Hamsters are very popular pets for good reason. They’re cute and furry, and they don’t take up as much space in the home as dogs and cats.
Don’t forget though, a hamster needs a home within your home. You can’t just let a hamster run around the house; it will very easily get lost or hurt.
They need their own hamster cage. So, before getting a hamster, you need to think very carefully about the right type of cage.
The size of a hamster cage is very important
Hamsters need plenty of floor space in a cage, so they can run around and get exercise. The RSPCA recommends that hamster cages should measure at least 30 x 15 x 15 inches (75 x 40 x 40cm) and the National Hamster Council suggests that your Syrian hamster should have at least 150 square inches (1000 square centimeters) of floor space that they can play in, and a cage height of 17.5 inches (19cm); a dwarf hamster should have 120 square inches (750 square centimeters) of floor space and a cage height of 7 inches (18cm).
If you’re buying a wire cage for your hamster then the plastic bottom of the cage should be deep enough for you to place a 1.5 inch (4cm) layer of plain wood shavings across the whole cage.
If you’re buying a Syrian hamster you’ll need a bigger hamster cage than you would for a dwarf hamster.
And you should only ever keep one Syrian hamster per cage. If you put Syrian hamsters together in a cage they will fight, and possibly even kill each other.
Hamster cages come in all shapes and sizes, so what do you need to think about when you’re buying a home for your pet?
Are wire or plastic hamster cages better?
Wire hamster cages, with a plastic bottom, have been a familiar sight over the years. You should never get a cage that has a wire bottom as it’s not good for a hamster’s feet.
Wire cages are great in providing a place for your furry friend to climb. And hamsters really do love to climb! You can use layers inside the cage so that any drop isn’t too far if your hamster should lose its grip and fall. This is really important if you have baby hamsters as they can hurt themselves badly if they fall too far.
You should make sure that the wires that form the cage walls are not more than half a centimetre apart. If wires are too far apart it’s very easy for an inquisitive hamster to put its head through the gap, and get stuck.
Plastic molded hamster cages are very popular in today’s hamster cage market. Many also have wired sections that allow air to get inside.
Plastic cages are long lasting and easy to clean, but you will need to provide a climbing frame in the cage so that your hamster still has the same ability to climb as they do in a wire cage.
An advantage of plastic cages is that they provide protection from any other pets that may be in your home.
Why modular systems for hamster cages are not a good idea
You’ve probably seen the hamster cages – or rather, hamster homes – that are made from lots of brightly coloured tubes. They look great, but they don’t make the best home for your pet.
There just isn’t enough space for the hamster to run around. And running up and down tubes is not the same.
It’s also very easy for a hamster to get stuck in one of the pipes, especially if you have a Syrian hamster. You may have to keep taking the cage apart if your hamster refuses to come out of the tubes or gets stuck.
What kind of hamster cages are available to buy?
The Prevue Hendryx Deluxe Hamster Cage includes platforms and small houses where your hamster can hide.
If you have a dwarf hamster and want to try a modular design, consider the Habitrail Dwarf Hamster Habitat. It’s made from transparent tubes, which provide added interest for your hamster and make it easier to view them wherever they are.
Whichever home you decide on, remember to keep an eye on your hamster to make sure that they are settling in happily.