Instructables
A little while ago we rescued a chinchilla.  His cage came with him but it was just too small for such a busy little animal.  He loved his time out of his cage but due to busy lives and kids with short attention spans he couldn't spend a lot of time out and about exercising.  I had a limited budget for this project but luckily had miscellaneous materials and hardware laying around at my disposal so I went to work building our little chin an addition on his old wire cage.  Unfortunately I got too busy building and forgot to take pictures along the way, so most of the pictures showing details, had to be taken after it was assembled. 

 
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Step 1: Materials

With chinchillas you have to be very careful which materials you use as they like to chew on whatever they can get their  teeth on!  This means no pressure treated lumber, woods like cedar that contain harmful oils or plastics of any kind.  I chose pine lumber, 1/8" luan or plywood, and 1" chicken wire.  I wanted to get the more rigid 3/4" or smaller wire, but since I was trying to make this as cost effective as possible, I went with the less expensive wire.  It still keeps him contained, but is just a little more flimsy.  The 2x2's were cut to the lengths I show in the picture.  One 96" board was cut to 4 - 16" pieces and 1 - 28" piece, the 2nd was cut to 4 - 24" pieces and the third was cut to 3 - 28" pieces.  The 1x6 was cut to various lengths for shelves and floors and the luan was cut to fit the dimensions of the existing cage which was 19" x 31".
ScottDiego made it!7 months ago

Changed it up a bit, Bought a 3 tiered shelf and wired the outside of two of the tiers, attached the cage on top with access to the other tiers. total cost, <$50. Adding upgrades today, shelves, steps, hideaways and more. Will update after...

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aust671 year ago
Awesome!!!
worblueb1 year ago
howch did this cost to make?
jmitch77 (author)  worblueb1 year ago
It's been a while, but I think it said I spent $14 on the materials I had to buy. The closet rack was a leftover piece as were a few other boards. All in all if you had to buy everything I don't think you would have over $25 or $30.
T Orp2 years ago
I love this idea for expanding one of those small wire cages. I'd suggest a support that reaches the floor, too, but otherwise it's a good way to give your chin more room without having to give it more floor space you may not have to offer. And it offers lots of chewing room with those thick frame posts. Great instructions, too. It was nice to see a few pictures of successful cages built from reading this.

I'd just like to add an update on safe and unsafe wood for chinchillas. I'm working on building a chin-safe cage and looking for ideas and a couple of the materials used in this posting are on the unsafe list now. This actually prompted me to sign up so I may be posting my building attempt for future critiquing. :)

Luan, or plywood, is not considered safe. It's a composit panel made up of thin layers of hardwoods glued together. While the glue may be safe, the wood may not and it's not clear what woods are included in the layers. I looked up what plywood is made of and most descriptions just say hardwood but I did find one that referenced mahogany, a known toxic wood for chins. You want to also avoid using oak anywhere the chin can reach. Oak is another known toxic wood. The latch pieces in this design are identified as oak. They are used on the outside and look unaccessable in the closed position so they may be ok. The last step suggests edging the shelves. Many 3/4-rounds are made from oak or cherry (both toxic to chins) so check your wood carefully and build safe.

If you have any questions concerning your materials, search for safe wood for chinchillas. Many sites now offer quick reference lists of safe woods that can be used for and offered to chins.
staceyk3 years ago
Hello, this is amazing, I have 2 chinchillas, and a larger cage than you have pictured, but I'm about to add another level to it.

How did you cut the top of the existing cage? Did you sand down the wires to make sure the chinch doesn't get scratched?

staceyk staceyk3 years ago
also, quick question about the dimensions. if the cage is 31" long, why did you use 28"-long boards for the frame? Shouldn't it be 27" if you're using 2x2 and they sit inside the vertical boards?
jmitch77 (author)  staceyk3 years ago
A 2x2 is really 1.5 x1.5 so if you have 2, that's a 3" difference. I did file the wires down, but in the plywood I laid down over the top, I made the opening just smaller than the opening I cut in the cage. That covered up the ends of the wires in the cage I cut. He did chew the plywood but I knew he would, so the little bit of overhang gave him a little bit of chewing room. The wire that the cage was made out of is just a light gage wire, so any sort of wire cutter or tin snip will work to cut it.
hey, just wanted to share, I made this over the weekend!! thanks for the super awesome instructable. I used woodscrews bc I didn't have a staple gun, and 2x3's since they were on sale.

the only thing is- it took the chinchs a while to figure out how to get out on the top. I think they never thought about moving upwards in their cage before. It took like a day before they got up there. Maybe I'll add a little ramp later.
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katerlyn3 years ago
Great idea, I can see you utilized wire shelving, too, it's GREAT! Sometimes the local Restore, Habitat for Humanity store has it very reasonable.
Smile.
I put an access hole for my "cages" so I could reach from my sunroof. I portray the dog because I had trouble situating camera to show ME up there. smile.

Oh I see below someone else wrapped wire around the house, NEAT. I hope to extend my "cat cage" that is 150 feet going through garage, utility room and up from basement...I will dodge where company comes, foyer, living room, dining room, kitchen....

I got a 100 feet of hardware cloth from an online company delivered and I see you can spray it gold and it's pretty, I do not know if that is toxic though? I have not figured out how to do pretty cages in the bedrooms...an awesome set up is on cats 101, favorites must love cats..the url is on my instructable..I don't know If it will post here.
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Knight0074 years ago
Beautifully constructed... Great Job.
dhocke14 years ago
 one thing i did to keep hey and other things in the cage was tied cardboard to the outside of the cage. i only put it on the sides and back of the cage with the front exposed
I might do the same for my rabbits cage, he is getting quite big. Nice job on the cage!
that is exactly what I'm thinking! my dwarf isn't so dwarflike anymore!!
kyashi4 years ago
This is great. Chins in small cages are not happy.
I raise chins, and I would like to remind everyone not to use treated wood of any kind. Pine is good as long as it's not treated. If you're not sure when buying, ask an employee.
FYI if you have small babies you have to use 1/2" hardware cloth ... Its not really cloth its made of 20 guage wire so its similar to chicken wire. But babies cant sick thier little bodies thru and excape. plus you can buy it at HD or LOwes
Kiteman4 years ago
A friend at university had a hamster.

Her house-mates decided it needed more space, so they made lots of tubes of chickenwire and threaded them, first around her room, then around the house, through walls and under furniture.

It had such a wide range that, by the end, you could go for days without seeing it, just hearing it scritscritscrit along its tubes from room to room (even along the side of the bath...)
wait how do you make tubes from chickenwire?
Roll them in a tube-like manner?
icm620344 years ago
I am afraid he is going to eat that cage through eventually. We have two and they chew every piece of fibrous and some not fibrous materials in short order. You may consider wrapping the wood structure in some form of metal.
jmitch77 (author)  icm620344 years ago
I considered doing that, but it would only add weight and cost.  The shelves are replaceable and so far he has hardly chewed on the frame at all.  I keep enough toys and wood pieces along with his hay and food in there, that he doesn't chew on the cage too much.  I made it with 2x2's so if he did chew on it t would take a lot to get through.
skimmo4 years ago
can you buy chinchillas in aus?
jmitch77 (author)  skimmo4 years ago
From what I've found, yes.  It seems to be hard finding breeders though.  One site I found was: www.rarebreeds.co.nz/directoryb.html#chinchillas.  Make sure you research though before buying one.  They require certain living conditions.
 Dude this is soooo cool. At school we have one and they are so cool!!! They hop
TimBTodd4 years ago
Nicely done.
brunoip4 years ago
Nice work !!!