Setting Up a Hamster Cage

Catherine Forman
April 28, 2006

HamsterIf 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.
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  3. 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.
  4. The cage needs to be chew-proof. Hamsters are chew-masters! Make sure all possible exits are secure.
  5. The cage needs to be lined with appropriate wood chips.
  6. 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!
  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.
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  10. 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.
  11. 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.

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