How to Make a DIY Rat Cage: Step-by-Step Guide

by Joshua Paulson

How to Make a DIY Rat Cage: Step-by-Step Guide


Here's a fun DIY project idea – making a pet rat cage at home. It's possible to make a well-designed cage at home from readily available materials. Not only is this a stimulating project, but it also gives you the utmost control over your pet's living environment

You can make it as spacious, safe, and entertaining as you like. This cage could be customized to fit your furry friend's needs. Better still, it will be cheaper than many pre-made cages

This guide will explain all the ins and outs of making your own pet rat cage at home

Before You Start: Basic Rat Needs

Rats are social creatures and need plenty of time for interaction, play, and exercise. If you're considering getting a rat (or multiple rats) as a pet and want to construct a cage for them, be aware of their specific requirements regarding space. An overcrowded cage can lead to stress, unhappiness, and even health problems. As a general rule, each rat should have at least 1 square foot of space for themselves in their enclosure. But of course, this shouldn't just be an empty space. Rather, you should add toys and objects they can explore and interact with.

Two rats on a cage

Materials Needed for the DIY Rat Cage

Here's a list of all the components you'll need to get a hold of before starting the DIY rat cage project:

  • Wire mesh or hardware cloth
  • Plywood or non-toxic plastic tray for the base
  • Non-toxic paint (optional for aesthetics)
  • Wire cutters
  • Zip ties or sturdy clips
  • Hammocks, ramps, or other play items

These materials aren't hard to find since you can usually find them at a local hardware store, pet supply shop, or through online retailers (such as Amazon)

Step-by-Step Construction Process

Before you start building, you should have a clear plan. In this section, we'll guide you through the following steps:

  • Preparing the Base
  • Assembling the Cage Walls
  • Installing the Roof
  • Adding Doors for Accessibility
  • Customizing the Interior

Two rats on a hammock

1. Preparing the Base

The base of your DIY rat cage must be both flat and stable. Measure and cut the plywood or plastic tray to the size you have in mind for your rat cage. Use a tape measure, ruler, and sharp utility knife or saw to get accurate measurements as every other component needs to fit on this base. Once cut, inspect that the base is even so that it's safe for your pet rats

Be mindful of what materials you use for the cage base. Some woods may be treated with chemicals that are harmful to rats. Your base should also be as waterproof as you can make it. This way, it'll be easier to clean, the wood won't rot, and there won't be leaks

2. Assembling the Cage Walls

Now, you need to measure and cut the wire mesh to the exact length and height so it fits properly with the base. When you're done, secure each wall to the base with either zip ties or clips. Make them tight to secure the cage and prevent your pet from escaping, but don't overdo it so the wire doesn't snap

Check if the material you use for the wire is safe for rats. Galvanized wire can cause zinc poisoning in rats. Stainless steel is safer but pricier

Pet rat standing on the opening of a cage

3. Installing the Roof

Securely attach the wire mesh or cloth to the top of the rat cage, double-checking that it's all tight and there are no tiny gaps. If you're sure your room is safe, you can also go for an open-top setup. Just make sure you can control all entrances and exits

An open-top cage setup can give your pet more ventilation, but don't forget that it could also be a security risk if you have other pets or if the little rat friends are particularly adventurous

4. Adding Doors for Accessibility

You'll want to include a door to make your homemade rat cage secure. To start, use scissors or wire cutters to remove a section of the wire mesh that will serve as the entrance and exitway. Reinforce this with an extra layer of mesh and fasten it in place with clips so that the door can open and close without a problem

Also, the cage's door should have a secure lock, so your curious friend doesn't try to run away. Rats are clever animals and can figure out simple latches.

Rat on a wired cage

5. Customizing the Interior

Now it's time to make your DIY rat cage a bit more personal. Add some fun things for your rats to enjoy, such as hammocks, ramps, and other playthings. This will keep your pets entertained and give them a brain teaser. Attach all the items securely to prevent accidents or injury. Wherever possible, use non-toxic materials that won't take too much effort to clean so as not to harm your furry friend

You can even make some DIY toys for your friend. For example, you can give them untreated wood blocks to chew on or use PVC pipes for tunnels

Safety Precautions

Safety should be paramount in your DIY rat cage project. Check all the edges and wires for sharp parts since the edges can injure your pet rat. Everything needs to be well-tightened and sturdy because you don't want your cage to fall apart

Also, remember to regularly inspect the cage for damage or worn spots that could give a way for rats to escape. And while you're at it, check for any loose wires or broken parts every now and then since rats can be curious and nibble on things or try to escape

Rat on a wooden tunnel

It isn't all just about the cage's construction, though. Where you place the cage needs to give a sense of security. An ideal spot would be away from direct sunlight or drafts so that the inhabitants can live in comfort. And if you have any other animals, such as cats or dogs, place the cage somewhere out of their reach and teach them to stay away from the rats

Maintenance and Cleaning Tips

Once you make the DIY rat cage of your dreams, you need to keep giving it love even after assembly

On a daily basis, you should empty out any soiled bedding material. Weekly, it's a good idea to wash out the food bowls and water bottles with warm water and vinegar solution, then rinse them off with fresh water

Monthly, it's an excellent idea to completely disinfect the entire cage with non-toxic agents such as baking soda or hydrogen peroxide. Something to remember is that many commercial cleaning products include chemicals that could be toxic to small animals such as rats. Be picky with your cleaning agents to keep your pet healthy and safe

Rat peeping through a cage

Get Started With Your DIY Project!

You've now got all the information you need to start building a safe, comfortable, and enriching environment for your pet rats. Remember, the key to a DIY rat cage that lasts is careful planning, attention to detail, and proper and frequent care

But of course, DIYing a rat cage isn't for everyone. You need some DIY skills and still have to invest in the materials to construct one, and you may not be as confident in your skills even if you have some DIY experience

White rat on a cage

For those who want to ratchet their pet's living conditions up a notch without having to do it themselves, Quality Cage has got your back. Not only does this exotic pet store sell first-class cages, but you can also find many other rat supplies to enhance a pet rat's quality of life, such as rat toys and other enrichment items for rat care


What can I make a rat cage out of?

You can make a rat cage out of wire mesh, hardware cloth, and a base made of plywood or a non-toxic plastic tray. It should be easy to find these components at a hardware store

Can I make my own rat cage?

Yes, you can definitely make your own rat cage. It may not be for everyone, but it gives you the freedom to customize and is often more cost-effective

What size should a rat cage be?

The size of a rat cage should provide a minimum of 1 square foot of space per rat. The more space, the better, especially for multiple rats

What kind of bedding is best for rats?

The best bedding for rats is absorbent, low in dust, and easy to clean. Some examples of such bedding include paper bedding, wood shavings, and fabric. But there are other options worth looking into


Have Questions About DIY Rat Cages?

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Author: Joshua Paulson and Quality Cage Team

Josh is the owner and CEO at Quality Cage Crafters since 2015. During his time at Quality Cage Crafters he has been able to learn from tens of thousands of pet owners and pet educators. He blends his ambition for manufacturing and passion for animal care to create solutions for pet owners, breeders, animal rescues, and zoos. He has brought together a team of great animal lovers to create high quality pet care content for the Quality Cage Crafters audience.

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