Choosing a suitable cage for your rodent

January 23, 2024

Being a responsible pet owner entails numerous responsibilities. One of the most critical decisions you’ll be making is determining the best living arrangements for your pet. In the case of small rodents like hamsters, rats, and mice, their cage becomes their home. The cage you select will directly affect your pet’s quality of life. In this article, we will guide you in choosing a suitable cage for your pet rodent.

Understanding Your Pet’s Needs

Before you even start shopping for a cage, it is important to understand your pet’s needs. Hamsters, rats, and mice have different needs and habits, and these should guide your decision-making process.

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Hamsters are nocturnal creatures that love to burrow. They require plenty of space to run and play, as well as a quiet and dark place where they can sleep during the day.

Rats are intelligent and social creatures that need a large cage for movement and exploration. They thrive well in multi-level cages that have enough space for toys and other enrichment items.

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Mice, on the other hand, are agile climbers that love to explore their environment. They prefer multi-level cages with toys and exercise wheels, and also require plenty of bedding material for burrowing.

Considering the Cage Size

The size of the cage is critical to your pet’s happiness and well-being. A small cage can cause stress and health problems, while a large cage provides ample space for exercise and exploration.

For hamsters, the minimum cage size recommended by most experts is 450 square inches of floor space. Larger species such as the Syrian hamster will require more space.

Rats need much larger cages due to their size and activity levels. At a minimum, you should provide 2 cubic feet of space per rat.

For mice, the minimum cage size should be 1 cubic foot per mouse, but more is always better.

Choosing the Cage Material

The material of the cage is another important factor to consider. Wire cages are commonly used due to their good ventilation, but they also have some drawbacks.

Wire cages can cause injury if your pet tries to chew on the bars. They are also not very good at keeping bedding material inside the cage. For hamsters, wire cages are not recommended as they can cause bumblefoot, a painful condition caused by walking on wire flooring.

Plastic cages are another option. They are easy to clean and can keep bedding material inside the cage. However, they do not provide as much ventilation as wire cages, and your pet might chew on the plastic.

Ensuring Cage Safety

Making sure your pet’s cage is safe is of utmost importance. This involves checking for any potential risks or hazards that could harm your pet.

Ensure there are no sharp edges or loose parts that your pet can chew on. The bars of the cage should be close enough together to prevent your pet from squeezing through. The cage should also have a secure door to prevent your pet from escaping.

Check for any small openings or gaps where your pet could get stuck. For hamsters, avoid cages with tubes as they can be difficult to clean and your hamster might get stuck inside.

Providing for Your Pet’s Enrichment

Choosing the right cage is just the first step. You also need to fill the cage with items that will keep your pet entertained and enriched.

For hamsters, provide plenty of bedding material for burrowing. An exercise wheel, toys, and hideaways will also keep your hamster happy.

Rats and mice will also appreciate an exercise wheel, as well as toys, climbing structures, and nests for sleeping. Providing plenty of these items will keep your pet entertained and help prevent boredom.

Remember, the cage you choose will become your pet’s home. It should be a place where they feel safe, comfortable, and entertained. With careful consideration and the right choices, you can provide the best home for your pet and ensure their happiness and well-being.

The Importance of Bar Spacing and Cage Accessories

The bar spacing on your rodent’s cage plays a critical role in ensuring their safety. A cage with bars spaced too far apart runs the risk of your pet squeezing through and escaping. On the other hand, bars that are too close together might restrict ventilation. For hamster cages and rat cages, bars should be no more than half an inch apart. Mouse cages require even smaller bar spacing – no more than a quarter of an inch.

When outfitting your cage, consider the particular habits of your pet. Dwarf hamsters love to climb, so a multi-level wire cage with ladders or ramps would be a great choice. For Syrian hamsters, a glass tank or a bin cage with plenty of floor space to roam would be ideal.

Your rats will appreciate hammocks, ropes, and climbing toys, considering their agile nature. Also, rats are sociable animals, so multiple sleeping spaces are necessary if you have more than one rat.

For your mice, a cage with a wire mesh top is a sensible choice since they are avid climbers. Exercise wheels, tunnels, and hideouts should also populate your mouse cage for their amusement. Remember, a bored mouse can become a stressed mouse, and stress can lead to health problems.

Cleaning and Maintaining Your Rodent’s Cage

Cleaning and maintaining your pet’s cage is crucial for their health and happiness. A dirty cage can lead to an array of diseases for your pet, including respiratory infections and skin problems.

Regardless of whether it’s a hamster cage, rat cage, or mouse cage, you should do a complete clean-up at least once a week. This process entails removing your pet, disposing of all bedding, and washing the cage and all accessories with warm soapy water.

For your hamster, especially, a clean-up is a bit more complex due to their habitual hoarding. If you disrupt their hoard, your hamster will become stressed. When cleaning a hamster’s cage, it’s best to leave some of their old bedding and food stash to keep them at ease.

For your rats and mice, leaving some old bedding can also help maintain their familiar scent in the cage, reducing stress.

While cleaning, check the integrity of your cage. Look for chewed bars, broken wires, and any other possible escape routes.


Choosing the right cage for your rodent requires careful consideration of several factors. From understanding your pet’s needs, cage size, and material to bar spacing and the cage’s accessories, all these factors directly influence your pet’s quality of life.

Remember, the cage you choose will become home for your pet, be it a hamster, rat, or mouse. It should provide them with safety, comfort, and entertainment, while also being easy for you to clean and maintain.

Whether you opt for wire cages, plastic cages, or glass tanks, you need to ensure that your choices cater to the specific requirements of your pet. Add in toys, exercise wheels, climbing structures, and hideouts for their amusement and enrichment.

Above all else, your pet’s happiness and well-being should be your primary concern. By providing them with a suitable and comfortable home, you will be giving them a foundation for a healthy, happy life.