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This article is about an older version of DF.

A cage is a holding device that can hold one or more creatures. A cage containing more than one animal will be called a shared cage.

Both empty and occupied cages are stockpiled in an Animal stockpile - use the u key to toggle them on/off (lower right corner of that screen).

Cages can be made of wood, metal or glass (called a terrarium), but not stone (without a mood). Cages can hold an unlimited number of animals and captured vermin at once. Placing animals in a cage can reduce lag and traffic in your hallways. A cage takes 1 wood log if made by a carpenter at a carpenter's workshop, 3 bars to build and uses the metalsmith profession if made of metal by a metalsmith at a forge, or 1 sand bag (or rough rock crystal) if made of glass.

The cage can be used in a few ways:

  • A cage trap needs a cage as one of its components.
  • As an animal restraining device, where you simply plant it and allocate any animals (except pets) you want in it. Females that are caged will not get pregnant, but animals can bear children when caged.
  • This is also how you go about making a "zoo".
  • A glass cage (Terrarium) can be designated an aquarium for holding captured fish. (see captured live fish)
  • If the cage is made of metal, as a jail, where you designate its location to be used for justice, and a sheriff will detain any unruly (or unjustly accused) dwarves.
  • Pets kept in cages will age, which makes cages a great tool for keeping young animals restrained en masse.

Moving and Releasing Caged Creatures[edit]

If you buy your first animals via the traders, you may be unsure how to extract them. To remove an animal from a cage, it first needs to be placed via the Build menu (b-j). If you have multiple types of the same cage but need one that's holding a specific thing (ex. You have 5 Copper Cages, but only one holds a Goblin), pressing x will Expand the Cage Selection menu and allow you to select a specific cage. Once it's placed, use q to examine it, 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). A dwarf will come along and let the animal out of the cage, after which it can be butchered, moved, et cetera. If all you want to do is tie it up, you can assign the creature using the restraint's menu.

If you already have a cage placed somewhere, a faster way to release bought animals is to examine this cage and assign the animals to it. A dwarf will fetch the animals from the stockpile after which you can release them by again examining the cage.

Moving untamable and/or untamed occupants utilizes the Animal Training labor, which allows you to assign stronger, more capable dwarves to the task, which (may) reduce the chance of escape. It is unconfirmed whether this is the case with untamed, tamable creatures.

It is very important to note that you must only assign one new untamed occupant to a cage at a time, mainly when transferring untamable creatures from one cage to another. If two or more creatures from other cages are assigned to a cage, all will be marked for release simultaneously (they are no longer assigned to the cage they were in) and then marked to be placed in their new cage one by one. This seems to follow the list of creatures in order, so that the first creature assigned to your new cage will be transferred directly, while the others will be released, at which point your dwarves will still attempt to cage them. Tame creatures will cooperate; untamed will not, resulting in a spam of job cancellations, and possibly worse things: The released animals will behave normally, for example a goblin Macelord will begin killing dwarves, a Cave Swallowman will flee helplessly and interrupt your dwarves' work, and a knuckle worm will begin wandering aimlessly again. Tamable creatures lost in this way will still appear on your Animals screen and all relevant menus, and any creatures lost in this way will still be capable of being assigned to a cage, but until you recapture them the task cannot be completed. One report of a Dungeon Master being unafraid to recage a pair of free goblins indicates that there may be more exceptions to the behavior of once-caged creatures, and tasks related to them.

Remember that some creatures (megabeasts) are too powerful for your dwarves to safely lead around by the nose, and some others such as invaders may also escape while being transferred.

How to disarm hostiles in cages[edit]

In the current version of the game, the easiest way to take away all prisoner-held armor and clothing is via the mass designation tool. Use d-b-d to designate an area (i.e. your animal stockpile, filled with caged hostiles) from which all items will be taken 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 place your garbage dump zone somewhere near your armor stockpiles and unforbid all the stuff after it is dumped there.

You can also find the items carried by caged goblins, kobolds, etc. in the stocks menu and designate them for dumping inventory of a caged creature (that has one), and dump items from there. While it is easy to identify goblin/kobold clothes because they will always be described as "narrow"/"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.

You can set prisoners to be stripped automatically by making an Animal stockpile that only accepts goblins (and possibly elves and humans, if you happen to get into a war with them). Once the cages are placed in the stockpile, all the inappropriate items are removed from the stockpile by your dwarves. Note that you will need open space in armor, weapon, or finished goods stockpiles for your dwarves to remove the gear, and also note that this gear is not sent to a garbage dump, but mixed into your other stockpiles.

Uses of caged creatures[edit]

You can find a list of imaginative uses for captured creatures here.


A cage can be defined as a room, and is then commonly called a zoo. (More than one cage can be so defined, but overlapping such rooms reduces their value, so there is no need except for style points.) Dwarves like to hang out at a room made from a built cage (without an owner) and will be comforted by any animals in the cage they like ("she was comforted by a wonderful creature in a cage recently"). They will also throw parties there. Take care not to cage animals inside which one of your dwarves finds disgusting!

The happy thought will also be triggered if no room is made from the cage.

A restraint, while holding only one creature, works much the same, except not giving the happy thought from seeing a favored creature.[Verify]


If you build a cage with a hostile or wild animal adjacent to an opening designated as a pit, you can throw the caged creature into that pit. How deep the pit is, what is at the bottom, and what happens next is up to you...


If you link a lever to a (built) cage with trapped hostiles, you can release them by pulling the lever and let animals or your soldiers have fun with them. Make sure you have disarmed them first. The design of this "arena" is really up to you but a somewhat contained area or room is advisable. This is also a creative way to get rid of unwanted pets, if you can manage to trap them in the arena. Make sure your dwarves won't tantrum from unhappy thoughts! Dwarves attempting to move certain creatures between cages(goblin champion, colossus, skeletons, etc.) will merely result in freeing the creature.

One method is to have a room above a ramp (so the down-ramp is in the room). Build your occupied cages all about the room, station your soldiers near the ramp, and mark the ramp as a pit; then start chucking goblins into the pit. They get briefly stunned by the fall, so there's little risk so long as you don't try to pit too many at once (and be careful with the axelords, too). In the rare event that one of your peons cancels the pit-animal task, probably because they saw one of the recently pitted goblins, there's plenty of soldiers at the ready to clean up the mess. Idea adapted from a post by Derakon on the Bay 12 Forums

Cage Trading Caveats[edit]

  • known bug 41 has reared its ugly head in that a cage marked for trading will almost always release the caged creature when it is picked up to be brought back to the depot. It is therefore, virtually impossible to trade caged animals as of this time. There is, however, one exception - if you have managed to acquire animals through, for example, an elven trading animal being knocked unconscious on a cage trap by invaders while carrying caged animals for trading, these will be put into a different cage when released and can be sold to merchants at will.
  • Elves are known to be trading crippled animals. In some games, the animals that the elves bring will always have a number of red injuries, including limbs, internal organs, and nerve damage. It has been speculated that this may happen due to environmental damage for creatures outside of their habitat, but it has been spotted in the forums in native species as well.

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