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How To Build A Bin Cage For Rodents

Updated on June 6, 2011

What is a bin cage?

A bin cage is a home made cage used mainly for rodents such as hamsters, gerbils and mice. It is also suitable (if very very large) for one or two pet rats but only if it is extremely large. It is made from a clear plastic storage box a different range of sizes is needed.

Hamster: Will need at least a 75-100 litre storage box (16-30 gallons) twenty gallons being the usual size for one pet hamster, if you have two then of course you will need a larger cage.

Mouse: A single mouse can live happily in a bin cage 35 liters (7 gallons) storage box as this is the size of a basic standard mouse cage only a bit deeper. This can fit a wheel, house etc in comfortably with space for running around too. More than one mouse is going to need about 50 litres and obviously two males will need about 80 liters as males will fight and need a good bit of space to get away from each other. One mouse is fine in 35 liters.

Gerbil: A single gerbil will need around 60 liters minimum which is about 13 gallons and a pair will need well over 100 litres as gerbils are fairly large and need quite a lot of space.

Rats: A single/ pair of rats will need 200-400 litres make sure it is at the bare minumum of 70 gallons, rats are large and need space.

WARNING: never attempt to use one of these on a rabbit of Guinea pig. They are not rodents and are far too large to possibly be able to live in one of these it will be extremely dangerous to put a rabbit or piggie inside a bin cage.

The type of box you will need to create your bin cage is a clear plastic storage box. Don't use a coloured or black one as these can get very very hot a clear one is much easier to keep cool. You will need a box with a lid if you have animals that are good at escaping you will need one that clips on but a clear plastic box of your choice will do they can range from £4.50 - ? depending on where you buy, the size and how much you want to pay for it. In dollars that would be about $15 dollars for a suitable size for a mouse or a dwarf hamster make sure you read my guideline sizes so you have a basic idea of what you need. You can google conversion from gallons to liters etc which might help you a bit.

Now of course your pet cannot live in a plastic box lets not be silly here, you will need to make air holes for them so they can breathe. (read my section below on how to build a bin cage)

Bin cages are very much the same as aquariums or rodent pet tanks that can be bought for outrageous prices in the pet stores. £30 for a plastic tub? I don't think so (that's about $50 dollars by the way) They are very much alike to tanks of course only you have more choice in how you build them, the size of them, the add ons for them and what animals you can keep in them. They do need to be able to hold a water bottle and possibly hanging toys but I will explain that in my next section.

They need cleaned out on a regular basis as the dirty fumes can become a problem for your pet and you must let the animal out for a while each day to get some fresh air as they are not as well ventilated as wire bar cages.

Lets get building!! 

Tools you will need: storage box, mesh wire (if you choose to use it), an electric drill, drill ends, a plastic bag to college rubbish. 

If you are pretty useless at handy work then you don't have to use the mesh wire. Simply take your drill and carefully drill holes all over to cover almost the entire of the plastic lid (don't cut through it and leave it open make air holes) and then drill holes all around the side of it. Take the water bottle and measure the size of your wire that attaches it to a bar cage and drill two holes for it to hook onto. Drill a third hole to put the nozzle into the bin cage and attach. 

To use hanging toys then I recommend using bailing twine or string to loop through the tops (this includes hammocks) and slip through the holes on the sides or top and fasten as you like so they can have some loft to their new home. 

If you wish to make a mesh one then take a utility/stanley knife whatever you want to call it and measure the size of the hole you want to cut. It can be any shape but square or rectangle is best used. Slice through the plastic and remove the chunk from the lid (or side or both) and place the mesh into the gap and attach with bolts. It is slightly harder to do this and slightly more dangerous if you cut yourself. The same technique applies for hanging toys unless you hang them from the mesh. Be careful to not buy large spacing mesh. 

WARNING: I will not be held responsible if you do not make this correctly and your animal becomes sick or suffocates. This is my guidelines and how I made my bin cage be careful to empty any debris from the inside of the box and make sure there is plenty of air holes in it so your pet gets enough air. The more animals the more holes you need (do not make them too large as chewing and an escape may happen) Remember to take your pet out each day twice a day for extra air and keep these well cleaned out much like you would a tank. 

Best of luck making your new furry friends a home I hoped this helped. Don't be afraid to leave me a comment if you need any more information but these are pretty simple and quick to make. 


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    • profile image


      4 years ago

      Sarah, rabbits are not rodents, rabbits are in the order lagomorpha - NOT rodentia.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Although your instructions are quite good. Bin cages are in NO WAY suitable for rats, rats have very sensitive respiratory systems and will suffer with the limited ventilation of bin cages. There are more suitable wire cages available for rats, which are bigger and more flexible than any bin cage. Additionally, both Guinea Pigs and Rabbits are in the order Rodentia, therefore ARE rodents. But I agree Bin cages are also not suitable for these rodents either.

      On a positive note, Bin cages are fab cages for hamsters, particularly dwarf hamsters.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Where can i buy additional expansion ports for tubes to connect bins?

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      I want a bin cage and I have a black bin I want to see my hamster but I don't want to have put in mesh windows what do I do?

    • ILoveMice profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from England.

      Hey no problem :)hope you and your furry friend have a fun time with your new cage (if you built one) :P

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Good job thanks for the help, and my furry friend thanks you too!


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