A homemade hamster play area is the perfect way to allow your hamster some cage-free time, while instilling boundaries that will keep him safe. It will also eliminate your worries about whether he can chew through the cords of your new flat screen TV while out of his cage. All of the resources for this project may be found around your house, making it an economical way to repurpose materials.
Find a cardboard box -- the bigger the better -- as it will determine the boundaries of your hamster's play area. Ideally you'll want one that's long and wide -- think refrigerator, washing machine or television boxes. Department stores may have spares if you ask. Any shape will do, as long as your hamster will not be able to climb up the sides.
Cut the side flaps of the box off with a pair of scissors or a sharp craft knife or box cutter.
Line the bottom of the box with an old pillow case, or the bedding that you normally line the cage with.
Because the box lining material will become soiled, it's best to select something easily washable or disposable.
Add two toilet paper or paper towel rolls. They make great tunnels, and hamsters often enjoy gnawing on them. If you leave a sheet or two of paper on them, your hamster can pull those off to use as nesting material to build a snug retreat within the play area.
Lead your hamster towards the new play area with a treat if he's reluctant to approach at first. Don't be discouraged if your hamster is a bit shy initially; it might take some time for him to adjust to the new space. You may need to coax your hamster toward the new play area with a small slice of apple.
Add the food and water dishes from your hamster's cage to the play area, and ensure that they're always full. Hamsters need to eat and drink every couple of hours, and should always have access to a wheel for exercise. The dishes and wheel will smell familiar, and might make your hamster feel more comfortable in the new surroundings.
The homemade hamster play area is a project that can always be expanded and changed. Be creative with your ideas for additions and have fun. Keep in mind that any chemically treated or easily ingested products are not recommended.
Never leave your hamster unattended outside of the cage. Check on the cardboard tubes and any toys regularly to see if they've been chewed on and need to be repaired or replaced.