Introduction: Build a Guinea Pig Cage With EASY Cleaning! (Projects With Kids)
My kids have their three guinea pigs split between their two bedrooms and two cages. They needed a larger area and putting them together made sense because they are very social animals. But this projects was more about an opportunity to spend time with my son and pass along some of the skills and love of making that my dad passed along to me.
- 1X2 pine
- 1x4 pine
- 1/8" plywood
- 10 feet of 24" wire screen
- 24" x 36" plexiglass
- wood glue
- pocket hole screws
We built the cage using basic lumber and simple pocket hole joints. They consist of a series of box frames connected together. The base was built as a seperate cabinet and then the two were screwed together. The cage measures 60" x 20" x 24" (tall) and the base cabinet is 60" x 20" x 18" (tall).
Step 1: Building the Frames
Using a miter saw or simple hand saw, cut the pine 1x3 and 1x4 down to dimension. Its really up to you what size and shape you create, just keep in mind the standard dimensions of your plywood so you don't run into problems. Each joint is glued, clamped and then screwed into place. Pocket holes are easy and quick joints and a very easy joint to teach to kids. My son liked drilling all those holes and I didn't mind watching him work. Each joint used two 1" pocket hole screws. We first made "L" shaped corners and then cut and joined the long sides and short sides until we had a basic frame. After that we started adding in support where we needed it.
Step 2: Attach the Bottoms and Sides
We glued and nailed the floors and sides in from the inside. No fancy dado slots here. I didn't get as many pics as I would like. We added a sliding door in the bottom to make cleaning easier. I'll explain more in the next step. You can add a lip at the top and simply stack the two together. I decided to go ahead and join them securely with 6 pocket screws down into the base.
Step 3: Sliding Trap Door
Sorry no good pics in here. I'll have to try to get one next time he cleans the cage. With a cage this large, the first thing on my mind was making this thing really easy to clean. If it was hard to clean, it would make it a struggle every week. We came up with adding a pull out bottom in the cage. The yellow trash bin fits under the door. To clean the cage, simply slide the door out and scoop all of the bedding towards the hole.
To make the door we first made the frame that it would slide in, making sure that the door would be smaller than the bin underneath it. Once we cut the 4 sides to dimension, I ran each through the table saw to cut slots in them for the floor panel. The door frame was glued up square and dried overnight. We screwed the frame into place and then used a router to cut an opening through the front of the cage for the door to slide out. The door was cut long so that a handle could be attached to the front. The handle was a piece of scrap with the slot already cut in it from the frame. I cut it long enough to hide the panel and then sanded it smooth.
Step 4: Finishing Up.
After rounding all the corners with a router and sanding the entire cage together, I coated the entire cage with two coats of spray polyurethane. I used appliance paint for the floor to try to provide some moisture protection. Once the screen was attached, I cut the Plexiglas down to 10" strips and attached it with silicone caulk and clamped overnight. We still need to build some cabinet doors to hide the bottom cabinets. The base gave them space for the trash bin and three additional openings for their other supplies.
The sliding "trap" door idea really turned out great. The boys can quickly clean out the cage and put fresh bedding in it. I think they clean this one more quickly than the small ones they had to take apart and dump. After the first cleaning I added 8" strips of scrap 1/8" ply over the wire at the bottom to keep the bedding inside the cage.
The boys and the guineas seem much happier now. They have a good view of each other and it is easy to reach in and interact with them.The only regret I have for this project is working so fast, we didn't take enough pics. It was a great project to do with kids. This cage can easily be scaled up or down to suit your needs. We plan on building a narrow platform level for the guineas across the back. (That's the reason its 24" high.)
Please let me know what you think. Comments and questions are welcome!
Question 1 year ago on Step 3
Hello. This is a great project. I'm looking to build something like this for my son's guinea pigs. I just gave a question... what material did you use for the floor/base of the cage? Thank you 😊
3 years ago on Step 4
how did u attach the watter bottle???
Reply 1 year ago
You can use adhesive velcro which makes it easy for water changes and it stays stable
2 years ago
Hi. I love your project. How do you do the trap door. Is the only thing that is not so clear for me.
4 years ago
im sure you put so much effort into this cage but it really isnt enough for three guinea pigs. they neeed more room and the cage is so sparse. ideally for three guinea pigs you need for hides, which your cage doesnt look like it would hold. alos you should never have guinea pigs on their own, its not just a matter of them being social animals they get quite depressed when theyr kept on their own and as prey animals they really arent meant to be on their own.
Reply 3 years ago
We switched bedding pretty quickly after this pic. The cage now holds 2 and has room for 2 hides in it with room to sun around. I planned on building a tiered level for them to have along the back wall as well. Do you think guinea pigs would use the ramps and slightly elevated areas?
Reply 2 years ago
With ramps it completely depends on the pig! I have two piggies and the younger one loves to run up and down the ramp she has in my current set up, I think the older one finds the ramp a bit too steep.
Question 2 years ago on Introduction
This is amazing! I need to build this - do you have any more specific directions/dimensions for building-challenged people like myself?? LOL
3 years ago
can does guinea pig jump above the glass i want to build it
Reply 3 years ago
Ours never did, but they liked to stand up on it to get attention. I used the short wall to encourage my son to play and socialize with them more often. It worked great with our guinea pigs. However, I am going to build some doors with either plexiglass or wire screen to just make sure they are a little safer from our curious dogs.
4 years ago
Hi bizydad, this is AWESOME!! I absolutely LOVE the 'poopy trap' part, and think it's ideal if I want one of my kiddos to help, too! I am trying to build something similiar out of either this lil shoe stand & lil bookshelf combo, or a bunch of scrap wood (like plywood & 2x4's & 1x1 strips), though I have little experience and am having trouble taking the first step from imagination into production. Could you help a mama out & explain just a teeny more of the trap door part? Say I just cut a circle into a shelf, what do I 'build' for underneath/attach? Or if that's actually NOT simplifying what you've done, could you explain a lil more how you did this part? Maybe I really should know based on what you've already described... but I can't quite envision...! Regardless, that's awesome you did that with one of your lil guys... great to see a daddy engaged... kudos to you & your (large!) family!!
Reply 4 years ago
I made a frame for the sliding door and cut a slot in 3 sides to support it. Think of it as a tight fitting drawer. It needs support on all 4 sides. You can do something similar with L shaped metal or gluing two strips of wood into a L-shaped support.
Reply 4 years ago
Awesome... I can visualize... thank you!!!
Tip 4 years ago
Hey, while that cage is pretty cute, and I'm glad you put all your guinea pigs together, you're using cedar bedding which can kill them, and the cage seems pretty small for 3 adult guinea pigs. Also, unless they were bonded already, there's a high possibility that they will fight. They also need a ton of hay in their cage (24/7 for their digestion.) I really love this idea, and although it can be improved on, it is a really cute design and I love the trap door idea for the poos.
5 years ago
What does pdf download include?
6 years ago
nice! I am definitely doing it!????
6 years ago
Also an oportunity to use all those fancy tool
7 years ago
7 years ago
This is really beautiful! A very elegant and spacious cage; ideal for the guineas [not the elegant part, they don't care :P].
Question: Don't wooden floors smell after a while? The urine must penetrate them, so what do you do when a more thorough cleaning is required? I really don't like plastic cages, but the truth is they're easy to clean with water and vinegar.
Reply 7 years ago
I was worried about that too. I painted the floor with an epoxy paint made for refrigerators to help seal it. No problems so far. But I can replace the floor in a couple years if it becomes a problem. My son has been much better about keeping it clean now that it only takes about 10 minutes to do it! They now have a third in the cage and it has held up nicely, but the quick cleaning trap door has been such a good thing.