Hamsters are adorable pets. They make excellent introductory pets to young kids as most of these don’t really require intensive grooming and meticulous care. However, choosing the right hamster cage accessories is important if you want them to grow and develop to their optimum. If you think you’re not yet that well-versed into the different accessories that you need to put in your hamster’s home, then worry not as our list of the 12 best hamster cage accessories has you covered..
Tips to Choosing the Right Hamster Cage Accessories
Choosing the right accessories and toys for your hamsters to make your pet hamsters happy can be quite daunting especially for individuals who are new to the whole process of being a pet parent. There are plenty of guides in the internet on what accessories you should consider including in your pet’s cage as well as how to pick the best one. Ultimately, it will still be up to your judgment which of these will work best as only you know the type of hamster you’re caring for. Regardless, we’ve prepared some tips to choosing the right hamster accessories for you to consider.
- The Hamster Wheel
No hamster cage is ever complete without the ubiquitous hamster wheel. In fact, it is one of the most common accessories that people buy together with the cage, food dish, and water bowl. Hamsters are known to run miles and miles in the wild especially at night when they are most active. Unfortunately, your hammie wheel can never really provide them with the luxury of making abrupt turns in their runs. Nevertheless, the wheel should provide them with the means to run as long as they want. It is also a safer option than a free-wheeling hamster ball as the wheel is fixed to a section of your cage. If the animal wants to stop running, it can easily do so and simply jump out from the wheel and head towards its bowl of water or food.
In choosing a hamster wheel, it is important to look at the diameter of the wheel. It should be at least longer than the length of your pet’s body. This is to help minimize unnecessarily arching its back during the run and risk sustaining injury to its spine in case the wheel’s diameter is too small.
As much as possible, the wheel should not be built with steel or plastic rungs as your pet can slip its feet through the gaps and get injured. If you really want wheel with rungs, then choose one with rungs that are spaced closer to each other, minimizing the risk of getting the feet or toes of your pet stuck in between the rungs. A better option is to get a wheel with a flat running surface.
You may also want to consider looking into the noise levels of the wheel as it is turning. While squeaking can be easily remedied by adding a few drops of vegetable oil, it would be a lot better to get something that turns without making too much noise.
Additionally, if you have a hammie that’s a tenacious chewer, you might want to consider metal wheels instead of plastic as it can easily bite and chew on acrylic. If you also have more than one hamster, putting additional hammie wheels can help prevent biting and fights between your pets.
- The Hamster Ball
The hammie ball is an important accessory to give to your pet as it allows them to have their much-needed exercise, making them happier pets. These are excellent alternative to the hamster wheel. However, it is important to observe certain guidelines as your pet may not be able to get off and out of the ball as easily as it would from a wheel. Generally, you should always supervise your hammie while it is in the ball and to limit its playtime to no more than 15 minutes at a time.
In choosing a hammie ball, the diameter of the sphere is important. It should be big enough to prevent your pet from having to hump its back, significantly reducing the risk of spinal injury. It should also not be too small that it might suffocate your little hammie.
- Tubes and Tunnels
One of the reasons why you would want to consider placing tunnels and tubes in your hamster’s cage is to expand the square footage of the cage especially if you have a rather small version. As we have already said, hamsters have a knack for running several miles every night in the wild. And while a hammie wheel can help them run for hours, its stationary nature can sometimes bore your pet. Additionally, by joining several tubes and tunnels, not only are you creating an elaborate maze for your hammie to run through, you are also closely mimicking their natural habitat. However, it is equally important to reposition these fixtures every now and then to provide variety and prevent boredom in your pet.
Selecting the right tubes and tunnels for your pet is all a matter of comparing it with the size of your hamster. If you have dwarf varieties then you should go for smaller diameter tubes. If you have a Syrian hamster, then getting a larger one is necessary. You may also want to check the compatibility of your tubes and tunnels with other similar products of different brands; otherwise, you’ll be stuck with a single brand.
- Hammie Houses
Don’t ever think that the cage is your pet’s house; far from it. It simply mimics their natural habitat. That’s why you also have to think about their home where they will be sleeping or hiding. Some call these accessories as hideaways, but we prefer to call them homes.
These should be gnaw-proof and come with a removable roof to allow for ease of cleaning. It should also not be too small or too large. It should be just right for your pet to move around and curl up inside. It should have a circular entrance hole, although having two should be great as this will give your pet an alternative ‘escape’ in case the main ‘door’ is perceived to be guarded by a threat.
- Feeding Dishes
Hamsters are known to shove as much food as they possibly can into their check pouches and bury this into their favorite nook. Most will also bring their food right inside their homes for some delectable midnight snacks. So why bother with a feeding dish? Well, your hammie may not be eating from the dish itself but it sure needs to get fresh food somewhere. And there’s no better ‘somewhere’ than a feeding dish.
Always choose a feeding dish that is not made of plastic, preferably one that is manufactured of stoneware or porcelain as this helps keep it fully functional for a very long time, protecting it from the gnawing prowess of your little furry pals. Additionally, these are quite heavy, preventing getting knocked over by your over-zealous hamster. The feeding dish should also have a minimum height of about 2.5 inches, complete with a rim to help ensure that nuts, pellets, and seeds won’t be falling out.
- Drinking Accessories
Your hamster also requires adequate hydration especially after running on the hammie wheel or the ball or going through its maze of tubes and tunnels. For the drinking accessories of your pet, you’re actually left with 2 choices: a bottle or a dish.
Water bowls are easy to fill and clean. Unfortunately, these easily get dirty, even possibly contaminating the water of your pet. Your pet can easily walk or run over it, carrying strips of bedding, and even inadvertently placing excrements into the bowl. Moreover, there have been instances when the poor animal drowned in the bowl itself.
Because of this, water bottles are preferred as these are able to keep the freshness and quality of the pet’s drinking water. It may be a bit more tedious to clean but if it is generally safer for your pet, you wouldn’t mind going the extra mile. An effective hamster drinking bottle should have no leaks. As a general rule, test the bottle first. If there’s a leak, look for something else.
- Hammie Toilets
If you think your hamster doesn’t need any commode or toilet, you’re wrong. Did you know that hamsters are very fastidious animals like cats? They don’t like defecating in areas where they normally feed or sleep. That is why many of these furry little creatures always designate an area in their cage to be their ‘toilet. Now, you can actually let them decide where to ‘eliminate’ or you can train them to use their very own toilets.
There are many commercially available hamster toilets or you can simply make one of your own. Commercially available hammie toilets already come packaged with a scoop to help you manage the soiled bedding. Unfortunately, many of these are made of plastic which your hamster can easily chew on. Many of these products are similar to the covered litter box of cats, albeit smaller for obvious reasons. Since it’s literally a box, it should have an access that is about an inch high from its base and about 2 to 3 inches across.
- Sand Bath
Remember what we said about hamsters being more similar to cats when it comes to cleanliness? Well, it would seem that this extends well into their bathing arrangements. While they don’t take a shower, normally they will be rolling in sand in an attempt to get rid of any parasites or germs that might have attached in its fur. Do take note that dwarf species of hamsters are very particular about this. But if you own a larger Syrian, you don’t need to bother buying a sand bath.
A hamster sand bath is simply a dish that you fill with sand so your little furry pals will be rolling on it to cleanse itself. However, more than the dish itself, choosing the right sand is crucial as you do not want it to be very fine that it has a very powdery consistency. They can inhale this and result in respiratory problems. What experts recommend is chinchilla sand. Avoid using beach sand as it may contain harmful microorganisms that can be detrimental to your pet’s health. If you should use beach sand, make sure to bake it first for at least an hour in 350 degrees Fahrenheit just to be sure all the microorganisms are killed.
A sand bath is not really necessary although dwarf hamsters, as we have already mentioned, love it. So it is entirely up to you.
Caring for your pet hamster entails giving it the right habitat that allows it to be happy, sleep, feed, drink, exercise, and play. These cages must also allow your furry little pal to eliminate in a designated place as well as perhaps give itself a really good rubdown using sand. That is why it is crucial that you know how to choose the best hamster cage accessories to meet the growth and development requirements of your pets.