Types of Hamster Cages

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A suitable hamster cage is one that meets the size requirement according to your country or the standard worldwide size. While there are not many options when it comes to a suitable hamster home, there’s always the DIY (do-it-yourself) option.

If you live in other countries outside North America and Europe, you might find it harder to buy a hamster cage that meets the standard size requirement. In this case, you will have to go with the DIY route.

It’s not all bad though. Doing it this way will allow you to do experiments and showcase your creative side. You can set up different themes for your hamster cage and even create fun toys for them.

In this article, I will first discuss the different types of hamster cages. Later, I will show you how can you decide which kind of cage is suitable for your pet hamster depending on its species. I will also list my recommended hamster enclosure that you can buy online.

MUST-READ: Is my hamster’s cage too small

TYPES OF HAMSTER CAGES

Learn about different kinds of enclosures for hamsters. See what are the pros and cons of each type of cage.

Store-bought

This type of hamster cage is the one you can buy from pet stores. Don’t confuse a store-bought cage with a critter cage. Critter cages are those tiny colour, plastic, low-quality cage – usually made by Trixie or Kaytee.

The store-bought hamster cage is bigger, wider, deeper, and has so much more space for your hamster to run around, play, burrow, and have a fun life. Most ready-to-use hamster enclosures are 450-square-inch in size. This is good for a Dwarf hamster but might be small for a Syrian hamster.

Don’t confuse a store-bought cage or ready-to-use cage with a critter cage. Critter cages are tiny, low-quality pages that are not suitable for hamsters. Prevue 528 is the ready-to-use hamster cage we love.

Read our compilation of Dwarf hamster cages and enclosures for Syrian hamsters

3 hamster cages, one that is super tiny, and two that are big and spacious - Types of Hamster Cages

Glass Tank

I’ve said many times on this site, that a glass tank as a hamster cage is the best choice. Not only it’s easier to clean but most importantly, it removes the possibility of bar chewing and escaping through chewing the cage possibilities.

Using a glass cage prevents you from buying a new cage in case your hamster starts chewing the cage or the metal bars. Check out our list of the best glass tanks you can buy or get for your hamster.

But of course, the negative side of a glass tank is the price. It is the most expensive hamster cage option. Our favourite glass tank for hamsters is the 55-gallon Tetra aquarium, if you have a Dwarf or Chinese hamster, a 40-gallon tank might work too.

DIY Bin Cage

A DIY bin cage is the most affordable choice for a hamster’s cage. A bin cage is basically a plastic storage box turned into a hamster cage. You should be able to buy these from IKEA, DIY stores, storage shops, any massive stores (Walmart, Target), and even online.

You will have to cut the top lid to create ventilation and cover it with a mesh wire. Some people cut the side part of the box and attach mesh wire. But if it’s too low, your hamster might chew on it. To add more ventilation, you may cut the top side part instead.

Choose a box that is clear in colour and has no bumps or weird uneven sides. Having such corners or bumps can be a start point for your hamster to chew on when bored.

Wood Cage

Are wooden cages good for hamsters? A wood cage is undeniably the cutest, most natural, and most elegant cage for a hamster. Because of its natural wood design, it’s a great way to provide a natural themed cage for your pet hamster. However, if you get one that doesn’t have plastic layering, the wood might absorb moisture and liquid and make the cage smells or grow bacteria.

You also can’t fully wash a wooden cage and only clean it using wipes. One final thing, can hamsters chew through wooden cages? Yes, they can definitely chew through the wood. I’m not saying it’s not an ideal type of hamster cage. Our recommended hamster cage that is made of wood is a niteangel cage.

hamster cage made of glass bookcase (lying down) and one made of plastic storage box - Types of Hamster Cages

Bookshelf

A bookshelf is one of the best types of hamster cages. You can choose between a glass bookcase or a wooden one. Since bookshelves are taller, laying them down means your hamster will get along and spacious cage.

Hamsters are not climbers, they are borrowers. This is why you don’t need a multi-layer cage. Instead, you want to provide deep and long/wide cages.

If you already have an extra bookcase you want to DIY into a hamster cage, measure it and see if it meets the standard size. If not, the popular choices you can buy are from IKEA (Detolf or Billy bookcase) or you can check our list of the best bookcase for hamster cages.

Obviously, it doesn’t have a top cover. This means you will need to add a mesh wire or if it has a door, you will need to remove that and replace it with a mesh wire for ventilation.

DIY Plastic Yard

One last choice for a hamster’s cage is a DIY plastic yard. A plastic yard is normally used as a playpen for other rodents, puppies, cats, and even young children.

What I love about it is how it comes in pieces. This means you can buy as many as you want and have the liberty to create a massive and spacious cage for your hamster with a good depth for burrowing. You don’t have to browse multiple cages and compare the sizes.

These are put together using connectors and a mallet (included). There are three concerns here though. There is no flooring, so you will need to spend some time to find a suitable one that will be good enough to hold up bedding (and maybe removable so you can clean it).

Another challenge is the spaces between the panels, there’s a tiny space that could cause the bedding to come out or your hamster to chew through. You can close the gaps with edible hot glue but that would mean you cannot disassemble the cage.

Finally, due to its low quality plastic, hamsters can easily chew through it and escape. Many hamster owners already complained about how many times their hamsters escape from a cage made of the plastic yard. Bottom line, we don’t recommend this type of hamster cage.

HOW TO CHOOSE THE RIGHT CAGE FOR HAMSTERS

3 different types of hamster cages - ready to use (big one), cage made of glass bookcase, and one made of plastic storage box

When choosing the right types of hamster cages, there are a few things you need to remember. I know many of us to want to save money without comprising our hamster’s needs.

We have a list of our recommended best big hamster cages that features all types. Below is a quick list of things to remember when buying a good hamster cage.

Chew-proof

This is very important. First, it’s obviously impossible to tell if your hamster will develop a chewing problem (it’s pretty easy to simply assume yes).

A female Syrian hamster is a renowned chewer. Regardless of how many chew toys you provide, there’s still a high chance that she will chew the cage and her toys. Female Syrian hamsters are simply high maintenance and hard to please.

In this case, you simply should opt for a glass cage. This is another reason why it’s vital to do your research on hamster species to learn which type is suitable for you – this is a good way to see if you should even get a hamster in the first place.

Moist-proof

If you live in a humid place, a wood cage might not be the best choice. Once your hamster pee on a wood cage or spills water (especially without wax/laminate layering), the wood will absorb the liquid.

If not dried properly, this could lead to bacteria and mould growing on the cage. If you know or can add plastic/laminate layering on the cage, that should solve the problem.

Escape-proof

Hamsters love to escape, there’s no denying that. Even though you provide a big cage, lots of toys, and so much love, a hamster’s wild instinct is unstoppable. Hamsters love to hoard food in the wild, there’s a natural part of them the need to go out and explore more land to find more food.

Domesticated hamsters still have this need. This is why it’s important to make sure that your hamster’s cage is escape-proof. In case your pet is able to escape, make sure there are no areas where they can hide and get lost or if you have a cat or other pets, keep them in a separate room from your hamster.

There are a few ways for a hamster to escape a cage (you will be surprised how they sometimes pulled it off) and there are also a few ways to find a missing hamster.

Ventilation

This is another important thing to remember. Hamsters are covered in fur, meaning, they are supposed to live in cold places. A hamster’s cage has to be well-ventilated so it can tolerate running, playing, and burrowing around the cage.

If you buy a store-bought hamster cage, the walls are made of metal bars, which is great at providing ventilation. But if you use a glass tank, wood cage, or bin cage, you will have to provide the best ventilation you can.

Most people will simply use mesh at the top cover and add holes on the top side if possible. There are other ways to keep a hamster’s cage cool during summer such as using AC in the room, placing the cage in a shaded area near the window, or even putting the hamster hideout and sleeping den inside the fridge to cool it off.

Price

Many of us of course want to find an enclosure that is affordable without comprising the quality of life of our pet hamster.

Plastic storage for a bin cage is about $30, a store-bought hamster house starts at about $80, while a glass or reptile tank can run for a minimum of $200 and up to $500.

Knowing the initial cost of raising a pet hamster is important. Because the hamster cost itself is as cheap as $20, some people thought it will be an affordable pet to keep.

Easy Cleaning

Although hamsters love to keep themselves clean, it’s still required for you to do daily spot cleaning and a once every 6 weeks deep cleaning of the cage. This will ensure that the cage is not growing any bacteria and also provide fresh and clean bedding for your hamster.

But remember not to do deep cleaning more often than once in five or six weeks as this can irritate and cause stress to your hamster. You can read our guide on how to safely clean a hamster’s cage. We also have a printable task planner that will help you keep track of to-do tasks with your hamster.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Unfortunately, there is no perfect or near-perfect hamster enclosure available to be bought and ready to use right away. All types of hamster cages will require you to spend some time and assemble or make it a livable and safe space for your pet.

Niteangel’s cage is one of the best choices there, however, it is made of wood. It has a PVC tray though that catches any liquid and also a nice clear front and side, which gives you a good view of your hamster.

I hope that you found this list of types of hamster cages and I helped you understand how to choose a suitable one. If you know a hamster’s enclosure that is near perfect, please let us know in the comment area below.

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Different kinds of hamster cages include wire cages with solid bases, glass terrariums, plastic modular habitats, and DIY bin cages. Each type varies in ventilation, ease of cleaning, and enrichment opportunities. Choose based on your hamster's needs. via @thehamstercareblog

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