Cleaning Your Hamster’s Cage: When, How Often and Cleaning Products

Hamster in cage

How often you should clean your hamster’s cage is one of the biggest concerns for new hamster owners.

How often should I clean my hamster cage? You should be spot cleaning your hamster’s cage as often as you can. Deep cleaning your hamster cage can cause your hamster stress and should be done only when it is needed. 

This articles covers basic hamster cage and will go deeper into how often you should be cleaning your hamster’s cage, what bedding you should use and diet requirements.

How Often Should I Clean My Hamster Cage?

Hamster Cage In aquariumLeaving your hamsters cage dirty can lead to your hamster becoming poorly, so efficient and regular cleaning helps keep your pet healthy and prevents costly vet bills for you.

You need to spot clean your hamsters cage as often as you can. Preferably weekly or every few days. Giving your hamster a deep clean will depend on how big your hamster’s cage is.

It’s advisable to clean them out monthly but you should be checking how dirty their cage is and only cleaning them out when needed as it can bring your hamster great stress.

There are areas of the hamster cage that you will need to tend to daily. Hamsters have got a habit of hiding food and this is usually in their bedding, so make sure you check daily for any hidden food.

Sometimes your hamster won’t feel like eating an entire meal, so you will need to throw out any remains on a daily basis to prevent the food from going stale.

Your hamster will go to the toilet in a specific part of his cage, this is another area that you will need to clean daily.

You will also need to check the bedding for wet areas, whether you should spot clean will depend on how soiled the bedding has become.

There are several factors that will determine how many times throughout the week you should clean your hamster cage. These include the following:

  • How quickly the cage gets dirty
  • The number of hamsters you own
  • Does the odor in the hamster cage bother you?
  • The size of the hamster cage

However; in general, it is advised that you give your hamsters cage a good clean at least once a week.

Why You Should Spot Clean

Spot cleaning basically means that you only clean the areas that are dirty, this is what you will do daily. There is no need to remove everything from the cage as you would when giving it a weekly clean.

  • Cleaning a cage too often can cause stress: Think about it like this; how would you feel if someone came into your home every day, kicked you out and started rearranging the furniture? It would stress you out, right? Hamsters feel the same way and you don’t want to put him through that, which is why daily spot cleaning is better.

How Do I Clean My Hamsters Cage?

Before you begin the cleaning process gather together all your materials, this will make the process easier for you and your hamster. In general, you will need the following items:

  • Baby wipes or a washcloth
  • Pet approved cleaning solutions
  • New bedding

Give your hands a good wash before and after cleaning your hamster cage to prevent the spread of germs.

For proper cleaning, you will need to remove the hamster from the cage and put him in another safe enclosure such as an exercise ball or another cage.

Remove all water and food bowls, exercise equipment, toys and bedding. Keep a little bit of the old bedding to mix in with the new so that your hamster has something that it is familiar with. Put the old bedding into a waste bag and close it to prevent any smells.

Whether the equipment looks dirty or not, clean every object that is housed in your hamster cage. This will typically include the exercise station, toys, food and water bowls.

Soak the items or spray them with the cleaning solution and use the washcloth to scrub them.

Clean the inside of the cage using cleaning solution and a cloth for scrubbing. Some areas may need a bit more elbow grease then others; for example, if bedding has been stuck to the cage wall you might need to use a metal appliance to scrape it off. You can also soak problem areas to make them easier to clean.

Aquarium cages will require thorough cleaning of all corners and surfaces.

Use another washcloth to dry the cage and the equipment before putting it back together. You can also use the air-drying process if you wish.

Many hamster owners prefer to leave the cage in the sun because UV light rays act as a disinfectant.

Once everything has been cleaned and dried, do a final check to make sure you haven’t missed anything and put the cage back together.

Arrange clean bedding in the cage first, put exercise equipment and toys on top of the bedding.

Add fresh water and food to the dispensers and place them back in the cage.

Put your hamster back in the cage and give him time to relax and adjust (A couple of hours will be enough) to the new clean surroundings before you start interacting with him again.

Be careful what you clean your hamster’s cage with

You can’t use the same products you use in your home to clean your hamsters cage. Many of these detergents cause harmful chemicals that will disrupt the biological processes of your hamster.

The Best Safe Hamster Cage Cleaning Products You Should Use

Here is a list of some of the most effective and safe cleaning products you can use for your hamsters’ cage:

  • Natures Miracle
  • Johnson’s Clean and Safe
  • Kaytee Clean Cage Deodorizer

What Bedding Should I Use in My Hamsters Cage?

In their natural environment, hamsters like to build nests and make a hole in the ground, the materials used, and the nests built depend on what type of hamster it is and the environment they are living in.

For example, Russian hamsters will line their nests with sheep’s wool and grass because they live on dry grass plains. On the other hand, Syrian hamsters dig burrows deep underground in the sandy oil because they live in a hot dry environment.

Therefore, when it comes to your hamsters bedding, its important to consider their natural environment because the closer you can copy this, the happier and healthier your hamster will be.

Your hamster is most comfortable when it has bedding that it can dig around in and turn into a bed similar to the way it would if it was in the wild. Whatever material you choose, it will need to be safe, absorbent and comfortable.

It is important to mention that some of the bedding materials sold by pet stores are not all beneficial for your hamster. For example, a lot of pet stores sell cedar wood and pine shavings as hamster bedding and this is not at all comfortable for your hamster for several reasons including:

  • They are harsh and abrasive on your hamsters’ skin
  • The material has the tendency to splinter and cut your hamster
  • Wood can react with your hamster’s urine and release toxic fumes that will make it difficult for your hamster to breathe.

Hamster owners are known to buy fluffy bedding, it sounds practical because it is so soft. However, the artificial fibres that the bedding is made out of are harsh on hamsters’ digestive system if they attempt to eat them.

Also, hamsters have got very fragile and small legs, if they get tangled up in the fluffy bedding, it can cause a serious injury. It is also suggested that you avoid the following:

  • Newspaper: The ink used for printing can be toxic
  • Cat litter: If any of the pieces are eaten, hamsters will find it difficult to digest them
  • Scented Bedding: It may smell nice, but the smells are made from toxic chemicals which will harm your hamster
  • Corn Cob: Has the potential to get mouldy and are not good for your hamsters to eat.

Before purchasing any hamster bedding, make sure that you check the label so that you are not putting your hamster at risk. The best and safest bedding for your hamster is as follows:

  • Carefresh Ultra: This product is non-toxic, and it is capable of holding liquid by absorbing up to three times its weight.
  • Carefresh Colors: This is more or less the same as Carefresh Ultra it just comes in different colors. The ink used to dye it is safe and it won’t harm your hamster like other inks will.
  • Kaytee Clean & Cozy: This hamster bedding is made from plant-based paper fibers, it is exceptionally soft, 99.9% dust free, extremely absorbent and provides fantastic odor control.
  • Aspen Shavings: There are not many woods that are safe to use as hamster bedding but Aspen shavings is one of them. They are not too pricey and will make your hamster feel as if he is in his natural environment.
  • Paper: Last but not least, if you are really strapped for cash or you need something to use while your bedding arrives, you can use paper. You will need to make sure it is plain paper that doesn’t have any ink on it. Also, it is important to mention that it won’t absorb, and neither will it do a good job of hiding odors.

How Often Should I Feed My Hamster?

Hamsters don’t have cheek pouches to make them look extra cute, they are used to store food. When in the wild, hamsters like to keep food in a safe place so that if there is ever a food shortage they won’t starve.

You will notice that your hamster will empty his food bowl shortly after you have filled it up. He does this by stuffing the food into his cheeks and emptying it in his bed. This is why you need to check for food in the bed each day.

Your hamster will then use this stored food to snack on when he is hungry during the night or day. So the question is when do you fill up the bowl again since he always has a hidden stash?

Unlike most other animals, hamsters don’t need to have specific meal times; therefore, you only need to fill his bowl up once a day.

However, it is advised that you let the hamster finish what he has stored before giving him any more so that the old food doesn’t go stale.

Every so often, check your hamster’s store to see how big it’s getting, if it’s too big, you will need to reduce the amount of food you put in his bowl.

How Often Should I Replace my Hamster’s Water?

It is important to provide your hamster with fresh water every day; in this way, he will remain continuously hydrated.

The best water bottles come with a vacuum action which means that the water is only released when the hamster drinks from it. Some hamster owners also have both a bottle and a bowl in the cage.

Pay attention to the amount that your hamster is drinking, you may need to take him to the vet if he is not drinking enough. Hamsters should be drinking approximately 10ml of water for every 100g of body weight.

Hamsters are very vulnerable to dehydration and will not survive more than two days without water. They can also become very dehydrated after being heavily active for a few hours. This is why its important to keep a good supply of water in their cage, so they always have access to it.

The risk of hamsters becoming dehydrated is the main reason why owners are told not to leave hamsters in an exercise ball for more than 30 minutes.

You will know if your hamster is dehydrated if he exhibits the following symptoms:

  • Dry mucous membranes
  • Sunken eyes
  • Labored breathing
  • Loose skin
  • Lethargy
  • Weakness

To rehydrate your hamster, fill his bottle up and allow him to drink until he feels better. If you think your hamster is seriously dehydrated, you may need to take him to the vet so that he can receive intravenous fluids.

Related Questions:

Should you cover a hamster cage at night? You shouldn’t wrap or cover your hamster’s cage as it can block ventilation and cause the cage’s temperature to get very hot.

Do hamsters need to be kept warm? Room temperature is perfect for hamsters. If it gets too cold your hamster will go into hibernation.

Do hamsters really like exercise balls? This depends on each hamster. Some really enjoy it while others dislike it.

Charlotte Silcock

Charlotte lives in the United Kingdom and has worked in animal shelters looking after small animals. She owns a hamster as well as a dog and a cat and hopes to spread her knowledge about rodents to help other pet owners.

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