Cages for Dwarf Hamsters - everything you need to know

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Dwarf hamsters are pocket pets really small in size. An adult dwarf hamster can weigh up to 2 ounces and grow up to 5 centimeters long.

However, despite their tiny nature, they're very energetic and thrive off of moving a lot and require more space than you may think. 

If you're an owner of these tiny powerhouses, finding the perfect cage for them should be your priority to keep them healthy and happy.

This buying guide will give you the information that you need to purchase the best cage for your dwarf hamster.

Here's what's coming up:

dwarf hamster needs a cage

Dwarf Hamsters
and Their Specific Characteristics

A dwarf hamster is a general term used to refer to several tiny species of hamsters which are usually ideal for a classroom environment or a first pet. 

Dwarf hamsters differ from their larger cousins, who are more territorial since they thrive living in small groups or pairs rather than living alone.

Dwarf hamsters require little care, are fun to watch and even easier to handle. Apart from water and food, a space for exercise and a clean cage is mostly what they need. 

These small creatures are known for biting, but this shouldn't stop you from getting one since they can easily be trained not to nip.

The spectrum of dwarf hamsters includes different species like the

  • Campbell Hamster,
  • Black Bear Hamster,
  • Syrian Hamster, and
  • Robo (Roborovski) Hamster,

each having specific characteristics.

All species of hamsters are nocturnal, meaning they eat and play during the night and sleep during the day. However, they are very adaptable and can easily adjust to their owner's waking and sleeping times, so you can still play with your pet whenever you want. Their life expectancy is about three years.

Types of Cages for Dwarf Hamsters

There are different types of cages for dwarf hamsters available in the market.

Some pet owners prefer to keep their dwarf hamsters in metal bars while others prefer an aquarium-like tank. You need to choose a cage that fits your needs and helps keep your hamster safe at the same time.

Below are the different cage options to choose from:

Wire-Top Dwarf Hamster Cages

wire top cage for hamster

These are the classic cages for dwarf hamsters that have been used by pet owners for a long time. This is because they are:

  • durable,
  • cheap, and
  • easy to clean.

They provide enough space for your hamster to move and can have more levels in them for more than one hamster.

The main setback for these wire cages is that they allow dwarf hamsters to escape—especially since they can be the best escape artists. To avoid this from happening, make sure that the bar spacing is narrow, and there are no gaps and holes that can easily allow your pet to escape.

Another setback of the metal cage is that it can produce a lot of noise—especially if your dwarf hamster decides to climb up the cages or likes gnawing at the bars. It will be better to put the cage away from your bedroom to avoid disruptive noise while you're sleeping.

This cage is perfect for housing more than one dwarf hamster depending on its size, and you can add accessories such as wheels to keep the hamster(s) entertained.

Hamster Glass Aquariums/Fish Tanks

An aquarium is beneficial in that there is less chance for your dwarf to escape because there are no metal bars or gaps for them to try and squeeze in between.

Another benefit of keeping your dwarf hamster in an aquarium is that it allows you to watch your pet without any metal bar intrusion. These cages are also quieter, and your hamster may not be able to climb up, making it ideal for keeping it near you when you are sleeping.

The main setback for this type of cage is the price—since a new aquarium can be expensive. You can find a cheap second-hand aquarium online, but the big tanks will not be cheap. It's also not so easy to clean an aquarium since they are pretty heavy to maneuver and that might be a bit of a hassle since it's ideal to clean it out every week.

The traditional aquarium comes with no tank topper to allow for maximum ventilation and prevent the build-up of ammonia, which can help keep your dwarf hamster healthy.

Small Animal Habitats

Cage for a Dwarf Hamster

Some owners argue that they are too small, while others prefer the simulation that they provide.

Although these cages don't have a huge amount of space, they provide plenty of activity. They are the most varied habitat for your pet and give an interesting environment that can be a great killer for boredom.

The best way to use this habitat for your dwarf hamster is to buy a few of them separately and link them up using tubes and tunnels. This way, you can create a hamster mansion that will provide enough space for your pet to exercise and explore.

This type of cage may also be expensive because of the hamster toys and other parts that have been incorporated.

11 Features to Consider
When Buying a Cage for a Dwarf Hamster

The following features will help you in deciding the best cage for your dwarf hamster:

[1.] Size

Dwarf hamsters can be tiny creatures—but they are full of energy. 

They explore, move a lot, and run wild. A small cage can cause boredom for them. It can also affect the temperature of your dwarf hamster and its ability to respond to illnesses or infections.

Wild hamsters are known to travel up to 5 miles in one night; therefore, it is better to buy a bigger cage if you can. You can expand your hamster's cage by connecting it to other cages.

According to regulations, the minimum size should be 24 x 12 inches, and the height of the cage should be a minimum of 12 inches tall.

[2.] Material

Apart from providing good ventilation, wire cages are safer for your dwarf hamster because they cannot chew through the wire and escape.

This, of course, only applies if the bar spacing is suitable for a small pet.

Dwarf hamster

On the other hand, cages made of plastic are vulnerable to chewing by your hamster and may not give enough ventilation if not designed properly. However, plastic is durable and easy to clean.

You can also choose to buy a tank—which is more durable and will be less of a problem when it comes to escaping.

[3.] Ventilation

Fresh air is necessary for the good health of your dwarf hamster.

Generally, wire cages provide the best ventilation. However, some aquariums and modular cages, although they have various compartments, don't provide enough ventilation for your pet unless you leave the top of the aquarium open.

When buying these types of cages, make sure to pick one that has a proper design to ensure fresh air for your pet.

[4.] Ease of Cleaning

Since you'll be cleaning around once a week, good cages should be designed to make the cleaning process easier. They can have bases that are detachable for easy cleaning.

The easiest type of cage to clean is the wire cage with a plastic tray.

Lily is a White Dwarf Hamster

All you need to do when cleaning this cage is to lift the wire off the bottom, clean the bedding and wipe the base and the wire.

Elaborate cages that have a lot of compartments with tubes and other accessories are more difficult to clean, but if they can be rinsed with water, cleaning should not be a problem.

[5.] Bar Spacing

Since dwarf hamsters are tiny creatures, they can easily squeeze through the bar spacings and escape.

This can be dangerous since they can be easily injured while outside their cage. The ideal bar spacing for your dwarf hamster is a quarter-inch.

[6.] Accessibility

The cage you purchase for your dwarf hamster should be easily accessible for cleaning and replacing their food and water. 

The cage should have a lid with a decent size that you can put your hand in when cleaning or removing things from the cage. You shouldn't have to remove a whole part of the cage or take it completely apart.

[7.] Hiding Spaces

rabbit cage accessories

Dwarf hamsters like to hide because it is their normal burrowing behavior—especially as wild prey.

They love to explore and create hideaways mostly beneath their bedding for playing and sleeping. They also like hiding spaces for their food.

Having a cage with tunnels, structures, and hideaways for your dwarf hamster will allow them to feel at home.

[9.] Toys

Dwarf hamsters need different types of toys to allow them to play, explore, and exercise. Having toys inside the cage is important for exercise purposes.

You can get them:

  • Hamster wheels with a proper size and solid surface to prevent injury.
  • Plastic balls can also keep your pet running around and is a great way for them to exercise.
  • Chew toys are necessary to keep their constantly growing teeth in good condition.

[10.] Portability

You should be able to move your dwarf hamster's cage from one part of your house to another without much difficulty. 

There are portable cages for dwarf hamsters available on the market, and you can find one that suits your needs and that of your pet. The cage should not be heavy to carry around or move it when you want—or need—to clean.

[11.] Levels

Some cages have just one level, while others have multiple levels.

Cages with multiple levels can be dangerous because your hamster can easily fall, but they can provide a more intriguing environment—especially if you own more than one hamster.

Where Should You Place
the Cage for your Dwarf Hamsters?

Where you decide to locate the cage of your dwarf hamsters is very important to ensure their health:

1. The cage should be in a quiet place.Since hamsters are nocturnal creatures, they'll most likely sleep most of the day away. Their cage should be kept in an area of your house where there will be minimum disruption, allowing our furry friends to rest peacefully.

2. Avoid areas with ultrasound.A hamster's hearing is very strong and can pick up sounds that most humans can't, like ultrasound. The cage should be located away from electronic items or pipes which may contain ultrasound.

3. Regular lighting is a must. Hamsters appreciate a consistent lighting routine. Whichever room they are located in, do make sure that their access to light is the same every day.

4. The temperature should be consistent.Dwarf Hamsters are especially sensitive to extreme heat temperatures. It is important to keep the cage out of direct sunlight and other heat sources like a fireplace. They should also not be located near air conditioning units.

5. No laundry rooms or garages. These are two areas of the house where you cannot store your dwarf hamster cage due to the significant amount of dust.

6. No other pets welcome. It sounds pretty straightforward, but you'll be surprised to hear that some owners combine hamsters with other pets in the same cage! Dwarf hamsters should have their cage to themselves. They are too scared and too petite to be surrounded by other larger pets.

Accessories – What do Dwarf Hamsters Need in their cage?

Similar other species of hamsters, the dwarf hamster cage requires some basic essential supplies, these include:

1. Bedding and Nesting Supplies

Aspen is widely regarded and has the safest bedding material for dwarf hamsters. Other woods like cedar and pine can be quite dangerous.

For the nest, cotton materials are most suitable.

2. Food and Water Containers

Your dwarf hamster needs access to food inside the cage. 

Find a small food container that can easily hold food pellets. Another essential is water access—a small hanging water bottle that has a spout for the hamster to drink from is a necessary accessory. Most cages will actually include a water bottle.

3. Exercise Facilities

Like humans, dwarf hamsters require physical exercise to maintain a healthy, balanced life. Since they live most of their life inside, they need access to exercise equipment inside the cage. 

The most common exercise piece is the wheel, but you can also purchase small climbing frames to keep your dwarf hamster physically stimulated.

4. Hamster Sleeping House

Everyone deserves the right to privacy, even your dwarf hamster!

Build them small sleeping quarters inside the cage so they can peacefully shut off from the world and relax in their own space.

How to Clean a Dwarf Hamster Cage

One of the best advantages of having a dwarf hamster is that they like to de-compartmentalize their living quarters and will keep their sleeping, playing, and toilet facilities very separate.

That being said, there are some important tips you should follow to help clean and maintain your hamsters to ensure they have a maximum lifespan.

Daily Spot Clean: Every day, you should wipe down its potty and remove any soiled bedding to prevent the spread of any disease.

Weekly Full Clean: The entire cage should be cleaned every week. This should be done on the same day every week to ensure your furry friend knows the routine.

Place the hamster in a safe place while cleaning: It goes without saying, but do make sure you keep the hamster in a secure location while you have removed it to clean the cage.

Cleaning Everything: At least once a week, wipe down all the surfaces and wire bars with hot water and antibacterial soap to ensure the cage is free from any harmful bacteria.

White vinegar for odors: If the cage is a bit smelly, use white vinegar to wipe down the surface since this is an effective, natural way to remove odor.

FAQ on dwarf hamster cages

The following questions are some of the most frequently asked questions by dwarf hamster owners:

What size cage does a dwarf hamster need?

Despite dwarf hamsters being smaller than other hamster species, they still need a large degree of space to live and run around in. 

The available floor space is very important when considering the perfect cage to purchase. 

According to regulations, the minimum size should be 24 x 12 inches, and the height of the cage should be a minimum of 12 inches tall.

Do dwarf hamsters escape easily?

Unfortunately, yes! Since dwarf hamsters are so small, they are known for their ability to squeeze through the bars of the cage and escaping. You should think about purchasing a cage with very small bar spacing to prevent the risk of escape.

Can dwarf hamsters escape wire cage?

Yes. As escape artists, the ability of the dwarf hamsters to escape wire cages is well-known. 

It is crucial that the spacing between the bars is as small as possible to prevent the risk of escape. As dwarf hamsters are so small, they are very vulnerable out in the open if they escape.

Do dwarf hamsters like to climb?

Very much so! Dwarf hamsters have a very similar enthusiasm to other hamsters when it comes to play and exercise. A good idea would be to provide them with a climbing frame or other play equipment to encourage them to climb.

Is a 10-gallon tank big enough for a dwarf hamster?

The larger, the better, when it comes to dwarf hamsters. Otherwise, there is a risk of them fighting for space inside the cage (if you own more than one). 

A good rule to follow is to have a minimum of 20-gallons for a single dwarf hamster, and then there should be 10 gallons for every other dwarf hamster that joins the setup. This will give them all enough space to thrive.

What type of cage is best for a dwarf hamster?

In the great, big world of cages with a ton of options to choose from, you might have a difficult time deciding which is best. 

When it comes to dwarf hamsters, you'll have the option of choosing from

  • A wire cage that is most likely based on a plastic foundation. This type of cage is often inexpensive, easy to clean, and you can easily watch the hamster as it goes about its daily business.
  • A plastic modular cage that will come with compartments and tubes for your hamster to stay active. This type of cage will give your hamster a stimulating environment, and it allows you to watch your pet as it plays. The downside is that the cage can be a bit more expensive, and cleaning it will need to be done carefully. 
  • An aquarium which will keep your dwarf hamster from escaping, but can be challenging to clean and move because of the weight and somewhat more expensive than wire cages. On the upside, you can easily watch your hamster through the glass.

Each type of cage can be the best option for your hamster - it comes down to your preferences. Just offer your hamster a clean cage with activities and a safe place they can retreat to, and they will be happy. 

Do dwarf hamsters need baths?

No matter if you have a dwarf hamster or any other type—giving your hamster a bath is NEVER recommended. This can lead to a ton of emotional distress for the animal as well as possible health conditions later on.

Hamsters aren't used to getting wet in the wild, and bathing causes them stress because it goes against their natural instinct. They may also catch a cold after getting wet.

However, the dwarf hamster generally can always be in the mood for a sand bath, which can be set up with chinchilla sand. This sand can be stowed in a "bath," which is simply a container large enough to fit the hamster comfortably—and is unlikely to tip over—like a ceramic bowl. The sand bath can help eliminate odor from the hamster and prevent greasy fur on their bodies. They generally tend to enjoy it, as well, which can help you keep your pet happy.

Do dwarf hamsters like to be petted?

Although it may need some time to adjust when you bring your dwarf hamster home, you'll be happy to know that in time, as your pet gets used to you and its new home, it will love to be held and petted. 

However, they can get a little touchy—they don't like to be petted all the time! Although it may be hard to resist since your hamster looks so cute and cuddly, you'll want to respect his or her space—especially in the beginning. It's recommended to give your hamster around a day or two to be able to get used to his new environment and feel comfortable again.

Are dwarf hamsters OK alone?

Generally, hamsters are solitary creatures. They evolved in the desert, where the scarcity of food and water taught them to protect their resources from other hamsters. Dwarf hamsters are definitely OK when kept alone, and they won't feel lonely.

However, although they generally tend to have a solitary nature or personality—especially if they are already adults—you can try them with another dwarf hamster if they are of the same young age and the same sex. When introduced as babies or very young, the transition period will be much easier.

However, if you already have an adult dwarf hamster, don't expect it to be so loving to its roommate. Also, it's extremely important to realize that different species of hamsters should definitely not be housed together (unless there is a rare occasion of having grown up together).

Do dwarf hamsters get cold?

Since their fur isn't as thick or doesn't insulate as well as the fur of other species, the dwarf hamster tends to get cold when temperatures drop below 60 degrees Fahrenheit. If it is placed in an environment—especially if the cage is located outside—where the weather drops, then this can threaten its health, and the hamster can fall ill. 

A stable temperature range for a dwarf hamster should be around 65 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Regardless of the type of dwarf hamster, whether you've adopted a "winter white" or "Djungarian", this temperature also is recommended. Even though you might have read that they are "cold-climate" hamsters, they still are temperamental when it comes to cold weather. 

Do dwarf hamsters smell?

Especially if you have a male dwarf hamster, you might have noticed this musky smell. If you are curious about where it comes from, don't be alarmed—it generally means that they are using their scent glands and making their mark.

Especially if it has just been placed in a new environment, your male dwarf hamster will want to mark his territory—and remark it if you clean the cage thoroughly. However, with time, their need to make their house a home will subside. 

If it is ultra smelly, however, you might want to check if the smell is coming from a more pressing problem like it sleeping in its urine (if the bedding is not as absorbable as you would have liked).

Why does my hamster bite me when I put my hand in the cage?

One of the more disappointing occurrences when first owning a hamster is placing a loving hand in to pet it and have it bite you! (Talk about biting the hand that feeds you). 

However, it's good to know that your hamster—like other hamsters of its species—generally don't like having a new pressure on their backs. If you just took your hamster home, as well, it may need some time to get used to its new environment, as well as the sensation of being picked up.

Some other reasons why your hamster is biting can be: 

  • If it was sleeping and you've woken it up, leading to a bite reaction. 
  • If you're trying to break up a fight between hamsters and you get caught in the crossfire.
  • If it's hungry and your hand smells of food.

To avoid being bitten, pick up your hamster by letting it climb onto the palm of your hand and cup your other hand over its back to protect it from falling. Also, always wash your hands before handling your pet to avoid biting. If your hand smells like food, your hamster may mistake it for a treat and try to have a taste.

Should I separate my dwarf hamsters?

Generally, keeping hamsters of the same sex should be OK. However, if not done from a young age, they might have a territorial problem between the two of them.

Even if you have hamsters that have grown up together and have no problem living in the same cage, you always need to make sure they have enough space. Living too closely together will cause stress and anxiety for hamsters.

If you do notice fighting between the two of them, this can end up in a dangerous outcome, so it might be best to separate them!

Hopefully, this article has given you all the essential information that you need to know about cages for dwarf hamsters. You should take your time to research the best possible cage for your pet to ensure that they live a long and happy life. 

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