If you have a hamster or are considering getting one, you are probably wondering how to best clean its cage and how often it should be done. Hamsters are fairly low-maintenance pets, and cleaning their cage is one of the few chores necessary to keep them healthy and happy. We've done all of the research and compiled the best tips for cleaning your hamster's cage.
The best way to maintain your hamster's cage is to spot clean it every one to two days to keep it clean. Do a deeper clean once a month. Here are some more tips for cleaning your hamster's cage:
- Spot clean your hamster's cage every day or two.
- Put your hamster in a ball or carrier while you clean.
- Remove all accessories and toys from the cage before you clean it.
- Remove only part of the bedding instead of all of it.
- Clean the toys and accessories with vinegar and water.
- Try not to move your hamster's food stash.
- Rearrange the cage when you replace the accessories.
- Use odor absorbent bedding.
While it may seem complicated, it doesn't have to take long to keep your hamster's cage clean. Read on for more in-depth tips about keeping your hamster's cage clean.
Spot Clean Your Hamster's Cage
It's best to think small and frequent when cleaning your hamster's cage. It's better to clean out wet and soiled spots daily. That will reduce odor and cut down on how often you have to do a deep clean of your hamster's habitat. Make it a habit to check for any spots that need to be cleaned every day when you give your hamster fresh food and water.
Put your hamster in a ball or carrier while you clean
You'll need a safe place to keep your hamster while you're cleaning out her cage. A carrier or hamster ball works great for this. If you don't have either, you can put your hamster in a bin or box while you work. Just make sure she can't escape or chew through the temporary holding place.
Having her cage cleaned can be very stressful for a hamster. You will want to keep your hamster as calm as possible while cleaning the cage, so try to choose a temporary location where she will feel safe or enjoy playing.
Remove all Toys and Accessories from the Cage
After you take your hamster out, the next step is to take all of the accessories and toys out of the cage, including food and water dishes and bottles. The only thing left in the cage is the bedding and any nonremovable or built-in features of the cage. This will let you see any areas that need to be cleaned and give you room to scoop out the dirty bedding.
Remove Only Soiled Bedding
You don't want to remove all of the bedding from your hamster's cage because it's upsetting to the hamster. Hamsters are prey animals and are easily frightened. Bedding holds onto his familiar smells that are comforting to the hamster. It will stress your hamster if you remove all of the bedding at once and replace it. Instead, you should remove any soiled areas.
You can use a whisk broom and small dustpan to lift the bedding and sweep up your hamster's droppings, which will fall to the bottom of the cage. Remove any areas where your hamster has peed on the bedding. Clean out the litter tray and sand bath area if needed.
Clean Toys and Accessories
Wipe down the toys and accessories you removed from the cage. If they are plastic, you can wash them in mild dish soap and water. Otherwise, wipe them down with a cloth that has been sprayed with a vinegar and water solution. Wash the food and water dishes as well and refill with fresh food and water.
Try Not to Move Your Hamster's Food Stash
Hamsters are industrious creatures and spend a lot of time trying to store up a food stash. It's why they look so adorable stuffing their little cheeks. If you find their hoard while you're cleaning out the cage, try to clean around it. You don't want to undo all of your hamster's hard work.
The instinct for hoarding food is innate in hamsters. In the wild, they hide their food in case they face a shortage or weather conditions are too difficult for them to scavenge for food. If your hamster has stored nuts or seeds, they won't go bad, but you may have to remove some fresh food to avoid mold growth.
Rearrange the Cage When You Put the Accessories Back
Now is a good time to rearrange the cage layout, so your hamster doesn't get bored. Hamsters thrive if they're provided stimulation. New challenges will help your hamster enjoy his cage more. All hamsters love to explore. Your hamster will enjoy having tubes to crawl through. These can be as simple as empty toilet paper tubes or as elaborate as expensive pet-store contraptions.
Hamsters also like having different levels to climb, so you can set up small sticks to connect different levels as a bridge. You can also hang treats on a string for your hamster to explore.
Use Odor Absorbent Bedding
Once the cage has been cleaned, add enough bedding to replace what you removed. It's not enough to simply cover the floor of the cage. You should aim for at least two to three inches of bedding. That will allow your hamster to have enough room to burrow and make a nest in the bedding material.
Paper bedding is safe for hamsters but is not as odor absorbent as wood shavings. If your hamster's cage smells too strong, you can try using hardwood shavings for bedding. Never use softwood shavings as they can cause respiratory distress in hamsters.
Do Hamsters Like Their Cages Cleaned?
Hamsters, like all animals, prefer a clean environment. However, a cage that's cleaned too often will upset your hamster. They are comforted by their smell in their bedding, which is why you shouldn't change all the bedding at once. Change out part of the bedding each time so that all of the bedding is refreshed over the course of several cleanings.
The exception is if your hamster is ill or has parasites or mites. In that case, the cage should be cleaned completely and thoroughly. You will need to remove all bedding and thoroughly wash all toys and accessories with mild soap and hot water.
How Often Should You Change the Bedding in a Hamster Cage?
It would be best if you spot clean your hamster's cage daily. This will help reduce how often you need to do a more thorough cleaning. As long as you are spot cleaning the cage every day or every other day, you will only need to clean it more deeply about once a month. When you do change the bedding, you should only partially change it so that your hamster will still be able to have her scent in the cage.
How Long Should a Hamster Be Out of its Cage?
Hamsters love to play and explore, so they benefit from 15- to 20-minutes out of their cage every day. They enjoy running around in a hamster wheel or just exploring in any safe area. This is a great time to tame your hamster by gently handling her. They will pee, though, so you should take that into account when you decide where to let your hamster roam. Keeping a small hand towel nearby will make cleanup quick and easy.
Hamsters are nocturnal and will want to do most of their playing in the evening or early morning. One of the biggest reasons hamsters bite is because their owners interrupt their sleep during the day.
Can You Use Windex to Clean a Hamster Cage?
You should not use Windex or any other harsh chemicals to clean your hamster's cage. Hamsters have sensitive respiratory systems and can react badly to strong smells. You can actually give your hamster allergies or asthma by using cleaners or bedding that is highly scented. You can use mild soap and water to clean your hamster's cage or a solution of half vinegar and half water.
It's important to keep your hamster's cage clean, but try to avoid stressing your hamster out by over-cleaning. Hamsters like having their familiar environment around them, but they also enjoy variety in their daily activities. You can provide your pet with both by doing small, frequent cleaning of his cage and doing a deep cleaning and rearranging his habitat less often. If you follow these simple tips, your pet will be happy, healthy, and clean.
Looking for some stylish cages for your hamster's habitat? Check out these ideas: