Bin cages, as you might guess, are hamster cages made out of storage bins!
They 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 cage in the photos above and to the left was made using specialty tools, but you can accomplish a similar effect with only a soldering iron. You can purchase soldering irons inexpensively from Harbor Freight Tools for $5, or from Amazon for $8-10. (Non-affiliate links)
Our favourite bins are available at IKEA, Target, and Walmart (see below). Other bins are available at Home Depot, Lowes, Big Lots--virtually any department store!
Our favourites are:
If none of these work for you, consider these tips while you hunt:
Some folks put vents on the lid, others put them on the front of the cage. It's up to you, but here are some benefits of each.
Or you can choose to do both!
For your first bin cage, wire playgrounds are an awesome option and we highly recommend using one! They are somewhat pricey, at about $8-15 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.
1. Kaytee Crittertrail Playpen ($15) --High quality and allows you to connect tubes/other cages
2. Prevue 13-in Playpen (8) --cute and cheap, with larger panels. However, bars are easily bendable and not super secure.
1/4" hardware cloth is also 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.
As you can see in the photos, you can use alternate materials to customize your bin too, such as plexiglass or wood. The sky is the limit with bin cages!
It's complicated, but no--holes are not enough. Hamsters produce lots of ammonia in their urine, and these fumes and others need plenty of room to escape from the cage. Poking holes leaves too much plastic in the way and doesn't truly allow for proper venting.
They can be! To be extra safe we recommend going with top vents only, and choosing a heavy duty bin (Sterilite 50 gallon being the best choice).
That being said, bin cages are not the most escape proof option as the plastic is relatively soft and chew prone.