Updated September 2022
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Buying guide for Best hamster cages

When people get a hamster, they often spend a great deal of time observing the animals before handpicking the perfect one. However, people tend to put a bit less thought into choosing a cage. Instead, they pick one that looks cool, or they just get what most closely fits their budget. The right hamster cage will help you give your pet the best, healthiest life possible.

You need a hamster cage that is well ventilated and gives your hamster ample room to move about. It must be escape-proof and safe: there should be no way your hamster can injure itself just by strolling about its home. Additionally, you'll appreciate a cage that is easy to clean because you’ll be doing that frequently.

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Hamsters do not handle extreme temperatures very well. To help your hamster stay healthy, keep the cage out of drafts and direct sunlight.

Key considerations

Types of hamster cages

When you start researching hamster cages, you'll quickly find there are only three basic types: wire, plastic, and aquarium.

Wire: A wire cage is an excellent choice as long as the bars are close enough together to prevent your hamster from escaping. The wire cage is versatile, it offers good ventilation (make sure you keep the cage away from drafts) and it is easy to clean. Additionally, your hamster may derive some fun out of climbing the bars.

On the downside, you need to be sure your hamster doesn’t chew on the bars, which can damage its teeth. Opening and closing the cage may startle your pet, so you’ll have to do that gingerly. With a wire cage, your hamster will be able to toss food and bedding out between the bars.

Plastic: A plastic cage looks colorful and fun to a human, and it’s expandable so you can usually make it as big as you like.

However, there are a number of cons to purchasing a plastic hamster cage. Your hamster will chew anything it can get its mouth on, and a plastic cage offers a lot of undesirable options. You must be careful when using tubes and other attachments because there is usually inadequate ventilation in a plastic cage, and a Syrian hamster (the larger species) can get stuck in the tubes. Plastic cages can be difficult to clean, too.

Aquarium: A glass aquarium is an excellent choice for a dwarf hamster (the smaller species) because it offers no bars for the animal to squeeze through. This type of cage is easy to open and easy to clean. However, it’s important to get a well-fitting mesh top to keep your hamster from escaping. As long as the top allows air to freely pass, ventilation isn’t an issue.

On the downside, this type of cage can be heavy, and any accessories you get will need to be suitable for a glass aquarium.

Hamster cage features

In addition to the type of cage, there are a number of other options you'll need to consider before purchasing a new home for your hamster.

Size: Depending on what country you live in, you may find different standards for acceptable sizes. Hamsters like to move around, especially at night, so, in general, the larger the cage you can afford (that will safely fit in your home) the better. For specific dimensions, as recommended by the National Hamster Council, see the FAQ section.

Safety: There are a number of safety concerns you need to consider when shopping for a hamster cage. The hamster should not be able to escape or even partially escape. There should be no jagged edges that could hurt your hamster or entice chewing. The cage should be designed so the hamster has a minimal chance of falling a great distance whenever it is climbing.

Ventilation: Although we touched upon this briefly above, your hamster needs fresh air. Adequate ventilation is one of the most important things you can do to ensure that your pet has a happy and healthy life.

Accessories: Whether it’s a food dish, water bottle, wheel, climbing toys, or tubes, having a variety of accessories included with the cage is always enticing. However, don't get too caught up in making sure a cage comes with everything you want because people often decide they prefer to customize the cage with handpicked accessories. If the hamster cage is large enough, you’ll be able to add whatever accessories you like.

Maintenance: You’ll be cleaning your hamster's cage often. If it’s difficult to disassemble or has areas that are hard to reach, you may find yourself shirking your cleaning responsibilities, and doing that could be harmful to your hamster. Look for a hamster cage that’s easy to clean. You'll thank yourself later.

Accessibility: If you have large hands and the hamster cage only has a tiny door, you won't easily be able to take your pet out for some TLC time. Look for a cage that allows quick access to your hamster without offering the little guy an escape route.

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Did you know?
Pet hamsters are illegal in Hawaii.

Hamster cage prices

You can spend a little or you can spend a lot on a hamster cage. Whichever you choose, your decision shouldn't be based solely on price; it should be based on what is best for your hamster.

Inexpensive: The cages that cost $15 to $25 may look cute, but many are too small and some might not have adequate ventilation. You may find a cage that is suitable for a dwarf hamster in this price range, and if you do enough searching, you might also find something that is sufficient for a Syrian hamster. Be certain you’re happy with the build quality of the cage before making a final decision.

Mid-range: In the $25 to $50 range, you should be able to find exactly what you need. The majority of these cages are large enough and feature accessories that will help keep your hamster happy and healthy.

Expensive: If you spend $50 to $100 and up, you're typically stepping up from a bungalow to a mansion.

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Syrian hamsters are instinctively territorial. Never place two in the same cage or they’ll fight and possibly injure or kill one another.

Tips for cleaning the hamster cage

Despite your hamster's best efforts to keep things tidy, living in a cage means that things will get dirty fairly quickly. Black mold and fungus can grow on your pet's solid waste, and as a hamster's urine breaks down, it releases ammonia, which is toxic to hamsters. To keep your hamster healthy, you need to clean its cage at least once each week. If you have a Syrian hamster, you might need to clean the cage two or more times every week — let your nose decide. Following is a quick step-by-step guide for cleaning your hamster's cage.

  • Remove the hamster. Carefully take your hamster out of the cage and place it someplace safe while you work.
  • Remove the accessories. Take out anything that is removable, such as toys, food dishes, water bottles, and wheels. Be sure to throw away old food and empty the water bottle.
  • Dump the bedding. If the cage is too big or too unsafe to dump the bedding, you'll have to scoop it out by hand. (Wear gloves — you will be touching animal excrement, so you'll want protection.)
  • Clean the cage and accessories. Using an approved, pet-safe disinfectant, clean and thoroughly dry the cage and all the accessories.
  • Add fresh bedding. Give your hamster a thick layer of bedding to burrow in.
  • Replace all accessories. Return all of your hamster's items: toys, food dish, water dispenser, wheel to the cage. Be sure to add clean food and water.
  • Return the hamster. Put your hamster back in the cage.
  • Wash your hands. Thoroughly wash your hands with soap and warm water.
  • Be diligent. Pay attention to how your hamster's cage looks and smells so you know when it’s time to clean it again.
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Locate the cage on a surface that is high enough to keep your hamster safe from any other pets in your home.


Q. How large does my hamster's cage need to be?
If you’ve ever seen a hamster run endlessly in its wheel, you already know that hamsters like to move. Many experts believe that hamsters can run an average of more than five miles at night. An animal that is active needs room to roam. According to the National Hamster Council, a Syrian hamster should have a minimum of 155 square inches of usable floor space. A dwarf hamster needs roughly 124 square inches of usable floor space. Again, this is the minimum. If you can afford something larger, in most cases that is preferable. However, personalities differ from hamster to hamster, and there are some that may find comfort in a smaller space.

Q. If I get a wire cage, won't my hamster be able to squeeze out?
Your hamster will try to squeeze out of his cage. When he does, he will either find it impossible, he will escape, or he will get stuck. The only option should be that it’s impossible. Therefore, the bars of a cage holding a Syrian hamster should never be more than half an inch apart. If you have a dwarf hamster, the maximum space between the bars should be half of that, which might be very hard to find. If you have a dwarf hamster, the best option is to use a different type of cage.

Q. My hamster isn’t himself today. What could it be?
There are many reasons why your hamster might be lethargic, not eating, or not moving around much. The best thing to do is have him checked out by a vet. However, if the cage is poorly ventilated or dirty, it could be the hamster's own urine that is making him sick, and as soon as he goes back in the cage his symptoms will reappear. It’s important that your pet's cage is well ventilated, doesn't smell, and has safe bedding. The wrong bedding can cause respiratory problems in your hamster.

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Did you know?
The Syrian hamster is the most common type. This species is larger than the dwarf hamster, and it can get stuck in the plastic tubes in some cages.
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