Despite their size, hamsters do need a good list of basic hamster supplies that you should have ready before you bring your hamster home or as soon as you can to assure that your hamster can adjust to their new house more comfortable.
Imagine yourself moving to a new apartment or house, you definitely need a bed, fridge, couch, closet, etc. on the day of moving or at least a week after, without these, you simply can’t settle and constantly be annoyed not having the basic needs around.
It’s the same for hamsters, they need a proper cage, clean bedding, dens, sand, and other necessities. I remember being a new hamster mum who didn’t do my research, my hamster was restless, seemed distant to me, and took a while for her to warm up to my presence.
Don’t do the same mistake, but to not overwhelm you, let me walk you through what are the basic but essential hamster supplies that you need from day 1.
- Guide on how to take care of your hamster if you’re a beginner
- How to tame a hamster
- Facebook support groups for hamster owners
- Species of hamsters
- Interesting facts about hamsters
- How big should a hamster cage be
- Hamster cage ideas
HAMSTER NEEDS CHECKLIST
Before we start, our no-spam newsletter subscribers can enjoy a FREE hamster needs checklist which you can also print, it also comes with a crash course on hamster care. Download your checklist from here or use the form below:
WHAT DO HAMSTERS NEED: BASIC HAMSTER SUPPLIES AND ACCESSORIES
This is your one-stop list for everything a hamster needs. Apart from choosing a proper cage, if you don’t know what to put in a hamster’s cage, this article will help you. Here is a list of the basic hamster supplies and essentials we recommend you to have before your hamster comes home.
A cage is the number one necessity, it has to be clean, comfortable, large, and meet the right floor size. This can either be made of plastic, glass or even wood. The cage should also be kept clean for the safety of the hamster. Here’s how to choose the best big hamster cage or check this cool and inspiring list of hamster cages from Reddit.
- Dwarf/Chinese Hamsters: 100x50x50 cm (39×19.6×19.6 in)
- Male Syrian Hamsters: 100x60x60 cm (39×23.6×23.6 in)
- Female Syrian Hamsters: 120x70x70 cm (47×27.5×27.5 in)
Getting a critter trail or small cage is one of the biggest mistakes that a new and inexperienced hamster owner makes. Avoid these bad cages at all costs and check different types of hamster cages and how to set up a cage.
Depending on your hamster’s species, you will have to choose the right cage. We have a compilation of cages for Dwarf hamsters and the best cages for Syrian hamsters. Do you know that 450 square-inch cage is the minimum hamster cage size requirement? Although it might be too small for a Syrian hamster.
One of the things that many first-time hamster owners fail to do is choose the right and safe bedding. There are many options out there, but not all of them are safe. The bedding should also be changed often but in the right way.
You can either choose between bedding paper, toilet paper, wood shaving, or others. Keep away from Pine and Cedarwood shaving, sawdust, newspaper, fabric, and cat litter. Check this list of the best hamster bedding.
Water Bottle/Water Bowl
Often, water bottles come with the cage you will buy. If not, you can easily buy this everywhere. While it’s rare, not all hamsters like to drink from a bottle, if that’s the case, your hamster can use a tiny bowl instead. You have to replace the bottle or bowl every other day to keep the water fresh and clean.
ALSO READ: Read this guide on the best hamster water bowl and bottle
A healthy diet for a hamster is not composed of sunflower seeds only. Although they love these so much, they have to eat a wider type of food to achieve a healthy diet and for this – they depend on you.
Hamsters need a lot of protein and vegetables. While they can benefit from fruits, not all of them must be given to your hamster since most of the fruits are high in acid.
One of the easiest meals you can prepare is a boiled egg, boiled vegetables, and unseasoned meat. While you can easily buy seeds and lab blocks that contain a lot of nutrients.
Food Bowl/Food Dispenser
Just like for a water bottle, you can either opt for a food bowl or food dispenser depending on which your hamster prefers. You should give your hamster a few days to get used to both and see which one is preferred.
We don’t recommend you leave your hamster alone for more than two days. However, if it’s the case, a food dispenser works best to make sure that your hamster has enough food while you’re away. Other people would use a timed food dispenser.
Hamsters love to hide, that’s no secret. Not because they are shy, but mostly because they feel safe in the dark. Dens serve as sleeping rooms for them, but it also works as a hiding place to keep their hoarded food. This is definitely one of the hamster essentials.
It’s suggested to place at least two dens in the cage of a hamster. Both should have enough space for them to sleep, make a sleeping nest, hide their food, and get out of it as often as they want to.
These areas are also what you should always keep clean but don’t clean too much or too often as it can cause stress when a hamster feels like it’s not the “room” they used to sleep in and hide their food anymore. Best to only to spot cleaning.
CHECK OUT: Best hamster dens and hideouts
A sandbox is a place where your hamster will do their bathroom business; they clean their fur, pee, and poo here. Although not all hamster does this, some would poo and pee everywhere (in the tubes or slide or dens). But you can be sure that they will clean their fur on the sandbox.
All you need to do is get a solid container (without holes on the bottom) and fill it with the hamster sand that you can buy in the pet shops. It would be best if you replaced the sand once it’s too moist (sand is becoming too firm and wet).
Next is to choose the right sand, we don’t recommend sand baths that have a strong smell. We understand that it helps to keep the cage smelling decent, but sand with so much scent can irritate and stress a hamster.
Hamsters would also kick their sand out when they try to bury their pee and poos. Simply scoop the sand if you can’t or replenish the container with new sand.
Remember that you can’t just pick up sand outside and use them. The sand has to be clean. Hence, it’s best and advisable to buy it at the pet shops. If you use sand for a terrarium, make sure to use one that is calcium-free.
Running Wheel/Flying Saucer
Why is this one of the basic toys for hamsters’ needs? Hamsters are very active animals, they can run for 21 kilometres a day (13 miles), or for 3-7 hours of continuous running. Placing an exercise wheel or running wheel is very essential for the health of your hamsters.
You can choose to either have a plastic wheel or a wooden wheel. There is also one called “silent wheel” if you are planning to have your hamster’s cage inside your bedroom.
It is essential not to get a wheel that has mesh or wire on its ground as this will hurt your hamster’s feet and can cause bad injuries. It is also necessary to get the right size for your hamster’s species. Read this list of the best large hamster wheels.
While a flying sauce is a good additional toy, it doesn’t replace the running wheel.
Do you know that hamsters’ teeth grow as long as they’re alive? This is why hamsters need to have a chew toy or something to chew on. Choosing the right and safe chew toy is very important.
It has to be edible, safe to swallow, and made of food-grade materials or ingredients. These chew toys will help to keep the length of your hamster’s teeth in a healthy state. It also helps to clean their cute teeth.
Remember those healthy hamster teeth are yellowish to almost orange in colour. So, don’t panic (like my nephew when he sees my hamster’s very yellow teeth!), if it’s not white.
OTHER TOYS AND HAMSTER SUPPLIES
Now that you already know the basic needs of a hamster, let’s talk about some extra hamster toys and supplies that can also be beneficial to your hamster. For specific toys depending on your hamster’s species, check out our list of toys for Dwarf hamsters and fun toys for Syrian hamsters.
Solid Stairs and Slide
If you are planning to get a multi-level hamster cage or create a platform inside the enclosure, you should look into getting or making safe stairs and slides.
When choosing one, remember that the spaces between the steps on the stairs shouldn’t be too big, and the height of it shouldn’t be too tall to avoid injury when the hamster falls. The stairs should be solid and not mesh/wire like the photo above.
The slides and the stairs must not have sharp objects, if it’s made of plastic or wood, check for anything that is sticking out that can cause splinters. Check out our list of hamsters’ best climbing toys. Use hamster-safe moss to fill the gaps and avoid getting your hamster’s leg stuck.
Tunnels and Tubes
As I mentioned before, hamsters do love to hide and put themselves in narrow spaces, they feel safer in these kinds of areas. You can either make your own tunnels or buy one.
Depending on the size of your hamster, make sure to get the right one. I once bought the smallest size of the tunnel for my Hybrid, she didn’t get stuck in it but often has a hard time getting out. I bought a bigger size the next day.
What I recommend is to use the toilet rolls instead. They are made of paper, which means they are safe to be chewed by your hamsters. When they pee on it, you can easily throw it away without the need always to clean it. Because hamsters love to pee in the tubes. Read our guide on the best large hamster tunnel.
Even if you meet the floor size requirement for a hamster cage, a hamster will try to escape because of boredom. In this case, you can either expand your hamster’s cage or get a playpen where they can spend some time outside their house.
Many hamster owners would recommend you get a playpen that looks like a fence with an open top. However, hamsters are great climbers, if you don’t keep an eye on them, they can easily escape.
If you are planning to put your hamster in the playpen while cleaning its main cage, we recommend you get a rat cage with very narrow bars. It doesn’t have to be massive, just enough space to run around and play with toys or chew on something. Taking them out for a change of scenery does keep your hamster happy.
Vet Carrier / Vet Cage / Transport Cage
When you pick up your hamster from a shop, they are often placed in a box (imagine a happy meal box but thicker and sturdier). We recommend you get a vet carrier instead since you will be most likely to use it again.
It’s also called Vet Cage or Transport Cage. It’s small enough to be able to travel with your hamsters on a car or public transportation but big enough for them to sleep and move around. It has to be comfortable, clean and safe.
Imagine a car being on a bumpy road, you want a soft cushion for your hamster to feel safe and avoid any injuries. It should have enough open space to keep the air flowing but not too big to prevent them from escaping.
This cage is not only for when picking up your hamster, inevitably, at some point, but you will also have to bring your hamster to the vet or drive them to your family or friend’s house to be looked after while you’re out of town. So, getting one is no brainer.
REMEMBER: These Vet Carriers should only be used when transporting, these carriers are not fit as permanent house cages for a hamster.
Hamster’s nails grow forever which means it needs maintenance and trimming. The easiest way is to bring your hamster to the vet to cut their nails once in six weeks or when needed. But that can be costly.
The other and best way is to place rocks inside a hamster’s cage which will help trim the nails.
You can also learn how to cut the nails yourself but you need a vet to show you how to properly do it, especially since hamsters are impossible to have sat still for more than a second.
FINAL THOUGHTS ON HAMSTER ESSENTIALS
I understand that having a hamster is not cheap, they might be tiny, but their supplies and needs are as much as a regular-sized pet.
I highly recommend you consider if you can afford to give friendly housing, attention, and have the means to buy all the basic hamster supplies and needs and toys plus an emergency vet fund before committing to getting a hamster.
If you have more ideas to add to this list, questions, or concerns, let us know in the comment section below.