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This article is about an older version of DF.

Materials Workshops Labors

For cage traps, see traps.

Cages are used in cage traps, jails, and zoos, pits and aquariums. A glass cage is called a terrarium or, if filled with water for holding captured live fish, an aquarium.

Cages are stored on the Animal Stockpile. Dwarves will attempt to collect and store cages in stockpiles if the orders - dwarves haul animals option is set.

Building and using a cage[edit]

Cages can be constructed from wood at a carpenter's workshop, from metal at a metalsmith's forge, and from glass at a glass furnace.

You can then either build them to a tile via b - j (this is needed for linking a lever to them, or assigning a pet to it) or simply keep them stockpiled so they can be used to load cage traps.

When building a cage, you can use a cage that already has something inside. To precisely choose which cage to use, you can expand the list of the cages of a certain type via x.

Creature containment[edit]

To assign creatures to a cage, press q and move the cursor over the cage. Use + and - to scroll up and down the list of creatures, and Enter to assign them to the cage. A major change in version .31.19 is that grazing creatures will starve if left in cages. Grazing creatures require access to grass, moss or floor fungus for survival, which can be achieved by assigning them to a pasture that has plenty of tasty grass/moss.

Multiple creatures can be assigned to the same cage with no penalty. It is completely possible to fit hundreds of puppies in a cage with dozens of blind cave ogres with no ill effects or a dragon, a thousand cats plus more, leading some players to conclude that cages include some sort of hidden "cage space" that allows infinitely tight packing of creatures.

There is no particular labor for releasing creatures in cages. Use q to examine the cage (it must first be "built," not just stored), a to assign, and then use enter to toggle the animal(s) currently inside (animals assigned to the cage will have a green "+" next to them). Any available dwarf will perform the job, so beware of pitting untamed or hostile creatures with a weak dwarf. For more information, see captured creatures.

You can get details about the creatures which are in a built cage by pressing t and then enter. There, you can scroll the list of creatures and get details, for example, you can tell whether a Donkey is male or female, which is interesting if your intention is to keep milkable animals near a farmer's workshop.

Vermin can also assigned to cages, to save space or animal traps. However, if you try to release them (q and then a), the dwarf will pickup an animal trap and put the poor creature in it. You must have a triggered (linked to a lever) cage to release tamed small creatures (like most birds).

Bees shows up in the list of creatures that can be assigned to a cage, but dwarves will not start the task, and it will not shown in the jobs list.


To set a cage as a jail, query the cage, designate it as a room, and then set it to be used for justice. Only metal cages may be used in this way, despite wooden cages being strong enough to hold dragons.

Dwarves in cages must be fed by other dwarves.

Remotely Opening Cages[edit]

A built cage can be linked to a lever to remotely open it. When the cage opens, the occupant(s) inside are released, the cage and mechanism deconstruct and can be returned to their respective stockpiles. Note that you have to use a "built" cage as described above, it won't work with cages on your stockpile. Also note that the mechanism attached to the lever will not automatically deconstruct; you have to manually deconstruct the whole lever to get back the mechanism used to open the cage.

Alternate way of Opening Cages[edit]

When traders are around, you can select "move good to trading depot" and select the cage of choice. When a hauler takes the cage, the creature inside will be released. Be sure to disarm the creature beforehand...

Another way to get creatures out of cages which are not built, is to assign the creatures to pastures (which is possible for any living thing except dwarves). The same precautions as for trading the cage should be taken first.

Cages and Fluids[edit]

A cage will protect a creature inside it from drowning, so if you want to drown a creature in a cage, you must open it remotely, as explained in the above section (as a corollary, if your fortress is drowning in water, you can cage your dwarves and rescue them later). However, built cages will not protect caged creatures from magma, making this a somewhat faster option, as it doesn't require linking each cage to a lever. Cages which are not magma-safe will be degraded and/or destroyed by this process, and cages which are made of flammable materials (such as wood) may be set on fire. Any items the creature had equipped will teleport [Verify] to wherever the creature was caged, typically a tile with a cage trap on it. These items may or may not be on fire; no case of teleporting !!large cave spider silk sock!!s have yet been observed, but this doesn't prove it can't happen. Exercise caution.

Buying Cages[edit]

Traders may bring cages for sale. If these cages contain a tamed creature, the item will be listed as (creature) cage, and will not describe the material the cage is made out of. However, the cage may contain a tamed vermin, in which case it will be listed in the trading dialogue as by the material the cage is made out of. In such cases, the expanded cage description will list the contents of the cage. You can often infer that trained vermin are in a cage by noting the cage's value compared to other cages of identical quality in the list.

However, once you have bought the cage the item name will list the material of the cage; ie: Wolf Cage (Oaken).

How to disarm hostiles in cages[edit]

The easiest way to take away all prisoner-held armor and clothing is via the mass designation tool. Use d-b-c and d-b-d to designate an area (i.e. your animal stockpile, filled with caged hostiles) from which all items will be reclaimed and dumped. Afterwards, hit k, go over each cage and press d for each of them - this stops the dumping on the cages themselves. The end result will be that prisoners will be stripped naked but the cages themselves (and the creatures within) will remain in place, ready to be used for whatever purpose. If you want to keep the items, you need only to place your garbage dump zone somewhere near your armor stockpiles and unforbid all the stuff after it is dumped there. If your animal stockpile is outdoors, you need to have the "Dwarves Gather Refuse from Outside" o-r-o Order set.

You can also find the items carried by caged trolls, kobolds, etc. in the stocks menu and designate them for dumping. While it is easy to identify troll/kobold clothes because they will always be described as "large"/"small", it is harder to make sure you have found the right weapons; you can verify that you are targeting the right items by using the zoom function; it should point you to the cage. Mark the items for dumping, and dwarves will come to the cage and take them.

If you want to use caged invaders for target practice, it may be wise to go into the Stocks screen and remove the Dump designation from all of their armor - this way, only their weapons will be taken away, allowing them to take significantly more damage (and provide more experience).

How to quickly empty out many cages[edit]

If you have many cage traps then you may have trouble emptying out cages quickly enough at times. See Mass pitting for suggestions on how to quickly recycle cages.

Another easy way to quickly empty cages is to simply send the imprisoned creatures to a pasture, where your squad can slaughter them. (Your dwarves can drag every goblin except thieves). The easiest way is to place the pasture right next to the cages and let our dwarves shoot them down. This way you can kill the thieves and monsters too.

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Creatures in cages that come from dead merchants can only be freed by assigning them to a pen/pasture zone and then when they have been put there, deassign them from the pen/pasture.

When bringing a cage to the Trade Depot in order to trade it, any wild animals inside the cage will be freed. Tamed animals can be safely traded. Bug:4065