When I first got my hamster, the one question that immediately popped into my mind was about the dos and don’ts of keeping my hamster’s cage clean. You can say that I’m a neat freak, so the idea of having a stinking cage appalled me. I’m sure some of you might be on the same boat right now.
So, when it comes to cleaning out hamster cage, how often should you do it, you wonder? Ideally, if you have one furry little friend, you should clean its abode thoroughly once every week. Apart from a deep-clean, you should spot-check for soiled litter and uneaten food every day.
Does it all sound overwhelming and vague? I’ll break it all down for you!
How often to put your cleaning ensemble on?
There are two aspects of cleaning out a hamster cage – daily and weekly cleaning. Both are equally important for the hygiene and health of your hammie.
The Daily Routine: The Dirt Has to Go!
Regardless of how many hamsters you have, there is one mantra you need to abide by – cleaning the cage every single day.
This is because your little friend will be making a mess with every passing second. The bedding is bound to get soiled every day with pee, poop, leftover food, and chewed-up toys.
Like you wouldn’t want to live in a dirty environment, your hammie shouldn’t be forced to either. And remember, the lack of odor is not an indication of a clean cage either.
So, every day, you should:
While the task may seem like a hassle, it merely takes a couple of minutes (once you become efficient at it!).
The Weekly Battle: Deep Clean it
I will go into the details of what to clean a hamster cage with and what is the best way to clean it in the section below. First, let’s get the basics of deep cleaning right.
Every week, you will have to:
Note that I have only one hammie in my cage. In case you have multiple little friends, the frequency of deep cleaning will depend on the size of your hamster and how fast the cage gets dirty.
For example, let’s say your hamster cage is a sanctuary for three giant hamsters. The mess they will create with probably warrant a deep cleaning at least twice a week, especially if you hate stinky cages like me.
Smelly Hamster Cage: What’s causing the Odor?
My hammie loves his exercise ball. And I take him out of his cage to have a go at his favorite thing every day. Still, he spends a large portion of his day inside his little home. And I am sure this is the case with most hamsters.
It is only natural that the place your pet spends the majority of his time will be quite dirty. Usually, the odor is caused by its pee. (1)
While it is easy to clean pee since hamsters are very particular about urinating in one specific corner, it is an open territory when it comes to poop time! But, the good news is that hamster droppings do not have a significant smell. It does look pretty vile, though.
Another thing that might cause the smell is chewed-up food. If your hammie loves fruits and veggies, their leftovers might accumulate around the cage, causing a rotten smell.
Quick Steps of How to Clean a Hamster Cage
Merely brushing off the dirt from your hammie’s cage is not classified as cleaning. Instead, cleaning out a hamster cage is a much more systematic process. This includes the following:
Move your hamster to another sanctuary
Your hamster cannot be in the cage while you clean it! Either arrange an alternate bin for it or if your pet is like mine, get an exercise ball for your furry friend to run while you get your hands dirty.
Empty the cage: Nothing shall remain!
When I say everything, I mean it. All items within the cage need to be removed. This includes toys, old bedding, the food bowl, and the water bowl. Empty it of all accessories so that everything that remains is what needs to be thrown out – soiled litter, leftover food, and defecation!
Wash and disinfect
There might be bacteria manifesting in the hamster cage. Hence, all items within get infected from time to time. For your hamster’s health, make sure to wash and rinse each item properly. It would be best if you also dried it all out before placing it back.
Also, if you have invested in a tubing system like me, then do deconstruct and clean its part once a month too. I know it can be a hassle doing so. Therefore, for your weekly cleanings, wiping off its exterior would suffice.
Wash the cage
After removing the mess, you might think the cage itself is clean, right? Not exactly! You need to wash your hamster’s abode thoroughly. This is because, at times, droppings and food stay stuck on the cage. They need to either be scraped off or moistened in lukewarm soapy water.
Put it all back together
Once you have washed all of your hamsters’ possessions as well as his home, dry it all up.
Then, put all items back inside the home. Replace the old bedding with a new one. Put up a fresh food bowl and water. The cage is now ready to welcome your hammie.
Essential Supplies for Cleaning Day
The basic supplies without which no cage cleaning can begin include:
The Four Core Mistakes to Avoid
Cleaning your hamster’s cage is a much more important task than you think it might be. In fact, if you don’t do it correctly, you might risk disturbing your pet instead of providing comfort.
Here are some of the crucial mistakes you should be on the lookout for.
Using scented soaps and cleaners
There are various hamster-friendly cleaning materials out there. Make sure to pick wisely when you are out on a shopping spree. Avoid scented soaps as well as strong chemicals. Hamsters are very delicate pets. They might get an allergic reaction to strong chemicals or have changes in their biological processes.
Make the cage unfamiliar
When I say hamsters are sensitive, I mean it in all ways. Apart from their health, they are also very observant of their surroundings. While they don’t have the best eyesight, they do have a very acute sense of smell. And they need their cage to be familiar for them to be comfortable in it.
After you are done cleaning the cage, leave a small (clean) part of its old bedding intact so that your pet can recognize the home as his own.
Rearrange the toys and cage items
After a hectic day of cleaning your pet’s home, you might be tempted to speed it all up by just putting back the items as you please. Don’t do so! Hamsters move around a given space by relying on their spatial memory.
If you rearrange their habitat, they will become stressed. So, take a picture of how everything is placed and put it back in the exact same manner.
Choosing the same standard bedding
I’m sure your hammie is different from mine. My hamster is definitely a runner. But yours might be a digger. And the bedding requirement of the two may differ.
For starters, a digging hamster needs more bedding to have fun excavating through it. But, running hamsters need space to complete their marathons. So, they will want smaller bedding. If you don’t understand their personalities and choose bedding accordingly, your pet will not be happy.
Let the Cleaning Begin!
To summarize, cleaning a hamster’s cage is a complex task, with its own sets of do’s, don’ts, and processes. No pet owner should take it lightly since the comfort and health of our little friends depend on it.
Let’s sum up what we need to remember about hamster cage cleaning.
Firstly, you need to clean it daily to remove superficial litter and dirt.
Secondly, every week, you must dedicate at least half an hour to deep cleaning the cage so that your hamsters’ bedding, surface, and accessories remain devoid of accumulated dirt and bacteria.
This isn’t just about your hamster. It is also about maintaining the overall hygiene of the house and ensuring that it smells good (and inviting) to both your family and your guests.
Amidst it all, don’t forget to be sensitive to your hamster’s needs. Keep the process safe and familiar. Good luck!