Whether you own a teddy bear hamster or a dwarf variety, you know that these small, furry rodents can make gentle and appealing pets. It is important to keep your hamster in a cage that is roomy, safe and clean. Although pet stores offer many varieties of cages, it is not difficult to make a secure, practical and inexpensive house for your hamster. Using some easily obtainable items and some simple techniques, you can create a homemade hamster habitat.
Use a 10-gallon translucent food storage container---complete with lid---for a hamster habitat that is secure, free of drafts, and easy to clean and maintain. It also has the advantage of being lighter than the traditional glass aquarium, as well as unbreakable. Another plus is that bedding remains in the cage rather than being kicked out through the bars, a drawback of conventional metal cages.
Ventilate the habitat by using a jigsaw or a utility knife to cut away the inner area of the of the plastic top, following the shape of the lid but leaving a 2-inch margin on the edges. Remove the lid, turn it upside down, and use the tin snips to trim a piece of mesh to fit. Lay the mesh in place, and attach the mesh to the lid margin on the underside with screws, making sure there are no sharp, protruding edges.
Place your new hamster habitat in a safe location. This should be in a place that is maintained at room temperature, is away from drafts and direct sunlight, and is not near a heater or radiator. Make sure that it rests securely on a level surface, and is out of reach of other pets.
Fill and hang the water bottle, making sure it is at a height the hamster can reach, and that water comes out properly. Most commercial water bottles are sold complete with hangers that will slide neatly under the lid. If the hanger is not compatible with a solid-wall cage, you can shape a wire coat hanger to hold it on the outside of the cage, and drill a hole through for the spout.
Place a 2-inch layer of wood shavings on the floor of the habitat. Don't use pine or cedar shavings. According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals website, the fumes from these can cause health problems for hamsters. Hardwood shavings, such as aspen, are a better choice. Provide nesting material, in the form of white, unscented tissue paper---your hamster will nibble it into fluff and burrow into it for a sense of privacy and security. Add the food dish, toys, wood chews, and exercise wheel.
Now that you've made a homemade house for your hamster, you're ready to move it into its new accommodations.