The be-all and end-all for pets such as hamsters is species-appropriate husbandry. For small animals, a suitable enclosure is essential. With us you will learn how you can easily build a species-appropriate hamster cage yourself.
The trade offers a variety of different small animal or even special hamster enclosures. However, most of them (even if they are advertised as species-appropriate) by no means meet the requirements of the sensitive rodents.
The correct size of the enclosure depends on the hamster species. In the case of dwarf hamsters, the floor area should not be less than 0.5 m 2 . A minimum area of one m 2 would be better . For larger hamsters, even two m 2 are required.
In addition, hamsters prefer to be able to move on several levels and dig tunnels. The hamster cage must therefore be correspondingly high.
Caution: Always use only untreated and natural building materials to build any small animal enclosure. If plastic such as Plexiglas or the like is used, the animal should not be able to chew it. Adhesives used must be free of harmful substances and any metal parts such as screws should be rust-free and, if possible, only accessible from the outside.
Build your own hamster cage – material
- Base plate: approx. 100 x 60 x 2 centimetres
- Lid in the same dimensions as the base plate
- Back: approx. 100 x 60 x 2 centimeters
- 2 x side wall: approx. 56 x 60 x 2 centimeters
- 2 x acrylic glass * : approx. 46 x 60 x 0.3 centimeters (buy made to measure at a hardware store or carefully cut to size yourself with a jigsaw)
- 4 x U aluminum profiles * : approx. 60 centimetres
- Square timber: approx. 60 x 4 x 4 centimetres
- Wooden strip: approx. 100 x 15 x 2 centimetres
- 2 x hinges *
- 2 x cage clasps (tension clasps) *
- wireframe *
- toy paint *
- pond liner *
- Aquarium silicone adhesive *
- Double sided tape
- Optional: 4 x furniture feet *
Tools such as a drill, a cordless screwdriver, a hand tacker and the like are also required.
Build your own hamster cage – step by step
All screws are screwed from the underside of the base panel up into the rear, side and front panels.
- Begin by screwing the back panel to the base panels. To do this, place the rear panel flush on the base plate and mark the position of the screws on both boards. It is best to put three screws, one exactly in the middle and another one about two centimeters from the corners. Then pre-drill the holes in both boards with the wood drill. Alternatively, you can also drive in the screws without pre-drilling. However, there is a risk that they will not sit completely straight.
- Once the rear wall is attached, proceed congruently with the two side walls. First place this on the base plate and then mark the positions of the screws on the base plate and side walls. Two screws per side panel should suffice here. As with the back panel, the screws should be about an inch from the corners.
Build your own hamster cage – mount the front panel with the viewing window
Hamsters are very interesting to watch. It therefore makes sense to cover at least one side of the hamster cage with Plexiglas or acrylic glass.
- Place the wooden strip at the bottom of the base plate and screw it to the side walls from the front and to the base plate from below.
- In the next step, the square timber is screwed to the wooden strip exactly in the middle on the inside vertically on the base plate. Insert the screws from below through the base plate and from the front through the wooden strip. (The square timber now divides the front into exactly two halves.)
- Fix the U aluminum profiles with the aquarium silicone in the corners of the side walls and on the opposite side of the square timber.
Tip: The acrylic glass panels are not used now, but only at the very end, when everything is dry and ready.
Build your own hamster cage – lid with recess
A small animal enclosure must of course have a hinged lid to clean the cage, to care for the animal and to put food in it. In general, it is better to fold the lid with hinges and clasps instead of just placing a plate on it. Animals can be very inventive when it comes to leaving their sanctuary.
- Saw a generous recess in the top panel. To do this, a rectangle is cut out and only a frame of around three to four centimeters is left.
- Cover the entire cutout with the wire mesh and staple it firmly from the outside. For aesthetic reasons, you can cover the edges with a thin strip of wood (thickness max. 0.5 centimetres). However, it is better to attach these strips with non-toxic adhesive and not screw them.
- Attach the hinges to the inside of the lid and back panel. This is the only way to easily open the lid from the front.
- Now screw the clasps to the side walls and the lid.
Build your own hamster cage – seal the interior
Keep in mind that a hamster does its business in the enclosure and pet urine can also be quite stubborn – especially on wood. Therefore, the interior of the hamster cage must be sealed thoroughly.
- Paint the entire interior of the hamster cage with toy paint. This is particularly environmentally friendly and also non-toxic.
- Allow the first coat of paint to dry thoroughly and then repeat step 1.
- Provide the bottom plate with pond liner on the inside. This also protects the wood from dirt and moisture and also makes cleaning easier. Optionally, you can not only cover the base area with the foil, but also pull up a small border on the walls. This should be about two inches high. However, keep in mind that this work is a bit trickier on the corners and the squared timber in the middle. It is best to cut the foil in the corners and let them overlap. Attach the pond liner with double-sided tape. Tacker needles are less suitable for this. Firstly, there is a risk that the foil will tear and secondly, in the worst case, the needles pose a risk of injury for the hamster.
Now the hamster cage has to dry out thoroughly. Both the paint and the film and the aquaristic silicone can sometimes give off odors for a few days. So it’s better to wait until there’s nothing left to smell. This can take up to a week.
Then build a pedestal or something similar so that your hamster has another level. Four legs are simply screwed or, even better, glued to another wooden panel. You should also seal the pedestal with toy paint and cover at least the upper level with pond liner.
Simply place the platform inside the hamster cage. The legs of the pedestal should be at least ten centimeters high, as hamsters like to build tunnels in the litter and this should have a certain height.
If you like, you can now attach small furniture feet to the four corners below. This looks more aesthetic and also prevents any unseen liquid from collecting under the hamster cage and damaging the wood of the enclosure and the floor.
Finally, the acrylic glass panels are pushed into the U-profiles and the cage is set up. Distribute generously several centimeters thick bedding on the floor and also on the pedestal. Make sure to put at least one hamster den inside. Ideally, this should have more than one exit.
Always remember that hamsters are not really toys and are nocturnal. Make sure you keep the cage clean at all times, but otherwise it’s best to content yourself with observing the animal.