HAMSTER CAGES and HABITATS (HOUSING)

 

HOW MANY HAMSTERS? In SA, we only get Syrians (sometimes called Teddy Bear hamsters), Winter White Dwarfs and Campbells Dwarfs. All of these are solitary and territorial once they reach adulthood and NEED to be housed alone, each with their own separate habitat/cage  – they will endure a lot of stress and anxiety if housed together, which will lead to health issues, not to mention that fighting will result in serious injuries and even death. See notes in Important Starter Info.

NEVER introduce strange hamsters to each other. NEVER keep male and female babies together after 4 weeks.

NEVER try to breed – responsible breeders have a lot of experience and research under their belts, as well as space and correct equipment. Besides, there is very little profit to be made.

 

***ABSOLUTE MINIMUM SIZE HOUSING FOR A HAMSTER TO LIVE IN PERMANENTLY ***

Longer housing with unbroken floor space is a must. Tall cages pose many risks and are no longer recommended. Furthermore, hamsters are ground/underground dwellers, so any levels do not count in the minimum size.

PLEASE MEASURE THE INSIDE OF THE BASE OF THE CAGE (LENGTH x WIDTH = cm2) - LEVELS/SHELVES, HEIGHT & EXTENSIONS DO NOT COUNT.

 

THE FOLLOWING SIZES ARE UNBROKEN GROUND FLOOR SPACE:

(an additional low shelf is convenient to keep food & water out of the substrates)

 

 SYRIAN hamsters –

MINIMUM 5000 - 7500 cm2 ​ (e.g. 100/150cm x 50cm) or larger

 

DWARF hamsters – 

MINIMUM 4000 - 5000 cm2 (e.g. 80/100cm x 50cm) or larger

[ABSOLUTE MINIMUM 3150cm2 (e.g. 75cm x 42cm) - only if you have an old hamster that has been living in a small cage all it's life] 

PLEASE NOTE THAT JOINING TWO UNDERSIZED CAGES TOGETHER VIA STANDARD HAMSTER TUBES DOES NOT EQUATE TO UNBROKEN FLOOR SPACE.

Be aware that it may not be cheaper to simply go for the absolute minimum size. If your hamster starts showing signs of frustration as it grows up

(bar-chewing, constant clambering, aggression, etc.) you will most likely have to upgrade to a larger size anyway.

You may as well start with the recommended size to save yourself the expense.

7500 cm2
(Syrian ideal)
5000 cm2
(Dwarf ideal or Syrian min.)
4000 cm2
(Dwarf)
3150 cm2
(Dwarf min.)
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Courtesy of Erin's Hamsters: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZJYIVkqTZBE

PURPOSE-BUILT/CUSTOM habitats are the most highly recommended and affordable.

FISH TANKS/AQUARIUMS (120cm) also work extremely well and you can make a mesh/grid lid.

REPTILE ENCLOSURES in the correct sizes also work well with modification to the roof.

DIY BIN CAGES are exciting and can be inexpensive (see the Bin Cage page for instructions).

WIRE CAGES are not highly recommended for hamsters and are mostly too small and can be problematic.

[Some other countries have larger minimum sizes, but the above are what we can make a plan for in SA]

Smaller cages need to be avoided as those are only for transport and convalescing. 

WHY DO THEY NEED SUCH LARGE HABITATS? WATCH THESE VIDEOS:

 

IMPORTANT NOTES

 

Most pet shops will not have a wide variety of appropriate recommended sized cages, if any at all. Unfortunately, the attitude is that if the equipment is too expensive they may miss out on a sale altogether and there is more interest in making money than concern for the well-being of the animal (not that some of those small cages are exactly cheap!) Furthermore, the large sizes of correct habitats make it difficult to stock, particularly in the case of very small shops. Sadly, the owners and assistants also tend to have limited knowledge and/or interest in the requirements for each caged animal, so please be advised to do your own research before taking advice from a pet shop. Do not waste your money on a cheap undersized cage, unless you are going to enjoy your hamster incessantly chewing on the bars out of frustration!

You may need to make your own habitat! Fortunately, we have a few proactive people nowadays who are manufacturing hamster habitats, and some will even courier to various parts of the country.

 

IMPORTANT NOTE: Please ensure that you have managed to find everything BEFORE bringing any hamster home! 

***LEVELS/SHELVES AND LADDERS *** that have open rungs/bars, mostly found in travel/temporary cages, need to be covered with something solid as they are harmful and uncomfortable to the little feet and can result in broken toes and legs and a painful condition called “Bumblefoot”, all of which will require veterinary attention. Flexible chopping mats from Crazy Store and plastic place mats from plastics shops are cheap and easy to cut to size, as well as being easy to wipe clean. You could also simply use cardboard to line shelves and to weave in and out of ladder rungs, and these are easy to replace as they get grubby.

 

EXTERNAL TUBES are not highly recommended: While these can be used to add extra rooms to a minimum sized habitat, or to join two bins together, it is important to ensure that these are sturdy and well-secured or they can come adrift, resulting in the little one’s escape. Cages with external tubes should be placed in a very secure spot to ensure that they are not bumped by children and other pets (pets are usually very interested in a little creature scratching and scurrying about inside the cage).

Never use soft plastic or cardboard tubes on the outside of any cage or habitat, as a hamster can very easily and quickly gnaw through these materials and escape.

 

While wire cages are no longer recommended as ideal habitats, if you do have one in a suitable size please note:

BARS: 1cm SPACING IS USUALLY FINE FOR SYRIANS, BUT DWARFS SHOULD HAVE LESS THAN 1cm SPACING. If you get a cage with wider spacing, e.g. a rabbit or guinea pig cage, this will need to be reinforced with a layer of wire mesh around all sides and top.

Hamsters like to feel protected and may feel somewhat exposed with all sides of a wire cage open. Therefore the back and at least one side should be covered with something solid, even cardboard will do the trick.  In winter it is particularly important for three sides and the top to be covered for protection from cold and draughts.

Try to provide plenty of chew toys and gnaw treats in order to prevent your ham from developing the habit of chewing the cage bars, which can be detrimental to the teeth, mouth and brain. Once this habit sets in, it is usually incredibly difficult to stop and you will need to look at changing to a non-barred habitat.

 

PLACEMENT: A proper habitat will generally be too heavy to be knocked over. However, other pets should not be able to reach it, which will cause a good deal of stress for you hamster.

In the case of a lightweight wire cage or bin cage, this needs to be in a secure place where it can’t be knocked over by members of the household or reached/pulled down by other pets.

As your hamster is captive within its housing and not able to relocate freely for comfort, it is very important that the housing spot is away from direct sunlight and out of draughts.

Although the hamster should become accustomed to the noises and activity within your household, a reasonably peaceful area would be preferable.

Bear in mind that this is nocturnal creature and there will be a lot of rustling about throughout the night, and many wheels will rattle, squeak or rumble during the wee hours until dawn. If the hamster parent is a light sleeper, do not place the cage in the bedroom.

 
 
 

GOOD HOUSING

 

Note that, because hamsters are ground dwellers and wall huggers, they need LENGTH AND WIDTH far more than they need height. Commercial cages, DIY cages, converted furniture, plastic storage bins, aquariums and terrariums are all options for hamster owners.

The rule is to provide the biggest habitat that you possibly can, from the minimum size upwards!

ALWAYS TAKE YOUR TAPE MEASURE WITH YOU WHEN YOU GO SHOPPING FOR ANY HABBY OR CAGE!

PURPOSE-BUILT HABITATS FOR HAMSTERS & CRITTERS: (these are the most recommended for hamsters)

TIP:  When ordering custom habitats, it is important to plan your setup so that you know what slight alterations to the design you may want to request the manufacturer to make, so that you don't have to do any unexpected DIY-ing. For example:

(a) Where do you want your hamster's wheel to be? It may not fit under the shelf among bedding. So you may decide to put it in front of the box, but perhaps a big wheel won't fit there with the box next to it. In this case, you may want to order the habitat without the box. 

Or (b) you may decide you want a more rugged woody theme with bendy bridges, in which case you can request to just have the shelf only, with no  box and/or ramp.

Or (c) you may want to do your own thing entirely from scratch, in which case you simply order the Standard habitat with nothing inside at all.

Etc. etc. etc. 

 
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Faheema's  Habbies
(Athlone, Cape Town)
Whatsapp for orders: 060 476 1437

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STANDARD (WITHOUT shelf & ramp unit) - White -

  • 100 x 50 cm x 50 cm (H) - 5000cm2 = R850

  • 110 x 50 cm x 50 cm (H) - 5500cm2 = R950

OPTIONAL EXTRAS

  • Built-in Shelf & Ramp Unit  = (1m) R320 and (1.1m) R370

  • Stand = (1m) R450 and (1.1m) R500   

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  • Alterations available on request, e.g. without the box if you don't want it, etc.

  • Custom sizes available on request.

  • Delivery available to CPT suburbs & surrounds. Charge depends on distance.

NEW IMPROVED SHELF-UNIT DESIGN

 
 
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Habitats: 5400 cm2 = R1200

                4500 cm2 = R1000

(will also courier to other places)

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PK Pallet Wood Habitats

063 454 2669 / 062 012 8804 / 066 200 8711 (Brakpan, Gauteng)

FULL UNIT (habitat & cupboard stand): 100 cm x 55 cm x 1.1m (H) - 5500cm2 = R1900

HABITAT ONLY: 100 cm x 55 cm x 45/50 cm (H) - 5500cm2 = R1000

Alterations available and quoted on request.

Delivery available to JHB suburbs & surrounds (charge depends on distance).

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PLEASE NOTE: FOR SAFETY REASONS, YOU WILL NEED TO LINE THE INSIDE OF THE FENCES WITH CARDBOARD TO MAKE THEM SOLID.

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PLEASE NOTE: FOR SAFETY REASONS, YOU WILL NEED TO LINE THE INSIDE OF THE FENCES WITH CARDBOARD TO MAKE THEM SOLID.

BEDROOM BOXES: 

Note that the roofs of these are slatted.The gaps are intended for ventilation but are unfortunately dangerously narrow, and there is the risk of a foot getting stuck.

PLEASE block these gaps by either stuffing them with some nice sphagnum moss, or gluing tongue depressor sticks over them.

For ventilation, you can drill a few holes along the top of the walls (sand them down to prevent the hamster getting scratched. 

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Courier cost will be quoted according to location from Pietermaritzburg, KZN.

Alterations to the design can be discussed, per your individual wishes for your own hamster.

FORAGE/NEST BOXES: 

Note that these may come with a sealed hardboard base, and not with an open bottom as advertised. While there is nothing wrong with them either way, be aware that if an un-potty-trained decides to nest in the box, it may urinate inside too and the hardboard & walls can become soaked and smelly. 

PLEASE remember to request whether you want these with or without the base.

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RAPTOR TANKS

082 217 0396 / khiramoney@outlook.com (Gauteng)

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100 cm x 50 cm x 45 cm (H) - 5000 cm2 =  R1000

120 cm x 50 cm x 45 cm (H) - 6000 cm2 =  R1200

Optional extra - Free-standing Shelving unit = R50

Sliding glass doors for easier front access.

Alterations & custom sizes - quote on request

(please do not go below the minimum size recommendations)

PLEASE STATE "FOR HAMSTER" 

May need to be neatened up by the customer in terms of rough edges, aesthetic finishing, etc.

USEFUL TIP Some habbies may arrive with a glue/paint/sealant smell because they are made and delivered fast. Remember that these materials generally take about 72 hours to set and dry properly, so do give it some time before setting up and putting your hamster in it (the fumes can be hazardous to their health), and then try one or two of these  methods: 

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RECOMMENDED Where shelves are fairly high up, it is recommended that they be fenced/walled along the edges to prevent the hamster from falling or jumping off, which often results in serious injuries when they land awkwardly on an object below. There are several options that you can decide on, depending on what appearance appeals to you personally. For example:

  • Make a wall with another plank and decorate it with cut-out letters of the hamster's name to make like a "billboard".

  • A simple cardboard piece will do, and you can line it with tongue depressor sticks to give a wood appearance.

  • Use tongue depressor sticks to create a more see-through fence appearance (remember to leave gaps of 1 - 1.2 cm between the sticks so that the hamster's feet don't get stuck).

Whatever you decide on, make sure the fence/wall is high enough that the hamster cannot simply jump over...this structure is not purely for decoration; it's a functional safety structure...otherwise it's really just pointless. 14 or 15 cm high seems to be fine if you are not going to place anything against the fence/wall. 

 

Example of a meshed lid for a fish tank.

Some tutorials to give you some ideas:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DdnOF6zgrKc

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mEkjEBV9idI

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VcR55XWD1WA

(Use one of the wire mesh options in place of the flimsy screen meshes shown in some tutorials)

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GLASS TANK HABITATS:

A FISH TANK/AQUARIUM is probably one of the best options for housing and offers so much scope for making the perfect hamster habitat. It also offers shelter from draughts and other pets, but you will need to construct a sturdy mesh lid for protection and to prevent the hamster from escaping (never underestimate their abilities to escape!)

  • We recommend that you look for a 120cm tank. However, if you find a 90cm tank (minimum for a dwarf hamster), check that the width is 40cm or more, not 30 or 35cm, to ensure correct floor space. Look for the "Long" sized tanks as opposed to a "Deep" one, if you possibly can.

  • Second hand fish tanks can often be found at really good prices (certainly better than any wire cage) on Facebook Marketplace and other 2nd hand websites, like Gumtree and OLX. It doesn't matter if there are one or two minor cracks, which can be tightly sealed over with clear packaging tape to prevent further cracking or bacteria. 

  • Note that you will have to find free-standing accessories, like the wheel and water bottle.

  • Low shelves can be made from boxes, which will also provide exciting rooms for the hamster to explore, or wooden structures and ladders can be bought or made (see some ideas in our DIY page).

VENTILATION IS VITAL: THE ENTIRE TOP NEEDS TO BE MESHED FOR VENTILATION,  not just a section. Do not place any large extension cage over the mesh. Wire grid sheets or fine chicken mesh are available from most hardware stores and can be cut to size with wire cutters (and can also be framed for aesthetic appeal and to prevent snagging). 

  • Do not use a standard fish tank lid...it does not provide adequate ventilation, and even drilling holes into it will not suffice.

  • Never use plastic mesh...your hamster will gnaw through if he can reach it! -

  • Never use fly/mosquito screen...not only can your hamster also rip it open, but it is too fine to allow proper airflow and ventilation, and the habby will become stuffy.

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Tank setup by Kevin Campbell (Ontario, Canada)

Obviously we don't expect everyone to have as intense a setup as his!

This is just a good example of what you COULD do over time.

*** See the Bin Cage page for wire mesh ventilation options ****

 
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TERRARIUMS. Similar to the fish tank habitat, these are usually sold for reptiles. However, you want one that has a barred/gridded lid, not a solid one or the very finely aerated lid as those will not provide enough air circulation.

Once again, check the base measurements.

This Aqua Szut Terrarium 80 is 3150cm2 is suitable for a dwarf hamster (available from Pet Habitat), but unfortunately does not meet the minimum floor space for Syrians. The Aqua Szut 60 is too small. 

 

LIVING WORLD ZOOZONE HOME

Approx. 115 x 70cm - Good for Dwarfs & Syrians

(Note that there are smaller sizes, so do check before you get)

This is Acrylic/plastic, not glass.

Members with these do, however, advise that airflow is not great and the inside becomes quite hot and muggy. 

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See Raptor Tanks above, for availability in JHB

REPTILE ENCLOSURES/VIVARIUMS:

These habitats are seriously wonderful options for housing a hamster and will offer a nice blank canvas  for creating the perfect habitat and, like a fish tank, also offer shelter from draughts and other pets.  

  • The fronts are usually sliding glass doors that provide easy access to your hamster and for cleaning.

  • Second hand reptile enclosures can often be found at REALLY good prices on Facebook Marketplace and other 2nd hand websites, like Gumtree and OLX. It doesn't matter if it's not in wonderful condition, since you can renovate it yourself.

  • They are usually large, but there are some small ones around so please do check that the floor space measurement  meets the recommended requirement.

  • Note that you will most likely need free-standing accessories, like the wheel & water bottle.

There are a few simple, but inexpensive, tweaks that will be required:

  • VENTILATION IS VITAL: The tops are usually solidly enclosed and you will need to cut the entire space open and mesh it. Do not be tempted to leave it solid and do not place any large extension cage over the mesh. 

  • You can leave a slight frame around the top to neatly attach the mesh. Wire grid sheets or fine chicken mesh are available from most hardware stores and can be cut to size with wire cutters and nailed down. Never use plastic mesh...your hamster will gnaw through if he can reach it! Never use fly/mosquito screen...not only can your hamster also rip it open, but it is too fine to allow proper airflow and ventilation, and the habby will become stuffy.

  • Since the front opening doors are flush with the ground, a low barrier can be placed across the inside to prevent bedding substrates from spilling out every time you open up. A wooden plank, piece of laminate flooring,  or even a simple strip of thick cardboard, will do just fine.

  • Low shelves can be made from boxes, which will also provide exciting rooms for the hamster to explore, or wooden structures and ladders can be bought or made (see some ideas in our DIY page). You can also simply screw in a plank or piece of laminate flooring as a shelf. DO NOT PLACE SHELVES HIGH UP unless you are going to make a barrier to prevent the hamster from falling or jumping off and injuring itself.

  • Please scrub 2nd hand habbies really well to get rid of any reptile "odour" and bacteria . A scrubbing brush and old toothbrush (for corners) and hot soapy water will do, rinsed with clean vinegar water and a cloth, and rinsed again with plain clean water, and left to dry in the sun. 

  • Since these habbies are wood, it is best to line the bottom, and even a little way up the sides, with something less absorbent or chewable. Old ceramic tiles or Marley tiles will do. 

**** IF YOU CANNOT FIND SUITABLE MESH, OR ONE OF THE SOLUTIONS BELOW, THIS PLACE  IN KEMPTON PARK SELLS ALL DIFFERENT KINDS FOR BIRD AVIARIES:   https://meshforbirds.co.za/mesh_price_list/   (THEY WILL ALSO DELIVER VIA COURIER) ****

 

CUSTOM HABITATS can be adapted from furniture (cupboards, shelving units, etc.) or storage bins/containers.

Once again, there are plenty of examples on Google and YouTube to give you some great creative ideas.

Such habbies can also be made from scratch to suit your space and the size you want.

All that is required are some reasonable carpentry skills and tools, or a friendly carpenter.

 

**** IF YOU CANNOT FIND SUITABLE MESH FOR THE LID, THIS PLACE  IN KEMPTON PARK SELLS ALL DIFFERENT KINDS FOR BIRD AVIARIES:   https://meshforbirds.co.za/mesh_price_list/   (THEY WILL ALSO DELIVER VIA COURIER) ****

 

DIY BIN CAGES are affordable options to make a great habitat for your hamster. Simple handy-man/crafty skills will be required to modify these storage containers, a variety of which can be found at any plastics warehouse/wholesaler type shops. There are plenty of ideas and instructions on YouTube to help you to achieve fabulous results.

Two or more bins can be linked together by means of tubes, plumbing pipes, etc. to add additional space, but the main bin should ideally be in line with the minimum recommended cage size, in terms of unbroken floor space.

(See the BIN CAGES page for detailed instructions).

EXAMPLE ~ by Tana Pressly

Made by a friend with carpentry skills.

A basic melamine box with glass front, shelves,  and a framed mesh lid. Extended shelf at the back added later. Melamine boards come in a variety of patterns and colours, so you could even have a "wood" look if you prefer.

TIP: Melamine board is better to use since it is more hygienic and easier to wipe, as opposed to plain wood where the base and shelves will need to be lined with something non-porous in order to avoid any urine from being absorbed and becoming smelly, which can be difficult to  clean up.

RECOMMENDED Where shelves are fairly high up, it is recommended that they be fenced/walled along the edges to prevent the hamster from falling or jumping off, which often results in serious injuries when they land awkwardly on an object below. There are several options that you can decide on, depending on what appearance appeals to you personally. For example:

  • Make a wall with another plank and decorate it with cut-out letters of the hamster's name to make like a "billboard".

  • A simple cardboard piece will do, and you can line it with tongue depressor sticks to give a wood appearance.

  • Use tongue depressor sticks to create a more see-through fence appearance (remember to leave gaps of 1 - 1.2 cm between the sticks so that the hamster's feet don't get stuck).

Whatever you decide on, make sure the fence/wall is high enough that the hamster cannot simply jump over...this structure is not purely for decoration; it's a functional safety structure...otherwise it's really just pointless. 14 or 15 cm high seems to be fine if you are not going to place anything against the fence/wall. 

 
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EXAMPLE ~ by Jeanri Bergh

A large doll's house converted into a really great hamster habitat.

As long as the base measurement meets the minimum recommended dimensions, you're good to go.

How to build a proper lid for a trunk/tank/box style habitat: 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UYzDeSBE1hI

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*** See the Bin Cage page for wire mesh ventilation options ****

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TODDLER'S CLAM POOL/SANDPIT

EXAMPLE ~ by Jaco De la Rey

Really clever idea!

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Here is how you build it:

  • Clam shell at Westpack for R149 (or any plastics warehouse shop or baby store)

  • Buy 2mx2m chicken wire mesh for R40

  • Buy pack of cable ties for R70

  • Drill holes on the sides of the shell

  • Tie the chicken wire mesh tight around the edges with the cable ties. 

  • Take side cutter and trim edges of the chicken wire and fold the rest of the edges underneath the sides of the shell

  • Take side cutter and cut hole in the middle. Cover edges with sponge or vinyl to avoid sharp edges

  • We took a plastic drawer cover as the frame for the door. Drilled holes on the sides and used cable ties to strap it onto the wire mesh. We took an old fridge steel shelf as the door. We drilled holes into the plastic frame and used cable ties as the hinges for the door. 

  • And voila!  NOTE: YOU MAY NEED TO GET A FLYING SAUCER (an upright wheel probably won't fit....see DIY SUFF page if you can't find the right size saucer in a shop)

 
 

 ACCEPTABLE WIRE CAGES - BUT NOT HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

LOW LEVEL CAGES can be an acceptable choice if you already have one that the dimensions meet the standards for your species of hamster,

but don't buy one if you are still in the market for a new habitat for your hamster.

Unfortunately, here in South Africa, suitable cages are incredibly difficult to find and, when you do, they tend to be incredibly expensive. We therefore encourage hamster owners to rather invest in a purpose-built habitat, or a 2nd hand fish tank/reptile enclosure and convert one of those into an excellent habitat.

Tip: If shopping online, most sites have really unsuitable small cages under the hamster sections…rather check in the Rabbit and Guinea Pig sections.

IMPORTANT: ANY WIRE SHELVES/LEVELS NEED TO BE COVERED WITH SOMETHING TO MAKE IT SOLID. OPEN RUNGS ARE UNCOMFORTABLE FOR THE HAMSTER TO WALK ON, AND POSE A DANGER OF BROKEN LIMBS AND A PAINFUL CONDITION CALLED BUMBLEFOOT, BOTH OF WHICH OFTEN RESULTS IN THE LIMB HAVING TO BE AMPUTATED.

TAKE NOTE OF BAR CHEWING ISSUES, EXPLAINED FURTHER DOWN AND ON THE HEALTH & MEDICAL PAGE.

(For this reason we recommend that you rather consider a more enclosed solid habitat, which is safer and more secure)

WARNING: EVEN THOUGH THE MATERIAL MAY APPEAR REALLY STRONG, MANY HAMSTERS STILL MANAGE TO GNAW THROUGH THE PLASTIC BASES OF CAGES AND ESCAPE.  

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THE TOMMY WOOD GAGE is probably the only decent size hamster cage in SA, but really only SUITABLE FOR A DWARF HAMSTER at approx. 3700 cm2.

78cm x 48cm x 33cm (h) - approx. R1300.

Available online via Takealot or Pet Hero and possibly at the Queen Pet Shops (Gauteng).

The wheel is most likely too small, and you will need to upgrade it to one that's at least 18cm.

RABBIT/GUINEA PIG CAGES are excellent since they are very roomy for any hamster, particularly for Syrians where adequate sized cages are seldom available. These afford some good additional DIY options since you will usually have a nice ‘blank canvass’ to work from. However, the bar spacing is almost always too wide for a hamster and the cage will need to be meshed over with chicken mesh or galvanised wire grid to prevent escape. 

(Good tutorial on how to cover neatly with mesh: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c8KwL8gCxnc)

Never use plastic mesh...your hamster will gnaw through if he can reach it!

Comfi Pad Animal Cage: Approx. 5000 cm2

Great for Dwarfs & Syrians

(PetMania online or direct)

COMBINATION HABITATS are OK choices and provide both tank and cage living.

Pet Inn Vetro Plus Nature 100 (4000 cm2)

Good for Dwarfs.

Note that the wheel is not safe and will need to be removed. 

(Pet Habitat online)

NOTE: Many people complain that it is difficult to access the bottom level without having to dismantle the top wire section with other brands of such habitats, particularly where the shelf  occupies a large part of the division between tank and cage. Furthermore, where the shelf stretches too far across the divide, there is risk that adequate ventilation is blocked from the tank.  

 
 

BAD HOUSING

Never purchase products made in China (usually obvious by the language on packaging).

China, unfortunately, does no research into safety standards and therefore most materials contain lethal and toxic ingredients.

It needs to be noted that the bars on some cheap cages (like those from China) may have paint that contain heavy metal toxins, such as lead. If small rodents chew the paint off bars every night they are ingesting some of the paint and will be getting poisoned to death. European hamster cages use non toxic paint. Unfortunately, nobody asks these questions when they buy cheap hamster cages. 

PLEASE NOTE THAT JOINING TWO UNDERSIZED CAGES TOGETHER VIA STANDARD HAMSTER TUBES DOES NOT EQUATE TO UNBROKEN FLOOR SPACE.

RAT AND TALL CAGES

Such cages with several shelves were previously thought to provide more fun for hamsters. However, and since hamsters are ground dwellers by nature, it has now been deemed that many of them around the world suffer injury and death when falling and jumping off from high shelves. Furthermore, the base measurement usually does not meet the minimum recommended ground floor space and therefore certainly not the ideal space.

If you haven’t yet purchased housing, or are planning a change, do avoid the tall options.

They really are NOT recommended FOR HAMSTERS!

If you already have a tall cage and cannot afford a change right away, to remedy the risks: -

  • Many of these tall cages can actually be flipped onto the back and, with a few modifications, will then usually make an excellent sized habitat for a hamster. (Make the new bottom solid, build up some edges going up to hold the bedding, and fasten the cage's base tray properly as a new solid "side")

If the base of the cage meets the minimum recommended floor space dimensions, and you don't want/need to flip:

  • You can build lolly stick fences along the edges of levels (see notes on the DIY page) but care still needs be taken when placing items at the bottom of the cage in case the hamster somehow manages to breech your efforts – it is best to leave the center completely vacant of objects that the hamster could fall onto, leaving a nice clear space of bedding substrate for a soft landing. Ground floor objects can be placed under the lower shelves.

  • Adjust  to line up with each other and then bridge these by making wide hammock levels out of strong fabric like calico or denim, fitting them underneath the shelves.

  • Solid levels can be put in to span the entire length and width of the cage (with holes for ramps from level to level) but make sure you will have easy access to each level for when it comes to the regular spot cleaning.

To make the hamster feel more secure and protected, please place cardboard at the back and sides of the cage.

 

The negative aspect of rat cages, even if the base does meet the minimum dimensions, is that the base tray can be quite shallow compared to that of a genuine hamster cage and, since hamsters like lots of bedding substrate to dig in, you will have to reinforce the sides with something solid all the way around the lower bars to accommodate this and to prevent the substrate from spilling out. Also, please check the bar spacing of rat cages, particularly if you have a dwarf hamster.

 
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Avoid MODULAR CAGES such as Habitrails, Crittertrails, Fantazia, Rotastaks, etc., which are designed for the enjoyment of small children and self-indulgent adults, but are not appropriate homes for a living animal. They are usually quite expensive but almost never meet the minimum unbroken floor space requirements and it is cruel to keep your hamster in one of these. However, some can be used as adventurous extensions to an appropriate sized main habby.

 

ROUND and OVAL CAGES, like Merlino cages, are not favoured by hamsters as they feel safer in homes with corners to hide and nest in. Most of these are too small anyway. Please avoid these!

HOW TO SET UP A SMALL CAGE PROPERLY:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ukQKiRz-C7s

 
 
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~ courtesy of Ham-Ham Love group.

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The OLD-FASHIONED WIRE CAGES, like the Winny Cage and Daro Starter Kits, are always way too small and it is incredibly cruel to keep your hamster in one of these permanently, no matter what species.

Unfortunately, just about every pet shop still sells these because they are cheap and provide quick profits for the business. However, they have no place in this century and you will end up with a hamster so frustrated that s/he will be chewing on the bars and some are even known to chew through the tray to escape to bigger pastures.  If this is all you can afford (although not all are exactly cheap), please rather consider building a Bin Cage, which could cost you  way less and will provide awesome space.

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Those “CUTE” TINY CAGES are an absolute crime and need to be avoided at all costs. Your hamster will NOT find it cute to live in! Such cages are only useful for taking a dwarf hamster to the vet or for keeping him safe for a short while when you have to do some cleaning in the main cage. Too small for any use in the case of Syrians.

Anyone seen keeping a hamster permanently in these types of cages should be reported for animal cruelty!

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Here's someone who agrees: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fHvl2iQUIBI 

Why Small Cages are Bad : https://youtu.be/T5GgNyB_uNQ

 
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How to get your hamster to chew safe gnaws: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=agDCTo4ZESE&t=208s

BAR CHEWING

Aside from birth/genetic defects, this is one of the main causes of broken or misaligned teeth, which poses many health issues as explained on the Health & Medical page

Many hamsters will chew the bars of a wire cage for a number of reasons: attention seeking, stress, frustration due to insufficient cage space, boredom due to lack of entertainment within the cage, and lack of suitable and/or enticing gnaw toys/treats.

Bar chewing is really bad because of the harsh gnawing material and unnatural angle of the body to achieve this chewing. The teeth can wear out so badly because of the hard bars that the hamster is left with just gums that start bleeding, which can become infected and also too painful to eat food.

PLEASE MAKE EVERY EFFORT TO STOP YOUR HAMSTER FROM CHEWING CAGE BARS!

It can often be difficult to stop this activity once the hamster has gotten into the habit, but there are measures you can take to deter it: -

  • Make sure the cage meets the minimum recommended dimensions of unbroken floor space.

  • If your cage is the correct size, you may need to consider an even bigger cage or changing to a non-wire option (glass tank, bin cage, custom trunk style habby, etc.)

  • If you have enough cage space and suitable gnaws, and the hamster is clearly addicted to his bars, short of changing to a different style of habby you will need to cover the inside of the accessible bar areas with something solid: perspex sheets, thick cardboard, solid place mats or chopping mats, etc. to encourage him to choose better chewing items and to get him out of the habit of going to the bars!

  • You could also attach a "wall" of pear/apple/mulberry branches, gnaw sticks or straight Whimzees to the accessible bar areas. 

  • Some people recommend wiping or spraying the bars with lemon juice or vinegar to deter bar chewing. However, this is not recommended at all, as some hamsters will ignore the unpleasant flavour and become used to it, which then causes an additional problem due to the acidity. 

REMEMBER: SIZE MATTERS when it comes to housing your hamster!

JUST BECAUSE A PET SHOP SELLS IT, DOES NOT MEAN IT’S SUITABLE.

****Take your tape measure with you! There will still always be undersized cages on display.****

(See page for Cage Cleaning tips)