DIY: Hamster Toys

A lot of expensive hamster toys and playpens are on the market---but hamsters are not impressed by a price tag. They are happy with homemade toys and play areas. Homemade toys are often the only option for dwarf hamsters---the animals are too small for commercial hamster toys. The only toy that should not be homemade is the wheel; this needs to be durable and large enough so the hamster does not have to bend its back awkwardly to use it.


Unless your hamster lives in a huge, multifaceted cage with plenty of tunnels and places for nesting, he will need to play outside of his cage for about a half hour a day. Hamsters in the wild spend all night running miles for food and mates. If they are denied this exercise, hamsters can develop annoying habits such as pacing, biting the bars of the cage or over-grooming. Although playpens for hamsters are available, "Training Your Pet Hamster" advises that the best homemade playpen is a stopped-up bathtub. Put down a towel or mat on the bottom so the hamster doesn't skid. Placing toys and treats in the tub can encourage activity. Always supervise your hamster when in the tub. They can be remarkable jumpers.


In the wild, hamsters dig their own burrowing tunnel systems. Pet hamsters enjoy burrowing, going through tunnels or finding hidey-holes. Homemade toys can take advantage of the hamster's love of hiding. Any box made of cardboard makes an ideal hiding hole, and the hamster can jump on top of it as a lookout. Cut a small archway in one side to help the hamster go in and out. Cardboard tubes from paper towels, gift wrap or toilet rolls can make small tunnels. Check any cardboard toys daily to be sure it isn't too soggy. If it is soggy, replace it. Clean PVC pipe can also make a longer-lasting tunnel and hidey-hole.


Hamster teeth constantly grow throughout the animal's life, so they need to gnaw constantly to keep their teeth just the right length. Good chewing toys include twigs and branches from fruit trees that have not been treated with pesticides; an old sock filled with hay; a cylindrical cardboard oatmeal container with a treat inside; a sheet of plain paper scrunched up with a treat inside of it. Do not use newspaper, as the ink can get the hamster sick. Also, an unused cotton tampon serves as both a toy and a bed. After chewing on it, the hamster will shred the soft material for a fluffy bed to rest after a play session.

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About the Author

Rena Sherwood is a writer and Peter Gabriel fan who has lived in America and England. She has studied animals most of her life through direct observation and maintaining a personal library about pets. She has earned an associate degree in liberal arts from Delaware County Community College and a bachelor's degree in English from Millersville University.