hamster set up basics

Hamster Setup Guide for Beginners

By kleo

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This guide will take you through everything a new hamster owner needs to buy to make a good hamster environment.

It’s recommended to take a look at our detailed information pages so that you can become experts yourselves, but this page will give you all the basics for a standard setup for a healthy, happy hamster.

Hamster Cage

A 20 gallon long aquarium tank makes an excellent hamster cage. Traditional wired cages are not great for hamsters because hamsters can develop bad habits chewing on metal bars that is not good for their health. Aquarium-style cages also prevent hamsters from escaping since they are much more secure than wire cages. This 20-gallon tank is the minimum size tank for hamsters, so if you can, it’s best to go bigger:

For more information on hamster cages, head on over to the Hamster Cage page.

Hamster Water Bottle

A water bottle is needed in every hamster cage because if water is left out in a container, the container will quite frequently be either knocked over or have pieces of bedding kicked into it. In order to ensure that a clean, safe supply of water is always available for your hamster, you’ll need a water bottle.

Hamsters love to chew, so it’s also important to get a water bottle that is chew-proof. This means either a plastic water bottle that hangs from the top of the cage, or a glass water bottle. Be sure to select one that works well with the cage setup you have planned. Below is an excellent option for a water bottle that hangs from the ceiling, making it chew-proof:

Hamster Food Container

Ceramic food bowls are perfect for hamsters because unlike plastic, they cannot be chewed or knocked over. A food bowl is optional for a hamster, because they also like scavenging for scattered food. However, it’s recommended for a new hamster because it can help you track the quantity of food you are feeding and how much your hamster is eating and storing. Bamboo is another great choice for a food bowl container, because it is eco-friendly and natural looking in addition to being sturdy enough to prevent overturns.

Hamster Food

The healthiest food for your hamster that is commercially available is the Hazel Hamster brand.

For more details about hamster nutrition and food pages, visit the Hamster Food page.

Hamster Cage Substrate

Bedding for your hamster cage is important because it gives your hamster a comfortable environment where she can run around, dig, and nest. The bedding should be soft and comfortable and should not give off any strong odors that can harm your hamster. Paper based bedding is the most common bedding used for hamsters because it works well and is safe for your hamster. Carefresh offers a wonderful paper based bedding:

Hamster Hiding Place

Hamsters need a hiding space for sleeping so that they can feel safe. Any type of plastic or ceramic enclosed space works wonderfully for this purpose. Choose fun design that will decorate the environment or choose a semi-clear design so that you can keep a close eye on your hamster. At least one is required for each hamster cage, but the more you add to your hamster cage, the more enrichment you provide.

Hamster Wheel

All hamsters require a wheel for running. Choose the size of the hamster wheel to ensure that your hamster’s back does not bend while using the wheel. Dwarf hamsters can have a slightly smaller wheel, but both dwarf and Syrian species appreciate bigger wheels as well. The wheel below is 8.5″ and is suitable for all species of hamster. See the Hamster Toys page for more details on different types and sizes of wheels available.

Hamster Toys

Like all animals, hamsters require adequate mental stimulation. Here are a few recommended starter toys to brighten up the environment and engage your hamster’s curiosity:

You can also use cheap household items for toys, such as empty toilet paper rolls and dried pasta for chew toys.

See our Hamster Toys page for more details about hamster toys and more ideas!

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