The ideal home for your hamster
Hamsters are very active animals that can travel for miles at night in the wild. They require the largest cage you can provide. Larger breeds, such as Syrian hamsters, will require more space than Dwarf hamsters.
You’ll need to provide them with a variety of items to keep them active and help them act naturally, such as toys, things to gnaw on and a place to nest in.
The appropriate cage for your hamster
Because hamsters enjoy digging and climbing, cages with deep plastic bases and wire tops work well. You can provide them with digging areas, and they will enjoy climbing the cage bars.
Choose a cage that is large enough for your hamster’s breed – if in doubt, the larger the better. The cage must have a large, usable floor area as well as enough space for tubes and different levels.
Your hamster’s environment should be filled with items that will keep them active and entertained. A perfect cage will include:
- Plenty of nest boxes and sleeping areas. You can read more about how to provide these for your hamster below.
- An exercise wheel can help keep your hamster active. It should be as wide as possible and have a solid running surface. Plastic wheels are best for hamsters.
- Plenty of toys and interactive games so they don’t get bored. Hamsters enjoy climbing, ladders, tubes, shelves, cardboard boxes and other interactive toys. Keep their toys and cage the same week-on-week as hamsters find sudden changes stressful.
- Gnawing blocks and (untreated) soft wood branches to help them wear their teeth down.
- All hamsters love to dig and burrow. They’ll need a deep layer of sawdust or potting compost in the bottom of the cage. This is especially important for Dwarf hamsters as digging is a really important part of how they naturally behave.
The ideal location for hamsters in your home
Small pets, such as hamsters, can find our homes to be noisy and stressful. To ensure their happiness, make sure their cage is:
- Place their cage in a quiet, calm area of the house. It should be away from busy rooms and not near a TV or music system. Loud noises and vibrations make hamsters stressed.
- Kept at a steady temperature between 18-21C, out of draughts and direct sunlight. Hamsters get sleepy and start hibernating if the temperature stays below 10C.
- Make sure their cage is very secure – hamsters are fantastic escape artists!
Nest boxes: a place to hide and rest
Hamsters spend the majority of the day sleeping, so it’s critical that they have a variety of comfortable nest boxes to sleep in. Hamsters would be hunted by other animals in the wild, so it’s natural for them to want to hide if they’re scared. Nest boxes also provide a safe and secure hiding place for them.
- Make sure their nest box gives them a quiet and secluded place to rest during the day.
- Give them plenty of safe nesting material to fill their nest box with. Shredded white kitchen roll or clothe-based bedding material is ideal.
- Don’t use shredded newspaper as ink can be toxic to hamsters.
- Don’t give your hamsters cotton wool. It can cause dangerous blockages in their stomach if they eat it and can get wrapped around their legs.
Keeping your hamster clean
You’ll need to clean out your hamster’s cage on a regular basis to ensure it’s a healthy and sanitary environment for them. It’s best to do this in the evening when they’re awake, rather than waking them up and moving them while they’re sleeping.
- Clean their cage thoroughly once a week with a pet-safe cleaner. You can buy these in pets shops or on our online pet store.
- Keep back a handful of bedding that’s been used by your hamster but is clean and dry. Add this back to into their nest box along with the fresh bedding. This means their nest box will still smell like home!
- Hamsters are creatures of habit and they find sudden changes stressful. When you clean out their cage, try not to alter too much. This will keep everything familiar and comforting for your pet.
If you want more helpful advice on looking after your hamster, including tips on food, toys, accessories and accommodation, add a comment below to let us know!
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