How to Choose Good Cages for Hamsters
Choosing the right hamster cage will have a positive effect on your hamster’s overall health and quality of life. In fact, the cage is probably is one of the most important investments in your hamster that you will make.There are many different types and layouts of cages, as well as several factors to consider when selecting a cage (e.g., species of hamster, safety of cage, size), so you should take the time to learn about each cage option before deciding which one will work best for your hamster.
Choosing a Good Cage for Your Hamster
Select the right-sized cage for your hamster.The recommended minimum size for your hamster’s cage is at least 18 inches (width) x 13 inches (height) x 25 inches (length), which is equal to 450 square inch floor space, which is the minimum for humanely housing a hamster of any type.The 13 inch height is to allows you to fit a 10-12 inch wheel for aSyrian hamster.However, bigger is always better, since your hamster will want plenty of space to run, climb, and play.Your hamster will also want to have separate areas to go to the bathroom, sleep, and store food, which will necessitate a very spacious cage.
- If you will be housing more than one hamster in the same cage, the cage will need to be even bigger to give each hamster plenty of room. A good guideline to follow is the minimum floor space times the number of hamsters to be put in the cage
- Some Dwarf hamsters can be housed together in pairs, but only in same-sex pairs to prevent breeding. Roborovski and Russian Campbells are the best hamsters to be housed in pairs.
- Keep in mind that Syrian hamsters are very territorial and shouldneverbe housed together.However, they can be housedneareach other in separate cages, so long as they can't be disturbed by each others presence. So a rule of thumb should be to separate their cage by 4-6 inches.
Select a cage that is well ventilated.A poorly ventilated cage can lead to the build-up of ammonia, which is toxic to your hamster and can lead to respiratory problems.Poorly ventilated cages can also lead to bacterial growth, which could also make your hamster sick.Wire cages tend be very well ventilated, but aquariums and plastic hamster cages are often poorly ventilated.
- Your hamster may start to have trouble breathing if his aquarium or plastic cage is not well ventilated. If you notice that he is not breathing properly or looks unwell in general (not eating, playing as much or has physical signs of illness), consider cleaning his cage to remove soiled bedding. You may also want to consider purchasing a wire cage, that is of adequate size.
Veterinarian Pippa Elliot MRCVS has an important reminder: "Be very careful with aquarium tanks and never place them in full sunlight. The tank quickly becomes overheated and the resulting heat stroke can kill a hamster in as little as 20 minutes."
Choose a cage that is easy to clean.You will need clean your hamster’s cage once or twice a week depending on your cage, so you will want a cage that will not be too difficult to clean. Wire cages are probably the easiest type of cage to clean. Aquariums and plastic cages may need more frequent cleaning because of their poor ventilation, but this most likely won't be an issue if your cage is the minimum size or above.Plastic cages are the most difficult to clean, since they often have many different components, are multi-level, and have twists and turns that could be a challenge for you to reach.
- No matter which type of cage you have, it would be helpful to have a secondary, smaller cage that you can put your hamster in while you are cleaning his main cage or away travelling with your hamster.
Choose a cage that has a solid plastic floor.Your hamster’s nails could get caught in a grated or wire floor, which often leads to foot injuries. Also, solid plastic floors are easier to clean than grated floors.
Determine which cage type would be ideal for your species of hamster.If you have a Syrian hamster, you will likely be fine with any type of cage, as long as it is the minimum size or larger and has places for him to play, sleep, and eat. However, if you have a smaller species of hamster (i.e., Chinese, Dwarf), you will need to be more careful with the type of cage you choose. For example, you will need to pay special attention to the spacing between the wires of a wire cage (no more than 1/2 inch of spacing), since a tiny hamster could squeeze through those spaces.
- An aquarium or plastic cage may be better for your Chinese or dwarf hamster, since he would not be able to escape easily.
Select a cage that fits your budget.The fact that your hamster’s cage is an important investment does not mean that you have to find the most expensive one that you can find. Small wire cages tend to be inexpensive, but wire cages of the minimum size or more are extremely costly. Plastic cages are also expensive, and most of the time don't even come close to the minimum cage size. Aquariums orbin cagescan usually be your best bet.
Learning About Hamster Cages
Familiarize yourself with good wire hamster cages.A wire cage is a popular cage type for hamsters but usually is not big enough, so when looking for wire cages often rat cages with 1/2 inch spacing can work aswell as large hamster cages.A wire cage usually has a detachable base made of solid plastic.The horizontal bars are ideal for hanging toys and chews.
- Big wire cages are more suitable for Syrian hamsters, since they are relatively large and would not be able to squeeze between the wires.
- Be aware that your hamster could gnaw on the wires,- if not given chews and toys-, which could lead to various dental problems that may need veterinary care.
Learn about plastic hamster cages.Plastic hamster cages are multi-level, with tunnels and other areas that your hamster can run through and play in. In addition to being visually appealing (plastic cages are very colorful), plastic cages can be good for a dwarf hamster, since his small size would allow him to easily run through the twists and turns of the tunnels.
- It can be fun to watch your hamster run through the cage.
- A plastic cage is not ideal if you have a large hamster, since he could get stuck in the tunnels.
- If you have a dwarf hamster, he could easily hide in the small nooks and crannies of the cage, making him hard to find.
- Most plastic cages are too small alone and can only be used as attachment cages to a cage of the minimum size.
- Plastic hamster cages should not have any edges that your hamster could gnaw on.
Consider the pros and cons of aquariums.Aquariums are not specifically made for hamsters, but could be an ideal housing option for your hamster. They are typically made of either solid glass or plexi-glass, which makes them very sturdy and easy to see through.To keep your hamster from escaping, the aquarium should be covered with a well-fitted mesh top.You may need to purchase this separately at your local pet store.
- The minimum size aquarium that you should have for your hamster is 30-40 gallons depending on the specific aquarium. Just be sure to have the floorspace be of the minimum size or bigger.
- An aquarium would be ideal if you have a dwarf or Chinese hamster.
- Aquariums have a few disadvantages, such as being heavy and having poor ventilation.
- Since aquariums are not hamster-specific, you would need to buy extra items to place inside of it, such as tunnels and ladders.
Learn about bin cages.Bin cages are cages that you can design and make yourself. The freedom to be able to design these cages yourself is a major advantage. Bin cages are usually much cheaper to make than it is to buy a proper sized store bought cage, but bin cages may not look as visually appealing as other cage types.
QuestionHamsters in the wild run 5-8 miles a night so don't they need lots of space?
Veterinarian, Royal College of Veterinary SurgeonsVeterinarian, Royal College of Veterinary SurgeonsExpert AnswerAbsolutely! The minimum size recommendations are just that - a recommendation. Some experts advise at least 1 meter square of floor space. But just as important is a chance for the hamster to display normal exploratory behaviors, to digging, forage around, and trundle from space to space, which is why modular hamster cages are a good idea. In addition, a hamster wheel and handling the hamster are important means of encouraging exercise.Thanks!
QuestionI heard that there is a certain size cage I should get, but I can't afford the a cage that is an acceptable size. Would a Habitrail Cristal be good enough?Community AnswerIf you can not afford a big enough home for them, save up until you can give them the right amount of space. Hamsters need space so that they can exercise and not feel cramped.Thanks!
QuestionIs the Alaska cage good for a Syrian hamster?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerThe Alaska cage is a brilliant choice! It has plenty of space, it's well ventilated, and it allows hamsters to climb.Thanks!
QuestionWhat if your hamster rarely gnaws off wired bars?Community AnswerThen allow them to have a cage, but make sure it is big enough and not from a brand, like NatureTrail. They may look good to the human eye but are too small and cramped for hamsters.Thanks!
QuestionI want a hamster. What would be the best cage for me?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerTry to get the biggest hamster cage you can fit in your home and afford. Hamsters like space to move around.Thanks!
QuestionIs it ok if it has a small cage?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerHamsters are small, but the need a lot of space to be happy and healthy. Get the biggest cage you can.Thanks!
QuestionIs a wooden cage with several levels good for syrians?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerA wooden cage would not be a good choice for any type of hamster, who are natural chewers. Not only would they damage the cage, but they'd likely escape in a matter of minutes.Thanks!
QuestionIs the Kaytee hamster cage bad? I've had two hamsters die quickly while raising them in this cage despite giving them good care.wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYes; that cage is too small and has wire that your hamster can get injured from. Get a new cage.Thanks!
QuestionAre winter white hamsters dwarf hamsters?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYes; there are three types of dwarf hamster: the Roborovski or robot dwarf, the Campbell's Russian dwarf, and the winter White Russian dwarf. If you get a winter white, try to get one with a pedigree. Most winter whites found in pet shops are hybrids, usually between a winter white and a Campbell's. Hybrids tend to have a shorter lifespan and are more prone to certain things like diabetes.Thanks!
QuestionCan we keep two dwarf hamsters in the same plastic cage?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerIf they are male and female, you can expect pups. If you are unsure of sex, you can most likely find a website telling you to determine what they are or go to a vet.Thanks!
- If you are considering a wire or plastic cage, check to make sure that the door latches securely.
- Place your hamster cage in area that is out of direct sunlight and drafts.
- The cage should also be placed high enough to be out of reach of other pets. This higher height will also make it easier to clean the cage.
- Learn the basics of maintaining your hamster’s cage, including what toys to put in the cage, how often to clean the cage, and what type of bedding to place in the cage.
- Your hamster may injure himself in a wire cage if he falls while climbing up the wires.If you notice that he has fallen and injured himself, take him to your veterinarian for treatment.
- Ammonia is toxic to your hamster and can cause serious respiratory problems.Cleaning his cage regularly will help keep ammonia from building up in his cage.
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