California Hamster Association
Bin cages are the most economical caging option for those who are familiar with basic tools. The cost to make a bin cage is roughly between $15-30 dollars, but could possibly be less depending on the materials you have on hand. That is as much—if not less—than you would spend on a very small pet store cage.
The cages in the photos above were made using a drill and a jigsaw, but you can also accomplish a similar effect with only a soldering iron. You can purchase soldering irons inexpensively from Harbor Freight Tools for $4, or from Amazon for $8-10.
Bin Cage Questions
Where can I buy a bin?
You can purchase a bin in the storage section of any department store--such as Walmart, Target, and K-Mart--and home improvement stores such as Lowes and Home Depot. Ikea also carries a nice range.
What bin should I buy?
We recommend purchasing a clear bin just because it makes it easier to see your hamster. However, if you prefer a colored bin there should be no ill affects.
Avoid bins with rounded in edges (the Ikea Samla has these) as they can be chewed on. They are safe to use, but keep an eye on your hamster's chewing habits.
Aim for no less than a 110 quart bin. It will list the size on the sticker. This meets our recommended minimum of 450 square inches. You could also consider connecting a few bins to make an extremely large, yet very inexpensive cage! For a larger bin that will fit bucket wheels and more, check out the 50 Gal Sterilite found at most Walmarts!
What tools will I need?
What can I use for ventilation?
1/4" hardware cloth is extremely popular and effective, but it presents some challenges. You will need a way of cutting it, and wire cutters are the obvious choice but it may be an extra cost. It is also somewhat dangerous, as the sharp wires may poke you while working or poke the hamster if they are not properly clipped and secured. However, it is still pretty easy to work with and you are able to make multiple cages from one inexpensive roll.
For your first bin cage, wire playgrounds are an awesome option! They are somewhat pricer than the hardware cloth, at about $15 for the materials to make 2 cages. That said, you simply have to twist the panels apart at the length you need and secure them to the cage--super easy! There are no sharp edges to harm you or your hamster either.
Do you have any tutorials you recommend?
Yep! Some of our favourite bin cage tutorials: