Teddy Bear Hamsters - The Cage
There is a variety of hamster cages available in pet shops, so you need to do some thinking before buying one. Essentially, there are three types of cages:
The simple most popular cage is made of a plastic tray, covered by a wire mesh (usually covered with plastic). The wire part can be taken off for cleaning the cage.
These cages are airy, easy to clean and if you go with a good brand, they are reliable and will do the job.
Good ventilation also means they are more susceptible to drafts. Some owners feel that the wire comes in the way of watching the hamsters while they're in the cage.
Glass Tanks (aquarium or terrarium)
You get full view of your hamster at all times (provided the glass panels are kept clean).
While not extremely difficult to clean, they can be heavy to move around. For some people, this in itself can come in the way of cage cleaning.
Terrariums can also have ventilation issues. If you go for a glass tank, opt for a relatively shallow and large one, rather than deep.
Modular Plastic Cages
These fancy cages can provide hamsters with an interesting variety of space, allowing them to crawl through tunnels and move around more. They are also visually appealing, and you can let your creativity flow when creating these habitats.
Syrian hamsters, particularly the larger females, and certainly pregnant ones, can find the tubes too narrow. You should supervise initial use closely and if your hamster is having any difficulty passing through the tubes, you may need to take them out. These cages can also be difficult to clean, depending on the structure you came up with.
No matter which type of cage you opt for, make sure it's large enough for your hamster. Floor space should be at least 12" by 18" - larger is always better.
Some cages offer more than one floor, allowing hamsters to climb up and down. This can be a great way to add space, as well as encourage exercise. However, make sure your hamster is not at risk for a long drop anywhere in the cage.
In fact, by connecting more than one plastic cage, using tubes and other devices, some owners manage to create fairly extensive environments for their teddy bear hamsters. Some owners even go as far as constructing entire cages from scratch, with some pretty elaborate passages in them.
Need inspiration? Check out this YouTube movie of hamster cages:
What Goes into Your Teddy Bear Hamster's Cage
You can get creative when it comes to furbishing your hamster's cage, but make sure the following items are included:
Hamster water reservoir - either a dish or, more commonly a special bottle that is attached to the side of the cage. Make sure there is always fresh water available for your hamster and clean the water bottle or dish on a regular basis.
Food dish - There are various food bowls available for small animals. It's best to opt for a large and stable dish, as hamsters are known for sitting in the dish itself. Make sure the dish is easy to clean and remove any food residue daily.
Hamster house or igloo - some form of a box, preferably made of sturdy plastic, where your hamster can nest. Your hamster will probably get some bedding into it, along with shredded cardboard and other nesting materials (depending on what's available in the cage. He or she are likely to store bits and pieces of food in there, for a comfortable private nibble during the day. You must clean the hamster house entirely at least once a week, taking care to remove any rotting food. This is why a purchased plastic igloo or house works best, as they can be pulled apart for easy cleaning.
The Wheel - a hamster exercise wheel is not a luxury. It is an integral part of your hamster cage gear. Teddy Bear Hamsters need plenty of exercise and without it, they are at risk not just of becoming bored but of actually losing their ability to move around (a form of paralysis which is seen with hamsters that don't get enough exercise). Look for a strong plastic wheel where your hamster's feet always land on a solid surface as it runs. Avoid wheels with holes, or wheels made of metal wire.
Hamster Cage Maintenance
Choose the right kind of bedding for the cage, and add a hamster house and some toys, including a wheel, and you'll be giving your hamster a good habitat.
Keep the cage clean by daily scooping out any significantly soiled bedding. There will usually be a corner used by your hamster for peeing; pick up the soiled bedding, wipe the spot with a paper towel and put some new bedding there. If you see any "raisins" of poo anywhere, try to pick them out too.
Your hamster cage should be thoroughly cleaned once a week. Pick up a day so that you'll remember it by ("Monday is hamster cage cleaning day!"), throw out the used bedding and clean the cage with hot water and a mild detergent, taking care to thoroughly rinse every part with water. Make sure the cage is completely dry before putting the cage together again and putting in fresh bedding.