The first article about what goes inside a hamster cage was about bedding and water bottles. The other important things to be sure are inside your hamster cage are:
- Exercise wheel
- Exercise ball
- Food bowls
Hamsters like to run any where from 3 to 6 miles (4 to 9 km) every day. Therefore, it’s best to have an exercise or running wheel in the cage so they can get their running in. One of the newer types of wheels with a base is the flying saucer wheel, or spinner, so named because of its open design.
The two primary types of wheels are either freestanding, in which the wheel comes with a base, or the kind that attaches to the side of the hamster cage.
Wheel considerations include:
One type of wheel which is not recommended is a wheel made of metal or wire spokes or bars.
- A hamster’s leg, foot, or toe could catch in the bars, resulting in your hamster getting a fracture.
- A hamster could get their head stuck between the bars.
For safety sake, then, get a hamster exercise wheel with a solid back and a solid running surface. These are typically made of plastic.
Some plastic wheels include treads. These allow your hamster to get a better grip when running.
Another safety concern is the size of the wheel. You don’t want your hamster to have to bend his or her back while running. Naturally, smaller wheels will work for dwarf hamsters, but you will need at least a 6 ½ inch (16 cm) wheel for Syrian hamsters.
Hamsters tend to run in the evenings or at night. If you’re trying to sleep near your hamster and the wheel makes a lot of noise, you’re going to have a long night (unless you’re a heavy sleeper!).
There is much disagreement, at least on the Internet, about which exercise wheels are quiet and which ones make noise. Checking out the wheels in the pet store doesn’t really tell the story.
Before you buy a wheel, please read the reviews from owners on the major pet sites. Then use these as a guide to your purchase.
Typical methods for quieting exercise wheels include:
- Putting vegetable oil (never real oil) on squeaky parts
- Using duct tape to tighten the attachment between wheel parts
- Making sure the base of the freestanding exercise wheel is sitting solidly and evenly on the cage floor
When using exercise balls:
- Only keep them in the ball for about 15 or 20 minutes as your hamster can get overheated.
- Never use an exercise ball around stairs.
Hamsters need chew toys to help maintain their teeth. And hamsters need play toys to have fun!
Hamster Chew Toys
Hamsters are born with a full set of teeth – and they never stop growing. A hamster must chew and gnaw so his or her teeth do not get overgrown. Overgrown teeth can cause eating and other problems for the hamster.
Some hamsters gnaw on the bars of their cages to grind down their teeth. This can destroy the cage or, if the cage is painted, can cause the hamster problems. Therefore, you should provide your hamster with chew toys.
Chew toys can be:
- Wood sticks or blocks
- Cardboard tubes
- Unflavored hard dog biscuits
There are wooden houses, straw huts, ladders, extension tubes, tracks for exercise balls, and many more items to keep your hamster from getting bored.
Hamster Food Bowls
Your hamster has to eat, so be sure to have a small bowl to put his or her food into.
A ceramic bowl will be heavier than a plastic bowl, which the hamster may knock over or chew on.
Be sure to clean your feeding bowl often because hamsters will sometimes use their bowl for sitting or as a toilet.
With the right hamster cage furnishings including bedding, water bottle, exercise wheel, chew toys, and a food bowl, your hamster will provide you with hours of viewing fun – and stay healthy too!