If you go into any pet store you will be confronted by a huge range of cages of different types but how do you know which is the most suitable option for your hamster?
Our governing body, the National Hamster Council recommends a minimum of 1000cm2 of useable floor space x 19cm high for Syrian hamsters and 800cm2 of useable floor space x 17cm high for Dwarfs but that is not to say that you can’t go bigger and many owners have chosen cages much larger than this to allow for the addition of more enrichment through the addition of a range of toys. However it is worth mentioning that all hamsters will have different needs in their caging and some hamsters may feel more settled in a smaller space whilst others would benefit from more space.
The most popular options you will come across are…
Wire cages: These consist of a plastic base with a wire top and come in a variety of sizes. The beauty with these cages is that they allow toys and shelves to be attached easily whilst allowing the hamster a greater interactivity with the outside world. However there will be a limit to the amount of substrate that can be used and some hamsters may like to kick the substrate out of the cage during a busy night of digging burrows. Owners of Chinese and Roborovski hamsters in particular will also have to make sure that the bars in the cage are narrow enough to prevent escape.
Moulded cages: These often come with a similar base to the wire cages but have a moulded clear plastic top and a wire mesh roof. These cages are often seen as ideal options for the smaller species of dwarf hamster that may fit through the bars on the more traditional type of cage. In addition to this, the enclosed nature of the cage means that any substrate that the hamster kicks up will be contained within the cage. This type of cage however does not allow the same opportunity to hang toys and shelves in the hamster’s cage.
Modular cages: These plastic cages look fun and are often marketed at children coming with many add ons to extend the cages however the tubes that join the sections together can present issues such as difficulty in cleaning and not being wide enough to allow larger hamsters to pass through without becoming stuck.
DIY cages: Some hamster keepers may prefer to build their own cages or adapt other items to make a suitable hamster home. The most popular conversions have been through the use of storage bins and aquariums and there are lots of tutorials on the Internet to give you an idea on how it’s done!
Whatever kind of cage you choose you will need to provide a good layer of substrate on the floor of the cage to soak up any urine, the opportunity to make a nest with suitable nesting material (cheap toilet paper is ideal) as well as food, water and something to chew such as a dog biscuit.