Do Bin Cages Need Lids?

By Dawn | Hamster Care
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I have been thinking about switching up the type of cage that I use for my hamster and one of the things that I considered was using a bin cage. The great thing about these is that you can customize them to your liking. But I did wonder, do bin cages need lids?

Although lids on bin cages are optional and unlikely that a hamster could climb out of one, it is strongly advisable that a lid with locking clips is placed on the bin to prevent your hamster from escaping, climbing out or injuring themselves.

With that in mind, there are several things that you might wish to consider before making a final decision on whether to use a lid.

Do I Need A Lid For My Bin Cage?

One of the reasons that a lot of pet owners decide to use a bin cage is because they are much more affordable than the cages you can buy at a pet store. Furthermore, you can make your own design and connect more than one bin for a larger enclosure.

Essentially, these cages are made from a storage box, sometimes called a bin or other large plastic container. It is typically better to purchase a clear one so that the hamster can see out, and you can see in. 

It is also a wise idea to make sure that you buy a plastic box that is large enough for your pet.  This means that the floorspace in the cage should be at least 450 square inches.

When we think about a lid, we generally tend to think about the plastic lids that come with these storage boxes. However, let us point out that you should never put one of these lids on the bin cage and seal it if you have not created sufficient air holes. The oxygen in the cage will soon run out, and your hamster could suffocate. 

Aside from making air holes in the plastic lid, many pet owners opt for a mesh wire lid, which is a lot easier and provides excellent airflow. This type of wire mesh can be purchased from pet stores and hardware stores and is relatively inexpensive.

With all of that in mind, there are people who do not wish to use a lid for the bin cage. There are two main things to think about here; safety and escaping. 

Your primary concern is that your hamster cannot escape; if they do, they are small enough to hide out in various locations around the house and get lost. 

If the sides of the bin are relatively high, you should be OK not to use a lid. But since hamsters are determined, they may still find a way to get out, so I strongly recommend a lid.

I also recommend, for additional peace of mind, that you buy a lid with locking clips on it, or find some way of securing the lid so that it is securely fastened and can’t be easily lifted or knocked off.

Finally, you will want to think about the location of the cage. If the cage is low down or there are shelves above, there is a risk that something might fall into the cage and injure your pet. Having a lid will eliminate this risk and keep your pet safe. 

Can Hamsters Climb?

One of the things you will have likely noticed about your pet is that hamsters love to climb, and depending on the species, they may be able to climb exceptionally well. 

Some hamsters are not as adept at climbing such as Chinese and Dwarf varieties. However, that is not to say that they wouldn’t give it a go.

Hamsters are incredibly stubborn animals that will keep going when they put their mind to something. 

While it is very unlikely that your hamster will be able to navigate their way up the slippery plastic wall of the bin cage, they might use other things to help them to reach the top. 

For example, if there is a hamster house or any climbing equipment in the cage, these could serve as a platform for them to get up and over the edge. 

If you are installing equipment like this in the cage, try to make sure that it doesn’t come up too high.

How Do I Make A Lid For My Bin Cage?

I believe that using wire mesh for the lid is the best option and making a lid like this is relatively simple. You will be able to use tools that you likely already own.

To begin, you should lay the plastic lid on the floor and lie the wire mesh onto it. Use a marker to mark the bin where the wire will go. 

You should now start to cut around this line. It is easier to start by drilling some initial holes, which you can then cut into with a saw or box cutter. However, after you’ve got some momentum going, a strong, sharp pair of scissors may be just as effective. 

Next, you will need to mark out locations for cable ties, which will be used to secure the mesh to the lid. 

Once again, use your drill to create the holes. It is a good idea to use plenty of cable ties to make sure that the lid is secure.

You can now attach the wire mesh, and you are ready to go. 

Related Questions

What is the best cage for a hamster?

Your hamster will do well in any type of cage as long as it is large enough, kept clean and has all the equipment it needs. A wire cage provides better ventilation, but these can be messy, and there is a risk of the hamster getting her feet stuck in small openings for tubes and other accessories. Conversely, a bin cage is cheaper and less messy but does require a lot more effort to set up.

How big should a bin cage be?

A bin cage should have a floorspace of at least 450 square inches. However, some owners like to provide more space for their pets, and this is fine, provided you have enough room to place the cage. You might also join two bin cages together using plastic tubes or sealed openings but this minimum recommended size inches must be uninterrupted floorspace.

Can hamsters drink from a bowl?

Yes, hamsters can drink from a bowl but you should consider that they will get dirty very quickly. This means that it will need to be changed far more frequently.  That being said, they are easier to clean than a water bottle, allow hamsters to drink in a natural position and maybe better suited to owners that use bin cages.