Critters photo 5

Published on June 16th, 2014 | by veganschmegan


Hanging rat cage

We prefer to keep everything off the floor if possible. So I looked for a piece of furniture that we could hang. Take a look at our completed rat cage made from the Besta cabinet and doors.

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It was a little time-consuming but not all that difficult.

Step 1: Hang the cabinet where you want it. (We purchased the extra-sturdy wall hangers from IKEA.) Once hung and secure, I used a door knob drill kit to cut several holes on both end pieces (for circulation) and several in the middle wall and between the floors. This is where you can have a little fun. You get to choose where your rat or other small mammal will be exploring. I didn’t put holes between every floor or wall, so she would have to get more exercise. You also need to decide which shelves to use. We only used 3 of the 4 included shelves so they would be different heights.

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Step 2: I ordered the cheapest 12″x12″ peel-and-stick tiles from, since my local hardware stores didn’t sell any plain white sticky tiles. I had a box of 20 tiles, so I just stuck the tiles on the floor of each level and then measured what I had left to determine just how high I could tile up the sides of each floor. THE KEY: you need a perfect seal around the edges and in the corners. [Don't do what I did! I started with the whole tile in front but that left my seams in the back. I won't do that next time. You should start by placing your whole tile in the back corner and work outward.]

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Step 3: I had enough tiles to go 4″ up each side wall. So I used a ruler to cut each tile into 3 very straight pieces. I laid them out to make sure everything fit.

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Step 4: You’ll need to stick the tiles to the wall — and cut holes in the tile where it overlaps with the holes you’ve made.

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NOTE: I ended up using the last bits of tile to fill in these front edge pieces, though I don’t think it was necessary. Our rat (and probably yours, too) prefers to pee in the back corners – which is why you want them to be sealed and easy to clean.

Step 5: Once you start sticking the side tiles, you may notice they aren’t exactly even. That’s okay! I made sure they were even at the top and I used kitchen caulk to seal all the way around every corner and between every tile seam.

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Step 6: See how the unmatched seams disappear? They’re easy to seal with matching caulk. Now your edges match and the tile seams barely show.

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Step 7: Now I cut the wire into sizes that would cover the holes. This part is also very easy. Once measured and cut, simply use a staple gun to secure around every exterior hole.

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View from the inside.

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View from the outside.

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Step 8: To make a cage that looks like your furniture (and not so much just like a cage) we figured the doors would be the most important part. So, we bought the Besta doors and removed the glass. Once removed, I used the glass as a template to cut the wire so it would exactly fit. Then, we put the door back together by replacing the dowels we cut and using wood glue. (Time-consuming but fairly easy.) Just be gentle! You need to use something thin, like a razor, to remove any glue that was holding in the glass and then remove one of the door seams. Then you can slide out the glass, replace it with wire and then glue it back together.

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For extra security, we drilled out the dowels that were originally used and simply replaced them with another dowel piece (and glue).

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Step 9: After you’ve let your door (now with wire where the glass used to be) dry at least overnight, you’ll need to secure the wire in the door frame. To do this, I decided to try using wood glue. So easy! I simply filled one side of the door at a time. Then I let it dry for 24 hours before turning the door on its side, repeating the process and letting it dry another 24 hours. This will take 4 days if you let it dry completely each time. (BEWARE: If you turn the door before the wood glue dries, it’ll dribble out where you don’t want it to be.) This glue dries almost clear, so it’s a perfect solution. And it’s amazingly sturdy!

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Step 10: Meanwhile, this will give you time to cover the holes you cut and make some fun stairs and tunnels. I couldn’t find a tube at the petstore so I decided to buy a 10′ plumbers tubing from Home Depot. It was perfect! It’s easy to cut and bend. So, I made stairs by cutting the right length of tube and then slicing in half. I also cut small tubes to cover the holes I made in the cabinet itself. Because it’s black, it makes your furniture look whole again. (Plus, this material is bumpy like stairs and is easy on your rat’s feet!)

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Step 11: Once your doors are properly dried and you’ve got the cage setup however you like, put on your doors per IKEA’s instructions.

Step 12: Choose whatever locking mechanism you like. I chose to hide ours underneath, so the cabinet doesn’t even look like it has handles or locks. I just wanted the front to look clean.



Big changes coming to IKEAHackers
World championship Holland decoration

The Author


14 Responses to Hanging rat cage

  1. Zarah says:

    Beautiful! Seems like rats would LOVE this mansion/cage with all those fun nooks and corners and fun things to do. Well done! :D

  2. abi says:

    What shelf is it? Is it a besta? Which one?

  3. veganschmegan veganschmegan says:

    Reply to Christy above:

    Yes, I do have pictures of the rats in their new home.. but I don’t know how to post them. If you can message me here, I’m happy to send you some.

    Reply to Courtney above:

    Yes.. I (mistakenly) thought they would gather the mess it in the back corners.. but at night they are so busy that the paper and some of the grass inevitably slide out the front. So, I’ve glued a matching black quarter round in the front of each shelf. It blends nicely and keeps in the mess! We have different bedding materials on different shelves: some with shredded paper, some sticks / leaves / pine cones / and other natural things, one shelf where i keep the water bowl I keep cleaner. I mix it up so they always have something new to do and so they have to forage to find the food. You know, so they don’t get bored.

    Reply to Chris above:

    Sorry to hear that! I’ve never heard of such a thing. But if you’ve ever cut into an IKEA piece of furniture you’ll see that most of it is actually cardboard on the inside. Yes, cardboard! The shelves are sturdier (to hold the weight of books or whatever) so they are made of particleboard. Of course, both are covered with the same laminate cover. Neither could injure a rat. But yes, I covered the interior of every hole from room to room with the tubing – sometimes leaving the tubing long for a bouncy stairwell or a vertical tube. I was thinking next time we would use something solid wood.. then when we make holes from room to room, we could sand them down. We’ll see. We only chose this piece of furniture because it matched our living room so well – which is where this cage is hanging.

  4. This idea is genius. Well done.
    I’ve been thinking of using a glass coffee table as a snake vevarium. However, I don’t like Ikea chipboard as it releases formaldehyde from the glues, which gives me a headache. As this furniture gets older, it releases enough of it over time for it not to be a problem. I’m thinking of using hardwood and glass furniture.

    Still,I love the concept of this whole blog.


  5. Tad says:

    I’ve found that rats LOVE climbing up inclines like the one in your top right section.

    Do they use the tube going up and down on the left as often?

    • veganschmegan veganschmegan says:

      One of them really does love the tube. I actually decided to cut out about 2″ in the tube, so they could get out on the middle level. But I kept the tube as long as possible. One of them prefers the longer, bouncier stairs and the other loves the up-and-down of the tube. It’s quite cute.

  6. veganschmegan veganschmegan says:

    Actually, the only place the rats can touch (and may decide to chew on sometime) is the inside of the doors.. because we chose to put the wire where the glass was rather than just on the inside of the doors. But IKEA stuff is covered by a seriously thick laminate. I doubt the rats would have any desire to chew on it. (If they do, I figured I would just use a metal or heavy-duty trim that you’d put on a corner. Honestly doubt that’ll be necessary because even my drill kit had a little trouble getting through it at times… so I am assuming my rats wouldn’t enjoy it, either.) Everywhere else is either covered by wire or I have the interior holes filled with the plastic plumbing pipe to make walk-throughs and stairs. Oh, and so far the rats seem to enjoy the bouncing stairs made of the flexible pipe.

  7. MellyTattz MellyTattz says:

    Amazing! Awesome hack and a great template for my new Rat Flat! Thank you :)

  8. NoOne says:

    Won’t rats just bite their way through the wood and escape?

    • kat says:

      well, I suppose they could, however it is unlikely. If they have plenty of things to chew on, they shouldn’t chew on the cage. And it would take them awhile to chew through, giving most people enough time to easily notice what they are doing and prevent it. Not to mention, even if they did get out, most domesticated rats won’t go far. Mine always got out and crawled in bed with me :|

    • Chris says:

      Over time, yes. Also, the untreated wood will absorb the pee and poop and whatever and end up stinking to high heavens. Would need to be heavily varnished – which could harm the rats as they chew it.

      All in all, a very bad idea for a rat cage.

    • veganschmegan veganschmegan says:

      There is no way for the rats to get out of this cage.

      • veganschmegan veganschmegan says:

        I guess I should’ve mentioned — you should read through the directions. There is no way for pee or poop to get anywhere except on the tile. That’s precisely why I used floor tile and caulk. But that’s easily seen in the instructions if you read them.

    • Chris says:

      We did something similar with a large dresser. The exception was that we didn’t put tubing in the holes that were an easy lead from one level to another. A rat chewed around the hole (it couldn’t get out because it just led to another “room”) but it impaled itself with a wood splinter and died :-( I think the ribbed plastic tubing probably helps with this design. Rats chew just to chew, but your bases are pretty well covered with tubes, tile, and extra large wire mesh for the windows. Excellent design.

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