I recently adopted a Syrian that was living in two modular cages with tubes. It looked like he had to squeeze through the tubes to get between cages. His food and water in one cage, and up a tube into a compartment was his favorite sleeping spot. I was frightened he was going to get stuck. As soon as I placed him inside a bin cage with a proper sized wheel, his activity level improved. He now gets plenty of exercise, and we both can sleep peacefully knowing he is able to safely reach his food and water.
Modular cages, also known as tube cages, are the types of cages readily available at stores. They are brightly colored, and connected together with tubes. The price ranges anywhere from $20 to $50 or more for the cage alone. Unless you are connecting multiple cages together, the space they provide your hamster is simply not enough. Syrian hamsters often have a hard time fitting through the tubes as they reach adulthood. While these products have many fun accessories, they are best suited for dwarf hamsters.
Bin cages are simple "Do-It-Yourself" hamster cages made from plastic storage bins. You are able to provide your hamster with continuous floor space for a much cheaper cost using common household items. The larger the bin, the happier most hamsters will be. Bin cages allow you plenty of freedom to add your own personal touches to your hamsters home, such as multiple levels, or different environments. Since some hamsters have a nasty habit of chewing on the wires of cages, you are able to eliminate the problem while still providing plenty of air circulation. Bin cages can almost always stop your hamster from escaping their cage. The bin provides you with easy access to your hamster at all times. Hamsters love to dig and burrow, and with this type of cage you can provide inches of bedding without cleaning up your floor every day. Let's not forget bin cages are so easy to clean, even kids can do it with little risk of harm or damage.
You are able to make your very own hamster cage for a low cost. The materials needed are as follows:
· A 66+ quart storage bin: The quality of the bin is very important. Look for sturdy plastic, no corners that are rounded inward, and a locking lid. Bins come in a variety of sizes, but remember the bigger the better!
· Hardware Cloth: This is what you will be using to provide ventilation. You can purchase this at hardware stores. Some people choose to use the wire portions of modular cages (rat cages are great for this!) they have on hand, or pick one up at garage sales. The opening store cages have on the wires can be useful.
· Drill: The most expensive part of the project if you don't already own one or have easy access. You may also use a tool like a dremel is that is more convenient for you.
· Snips: A tool normally used to cut sheet metal. You will be using these to cut through the hardware cloth.
· Exacto Knife: Or similar cutting device. It needs to be strong enough to cut through the plastic you have chosen.
· Nuts&Bolts: Make sure the size of your nuts and bolts, hardware cloth and drill bit all match. Some people also use zip-ties, or rivets.
· Tape Measure
You do not have to have experience to make this cage. The instructions are fairly simple.
1. Measure out a large rectangle on the lid. To cut through, start by making scores in the plastic, gradually deepening your cut over time until you are able to pop the plastic out. Make sure you leave enough plastic space around the edges to reinforce your bin. If you are having troubles, some people find that heating up your cutting utensil can help, but be careful!
2. Measure your hardware cloth a little larger than the hole you just cut. Use the snips to cut as close to the edge of metal as possible so you do not leave any sharp points.
3. Drill holes in the lid where the nuts and bolts are going to go. Attach the hardware cloth to the underside (or top) of the bin.
4. Depending on what type of water bottle you have chosen to use, you may need to drill a hole on the side of the bin and fasten that way.
5. To provide even more air circulation, you may choose to cut a window on the wide of your bin. Cutting the window too large will weaken the structural integrity of the bin. Measure out a shape of your choice on the side and repeat steps two and three.