**This page was posted to spread the word on how you can make a bin cage but original credit for how to prettify it and the original look was based off a Hamster Central member: aka Gutterglitterxx aka Marquelle’s design. Her original bin made me fall in love with bins cages!! Here is the one she made for her dwarf hammy Roxy RIP.
Check out Updates (at the very bottom of this page) as of August 2013 – adding front doors to a bin!
Alright, so you’ve taken a gander at the cages available in the U.S. You’ve joined a hamster community and learned your cage is too small. Whatever! We’ve probably all been there. I know I have. In the 1980s when I had hamsters and was a little girl I just kept them in a used fish aquarium. I cannot remember the size but I believe it was about a 15 gallon or so. Back then you just put in a metal runged wheel and a bowl of food. A loo roll to chew on. A water bottle. And at that time the hamster ball came about and that was probably the most enrichment we could think of then. Of course fondly I remember that as soon as my hamsters were awake I was playing with them outside the cage. There was certainly no lack of free ranging and attention.
In this day of age we should know better or should begin to. Hamsters need more space than we’ve been led to believe. It makes sense though doesn’t it? They travel for miles upon miles across rocky, sandy, and woody terrain searching for food and mates. They dig deep burrows to store food and sleep. Put into a small cage with very little to do but run in a wheel or a session in a hamster ball is not really a good life. Especially, if you cannot spend hours upon hours in the night enriching their life with free ranging and play pens and affection. But even still – a tiny cage with a thin layer of bedding and just a wheel and a hideout is just not enough!
But it’s almost impossible to find a decent sized cage appropriate for a hamster in most pet shops in this country! Or you have to spend SO MUCH MONEY to get one shipped from online stores! Many people choose hamsters because they want a pet to love but cannot afford most. Well, my friends, hamsters aren’t cheap. Once you have a vet bill or two and buy proper safe bedding, and a decent diet you realize they aren’t going to be some cheap pet. There is no such thing as a cheap pet unless it’s a rock. But compared to many animals hamsters are more affordable to keep up than most and a BIN CAGE is an alternative to help keep up the frugal funding.
So, do you have a Critter Trail or Habitrail style cage that you bought in the beginning? Don’t throw it away!
I could have done that with my first cage. But instead I took it apart and used bits and pieces of it for various things. As well another cage by Ware I took apart for my 2nd bin cage. In the process of making the 2nd bin cage I decided to grab my iPhone and snap pictures of the process so anyone desperate for a happy, healthy habitat for their hamsters either because you cannot afford the more expensive cages or because you cannot find adequate ones in your area – will be able to make your own! Don’t have a cage to use for parts? Go to a hardware store or order off amazon – “Hardware Cloth – 1/4 or 1/2 inch (grid style mesh) will do for any hamster species.
1st – find a nice sized, sturdy, clear bin with a snapping lid. I chose a Sterilite 106 quart for my first bin which I found for about $10 at Walmart. And for my 2nd I chose a 110 quart. The bin pictured below is 110 quart and I found it at Big Lots for about $12.
In order of going across –
1. Got your bin! (Took this picture as afterthought – already had got started!)
2. Have all your supplies ready. You are going to need a serrated knife – sturdy and sharp and with a point on the end. Wire cutters. Soldering Iron & Mask (optional). Zip ties. Scissors. Marker
3. Mesh/hardware cloth or recycled cage bars.
4. Mark the edges to make note of where you want your mesh/cage bars to go and to get an idea of where you are going to cut your window. You want your window to be smaller than your mesh because you want at least a half inch to inch of plastic to secure your mesh against with the zip ties.
5. The marks are for the mesh and the lines drawn are where I’ll cut the window.
6. I put duct tape on the outside of the cutting line to make it more difficult to crack the bin as I cut through. Then I put the mesh back up to decide where to put my cable tie holes and mark them with dots.
7. Time to move it near an open door/window and turn on the fan.
8. Open the door or window. You don’t want fumes!
9. Got the mask on. Turned on the soldering iron. (optional to thin out the plastic to make it easier to cut through with knife).
10. The ruler is great safety tool. And it keeps the soldering iron straight as you gently apply pressure and work your way down the line melting away some of the plastic. The ruler of mine has a metal strip that the iron is leaning on. Not the wood.
11. Using the soldering iron I push through the holes for the cable ties. Or you could use a hot knife or drill (1/4 bit).
12. Got a flame of some sort (safety people. Safety!) I used a candle. With my first bin I used the flames from my gas stove). And heat your knife over it.
13. Then push through the plastic. With mine I pushed through then sliced down. I did saw bit by bit with a still hot knife. Sometimes I got cracks though. But mostly that’s okay because tape is going to be hiding it anyway. When you get a crack you can soldering it back together by melting it a bit or you can just put duct tape on both sides to keep it in place as you move on so it won’t continue to crack.
14. Sand down the plastic edges that have sharp pieces jutting out. This keeps your hamster from poking itself! And gives a cleaner looking finish.
15. Put your cable ties in the way you wish.
16. Secure your mesh and zip the ties super tight before trimming them with wire cutters or scissors.
17. Have fun taping. Duck Brand Duct tape with the decorative patterns is AWESOME. I collect them!
18. And to show my other side! Finished!
Now for a bin that is stand alone or will be the top of the stack you will want to do the same with the lid. Here is a picture of my 1st bin I made. The middle portion is left for stability.
And then I connected the bins! To give my Strawberry a mansion! The cage bars I used have tube holes for tubing to connect. Perfect for my bins. So, I took Crittertrail tubes and voila! Absolutely fantastic. But you don’t have to have these cage pieces to connect your bins. Other people have cut a hole in the bottom of the top bin and the top of the lid of the bottom and put tubes in that way. Or from the side. Use your imagination! Just be sure the tubes are fastened well. That the hamster can’t push it out or chew away at a gap around it and escape. You are going to have to study your work and think like a rodent! There are ways to connect without needing tubes. If you have high platforms made or connect shelves your hamster might simply be able to just hop into the other one via a hole. Or you can make ladders with craft sticks that can reach! Your imagination is the limit! But stacking is optional. If you get a big enough bin one is very suitable for your hammy baby.
Now this is for a Dwarf hamster. But if you have a Syrian you are going to need wider tubes than Crittertrail. There is something called Superpet Ferre trail Fun-nels Tube Maze. It’s a bit pricy on Amazon but you could get it and connect the bins internally from bottom of the top bin to the lid of the bottom bin and have it lead down to a platform and make a ladder to the platform so you’d not need a LOT of those tubes.
If you are brave and know your hamster isn’t a big plastic chewer you could opt for the Ware Fun Tunnels (they are like a hard plastic colorful clothes dryer tube – that open and close like an Accordion instrument). At this time I will link it (products on Amazon come and go so if the link is bad – try doing a search of the name of it)
I highly suggest with the Ware Fun Tunnels to connect with those using from the INSIDE and not the outside. Someone who tried this particular tube out noticed her usually non-chewer Syrian Hamster began to indeed chew on these. She then connected it from within and all is well now.
Someone commented with the suggestion of Habitrail Ovo Tubes though I have no personal experience with those – but you might want to give that a try.
Hope that helps. If you try any of these tubes and wouldn’t mind sharing your experiences, qualms, tips, success – please do!
But with my current double decker bin for one of my Syrians – I just have a shelf on the bottom with a bendy wooden arch bridge from Petco as a step and a hole in the bottom bin lid and the top bin floor and she just hops right up the shelf, arch, then top bin with no problems at all. No fuss with tubes.
He enjoys his new play loft. I have much more to do with it now that it’s connected. I’ll post updates here as they come. I also will post other examples of other bin stacking by others to give other ideas. Give me some time and come back for those updates! Hope this helps! Happy Bin Cage Making!
I’ll end with a video of Strawberry’s reaction to the connection!
So, I now have a double decker bin for my Syrian Penny. It’s two 110qt Sterilite bins. I would like to show this bin here to suggest also adding a front door. Recycle old cage doors or make your own. There are various create ways to latch doors.
For the bottom door I used a clipped front panel of an old Critter Trail cage. Both work fantastic for letting Penny out or reaching in for feeding or grabbing the water bottle (which I have velcroed to the side from the inside) or little adjustments inside the cage – without having to life the lids. I also used bolts and bolted the bottom bin’s lid to the bottom of the top bin. So when I life the top bin the lid of the bottom bin comes right up. This is time saving convenience.
And the pink shelf in the picture – with the bendy wooden arch – that is the platforms which Penny uses with ease to jump up through the hole in the lid and bottom of the floor to get to the 2nd floor.
Just with anything concerning hammys – safety first! Think like a rodent and be sure your latching is secure and safe and escape proof!
EDIT: 11-2013 – The bottom portion of this bin now has two meshed windows on the sides for more ventilation. In these pictures you will see there just wasn’t enough ventilation until I added more meshed windows.