NCLUDES CHOOSING THE RIGHT BOX, TOOLS, USEFUL PARTS + MATERIALS, ATTACHING A WATER BOTTLE
LINKING UP DIFFERENT BOXES WITH TUNNEL PIECES...
TURNING STACKABLE STORAGE BOXES INTO MULTIFLOOR 'BIN' CAGES...
SHELVES, HOUSES, PLATFORMS CHEW-TOYS, AND IDEAS TO HELP MAKE THE MOST OF SPACE IN A CAGE...
Homemade Hamster cages can be a spacious and cheap housing solution...The easiest and most popular being converting a plastic storage box into a 'bin- cage'
Bin cages are quite simple and easy to build so long as you have some suitable tools for the job. You will need something to drill or melt air holes and 'cut out' any holes for mesh panels. Some people use a heated knife / rod or a Soldering iron to melt through the plastic.
For drilling holes and cutting sections out I use a dremel multi-tool which I liberated from my other halfs garage. It's rather like an electric drill but with adjustable speed and different 'ends' to choose from. A sharp knife also comes in handy for removing melted plastic from the drill bit.
Whatever you choose to use be sure to take your time and be careful not to break your box....or do yourself any damage !
Some important things to look for when buying a plastic storage box with building a bin cage in mind...
Make sure the lid is secure - 'lockable' boxes are best
Avoid any funny shaped boxes, the less 'edges' it has the better. No funny indents means your hamster doesn't have anywhere to start chewing.
Ensure it is a good size. Remember it can be hard to make use of space in tall boxes. If looking for boxes with a multi-level cage in mind check how well they stack.
USEFUL BITS AND BOBS
Metal Washers : Come in various sizes and good for holding things in place
Machine Bolts : Like 'flat ended' metal screws with nuts to fasten them down.
Fixing Plates : Flat or angled strips of metal with pre-made holes to fix into place. Come in various 'shapes' Straight and 'Corner' pieces, handy for fixing things into place.
A Simple Cage With Raised Compartment :
An easy way to add an extra levels and make use of the height of your box is to add in a smaller box. Simply hold in place where the new level needs to go and drill through both boxes so the holes will be in line and in the right place.
Cut an entrance hole big enough for your hamster, then drill 2 small holes (so you can fix a ladder or log bridge using cable ties) Bolt it into place and you now have an extra level ! MESH PANELS - CAGE / PLAYPEN PANELS
MESH PANELS - CAGE / PLAYPEN PANELS
That Hamster playpen you bought ?
It may not be completley usless after all...
If using square wire mesh for your inserts be very careful not to catch yourself on the stuff - sharp edges will need filing down or covering up.
Ensure you cut it to the right size. The mesh insert needs to be bigger than the hole so you have room to fix it into place. Fixing onto the inside will prevent your hamster chewing so much on the edges of your 'window'
Rather than using a mesh insert as I did when making my first cages, I found that the panels from a S.A.M 'Playpen' were great for the job. Simply bolt securley into place. No sharp edges to worry about and much easier to fit, but does limit the size of your 'window' but you could cut it into smaller pieces.
Old cages are also good for making panels but beware of sharp edges.
A big plus of putting a panel into the front or side of the cage is you have somewhere to easily fix a regular water bottle.
Careful how far down you put it though, or you may end up with shavings kicked out all over your floor !
AIRFLOW - VENTILATION
When planning your cage remember to think about ventilation, panels and 'windows' are really a must to avoid a stuffy cage and stop chances of condensation building up in there. Drilling extra 'air-holes' is another way of increasing air-flow to a cage.
WATER BOTTLES !! There are a fair few different ways of fixing water bottles into bin cages, if you have a panel or 'window' in the side of the cage as pictured above then it's simple. You can also buy hanging water bottles with a tab on top which can be hung from bars in the lid. In some of my cages I drilled 3 holes, one for the spout of the bottle and 2 for the wire to hold it in place. Another way is to hold the bottle in place and mark 2 holes (corner of bin works well + looks neater) Drill 2 holes just big enough for the wire - that comes with the water bottle - then fix it in place inside of the cage. A 'Tool -Clip' as pictured right also works as a great secure water bottle holder on both 'bin' and barred cages...
There are a fair few different ways of fixing water bottles into bin cages, if you have a panel or 'window' in the side of the cage as pictured above then it's simple. You can also buy hanging water bottles with a tab on top which can be hung from bars in the lid.
In some of my cages I drilled 3 holes, one for the spout of the bottle and 2 for the wire to hold it in place. Another way is to hold the bottle in place and mark 2 holes (corner of bin works well + looks neater) Drill 2 holes just big enough for the wire - that comes with the water bottle - then fix it in place inside of the cage.
A 'Tool -Clip' as pictured right also works as a great secure water bottle holder on both 'bin' and barred cages...
It's a pretty straight-forward job to connect rotastack and other modular type cages to a bin. All you need to do is carefully draw around the tunnel piece and then drill / cut out the hole for the tunnel piece.
It will need to be a tight fit, with the rotastak connections I add an anti-gnaw ring. For added security you could glue this on to ensure the tunnel cannot be pulled out. I haven't tried it with habitrail tunnel yet BUT from the looks of it the new 'lock connecters' should do a good job in holding the tunnel securely in place.
A great way to extend modular cages in particular Rotastak as very few of the units/rooms available are big enough to fit in a decent sized wheel like a jumbo Rolly.
Also a good way of adding more interest to your bin cage set-up as well as a useful way of connecting multiple boxes 'Bins' together.
To save on space or if you can't find a suitable sized storage box for your project you could use 2 or more boxes linked together.
The 3 storey 'bin tower' on the left is made up of 3 lockable-lid type bins attached using machine bolts, nuts, and washers. The bottom of each box is bolted to the lid of the one below it.
I used internal tunnel pieces to link each box together. The windows are regular mesh fixed into place using metal 'mending plates'
There are also air-holes drilled under the rims of the box lids to aid air-flow. On the top box I cut out the indented part of the lid and fitted a S.A.M playpen panel.
Storm is not really a 'chewer' but I wouldn't trust all hamsters in this cage, they could well try making the 'water bottle holes' bigger. To prevent this you could use some metal washers with the right sized holes and glue them over, or hang it inside using a 'tool clip'.
Complete with top floor excercise room with neon green fitted 'Ball-Wheel' which works on the fixed extendable metal 'rod' - from an old remote control car ariel.
MY 'BIN CAGE' TOWER-BLOCK PROJECT...
I decided to 'recycle' an old small starter cage or two and some of my spare bin cages. Bins are great because of course you can stack them, however access can be a problem and would be a pain to unstack the boxes every day to get to your hamster / refill food dishes etc.
I solved the problem by cutting up a small cage into panels (filed down any sharp edges left) and by using these parts as 'panels' I can stack now stack my boxes and have still have easy access to the cages. My Bin Tower is 2 separate cages stacked and has room for a Rody on top too. The bottom boxes I had already used and have Rotastak tunnels connected so have joined the 'bottom floor' cage that way.
For the other cage I had a different idea, I cut a hole through the floor of the top bin and lid of the bin underneath. I added a big wooden bendy bridge as a platform which as well as providing a step up to the top floor also seems to make a nice nesting spot. In the top floor I also bolted in a shallow plastic 'tub' over the hole - this is to stop all of the shavings / substrate being dug down into the bottom level.
For more bin cage and hamster D.I.Y ideas don't forget to check out the album in the 'Photo Gallery'