The perfect home for your pet hamster.
Hamsters are very inquisitive, active animals and in their natural habitat they can travel for many miles at night. They will therefore need as large a cage as you can possibly give them. We will answer the question of what is the best hamster cage to buy? The larger breeds, such as Syrian hamsters, will need much more space than smaller Dwarf hamsters like Russian hamsters.
You will need to provide them with lots of things to keep them active and to help them act as naturally as possible, like toys, things to gnaw on and a suitable place to nest in.
So that brings us back to what is the best hamster cage to buy?
Hamster will love to dig and climb, so cages with deep plastic bases and wire tops work well. It is possible to build a suitable cage yourself using plastic storage containers, however we would recommend buying one of the purpose built cages as they should have everything you need to get you started. You will need to give them areas to dig and they would also appreciate something to climb like the bars of their cage.
Make sure you choose a cage which is large enough for your breed of hamster – if there is any doubt, the bigger the better. The cage will need to have a large, usable floor area and enough space for tubes and different levels.
Your hamster’s home should ideally include plenty of things to keep them active and entertained. An ideal cage will include:
- Plenty of nest boxes and sleeping areas. You can read more about how to provide these for your hamster below.
- An exercise wheel which can help keep your hamster active. It should be as wide as possible and have a solid running surface. Plastic wheels are best for hamsters.
- Plenty of toys and interactive games so they don’t get bored. Hamsters will enjoy climbing, ladders, tubes, shelves, cardboard boxes and other interactive toys. Keep their toys and cage the same week-on-week as hamsters find sudden changes very stressful (Find out more about how to keep your hamster entertained on our hamster health page).
- Gnawing blocks and (untreated) soft wood branches to help them wear their teeth down. You can read more about how these help your hamster on our health page.
- All hamsters love to dig and burrow. They’ll need a deep layer of sawdust or potting compost in the bottom of the cage. This is especially important for Dwarf hamsters as digging is a really important part of how they naturally behave in the wild.
The best place in your home for hamsters:
Our homes can be noisy and stressful places for small pets like hamsters. To keep them as happy as possible please make sure their cage is:
- Placed in a quit and calm are of the house. It should be away from the busiest rooms in the house and not near a TV or music system. Loud noises and vibrations will make hamsters stressed.
- Kept at a steady temperature, ideally between 18-21C, out of draughts and direct sunlight. Hamsters will get sleepy and start hibernating if the temperature stays below 10C.
- Make sure their cage is very secure – hamsters are very good escape artists!
Providing a nest box: a place to hide and rest:
Hamsters will spend most of the day asleep and so it is really important that they have a choice of comfortable nest boxes to rest in. In the wild, hamsters would be hunted by other animals and it’s natural for them to want to hide if they feel frightened. Nest boxes also give them a safe and secure hiding place to mimic this behaviour.
- Make sure their nest box will give them a quiet and secluded place to rest during the day.
- Give them plenty of safe nesting material to fill their nest box with. Shredded white kitchen roll or cloth based bedding material is ideal. This can be purchased online or at reputable pet stores.
- Don’t use shredded newspaper as the ink can be toxic to hamsters.
- Don’t give your hamsters cotton wool. It can cause dangerous blockages in their stomach if they eat it and can get wrapped around their legs.
Keeping your hamster clean:
You will need to regularly clean out your hamster’s cage to make sure that it’s a healthy and hygienic place for them to live. It is best to do this in the evening when they are awake, instead of waking them up and moving them when they’re trying to sleep. You will need a temporary place to keep your hamster whilst you are cleaning their cage. If you can clean the cage quite quickly, you could try putting them in an exercise ball whilst you clean the cage.
Clean their cage thoroughly at least once per week with a pet safe cleaner. You can buy these in reputable pets shops or online. Make sure the cleaner is suitable for a hamster cage as some chemicals in household cleaning agents are not suitable and could be poisonous to your hamster.
Keep back a handful of bedding that’s been used by your hamster but is clean and dry. Add this back to into their nest box along with the fresh bedding. This will mean that their nest box will still smell like home!
Hamsters are creatures of habit and they will find sudden changes very stressful. When you clean out their cage, please try not to alter too much. This will keep everything familiar and comforting for your pet.
For information on hamster health and feeding please look here.
We will be carrying out reviews of suitable cages for all hamster types, so please check back for future updates.
Please click on the following link for our review on the 5 best hamster cages for Syrian hamsters.
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