6 Best Toys for Hamsters: Different Options to Choose

Hamsters are perfect for people looking for active pets since they love to play and explore. These adorable animals also need to exercise because they can easily get obese.

You want to provide running wheels, exercise balls, and other toys that will enrich their lives. The best toys for hamsters include:

Exercise Wheels

Exercise wheels are often the first toy choice for any pet owner with a hamster, and most hamster cages in pet stores are inbuilt with them.

Exercise wheels may seem like a poor fit for small animals like the hamsters, but they are runners in the wild.

Wild hamsters are nocturnal, and they emerge from their tunnels at night to look for food, and they have been known to cover up to 6 miles. An exercise wheel will allow your hamster to cover the distance they would in the wild.

In addition to fulfilling this instinct to run, a hamster wheel will provide exercise for your pet.

Exercise wheels will also relieve the boredom your hamster feels from being confined to a cage.

Hamsters are naturally curious, and you want to keep them as engaged as possible. As long as your pet is exercising, they will not get obese or develop illnesses like diabetes.

When buying your hamster an exercise wheel, do not buy one that is too small. Dwarf hamsters will be fine with 6.5-inch wheels, but you will need at least 8 inches for adult Syrian hamsters. You can tell if the model is small if your pet has their back arched when using it.

Keep in mind that hamsters are nocturnal, and they will be running at night. A squeaky model might be a bad idea if you are a light sleeper or if you keep them in your bedroom.

Wheels that operate on ball bearings seem to be quieter than other models. Weighted plastic wheels are standard, but you can choose metal ones if they are safe for your pet. Metal wheels are also better if you don’t want your hamster chewing on them.

There is also a debate between grounded and mounted wheels. Whichever way the wheel is set up, you want a solid running surface for your hamster so that their feet do not get trapped.

When introducing an exercise wheel to your hamster, use a treat to lure them into exploring. Over time, your pet will figure out that the model is for running, and they will begin using it.

Tunnels & Hideouts

In the wild, hamsters create tunnel systems where they seek refuge during the day.

They bring back foraged food to their underground homes where they also socialize with their kind. Your hamster will need hideouts to explore and tunnels where they can rest.

You can create elaborate tunnels and interlink them to stimulate your hamster. Recreate the layout often to keep your pet engaged continuously.

You can either buy tunnels or make some yourself. As for the safety of materials, your pet will be better off with a non-toxic and ventilated hideout. Plastic is popular and easy to clean, but it can be stifling. Be careful with metal since it can have sharp edges.

PVC pipe is also popular, but it should have a diameter of at least six inches. If you want to get a wooden hideout, ensure it is non-toxic and untreated. You can use cardboard, but it will be chewed up quickly by your hamster.

Cardboard boxes, however, make great temporary hideouts. Soft plastics will also be chewed, and you should avoid brittle ones that develop sharp edges when chewed.

When selecting or creating a hideout, choose one that is a little bigger than your pet. You want your hamster to feel safe and secure and not stifled when they hide.

Climbing Toys

Hamsters love to climb, and you may observe them climbing the bars of their cage. This behavior is entirely normal, and if your hamster is especially athletic, it may be time to buy them a climbing toy.

Most models will come with a ladder and swing with a platform where you can leave treats, and your pet can rest. You can buy a set that doubles as a hideout and your hamster can climb and sleep when they need to. Some pet stores will stock jungle gyms, which feature a military-style set of things to climb over, crawl under, and climb.

Hamsters enjoy gnawing on accessories, and you should select non-toxic climbing toys. The animals are known to jump from higher platforms, and it is best to have deep bedding to cushion their falls.

Keep the climbing toys low to make it even safer for your hamster to play. Hamsters are good at climbing up but not as accomplished in getting down.

You can also create DIY climbing toys using organic ropes and wood. The rope should be thick enough so that your pet cannot get tangled.

Chewing Toys

Hamsters love to chew; chewing toys will also slow down the growth rate of their teeth, which can get overgrown if left to be. If left with nothing to chew, your hamster will target the bars of their cage.

When it comes to hamster chewing toys, the best ones are crafted from organic materials. You can fashion chewing sticks from apple-wood branches as they are tasty and safe. Avoid evergreen wood like cedar, and any branches treated with pesticides.

If you gather chewing sticks yourself, boil them for at least two minutes to remove bacteria and parasites. Hamsters get through chewing toys quickly, and you want to buy several of them to ensure they don’t run out. You can also give them hard dog biscuits as long as they don’t contain garlic.

Other toys are carved from materials like timothy hay, lava stone, seagrass, bamboo, and cholla wood. Whichever material you choose, ensure it is pet-safe and non-toxic. The best chew toys will provide a host of nutrients for your pet.

Ball & Carry on Toys

Hamsters love balls that they can roll around and climb over. Exercise balls are a great way to keep your hamster active and stimulated. You can place your hamster in balls that are well ventilated and supervise them as they run around.

You can also buy balls made from organic materials for your hamster to chew. Large and hollow balls can act as hideouts even as your pet eats them. Place the ball on the floor and away from staircases and drop-offs.

Foraging Toys

In the wild, hamsters burrow and dig, and create interconnected tunnels in the ground. They will need to forage in their cages to feel secure and happy. You need to provide deep bedding so that they enjoy digging around.

You can also get foraging toys like a digging toy. A box filled with sterilized soil or fine sand will fulfill your pet’s urge to burrow.

A foraging toy, which is popular among bird owners will also be a good option for hamster. Fill up the foraging wheel with dry food that your hamsters love and let them play around with it.

Do Hamsters Like to Play?

If you have never kept an active pet before, you may be surprised at how explorative hamsters can be. They seem to be always on the move, climbing and burrowing in their cage.

Hamsters are curious, and you can only satiate their instincts by letting them play. This is why hamster cages come with running wheels to engage the little creatures.

Letting your hamster play in their cage is not enough; they need the sense of freedom that comes from running around in an open area.

You can place them in an exercise ball and allow them to move around to their heart’s content. You can even section off a play area in your house where they can run around freely.

Hamsters are often an easy choice for parents who want to allow their kids to have pets. You can let children play with them as long as you supervise them.

Can Hamsters Play with Toilet Paper Rolls?

Empty toilet paper rolls make great tunnels for a hamster cage. You can use several of them to create an elaborate maze for your pet to explore.

Stuff the empty roll with hay and place a treat in the middle for your pet to find. You can also fill bedding material in a tissue box for your hamster to nest.

Even if the paper roll is not empty, hamsters will not eat the tissue. While you may see them ingest it, they will actually store it in their cheek pouches for use as bedding. Even if they eat it, the tissue is generally harmless, unless it is scented.

Can Hamsters Play with Plastic Bottles?

You can use plastic bottles in a hamster cage as long as you remove any jagged edges. Cut both ends away and use them as hideouts.

You can also piece several of them together to create a tubular structure for your little friends. Do not use toxic glue to piece the bottles together.


Hamsters make adventurous pets, and they seem to have boundless energy. You will need to keep your hamster stimulated and engaged with a variety of toys and accessories.

In addition to running wheels, hamsters respond to exercise balls, climbing setups, foraging toys, and chew toys. Keeping your hamster active will also spare them from obesity and diabetes.

avatar Jane
Jane is an experienced animal care specialist with a focus on rodents and small mammals, with over 10 years of experience in the pet industry. Her articles provide practical guidance on choosing the right pet and managing common health issues. Jane is an advocate for animal welfare and supports organizations dedicated to protecting wildlife. read more...

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