Which type of habitat should I choose for my hamster?

The hamster’s habitat must be large enough to have various “places”: to hide, to sleep, to stock up, to play, to wash… The dwarf hamsters are smaller, but have as much need exercise than the biggest ones. The space will therefore be identical. It is necessary to plan approximately 60 cm long on the ground at least, in some countries the standards are rather around one meter long. Of course, more the habitat is roomy, better it is! The floors “count” in the surface but are generally less used. It is better to plan a habitat in length rather than in height.

If you have a group of dwarf hamsters, don’t forget to provide at least one extra cage per animal so that in the event of a problem, you can separate them.

There is no “ideal” habitat, each type has its advantages and disadvantages, and each animal will have its preferences.

Avoid colored and “design” cages that attract consumers, but are often not adapted for all animals. Cages with integrated pipes are not suitable for Syrians (they become quickly too big and can get stuck in it) anyway they feel very quickly because the hamsters have tendency to urinate in it. Check the strength of the cage (never underestimate the hamster’s teeth!).

Bar cage for Hamster

These are the most commonly used. Choose a large one (there are models for rats for example) but with tight bars (maximum one centimeter apart, except for young dwarves and Roborovskies where it is necessary to count even less).

The higher the bin is, the better, to put a thick bed of litter and so that they can do their favorite activity: digging. Be careful, if the bin is not high enough, the hamster is likely to send litter everywhere next to the cage. A bar cage is practical in that it allows the hamster to climb and gnaw, that’s why you should take one with horizontal bars. However, the bars are dirty and must be cleaned regularly and especially well dried to prevent them from rusting.

Plastic cage

These cages have an often opaque tray, then an inverted transparent plastic tray, topped with a fence. The main advantage is that these cages retain both the litter and the odors. However, they are not ideal for taming because we are always forced to approach the animal from above. In addition, it will be necessary to provide opportunities for gnawing and climbing because it will not have bars at his disposal.

Natural wooden cages

wooden cages hamster
Wooden cages hamster

Increasingly present on the market, natural wooden cages are a return to nature. Well treated from the beginning, the wood does not let anything filter and the cage remains clean and healthy. These wooden cages, mainly for hamsters, mice and guinea pigs, are very spacious, compared to the cages with traditional bars. They have a removable drawer for easy litter disposal. The roof, wire mesh and removable, allows good air circulation. These cages are delivered in kit form but easy to assemble!

However, some hamsters like to eat wood, and may attack the cage, especially the Syrian hamsters. It is also better to provide plastic “toilets”, or cover the bottom and the top of the toilet. Self-adhesive vinyl paper floors because urine can impregnate the wood. Finally, the biggest problem with these cages is in diseases. An animal that dies of a communicable disease in a wooden cage will “infect” the cage. It will then be necessary to disinfect it completely, which is not easy.

Homemade cage

There are many possibilities to make your own cage, either from an existing wooden piece of furniture or plywood (libraries generally make a very good base). The furniture is interesting when you have several hamsters, and you have to find room for several spacious habitats. We thus superimpose habitats while keeping a harmonious, even decorative whole.

Home made cage hamster
Home made cage hamster

You can also make excellent habitats with a large aquarium or terrarium (be careful though it is well ventilated, you need a terrarium for warm-blooded animals, not reptiles).

Which litter box to choose?

Are not recommended:

Wood shavings are toxic, dusty and poorly absorbent toxic, dusty and poorly absorbent. They release when in contact with the urine of the phenol, which attacks the respiratory tract.

Cat litter (any type): to be avoided, although cozy, animals may swallow granules that swell in the belly, and they can die.

Newsprint, paper: Not very absorbent and toxic because of the ink present.

Are recommended:

Linen: Good bedding, very absorbent, non-toxic.

Hemp: Good bedding, well absorbent, non-toxic.

Corn litter: Quite well adapted, but many animals develop an intolerance to this kind of litter box. To be tested before then.

Natural compressed hay bedding: Good absorption, suitable.

Cotton litter: Very expensive, but very cozy. It greatly reduces odors.

Layout of the hamster cage: what you have to know

The nest

In the wild, the hamster digs tunnels and makes several nests in various places. Some are used as reserves, others to sleep. In its cage, it happens that the hamster also makes several nests. Leave it to his equipment and it will make his nest alone, wherever it wants. It will sometimes move it or to change places to sleep. There is no need to change your organization or to set up the nest yourself, the hamster won’t like it. However, make sure that perishable foods (fresh fruits and vegetables) are not stocked in the nest.

hamster Nest
Hamster Nest

Hamster houses are commercially available. Choose one that is quite spacious, depending on the species of your animal (it is often necessary to buy the rat model for Syrian hamsters). It’ll probably sleep in it, if not; it will use it either as a toilet or as a reserve of seeds.

The hamster rarely changes the organization of his living space, if he uses his house as a toilet; you can take a toilet (corner, for example, triangle models) and put it there, well wash the house and put it where hamster made his nest. If it changes places, it’s because he doesn’t like sleeping there inside, you can simply put it elsewhere in the cage, and it will find a use for it.

As material, you can give toilet paper, paper towels or unscented tissues, which you’ll have torn into strips. Once your hamster understands the utility, you can give him whole and it will do the rest. Some shops also sell paper strips that are very good (but more expensive than a torn handkerchief).

Hay is also regularly used, so choose one with good quality, dry and free of parasites.

The straw is too coarse for the hamster, it is often dusty. It is best to avoid giving fabrics, wool or anything like that.

Be careful, cotton (also called cotton wool or cozy), even special for hamsters, is dangerous! It was noted that many cases of animals whose legs (or even neck!) have been caught in the wires, which tighten and are impossible to loosen or cut. If it is the leg, the blood no longer circulating, it “dies» necrosis. If it’s the neck, the animal dies quickly. This type of material is not allowed.

The toilets

Even if it is not mandatory in the cage, the hamster being a clean animal and always having its own corner If it has any needs, it is therefore easier for you to put a toilet in the place that your hamster has already chosen. This will allow you to change toilets twice a week, and generally be able to change the entire toilet cage less often.

In the toilets, simply put chinchilla sand (also called earth to bathe), which will allow the animal to keep a clean coat, and dig to do his business.

Never put on any other kind of sand, it would strongly irritate the animal, especially the eyes. This can also lead to skin problems.

The wheel

Very useful because it allows the hamster to expend its incredible energy without leaving its cage. In the wild hamster travel kilometers every night, so the wheel allows him to exercise to maintain himself by shape. Despite a two-hour outing every evening, the animal will still have long hours of waking up and it’ll need to run the rest of the night. The so-called hollow wheels (with bars) are not recommended because the hamster could get a leg in it and break it. Therefore, prefer solid wheels.

the hamster wheel
The hamster wheel

Most wheels sold for hamsters are 15 cm in diameter. These wheels are only recommended for dwarf hamsters (and more). A Syrian hamster needs a larger wheel (rat models). In Indeed, in a small wheel, the hamster is curved, which causes serious problems to the spine vertebral. Ideally, a wheel 20 cm in diameter should be chosen for dwarf hamsters, and 28 cm for Syrian hamsters.

Sometimes the animal develops what is called “stereotype”. It runs in his wheel without stop until exhausted and start again every day. It goes aimlessly, out of habit. When the hamster goes too often in his wheel, that it no longer does anything else, it is because he initially tries to compensate for a lack of space. This behavior is repeated until it becomes OCD (Obsessive compulsive disorder). OCD can then get worse if nothing is done, the animal will start to circle constantly as soon as it wakes up, even when it is pulled out from his cage.

If your hamster ignores its wheel, it may be because it doesn’t know, or it doesn’t care about it. Leave it there, maybe it ll change his mind! However, check that it is well adapted.

The pipes

The hoses sold with the hamster cages are suitable for dwarf hamsters. An adult Syrian is at high risk of to get stuck in it when you want to turn around, it’s better to use rat hoses.

Pipes are not essential, and rather difficult to clean. You can also put him in his cage a few empty toilet paper rolls that you will throw away every time you change the cage. Easy and economic! Wooden “half pipes” (sometimes called tunnels) are also sold. The animal will have the impression that to have a gallery, but we keep the litter underneath and so it stays clean!

Water and food

Nothing mandatory regarding the bowl, you have a lot of choice between the bowls available in pet stores and those you can make homemade with glass jars (which contained by example yogurts) or plastic. Few hamsters leave their food there, most will take everything and put everything in their reserve (s).

For water, some people use a small container, although this is not recommended from my point of view. In Indeed, to keep the water clean, it must be changed several times a day. In addition, the hamster tends to cover food that it can not move, to avoid having it stolen. So there’s a good chance that the water ends up soiled by litter after a few minutes.

It is therefore better to use a bottle. Various models are sold in shops. You should preferably choose a two-ball bottle and place it where the hamster can easily access it. The water must be changed regularly, preferably every 2 or 3 days. Always fill the bottle to the brim the first time, to avoid leaks later. Always test the bottle with your finger, to see if it flows well, if it is not stuck, and if it does not flow too much (it should not taste continuously, if so, empty it and refill it to the rim).

If your hamster can’t drink from a bottle, don’t panic! The hamster has, like all animals, a strong survival instinct and will quickly find the bottle and understand how it works. If you really want to help him, you can slightly swipe your finger under the bottle when the hamster is busy trying to understand how it works. If you put a jar of water “until it finds”, it may not to try to understand. Give him two days; I’ve never seen a rodent that didn’t understand the use of a bottle.

Other accessories

– A salt licking stone: If the seed mixture is good, it will not be needed. These are the following rather than an additional supply of minerals, which the animal will lick from time to time if necessary.

Some hamsters will tend to attack it and shred it into small pieces, without really swallowing it.

– Wooden toys: These can be branches or larger objects made of natural wood. The advantage is that the animal can climb and gnaw; it is part of its natural habitat. There are many models in pets market. If you remove the branches yourself, choose deciduous trees, and pass them on the oven to disinfect them.

– Various games: many games are sold in shops, made of wood or plastic. These games will have more of their own place in the park during outings only in the cage, which should not be filled with things. Indeed, the hamster likes to run a lot, it is better to leave it on the ground.

– Hammocks and fabric games: Some hamsters will attack the fabric right away and the hammock will not hold. For two hours, others will love having hiding places high up. Test it once and see if your hamster likes it or not.

The exits: The playground.

First, it is better to take your pet out to a secure park to keep an eye on it and continue his taming. We sell parks for small rodents, but they are often only suitable for dwarf hamsters. Larger parks (ferrets, rabbits) have bars too far apart for a Syrian hamster.

The playground of hamster
The playground of hamster

The ideal is to build your own park. This can be done with Plexiglas panels, or with plastic, which we will attach together. It is not necessary to put a bottom, unless it is placed on a cold tiling.

What to put in the park?

As he has to take care of himself, it needs a lot to explore, dig, and climb. You can put various items in it; games, higher bins filled with litter or coconut earth for them to dig, tunnels, hiding places.

A container with earth in a bath can be added to clean it. Empty cardboard boxes will make its happiness.

Avoid: objects of a sharp nature, toxic materials (example: do not attach two boxes with sticky paper) containers filled with water (risk of drowning), etc.

When you have space and time, the best outings are obviously those in the wild. Choose a part which can be completely closed (no holes in the walls or under the doors). Place out of him all potential hazards: electrical wires, toxic plants, heat sources (hot radiators), be careful with water (dog or cat bowl). Check that there is no place where it could get stuck (enter a crate and no longer being able to leave, choking hazards).

Keep an eye on the hamster regularly to avoid losing it, or having it hurt itself somewhere.

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