|When you bring a new hamster home for the first time, or if you own an adult hamster there are certain items of equipment that you should have.|
There are a variety of hamster cages on the market today and different styles of cages suit different species of hamster so ensure you purchase one that is appropriate for your hamster. Also buy the largest cage you can as it will allow your hamster plenty of space to move around in and explore.
Plastic and Wire Cages:
These are the most popular type of hamster cage. They consist of a plastic base and a wire top, or a plastic base, wire sides and a plastic top. These cages are light weight, easy to clean, durable and reasonably priced. They often have two levels or the facility to add extra living space and toys to the cage.
The drawbacks to these cages are; if they only have a shallow base the floor covering can easily be knocked out of the cage and they can be draughty so you should purchase one with a deep base and carefully consider where to site your hamster cage.
If you are going to house a dwarf hamster in this type of cage, ideally the space between the bars should be no more than 0.5 cm as there is the possibility that they could squeeze through and escape.
There are a variety of enclosed plastic hamster cages available and these often consist of various compartments connected by a series of tunnels. These can be quite expensive, difficult to clean and be badly ventilated, however they prevent draughts and floor covering from being knocked out of the cage.
Each cage should have at least one large living area for your hamster to exercise in and explore, and an area for sleeping. Usually extra compartments and tunnels can be added and this will give your hamster new areas to forage in.
This type of cage is unsuitable for large syrian hamsters as the tunnels may be too small for them, but dwarf hamsters can happily live in plastic cages.
Aquariums make ideal homes for all species of hamster. Large glass aquariums can be heavy, but plastic ones are light weight, easy to clean, relatively cheap and draught proof. A wire lid will need to be fitted to the top to prevent your hamster from escaping and also to provide ventilation. Water bottles can be attached to the side of the aquarium using velcro or hung from the top.
Metal cages are not readily available and they do not make an ideal home for a hamster. They consist of a metal base and a wire top, and they are usually cold.
Exercise Areas & Equipment
In the wild hamsters are extremely active and they can cover a fair distance each night as they forage for food. If possible you should provide your hamster with an area to exercise outside of his cage, however, ensure that it is a confined area as a hamster can quickly run off and be difficult to catch. A variety of free standing hamster pens and exercise areas are available.
Another popular way to exercise your hamster out of his cage is by using a hamster ball. The hamster is placed inside the ball and the door should be safely secured before you let your hamster run around the house. The hamster should only be in the ball for a limited time and while in the ball they should be supervised at all times to avoid accidents. If your hamster appears to be unhappy in the ball, remove him immediately.
There are several variations to the hamster ball, such as a car incorporating a ball, and tracks are available for them to run on if you wish to keep them to a specific area of the house.
An exercise wheel will allow your hamster to exercise while he is in his cage. Many cages come complete with a wheel already fitted, but you can also buy free standing wheels. The exercise wheel should have a solid back and running surface as runged wheels can cause an injury to your hamster if he slips while running. Also the wheel should not have a bar that runs across the diameter of an open front or back of the wheel as this can cause your hamster an injury if he pops his head outside the wheel while running.
Hamsters like to nest and you should provide them with some bedding material with which to do so. Cotton wool type bedding should be avoided as this can cause harm to your hamster if it is ingested or it can injure them if they become caught in it.
The most appropriate type of bedding is soft, shredded paper bedding as it is easily broken if your hamster becomes caught and it dissolves if eaten. You can easily make this bedding yourself by tearing up unscented, undyed toilet paper or paper towels.
You will need to provide a covering for the floor of your hamster's cage so that your hamster has a nice, comfortable surface to run around on and it will also soak up any urine.
Wood shavings are a popular type of floor covering as is litter made from wood pulp. You should avoid using sawdust, cedar wood shavings, scented shavings or corn cob bedding as these can all cause irritation in hamsters.
Providing your hamster with a food dish is not vital as they are happy to eat their food from the floor and if food is scattered around it will provide your hamster with extra stimulation. However, food bowls are a good way to measure the food you are providing your hamster and ceramic or metal dishes are the most suitable as they cannot be chewed by your hamster.
Hamsters need a constant supply of water and the best way to provide this is with a water bottle that can be attached to the side of your hamster's cage.
The best type of water bottles to buy are those with ball bearings in the end as they are less prone to leaks.
Short haired hamsters rarely need grooming, but long haired hamsters should be groomed once a week. A variety of soft grooming brushes are available for you to groom your hamster with.
Your hamster's nails may need occasional trimming and this should be done with a pet nail clipper. These as well as a variety of grooming equipment can be purchased from our online store or a pet shop.
Toys & Accessories
There are a vast amount of toys and accessories that you can purchase for your hamster's cage to keep him occupied. These include exercise wheels, houses, climbing frames, tubes, see-saws, wood gnaws, mineral blocks and sand baths.
If you are purchasing a toy for your hamster that has holes for him to crawl through, ensure they are large enough as some toys are designed for dwarf hamsters and the holes in these will be too small for a syrian hamster to climb through.
All these and more will be available in your local pet shop or they can be found in our online store.