DIY a Cage for Your Pet Rat

White rat climbing up rat cage
Del sool fotografia / Getty Images
  • 01 of 07

    Homemade Rat Cage Size and Materials

    Homemade Rat Cage Size

    32 inches by 16 inches and 36 inches tall makes for a nice roomy cage for your rats, but it is very heavy. The cage shown above is 26 inches tall since the 36 inches tall cage is quite heavy and some people want to be able to carry it around more easily. Your rats will, of course, like as much room as possible.

    You may need to experiment a bit with shelf options. In the end, a single shelf was used in this specific cage, but you can make the cage as tall as you want with as many shelves as you want. A hammock and corner litter boxes were added which are suspended higher in the cage and are used mainly as beds.

    Materials Needed for a Homemade Rat Cage

    • 4 closet shelves (vinyl-coated wire shelves), each 6 feet long by 16 inches wide. If possible, get your hardware store to cut these in half for you.
    • A large pack of plastic zip ties (cable ties)
    • Large under bed storage container (at least 16 inches wide and 32 inches long)
    • 8-foot long piece J-channel with narrow channeling (vinyl siding component - see the photo in Step 3)
    • Clip to hold a door closed (such as a bolt snap like a dog leash has)

    You'll also need to have some decent tools, especially a saw capable of cutting the wire shelving. A power saw is recommended, as some of the wires can be pretty thick and this is the most difficult and time-consuming part of the construction. A good pair of scissors is also needed for trimming the cable ties.

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  • 02 of 07

    Homemade Rat Cage Assembly

    Assembling the Cage

    Materials Needed: 3 of the 6 foot by 16-inch wire shelves.

    • Cut each of the 3 shelves in half - you now have six lengths of shelving, each is 3 feet long. Each shelf piece has one long edge which is bent, and one long edge that is "flat" (not bent).
    • To assemble the cage, the shelf places are turned on their ends, and the long edges are joined by zip ties to form the main body of the cage. Use 2 pieces each for the front and back, and one piece for each side. The bent sides of each shelf pieces all meet at the corners. Two corners will look like "A" in the photo where one bent edge and one flat edge meet, while the other two corners will look like "B" where 2 bent edges come together.
    • At the middle of the front and back, the flat sides of two shelves are joined. Initially, the sides of the cage are a bit unsteady as they are able to hinge, but this will be stabilized as the rest of the cage is assembled.
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  • 03 of 07

    Homemade Rat Cage Assembly

    • Use your saw to cut the J-channel at 45-degree angles to meet at the corners of the top of the cage. The cuts won't be perfect, but it will cover any cut ends of the shelving and give the top rim of the cage a finished look. It also clamps on tightly and stabilizes the front and back panel of the cage.
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  • 04 of 07

    Homemade Rat Cage Assembly

    • Figure out how big you want your door openings - 9 inches tall by 5.5 inches wide is a good standard size for rats. Within this space, cut out the horizontal bars on the inside edge of the vertical supports.
    • Cut doors from one of the remaining half shelves, making them slightly larger than the opening so that the door overlaps the opening a bit. Cut on the outside edge of the supports, so the door is a bit wider than the opening, and make the door up to a couple of inches taller than the opening.
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  • 05 of 07

    Homemade Rat Cage Assembly

    • Line up the bottom edge of the door with the bottom of the door opening. The "flat" side of the door (opposite the side where the support bars sit) should face in, allowing the door to sit nice and flat against the cage, so there are no spaces. Using several cable ties, attach the bottom wire of the door to the lower edge of the opening. You can also add a couple of metal clips in case your rats decide to chew off the zip ties.
    • The doors are latched with simple bolt snaps (like the clips often found at the end of dog leashes) which can usually be found at hardware stores (see the inset in the photo).
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  • 06 of 07

    Homemade Rat Cage Assembly

    • The other remaining 3-foot length of shelving is used for the roof. Place it on top, with the bent edge facing up. You could have the bent edge facing down if this doesn't leave too much space between the roof and the back of the cage. Use several zip ties to hinge the roof to the back of the cage. Metal clips or hooks could also be used to fashion some roof lock for the front.
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  • 07 of 07

    Homemade Rat Cage Assembly

    • The second level is made from a piece of shelving covered in plastic canvas. Cut a section of the shelving the same width as the cage. The shelf is basically 16 inches square. Attach the shelf using zip ties and then attach a piece of plastic canvas to the top of the shelf, also using zip ties (the wire spacing is way too wide to use a shelf as a surface).
    • You can place a bird ladder in the cage for your rats to climb to the second level or they can use the sides of the cage.
    • Place the cage on the under bed storage container. You may need to wait until your cage is built to find the perfect container to set your cage in. If you can't find the right storage container, you must consider making your own using Coroplast.
    • Add food bowls, water bottles, toys, and bedding to complete your rat's new home!