Be sure to watch the 6-part video surrounding bin cages that can be found here: http://bit.ly/2Y5CO9H
Bin cages are surrounded in controversy among pet rat owners. It has long been thought that rats love to climb and should have ample climbing opportunities.
However, the Norway rat (our domesticated pet rats) are fossorial by nature and prefer tight, dark burrows. They’re not adept climbers and can be quite clumsy.
Rats are active, inquisitive animals and their desire to explore is often misconstrued as a desire to climb. Tall aviary cages that have been modified to accommodate rodents often pose a health risk due to falling. If there aren’t enough levels or materials to catch them, they could fall upwards of 3 feet depending on how tall the cage is and where they were at when they fell.
A bin cage offers more floor space vs vertical space which is more inline with their natural needs. These cages are inexpensive to make and can be completely customized. The standard bin cage is crafted from a 110 qt Sterilite bin but other bin options exist. You just need to be mindful of 1. chewable edges within the bin 2. flat sides to be able to cleanly cut out a space for a mesh window and 3. how you will arrange accessories.
Bin cages do take a little more ingenuity than a traditional barred cage, but they are the much safer, cheaper, and easier to clean option. The only time bin cages may not be ideal is when you have a heavy chewer in your colony.
– Bin with latching or snapping lids (most common are the 110 qt Sterilite bins (Target), 120qt bins (Walmart), 50 gallon bins (Walmart?), and Christmas tree totes around the holidays.
– 1/2 in wire mesh (not chicken wire as the holes are too large). ( Click here.)
– Zip ties or bolts/screws/washers (zip ties can be either plastic or metal)
– Cutting tool (Heat knife, dremel, jigsaw, etc)
The wire mesh should be attached to the bin from the inside of the bin, not outside. This deters them from chewing on the cut edges. At least 2 sides need to be cut out and replaced with mesh to provide adequate air flow. Additionally, make sure the window starts 3 to 4 inches from the bottom of the bin to provide a lip to keep bedding inside of the bin.
Bins can be customized into double and triple decker bins, doors, hinged lids, etc. It’s entirely up to your imagination and some trial and error to produce the final product.