Hamsters are lovely pets – easily one of the cutest animals to have at home. They are tiny, adorable, and fun to watch due to their quirkiness and the colorful personalities they contain within such a small package. If you are thinking of getting one, let us discuss how to build the best possible environment for your hamster.
To ensure we can offer the care hamsters require, we must have the essentials. Some of those must-haves are:
- A cage
- Bedding and nesting materials
- Water and food supply
- A sealed sleeping space
- A gym
We all know hamsters love to play and exercise. It is such a known fact that it is difficult to imagine one without a wheel to run inside of, even if you are not thinking about a new way to power your toaster. They are active little animals with plenty of energy that needs an outlet and a safe one.
Do I Need A Hamster Cage?
Safety is the main reason behind our first essential accessory: a hamster cage. This cage should be large enough, easy to clean, and escape-proof. Any average hamster would give Harry Houdini a run for his money as they are notorious escape artists even if you have managed to create a zoo-level habitat for them. They like challenges and have an enormous sense of adventure despite their minuscule disposition.
We want the cage to be large enough for the hamster to play and exercise, have feeding and drinking space, bedding, and a common area to relieve themselves. Keeping a healthy distance between these areas is paramount to minimize the stress a hamster can feel being in captivity and facilitating the upkeep of the cage.
After all, hamsters are wild animals, and they love to roam in their natural habitats where they can burrow and dig the soil and have all sorts of freedoms that being house pets takes away. This is why it is crucial to create a broad and eventful environment for our hamsters to feel free and entertained while keeping them safe without seeming too restrictive.
Whether you have other pets, kids, a small apartment, or a house with a big yard, we must make sure our hamster stays in the cage unless being purposefully taken out for cleaning the cage or supervised playtime (more on that later). It is very likely that if your hamster gets out of its cage, it will get lost beyond reach at the very least.
More like this: Dwarf Hamster Cages & Homes
What Is A Good Material For Bedding And Nesting?
Now that we have addressed the importance of the cage, we can start adding bedding and nesting materials. Facial tissues and shredded toilet paper are excellent materials for nesting because of how soft, disposable, and accessible they are. Hamsters love a cozy area for napping and winding down. Using other materials such as cotton could be detrimental as it can get wrapped around their limbs and, if eaten, could lead to severe complications. Therefore, if you are looking for something convenient, consider using toilet paper.
Wood chips are also a reliable material to build bedding for your hamster, but we should abstain from using woods like cedar or pine wood as their respective odors are known to irritate the little creatures, and that is the last thing we want to do. On the other hand, aspen wood chips are a great alternative and do not have other chip’s side effects.
Where Should I Keep The Food And Water?
We recommend a food bowl, which is a pretty specific component to have as it is but a plate for the hamster to eat its food from. It allows you to regulate, observe and keep the food away from all the other areas inside the cage. Nothing matters here but the size of it, as you do not want to compromise your hamster’s other regions by having an abnormally large food bowl.
Nevertheless, the water is an entirely different story, and we’ll explain why. You could use a food bowl as a water bowl, even though not in tandem. Having a water bowl can seem like a good idea, but you will notice that it will easily be getting polluted by food, hair, bedding material, and even droppings from your hamster. Depending on how many hamsters you have, you will have to change the water inside the cage several times a day.
For this reason, we believe it would be more convenient to have a water bottle attached to the cage instead of a water bowl. It would be far more sanitary and easy to upkeep. We must make sure that the pipe leading into the cell is not made of plastic, in its entirety, to avoid the hamster gnawing at it and suffering the complications of eating it.
What Toys Or Exercise Equipment Should I Get My Hamster?
Next would be toys for enrichment such as tunnels, wheels, and exercise balls. The wheel is perhaps the most important of these three because hamsters love to run and need exercise. Still, they are primarily nocturnal animals, so that they will be hitting that wheel religiously during the night. Get the biggest and sturdiest wheel possible, and make sure to apply oil to it frequently. Metal rungs are better than smooth plastic wheels, as well.
Exercise balls are similar to the running wheel, but where they differ the most is that it works strictly outdoors. Unlike the balls you’ve seen in the Disney movie G-Force, you place the hamster inside a giant plastic ball where the hamster can run and make the ball move using the motion inside as the engine. These balls are not essential but can help alleviate the isolation they can feel inside their manufactured habitats. Nevertheless, not all hamsters like it, even though they can learn to if given the room and patience to get used to it and enjoy it.
Similar post: Buying & Owning A Hamster
Does My Hamster Need A Sleeping Place?
Ironically, even though we’ve touched base on most of the essential components to a hamster habitat, we haven’t talked about the house within the house. That’s right, after having built an entire habitat filled with food, water, and a gym, we must still give the hamster a roofed house or hide box to sleep in. It does not have to be an architectural marvel, but it must provide the hamster with a sense of privacy and a place to hide. This is when we consider that hamsters love to burrow in the wild, and having a cardboard box comes in handy. Cardboard is economical, but it has to be replaced often. Other alternatives are wood or plastic, but they can both get chewed on, and wood will likely get smelly and permanently soiled over time.
Coconut shells and clay are considered ideal materials for these secluded spaces, but you can go with a plastic squared container, such as one for butter. As long as you make sure the door hole you cut into it has no sharp edges or uneven cuts that can facilitate your hamster gnawing at it, it could be a viable resource for your hamster house.
What Other Items Could I Avoid Getting?
A litter scoop, a sand bath, travel cage, and climbing ladder are all valuable things but are far from essential. You can discard the sand altogether every time you clean the cage. Hamsters are spotless animals, so you shouldn’t worry about hygiene as much as you do about the pen, and with a proper wheel and some tunnels, you can avoid getting a climbing ladder. Gnawing blocks and sticks can also come in handy, but you would be getting them more for your entertainment than you would for them.
Hamsters are cute little creatures. It is quite a sight to watch them play, exercise, or eat things that they appear to be too small to take on. I’ve personally seen them fit an entire nacho chip inside their cheek to a hysterical sight, one I must admit never gets old.
They are docile, loving, and peaceful animals that we can create an entire world for and watch them grow in it. By giving them all the equipment to stay busy and providing ample space to execute every individual activity such as feeding and sleeping, we ensure our hamsters can stay with us the entirety of their natural lives and in our hearts forever.
Shawn Manaher is a serial entrepreneur but when he isn’t working, he loves dogs. He’s owned different pets over the years, and always gives a part of his heart to each pet.