Setting Up A Hamster Cage

Catherine Forman

If you've decided to add a ham-ham to the family, congratulations! Here are some tips for setting up a happy hamster habitat!


  1. Your cage should be the size of a ten gallon tank -- or larger. You can go with a light, inexpensive wire cage, but the wire floor will lead to more mess underneath. A plastic tank with a solid floor will keep the mess inside.
  2. Your cage needs a sturdy, escape-proof lid! A clever hamster can pile his toys and entertainments into a ladder to the top of the cage and slip out, otherwise.
  3. The cage needs to be chew-proof. Hamsters are chew-masters! Make sure all possible exits are secure.
  4. The cage needs to be lined with appropriate wood chips.
  5. The cage needs some sort of food and water source. A water bottle mounted to the side of the cage is better than a water dish, but make sure it doesn't drip too much. You want to keep the bottom of the cage as dry as possible!
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  7. Your hamster will need a cozy spot to sleep in. A small box will be perfect! Give him some shredded paper or tissue to nest in. (You can also buy commercial hamster bedding, but why pay for what you may already have available at home?)
  8. Your hamster will need a way to exercise! In the wild, a hamster might wander as much as five miles daily in search of food. An exercise wheel and play tubes will give him a chance to stretch his legs.
  9. The cage (and all play tubes and exercise equipment) should be cleaned thoroughly every week. Be sure that the cage is completely dry before adding the wood shavings -- and save a bit of last week's shavings so the cage will still smell like home to the hamster.
  10. Every day, you should clean out yesterday's uneaten food and any messes in the bathroom area. You can try to train your hamster to use a small tin of cat litter by placing the tin in the area where the hamster piddles anyway.



April 23, 20080 found this helpful

Pine, Cedar, and other softwoods should NOT be used for hamsters or small rodents, because they contain oils that are too harsh for small critters. They can cause the rodents to lose their fur and have almost an allergic reaction. Aspen (hardwood) or shredded, unprinted newspaper is a much better choice. (Check your local newspaper's office, sometimes they sell leftover rolls at a decent price.) Carefresh is good as well, but can be expensive. Also, be careful what type of cat litter you're using as some are too dusty for a hamster. Baked sand is an inexpensive alternative. (check Google for ways of doing this)

Open wheels need to have cardboard woven around them, as this is easier on your hamster's feet. Wheels also come in different sizes, so be sure that yours is made for hamsters.

Do NOT have more than one Syrian hamster in a cage. (Syrians are also known as teddy bears, pandas, normal hamsters; basically the ones most commonly sold in pet stores) Certain breeds of dwarf hamsters can be kept together if introduced at a young age, but if you're not 100% sure don't try it.

Look around your house for things that are safe to put in your hamster's cage. The cardboard inside from a toilet paper (or paper towel) roll, empty Kleenex boxes with the plastic removed, the boxes that toothpaste tubes come in with the ends removed, the rings of canning jar lids hung from the cage (embroidery floss is safe to hang them with and is easy to use), all these things can be used in your habitat. One of my hamsters has nested in an empty sandwich bag box with the flap removed. Use your imagination and have fun!

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