pocket pet fleece hammock tutorial

cooking, design, family, general crafts, sewing, tools

Our pocket pet journey began at Christmas when our 10-year-old daughter asked for a hamster. I decided to buy her a magazine called “Critters” which I bought at Petco. When I went to pay for it the young cashier said, “If you’re thinking about a pocket pet, I’d get a rat.” “A rat?! Really? Why?” I asked. “They’re smart, they’re social and you can train them to do stuff. Mine sits on my shoulder while I do homework,” she responded. She had me at “sits on my shoulder while I do homework.” I had a gerbil when I was Sophie’s age and I had no affection for it at all. It didn’t interact with me and seemed to resent contact with me.

So I bought the magazine, which explained the benefits and limitations of gerbils, hamsters, guinea pigs, sugar gliders, chinchillas, ferrets and yes, rats. Sophie read every word of the magazine over Christmas break and decided that she too wanted rats. Adding a pet to the family is a serious responsibility and an added monthly cost. I told her that she needed to make a written proposal to us including researching how much a cage, food, bedding, etc would cost. She needed to think about her schedule and commit to a time that she would play with them and clean their cage. Rats don’t like to live alone so it would be two rats to consider. We had her do this proposal because I wanted her to know that being prepared and organizing your case is how you get people to listen to you and take your request seriously. She did the proposal and we began looking for young rats because they only live a couple of years and we didn’t want to get one that might be at the end of its life.

Long story short, we got these rats, Taffy and Toffee, last weekend and the woman we got them from gave us a hammock to borrow until we could make our own for them. I decided to post this tutorial because the hammock is appreciated by all manner of pocket pets and is the perfect project for small scraps of fleece. The rats have been a lot of fun and are indeed as social as we had hoped.

Pocket Pet Fleece Hammock Tutorial

You’ll need:

a 12″ x 24″ piece of fleece (size is a guideline – it can be smaller)

4 shower curtain hooks

4 extra large eyelet (also known as grommet) sets and the tools for setting the eyelets

small, sharp scissors

a sewing machine and thread

1. Turn under a 1/2″ edge on both of the short ends of the fleece.

2. With right sides together, bring the ends to the center of the fleece so they meet in the middle.

3. Pin in place and sew the sides.

4. Turn inside out.

5. Place one of the eyelet pieces on the fabric and trace the circle on the inside of the eyelet onto the fleece.

6. With either a leather punch or a pair of small, sharp scissors, cut an X through the center of the circle large enough to accommodate the shank of the eyelet. Cut just a little at a time and try to work the fabric tightly around the eyelet piece. If you make it too big, the eyelet won’t hold so smaller is better.

7. Following the instructions on the eyelet set, assemble the parts and hammer until the metal shank overlaps the flat part of the eyelet. We put the nice side of the eyelet on the flat part of the hammock because that’s the side that’s visible from outside the cage.

8. Repeat the eyelet setting for the other corners of the hammock.

9. Using the curtain hooks, hang the edge of the hammock from a point that the pet can reach but that allows that hammock to move freely.

10. Pocket pets are sensitive to smells. So when you introduce a new hammock to them, fill it with bit of fabric or toys that already smell like them so they’ll feel at home.

37 thoughts on “pocket pet fleece hammock tutorial

  1. I just had to comment on your informative post. You had me lol. I had no idea what a “pocket pet” was let alone know that they liked hammocks!! Learn something new everyday. :) I’m a kitty person myself. She likes to drape herself around my neck keeping me nice and warm.

    1. Anne,
      We are kitty people too so we asked our cats-only vet about how our 14-yr-old geriatric cat would feel about the rats and she said that she thought they would be “great stimulation for him.” He’s not allowed in the room where their cage is when no one is in the room but he like to sit and stare at them sometimes. He can’t get to them because the cage is so large but for now they are living in peaceful co-existence.

  2. Where I live, it’s illegal to own rats for pets, and if word gets round to the wrong people that you own them, someone will show up at your door and take them away (and presumably put them down). Yours look quite sweet though, and I can definitely see why people would want to own them. (Alberta, where I live, claims to be rat free. I’m not sure that’s a claim any place can make, as, well… there aren’t little gates at the borders with little border guards keeping them out.)

    This is maybe a bit of a weird comment, but I always find it fascinating reading about your family because you strike me as some of the most practical people (in a very good way). Your daughter is going to grow up knowing a lot of things about life that people often don’t pick up until much later in life and that will only serve her well.

    1. Thank you for the parenting pat on the back. It is a benefit of being older parents that we can see the benefits of teaching certain things to our daughter that will prepare her for life that I wouldn’t have thought about had I become a parent in my 20s.

      I’m sorry that you can’t have rats where you live. They are actually quite charming and a different animal all together than the ones that live in an alley.

    1. Regina,
      I was known as “Nature Baby” as a child and have always been open to handling all animals. I had always thought I’d be a vet. My mother was once stunned that I spent 1 hr when I was in my 30s helping a 6ft long black snake get untangled from some netting in her back yard. I guess I see them all as creatures of God and see the role that each one has here. I had never considered rats as pets but really enjoy that parenthood takes you to unexpected places. So when this came up I thought, “I need to be open to this possibility.” I’m glad I was. It’s been fun. But I found myself laughing when the woman we got them from told me I’d need to be giving one amoxicillin 2x/day because he was getting over a respiratory infection. Yet another “vet moment” for me.

  3. Well, Weeks, you are always bringing us new information we never thought we needed. The idea of making your daughter prepare a proposal was so interesting and dear to my heart (I was a proposal writer and I am doing “proposal project plans” for the Virginia Quilt Museum where I am a director…they are startled….never heard of that from a Board member). Always love to read about “life as it happens” from you. Kathy

    1. Thank you Kathy. As a high school girl I learned quickly that preparation is the key to being heard and respected by others and it has served me well. I was happy to hear that you are on a Virginia Quilt Museum Board as I was born and raised in Va. Glad you are not bored by my “life as it happens” posts.

    1. They eat a pellet for most of their nutritional needs but we give them a bit of fresh kale, carrots, grapes etc daily so they have something fresh. I love to watch them eat as well.

  4. Our rat loved making a bed for himself out of my scraps of 100% cotton quilt batting.

    My time as a rat “parent” started when my 16 year old son had a full grown one given to him when its owner (his girlfriend) was moving away. I never did touch that thing and honestly, I was thankful when it died a year later. A few days later, I heard my husband say to my son “did you tell your mother what you did?!” My heart was pounding, thinking that he had an accident with my car or something! When I found out that he had only bought a baby pet rat, it was a relief, believe it or not. Anyway, I handled the young rat and came to love it. All my younger sons’ friends thought that I was the “cool” mom. haha
    Our rat loved making a bed out of my scraps of 100% cotton quilt batting.

    1. That’s a great story. We have some batting scraps to share with them as well but Sophie grabbed some scraps from David Butler’s new line first. I wondered how David Butler would feel about that.

      1. Just a quick note, be careful about using woven fabrics in a cage. Rats love to shred and then can get their little fingers and toes wrapped up in the threads and cut off the circulation! Fleece is great though!

  5. Love the hammock. My older kids always had rats growing up, social, clean and easy to care for in general. Well when my youngest (10yrs younger) wanted rats about 6yr old her big brother happily obliged with a pair at Christmas.. All was fine until the night I came home and he met me at the door…”Uhm Mom, turns out its not 2 females Dorie just had 8 babies and I’m not sure she’s done yet.” She wasn’t, 4 more came along. we quickly separated the male Delly from Mom and her babies. It was a amazing to watch them grow up almost before your eyes and luckily we found homes for them all. Kept a male and female (that time we were right thank goodness)so no one would be lonely. 4 rats in 2 separate cages, they would have loved these hammocks!

  6. Oh my! 12 baby rats! That’s quite a lot to handle indeed. Can you imagine the panic your child must have felt delivering that news? Poor kid. That must have been quite the night. You were a good sport.

  7. Dear Weeks, another enjoyable post! I think I won’t dare touch a rat either. Do not read on if squeamish :)
    A memorable incident when I was Sophie’s age : when all the other villagers moved away, many rats came to the last house standing – ours. They were black & didn’t look anywhere as cute as Sophie’s. We had to be careful if we get up in the middle of the night, not to step on any. One night, there was a loud spluttering noise in the room where my sister & I were sleeping. My parents came over to check, turned on the lights to find that one or maybe two rats had crawled through the back of our table-top fan, which was at the end of our beds. It was like a CSI site ! Every time, I see or hear the word “rat”, I think of that spectacular scene in our room!

  8. You are a better mother than I. Rats indeed…we had gerbils and they escaped and were running thru the house. That was the end of any little scurrying creatures. Now we are an all dog household. whew! BTW, the new magazine arrived and I am IN LOVE. I have SO many projects to finish but but but…I’ve been checking my stash to make WOODLANDS…ahhhhhhhhhhhh.

  9. RATS ARE THE BEST PETS EVER! I have gone through the gerbil, hamsters, fish, turtles, lizards and frogs. When my youngest son bought two rats home to show me when away at college I almost threw up. After putting my prejudices aside I grew to love the very CLEAN, AFFECTIONATE and very smart little girls. The only downside is their short life. They really become a member of the family and I grieved after each one died. If you get one, make sure they are young and you give them plenty of “hand” time. They do not bite and will give affection back. You will not regret your choice of a rat.

  10. I love rats. :) Used to have them, but became very allergic to them. More folks looking for a smaller yet incredibly loving, playful and engaging pet should consider the rat.

    I have a question about the hammock. How big would the fleece need to be to make a hammock that is, say, 17×24? Though I no longer have rats, I do have ferrets, and this sleeper would be prefect if it were a little larger :)

  11. Rats are wonderful pets. I kept them for 10 years, having several pairs. It is sad they don’t live very long.

    Your hammock is excellent. The ratties are going to chew it to bits, though. I made mine out of old towels so I could just toss them once they were chewed up.

    Rats are omnivores, just like us. They will eat meat if given some.

  12. This guide is great! I’m adopting two boy ratties in a few weeks and am definitely going to make one of these for them :)

  13. I love the pictures of your rats there so adorable. If I’m not mistaken that was aSiamese rat. I love those. If you don’t mind sharing where did you get them? Love the turtorial too!

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