Hamsters are cute and very adorable pets. These pets are just one of the very few creatures that kids can easily care for. In fact, if ever you need to nurture your kid’s love of animals, hamsters are your best friends. That is why you also need to provide them a home where they can thrive and be happy. Choosing the best hamster cage is never easy as there are certain things you really have to look for. Understanding these requirements is crucial to making the right choice. We’re here to provide you with such information to get you started on caring for hamsters. And, as an added bonus, we’re sharing with you the results of our search for the 10 best hamster cages you might want to start with.
What to Look for When Buying a Hamster Cage
Choosing the right hamster habitat is all about understanding certain requirements that are crucial for these critters’ wellbeing. Just like any creature that is placed in an enclosure and away from their natural habitats, hamsters that are placed in inappropriate houses can develop a host of health and behavioral problems that can bring a lot of headache for the young pet owner. Here are some of the things to look for when buying a hamster cage.
- Size Matters
Have you ever tried living in a very small, cramped space that you can hardly breathe or move about comfortably without bumping into anything? You know how it feels. The same thing can be said of your poor hamster, especially the larger species. That’s why it is very important to look at the size of the habitat that you are considering. For example, according to the National Hamster Council, if you own a Syrian hamster, it is imperative that each one has no less than 150 square inches of floor space and a vertical space of about 17.5 inches to move about, live in, and play in. Dwarf hamsters, on the other hand, are expected to have at least 120 square inches of floor space and a ceiling of about 7 inches from the surface of the bedding. Additionally, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals strongly recommends the observance of the minimum requirements for cage dimensions which currently stands at 30 inches by 15 inches by 15 inches. This is to help ensure that hamsters and similar pets get plenty of room for them to live, play, thrive, and have exercise.
- Wire versus Plastic
Two of the most popular types of hamster cages are wire-tops and plastic tanks. Each one actually has its own pros and cons. As a matter of rule, wire-tops should always have a plastic bottom as wired bottoms are considered unsafe for the small feet of these critters. Additionally, the width of the space in between the wires should never be more than half a centimeter as curious hamsters can easily poke their heads through the space if the gaps were any bigger. Plastic cages are preferred today primarily because these are easier to clean and provide an unobstructed view of your pets. Unfortunately, the surface walls don’t allow for climbing so you’d have to provide additional accessories for your pets to climb on.
- Living Space
As we have already mentioned above, size matters. And this especially pertains to the size of the living space including amenities for play, feeding, resting, eliminating, and even mating. The point is that the hamster habitat should provide your pets with ample space in which they can actually realize their being. For instance, these pets are known for being highly active. Giving them exercise wheels, mazes, and tunnels to run through and over help them feel more at peace with their new surroundings. That’s why their living spaces should also be considered, often in conjunction with the overall size of the cage.
- Bedding Depth
Hamsters are burrowing animals. They love to dig. That is why one of your major considerations is the depth of the lower tray of your prospective hamster cage. At the very minimum, you should be able to fill the bottom tray with at least 2 inches of bedding. The deeper it is the better. This is especially important if you’re going to choose a wire-top type of hamster habitat. This is because the depth or height of the bottom tray can help prevent or reduce the amount of bedding that your pets might kick or push out of the habitat. Remember, there are spaces in between the wires which bedding materials can be pushed through.
- Ease of Cleaning
There’s one thing you have to keep in mind when choosing the right habitat for your hamsters. It should be easy to clean, otherwise your entire room will be reeking of stink from your pet’s droppings, urine, and other body fluids and excrements that may have been passed out. Understand that the more complex the cage setup is, the more challenging it is to clean. That’s why cages with very complex playhouses, tunnels, exercise wheels, and other accessories can be quite a chore to clean as you will have to remove each item to be individually cleaned. As far as cages go, wire-tops with plastic bottom trays are super easy to clean. Glass tanks or aquariums are also very easy to clean. Unfortunately, they can be very heavy.
All living creatures require oxygen to live. And if you’re not able to deliver as much air as your pets need, they might suffocate, too. Wire cages are simply superb when it comes to ventilation as the only really “closed” section is the bottom tray that is filled with bedding materials. If you have to choose a plastic cage, make sure that there are “windows” or panels that have wire meshes to allow for ventilation. Sadly, even with such systems, the amount of air flowing to and through the cage may not be really sufficient for the optimum requirements of your pets. The same is true with glass tanks.
- Safety and Security
Because they are relatively small compared to other pets, hamsters are especially vulnerable to security and safety issues. They can get their body parts stuck in between wires or they can surreptitiously ‘unlock’ the latch to their gates or doors. These creatures have a very uncanny ability for opening things as part of their natural instincts searching for food. Some hamsters are also known to be tenacious chewers. Some have been observed to be particularly fond of the bars on wire cages. So, it is important to understand the unique characteristics of the hamster specie that you’re going to have for a pet. If it belongs to a specie that is well known for heavyweight chewing, a solid walled habitat might be a lot better. Want a chew-proof home for your critter? A glass tank is a wise choice.
- Exercise Wheels
If you have to think of one particular accessory that your hamster simply has to have, then that would be an exercise wheel. These should not have any cross bars that can be quite dangerous if your pet’s feet inadvertently get caught while the wheel is spinning. Experts recommend getting a wheel with a solid surface. It is also important that the wheel diameter should be slightly bigger than the body length of your pet.
How Much are Hamster Cages?
The new home of your furry pet should not really cost you a fortune, although it is not uncommon to see some pet owners who really treat their furry friends lavishly. The cost of a hamster habitat is actually dependent on at least 5 major components. Understand that each component can have a range of prices from the really cheap to the obnoxiously expensive. To give you an idea of how much hamster cages will cost you, consider the following.
- Cage – If you really want a cheap hamster cage, you may want to make one yourself. Technically, any large container like cardboard box can be turned into an elegant DIY critter tank. Using readily available materials, you won’t be spending a dime. But if you need a ready-made pen for your pet, be ready to shell out as little as $10 to as much as $100. There are also good hamster cages that can run in the hundreds of dollars, often depending on the type of material used and the size of the project.
- Bedding – Beddings are important parts of your critter habitat as this is where they will be spending most of their time resting or even nesting. Basic bedding kits can set you back for as low as $2 per pack. There are also so-called specialty beddings which can cost around $10 a pack. Do understand that beddings, unlike the cage, are not permanent. So, you can easily spend around $8 to $40 per month on beddings alone, given you’re going to replace it on a weekly basis.
- Dish – To feed your pets, you’ll need a really durable dish or bow, something that they cannot chew or nibble on. Most would actually recommend getting a ceramic bowl as these are very sturdy and durable that critters won’t damage it. Expect to pay around $10 for a good quality ceramic bowl. But if you’re on a tight budget, you can get some cheap plastic. You should not spend more than $5 for a cheap looking plastic bowl.
- Bottle – The last piece of the puzzle is your critters’ water bottle. These are actually preferred to water bowls as these are less messy and are definitely a lot more hygienic for your pet. You can expect to pay around $5 for a good quality water bottle for your pet, although, like we said, you can always go for some cheap plastic bowl. Just remember that it’s messier, meaning you may have to increase the frequency of your cleanups.
- Other accessories – If you’re going to make your own hamster house, be ready to improvise on their accessories like tubes, tunnels, hideaways, and the exercise wheel. Again, you can make these from readily available and recyclable resources and you wouldn’t spend anything except for the materials you’ll need to put these pieces together. On the other hand, if you are going to buy fun hamster cages, the accessories are already included. In the event that it’s a bare tank, then be prepared to spend anywhere between $5 and $20 for these accessories. Or, you can get starter kits which you can build on your own.
Related Post: Hamster Accessories
Types of Hamster Cage
Now that you know the things that you need to look for when choosing or buying the best hamster cage, it’s high time to look at the different types of hamster cages as these will form the foundation of your journey as a hamster owner.
- Wire-Top – These are easily recognizable by the wire structure of the habitat combined with a plastic bottom tray. These provide exceptional ventilation, are very easy to clean, and provides easy access to your pets. Unfortunately, the bars can be chewed upon by your pet and the spaces in between bars can be excellent exit points for bedding materials pushed out by hamsters.
- Plastic Tanks – Plastic hamster cages are quite a joy to have. These often come pre-packaged with all the accessories that you can possibly imagine to start off on your journey of being a hamster owner. These are fully expandable, meaning you can add other plastic hamster cage sets to make an entire ecosystem of habitats. And because you essentially have a solid wall of plastic, you can easily fill the bottom with as much bedding material as you want. Sadly, ventilation is not really a great attribute of plastic tanks. The complexity of their tubes, tunnels, wheels, mini houses, and other accessories can make cleaning quite a challenge. If a pet decides to hide in the middle of a long tube or tunnel, getting it out may be perplexing as forcing the animal out can hurt it or scare it. Moreover, some tenacious chewers are known to destroy exposed plastic components.
- Aquariums or Glass Tanks – These can be repurposed aquariums or even especially-built glass tanks. They can be with or without lids, although if with a cover, it is usually made of a wire top extension. The beauty of the glass tank is that it secures your pets inside. The transparent nature of glass also allows for greater visibility of what your critters are doing. It’s fully chew-proof and you can apply as deep a layer of bedding as you possibly can. And if you happen to own a dwarf hamster, putting them in a glass tank allows for easy access. Unfortunately, this type of hamster cage is heavy.
How to Setup a Hamster Cage
Once you have chosen the right and most appropriate home for your pet hamster, it’s time to set it up before you even start putting your pet. Again, the key here is to choose the right tank or enclosure for the type of hamster that you have. If you already have the cage, here are the next set of steps you need to take on how to setup a hamster cage.
- Choose a location for the hamster cage.
Hamsters need to be in a comfortable environment, preferably at room temperature. They are also particularly active at night, so putting the cage in the bedroom is not a good idea. The most suitable place for hamsters is the living room. However, you should place them where they are not exposed to loud noises as they have acute sense of hearing.
- Prepare the bedding.
Spread bedding material on the floor of the hamster cage. Make sure that it is deep enough to encourage the burrowing instincts of these furry animals. Putting a bedding that is at least 2 inches deep should help protect your pet’s feet while also allowing the smells and liquids to be absorbed more efficiently.
- Add the accessories.
Once the bedding has been set, you can now start adding the extras or accessories like tunnels, play platforms, tubes, exercise wheels, food bowls or dishes, water bottle or bowls, and other stuff that you might want to include. Just remember not to crowd the house as your pet also needs plenty of space to freely roam around.
Hamsters make excellent beginner’s pets, especially kids. Like all pets, they also deserve the right house for them to thrive and fulfill their being. Knowing what you need to look for when choosing the right hamster cage is crucial to caring for them the correct way. With these 10 best hamster cages we’ve prepared for you, we’re confident you’re on the right track towards becoming a good hamster owner.