Aug 082009
 

There are three primary types of hamster cages.

Aquarium

Aquariums for hamsters are 4-sided and made of glass or plastic.

glass aquarium hamster cage

Aquarium Cage Advantages

  • You can easily see into the aquarium, giving you lots of opportunities to view your hammy.
  • Glass or plastic aquarium sides are very difficult for your hamster to climb up. This reduces the chances of your hamster escaping.
  • The bedding is not scattered all over the area around the aquarium because there are no openings on the bottom.
  • Probably the best cage for the smaller dwarf hamster.

Aquarium Cage Disadvantages

  • Glass aquariums are usually heavier than other types of cages. Ask yourself if you can lift and move the cage easily to clean it.
  • Glass aquariums can shatter if dropped.
  • Ventilation can be a problem. Ammonia fumes from dirty bedding can build up and harm your hamster.
  • You need a secure lid to keep your hamster in and other pets out. A wire top is preferred to a thin screen mesh because it is more difficult for your hamster to chew through it.
  • If the secure lid does not have clips, you will need a freestanding running wheel and water bottle or dish.
  • Plastic aquariums can get scratched over time.

For more information about glass cages, read 3 Critical Guidelines for Choosing an Aquarium Hamster Cage. 
NOTE: It is best to buy a glass aquarium at your local pet store as shipping can result in you receiving a broken aquarium.

Wire Cages

Wire cages for hamsters are made of metal wires, spaced close together. Most have a plastic or metal base on the bottom.

Wire hamster cage

Wire Cage Advantages

  • Lightweight
  • Provides good ventilation
  • Hamster love to climb up the wire bars. You can also add more climbing space by attaching wire ladders to the sides of the bars, creating a multi-level cage.
  • You can attach items such as a water bottle and a wheel from the wire sides.
  • The wire frame usually detaches from the bottom tray, making cleaning easier.

Wire Cage Disadvantages

  • Not good for dwarf hamsters unless the wires are very close together. If the space between the bars is too large, your hamster will crawl through and escape.
  • If the cage is in a drafty location, such as near a window, the open bars will let drafts through which can cause problems for your hammie.
  • Some hamsters tend to gnaw on the wire bars. Some people find the noise distracting. Also some wire bars are painted. Chewing on this paint is harmful to the hamster.
  • A shallow plastic bottom (smaller than 2 inches / 5 cm) means when your hamster burrows, his or her bedding could come flying through the wire and cause a mess outside the cage.

For more information about wire cages, read Guidelines for Buying a Wire Hamster Cage.

Wire and Plastic Cages

Plastic cages for hamsters are made up of colorful plastic on top and bottom and have metal bars in the middle. They may also be called hamster habitats.

Wire and plastic hamster cage

Wire and Plastic Cage Advantages

  • Colorful and bright as the plastic comes in many different colors.
  • Many have holes to which you can add tunnels and tubes to expand the size of the cage.
  • Deep base means bedding material is more likely to stay in cage.

Wire and Plastic Cage Disadvantages

  • Assembly can be difficult. Instructions can be poor and all pieces must fit snugly together.
  • Plastic cracks easily, especially when you are trying to put the cage together and must be twisting and maneuvering the parts.
  • Some doors are snap-in, instead of latch, meaning it is easier for your hamster to escape.
  • Plastic wheels attached to sides can make a lot of noise when your hamster is running.
  • Must take everything apart to clean all pieces. Note that some plastic cages have a one piece top which makes cleaning easier.
  • Plastic scratches more easily than glass.
  • Larger hamsters can get stuck inside plastic tubes.

For more information about combination wire and plastic cages, read Tips for Choosing Plastic and Wire Combination Cages.

NOTE: All-Plastic Cages

This type of cage is composed of all plastic. Because of a lack of ventilation, these cages should be avoided.


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Aug 082009
 

You’re ready to buy a home for your adorable and furry hamster. Here are three things to think about before you buy.

  • Cage Size
  • Cage Security
  • Cage Sanitation

Cage Size

A hamster needs room to run, explore, play, and sleep.

Small hamster cage

Small cages 8 inches long by 12 ½ inches wide by 7-1/2-inches high (20 X 32 x 19 cm). This is adequate for the smaller dwarf hamster (2 to 4 inches; 5 to 20 cm). It is too small for the Syrian hamster (5 to 7 inches; 13 to 17 cm).

Average cage size: 12 inches long by 24 inches wide by 9 inches high (30 X 60 x 22 cm). Provides a bit more room for your hamster to roam.
Large hamster cage

Larger cage size: 16 inches long by 24 inches wide by 12 inches high (40 X 60 x 30 cm). This size will give your hamster plenty of room to exercise and burrow around inside the cage.

Adding height: Some of the cages you will consider have many levels to let the hamster climb and explore. But keep in mind that hamsters are near-sighted. This means they can fall off levels that are too high up in the cage.

On the left you can see a tank topper, which can be used to add height to a 10-gallon fish tank. Many people use an aquarium for their hamster cage.

Adding width: Some cages are designed to be linked together with plastic tubes. Keep in mind that the tube must be large enough for your hamster to fit through. And be sure the tubes fit tightly together or your hammy will surely gnaw his or her way out.

Bottom Tray Depth: When considering the depth of the hamster cage, make sure the cage has a deep bottom tray. A deep tray means the hamster will have plenty of room to burrow and make its home as well as find a place to poop and pee. Deep trays also help keep the bedding material from being spread out all over the area outside the cage.

Cage Security

One of the things your hamster will explore is whether or not they can chew their way out of their cage. Don’t take it personally. They just need to chew to keep their teeth in shape and prevent boredom.

Cages to avoid: Cages made of wood. Unless the wood pieces are thick (1/2 inch / 1 cm) and all pieces tightly fit together, you hamster will chew through and escape. Even thick pieces will eventually be chewed through.

Security Considerations

  • Wire cages: Check that the wire bars are not too far apart. Remember, dwarf hamsters can be as small as 2 inches; Syrians can be 5 inches. If your hamster can fit his or her head through the bars, their body will not be far behind.
  • Plastic cages: Corners and tubing should fit snugly together. Make sure the plastic is thick. Flexible or bendable plastic can be chewed through.
  • Aquariums: Corners should fit tightly together. The opening on top is the possible weak spot here. Make sure you use a heavy wire mesh covering (with space enough for ventilation) and keep checking for spots your hamster is trying to gnaw through.
  • Doors: Hamster cage doors should have latches. Check that these latches are strong and shut tightly.

Cage Sanitation

For the sake of your hamster and your nose, you will want to keep the hamster cage clean. Since you will be cleaning your hamster’s home at least once a week, you need to think about how easy, or difficult, the job is going to be.
Hamster cage

Ask yourself:

  • How easy or difficult is it to take apart the wire or plastic cage?
  • As you will be washing it over time, is the wire cage resistant to rust?
  • Can you handle a glass aquarium when you’re washing it out? (Glass aquariums tend to be heavier that other types and can shatter when dropped.)

 

Keep these three S’s – size, security, and sanitation in mind when choosing hamster cages.

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