Hamsters are popular tiny domesticated pets. Many of us have probably seen on TV or read a book showing a hamster living inside these tiny, colourful, and fun-looking cages and assume those are suitable hamster homes.
It can’t be farther from the truth. Hamsters might be small, but they need more space to live a healthy life. In this article, I will answer the famous question, “is my hamster cage too small?”.
ALSO READ: Our compilation of articles for first-time owners
WHY DO HAMSTERS NEED A BIG CAGE
In the wild, hamsters can easily spend only 4 hours running, covering early 21 miles in one go. The need for hamsters to run around is not lost on domesticated ones. This means housing them in a small cage goes against their natural needs.
Hamsters are naturally super energised and hyper animals. They eat a lot because, in their natural instinct, they need to have all these energies for the next day to find food.
Hamsters are prey animals in the wild, and they only go out at night to find seeds, fruits, and worms on the ground to avoid predators. Hamsters also need to move quickly for safety reasons.
Domesticated hamsters still carry this instinct. Hamsters will still eat a lot in preparation for the next day’s (or night rather) adventures. If a hamster is living in a small cage, there won’t be enough space to run, burrow, and burn the extra energy.
You will also not have the space to add toys like a running wheel, tunnels, and climbing platforms that help your hamster stay active. Take a look at our list of fun hamster toys to have more ideas or check out this Dwarf hamster toy list and toys for Syrian hamsters.
SMALL CAGE IMPACT ON A HAMSTER
When a hamster has all these energies inside them but has no place or means to release them, this can cause many health problems. You can also read our article about how big should a hamster cage be to understand more about cage sizes and its importance.
Obesity is the number one effect of a lack of space for your hamster to be moving around. Hamsters will eat a lot, and there’s no way of stopping them. It’s natural instinct (and yes, trying to control their food intake will only make things worse).
All these extra calories and energy not being able to be burned will quickly turn your hamster into an unhealthy weight which can lead to pain in their knees, feet, back, and general mobility. READ >> how to help your hamster lose weight safely
Have you ever felt so energised and restless that you couldn’t think of anything to make yourself calm down? This type of energy can lead to hamsters developing stress and anxiety.
When a hamster cannot unload this extra energy, it can lead to frustration. Then your hamster will find a way to release the stress.
Here comes the popular behavioural issue in hamsters called bar biting. A stressed and anxious hamster will start biting the bar of its cage, chewing the toys, chewing a hole through the cage, and a lot more.
Bar biting is like leg tapping and knuckles cracking in terms of humans experiencing stress and anxiety.
A hamster biting cage can cause injury to the bridge of its nose and it can swallow toxic paint from the metal bars. Of course, a hamster chewing through the cage means it can make a hole big enough to escape.
In general, hamsters already have naturally aggressive behaviour as a defence mechanism against anything alien to them. But living in a small cage, and being unsatisfied can also lead to an extra aggressive hamster.
This includes attacking when you approach the cage and biting you. Learn why hamsters bite and how to stop it.
When a hamster is still kept in a small cage, after developing stress and anxiety, the next step would be depression. This is when a hamster barely gets out of its sleeping hideout, doesn’t play with its toys or run on the wheel, and doesn’t interact with you or show aggression when you are around.
This could lead to a hamster developing other health issues such as obesity or malnourishment, infection, wet tail, and more.
HAMSTER CAGE SIZE CHART FOR ALL SPECIES
|these are the minimum sizes||Worldwide||US/CA/South America/UK/EU||Germany|
|Chinese hamster||100x50x50 cm (4000 cm2) or 39x20x20 in (450 square inches)||100x50x50 cm (4000 cm2) or 39x20x20 in (450 square inches) / 40 gal||100×100 cm or 39×39 in|
|100x50x50 cm (4000 cm2) or 39x20x20 in (450 square inches)||10x50x50 cm (4000 cm2) or 39x20x20 in (450 square inches) / 40 gal||100×100 cm or 39×39 in|
|120x70x70 cm (39x27x27 in)||110x70x70 cm (47x27x27 in) / 50 gal||200×200 cm or 79×79 in|
|Syrian hamster (male)||100x60x60 cm (39x24x24 in) (620 square inches)||10x60x6o cm (39x24x24 in) / 50 gal (620 square inches)||200×200 cm or 79×79 in|
IS MY HAMSTER CAGE TOO SMALL
If your current cage for your hamster or the one you plan to buy does not meet the minimum size requirement above, it is too small for any species of hamster. Housing a hamster in a tiny cage can lead not only to mental and behavioural issues but also physical.
Choosing or getting a small cage for your hamster is a very common mistake new owners make. It doesn’t make you a bad owner as long as you are dedicated to making your pet’s life better but upgrading the cage size and providing proper care to name a few.
RELATED POST: 15 basic hamster items to prepare
We have a lot of resources for you such as a list of recommended cages for hamsters, how to clean a hamster cage, and we also have a very affordable hamster care book that covers not only the beginner’s steps in hamster ownership but also how to make their life much happier and healthier.
HAMSTER CAGES FOR DIFFERENT SPECIES
450 square-inch hamster cage is the minimum cage size requirement. Although this is good enough for a Dwarf hamster, it’s a little too small for a Syrian hamster. Each country also has different policies when it comes to cage size. We have a list of best cages for Dwarf hamsters and suitable enclosures for Syrian hamsters.
Even as a human, living in small quarters can take a toll on our mental and physical health. We should be able to feel sympathy when another living species like a hamster get trapped in such a tiny space.
To ensure that your pet will have a healthy and happy life with you, it’s vital to provide them with a living space that is suitable and allows them to live their best life.
Apart from providing a spacious cage for your hamster, you should also schedule a 10-minute playpen time (out of the cage) to give your pet a change of scenery daily. It’s like the “taking your hamster for a walk” idea.
I hope that I was able to give you an answer to the “is my hamster cage too small” question. If there’s anything I missed to discuss, leave us a comment below.