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Rat Habitat

Submitted by Atholton Elementary School

While conducting our research, we learned that RACK 3 on the RAHF will contain one mother rat and a litter of eight baby rats (neonates) in each cage.

Our habitat design is based on using the standard shoebox rodent cage used by scientists at the USDA Human Research Facility in Beltsville, Maryland. Our scale is 10mm equals 2 cm.

Since the neonates will be two days old when placed in RACK 3 we have included a nesting box in our design. The nesting box will be made from a screening material.

The water bottle you see in our design has a pump on it to force the water down and out the tube for the rats. Another design we worked with had a water sack enclosed inside the water bottle. The rats would suck on the tube to get water. The food will be processed rat food enclosed in a plastic bag. The plastic bag (like the plastic bags in baby bottles) will be enclosed in the food bottle. The rats will suck the food from the tube. We will also attach a raw potato to the cage for the rats to gnaw on. The potato will provide the mother rat with energy and liquid.

The timer on the fluorescent light will turn the light on for a 12 hour light cycle. The top, bottom and three sides of our habitat are made of 1 square cm grid material. This will provide a surface for the rats to hold on to. The grid surface will also allow airflow through the cage. This airflow is needed to maintain temperature and for waste management.

The fan will push the waste particles down and out of the cage. Waste particles will settle in the waste tray which contains activated charcoal.

We have included a probe in our habitat. This probe will measure and record temperature, humidity, airflow, and light. This information will be sent by cable to a computer in the main cabin and to the monitors on the front panel of our cage.

We had included an exercise wheel in our design, but took it out when we learned NASA does not have the animals exercise.

student drawing of a habitat student drawing of a habitat detail

Click on picture to see more detail

Earth-Normal Animal Care Requirements

Mellie Lewis' 5th Grade E.T. Math Class
at Atholton Elementary School

Condition Source How Helpful
12 hour on/off light switch in cabin warmth and circadian rhythm
air cabin required for breathing
circulation fan to prevent air from getting stale
food tube energy
temperature cabin, thermometer
in habitat to check
if it's either too hot, or
too cold,the animals will
be stressed
water tube animals need water
humidity mister animals need proper
humidity for good health
exercise wheel maintain muscle tone
companionship other lab. rats to keep the animals
happy and maybe to keep
them from being scared
grooming animals themselves
and room
to keep them healthy
bathroom special compartment
charcoal or some
other absorbent
animals need to eliminate
waste products


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