Posted in Hamster
The first thing you need to know about hamster cages is that most cages at pet stores that are labelled for hamsters are actually not well-suited for hamsters! Unfortunately many pet companies are looking to make a quick buck and market things that sell well instead of things that are actually good quality for your pet. This is even more true in the US, where there really aren’t any good hamster cages commercially available.
The best recommendation for hamster cages then is to make your own. Don’t worry, it’s not hard to learn how! Home made cages are not only much better for your hamster, they are also much cheaper (about $20 to make your own cage versus buying a new cage of the same size at close to $100). They are also much more customizable so you can make them look much nicer according to your particular tastes.
The premise is simple. You buy a clear storage bin and then cut out some of the plastic to replace it with wire mesh for ventilation. All you need to do then is attach the wire mesh to the windows you cut out, and you have your new bin cage. The rest is up to you.
DIY Bin Cages
If you would like to make a bin cage, here are some standard materials that you will most likely need.
The most important choice when you are purchasing the materials for your bin cage is to select a nice storage bin. The bin should be roomy enough to accommodate the space requirements for a hamster, and should be tall enough so that the wheel will fit in comfortably. At minimum, this would need to be 360 square inches on the bottom for running space. Typically these are going to be the bins marked as 100+ quarts, but it will depend on the brand so be sure to measure the dimensions. You can also consider buying more than one bin and connecting them together for additional space. The bin should also be clear enough so that you will be able to see your hamster inside.
Here’s a sample of what a good sized cage would look like, with hamster supplies inside for reference. All of the hamster supplies should fit in comfortably, and still allow extra space for the hamster to run around:
This is a large, clear model that would work wonderfully as a hamster cage:
The next important ingredient of your home made bin cage is a wire mesh. At minimum, you will need to cut out the top of the bin and replace it with this mesh to allow for adequate air flow in the cage. You can also cut out some of the sides and replace them with windows of wire mesh, but that’s up to you and how you want your cage to look. This is the type of mesh you will need. You will be cutting it to the size that you wish:
You also have the choice of whether you want to attach the wire mesh from the inside or the outside of the cage. Again, this is up to you and your personal preference, and is dependent on your hamster’s chewing behaviors as well.
If you are putting windows of wire mesh on the sides of the bin cage, consider that if you put the wire on the outside of the cage, your hamster might be able to start chewing on the plastic. If you decide to put the wire on the inside of the cage, you will have to be very careful in trimming down the sides of the wire so that there are no sharp edges that could hurt your hamster.
If your hamster likes to chew on plastic and/or wire, you should probably just stick to cutting out the top of the bin where your hamster will not be able to chew anything. If you’re just putting wire mesh on the top of the cage where your hamster will not be able to get at it, it doesn’t matter much if you attach the mesh to the inside or outside of the cage.
The last piece that makes up the cage are the pieces that tie the wire mesh to the bin. There are several different options for this.
One option is to use screws, washers, and nuts to fasten it in place. If you want to use this method, click here for a web page that will walk you through step by step instructions for putting it together.
Another option is to use wire to thread the mesh on. For instructions on putting a bin cage together using this method, here is another webpage with good instructions. It’s focus is on gerbils, but the method for putting together the bin cage is the same.
Store Bought Cages
If after reading you are still not sold on making a bin cage, another alternative is to get a glass reptile tank. The absolute minimum size would be a 20 gallon long tank, but a bigger tank would be preferable.