If you plan on buying a hamster or have just bought one, you might be wondering what essential hamster supplies you need so they can settle into their new home and live happily.
To help you out, we have compiled a list of essential items your hamster needs to live healthily and happily.
A Sizeable Cage
For hamster cages, the bigger it is, the better. Every hamster needs a place they can run around and burrow. Don’t make the mistake of going for a smaller cage. The minimum cage size for a Syrian or Dwarf hamster should have at least 450 square inches (2903 square cm) of floor space. However, the bigger the enclosure is, the better.
A cage with multiple floors and expansive roofs will be ideal for your fluffy friend. If you can’t provide a large cage for your hamster, make sure to let them out every day for exercise.
To avoid your hamster getting lost or injured, properly supervise your hamster while it is out of its cage. You will need to provide a safe environment and keep a constant eye on your hamster.
Appropriate Bedding and Nesting Material
In addition to a sizeable cage, your pet hamster will need bedding. There are different types of beddings – some safe, some not so safe.
The best is aspen shavings – these are hamster-safe and readily available. Aspen is the only safe wood-based bedding for hamsters. In addition, it is affordable and provides odor control.
Do not use pine or cedar wood shavings as hamster bedding. These are unsafe as their scent can be too strong and dangerous for hamsters. In addition, both pine and cedar are toxic to your hamster.
Another option is shredded paper – this is a great option as it controls odor well. However, it can be noisier compared to aspen bedding. Therefore, if you are sensitive to sound, paper-based bedding may be a problem. When using paper-based bedding, stick to non-scented options.
Hamster bedding should be at least 10 inches deep, but provide more if you can (preferably at least 16 inches deep) (source). This is because hamsters are naturally burrowing animals and will create multi-chamber burrows. Most hamsters won’t even try to burrow unless they are given at least 10 inches of bedding.
After choosing your hamster’s bedding, you will need to select a nesting material. Unscented toilet paper or paper towels are ideal options. Steer clear of fabric-based nesting material or scented paper.
Variety of Food
Most of your hamster’s diet should be made up of good quality store-bought hamster food. Do not use pet food designed for other animals such as rats or mice.
Store-bought hamster food comes in the form of pelleted hamster food or a loose seed mix. Pelleted hamster food is generally recommended, over a seed mix, as it provides a balanced diet in every bite.
Hamsters enjoy various food, and you can feed your hamster additional treats as long as they are given in moderation. It is best to stick to healthy treats such as nuts, fresh vegetables, fruit (in moderation), insects, grains, and seeds. However, it would be best to keep your hamster’s diet fairly consistent, as a sudden change in diet can cause digestive issues.
Some treats you can give your hamster include:
- Apple (without seeds or skin)
- Nuts (unsalted, no almonds)
- Sunflower seeds
If you want to use a homemade hamster mix, you can start with a hamster seed mix as the base diet and supplement it with safe fruits and fresh vegetables. Then, you can give them sunflower seeds (in small quantities) as treats.
For those who want to buy ready-made hamster food, there are many brands available. Just read reviews of best foods for hamsters.
Water Bottle or Water Dish
Hamsters require constant access to clean, fresh and chlorine-free water. This can be provided using a hamster water bottle or water dish.
Some hamster cages come with a water bottle, but you can get one cheaply from pet stores if it’s not provided. If you have a tank-type cage, buy a water bottle to hang from the top or attach to the side. For a wire cage, a water bottle that attaches to the bars is ideal. Place the water bottle in a way that allows your hamster to drink at a natural angle while standing on two or four legs.
Water dishes should be a bit heavy and shallow so that your hamster is less likely to tip it over or get wet by walking through it. It should be smaller than your hamster in size and placed on a solid surface.
Whether you use a water bottle or a shallow water dish for your hamster, the water has to be checked and changed daily.
Toys and Tubes
Hamsters have a lot of energy and like to play a lot. That’s why they need toys and tubes.
The best toys provide your hamster with physical and mental stimulation.
Toys also keep them entertained and busy, so they don’t nibble the cage. Therefore, give them chew toys such as those made from wood. Also, buy them tubes so they can sharpen their explorative skills.
There are plenty of hamster toy varieties you can find online. Buy a mix of chew and exercise toys to keep your furry friend entertained. If they get used to one toy, introduce a new set of toys.
Running/Exercise Wheel for Hamster
As mentioned, hamsters are full of energy and can run for a couple of miles in a night. However, if not provided with a wheel, they will find other dangerous activities such as chewing on the bars, destroying toys, etc. Not to mention that a lack of exercise can make hamsters grumpy.
That’s why an exercise wheel is good for your hamster – it will help burn off all their energy and keep them busy.
When buying a hamster wheel, factor in noise level as some can be loud, and this will disturb your sleep at night. Choose an exercise wheel with a solid running surface with no mesh or rungs that a hamster can get its feet stuck in. It should be at least 11 inches in diameter for a Syrian hamster and at least 8 inches for dwarf hamsters. The best size wheel will depend on the size of your hamster.
Your hamster should be able to run on the wheel with a flat back. Running with a bent back is uncomfortable for your hamster and can lead to back problems.
We hope that the above essential supply items for hamsters will offer you a good start. In addition, some brands provide all-inclusive hamster kits that include most of these starter items to make your work easier. Finally, with a bit of research, you can find one that will make your hamster’s home a fantastic habitat for them.
|Hamster cage||At least 450 square inches (2903 square cm) of floor space|
|Bedding Material||Aspen shavings or shredded unscented paper|
|Nesting Material||Unscented toilet paper or paper towels|
|Food||Mostly store-bought hamster food and healthy treats in moderation|
|Water Bottle||Hang at a height a hamster can drink from at a natural angle. Water has to be checked and changed regularly|
|Toys and Tubes||Provide a variety of chew and exercise toys|
|Exercise Wheel||At least 11 inches in diameter for larger hamsters and at least 8 inches for dwarf hamsters. Solid running surface with no mesh or rungs.|