Are you looking to keep a pet hamster? Hamsters are wonderful, low-maintenance pets that can provide you with lots of love as well as fun. And they are an excellent fit when you want something cute and flurry that’s not a dog or a cat.
What’s more, hamsters fall into the category of ‘small mammals’ or ‘pocket pets’. Which also includes mice, rats, gerbils, sager gliders, pygmy hedgehogs, and other not so small mammals like rabbits and prairie dogs.
Even though a small mammal appears tiny, owning the animal itself is a big responsibility.
You need to be aware of all the risks involved and know how to properly look after your pet since these animals require a lot of care and dedication to enable them to live their healthiest and happiest lives.
Take note. A clean, fresh living environment should be the first act towards healthy and thriving hamsters. So here’s a comprehensive guide on how to best care for pet’s cage:
Daily Hamster Cage Maintenance
Hamster habitat cleaning and grooming is one area where new hamster parents have little info on. Most people assume that because hamsters are fastidious groomers who love keeping themselves clean, there’s no need for special cage cleaning. This isn’t the case.
Yes, hamsters tend to keep their playing, sleeping, and toilet areas separate. And this trait helps to maintain their cages cleaner for longer. But it doesn’t mean you should neglect routine maintenance and cleaning.
If anything, daily and weekly cleaning and maintenance routine goes a long way in ensuring your hammy is happy and stress-free. It also helps to prevent odour and maintain the highest level of freshness within the cage.
A good daily cleaning and maintenance routine should include:
– Cleaning the Food Bowl
You probably know that your hamster will enjoy fresh foods like carrots, spinach, broccoli, turnips, etc. in addition to fruits and pellets.
To prevent food contamination and maintain good pet health, ensure to clean the feeding accessories in the cage daily. This is one of the simple chores you need to do frequently with hamsters.
It’s best to use a pet-safe disinfectant to clean metal or plastic containers. And if you can’t access a disinfectant, bleach will also do. But be sure completely rinse it away after cleaning the food bowl.
Remember, chemicals are deadly to hamsters. Not only that. Ensure to wipe down (using a paper towel or cloth) any excess water from hamster accessories to reduce the risk of diseases.
– Cleaning the Water Bowl
Take note that you’ll need a solid bottle brush for cleaning your pet’s water bowl. It helps to reduce slime buildup. Also, clean your hamster’s water bowl using soapy water and rinse, or bleach.
If you go with bleach, ensure to add a few drops and rinse properly; experts recommend 1 part bleach for every 10 parts of water.
– Change Soiled Bedding
Spot clean your pet’s cage daily by getting rid of soiled bedding and wiping its toilet corner with a dry cloth or paper towel.
As you may know, hamsters tend to urinate in not more than two specific areas of their habitat. So you’ll need to check for wet beddings, dump them into a trash can, and cover the spaces with fresh beddings.
And don’t forget to also get rid of uneaten food and droppings.
Considering that hamsters are nocturnal animals, it’s best to do your cleaning in the evening hours when your pet is most active. Waking it up during the day to clean can stress it.
Weekly Hamster Cage Maintenance
In addition to the daily upkeep mentioned above, plan to wash down the entire cage every week. A weekly hamster cage maintenance routine significantly helps to eliminate any unpleasant odours. And it involves:
– Rehousing your Hamster
Place your pet in a secure travel container before you start cleaning. For weekly cage maintenance, pet travel containers come in handy as they feature a mini water bottle from which your pet can quench its thirst as you clean.
Take note that your hamster is likely to escape if you clean the cage while the pet is still in it. So if you can’t access a carrier, at least have a hamster ball.
– Disassemble the Hamster Cage
Empty your hamster’s water and food bowl and place them at the sink for washing. Then disassemble your hamster’s cage. You can best clean an open-air wire solid-bottomed cage by disassembling the different parts and working on them separately.
– Throw Out Old Bedding
Scoop out all the discarded food, litter, and the entire bedding from the cage’s bottom. Additionally, rinse some of the items in your hamster’s cage.
Experts advise that you wash half of your pet’s accessories to maintain its familiarity with its cage.
– Clean Hamster Cage
Ensure to scrub each cage part with a wet sponge and anti-bacterial soap. Let the soap sit for about 10 to 15 minutes before rinsing it off with hot water.
Lastly, dry the cage thoroughly using a clean cloth or paper towel.
– Add New Bedding
Feel free to try out different bedding materials as you conduct your weekly cleaning routine.
This can help determine the most ideal substrate for your hamster, especially when it comes to comfort and odour.
– Reassemble Hamster Cage
Reattach the bottom part of the cage to the top ones when all pieces are clean and dry. Take note that dampness can easily saturate your hamster’s substrate and render it less effective.
So ensure to dry all the accessories and the cage. After reassembling your hamster cage, restock nesting material, substrate, water, and food.
Your hamster should be happy to return to a cage with fresh nesting materials and food.
How to Keep Hamster Cage from Smelling?
One disadvantage of keeping a hamster is the smell of urine. It’s extremely pungent. To control this nasty odor, you’ll need to consider a few adjustments:
– Go for a Caged Enclosure
Semi-plastic, fully-plastic enclosures, and aquariums tend to trap odour due to poor airflow within their walls. You can promote odour control and better airflow by opting for a fully-caged enclosure.
The bigger, the better. Just ensure your pet can’t squeeze through the metal spaces, especially if he’s a dwarf hamster.
– Choose the Right Substrate
In as much as hay and straw are comfortable for your hammy, they’re poor odour absorbers. Any substrate with wood pulp or hardwood shavings will go a long way to keep nasty smells at bay.
– Add a 2-inch layer of bedding
Evenly add a 2-inch layer of bedding material to the enclosure to enable your pet to burrow as well as make nests. It also helps with absorbing urine.
In any case, you have roughly two choices when it to hamster bedding: you can purchase paper bedding that you’ll replace frequently or go for special bedding designed to eliminate odors.
– Spot-Clean Daily
As mentioned earlier, one of the most effective methods of preventing foul smells from swirling around your pet’s enclosure is getting rid of (and replacing) any soiled bedding spots every day.
– Teach your Hamsters to use Litter Boxes
It may sound incredibly difficult, but teaching your pet to use a litter box is quite simple. Get a sizable box and put chinchilla sans (not chinchilla dust) in it as litter.
Next, figure out your hamster’s favourite peeing spot and place the litter box close to it. Throw a bit of soiled bedding into the box and your hamster will be good to go.
How Often Should You Clean a Hamster Cage?
It depends. Many factors determine how and when to clean the cage. For instance, if you have many hamsters, you’ll need to wash down the enclosure more than once a week.
Another factor that determines how often you’ll have to clean the enclosure is how fast dirt builds up. However, frequent spot cleaning significantly helps with dirt buildup.
If you clean spots that appear dirty, often, the frequency of wash downs required to keep the entire cage clean reduce. Not only that.
Size matters. If you have a large cage, your hamster’s mess spreads over an extended area and becomes less pungent. So the smaller the cage, the more times you need to clean it.
Why do you need to Clean the Hamster Cage Often?
It’s vital to clean your pet’s cage for several reasons:
- Prevents illnesses – regular cleaning helps to avert the spread of infections and diseases. Mind you, your hamster can pass some of these diseases to you.
- Reduces Stress – A dirty living environment is one sure way to stress your hamster. And so is over-cleaning. Your hamster won’t take it easy if keep disrupting it to clean up. As such, try your best to strike a balance between not disrupting your hamster too much and maintaining a fresh environment.
- Keep your Home Fresh – The fact that cleaning your hamster’s cage often keeps nasty smells at bay means that your home stands to benefit too. Yes, you and your hamster get to enjoy nice, fresh living spaces.
Prepare for Commitment
Clearly, taking care of a hamster is as easy as most people assume. But you only need to get used to a cleaning and maintenance routine. Then everything will feel not so much of a burden.
But if you feel that you’re too lazy or busy to care for a hamster, don’t get one. How healthy these animals become directly depends on how clean their environment is.
With excellent care, there’s no reason why your pet shouldn’t live a full, happy life.