hamster on the counter

The Hamster Cage and You: Selection, Creation and More

Hamsters aren’t just adorable pets you love to smother with love; they are also active animals. In the wild, they can travel for miles. They are more surprising than you think.

With their pent-up energy and love for activity, hamsters need to have enough space to move and play around — which is why choosing or building the right hamster cage should be a hamster owner’s priority.

The right hamster cages should provide these furry creatures with everything they need to act naturally, stay active and happy. Hamsters need a home that has all the things and toys they can gnaw on, as well as a place to rest and nest in.

When choosing the best hamster cage, consider several factors (e.g. species of hamster, cage size and more). Most importantly, you want to pick a hamster bin cage that is large enough, easy to clean and safe. A rule of thumb when it comes to selecting hamster cages: settling for any cage or bin is NOT an option. Many cages you find at local pet stores do not provide the requirements of your hamster.  Even if you decide to DIY your hamster house, it’s important to use the right materials and create the right size to ensure your pet’s comfort and safety.

Are Hamsters Happy in Cages?

hamster inside a cage

First things first, do hamsters get bored in their cages? You may wonder: “Is it right to cage them? What if they become unhappy?”

Space is a critical pet essential. It matters to your hamster’s happiness and their new homes. Your pet may be unhappy if its cage is too small. Remember: hamsters are active creatures; they need plenty of space to run around, eat and play.

If you spot your hamster biting their cage, it’s a sign that their home is too small. If they are climbing their cage, it’s another indication of a small cage that needs an upgrade.

Unfortunately, some pet stores misinform customers on how big their hamster house should be and will often sell too-small cages. For this reason, proper research on hamsters matters to keep your pet happy and to save you more money.

What Cage is Best for a Hamster?

A good hamster cage is easy-to-clean, well-ventilated, secure and comfortable. Whether you’re getting a hamster cage for the first time, planning to upgrade your current cage or making your own, learning more about the different types of hamster cages available — plus their pros and cons — can help you make the better choice.

Wire Hamster Cages

Most wire hamster cages are composed of wire-based tops and plastic base trays. It’s better to get a wire cage with a plastic bottom than a wired one since the latter is not good for your hamster’s feet. Wire cages also offer many places for hamsters to climb (aka their favorite activity). To keep your pet safe from painful drops, add layers inside the cage so they’ll have a soft spot to fall on in case they lose their grip.

Other pros of wired cages include:

  • Excellent airflow
  • Easy-to-clean
  • Easy accessibility for your pet
  • Comes with accessories like a wheel and water bottle

When buying or building your wire hamster cage, make sure the wires of the cage’s wall are not more than half a centimeter apart. If the wires are too apart, there’s a chance your pet will put its head through the gap and get stuck.

Plastic Hamster Cages

hamster inside a container

In today’s hamster cage market, plastic molded cages are popular. Many plastic variations come with wired sections that allow more air inside. Like the wired cages, plastic hamster cages are easy-to-clean and long-lasting. However, you have to add a climbing frame in the cage so your hamster can still climb in the same way they do in plastic cages.

Other pros of plastic cages include the following:

  • Has a thicker layer of bedding for your hamster to burrow
  • Comes with accessories such as a bottle and wheel
  • Easily expanding cage
  • Protects from other pets at home

When choosing a home for your hamster, refrain from buying modular systems, aka hamster houses filled with brightly colored tubes. They may look fun but they don’t make the best homes for your hamster. For one, these modular systems don’t have enough space for your hamster to run around. Also, running up and down tubes isn’t just as fun.

Another risk of modular systems is it’s easy for your hamster to get stuck in one of the pipes, especially if your hamster is big. For you to free tour pet, you have to take the cage apart.

Choosing the Right Hamster Cage 101

Selecting the right home for your hamster isn’t as complex as you think. All you have to do is keep them comfortable and keep them safe.

Here are five steps to follow:

  • Consider the size of your hamster cage. The bigger the cage, the better. Bigger cages give your hamsters more space to climb, play and run. Your hamster may also want separate areas to store food, sleep or use as a bathroom — all the needs a spacious cage can provide. If the cage will house more than one hamster, find a bigger cage to give each hamster plenty of room to play. If you have Syrian hamsters, however, refrain from housing them together since they are territorial. Instead, house them near each other in separate cages.
  • Go for a well-ventilated cage. Poorly ventilated hamster cages can result in toxic ammonia build-up, which can cause respiratory problems. Cages with poor ventilation are also susceptible to bacterial growth, which can cause your hamster to be sick. As mentioned above, wired cages tend to be better ventilated compared to plastic cages. If you have a plastic cage, always clean soiled bedding to maintain clean air quality.
  • Choose an easy-to-clean cage. In general, hamster cages must be cleaned at least once or twice a week, so you’ll need a cage designed for easy cleaning. No matter which type of cage you choose, however, it’s important to buy another smaller cage to put your hamster in while you clean their main cage.
  • Choose a solid plastic floor. Your pet’s nails could get stuck in a wire or grated floor, which may cause foot injuries. Choose a solid plastic floor to prevent accidents.
  • Determine the cage type that suits your hamster’s species. If you have a smaller hamster (i.e., Chinese Dwarf), pay attention to the spacing between the wires of the cage. Tiny hamsters can squeeze through small spaces. On the other hand, bigger hamster species (i.e., Syrian hamsters) are fine with any type of cage as long as they have enough space to eat, sleep and play.

How to Make a Hamster Bin Cage

If your budget does not allow for a pet store-bought cage, you can create an affordable hamster cage with a plastic bin and a few tools and supplies. Follow these steps:

  • Purchase a plastic bin. The bin should at least be 76 x 38 x 38 cm large to give your pet enough space to play and move around.
  • Cut the center of the lid. Outline the bin’s lid and cut it with a razor blade or a knife. Use a pair of scissors to cut out the rest of the line and remove the top part of the lid.
  • Drill holes around the outside edge of the lid. These holes will allow you to attach the wire mesh to the cage’s lid. Once you’ve drilled the holes, attach the hardware mesh, which keeps the cage ventilated without giving your hamsters the space to escape.
  • Attach the mesh with zip ties. Secure the mesh tightly with a zip tie and repeat this process until you’ve fully attached the mesh.
  • Set up the cage. Clean the cage first with a diluted bleach solution to prevent your hamsters from getting sick from the harmful chemicals inside the bin. Next, add a layer of bedding in the cage. Refrain from packing down the bedding so your hamsters can burrow through it. Also, refrain from using cedar and pine shavings to prevent injuries. Cap off the cage by adding a hamster wheel for exercises and installing a water bottle.

Hamsters are lovely pets that thrive in cozy homes. As part of responsible pet care, finding or creating the right home for them is a must. Smother your pets with love by building them a home that they’ll love, too.

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