How to Set Up a Hamster Cage

What You'll Need
water bottle
food bowl

If you are planning to get a pet hamster, you should probably have a hamster cage set up in advance. Luckily, setting up a hamster cage is relatively simple. If you are careful and use safe materials, there is nothing that can really go wrong. Additionally, your hamster will finish setting up an area to live after moving in.

Step 1 - Selecting Materials

Selecting the proper materials to set up your hamster cage is the most important step to consider for the health of your hamster — in particular, the bedding. There are many kinds of bedding that you should absolutely never use. For example, bedding such as cotton balls or any other fluffy material can kill your hamster, and you should never use them. Newspaper is a bad idea as well, because hamsters can accidentally poison themselves when chewing it, or be irritated by the smell. Additionally, certain kinds of wood should not be used. Cedar, and other wood that releases strong smelling oil, make terrible bedding for hamsters. Making bedding out of pine is also a bad idea. Bedding made from other wood shavings is the best. Your local pet store should have some available.

Any water bottle that can be attached to the outside of the cage is fine. You can get one at your local pet store. Food bowls are just as easy. There is no best kind.

Getting a shelter for your hamster requires a little bit of thought. Hamsters like to build nests in enclosed areas. Many cages include an enclosed area for this purpose, and there are plenty of products available at your pet store as an add-on that you can buy. However, a hamster will be just as happy with an empty kleenex box or other small, non-toxic, unscented enclosure.

It is important to note that if you plan on keeping multiple hamsters, you will need multiple cages. Don't be fooled by their appearance. Adult hamsters are territorial, and will fight and kill each other if left alone together. They must be kept separate for their own safety.

Step 2 - Putting It Together

If your cage requires assembly, it may be easier to wait until this step is complete. If your cage is already assembled, you can leave it that way.

Spread your chosen bedding on the floor of your cage. The layer of bedding should be at least two inches thick. This layer protects your hamster's feet, while absorbing liquids and smells. Your hamster will also dig in it and move it around to build a living area. 

Now you can put in all of your hamster's furniture. Fill the food bowl and put it in, along with the shelter you have chosen. Set your cage up according to the instructions if you haven't, and fill and attach the water bottle.

Step 3 - Extras

There are plenty of extra things you can put in a hamster cage if you want. It's a good idea to give your hamster something to chew on, and there are plenty of things to choose from to serve this purpose at your local pet store.

In addition, hamsters will chew on cardboard if you give them some. If you give a hamster a discarded cardboard container, be sure it is for an unsceneted, non-toxic product first.