Housing: toppers

What is a Topper?

A tank topper is simply the wire-top part of an old cage, used to make a second level. This is a zone entirely separate from their burrowing and nesting area: a chill-out pad where Gerbils can enjoy a sand bath, run on the wheel and eat. There are plenty of unsuitable cages for rodents on second-hand selling sites. The top wire part, however, can be very handy to make a topper. Our DIY old aquarium tank, above, shows a typical topper set up.

Lids & frames for your topper

To access the tank and hold the topper in place, you will need a lid for one section of the tank and a wooden frame/topper support to hold the topper in place, in the other section. You need a topper that is at least 4cm narrower than the width of your tank to allow for the wooden topper support frame. The lid is a wooden frame with mouse wire. The topper support is simply the wooden frame.

Tanks with a flat glass lip: If you have a tank with a flat glass lip, you can construct both lid and frame to rest on the glass lip as in both pictured below.

Flat glass lip with wood and mousewire lid

Flat glass lip with wooden topper support frame

Tanks without a flat glass lip: You will need to construct the lid a little differently. We’ve used an Ikea Detolf as an example so you can see how the lids rest on the glass edge. Although this example does not have a topper, you would create the topper frame in the same way but without the mouse wire. Tutorials are found online available, as are solutions bought online. Please see our Housing: which tank page for online custom detolf lids to buy.

Ikea Detolf edged glass lid

Ikea Detolf edged glass lid

Edged glass lip lid underside

Edged glass lip lid top side (note the wood on the topside is wider than the underside to fit securely)

Topper Accessories

You’ll need to attach wooden ledges, i.e. GardenValleyUK | Etsy A simple wooden bridge allows access up and down Hanging Bridge You can attach the bridge with metal hooks in the wooden platform. You can then add your water bottle, sand bath, food etc. Top Tip: Cover your wooden ledges with thin card or cardboard to keep the wood fresh and for easy cleaning.

Ledges covered in cardboard for easy cleaning

Typical Topper set up with sandbath, scattered food, wheel and water. Ledges are secured with round metal discs that the screws sit behind.