What I found when I was researching teddy bear hamster cages was that there are 4 main alternatives to choose from…
- Wire or Metal: These kind of cages have been around as long as hamsters have been kept as pets. The cage is easy to clean and because of the material, odours are not absorbed and there is plenty of ventilation. The primary problem with most bared cages in the past was a lack of space. But now-a-days there are 2 and 3 storey models that are available, so lack of space is no longer an issue. The only thing you need to be worried about when purchasing a multi-storied barred cage is that there is not too much space between the stories in case of a fall. There are a few disadvantages to wire or metal cages - you must make sure the gap between the bars is not too large or else your teddy bear hamster will likely escape (if a hamster can get his head through the gap then the rest of its body will easily slide through too!) You can get around this by choosing a wire cage that has been designed for mice. The other disadvantage of wire cages is that if the water bottle leaks and the dampness is not cleaned up then the metal can eventually, over time, erode which can cause harm to your teddy bear hamster.
- Glass Aquarium: This is probably one of the least favoured options. While this type of cage provides plenty of room for your hamster to move around and explore, there are more disadvantages than there are advantages. Most importantly, there is poor ventilation, which creates an unhealthy environment for your hamster. The glass aquarium is also very heavy to move around. You must have a cover over it, a wire one is best. You can purchase these at many pet stores. Some stores offer screen tops, but these are not sturdy enough, as teddy bear hamsters are very adept at chewing through a screen top in no time at all! However, having said that, with a good sturdy cover, glass aquariums are nearly escape-proof.
- Plastic: With this type of cage the advantages seem to far outweigh the disadvantages, making this possibly the most ideal choice of cage for your teddy bear hamster. The ones on the market today allow the imagination to run wild! You can find many models of them at most good pet stores. There are a large variety of tubes and compartments that can be purchased as “add-ons” to your cage allowing you to “design” your own unique hamster home. If you wanted to you could even connect to a second cage which could be a hamster gym or possibly a breeding house. The options are endless. You can make the cage as simplistic or elaborate as you like. Plastic cages do not absorb odour and they provide good ventilation. The only concern with plastic cages that I could find was the lack of doors to get the hamster out for the much needed personal contact and possibly the lack of ventilation in the tubes themselves.
- Homemade: If you are handy at making things or know someone who is, you can have a cage made specially for your hamster. In most cases, these cages are constructed from wood, wire mesh, and/or Plexiglas. Although this type of cage can be attractive and fun to make, wood acts as an absorbent and so extra bedding is needed at all times and the cage must be cleaned more often than with other types of cages. The other drawback is that hamsters love to gnaw on things, eventually damaging the wood. However, if you have the materials, the time and expertise, this might be a good option to consider. Another effective and inexpensive cage is one made from plastic storage containers, with a sturdy wire top.
Regardless of the type of cage selected, make sure all the doors and openings are secure so that your teddy bear hamster can't open it or chew his way out. Also, be sure there aren't any spaces large enough for him to squeeze through and escape. Look for a cage that will be easy to dismantle and clean, nothing is more frustrating than cleaning a cage that doesn't come apart easily or has a lot of small spaces that are hard to clean.
A cage should not be constructed of any absorbent materials such as soft woods, cardboard or fabric. If there is paint on the cage you should ensure that the paint is lead free. Ventilation is extremely important—there should be flow of fresh air, but not a cage that allows drafts.
Whichever style of cage you choose for your hamster, there’s one very important thing you must keep in mind - it should be located in an area where the room temperature will remain stable without drafts and away from direct sunlight.
So, shop around and check out your options and have fun choosing the best home possible for your teddy bear hamster! Once this has been taken care of you can focus on the care and feeding of your teddy bear hamster. If you would like more information on hamster care, like what supplies are necessary and what will work best for your new hamster, then check out our hamster care DVD. This will show you what is a proper diet for them and also the proper ways of handling and taking care of your hamster.
Hope you have as much fun as we have with our new little 4-legged family member, Charles! There’s a picture of him at the top of this blog. Until next time….