Creating the Perfect Home for Your Hamster Pet

Learn how to create an ideal home environment for your pet hamster! Get tips on cages, bedding materials, food dishes & more.

Creating the Perfect Home for Your Hamster Pet

Hamsters are a popular choice for household pets, and they can make great companions. But before you bring one home, it's important to make sure you have the right type of home for your furry friend. Hamsters love to dig and climb, so cages with deep plastic bases and wire lids work well. Make sure you choose a cage that's big enough for your hamster breed; when in doubt, the bigger the better.

These small rodents usually live for about two years and do better if they stay alone. There are different breeds of hamsters, and they vary in size and characteristics. Know your breed and what size your breed will be when you grow up so you can buy the right cage and equipment. Hamsters are naturally nocturnal, so be prepared for some noises at night and place the crate in an area that's right for you and your new pet. Before buying any pet, make sure you have a home prepared for it to minimize the stress of adapting to a new home.

Hamsters have a specific set of needs. They require exercise and mental stimulation, as well as a well-ventilated cage with a place to hide. Your hamster will also need a varied diet with a mix of store-bought foods and fresh foods. Make sure you know what your new pet can (and can't) eat. Get a cage that's big enough for your hamster, leak-proof and easy to clean.

While modular cages with tubes are fun, they can be difficult to clean and have poor ventilation (and the tubes may be too small for some Syrian hamsters). Never underestimate a hamster's ability to escape, as it can fit into very small spaces and bite through plastic walls surprisingly quickly. If you are going to buy a Syrian hamster, keep in mind that many of the cages that are marketed for hamsters will be small. If you're going to catch a dwarf hamster, keep in mind that it can often go through the bars of an average sized hamster cage. You'll want to completely clean the hamster's cage once a week.

Remove the hamster safely and place it in a safe place while you clean the cage. Avoid cedar and pine wood chips as bedding for your hamster; the smell can irritate the hamsters' respiratory system. Aspen is a safer option if you prefer to use wooden bedding, but many people prefer to use paper or other fiber-based sheets. Hamsters love a cozy nest to take a nap. The cotton nesting materials found in pet stores are unnecessary and can cause problems if eaten or if wrapped around the toes. Shredded toilet paper or facial tissues are great nesting materials and are also inexpensive.

Bedding materials can be cleaned and replaced during weekly cage cleaning. Choose a good quality food for your hamster. Granulated foods offer a good nutritional balance and are a better option for many hamsters than loose food mixes. With a loose mix (seeds and other products), your hamster can choose what it likes and leave what it doesn't, which could cause an imbalance in the diet or an overweight hamster. A granulated mixture can be supplemented with a variety of other products, including fresh vegetables.

Hamsters should be fed once a day. Remove any fresh food you haven't eaten in a few hours. A small but heavy, shallow bowl (anything that doesn't tip over easily) is ideal as a food dish for your hamster. A small ceramic or porcelain pot is a great choice, as they are sturdy and won't be chewed. You don't need to pamper yourself and buy a special hamster dish, but make sure that whatever you choose isn't chewed the next day. A small hanging water bottle with stainless steel spout and ball is the most commonly used water container for hamsters.

A bowl is very likely to spill, get dirty, or be filled with bedding. Make sure your hamster always has fresh water. Hamsters love to run and need to exercise, so buy the biggest, highest-quality exercise wheel you can. It should have a solid surface for running and ideally should not have cross supports (which could catch a leg or neck). Look for one that can be mounted on the side of the cage.

Make sure the wheel is also quiet, as hamsters run at night. A small amount of vegetable oil dripped onto the wheel axle can help keep the wheel quiet. In addition to a wheel, your hamster should have a variety of things to chew on and climb. Hamsters need a lot of stimulation and exercise, or they can get bored. Bored hamsters start trying to chew on everything, and the most likely outcome is to escape. There are plenty of hamster-safe items at the pet store, or you can use toilet paper tubes and tissue boxes to make toys for your hamster.

Your hamster will appreciate a private getaway to sleep. A box for houses or hiding places can be as simple as a small cardboard box (it will have to be changed frequently, but it's cheap), a plastic leather box (you can chew on it), a wooden box (it may chew or get dirty and smell bad) or other things, such as half a coconut shell or a small clay pot for plants. If you cut a door for your hamster, you can use plastic containers to store food backwards, such as a bucket of butter (making sure it doesn't have sharp edges). A hamster's escape is another common problem. If your hamster escapes, keep an eye close to the cage and then extend your search to other rooms. As they are nocturnal creatures, watch at night and look under and behind furniture. If possible, leave the cage open with plenty of food so that the hamster can return alone. Your hamster will need a protected and secure environment inside your home.

Hamsters seem to prefer to be housed in enclosures with solid floors, relatively deep bedding and plenty of nesting material.

Wanda Rater
Wanda Rater

Avid tv junkie. Freelance bacon aficionado. Certified beer lover. Typical food specialist. Infuriatingly humble bacon expert. Hipster-friendly travel lover.

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