The criteria in terms of dimensions
First of all, it should be noted that the larger the space, the better your animal is doing and the more it will be able to reproduce natural behaviors.
If your space has bars, their spacing must be 1cm maximum, otherwise it will go exploring in your house.
The vital minimum for a Syrian hamster is a space of 3000 cm². But should we make an animal live in the vital minimum required? The answer is no , having an animal consists of giving it a habitat that meets its real, not minimal, needs. The Swiss and Germans recommend an ideal length of 1m for their space.
4000 to 5000 cm² for golden hamsters seems a suitable space. (suitable means acceptable, not ideal)
Do you want your hamster to live in an ideal world? Offer him 6000 cm² to 10,000 cm².
The distribution of space
Although it is possible to provide them with a floor, this is not what they are naturally looking for. They need the largest possible ground surface to explore what could be likened to a “small territory”.
The hamster likes to dig and search its litter, so it will be necessary to offer it a good thickness. Provide a living space that will allow you to put a litter of at least 10 cm, the ideal being around 30cm.
Your hamster will need enrichments in its space:
- a Ferris wheel: 30 cm in diameter. In the wild, the hamster travels great distances at night to look for food. The domestic hamster has less need to search for food since the space is reduced, but its need for activity remains the same. A suitable wheel will keep it in shape.
- a hiding place to sleep during the day
- a water and food area . Hiding food is better for enrichment than putting all the food in one bowl.
- a “sand bath” area so that your hamster can maintain its coat. True Divas!
- pieces of wood such as roots of heather, branches of hazel tree or wood of coffee tree in order to gnaw to optimize the wear of the teeth and to occupy them.
- floors (space permitting) – be careful of the height, hamsters can make fatal falls . For high spaces, it will therefore be necessary to create as many intermediate floors as necessary.
- tunnels : cardboard or natural materials
- natural materials to build its nest.
- a thick litter (minimum 10cm – ideally 30cm) rich in different elements to encourage searching.
Once the “cage” is equipped, check that there is still enough bare space for your hamster to walk around.
What type of cage to buy?
The quality of your Syrian hamster’s habitat will inherently depend on the type of cage you choose. So be attentive to the real needs of your small rodent.
The cage with bars
- Advantages : inexpensive, well ventilated, allows to install floors. Easy cleaning.
- Disadvantages : often too small, large cages having bars often too far apart. This cage generally has a shallow tray which does not allow a sufficient height of litter. Unaesthetic.
The terrarium or the aquarium – plexiglass or glass
- Advantages : Aesthetics, it is possible to create a magnificent space close to the natural environment. No bars to climb so no risk of falling. They come in all sizes, so the space is easily adapted. Deep therefore allows you to put a significant thickness of litter. Fairly low second-hand purchase cost.
- Disadvantages : High new purchase cost. Not all are well ventilated. Heavy so more complicated to move. As it is not possible to make real floors there, it is necessary to provide objects (not too high) to climb. Attention to security, the closing of the space must be inviolable.
Remember : although more expensive to buy, the terrarium offers better ventilation than the aquarium . An aquarium that is too high will have poor aeration.
The principle of the bin-cage is simple and often inexpensive. This involves using a transparent storage box to create space for your hamster in it.
- Advantages : Inexpensive. Easy to move/carry
- Disadvantages : you have to cut out the vents yourself. Poorly ventilated. Unaesthetic.
The bin-cage is useful as an “intermediate space”. Until you can offer your hamster a large, secure space that costs more, the storage crate allows you to improve its quality of life compared to the unsuitable cage that the pet store probably sold you.
To avoid. The pipes are hard to clean, poorly ventilated and your hamster can get stuck in them.
In summary :
- Your hamster needs as much space as possible: 4,000 cm² to 10,000 m² – the ideal being between 6,000 and 10,000 cm²
- The habitat of your Syrian hamster must have as many enrichments as possible: tunnels, thick litter, Ferris wheel, various woods….
- Attention to safety: risk of falling and risk of escape