A buyers guide to the best hamster cages
You want to find the perfect cage for your furry friend, but how do you know which cage will suit your hamster best? A cage not only offers your hamster a place to rest and play but somewhere they can feel safe and protected.
There are so many different types of hamster cages on the market. From wire cages to modular habitats, glass tanks and plastic DIY bins, finding your hamster a forever home can be stressful. Here I explain the pros and cons of the best types of hamster cage.
Ideally, you want to ensure that the cage you select is right for them today, tomorrow and for the next few years, and you don’t want the upheaval of settling them into a new environment each time they outgrow their current dwellings. For this reason, I would recommend getting the largest cage feasible for your circumstances, to give your hamster plenty of space to grow, explore and burrow.
What to consider when choosing a hamster cage
Before you go out and select a hamster cage there are a number of factors that you should consider first. Such as:
- What breed of hamster do you want to get? This will help determine the size of the cage you will eventually need. Dwarf hamsters, although smaller, enjoy the company of others so may still require a larger cage even if they are dinky in size.
- Are you (or your children) likely to find cleaning out your hamster a chore? Just like washing, hoovering etc, cleaning out your hamster is often low down the list of priorities. But regular cage cleaning is essential for a healthy hamster, so the easier you can make it, the easier it is to convince your children to help (in theory – I have yet to see this work in practice)!
- How much space do you have to store a hamsters cage? This will affect not only the size but the design of the cage. There are so many clever designs on the market these days from stackable cages to some that sit side by side and even ones you can DIY and make to measure.
- Who will be accessing the cage? If you have young children, you need to ensure that they don’t spend their entire time poking their fingers through the cage whilst still having easy access to be able to get your hamster out for a play.
- Consider ventilation. Plastic tubes and tunnels can be fun for your hamster to play in but do trap air and moisture making it difficult for them to breathe. We personally found that our hamster enjoyed sleeping in the small plastic tubes which not only creating a lot of mess but causing him to develop pink eye.
- Make sure that the cage is safe. Consider the materials that your cage is made from. Hamsters are great gnawers so can easily chew through thin plastic so make sure they are tough yet non-toxic. And, if you have wires, watch out for the spacing as you don’t want you dwarf hamsters escaping.
The best types of hamster cages
When you think of a hamster cage you probably think of a plastic base with a wire top and sides. And whilst these are undoubtedly the most popular, they are not the only hamster cages on the market. Most hamster cages are made from either plastic, glass or wire (or a combination of these materials) and come with a host of funky (and often pointless) accessories.
In fact, as long as you ensure that your hamster has plenty of space and ventilation you can pretty much use anything for its cage. I have seen disused dolls houses, large chest of drawers and empty fish aquariums all turned into fabulous hamster homes.
Below I will talk you through the pros and cons of each type of cage and where to buy or how to build them.
Wire hamster cages
Conventional wire hamster cages are available at most pet stores and are generally sold as part of a hamster ‘starter kit’. In fact, our very first cage for Oscar was a wire cage, but within a matter of weeks he had outgrown the space.
They come with plastic trays that unclip, whilst the rest of the cage is made up of metal wiring. If you are investing in a wire cage, then make sure you choose one that is made of galvanized steel. This type of metal is corrosive resistant, won’t rust and therefore won’t fall apart if a hamster gnaws on the bars.
Pros of wire hamster cages:
Cons of wire hamster cages:
3 best wire hamster cages to buy
There are hundreds of wire hamster cages on the market, but we have listed our top three in terms of space and cost.
1. Lixit Animal Care Savic Hamster
2. Prevue Pet Products Hamster Haven
3. GNB Pet Hamster Cage
Glass hamster tanks
If you are looking for a deep hamster cage that is easy to clean out, then a glass hamster tank is plenty sizeable. You could even look to recycle an old aquarium, although you will need to ensure that is well ventilated at the top. Although glass cages are good for hamsters, they are not suitable for other small pets such as guinea pigs and even rats as these animals urinate more, creating toxic fumes. You should also only use tanks that are larger than 30 gallons.
Pros of glass hamster cages:
Cons of glass hamster cages:
3 best glass hamster cages
Whether you already have a tank and are looking for a hamster friendly topper, or require the whole glass cage, here are my top three recommendations.
1. Kaytee Tank Topper
2. Little Friends Mayfair Cage
3. Aqueon Tank
Modular hamster cages
A modular hamster cage tends to be made mainly of plastic and has lots of adjoining rooms stacked at the side or on top that are connected by a network of tunnels. There is often the opportunity to start small and customize your hamster’s cage as they grow.
Pros of modular hamster cages:
Cons of modular hamster cages:
2 best modular hamster cages
Colorful and full of character, modular cages are fun and are alluring on the eye. But be careful that you buy a cage that is appropriate for your hamsters’ size, and do not get drawn in by style over substance. Below I have selected my top two modular hamster cages.
1. Habitrail Ovo Home
2. Ware Critter Universe – The Great Wall
Hamster bin cages
Despite the name, bin cages are not made from old garbage holders, but large plastic storage boxes. They are cheaper to make in comparison to the prefabricated ones, can be created to be spacious for when you hamster hits full size and are easily expandable by stacking and connecting other bin cages together. Providing you create enough ventilation, then it is simple enough to build a bin cage yourself.
Pros of hamster bin cages:
Cons of hamster bin cages:
How do you make a hamster bin cage?
I have written a comprehensive step by step guide to building a hamster bin cage. If you are interested in creating your own hamster habitat (just like we did for Oscar), then you will need to make sure you have the correct equipment. Below I list my trusty items.
1. Choose a storage box
Make sure that you select a plastic storage box that has a smooth lid, as the textured ones crack easily. For this reason, we would highly recommend the Sterilite Storage box as it is also the recommended size.
2. Select wire mesh
When choosing which mesh to buy, we would also recommend going for one with small squares (no bigger than 0.5cm apart), so that your contortionist hamster cannot escape.
3. Use cable ties to fix mesh to lid
You will need plenty of cable ties to affix mesh to the lid or side of your cage. I would recommend using as many as possible as hamsters are good at chewing through materials and masters at finding small gaps to squeeze through.
Can a hamster chew through a bin cage?
If you have a good, sturdy home-made bin cage that is made of thick plastic, uses small squared mesh and multiple cable ties then your hamster will be perfectly safe. In fact, bin cages are often more superior than store-bought hamster cages in terms of space, materials and build. Just be careful not to use wood as any part of the structure, as this can be unhygienic if your hamster decides to defecate on it or they may start to chew through it.
Are bin cages good for other pets such as rats and gerbils?
Rats are prone to respiratory problems so for this reason, we would not recommend housing your pet rats in a bin cage as ventilation may be more limited and the toxic fumes from the urine can be overpowering when not cleaned out regularly.
Rats are also much better chewers, thanks to their big front incisors and love to climb, so unless you make additional floors or stackable bin cages, they are likely to get very bored. As long as the inside of the storage box is smooth, bin cages make great homes for gerbils.
Just like hamsters, however, think about where you choose to place the ventilation as they like to gnaw and the tiniest of holes can soon become an escape route.
Selecting the right hamster cage for your pet is almost as important as selecting your new furry friend itself. The habitat option you choose will be the place where your hamster spends most of their time. Therefore, you want it to be safe, secure and fun for them.
Whether you have a single Syrian or a duo of dwarfs, do your research first as there are loads of hamster cages on the market. From cat proof to chew resistant and even multi-floored, you can buy or build the perfect one to suit.