The kindergarden class that I work with has a pair of gerbils as a class pet. This Instructable shows how I've made a neat piece of furnature for our gerbils out of recycled products.
Step 1: Have a Plan!
Having a plan is a good idea... I took the inside measurements of my gerbil tank and decided to make this piece of furniture one quarter the inside dimension. Other then that I kinda winged it. You'll need to factor in enough space for the cave/jar to fit in under your observation area.
Step 2: Mass Production!
Ok now you need to make six copies of your template. Preferably on card stock or poster board, if you have access to a laser cutter you could do this in wood.
Step 3: Reinforcing!
Now if you were able to cut these out of wood you can skip this step. Lay three of the mass produced section out and reinforce them, I used old craft sticks or Popsicle sticks. For glue I used Elmer's school glue, I figured since it's "safe" for kids to eat it should be fine for gerbils. Once it is reinforced add another piece on top of it to make a ridged and stylish support structure.
Step 4: Observation Platforms!
While the main supports are drying you can work on the observation platforms. I found it was best to build it upside down. Lay out your craft sticks finished side down and glue a cross brace to keep then together. Make sure to make them the right width and length, so they fit in you base structure.
Step 5: Assembly!
Now for the fun part, put it all together! Using one of my wife's 12oz canning jars I was able to assemble the base structure and add the stairs. Be careful not to get any glue on the jar as you will want to be able to remove it for cleaning. You will also want to add some more support other then the jar to keep it stable.
Step 6: All Done!
Finish glueing the platforms to the base and let it dry over night. Your gerbils will love it, and they can chew on it to their hearts desire without adverse effects. Hope you find this useful!
Step 7: Ideas and Answers
I've had a few ideas since I built this unit that I'm planning on working into the next generation of furniture.
- soak the wood in lemon juice before assembly, this should discourage chewing and help the curvature last longer
- probably should have made this out of a solid piece of wood or medal - it would last longer
- might want to use a pipe instead of a jar, it seems that gerbils like to have two ways out and will dig like crazy to make a second opening.
You might be wondering why is this unit so over engineered? Check out the picture. Even with three inch whole chewed through in it, it is still stable and safe!