There are lots of different hamster cages on the market and choosing the right cage for your Chinese Hamster will depend on not only your budget but also your hamster’s personality.
Firstly it’s worth bearing in mind that The National Hamster Council recommends a minimum of 800cm2 of useable floor space with 17cm of height for Dwarf Hamsters – and this category will include the Chinese Hamster. However the bigger cage that you buy, the more space that your pet has to play in.
The base should be solid and the wire should be free from sharp edges or rust and because Chinese Hamsters are of a slim build, they will need on with a narrower bar spacing than you might be able to get away with for a Syrian Hamster. A bar spacing of 1cm is adequate for larger Chinese Hamsters but smaller Chinese, babies and those prone to chewing may be better off in tank style cages or bin cages with a finer mesh.
Chinese Hamsters are very good at climbing, far better than any other species of hamster but it’s still important to make sure that they are safe whilst doing so and if you’ve got a taller cage for your Chinese then you can always add hammocks and platforms to help break up the height. If buying a cage with a platform or a level, you will need to make sure that it is solid rather than made of wire or mesh. This is to prevent injuries occurring in your hamster’s feet.
Whilst on a whole, it is recommended that bigger tends to be better when it comes to caging for hamsters I have found that every hamster will have individual needs from their cages and I have had several Chinese Hamsters who have found it difficult to settle in some of the largest cages on the market despite additional cover being made available and therefore I tend to recommend a cage similar in size to a Mini Duna as a good starting point for a very young Chinese. You can always upgrade your hamster to something larger at a later date as their confidence improves but this is best done gradually, watching your hamster’s body language as you do. They’ll soon let you know if there’s something that is not right so it is important to have an open mind and to let yourself be guided by them.
Bedding and Substrates
The base of the cage should be lined with a good depth of substrate to absorb urine and to provide comfort. These range from the commonly found wood shavings to paper based substrates such as Fitch and Finacard and more specialist beddings such as Back2Nature and Megazorb. Each will have its own pros and cons so it’s best to do a little bit of research to find the best option for you and your hamster.
Your hamster will also need some material to make a nest to sleep in and when you visit pet shops, you may see what looks like a soft cotton wool for sale but despite how comfy it looks, this kind of bedding actually poses a health hazard to hamsters as the fine fibres can tangle around your hamster’s leg or could block their gut if they chew it. The best bedding you can actually find is the cheap white toilet roll that you can find in any good supermarket.