How Much Space Does A Hamster Need?

syrian hamster in a spacious cage

Your hamster pal should feel like the king or queen of its castle, not a prisoner in a tiny cell. Many shoebox-sized cages for sale in pet stores are much too small for hamsters. Since hammies don’t run around too much during the day, it can be difficult for owners to know if their hamster’s cage is big enough.

The base of a hamster cage must be at least 24 inches by 12 inches. This is the absolute smallest size for a single hamster; if possible, it should be bigger. The Animal Humane Society recommends providing plenty of ramps and platforms to create different levels to extend the space.

There is a lot of different information about how much space a hamster needs. There is also much more to consider when choosing a comfortable hamster cage than just the floor space, but it is one of the most critical factors.

What Size Cage Should A Hamster Be In?

A hamster confined in a small cage won’t be a happy pet. A 1999 study by Gernot Kuhnen on the effect that cage size had on the health of golden hamsters showed that animals housed in larger cages were less prone to stress and had better resistance to infection.

There is no maximum correct size for a hamster cage. In general, the bigger, the better. Of course, you do want to be able to locate your small pet without having to search, but the very smallest cages must have a base of 24 by 12 inches. A Syrian hamster would benefit from a larger size cage.

The bottom of all hamster cages, whether they are made from wire or glass, must be covered with a thick layer of bedding that will allow your pet to burrow. Although hamsters love to snooze undisturbed during the day, they are very active at night.

Hamsters should be handled regularly to form a strong bond with their owners. Keeping a hamster in a small cage will not make it tamer, and in fact, it may make it more likely to bite.

How Much Space Does A Dwarf Hamster Need?

Teeny tiny hamsters only need teeny tiny cages, right? Actually wrong. Although our little Robos and Winter Whites are small, they are highly energetic and need a spacious environment to stay healthy, stimulated, and happy.

Although dwarf hamster breeds don’t need a cage as big as Syrian hamsters, it must still be the minimum size of 12 x 24 inches. Anything smaller should only be used for transporting your pet to the veterinarian or as a temporary cage while cleaning its main cage.

What Size Cage Does A Teddy Bear Hamster Need?

A teddy bear hamster is a (totally adorable) Syrian hamster with long hair. When shopping for a cage for your teddy bear, be guided by the minimum size requirements for a Syrian. Remember, bigger is always better for hamsters, and you should get the largest cage possible.

Remember that not all extension tubes and tunnels are big enough for larger hammies. If your hamster cage comes equipped with a hamster wheel, it may also be too small to hold a Syrian hamster comfortably.

Is A Fish Tank Okay For A Hamster?

A large fish tank  can be used as a hamster cage, so long as:

  1. It has a base of at least 12 x 24 inches
  2. You use a mesh lid so the tank so there is sufficient ventilation and airflow inside the tank

When converting a fish tank into a hamster cage, one of the most important considerations is ventilation, especially if it is a deep tank. You will need a free-standing hamster wheel, a secure mesh lid, and plenty of chew toys, but so long as the tank is big enough, it can be set up as a hamster cage.

Do Hamsters Like Glass Cages?

Glass cages, or tanks, offer pet owners a clear view of all the hamster activity, and they also tend to smell a little less – from the outside! But while this may sound great, there are some distinct negatives to keeping a hamster in a glass cage.

Let’s make a quick comparison of the pros and cons of glass cages

Pros of A Glass Hamster Cage
Cons of A Glass Cage
Better view of the petPoor ventilation
Less messy as bedding stay containedCan get hot inside
Odors stay contained in the tankHeavier than wire cages
Good protection from other pets and small childrenAmmonia buildup can lead to disease
Protects hamster from draftsCan be difficult to clean
 Can’t attach toys to the sides

A glass tank can work well, provided it is big enough for your hamster and is kept meticulously clean. Of course, like any cage, a hamster tank will need lots of comfy bedding for the pet to burrow, a hamster wheel, and plenty of tasty food!

Signs That A Hamster Cage Is Too Small

Besides a hamster wheel, hamsters need space to run around and a stimulating environment to explore. According to the RSPCA, wild hamsters can run up to 5 miles a day! That is a lot of ground for such tiny legs to cover, and although our small friends may look sleepy during the day, they’re surprisingly athletic.

A hamster kept in a cage that is too small will inevitably show signs of stress. Instead of actively exploring and showing interest in its environment, it may exhibit undesirable behaviors like cage biting and aggression resulting from frustration. Alternatively, it may become withdrawn and depressed and can develop physical symptoms like hair loss.

In Summary

When it comes to hamster cages, size counts. Just because a cage in the pet store is marketed as a hamster cage does not mean it is large enough for a hamster to live in comfortably. Keep your little pal healthy and happy for as long as possible by providing it with enough space to run around and explore to its little heart’s content.

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