Types of Hamster Cage
The most standard type of hamster cage, these often come in the form of a plastic tray base to place bedding and items which can then be secured with a clip-on metal cage frame. Due to how easy they are to take apart, they are by far the easiest to clean and provide the best ventilation. The negative points to a wire-topped cage are that hamsters have a tendency to gnaw on the bars and the spaces between offer plenty of opportunities for bedding and mess to be pushed out of the cage.
Plastic tanks are great fun and often provide the most entertainment in terms of design and accessories. Thanks to their solid plastic material, you can fill them to your heart’s content with bedding, offering a luscious burrow for your pet and the lack of a wire top ensures no more gnawing. However, air-circulation is naturally not as great in plastic tanks and so it’s best to purchase one which advertises plenty of holes and points of ventilation. And while design-wise their intricate tunnels may be a lot of fun, they also make the cage a lot tougher to clean.
Glass tanks are probably the most secure home for your hamster as they are incredibly deep and often only have one point of entrance from the roof. They offer great visibility for your pet and it makes owning a hamster far more of an exciting spectacle for yourself and guests. However, they are often very large and heavy, making them not very portable, and easy for smaller hamsters to hide in!
Choosing a Hamster Cage
Although hamster cages might all seem the same, subtle differences can have a huge impact on your pet’s experience, so you need to keep your eye on several features before making a purchase.
Hamster Size & Cage Size
When shopping for hamster cages, you’ll notice that they come in many different sizes so it’s critical that you pick one that provides adequate room for your hamster. If it’s a larger breed this is especially important, as they’ll need sufficient living space to live a healthy, happy life.
Hamsters are a highly active animal and they need ample space to climb and play, as well as toys and accessories to keep them entertained, which obviously requires a fair bit of room!
As the largest breed of hamster, it’s recommended that Syrians are offered a cage with a minimum base of 960 square cm and a 44cm vertical height. Conversely, smaller breeds such as the dwarf require just a 770 square cm base with a 17cm height.
The most popular materials for hamster cages are plastic tanks or wire-tops. If purchasing a wire-top, make sure this is merely a metal frame with a plastic bottom, as a fully metal cage is considered harmful to a rodents feet.
You should also examine the width between the bars as any bigger than half a centimetre, and flexible hamsters may be able to squeeze their way through. Plastic and glass homes provide more security but are often harder to clean and require more accessories.
Hamster’s love to burrow and use substrate to create nests. Therefore it’s vital that you buy a cage which can provide plenty of depth for them to hide and bury themselves in. At a minimum try, and ensure you have filled the base of the cage up with at least 2 inches of bedding. Remember that bedding can easily be pushed through wire-tops, so if choosing a metal frame, make sure it has a deep dish base!
Naturally, one of the most important things when picking a hamster cage is making sure it’s safe and secure. The whole point of a cage is to stop your pet escaping and finding itself lost in the house with no food or water. Hamsters are surprisingly flexible and brilliant chewers so sometimes a plastic tank or glass structure are best for ensuring they don’t conduct a great escape.
Just like any animal, hamsters need good access to air and oxygen to survive! Wire meshes obviously offer the best air circulation, but be careful if you choose a plastic or glass habitat. Make sure that glass or plastic structures contain ventilation features such as small air holes or panels before you purchase. However, even these features may not provide truly efficient airflow.
Features and Accessories
Buying a hamster cage is expensive, so the worst thing you can do is purchase a cage that contains absolutely no accessories – because then you’ll just have to spend more!
Hamsters require a lot of exercise, so an included hamster wheel is often a good thing to look out for. Closed off bedding areas and platforms to climb and explore are also good attributes as well as basic equipment like a water bottle or food dish.
The bit that no one considers when buying a pet is how much cleaning they’re going to have to do. If you have a fantastically fun cage full of tunnels, platforms and accessories, it’s going to be an absolute nightmare to clean up. Therefore you have to choose what you’re willing to sacrifice.
Do you want a boring habitat with minimal fuss or a funhouse that needs a lot of careful care and attention?