Cleaning your hamster’s cage is crucial for its health. Hamsters living in a dirty, unhealthy environment can get sick. Therefore, it’s very important to maintain and clean a hamster cage.
Why should I clean my hamster’s cage?
Hamsters are very clean animals. As a result, they are often seen grooming themselves.
They do so in order to stay clean. This is completely natural.
If your hamster’s cage remains unclean, it can lead to the hamster keeping itself unclean as well.
This means that if the hamster’s environment is clear, it will be clean too. However, if the hamster’s environment is dirty, the hamster will stay dirty as well.
Dirty hamsters can get sick and often develop wet tail – a very serious illness that can lead to death.
To make sure your hamster does not have a chance of getting this illness, make sure that it always has dry bedding.
Clean, dry hamster bedding
Bedding is “flooring” of a hamster’s cage. It’s what keeps it warm and dry.
Over the years, hamster owners have used many different materials to create hamster bedding.
Whatever hamster bedding you pick, make sure it is clean. It’s important to ensure that it does not contain any insects or bacteria before putting it into the hamster’s cage.
You should pick the one that suits you and your hamster the best.
Most commonly used as a hamster bedding, soft wood shavings are good at keeping heat and absorbing liquids.
This type of hamster bedding is very soft. It can be found in almost all pet shops worldwide.
However, some pet owners do not suggest wood shavings as they may contain sawdust.
Sawdust can be unhealthy for your hamster’s respiratory organs.
Before buying, make sure that bedding is soft and does not have sharp edges.
I suggest you get compressed wood shaving packs, as they contain more bedding.
Usually warm and liquid-absorbent, clean shredded cardboard is a good alternative to wood shavings.
Any type of cardboard can be used for bedding:
- Paper towel rolls
- Egg cartons
- Shipping boxes
The most important thing you should keep in mind before shredding the cardboard for the hamster’s bedding is that it does not contain any ink.
Ink on the cardboard surface can be harmful to your hamster.
By ingesting ink, the hamster can get sick. Therefore if this happens, you should get your hamster to a veterinarian.
This is a little bit softer alternative to previously mentioned cardboard bedding. Therefore, it’s a little bit better.
It’s because you can use most kinds of paper for your hamster’s bedding:
- Facial tissues
- Toilet paper
- Paper towels
None of the previously mentioned materials should be scented. Obviously, all of them should be clean as well.
Most of these materials are soft and very good at absorbing liquids.
As it goes with the cardboards, shredded papers should not contain any ink.
Some offices have paper shredders, which you may use to create fine bedding for your hamster.
It does take a little bit more time and effort than other beddings, but it’s most likely the better choice so far.
Dry paper pulp
Probably the most time-consuming making process so far, dry paper pulp is probably the best hamster bedding.
This is because drying the pulp can take hours, especially if it’s not close to a warm place.
Dry paper pulp absorbs liquids the best, unlike other hamster beddings.
It’s also the softest material on the list.
While recycling the paper, make sure that you wash off all the ink from it. Therefore, you will ensure that hamsters will not ingest it – keeping them healthy.
Clean bedding surface
In order to make your hamster’s cage less smelly and more hamster-friendly, you should always keep its surface clean.
You can do so by removing wet bedding. Do so using dry toilet paper. This is important to prevent wet tail.
Another way is cleaning it from old fruit and vegetables.
If you put vegetables in a hamster’s cage and they start drying out, you should throw them in a trash bin.
By doing so, you are preventing bacteria and fungi from growing in a cage – therefore keeping your hamster healthy.
Clean a hamster’s cage
The biggest reason to clean a hamster cage is the presence of your pet’s poop and urine.
The presence of these can seriously impact your hamster’s health.
The cleaning process usually does not take more than 10 minutes of your week, though it keeps your hamster happy.
Step 1 – Moving the hamster
To clean a hamster’s cage, you have to move hamsters somewhere safe first.
Moving your hamster to a smaller, secondary cage would be ideal. However, most of us don’t have one, so a good alternative is a shoebox.
In case your hamster wants to escape, you should keep an eye on it while you are cleaning your cage.
You can also give it to someone for a few minutes until cage cleaning is finished.
Your hamster may chew the box, so you should hurry up and move to the next step.
Step 2 – Changing hamster bedding
The next step is changing your hamster’s cage bedding.
Before you do so, make sure to temporarily move all of the hamster’s toys somewhere safe.
Dispose the bedding in a trash can.
In case some of it stuck to the cage’s floor surface, clean it with wet towels.
Cleaning the whole cage floor and its walls with a wet towel is a good idea. For best results, make sure that wet towels are antibacterial and not scented.
After the cage is dry, which shouldn’t take long, smell it. If it has a bad odor, repeat the same step with vinegar instead of antibacterial wet towels.
This will ensure that there are no bad smells in the cage.
And last but not least, fill the cage floor with new, clean hamster bedding.
How much bedding to put?
I recommend filling the cage floor with bedding so it’s not visible, but not making it go higher than 2 centimeters (around 1 inch).
Hamsters are playful and they will push bedding where they want to.
In case you see the floor surface because of not enough bedding, you can add a little bit more.
Hamsters create small nests for sleeping. Therefore, they will not be cold because they will move bedding where they need it.
Step 3 – Cleaning your hamster’s toys
It’s highly recommended for your hamster to have some kind of toys.
This is because they are very active animals and should always be kept busy.
Lethargic hamsters are not playful. If you recognize this with your hamster, make sure to cure it by making your hamster more active.
To clean your hamster’s toys, get half of them soaked in hot water with soap, cleaned and dried out. Another half should not be cleaned (or cleaned next time) because it’s important for keeping the hamster’s scent.
Soap that is not scented and does not have any extra smells is recommended.
Step 4 – Cleaning water bottle and food bowl
To clean the water bottle, soap it in hot water and carefully clean it from inside to outside. Make sure to clean all of its surface, then clean it from soap with more water and dry it out.
The same process goes with your hamster’s food bowl.
Once again, it’s recommended that you do not use any scented soaps because hamsters are very sensitive to smells.
Step 5 – Reassemble
Put both cleaned and not cleaned halves of toys into the cage. Do not forget to attach a water bottle and place the food bowl as well.
Now you can put your happy hamster back in its clean cage.
In case your hamster walks against the wall, which is common after cleaning, read: Why is my hamster walking against the wall?
How often to clean a hamster’s cage?
In most cases, you should do it once a week.
If your hamster’s cage is very big, it will not get dirty as quickly as the smaller one, so you can clean it once in two weeks.
Hamsters are very clean animals. Therefore, they should stay clean to be happy.
Cleaning hamster cages does not take much time, but is crucial for having a healthy hamster.
Different types of beddings have their pros and cons. So far, dry paper pulp turned out to be very good.
A popular cage bedding option is fluffy fibers, but it’s usually made from artificial fiber and can be bad for hamsters to ingest. It’s also common that hamsters get stuck in it, so it’s not on the list of recommended beddings.
Keep your hamster clean and it will be happier.