The Hamster Cage
The common pet hamster has only been with us since the 1930s, but ever since then they have captured the hearts of many animal lovers with their adorable looks and playful demeanor. First bred in Syria by Israeli Aharoni, the domesticated hamster has established itself quite well as a popular pet choice. However to keep a hamster healthy, happy, and perhaps most importantly, secure, one must first pick out a hamster cage. Hamster cages come in an incredible variety of shapes and sizes, from simply single story cages to huge, elaborate hamster cages featuring multiple tubes and pathways. There are plenty of choices available when choosing a hamster cage, but many things to consider as well.
What is a Hamster Cage?
Hamster cages are a specific kind of rodent cage that is designed to best suit hamsters. Since hamsters in the wild are largely burrowing animals, with large complex home tunnels, many hamster cages are designed to imitate this underground lifestyle. To facilitate this imitation, most hamster cages feature a series of small tubes that interconnect with one another and the central cage. This network of tubes imitates the network of tunnels made or appropriated by wild hamsters. The central hamster cage is usually constructed from a metal frame with thin, closely space metal bars. The bottom of the central is also usually plastic, and lined with straw or other hamster safe bedding. The network of tubes are almost always a colored, yet still see through plastic, so the hamsters can be observed scampering about.
Choosing a Hamster Cage
Not all hamster cages are alike. Some cages are specially designed for certain breeds of hamster such as dwarf hamster cages. Other cages are designed to offer the most room for your hamster, but at the lowest cost of storage space. Still others are huge behemoths of cages, made for multiple hamsters to live comfortably with plenty of room to run around and explore. What ever kind of hamster cage you choose, ask yourself a few key questions before purchasing:
- How much space do you have for your hamster cage? This can be the main determining factor when deciding on your hamster cage's size. If you can only spare a couple feet of desk space, go for a hamster cage with a small central cage, but lots of vertical tube room to keep your hamsters happy. If however floor or desk space isn't an issue, feel free to go with a large hamster cage.
- How many hamsters do you intend to keep? Another question to consider with picking cage size. The more hamsters you have, the larger cage they will need to live comfortably together. The addition of more tubes is also recommended for cages housing multiple hamsters.
- What breed of hamster do you own? Different hamsters grow to different sizes, and some hamsters, such as breeds of Syrian Hamster, can even grow up to seven inches long! Always buy a hamster cage that is the right size for your breed of hamster. While a cage that is too large can merely mean inconvenient travel for a small hamster, a big hamster stuck in a small cage will be very uncomfortable indeed, and may even become stuck in the cages tubes!
Hamster Cage Tips
Once you have selected the cage that is right for both you, and most importantly, your hamster, it is time to learn how best to use and maintain it. Some hamster cages can actually be quite complex, and if not put together correctly or maintained properly, could spell the doom for your furry little friend. The safety and continued well being of your pet hamster or hamsters must always be your top priority. Here are a few tips on how best to prepare and maintain your hamster cage:
- When building your hamster cage, always read the instructions over first before you start building. Many hamster cages have complex series of tubes and levels within the cage, and assembling these properly the first time can save you a lot of headaches later. Also, knowing how the cage goes together can aid in cleaning later.
- Always arrange items within your hamsters cage to best suit your hamster. What this means is make sure that the water bottle is neither too high nor too low, and that the food dish is nearby. Also, make sure you have a covered area set aside for your hamsters to sleep, as they sleep underground in the wild. Providing plenty of hamster toys to play with is also highly encouraged.
- Keep your hamster's cage clean! Hamsters, like most rodents, don't really care when and where they relieve themselves. Because of this, a hamster's cage's tubes and other hard to reach areas can become fouled with hamster waste. Always take apart and clean your hamster's cage every so often. This will preserve the health of your hamsters as well as the fresh air in your home.
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