I am easily amused.
The rats were at first slightly horrified at this shrieking monstrosity which was inhaling their old bedding and store of lab blocks. Then they decided that anything that new and interesting could not go without investigation. True to my prediction, my friendliest, most outgoing rats were the first ones to investigate the monster. I had to watch carefully to keep the hose tip away from the ratties--a few of mine are so fearless that they might try to sniff the monster's nose tip and that's a heck of a lot of horsepower to inflict on a rattie face. So I was very careful to keep the hose tip away. Within a few weeks, the ratties had decided that this suck monster was old hat and that they would rather climb on me, sniff my ears, rearrange my hair, etc. and we were back to business as usual except that it was easier and neater to clean cages.
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