When you have gotten your first hamster cage, you are often wondering what exactly you need in it! So what do hamsters need in their cage? Many sites and pet shops give different advice and this can be confusing for everyone involved. This guide will collect together everything that a hamster needs in their hamster cage, as well as a few added extras!
So what do hamsters need in their cage? They need a: Food bowl, Water Bottle, Wheel, Bedding, Floor Substrate, and a Hideout! These are vital things that your hamster needs in their cage. Read on to find out more details!
A food bowl is vital for your hamster! It lets your hamster know exactly where their food is and lets you know when your hamster needs a refill on their food. A food bowl needs to be quite heavy, this means that your hamster can’t simply take the bowl and move it somewhere else! It should also be in a place that is easily accessible for your hamster, especially if they are old. If your hamster is old then you should put their food on the bottom floor in an easily accessible place. Consider getting a ceramic food bowl, this is heavy and will give your hamster a secure supply of food
Your food bowl should also have a shallow bottom. This means that your hamster doesn’t have to use up energy stretching into the bottom of the bowl. A shallow bowl means that your hamster can easily gain access to their food! Avoid relying on ‘auto-feeders’ which are often sold. These can often give your hamster too much food and can often break down. Your hamster will also bond with you if you put your hand into the cage more!
Water bottles are an essential part of your hamster’s cage. Hamsters need a lot of water to avoid dehydration which means that water bottles are 100% vital for your hamster’s cage! A water bottle should be able to fit on the bars of the cage it should be easy for your hamster to reach it. You should be refilling the water bottle every other day, this means that your hamster gets a fresh supply of water. You wouldn’t want to drink stagnant water and neither does your hamster. Make sure that the water bottle is snuggly fit inside the cage so that it doesn’t fall out, especially if you are on holiday.
Some people use a water bowl but we don’t recommend this! Water bowls are easier to move and be disrupted. A water bottle is the simplest way to give water to your hamster. Water bottles are less messy and provide more space for your hamster to run around. A water bowl can often be an obstacle!
Hamster wheels are vital to your hamster’s exercise regiment and your hamster’s enjoyment. We have talked about why hamsters love to run on hamster wheels before and this shows that wheels are vital! Without a wheel, your hamster can get fat and will not have the best experience that they can have! You can choose a silent spinner wheel which stops the wheel from being as loud as they can be!
You can also get your hamster a flying saucer wheel! These are wheels on a tilt which means that your hamster can run on it in the exact same way! Hamsters generally have a preference but flying saucer wheels are fine for your hamster! We talk about what sized wheel to get for your hamster here!
Bedding is vital for your hamster. It allows them to sleep comfortably and it also helps to regulate their temperature! You should be putting a decent amount of bedding in the center of your hamster’s cage. the reason why you put the bedding in the center of the cage is so that your hamster can poach the bedding and put it where they want. If you put the bedding where you want them to sleep, your hamster might just ignore you! Avoid cotton bedding, this can hurt your hamster and there have been many cases of hamsters getting wrapped up in it or accidentally eating it.
Hamsters will mess around with their bedding a lot in the cage. They might only take a bit of bedding, they might throw some out. Leave them to do their thing! Hamsters often change their bedding around in order to get rid of soiled bedding or to regulate the temperature if it is hot.
Replace the bedding every time you clean out your cage. Make sure to leave some used bedding in the cage so that your hamster has its scent still available to them. This makes them less stressed when they go back into the cage!
Floor substrate is very important for your hamster’s cage. It gives them a soft ground to walk on, falls against balls, keeps the cage cleaner for longer, and gives them ample space for burrowing! Make sure to fill the entire base with the substrate, this gives them room to burrow. You might find that your hamster’s favorite sleeping place is deep inside the substrate!
You can get different types of substrate, although I cannot comment for other types, the substrate that we use is called Carefresh! This costs a bit more than other types but it masks the smell from the hamster cage which means that your hamster won’t be stinking up your room! It’s also more absorbent which is why we use it.
Wood shavings are also acceptable, and cheaper, for your hamster cage! Just remember to put plenty in the cage! Your hamster loves to burrow and you should be encouraging it!
Your hamster always needs somewhere to hide! hamsters are prey animals which means that they feel safer when they are somewhere that is enclosed and protected from the outside world. There are so many options here! The best kind of hamster hideout is a natural hideout, plastic is generally unsuitable for hamsters. This is because of the lack of filtration that a plastic roof results in. Something like a hollowed-out coconut, which you can get at most pet stores, is perfect for your hamster!
Other great materials for hideouts can be natural fiber hideouts. These are often made out of grass or hay, your hamster will enjoy sleeping and chewing on them! Wooden hideouts are fine as well, however, make sure that they are made out of natural wood and not treated wood. The chemicals in treated wood can harm your hamster if they bite it!
Hamster toys are important for your hamster, it helps them entertain themselves and it will entertain you as well! There are some great hamster toys that you can make yourself or that you can buy from various pet stores! You can use toilet roll tubes to give your hamster something to chew on, this is a great starter toy for your hamster! You can also buy treat dispensers where your hamster has to put in some work to get the treat at the end! Richard’s favourite treat dispenser hangs from the top of the cage, he loves jumping and claiming the snacks that we put inside
Make sure that the hamster toy you get is appropriate for your hamster. Try to get biodegradable toys that your hamster can safely chew on because they will chew on them! Try to stay away from plastic as much as you can! For a fun toy for your hamster, place your treats around the cage so that they can scavenge for them!
Those are the required items for a hamster, but there’s always optional extras that you can give your hamster. These are optional but can be helpful for your hamster if you put them in their cage!
A mineral lick
Mineral licks can have some benefits for your hamster, when we had rats we gave them a mineral lick all the time. We do the same for our hamster. Mineral chews are helpful for hamsters as it can give them some of the vital nutrients that they need! It can also be a great way for them to chew and make their teeth a lot shorter! These are not necessary for your hamster but it can always be helpful!
Sand baths are something that you can put inside your cage. These sand baths help your hamster clean themselves as they do in the wild! You can get any small box and fill it with sand, hamsters will love it! Hamsters will dig in the sand bath and they will also roll around in it. This enables them to clean themselves and keep their fur nice and clean!
Tunnels may seem like a necessity for your hamster; however they aren’t! If you have enough substrate in your cage then your hamster will create their own tunnels. Plastic tunnels can be a problem as hamsters often can’t fit in them, depending on the size! Hamsters will often go to the toilet in the tunnel as well, this creates a problem with cleanup and they can smell if you don’t clean them out. We recommend keeping a large amount of substrate so your hamster can dig their own tunnels.
If you have several cages connecting together; you can use tunnels to connect them all together! This is one of the best uses for plastic tunnels.
Conclusion – What do hamsters need in their cage?
As you can see, there’s quite a lot of things that a hamster needs in their cage. At a minimum you should ensure that they should have what we had stated above. The food bowl and water bottle are the obvious requirements, please make sure that the water bottle is filled up at all times! The hamster toys can be wonderful for your hamster as well, it will keep them entertained!
Do you have anything to add to this list? Let us know in the comments!