How to supervise hamsters outside of the cage

Keeping Your Hamster Safe outside the Cage

Hamsters are very active animals, and keeping them locked inside the cage will take a toll on their enthusiasm. Most pet owners wonder how to safely let the hamster out of their cage without harming them.

Though hamsters love their wheel and live a secure life inside the ball, it is healthy to let them roam about and explore once in a while. Follow these tips to let the hamster out of its cage safely.

Keeping rodent poison away

Hamsters are more or less like rats, and they can easily get attracted to food and other items that attract harmful rodents. Rat poison is no exception, and vet calls like hamster ate poison kept for rats are very common. The worst part is that hamsters do not react to rodent poison immediately like rats and start showing signs of illness or fatigue after two or three days, which will confuse the owner.

Ourfitpets.com gives handy tips on dealing with such dire situations with small pets equipping the pet owner with valuable practical knowledge. Most vets clean the hamster’s stomach and treat it with Vitamin K to restore the lost energy.

Using a hamster playpen

Buy a hamster playpen with lots of holes to squeeze in and come out and use it instead of the cage to give more moving space for the hamsters. Buy a crate and fill it with wooden blocks, and drill holes into them to create a DIY playpen.

Like rats, hamsters love to get into small holes, dig one, chew, and hide in remote compact places. A playpen will keep them happy and occupied for hours and also give the required physical exercise. Fill the playpen with easy to chew toys and objects that smell appealing to the hamsters.

Keep safe from predator pets

Keep other giant pets like the dogs and the cats away from the hamster as most cats mistake it for mice and kill it with just one blow. Keep the other pet animals locked in another room whenever the hamsters are out of their cage to clean or play.

Even birds can pick on the animal by poking its eyes or trying to grab it, entirely mistaking it for a meal. Only let the hamsters out after locking all the animals safely inside for a few hours. Prevent the pets locked outside from entering the room through special pet doors to hunt the hamsters.

Seal the heating and cooling vents

Make sure to seal all the heating and cooling vents because the hamsters will climb into them and start exploring, moving further inside the wall. Think about all the places the hamster can hide in the hall or the area you plan to release it and cover all the holes.

Take away the electrical wires as the hamster will chew them with curiosity. Let them roam in a small room or attic after taking all the necessary precautions for a few hours every week and then get them back in their cage. Never allow the hamster to roll around the house in their ball before other pets, as they might try to break in and eat the hamster.

Close the doors and windows

Lock all the doors, windows, and pet outlets in them to prevent the hamster from running out into the open garden. Use boxes filled with sawdust, potting compost, or sand to let the hamster dig all they want inside their playpen or the cage.

If possible, use crates with top mesh covers and no bottom layer in the garden to let the hamsters dig the fresh sand for a change. Be careful to clean it well and check its eyes for infection after this adventure, as tiny insects might stick to their coat or cage from the garden.

#1 Rainbowsushi

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  • I was wondering how much out of cage time i should be giving my hamster daily. i would be letting him roam free in my room with the door closed and all dangerous spots closed (no worries.) if needed i will watch him run free.

    #2 — Hamstergirl

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  • I generally let my hamsters out for at least 30 minutes.

    I used to let my hamsters out to roam free in my room. They LOVED it. I always made sure to supervise them, just in case anything bad happened or they chewed on something they shouldn’t have.

    #3 FuzzyPolkaDot

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  • The average is 15-20 minutes. I normally do more though.

    #4 jess32247

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  • I usually let my hamsters out for 10-15 minutes a day, sometimes more or less depending on what kind of mood they’re in. Mine both like to run around on the couch or kitchen counter, but Hilly absoltuely loves to be held- nothing is cuter then having her lay down and hang her back feet of my hand as she enjoys all the new sights and smells of the room! Once they learned they got treats at the end of each session, they started liking being held a whole lot more. 😛

    #5 Tereya

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  • I’m not sure the total out of cage time she gets, but I get her out at least 2-3 times a day, for short intervals each time. If I see she is awake and she seems to want to get out (by walking into my hand or pawing at the sides of her bin) then I get her out for a little bit. She sometimes plays in the bath tub with towels and toys, sometimes I let her walk around on the floor and follow her around, and sometimes I just hold her and let her walk around on me. I just keep her out until she starts to be difficult to keep up with (she can be fast and evasive when she wants to be lol) and then I will usually put her back in her home to make sure she doesn’t get lost.

    Edited by Tereya, 14 August 2013 – 01:57 PM.

    #6 stewie-the-hammy

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  • 30 minutes -1 hour. They need time to run around

    #7 Thehamsterjungle

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  • #8 GraceK

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  • About 15 to 20 mins.

    #9 Pepper5

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  • I let my hamster out for 20 min somedays, and 30 min others(depending on time, and my hamsters mood).

    #10 Ldoerr

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  • Before Silver got sick and died I would let him out to run on my bed. When he started to get frantic I would put him back in his cage (normally 5 minutes or so but I never timed it). Silver knew where his cage was and whenever he wanted back in he would go to the part of my bed that is closest to his cage. I did this 4 times a week or so since I am out of town for a few days each week and I do not like to wake him up to do it.

    Affiliated with The National Hamster Council

    Hamsters can be lively, active creatures so it is important to give them enough to do to break up the boredom. Many owners will like to provide their hamster with an exercise wheel and you will need one that is large enough to prevent any arching of the spine as the hamster runs. It is very important when choosing a wheel that you choose one that has a closed back and running surface as open rung wheels can cause a hamster’s foot to become trapped leading to serious injury. Whilst many hamsters will enjoy a wheel, there are some who aren’t keen to use it and the first thing that an owner should check is whether the hamster can actually use it and if necessary, grease the spindle with a little bit of food oil to make it easier to turn. If you have a sick or elderly hamster, it might be advisable to remove the wheel from the cage but your veterinarian will be able to give you advice.
    Some owners find that choosing toys for their new pet is one of the more fun parts of the preparation but you don’t need to spend lots of money. Hamsters love cardboard boxes and tubes that you’ll find around your home too.

    Outside Cage Playtime

    A lot of hamsters love to spend time outside their cage but they will need to be supervised during this time as they can fit through the smallest gaps (particularly the dwarf and Chinese species) and can chew through wires and cables relatively quickly. Hamster balls were often traditionally used but there are mixed opinions on the use of these so do your research and consider your own pet’s personality before you make your decision. If using one, you should block off any steps and only leave them inside for a few minutes. Other playtime options could include putting your hamster into a bathtub or playpen with some toys but again, it’s important to supervise your pet during this time.
    Playtime is an ideal opportunity to get to know your hamster. If you’re using a playpen or a bathtub, you could even climb in and let them crawl all over you in a safe environment! Once they’re used to you a hamster could happily sit on your lap, run through your clothes or sit in your bent elbow. However if your hamster shows signs of distress or becomes agitated or nervous then it is time to return them to their cage.

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    This isn’t a detailed instruction. Lets hope photos can show the obvious but if you are happening upon my blog and want to ask a question about doing this please do. I might take a few days to respond but I will!

    I got a used $20 rabbit cage with the footprint in inches: 41L x 20 H x 18 W – from a local pet Facebook group I am a member of and purchased 10ft of mesh that was 24 inches in height and 1/2 in spacing as to convert this to a hamster cage I had to cover over the 1 inch bar spacing which is too wide to contain a Syrian (an obviously smaller dwarf species) hamster. I would have needed a couple more feet of mesh had I not used the metal coated grid that came with it (used for the floor with rabbits and guinea pigs if you are old school but is not recommended at all) to secure to the back to save me time and mesh/ hardware cloth.

    What you need:
    1. Hardware cloth either 1/4 or 1/2 spacing. Amount of feet depends on size of cage but get more than you need is rule of thumb to cover mistakes.

    3. Wire cutters and needle nose pliers (mine is both needle nose and a cutter)come in handy to thread ties through hard to reach areas. You’ll know what I mean when you begin cable tying the mesh flush to the sides while reaching an arm inside the front or top door to reach as far as possible deep inside.

    4. Measuring tape or ruler.

    For the shape of this cage that had thick bar framing and arched top I decided to measure (forgot to to snap photo of measuring tape) it in sections and cut out the mesh. For sharp ends I added a couple inches to the width and height of the sections so I could bend an inch over to have a non-sharp edge all around.

    I decided to put everything inside as I wanted it set up so that I could find where I might have issues hooking hammocks to the top once meshed over or the shelf connected to the sides or water bottle. And adjust as I went along. I found that this was best and that I came to no issues except with the shelf I found I needed to cut squares in the grid in the back and the mesh on the right side to be able to remove the shelf if need be.

    I was in a rush and to secure the mesh tightly and flush and uniform to the cage it requires much cable ties all over in any place you notice the mesh sticking up away from the bars. I would recommend not to be in such a rush and place your ties less haphazardly. Not that how I randomly did so is any less secure but normally I am fixated on appearance of cages and liking things to look organized and symmetrical. If that matters to you then take more time.

    It has a front and top door and the entire arched top opens like a door but I cable tied that closed but meshed the top and front doors separate so I could continue using them. With the front door I came across the issue of the bars under the door where when it opens down it would be stuck by the mesh under the hinges so I used steel thick wire I had in hand with a steel cutter I have TI attach with cable ties to make a bar in the middle of the spacing to give it 1/2 inch spacing which will contain a Syrian hamster. Same with the spacing above the door. For extra security with the steel wire and the grid metal backing I criss crossed the cable ties like an X over sections where the original bars of the cage criss crossed.

    The door itself I left the middle unmeshed as the way it opens you squeeze the latches like a spring. That area has a bar running down to make it cubed spacing and i felt it makes it small enough an opening I wasn’t concerned with my hamster being able to squeeze through. But you have to keep every possible vulnerability like this under consideration.
    It took me a few hours in total and as always a few scrapes to the skin as I am. A little clumsy. Gloves would probably be wise. It’s also not the most attractive cage on the outside but oh how it’s perfect size and with so many options for set up and my Bob LOVES his space and toys and levels. As my girl Penny runs about on her turn free ranging I watch Bob run about the entire perimeter of his cage and its so fun!

    And I love a project. And I love to share my projects for both pride in accomplishment and public small pet awareness.

    This is yet another alternative for spacious and cheaper housing for your hamsters in the USA or any country where it is difficult to find hamster cages that are humanely sized.

    I also have a video compilation of Bob using every bit of his new cage and cheeky Penny makes a couple appearances (she was in heat that day and teasing poor Bob dreadfully). I am using a wordpress app for iPad which doesn’t let me embed youtube so if you come here before I can edit this to add the video please come back a little later to refresh.

    Lastly here is a shot of my updated hamster room. I rearrange it when I vacuum the entire room. I have placed Snow in the Tamburino and Strawberry is now in the Kevin. Patch is in the 20 gallon as he has slowed down lately and been not coming out much. When I put him back in a 20 gallon tank he has resumed his activity. Those Roborovskis of mine have always preferred tank like environments. They appear to not like cage bars/ mesh. Too many smells and sounds perhaps. Maybe the scent of other hamster species freak them out. Rest assured all my hams seem very content now and so am I. Finally.

    As of now I believe I have finished cage purchasing and DIY. Next year we’ll be getting a bunny and DIY cages will resume. For now I am going to begin posting other people’s set ups (with credit and shout outs whenever possible). Because I still LOVE to see creative cages!

    I want to twist my friend Kerri’s arm to share her process here as a guest poster for her IKEA Billy hack for her dwarf Smudge.

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    PAAG promotes responsible pet advertising to help protect animal welfare. That’s why Gumtree works to ensure all of our adverts meet PAAG’s minimum standards. Find more information on buying your pet here.

    I am rehoming my 8 month old Syrian hamster. Preferably to someone who has previously owned hamsters and can provide space for roaming outside the cage. You must also take the cage provided unless you already have something with more squared area! Please feel free to message me for videos / more pictures 🙂

    Collection from SO14 area, happy to drop off anywhere within 1 mile.

    ** Please make sure the detolf cage can fit in your vehicle for transport if you are collecting:
    Width: 163cm
    Height: 37cm
    Depth: 43cm

    She comes with everything you will need and extras:

    -IKEA detolf cage with wooden lids
    -Jar of Harry hamster mix
    -Small travel carrier
    -Sandbox + 20kg of natural sand
    -1 bag of Carefresh paper bedding (confetti)
    -Water bottle
    – Food tray with 2 pink food bowls
    -28cm running wheel
    -Hamster tunnels
    -Wooden house hideout and ceramic mushroom hideout
    -Various cage accessories (wooden chew toys, swing, hanging hammocks, ladder, bridge, driftwood etc)
    -A big natural wooden house
    -LED strip lighting behind cage

    Treats:
    -Bag of shelled walnuts
    -Bonio biscuits
    -Whimzees dental treats (just one left)
    -Hamster popcorn
    -PetBakery cheese biscuits
    -Jar of seeds
    -Veggie drops
    -Beetroot hamster cookies

    Unfortunately, after starting evening shifts I have not been able to give my hamster the daily affection and playtime that she deserves so I would like her to go to someone that can. She is has been handled daily and has grown up free roaming around the house for a couple hours every few days, so that is why I am keen on finding someone who has hamster safe spaces that she can run about in.

    She is a wonderful little companion who is most happy when she is exploring. She is constantly full of energy and is very adventurous so it is disheartening when I cannot take her out of her cage. She isn’t a fan of sitting still in your hands as she prefers to climb up all around you instead. She only pees in her sandbox so cleaning her cage is always easy. I give her a portion of different hamster-safe foods alongside her main food mix every week so I’d really appreciate if you could keep this up also.

    I named her Kaguya but please of course rename her whatever you like! I would love to receive daily/weekly updates (photos/vids) during the transitional period as I will miss her very much 🙂

    !! Please make sure to let me know whether or not you have a stable surface big enough to support the cage as I am happy to provide a wooden slab that can (especially if you want to place the cage on the floor) !!

    Ad ID: 1409694729

    PAAG promotes responsible pet advertising to help protect animal welfare. That’s why Gumtree works to ensure all of our adverts meet PAAG’s minimum standards. Find more information on buying your pet here.

    #16 Carl86

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  • #17 kirani100

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  • For wire cages I recommend the Barney Hamster Cage, the Alaska cage, and any DIY with floorspace bigger than 360 sq in. Guinea pig or rat cages are good too, as long as you do a little DIY escape-proofing with wire mesh so they can’t slip between the wide bars.

    #18 Carl86

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  • #19 Carl86

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  • #20 RichInAnimals10000

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  • #21 Silver Moon

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  • Ok, which cages do you guys suggest? I don’t really like bin cage because I prefer wire cages so they can climb up the sides and onto ledges and you can hang ladders, Sputniks etc from the top

    Climbing on bars is actually pretty dangerous and does not improve anything for the hamster.

    Bin cages and tanks by far are the best option.

    Cages with high sides so you can give deeper bedding, which any hamster will prefer.

    The IRIS Christmas tree box is a great one.

    The IKEA Detolf is great as well, as are any tanks bigger than 40 gallon.

    Hope this helps!

    #22 Carl86

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  • Climbing on bars is actually pretty dangerous and does not improve anything for the hamster.

    Bin cages and tanks by far are the best option.

    Cages with high sides so you can give deeper bedding, which any hamster will prefer.

    The IRIS Christmas tree box is a great one.

    The IKEA Detolf is great as well, as are any tanks bigger than 40 gallon.

    #23 Silver Moon

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  • Thanks for the advice. I’m probably going to get a Zoozone 2, do you think that’s a good one? I really don’t have room for a detolf I’m afraid.

    How to supervise hamsters outside of the cage

    First discovered in Syria, hamsters are native to many parts of the world. The term “hamster” is derived from the German word “hamstern,” which means “to hoard.” The term fits hamsters perfectly, because they hoard food. Hamsters are popular pets, but do have some special requirements to keep them happy and healthy.

    The most common type of hamster kept as a pet is the six-inch Syrian hamster, which is also known as the Teddy Bear Hamster or the Golden Hamster. Dwarf hamsters such as the Siberian, Roborozsky’s Djungarian, and Chinese hamster are smaller than the Syrian hamsters, measuring just 2-3 inches in length. Lifespan for a hamster is typically 2-3 years.

    Hamsters are nocturnal by nature and sleep during the day. Hamsters have unfortunately gained a reputation for biting, but this mostly happens when they are awakened during the day. It’s a natural defense to being startled awake. Due to their nocturnal nature and tendency to nip, they are not suitable pets for young children, and all children should be supervised by an adult when handling. As hamsters are “night owls,” be prepared for nightly routines of digging, scratching, and wheel-running.

    Common signs that something may be wrong with your hamster include dull-looking eyes, matted fur, weight loss, shaking, diarrhea or runny nose. Hamsters also seem susceptible to respiratory problems, and can even catch a cold or pneumonia from humans. Avoid handling your hamster when you’re sick. If you notice any symptoms of illness, contact your veterinarian promptly.

    Most hamsters do well on a combination of rodent chow (rat blocks) and hamster pellet/seed mix. Look for a seed mix made up of pellets, grains, seeds, and dried vegetables.

    A small, bite size amount of fresh vegetables and fruit is recommended 2-3 times a week. Appropriate vegetables and fruits include carrots, spinach, lettuce, and apples. Introduce new foods gradually and remember to clean up any uneaten food before it spoils. Do not give your hamster onions, uncooked beans, chocolate, candy or junk food.

    Clean, fresh water should be available at all times. Use an inverted bottle with a drinking tube that can be attached to the cage. Change the water daily.

    Hamsters will stuff their face (literally) with food and then empty out whatever is in the pouch for some late-night snacking. When cleaning the cage, it’s not uncommon to find hidden stashes of food in the corners.

    Syrian hamsters are solitary animals and should live alone. If you choose to have more than one Syrian hamster, they must each have their own cage. No exceptions. Dwarf hamsters, however, are social animals that like to live in pairs. Make sure not to house male and female hamsters together, since rodents breed quickly and produce large litters.

    Hamsters should be kept indoors in a solid, bottom wire cage or an aquarium that has a wire mesh cover for ventilation. In terms of size, we believe that bigger is better! For one hamster, a 15-gallon tank minimum is considered standard; for two hamsters, at minimum, a 30-gallon tank.

    Provide different levels for your hamster to climb on and investigate. If you are using an aquarium, a simple homemade wooden platform with a ramp will do.

    Make sure the enclosure has a secure mesh top from which the hamster cannot escape but also provides adequate ventilation. Keep the cage away from direct sunlight, drafts, and other pets such as dogs and cats.

    The inside of the enclosure should be lined with absorbent bedding. Bedding such as Carefresh (made from soft white cellulose fiber) or aspen shavings are appropriate choices. Avoid pine or cedar shavings – the fumes and oils from these woods are harmful to hamsters. Timothy hay can also be used. Remove soiled bedding, droppings, and stale food daily. Thoroughly clean the cage with warm, soapy water once a week.

    Hamsters love exercise! Exercise wheels are a must, and cardboard tubes, PVC pipes, and plastic igloos provide them with opportunities to run, climb, hide, and tunnel. Hamsters need to chew to keep their teeth from overgrowing. An untreated, unpainted piece of hardwood, twig or even a hard plain dog biscuit is an appropriate chew toy. Avoid anything made of soft plastic. Your local pet supply store will also have chew toys made just for hamsters.

    Hamsters like small enclosed spaces to sleep and hide such as a small box, igloo or flower pot.

    To get your hamster used to being handled, start by hand feeding your hamster small treats. When they seem comfortable with taking treats, pick them up by scooping them into your hand. Once the hamster is successfully hand-tamed, you can start allowing them supervised romps outside of their cage for short periods of time. Make sure the exercise area has been checked for dangers and can be secured so they can’t escape. A hamster’s eyesight is not very good. Take extra care to make sure they don’t fall or hurt themselves when exercising outside of the cage.

    How to supervise hamsters outside of the cage

    Enrichment

    Hamsters can be lively, active creatures so it is important to give them enough to do to break up the boredom. Many owners will like to provide their hamster with an exercise wheel and you will need one that is large enough to prevent any arching of the spine as the hamster runs. It is very important when choosing a wheel that you choose one that has a closed back and running surface as open rung wheels can cause a hamster’s foot to become trapped leading to serious injury. Whilst many hamsters will enjoy a wheel, there are some who aren’t keen to use it and the first thing that an owner should check is whether the hamster can actually use it and if necessary, grease the spindle with a little bit of food oil to make it easier to turn. If you have a sick or elderly hamster, it might be advisable to remove the wheel from the cage but your veterinarian will be able to give you advice.
    Some owners find that choosing toys for their new pet is one of the more fun parts of the preparation but you don’t need to spend lots of money. Hamsters love cardboard boxes and tubes that you’ll find around your home too.

    Outside Cage Playtime

    A lot of hamsters love to spend time outside their cage but they will need to be supervised during this time as they can fit through the smallest gaps (particularly the dwarf and Chinese species) and can chew through wires and cables relatively quickly. Hamster balls were often traditionally used but there are mixed opinions on the use of these so do your research and consider your own pet’s personality before you make your decision. If using one, you should block off any steps and only leave them inside for a few minutes. Other playtime options could include putting your hamster into a bathtub or playpen with some toys but again, it’s important to supervise your pet during this time.
    Playtime is an ideal opportunity to get to know your hamster. If you’re using a playpen or a bathtub, you could even climb in and let them crawl all over you in a safe environment! Once they’re used to you a hamster could happily sit on your lap, run through your clothes or sit in your bent elbow. However if your hamster shows signs of distress or becomes agitated or nervous then it is time to return them to their cage.