Keeping your hamster’s cage clean is important for ensuring they stay healthy and disease-free, as well as for your own wellbeing. Not to mention that it is better on your nose! Daily maintenance is the first step towards keeping a clean cage for your pet, but a weekly deep clean is also in order.
Every day, spend a few minutes tidying up your hamster’s bathroom area and providing them with fresh food and water. Hamsters are typically clean creatures and generally choose one or two areas in the cage to relieve themselves. This “bathroom” corner can easily be cleaned up. To do so, use a scoop or a gloved hand to reach into the cage and remove any soiled material and dispose of it in a bag. Replace what was removed with clean bedding material.
As for the water and food dishes, washing them daily is important since your pet is eating and drinking from them. By keeping these clean, you will prevent your hamster from ingesting contaminated food or water and it will prevent a build-up of harmful germs or bacteria from building up.
Every week, you will need to completely change all the bedding in your hamster’s home to keep it clean and sanitary. While this deeper cleaning is usually only necessary once per week, you may need to do it more often if you notice a strong ammonia smell, the bedding looks more soiled than usual, or you are housing several hamsters together.
Hamsters can be carriers of transmittable viruses and bacteria such as salmonella and lymphocytic choriomeningitis. Because of this, it is important to always wear gloves while cleaning your hamster’s habitat. Be sure to wash your hands thoroughly after completing daily or weekly cleaning tasks.
- Cleaning gloves
- Rags or paper towels
- Garbage bag
- Safe cage cleaning solution
- Replacement bedding
Transfer Your Hamster to a Safe Place
When you are ready to clean, move your hamster to a safe place outside his or her cage, such as a pet carrier or hamster ball. Your hamster will be less stressed and there is no chance of injuring your pet if it scampers by as you scoop up dirty bedding or replace a clean food bowl.
Gather your supplies in advance to save time and be sure you use safe cleaning solutions. You can find solutions specifically formulated for small pet habitats in your local pet store, or you can use mild soap and warm water. Never use full strength bleach!
Empty the Cage
Now remove all the bedding, disposing of the used material. Even if some of the bedding appears clean at first sight, it's best practice to weekly change all the bedding for a fresh start and clean habitat.
Also remove all food and water dishes, tunnels, wheels, and toys. This prevents any soiled bedding or food particles from remaining trapped underneath objects.
Thoroughly Wash the Cage
Give the empty enclosure a scrub with mild soap and warm water or cage cleaning solution. Instead of soap, you may also opt to wash the cage with vinegar, but be certain to thoroughly rinse any residue away when done.
Depending on the type of hamster cage you have for your pet, it may be helpful to take the cage apart. This allows you to deep-clean each section with ease and minimizes the hassle of trying to reach in through small doors or access points.
Set the cage aside to dry while you clean the rest of your hamster's set-up.
Wash All Cage Accessories
Cage cleaning is not complete until you have also washed all of your hamster’s toys, wheels, tunnels, and dishes. This is important since urine, feces, and bacteria can be harbored inside the crevices of tunnels, underneath dishes, or on the surface of toys. Continued exposure to this sort of grime can lead to ear infections or eye problems.
Once washed, be sure to rinse each item to ensure that no soap or cleaning solution is trapped inside of the items.
Dry and Reassemble the Cage
Dry all pieces of the cage well. Leaving water behind may create soggy bedding or lead to mold developing. Once it is dry, reassemble the cage and fill it generously with new bedding.
You should provide your hamster with two to three inches of fresh, fluffy bedding. It is important to never use pine or cedar bedding as these materials can cause respiratory issues for your hamster.
Place the clean toys, dishes, tunnels, and wheels back inside the cage. Once cleaning is complete, return your hamster to his fresh, clean home.
Dispose of the Soiled Bedding and Gloves
Throw away all soiled bedding, along with any paper towels or disposable cloths you may have used in cleaning your hamster enclosure. Tie up the bag and discard. If you used rags, be sure to sanitize them before next use.
Always complete cleaning your hamster cage by thoroughly washing your hands.
A clean hamster cage makes for a happy, healthy hamster! By following this simple cleaning routine for a pet hamster's cage, you can keep your pet's home looking and smelling good. Bonus: Your house will smell better too!