Building a Ferret Cage
You can either build a folding cage or one that stays set up all the
time. I'd probably make them just about the same way, but I'll note
differences as they come up. Of course, this is just what I did; as
you read through it, you may come up with better ideas of your own.
First, the list of materials. This is for a 2 X 3 X 2-foot cage with
two levels but no ramp.
- 2' 1.5" X 3' 1.5" piece of quarter-inch plywood
- 10 feet of 1 X 3
- 6 1-foot square pieces of vinyl floor covering
- 10 3/4-inch-long narrow wood screws
- 8 1+1/4-inch-long narrow wood screws
- 16 feet wire grid garden fencing, 2 feet wide, 1 X 2-inch holes (available from Agway)
- 2 X 2-foot piece of carpet
- 48 ft (folding cage) or 36 ft very narrow soft vinyl tubing
- 10-20 small black triangular binder clips (from an office-supply store)
- strong duct or gaffer's tape
- about 7 feet of string
- assorted tools, glue, heavy gloves, bandages (that wire is sharp!)
- a free weekend, or a couple of evenings
Making the base
First make the base. Cut the 1 X 3 into pieces the right length to
fasten edge-on to the top of the plywood, making a tray. The idea is
that the inner dimensions of the tray will be 2 X 3 feet. (That is,
make two pieces about 3' 1.5" in length and two about 2 feet long, so
they fit inside the long ones.) The 3/4-inch screws come up through
the plywood into the edges of the 1 X 3's, and the 1.25-inch screws go
at the corners to hold one 1 X 3 to the next. (Be sure to drill pilot
holes first, and use narrow screws, so the 1 X 3's don't split.) You
can use some glue, too.
The flooring squares should have very sticky backs. Trim them to size
(they cut easier if you warm them with a hair dryer) and line the tray
floor with them, maybe using some glue, too.
Making the top part
Cutting the fencing
If you're making a folding cage, cut three 3-foot lengths of fencing,
one 2-foot piece, and two 2' 2" pieces. (That is, add one extra grid
section on those 2-foot pieces.) The 2- and 3-foot pieces, which will
be the extra level, top, back, and front, should have smooth wires on
all four sides, and the 2' 2" pieces, which will be the sides, should
be smooth on three sides and have wires poking out on the fourth.
(Cut a 3-foot piece, ending just after a cross-wire. Trim the poking
out wires, wearing safety glasses because they tend to fly all over.
Cut another 3-foot piece, again ending after a cross-wire. Leave the
poking-out wires and cut a 2' 2" piece (including the sticking-out
wires), ending -- you guessed it -- after a cross-wire. Another 2' 2"
piece, two more big ones, and one 2-foot one.) You'll have one foot
left over to make a door.
For a non-folding cage, cut three pieces, 2 feet, 3 feet, and 10' 2"
long. The 3-foot one has smooth sides, the 2-foot one has wires
sticking out on both ends, and the long one has one end with wires
sticking out. You'll have a foot left over for a door. Bend the long
piece into right angles between the cross-wires at the 2, 5, and
7-foot points, so it makes a 2 X 3-foot rectangle that looks
surprisingly like a cage. :-) The wire-poking-out edge will meet the
other short edge at a corner.
Adding protection from sharp edges
Before you put the cage together, you'll want to do something about
all those little sharp points of wire. (I still have a faint scar
from a shallow, but long, gash I got on my leg while building our
travel cage a year ago.) That's where the tubing and tape comes in,
and it's a real pain -- if you come up with any better ideas, please
let me know! I carefully slit the tubing lengthwise and slid it over
the so-called "smooth" edges of all the wire pieces except the bottom
edges that would be in the tray. (Leave space for the clips -- see
below.) I then took gaffer's tape (more resistant to heat and
humidity than duct tape, but expensive) and used it to hold the tubing
on, placing it along the tubing and then pulling it around to press
its sticky sides together in the spaces between the wires, making an
inch-wide black edge all around the cage. (This part might be clearer
from the picture of the travel cage.)
Putting it together
All the permanently-attached pieces of fencing go together the same
way. For the folding cage, that's the two sides and the top all
hinged onto the back; for the non-folding cage, it's the top and extra
level attached to the main cage piece, and the main piece closed up at
the corner. I'll use as an example the top hinging onto the back or
main piece. The long side of the top doesn't have any wires sticking
out, since it used to be the long edge of the roll of fencing. Cut
off the very edge wire, leaving inch-long cross-wires. Remove most of
the cross-wires as well, leaving one every three to five inches or so,
including one at each end. Use more tubing and tape to cover the
sharp points in between the sticking-out wires, if you want. Bend the
tips of these wires into little loops around the top edge wire of the
cage's back, leaving them loose enough to serve as a hinge.
The sides of the folding cage are hinged in the same way. Be sure to
point the hinge loops for the sides and top so that the sides fold in
and the top goes back, or vice versa, so they don't get in each
others' way when you collapse the cage. (For instance, make the
edges' loops go inward and the ones on the top come up from inside.)
The extra level of the non-folding cage, and the corner of the main
piece, can be attached the same way, though of course they don't need
to act as hinges. You could also trim off the hinge wires and "sew"
the pieces together with electrical wire instead. The piece of carpet
makes a floor for the second level; you can hold it on with string,
electrical wire or twist ties poked through holes in the carpeting.
Making a door
Now make a door. Cut a hole in the side of the cage at least four
inches up (to leave space for the 1 X 3's) and make a door: a piece of
fencing which is two grid sections larger than the hole in each
dimension (i.e., one section of overlap on all four sides). Leave
hinge wires on the bottom edge of the door, protect all the exposed
edges with tubing, and hinge it on. Attach it to the wire just below
the bottom of the door hole, rather than the bottom one itself. It'll
slide from side to side, but the clip used to close it will fix that.
When it's open, it makes a ramp for getting into the cage.
Setting it up
That's pretty much it. Unfold the cage, if necessary, and set the
wire part into the tray. It should be too heavy for your ferrets to
lift, but you can hold it on more firmly simply by tying string to the
wire near the bottom, running it under the base, and tying it to the
wire on the other side; or you can put screws in the sides of the base
and tie the string to them. All the hinged pieces, including the top,
door and (for the folding cage) sides, are closed by clipping binder
clips every few inches around matching wires and turning them sideways
so the wires don't just pop out when pushed. You'll have to leave
spaces in the tubing-and-tape so the clips fit around. For the door,
use a clip on a vertical wire rather than a horizontal one, to keep
the door from sliding sideways. An extra level could be put into a
folding cage by fastening it in with clips, too.
I hope all that is clear enough, and that you'll forgive me for being
so specific if it it was obvious. The total cost was US$70-80 when I
did this, but I had enough material (a roll of fencing, two 8-foot 1 X
3's...) to make a travel cage for use in the car as well as a
full-size one. If you have any questions, please ask!
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Copyright© 1995 by Pamela Greene <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
Free copying and redistribution of this page ("Building a Ferret Cage") is permitted, with proper credit.
Last modified: 27 Feb 1998. Comments and suggestions are welcome!
I am not a ferret expert and cannot guarantee the accuracy of this information.