Mar 212011
 

A critical question to ask when you’re getting a new hamster is “What size cage should I buy for my hamster?”

Size is important because hamsters are active pets – especially at night. They like to run, climb, play with their toys, and burrow. All this activity means they have to have space in their cages.

The two key questions to ask about space are “What’s inside the cage?” and “What type hamster do you have?

What’s inside the cage?

Everything you put inside your hamster cage takes up space. So what goes inside the typical cage? hamster cage

Exercise wheel: Because a typical hamster can run about 6 miles (9 km) in one night you need to have an exercise wheel for your cage. This can be a freestanding exercise wheel or one of the kind that attaches to the metal bars on the cage. The freestanding wheel takes up space on the floor of the cage. But even the kind that attaches to the wire walls takes up space inside the cage.
hamster tubes

Tubes: Another way for your hamster to get exercise is to run through hamster tubes. People even connect a lot of tubes so the hamster has a big maze to climb through. Some tubes go outside the cage so they don’t take up any space inside the cage, but some climbing tubes may go inside the cage and take up space.

Water: Hamsters need water. You can attach a water bottle to the outside of the hamster cage, but its tip still takes up room in the cage. If you don’t use a water bottle you have to have space for a water bowl on the bottom of the cage.

Food bowl: What you feed your hamster goes inside a hamster food bowl. These can be large or small depending on how much food your hamster eats.

Toys: There are all kinds of chew toys and play toys for hamsters. You can also get a hamster house or some people even use the cardboard toilet paper holder. Depending on their sizes, these toys use space in the hamster habitat.

So before you buy your hamster cage, think about all of these items and how much room they will take up in the bottom and along the side of the cage you want. Remember you still need plenty of space for bedding so your hamster has spots to burrow, play, and use as a bathroom.

What type hamster do you have?

The other thing you have to consider when you’re thinking about the size of your cage is the type of hamster you have. The typical Syrian hamster, also called a teddy bear or Golden hamster, is about 5 to 7 inches (13 to 17 cm) long.

Having this type hamster may mean some of the items in your cage will have to be larger. For example, your hammy should not have to bend its back when it’s in its exercise wheel. So you may need a larger exercise wheel in your cage if you have a Syrian hamster. You also have to make sure the climbing tubes you get are large enough for this type hamster to fit through. That means more space for your hamster tubes. Also, because of the Syrians size you have to make sure there’s lots of bedding in the cage so it can burrow.

The typical dwarf hamster such as a Roborovski is smaller, being about 2 to 4 inches (5 to 20 cm) long. But many people keep two dwarf hamsters together in one cage because they get along with each other. That means providing enough space in your cage for two hamsters to run around in.

If you want to breed hamsters you’re also going to need a much bigger hamster cage.

The right size hamster cagehamster cage

Most people recommend getting a wire hamster cage that is at least 24 inches wide by 12 inches deep by about 10 inches tall (61 X 31 X 25 cm).

If you’re planning on using an aquarium, you will need at least a 10 gallon fish tank, but 20 gallons would be even better.
hamster cage
Smaller cages, that are usually 8 inches long by 12 ½ inches wide by 7-1/2-inches high (20 X 32 x 19 cm) may be adequate for a smaller dwarf hamster. It is too small for the Syrian hamster.

Available larger cages are about 16 inches long by 24 inches wide by 12 inches high (40 X 61 x 31 cm). This size will give your hamster plenty of room to exercise and burrow around inside its cage.

 


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Feb 252011
 

You can add this wire tank topper to the top of a 10 gallon aquarium to add space to your hamster’s home. Here are the pluses and minuses.

aquarium tank topper

Pluses

  • The topper includes a wire cage top, food dish, water bottle, a hideout house, shelves and ramps.
  • It comes with two clips to attach the wire top to your fish tank.
  • Easy to assemble as it fits right on top of the aquarium.
  • It gives your hamster about double the space to move around in and explore. Instead of just running around on the floor of the fish tank, your hammy can run up and down the ramps and on the shelves.
  • Easy to clean. Just take the clips off to remove the top for cleaning. (You still have to clean out the glass cage itself.) Reassembly is also easy. This saves you a lot of time.
  • Good size for one Syrian hamster.
  • Good value. If you use this topper and a fish tank you get a complete hamster cage at a good price.

Minuses

  • Fits some aquariums better than others. There can be small differences in the dimensions of fish tanks, even if its size is 10 gallons. If your topper doesn’t fit smoothly on your tank, don’t fight it – just take it back.
  • Because of the spacing between the wire bars, small dwarf hamsters may be able to squeeze through. Use toppers only if you have large dwarfs or a Syrian hamster.
  • Ramps are steep, especially for smaller or dwarf hamsters. Check to see if your hamster is able to climb the ramps easily. You don’t want your hamster falling from the top ramp to the bottom of the aquarium.
  • The food bowl is supposed to go on the top shelf. Because it can be light when empty, your hamster can easily throw it to the bottom.
  • The water bottle is part of the little house that goes on the bottom of the tank. It’s a small water bottle that’s too close to the ground. Use a regular water bottle instead.
  • The only way to get at your hamster is from above (unless you take the top off). So you have to bend over or have long arms to reach your hamster if he or she is on the bottom of the tank.

Summary

The Good

☺☺☺

Easy to assemble
Easy to clean
Good value

The Bad

☹☹☹

Steep ramps
Wire bar spacing too wide for dwarf hamsters
Parts are light and small

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Feb 252011
 

It’s not advertised as a cage, but a fish aquarium can be a good choice for a hamster cage. However, there are some serious considerations when you’re thinking about using a fish tank for your hamster to live in. (You can read Using an Aquarium for a Hamster Cage to learn about its benefits.)

Size

Hamsters need space to run, hide, and play. So make sure your glass cage is at least 10 gallons. A 20 or even a 30 gallon tank would be even better.

hamster wheel Why so big? Because you’ll need space for:

  • A freestanding exercise wheel
  • The usual feeding, burrowing, and bathroom areas
  • Exercise area that might include toys or tubes
  • Air circulation

You may also need space for a water dish. As you realize, you can’t hang a water bottle from the side of smooth glass. However, you can use Velcro to attach a water bottle to the glass. Or you can hang a water bottle from the top of the aquarium.

Weight

A 10 or 20-gallon glass aquarium will weigh a lot more than a wire or a plastic cage. If you can’t handle the weight and it drops, a glass aquarium could break. This is not true for wire or plastic hamster habitats.

Once you’ve put your hamster cage in one location, weight isn’t a problem. But it can be an issue when it’s time to clean your aquarium. After you empty the aquarium out, you’ll have to pick it up and carry it to where there’s water. You than have to handle it and move it around to get all the corners clean. Figure an empty 10 or 20 gallon aquarium weighs about 10 to 20 pounds (4.5 to 9 KG). And as you rinse it with water, it will get heavier and harder to move around.

This is why some people say aquariums are hard to clean and some people have no problem cleaning them. It all depends on your ability to handle the weight. So, can you lift 10 pound weights? If you can, you’re ready to handle a hamster aquarium.

Ventilation

A typical hamster can run from 3 to 6 miles a day (usually at night). That means your hamster needs moving air to breathe. With glass sides, there is less airflow than in a typical wire cage. Another problem with lack of ventilation is that the fumes and smells from urine and dirty bedding can be trapped inside the cage. These fumes can hurt your hamster.

Finally, if you put your aquarium in direct sunlight, the glass will increase the heat inside the cage. It can get hot enough to kill your hamster!
aquarium mesh top

So to get air in your aquarium you must have a top that lets air in, but keeps your hamster from escaping. The solution is a mesh top that fits securely on the top. That means no spaces or loose edges on the sides that your hamster can wiggle through. The spacing on the mesh should be less than ½ inch.

Some people recommend putting a rock on top of the mesh to prevent your hamster from pushing the top off. But a heavy rock can eventually break the mesh and fall on your hamster. So try using more, lighter rocks.

Cage clips can also be used to help keep the lid on. Just be sure to keep the clips outside the cage so your hammy doesn’t decide to chew them up.

Tank toppers can also be used to add both height and air circulation to an aquarium hamster home. aquarium with topper So before you buy an aquarium for your hamster, think about its size and weight and plan for adequate ventilation.

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Feb 252011
 

If you have one Syrian hamster, or a pair of dwarf hamsters, an aquarium is a good choice for a hamster cage. The glass or plastic 10 or 20 gallon fish tank offers a lot of benefits including visibility, safety, and cleanliness.

Visibility

Since aquariums are glass or plastic on all sides, it’s easy to see your hammy when he or she is out and about. You can have a clear view of it running in its wheel or running through tubes you’ve set up along the floor of the cage. Sometimes you can even see them when they burrow down into their bedding. glass aquarium

And if you do hamster breeding, the clear sides will let you look in on your nest of baby hamsters.

You could also buy a “topper” for the glass cage. The topper, made of wire, sits on top of the aquarium and lets you add additional levels that your hamster can climb up. With the topper, you have more chances to see your hamster climbing and playing. aquarium topper

 

Safety

The aquarium hamster home also provides a few safety benefits. First, the smooth glass sides make it very difficult for your hamster to climb up and escape. With wire cages, hamsters can climb around the wires until they find a space big enough to fit through. Or, worse yet, they can get caught in between the wires and hurt themselves. Since there’s no climbing up the sides, the aquarium cuts down on escapes and potential wire bar accidents.

In plastic cages hamsters have been known to gnaw their way through the plastic. They won’t be gnawing through the glass.

Of course, if there are toys for your hamster to climb on in the aquarium you can be sure they will find their way to the opening at the top. That’s why you have to have a tight-fitting mesh top on your aquarium. aquarium mesh

If you have other pets, such as a cat or a dog, the aquarium can provide better protection for your hamster. With glass, your other animal won’t be able to stick its claws or paws through the wires and hurt your hamster. Of course, you must remember to keep the top covered.

Another safety factor is that some hamster cages end up being put in drafty areas of a room. Too many breezes going through the cage can make your hammy sick. The tall glass sides of the aquarium help cut down on breezes. Of course, your hamster still needs air coming through the mesh covering.

Cleanliness

Hamsters like to burrow. And when they do, most owners will tell you their hamster will dig up bedding, shavings, leftover food, and even some poop. With wire bottom cages, that stuff can get scattered all over the place outside of the cage. So not only do you have to clean the cage, but also the area around it.

With an aquarium, all that bedding stays inside the glass cage. No more mess all over the place. It’ll be much more fun watching your hamster burrow in its cage knowing you won’t have to clean up after it.

If you’re thinking about getting an aquarium for your hamster cage, read 3 Critical Guidelines For Choosing An Aquarium Hamster Cage.


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