Hamsters are very popular as a pet since they are small, eat a variety of foods, and are relatively easy to care for. The most popular habitat for hamsters is a simple wire cage as it allows owners to see them and provides a safe place for the hamster to stay. But how do you choose the perfect environment for your hamster? Let’s take a look at some options.
Types of Habitats
From simple wire-based cages to plastic megaplexes with mazes and toys, the options for hamster habitats can be overwhelming. Hamsters are part of the rodent family and in the wild, they naturally tunnel and hide, so their habitat needs to include privacy, tunnels, and an ample supply of food. Many of the hamsters you choose as pets are more than likely a domesticated breed, but will still hold onto their “wild” traits, meaning designing a proper habitat is important.
The Perfect Cage
One of the first considerations in selecting a cage is the size. Make sure the hamster has plenty of room to run, hide, play, and nest. Hamsters are extremely active, especially during the evening hours, which is why a large space is a good idea. Keeping that in mind an exercise wheel is a great addition to the cage in order to burn off some of that hamster energy. In addition to the exercise wheel, toys, climbing boxes, small ladders, and other physically active props are valuable. So the cage should be made of strong wire, with a locking door. The hamster will most likely climb on the bars of the cage, so make sure it’s sturdy. A removable floor is also nice so cleaning can be done more quickly.
Setting up the Environment
Hamsters tend to burrow, so it’s important to fill the cage with sawdust or wood shavings that can be easily moved and burrowed into. Cardboard boxes can also be utilized for the hamster to hide, although they will chew through them regularly. Since hamsters love to chew, it’s also a good idea to have gnawing blocks or pieces of softwood as this will satisfy their chewing instincts and also help to file their teeth down. Hamsters are also natural nest builders, so fill the cage with animal appropriate materials. Household items like shredded paper towels and even an old cotton t-shirt can be used for their nesting. Avoid artificial materials and newspapers because of the potential issue with ink, which can be toxic.
Care and Feeding
Put the hamster cage in a quiet and temperature-controlled area. Hamsters can get stressed in high-traffic areas or if the temperature fluctuates too much. Hamsters are omnivores so they eat vegetables and meat. For domestic breeds stick to store-bought hamster food and supplement with fruits and vegetables like carrots, apples, broccoli, and even types of nuts.
Hamsters make wonderful low-maintenance pets when properly cared for. Setting up a stress-free hamster habitat will allow owners to enjoy their pets for many years to come.