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:
- Wire cages are great in that they allow your hamster plenty of ventilation
- The wire gaps create fun platforms for climbing
- They are low cost and relatively durable
- Most come with a detachable tray so are easy to keep clean
Cons of wire hamster cages:
- Be warned, the wires can be dangerous for little paws if they get caught and are not suitable for smaller breeds such as Chinese, Campbell Russian, Winter White or Roborovski as they may be able to escape
- They can feel drafty for hamsters in the wintertime
- Little children like to poke their fingers through the wires
- These cages are not particularly deep so if you have a hamster who likes to burrow it can get mess
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
I like this hamster cage as it is not only spacious compared to most on the market, but it already comes prefilled with toys and accessories to keep your hamster entertained and comfortable. Admittedly this cage is more expensive than a lot of others, but it is also bigger, so would be perfect for a Syrian, whilst still keeping a dwarf hamster well contained. The only negative is the assembly/reassembly every time your hamster needs cleaning out – but it’s a small price to pay for an otherwise almost perfect wire hamster cage.
2. Prevue Pet Products Hamster Haven
On the opposite side of the budget scale is the Prevue Hamster Haven cage. Available in a variety of colors and with ramps, hideaway domes and an exercise wheel included, you have everything you could possibly need. I would, however, recommend swapping the wheel for a bigger, better quality one as your hamster grows. For more information on how big should a hamster wheel be, check out this blog.
3. GNB Pet Hamster Cage
The ultimate soft play arena for hamsters, this cage is one big adventure park. Super spacious it manages to house a multitude of tunnels and tubes inside which you can affix in any way you like. I like to change Oscar’s setup within his cage regularly to stop him getting bored and with the GNB Pet hamster you can easily do this. Depending on the age of your hamster, you can also remove some of the tubes in order to make it easier for them to move around.
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:
- These cages are very easy to clean. Simply tip them up and off you go
- Even the best escape artist will struggle to manoeuvre themselves out of a glass hamster tank. These tanks are incredibly deep and with smooth sides, making it virtually impossible for your hamster to climb out of
- You can place your hamster in your room and relax without hearing the constant sounds of gnawing. Although without bars to chew, it is important that you provide plenty of other toys and obstacles for your hamster to grind their teeth on
- Perfect for burrowing, fill them with deep substrate and watch them make tunnels against the glass
Cons of glass hamster cages:
- As these tanks are made of solid glass, they are often heavy to lift – making cleaning out a challenge for little children
- Due to the depth of a glass hamster cage, you will need plenty of room to store them
- Glass is more expensive than plastic, so these cages are not a cheap option
- You will need plenty of toys and obstacles as, without bars, there are no opportunities for your hamster to climb
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
This chew-proof wire cage topper is perfect for those who have an unused glass tank they want to convert into a hamster cage. The Kaytee is great as it provides adequate ventilation whilst still ensuring your hamster is kept well contained. It also enables you hamster to utilize its climbing skills, with shelves and safety ramps included. Although it does have an opening hatch at the top, reaching down low to safely lift your hamster out can prove tricky (unless you are double-jointed!).
2. Little Friends Mayfair Cage
This cage is great for all small rodents in that the glass bottom encourages hamsters to burrow, whilst the additional wire top not only provides a nice breeze but a place to play. It really is the best of both worlds and comes with a house, bowl and wheel included. Although this cage is incredibly durable it is heavy, so take care when lifting it.
3. Aqueon Tank
This 40 gallon fish tank can be converted into a great hamster cage, providing you place a wire mesh lid or tank topper on the top for security and ventilation. This simple design makes it perfect for watching your hamster play, burrow or rest and although it is easy to clean out, it will require more than one person in order to carry it. This tank is one level, however, so you will need other toys for your hamster to play with so that it does not get bored.
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:
- These cages look fun and often come in a variety of colours
- Modular cages are great for keeping hamsters fit. By moving their food into different compartments encourages your hamster to explore
- Designed for entertainment, they often come with built in accessories such as wheels and ladders
- Easy to expand, these cages can grow alongside your hamster making them a budget-friendly choice
Cons of modular hamster cages:
- All the interconnecting tunnels can be a challenge to take apart and put back together every time they need a clean
- If your hamster is heading into old age, then they may not want to wander through 10 tubes just to get their food
- If you have a small house or room in which to keep your hamster, then a modular cage is probably not the most practical
- If you have small children who like to handle your hamster regularly then these types of cages can be challenging to get your hamster out of
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
This was the very first cage we bought Oscar and to be honest, having got him home from the pet store even as a baby, we knew this was a non-starter. Too small for a Syrian hamster, this cage is fantastic for dwarf hamsters who are being kept singularly. Thanks to its rotating front it is easy to access and clean, and your furry friend will have hours of fun each day in the individual compartments. There is also the opportunity to attach additional tubes or even a second cage.
2. Ware Critter Universe – The Great Wall
This is the ultimate modular hamster cage that hangs on your wall! We particularly love the space saving design of this cage with its easy to clean slide out trays. It has so many compartments with ramps, wheels and climb through holes that your hamster, no matter how energetic, will never get bored. It is also compatible with other connecting systems so you can continue to expand it as your hamster grows.
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:
- Cheap to make compared to shop-bought hamster cages
- Bin cages can prevent little fingers from poking through
- They can retain bedding inside the cage so that there is less mess outside
- Bin cages are easy to cleanout
- As they generally have ventilation at the top, they are less drafty in winter
- They are great for hamsters who like to burrow
- You can be as creative as you like when building it
Cons of hamster bin cages:
- You do need plenty of space in order to store or stack your bin cages
- The correct equipment is advisable before building – marker pen, box cutter or jigsaw, power drill, wire cutters, cable ties, sandpaper and mesh
- Must be made of plastic as other materials could be toxic or easy to chew through
- Watch out for cracks or small holes as hamsters have been known to use these as escape routes
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.