How to Setup Your Hamster’s Cage

How to Setup Your Hamster’s Cage

To have a healthy and happy hamster, it is essential to correctly set up your Hamster’s enclosure and keep it clean. The enclosure is their entire world, and providing them with a safe, clean, and engaging living environment is an essential investment for your Hamster. So you may be wondering, how should I set up their enclosure?

Correctly setting up a hamster cage involves: having a suitably sized enclosure, adding a safe substrate for burrowing in, adding a range of accessories and toys such as an exercise wheel, hideout, sand bath, and chew toys, and adding food and water dishes.

1. Have a suitably sized enclosure

Your Hamster’s housing should be made of plastic, glass, or metal. It should be escape-proof with a solid bottom. In addition, a solid base is required so that you can provide enough bedding material for digging and burrowing in. Finally, a solid base and minimal wire/bar spacing make it comfortable on your Hamster’s feet.

Allow sufficient room in the housing for your Hamster to play and exercise. A cage that measures at least 450 square inches (2903 square cm) is ideal, but you can opt for something bigger. Keep in mind that many pet stores sell hamster cages that are far too small, so you may have to shop around or DIY to get one big enough. Also, you cannot connect multiple smaller cages to make the minimum required size, as hamsters need the space to run around as they would in the wild. 

While hamsters acclimate to average household temperatures, they do not do well with extreme temperature changes. Therefore keep your Hamster’s enclosure out of direct sunlight or drafty areas.

To help ensure a healthy and happy hamster, you will need a regular cleaning schedule for your Hamster’s enclosure. Your Hamster can get distressed if the enclosure is cleaned too often or not enough. See this article on How to Clean Your Hamster’s Cage for information on cleaning.

2. Add substrate for burrowing in

Add at least 6 inches (16cm) of a safe substrate to your enclosure. But aim for at least 10 inches (25cm) if you can. Safe bedding options for hamsters include:

  • Paper-based bedding
  • Aspen wood shavings
  • Hemp shavings

Generally, the best and healthiest bedding is aspen wood shavings or shredded unscented paper. However, this varies across individuals’ and hamsters’ preferences. Avoid corn cobs, fleece, cat litter, pine, cedar, or scented bedding containing chemicals that pose respiratory risks to your Hamster. The bedding should be at least 10 inches deep so that they have enough room to burrow but provide more if you can (source). This is because hamsters are naturally burrowing animals and will create multi-chamber burrows. Most hamsters won’t try to burrow unless given at least 10 inches of bedding.

 As well as substrate, getting some separate bedding or nesting material is essential.

See this article on Hamster Care for more information on hamster housing requirements or Essential Hamster Supplies.

3. Add a hideout

Hideouts are important for hamsters as they provide an area to feel safe, protected, and sleep. You can have multiple hideouts in the enclosure so the Hamster can choose which one it wants to use.

Multi-chamber hideouts are an excellent option for hamsters as they mimic how a hamster would live in the wild.

4. Add a wheel for exercise

An exercise wheel is a must to prevent boredom. Hamsters are very active and need many things to exercise in their enclosures.

Avoid a wheel with wire or mesh, as your Hamster can trap a limb or get painful sores on its feet. Also, avoid flying saucer-type wheels as it encourages an unnatural way of running, and they can fall from the device.

The wheel is too small for your Hamster if they run with an arched back. If they are, purchase a larger exercise wheel.

5. Add a sand bath

Sand baths help keep your Hamster clean as hamsters can’t be bathed in water.

Hamster’s a more likely to use the sand bath if they feel safe, so put a hideout in the sand bath.

See this article on Hamster Sand Baths: Everything You Wanted to Know for more information on sand baths.

6. Add accessories and toys

Hamsters require many accessories and toys to keep them entertained and mentally stimulated. Hamsters love toys that they can climb and hide-and-seek style toys.

Hamsters are prey animals, so they will be more comfortable if there is not a lot of open space in the enclosure. Have lots of areas they can hide in to feel safe. Make the enclosure semi-crowded.

Hamsters like to have a hiding place. This can be a cardboard tunnel or a little plastic hideaway bungalow. Be sure to use something designed for a hamster, though, versus repurposing a toy meant for a child or another pet.

7. Add chew toys

Ensure your Hamster has plenty of wood chew sticks or mineral chews to chew on and maintain their teeth. Hamster’s teeth are constantly growing, and therefore, they need something to chew on to wear them down and avoid medical issues.

There are a variety of chew toys available, so buy a few different options and see which one your Hamster likes best.

8. Add food and water sources

You will need a food dish and either a water dish or a water bottle. You can also scatter-feed your Hamster throughout the enclosure to encourage their natural foraging skills. If you get a bowl, get a small one that doesn’t take up too much space.

You must provide fresh, clean, and chlorine-free water in a water bottle or dish. Hang the water bottle at a height a hamster can drink from at a natural angle. Water has to be checked and changed daily.

See this article on Water bottle or Water dish: Which is Best for your Hamster? for more information.


A hamster’s cage is their whole world. Therefore, it is essential to set up your Hamster with a suitably sized enclosure containing a safe substrate for burrowing in, a range of accessories and toys such as an exercise wheel, hideout, sand bath, and chew toys, as well as food and water dishes.

How To Clean Your Hamsters Cage

White hamster in bedding

You should keep your hamsters home clean to keep them healthy, disease-free, and comfortable. But you may be wondering, how and how often should I clean my hamster’s enclosure?

A good hamster enclosure cleaning routine includes daily, weekly, and monthly maintenance routines. You should fully clean the enclosure once a month (if required), replace bedding weekly for smaller cages, spot clean every day (as needed), and clean food bowls and water bottles daily. Always wear gloves when cleaning your hamster’s enclosure.

White hamster in bedding

Hamsters can be carriers of transmittable viruses and bacteria. Therefore it is essential to wear gloves while cleaning your hamster’s habitat. In addition, be sure to wash your hands thoroughly after completing daily, weekly, or monthly cleaning tasks.

Daily Maintenance Routine

Your hamster’s cage should be spot cleaned every day, or every couple of days as required, to prevent the enclosure from becoming too dirty. Soiled bedding should be scooped out every day and replaced with fresh bedding. You can use a small animal scoop or wear gloves to do this. Hamsters usually urinate in one or two areas of their enclosure, so pay particular attention to these areas and scoop out any wet bedding.

You should also spot clean your hamster’s sand bath and remove debris, droppings, or urine. If your hamster starts using the sand bath as a toilet, do not leave it in the enclosure all the time. For more information on hamster sand baths, see this article Hamster Sand Baths: Everything You Wanted to Know.

You should clean food bowls, water dishes, and water bottles daily. Clean containers help maintain your pet’s health and reduce the chance of contaminated food and water. It will also prevent harmful germs or bacteria from building up. In addition, you should provide your pet hamster with fresh water every day.

Remove any uneaten food, such as fruits and vegetables, every day so that it doesn’t spoil and make your hamster sick.

Weekly Maintenance Routine

If you have a smaller enclosure, you should completely change all of the bedding every week. Replacing the bedding is usually only required once per week, but you may need to do it more often if you notice that it is more dirty than usual or has a strong ammonia smell. Include a small amount of your hamster’s previous bedding after cleaning to prevent them from getting stressed from the unfamiliar smells.

As hamsters tend to stash bits of food away, replacing the bedding regularly will prevent hidden food from rotting inside the enclosure.

If you have a very large hamster enclosure you don’t need to completely change the bedding weekly as hamster’s tend to urinate in one or two areas. Instead spot clean and replace bedding as necessary.

Monthly Maintenance Routine

If you have a very large hamster enclosure you don’t need to completely clean it unless the hamster has had an illness or it has passed. For large enclosures spot cleaning is usually enough to keep it clean. If you need to clean more try removing one third of the bedding every couple of weeks in order to keep stress levels down in your hamster. Over time you eventually get a completely clean cage.

For smaller enclosures, you should fully clean your hamster’s enclosure once a month so that it doesn’t become too soiled.

Always wear gloves when cleaning your hamster’s enclosure and items.

To completely clean your hamsters enclosure follow the steps below.

1. Put your hamster in a safe temporary habitat

To safely clean your hamster’s enclosure, first, place your hamster in a safe temporary habitat such as a rodent playpen. Then, check on your hamster regularly to make sure that they are ok in their temporary area.

2. Clean enclosure and all items

Deep cleaning the enclosure will include clearing out all of the debris, bedding, and objects. Once you have emptied the enclosure, wash the enclosure, hideaways, accessories, and hard toys with lukewarm soapy water. Wash all items even if they don’t appear dirty. If your enclosure is a wire or mesh cage, make sure to clean every bar. If your enclosure is an aquarium, make sure to clean each surface and corner thoroughly.

Do not use ammonia-based products as they may be harmful to your hamster. To ensure that you are washing your hamster’s enclosure and items with a safe product, you can use a specialized habitat cleaning spray. Alternatively, you could use a mix of 50% water and 50% white vinegar to avoid potentially harmful chemicals.

After cleaning the enclosure, thoroughly rinse the enclosure with water to remove any residue and let it completely dry. Adding new bedding before the enclosure is completely dry can cause the bedding to become wet may require cleaning sooner.

Rinse the washed items to ensure that no soap or cleaning solution is trapped inside them and leave them to dry. Thoroughly dry the Items before returning them to the enclosure as leftover water could attract mold.

3. Add fresh bedding and replace dry items

Add fresh bedding to the enclosure before returning the cleaned and dry accessories, toys, etc. Include a small amount of their previous bedding so that they don’t get stressed. Thoroughly cleaning your hamster’s enclosure can cause your hamster stress due to the different smells and objects being moved. Including some of their old bedding makes the enclosure feel more familiar as they can smell their scent on it.

Throw away all the soiled bedding, along with any paper towels or disposable cloths you used when cleaning your hamster enclosure. If you used re-usable rags or materials, be sure to sanitize them before their next use.

Be sure to thoroughly wash your hands after cleaning your hamster’s enclosure and items.


A good hamster enclosure cleaning routine includes daily, weekly, and monthly maintenance routines. A regular cleaning routine will help to keep your hamsters healthy, disease-free, and comfortable.

  • Spot clean enclosure daily
  • Clean food dish, water bottles, and water dishes daily
  • Remove any uneaten food, such as fruits and vegetables, daily
  • Change bedding weekly for smaller enclosures
  • Fully clean enclosure once a month for smaller enclosures