Pet hamsters spend most of their time in a cage, so it’s important to provide a spacious living area that will allow your pet to engage in their natural behaviors.
In the wild, hamsters create complex burrow systems underground, so you want the cage to be able to replicate that. Your hamster’s enclosure should allow them to dig and burrow while being spacious enough to hold all the necessary supplies, with ample room to run around.
Keep reading to find out how you can choose the best hamster cage for your pet and uncover the most important factors to consider when making a purchase. With these tips, you can rest assured that you will make an informed decision, without having to compromise on the comfort and well-being of your hamster.
Hamster Cage Requirements
Choosing the best hamster cage is not as simple as popping into the nearest pet shop and getting a cute colorful cage on sale. Doing that will likely result in an unhappy and stressed-out hamster. Unfortunately, most hamster cages sold in pet stores don’t provide the proper living environment for your hamster.
First, ensure your new hamster cage meets the following criteria for the ethical housing of your new pet.
Hamster cage size has been an object of debate for a long time, and different animal welfare organizations point out different cage size requirements.
RSPCA used to have minimum requirements of 430 sq. in. for dwarf hamsters and 620 sq. in. (4000 cm²) for Syrians, but they have since stopped recommending the minimum due to a lack of evidence on what hamsters prefer. But they point out that you should make the cage as large as possible.
Most animal welfare charities, such as Blue Cross and The Veterinary Association for Animal Welfare, recommend a minimum of 775 sq. in. (5000 cm²) for all hamster species. While Syrian hamsters are bigger than dwarfs, smaller hamster species are very active and need plenty of space to use their energy. The more space they have, the more enrichment their cage can provide, making for a happy and healthy hamster.
Research has shown that hamsters in smaller cages show significantly longer and more frequent stereotypic wire-gnawing behaviors, which are triggered by stress.
Based on available research, the ethical minimum continuous, uninterrupted footprint of the cage we recommend is 775 sq. in. (5000 cm²), which equates to 39 x 20 inches (100 x 50 cm) or a longer, thinner tank. Many hamster cages sold as modular systems of interconnected smaller areas don’t provide such a continuous footprint, making them a bad choice for hamsters.
Luckily, the conditions in which hamsters are held are slowly but surely improving as we learn and discover more about the needs of these agile animals. Now, if only pet stores would put the animal’s well-being above profit and start selling larger cages – that’d be great!
If you decide to buy a wire cage, be mindful of the bar spacing so your hamster can’t escape. The bar spacing of your cage will depend on the type of hamster you have:
- Syrian hamsters will do fine with a bar spacing of 1⁄2 inches (1.30 cm) or less.
- Smaller dwarf species need a bar spacing of maximum 1⁄4 inches (0.6 cm) as they can squeeze through anything bigger.
A Deep Base
Another important thing to consider when buying a hamster cage is how deep the cage base is. If you have a dwarf hamster, you’ll need at least 6 inches (15 cm) of bedding where your hamster can dig and build burrows. Ideally, you should have 10 inches (25 cm) or more bedding, which will provide even more burrowing fun for your hamster.
Syrian hamsters are larger than dwarfs, so they need deeper bedding. Aim for 12 inches (30 cm) of bedding for Syrians, but 10 inches (25 cm) is the minimum.
You can easily calculate how much bedding you need to buy depending on the cage size and the desired bedding depth with our hamster bedding calculator.
A Large Wheel
In the wild, hamsters can run up to 6 miles per night. And while a hamster wheel will allow your pet to run as much as they want, a large cage will better resemble their natural habitat in the wild and allow for all kinds of enrichment.
Small hamster cages sold as modular systems of interconnected smaller areas can’t usually fit a big enough hamster wheel. Unfortunately, most of those small cages include a wheel smaller than the minimum a hamster needs, which is over 8″ in diameter for dwarfs and 11″ for Syrians (20 cm for dwarfs and 28 cm for Syrians). Chinese hamsters are somewhere in between size-wise, so they need a 10″ wheel (25 cm).
Small wheels cause your hamster to curve their back while they’re running, which will likely result in back pain and back issues, considering the amount of time spent on that wheel.
When buying a hamster cage, keep in mind that it should be high enough to fit a large wheel and a deep base for substrate.
A big cage doesn’t mean much to a hamster if it doesn’t provide enough enrichment. Every cage needs a wheel, a sand bath, a deep substrate for digging and burrowing, a house, lots of toys, tunnels, a water bowl or bottle. A food bowl is optional as some people prefer scatter feeding their hamsters for enrichment while some do a combination of putting food in a bowl and scatter feeding.
A big enough cage will fit all of these necessary supplies and provide extra room to run around.
Examples of the Best Hamster Cages on the Market
Now that you know what to look for, I’ll list a few cages that fit these requirements. Unfortunately, finding a suitable hamster cage can be quite a task, with so many of the cages sold being far too small and inadequate for our pets.
Hamster cages that are big enough tend to be more expensive than the regular small cages sold in most pet stores, which is understandable considering they are much bigger. But having a pet hamster comes with its fair share of responsibility, and buying a suitable cage that will allow your hamster to enjoy, run around, explore, and express their natural behaviors will ensure a happy and healthy hamster. So, in my opinion, money shouldn’t be the most important thing to consider when it comes to the quality of life of a living creature that depends on you.
If you want to provide your hamster with a spacious and enriching home but can’t spend too much money on the cage, then I suggest you take a look at the IKEA hacks at the bottom of this post. You can make a great hamster enclosure for a fraction of the price with IKEA products!
Here are some of the best hamster cages to consider.
Wood & Glass Cages
Niteangel Vista Hamster Cage: Sizes M & L
Niteangel makes some of the best hamster cages on the market. Their cages are usually very spacious, which is a rarity. This cage comes in 3 sizes. Medium and large would make a great and spacious home for a hamster.
- Dimensions size M: 40.7 x 22.7 x 22.9 inches (LxWxH) (923 square inches)
- Dimensions size L: 47.1 x 22.7 x 26.9 inches (1069 square inches)
- Sold on: Amazon.com and Niteangelpet.com
Niteangel Bigger World: Sizes M & L
Another spacious hamster cage loved by many hamster owners. If you want to go with this cage, I suggest sizes M or L as they have more than the minimal 775 square inches.
- Inner dimensions size M: 39.4 x 19.7 x 19.7 inches (776 square inches)
- Inner dimensions size L: 47.2 x 19.7 x 23.6 inches (930 square inches)
- Materials: wood and glass, PVC board on the floor to prevent water and pee from soaking into the wood
- Sold on: Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk, and Niteangelpet.com
There’s a great video on how to set up this cage here.
Niteangel Glass Cage for Hamsters
Another Niteangel cage (or better-said terrarium), this one is all glass (except the top for air circulation of course) and has sliding glass doors at the front. The base is not extra deep (around 7 inches), but you can put more of the substrate on one side and up to 7 inches of the substrate on the side where you’re opening the door.
- Dimensions: 39.2 x 22.3 x 13.2 inches (874 square inches)
- Base depth: around 7 inches
- Sold on: Amazon.com
MewooFun Large Hamster Cage
MewooFun makes large hamster cages that look similar to Niteangel cages, but their price is much more affordable if you’re on a budget. However, with a lower price also comes lower quality. This cage is flimsier and less sturdy than Niteangel ones, and it will probably not last as long, so keep that in mind when deciding what to buy.
- Dimensions: 39.4 x 19.7 x 19.7 (776 square inches)
- Materials: wood and acrylic
- Sold on: Amazon.com
PawHut Hamster Cages
- Dimensions: 45.25 x 22.5 x 21.75 inches (1018 square inches)
- Materials: wood and glass, mashed wire top for ventilation
- Sold on: Amazon.com, Aosom.com, and Amazon.co.uk
This cage has doors at the bottom, but I wouldn’t use them as I would fill the bottom with 20 – 30 cm of bedding. The top can also open, so you can use that to open the cage.
- Dimensions: 45.25 x 23.5 x 21.75 inches (around 900 sq. in. because the cage doesn’t have right angles)
- Materials: wood and glass, mashed wire top for ventilation
- Sold on: Amazon.com, Aosom.com, and Amazon.co.uk
Living World Hamster Cage
Savic Hamster Plaza
This is one of the bigger hamster cages sold in pet stores. But if you decide to go with this cage, keep in mind that the wheel in this cage is only 7” which is too small for hamsters so you’ll need to replace it with a bigger wheel.
- Dimensions: 39.37 x 19.69 x 19.69 inches (775 square inches)
- Bar spacing: 9.5mm / 0.37 inches
- Base depth: 6.5 inches (not ideal but could work)
- Sold on: Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk
Aquariums can also make a good hamster home, but not all sizes are suitable. Keep in mind that even if a tank can hold more gallons, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it provides more floor space.
Let’s look at the differences and which ones can be used.
|Tank size||LxWxH||Floor space (sq. in.)||Is it suitable?|
|30 gallon (breeder)||36″ x 18″ x 12″||648 sq. in.||No|
|40 gallon (breeder)||36″ x 18″ x 16″||648 sq. in.||No|
|40 gallon (long)||48″ x 12″ x 16″||576 sq. in.||No|
|50 gallon||36″ x 18″ x 19″||648 sq. in.||No|
|55 gallon||48″ x 13″ x 21″||624 sq. in.||No|
|65 gallon||36″ x 18″ x 24″||648 sq. in.||No|
|75 gallon||48″ x 18″ x 21″||864 sq. in.||Yes|
|90 gallon||48″ x 18″ x 24″||864 sq. in.||Yes|
|125 gallon||72″ x 18″ x 21″||1296 sq. in.||Yes|
|150 gallon||72″ x 18″ x 28″||1296 sq. in.||Yes|
|180 gallon||72″ x 24″ x 25″||1728 sq. in.||Yes|
If you decide to use an aquarium for your hamster, you’ll also need a lid such as the Zilla Reptile Terrarium Cover or make one yourself with mesh to provide enough ventilation.
Although aquariums can be pricy, you can often find them second-hand for a fraction of the price on places such as Facebook Marketplace.
Good Cages Sold Only in the UK & Europe
Available cages differ significantly based on the part of the world or a country you live in. Here are some of the cages sold in European and UK stores. Unfortunately, I didn’t find a store that sells them in the USA.
Ferplast Criceti 100
- Dimensions: 95 x 57 x 50 cm (5415 square cm)
- Sold on: Ferplast.co.uk (UK) and Ferplast.com (some other parts of Europe)
- This cage comes with an in-built wheel that is much too small and should be switched to a larger one
Unfortunately, many of these cages can be unavailable or out of stock for longer periods, so you might even have more luck with IKEA hacks. What’s that you’re wondering? It’s creating a hamster cage from IKEA products. Believe it or not, IKEA’s cabinets make better hamster cages than many real cages made by pet product companies.
IKEA Hamster Cage Hacks
For those willing to go one step further for their hamsters, some IKEA products can be converted into wonderful hamster homes. This also ends up much cheaper than large hamster cages.
Detolf is an IKEA cabinet that is commonly used as a hamster cage. It’s pretty easy to set up and convert into a cage. With its floor space of 1074 square inches, it makes for an awesome hamster home with plenty of room to do all the things that come naturally to hamsters. If you decide to use this cabinet as a hamster cage, you’ll need to do some simple updates, as the cabinet will need a top lid (that provides enough ventilation) to prevent your hamster from escaping. See how you can do this in this video.
Since this cabinet is not too deep, I recommend having one side of it filled with the bedding material almost to the top, so they have enough to burrow.
The dimensions of the IKEA Detolf cage are: 64.12″ L x 16.88″ W x 14.62″ H inches (163 L x 43 W x 37 H cm).
You can see how this hack looks in action here.
Another great IKEA hack is using their Pax wardrobe frame for a hamster cage. It comes in many different sizes, such as this one with the dimensions of 39.3″ L x 22.8″ W x 79.1″ H (100 L x 58 W x 201 H cm) which equates to 2803 square inches of floor space. When you lay it down on the floor or a desk, it makes for a VERY spacious and comfortable hamster enclosure (or better said a mansion). Its depth of 58 cm allows you to put a deep layer of bedding for your pet to burrow.
This one requires a bit more work as you’ll have to drill and cut the materials in half. The end results is a beautiful hamster home with 858 square inches. You can see the tutorial for this cage here.
What Kind of Cages to Avoid
Those small colorful hamster cages with modular systems are very popular among kids, so they are usually the first go-to choice for parents. But if we take a hamster’s point of view, these cages don’t provide nearly enough space or enrichment that all hamsters need and deserve.
Cages with wire floors are not a good option because hamsters need a deep substrate where they can dig and burrow, and a cage with a wire floor is not suitable for containing the substrate unless you cover it with a deep tray that will keep the bedding in. Another thing is that walking on wires all the time can cause issues with your hamster’s feet, called bumblefoot. Considering all of this, it is best to avoid these types of cages.
Is Your Current Cage Too Small?
If your hamster is unhappy with their cage, you might notice certain signs indicating their distress. For example, if your hamster is constantly chewing on the bars or frantically trying to escape, the cage might be too small for their needs. Observing your pet’s behavior can be a helpful way to gauge their level of comfort and satisfaction with their habitat.
A small or inadequate cage can lead to immense stress for a hamster, potentially resulting in a condition known as “cage rage.” To prevent this, it’s crucial to provide your pet with a living area where they can thrive.
If your current cage is smaller than the recommended minimum of 775 square inches, I would seriously consider getting a bigger one for your hamster’s welfare. If you’re not sure how much floor space your cage provides, use this hamster cage calculator to find out!