A hamster lounges in a lush, green setting.

A PetPlace Guide To Hamster Cages

Did you know that hamsters are hermits? They like to hang out by themselves. Originally desert creatures, hamsters had to scrounge for food and water, and they were very territorial. That protective nature remains in their personalities. Hamster cages should reflect their need for solitude. The animals prefer to live alone, and if they’re housed together, they may fight to the death. If you’re looking for a cage, find out what to purchase so that you provide the best pet hamster care.

Hamster Cage Sizes

In its natural habitat, the hamster lives in large, maze-like underground burrows. At home, your hamster should have the biggest cage possible. The ideal size is the largest cage that you can afford and fit in your space. According to the ASPCA, cages should be no smaller than 10 gallons.

However, not all cages are equal. A tall, vertically oriented cage is not worth buying. Your hamster won’t have enough floor area, and it can’t make use of all of that air space. You can fill the cage with tubes, which can often be purchased separately and attached to existing cages. Tubes mimic the hamster’s native environment. Most experts recommend going with at least 360 square inches of floor space. The bigger the cage, the more fun you can make it by adding accessories.

Hamster Cage Materials

The material that you choose for your hamster cage depends on your preference. Most hamster cages are made of wire, glass, or plastic. Each material has its pros and cons. Learn what you should consider when deciding on the cage material.

Wire cages are made of narrow metal bars with a tray at the bottom. They look similar to bird cages. These cages offer great ventilation, which can prevent odors from building up. They’re easy to clean, but hamsters tend to kick bedding out the sides of the cage. Prepare to clean up the surrounding area frequently. Hamsters may chew on the metal bars. The repetitive noise can drive you crazy, and the moisture from their mouths could cause the cage to rust. Biting the metal can damage the animal’s mouth or nose. A wire cage may not be optimal if you have other pets. You don’t want your cat pawing at your hamster between the bars.

Modular cages are made of plastic and have options to add wheels, tunnels, burrows, and other toys. You can expand them to fit your space, and the possibilities are limitless. Modular cages are harder to clean than wire cages. They also may suffer from poor ventilation. If you’re buying a plastic cage, look for areas that are made with metal bars to allow for adequate air flow.

Glass aquariums are popular for housing hamsters. They contain the bedding well, and you can see the animal clearly through the sides. You must use a mesh top with this type of enclosure. Glass cages allow for adequate ventilation, but they can be hard to clean. As long as the top fits securely, they will protect your hamster from your other pets, though.

How To Clean A Hamster Cage

Hamsters are relatively clean creatures. They don’t like to soil their sleeping and playing areas, so they tend to create a separate potty space. If they use the bathroom all over the cage, you’ll need to clean it more often. On a daily basis, check the bedding for urine and poop. Remove waste and soiled bedding, and dry any wet areas with a paper towel.

Every week, thoroughly wash the whole cage. Remove all of the toys and exercise gear from the cage. Place half of them in a sink full of warm, soapy water. Set the other half aside. Those will still smell like the hamster’s familiar environment, minimizing the chance that your pet will get stressed. You’ll wash those next week. Scrub the food bowl and water containers as well.

Empty out all of the bedding, and wash the floor and walls of the cage with hot, soapy water. Rinse it clean, and allow it to air dry. Do the same for any tubes or extensions that you have added to the cage. Once everything is dry, replace all of the bedding and other equipment. Add in the toys that you didn’t clean during this round.

Where do you put your hamster while you’re cleaning the cage? A hamster ball gives your animal the chance to move safely around the house. A travel cage or ventilated storage bin would work well too. Try to clean the cage on the same day every week to avoid stressing out the animal. Check on him when he’s in his temporary home during the cleaning session.

Cage Toys And Accessories

What should you add to your hamster cage? A wheel is a necessity. Hamsters need exercise to avoid boredom. Most veterinarians recommend getting a plastic wheel. Avoid those with slats. Your hamster could get his neck or feet caught in the tiny spaces. The wheel should be large enough that the animal’s back doesn’t arch while he’s running.

Hamsters are rodents, and their teeth never stop growing. They need lots of wood to chew on. They also require a food dish and water reservoir. You can put water in a bowl or hang a bottle on the side of the cage.

A hamster nest gives your pet a sense of security inside the cage. You can purchase domed hamster houses or small boxes that fit within the larger container. The animal will bring pieces of food and some bedding inside the nest to get some privacy.

How To Find The Perfect Cage

How can you tell if you’ve found the right cage? Your hamster will be happy and well adjusted. According to PetHelpful, cage rage can occur when your hamster’s cage is too small. Some symptoms of cage rage are a ruffled coat, red eyes, strange sleeping patterns, biting, destruction of toys, and cage chewing. If you notice that your hamster is agitated, get a bigger cage. Some hamsters prefer an open cage with lots of toys to a smaller one with tunnels and tight spaces. When you find the ideal cage, you’ll have a happy, well-adjusted hamster.