Setting up a happy hamster home is so rewarding – it’s wonderful to see these bright and inquisitive little creatures frolic around! But how do you make sure your hamster’s home meets all their needs? For your hamster to live a happy life, their cage must be big enough and kept nice and clean. Here’s our top tips about hamster cages, from how to choose the right one to how to clean them out.
How big should a hamster cage be?
The first thing to think about when choosing a hamster cage is its size. So, how many square inches does a hamster need? The answer is surprisingly large, as hamsters are incredibly active creatures despite their small size. According to the Blue Cross, Syrian hamsters need at least 620 square inches of floorspace (cage dimensions approx. 80 x 50 x 50 cm) and dwarf hamsters need at least 280 square inches (a cage size of approx. 60 x 30 x 30cm). Bear in mind that these dimensions are just the minimum advised, and hamsters will love even more space to run around in!
Hamster cage or tank?
The next question to consider is what type of hamster cage to choose. Hamster cages fall into two main categories: wire cages and solid-sided enclosures. Each type has its own pros and cons and you can choose the best option to suit you and your hammie.
Solid-sided options can be either aquarium-style tanks or plastic modular cages. Since the walls of these cages are solid, you can build the bedding up several inches high to give your pet the opportunity to burrow around. Hamsters love to make tunnels and your pet will be delighted to express this behaviour to their heart’s content! Solid-sided cages are also generally a more secure option and they provide good protection from draughts. It’s important that there is some opportunity for ventilation though, such as if the cage has a wire lid.
Wire cages provide better ventilation, and they’re also often easier to clean. These cages generally have a wire top and a plastic base that you can fill with bedding. To make sure your pet can express their natural burrowing behaviour, it’s best to get a cage with a really deep base, so they can tunnel around happily. Wire cages can be a disadvantage though if your hamster has a persistent habit of chewing the bars.
Why do hamsters bite the cage?
Cage biting can be a real issue with some hammies. Unfortunately, this can make their lips sore and even damage their teeth. It can also be an indication that something in their environment’s not quite right, so it’s important to understand the reasons behind cage biting so you can take action to deal with any underlying problems.
Sometimes, hamsters will bite the bars because they lack other materials to chew on. Gnawing is a natural behaviour for these little creatures, as they need to wear down their constantly growing incisors. Offering more chew toys and treats can sometimes help to make hamsters less interested in the bars.
Bar biting can also be an indication of boredom, so livening up the environment to give extra stimulation can help with this too. Stress is another reason for chewing the bars, so it’s worth thinking about whether anything in your hammie’s life may be worrying them – could any other pets be bothering them, and are any children happy with how to handle them gently?
How often should I clean out my hamster’s cage?
Keeping your hamster’s cage clean is important to keep them healthy and happy. When it comes to how often to clean the hamster’s cage, the answer is that it’s best to do some things on a daily basis and to do a more thorough clean once a week.
The daily clean may only take a few minutes, but it can make a big difference to your pet’s wellbeing, and it should also help you avoid the situation where your hamster cage smells like pee in the lead-up to the weekly clean! So, on a daily basis, you can scoop out the soiled bedding from their toilet corner and replace it with fresh bedding. You can also give the food bowl and water bottle a quick rinse when providing fresh food and water for your pet.
How to clean hamster’s cage weekly?
Every week, it’s important to clean your hamster’s cage out thoroughly. This involves removing all the bedding, washing the cage down and then adding fresh bedding. Remember to clean all cage accessories too, including the nesting box, food bowl, toys, tunnels and wheels.
When you’re washing all these items, make sure you use a cleaning product that is safe for hamsters – either just warm soapy water or a cleaning solution designed especially for small pet cages. Make sure the cage is thoroughly dry before you replace the bedding and put the accessories back in.
During the cage cleaning process, make sure your hammie is in a safe place, such as a pet carrier. When you’re done, place your pet back in their freshly cleaned cage and watch them enjoy their cleaned home!
Now you know how to properly clean a hamster cage, check out our other small pet articles here.
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