Hamsters are small animals, but they actually require a lot of space, and unfortunately, most cages that you find in a pet shop are too small for a hamster. Can a bin cage be the solution for that?
Are bin cages safe for hamsters?
When it comes to bin cages for hamsters, there are quite a few things you need to know before letting your hamster live in one.
In this article, I will talk about how safe bin cages are for hamsters, how to make them safer, where you can find bin cages and more, so stick with me.
Table of Contents
Are bin cages safe for hamsters?
Yes, bin cages are safe for hamsters. However, you will have to make a few adjustments to a newly bought bin cage to make sure your hamster is safe and has enough ventilation in there.
In fact, bin cages are a pretty good option for new hamster owners, since a big hamster cage or a nice glass tank is quite expensive and usually hard to find in the pet shops.
Before talking about how to make a bin cage safe for hamster, it is important to buy a good and solid bin cage. If it is too weak (soft, thin plastic), your hamster might chew through it and escape, which can be dangerous.
Where can you buy a bin cage?
You can buy a big clear bin cage from Walmart, Home Depot or any other supermarket or home improvement store near you.
Or, if you have time to wait, you can find one online.
A clear cage will be a better option since you can see your little hamster much easier and it is quite important to see them all the time, either for safety reasons, or for fun. Half of the joy of having a hamster is the fact that they are making a lot of funny moves in the cage.
Hamsters can be pretty funny even without getting to play with them, here is an article with 12 reasons why hamsters are so cute and funny.
Make your bin cage hamster safe
Now lets get back to our work. You’ve bought a good clear bin cage, now what?
Making a bin cage safe for hamsters requires a bit of work, so if you like DIY projects, this might be exactly what you need.
Most bin cages don’t come with ventilation since they are not made for pets but rather for the storage of things inside them.
So, the first step is to make sure the bin has good ventilation, so your hamster doesn’t have trouble breathing.
You can do this by swapping the lid with a wire mesh covering. Those are fairly easy to DIY and will provide plenty of air.
Some people cut windows on a side and seal them with a wire mesh but if you do this, you have to get a safe and strong wire mesh since your hamster can easily start to chew on it and also chew on the cage much easier since they have an opening, so I would not go for this option.
The idea is that you should not give your hamster places where to chew on. They might not chew on a straight, slippery surface, but if they have an edge to start chewing on, they will most probably do it. After all, this is a giant plastic cage and hamsters can and will chew through plastic if they find a nub to start with.
The safest way is to place ventilation on the lid and make sure you have a tall bin cage so your hamster can’t get there anyway.
Can you leave the bin cage without a lid?
You might see many bin cages for hamsters in images, and they might not have a lid all the time. However, at first, you should not take any chances, it is hard to estimate how high a hamster can jump accurately. Yes, they can jump, here is an article about hamsters jumping.
Also, you have to check where they can climb, like the wheel, hideout, tunnels, and so on, and consider that they can move their bedding to make a big pile from where to jump.
So if you think a hamster can jump 10 inches at best, the hideout is 5 inches tall and the bin cage is 25, you might think the hamster is safe, but you might be wrong. They can move all the bedding near and on top of the hideout, climb it and jump from there.
So it is better to be safe than sorry and have a wire mesh lid, at least until you observe the hamster’s behavior in the cage.
My current hamster moved all the bedding to the water bottle making the bottle leak all the time, so I had to remove some of its bedding to make sure this doesn’t happen again, especially when I’m not home. My first hamster liked to squeeze himself between the side of the cage and the wooden home I got him, and always managed to push it a couple of inches. So they can move things around the cage a lot.
Benefits of the bin cage
Here are a few benefits of a bin cage.
- Cheaper. A bin cage is way cheaper than a big specially made hamster cage.
- Bigger. You can find bin cages in huge sizes, while hamster cages are quite limited when it comes to size.
- Customizable. A bin cage can be customized as you like and also since it is big, you can place a lot of toys, tunnels and other things like that for your hamster to play with.
- Clear color, usually you can find clear color bin cage which makes it easy for you to see your hamster all the time. As I said before, admiring the little furball while it does funny tricks or stupid things in the cage is a big part of the fun when it comes to a hamster pet.
- Bedding. You can add a lot more bedding in a bin cage than you would normally can in a regular hamster cage that has only the bottom part made from plastic, and the rest are metal wires.
So there are some benefits of buying a bin cage instead of a classic hamster cage, but make sure you can handle the DIY tasks required to make it hamster safe.
Can hamsters chew through bin cages?
Yes and no, unfortunately, I can’t give you definitive answers to this question.
Hamsters chew a lot, if you give them enough chewing toys they should not start to chew on the cage, but hamsters also have different personalities and you can’t control what they want to chew on.
The smooth surface makes it hard to chew on so that’s a plus. If you don’t give them edges where to start, it can be very difficult to chew on through the cage and escape.
But to be safe, you should check your hamster’s behaviors, especially when you place it in a new cage, and see if they start chewing on the cage, trying to escape.
In general, they shouldn’t be able to chew through it, but you don’t know what super-motivated little hamster you have, so make sure you are keeping a close eye on it.
Is the plastic that the bin is made toxic for the hamsters?
There are people that are concerned with the BPA content in the plastic when it comes to the hamster’s health but there is no evidence to prove this. Also, we should keep in mind that most commercial hamster houses are made from plastic, at least the bottom part, and they are safe, so the bin cage is also safe from this point of view.
What should I have prepared for the hamster bin?
If you wonder if you can keep your hamster in a bin cage before having a hamster, you might also want to know what you should have prepared for your hamster when you get it home.
Here is a detailed article about 10 essential things you have to get for your hamster if you want to read about this in more detail.
But at first you will need those:
- Bedding, the best bedding is aspen shavings. Make sure you buy a big batch since you will get through it pretty fast, especially with such a big cage as a bin cage. Hamsters need a lot of bedding since they enjoy digging in it.
- A water bottle. Drinking water is essential and you should not use a water bowl since it can be dangerous for a hamster to get wet.
- A running wheel. They will need to exercise somewhere, and a proper running wheel is their favorite place to do that.
- Chewing toys. You should have a few chewing toys to encourage your hamster to chew on and discourage it from chewing on the cage.
- Food mix. A pre-made food mix from the pet shop or a supermarket is all you need when it comes to food, they are usually specially made to cover all the nutrients a hamster need.
- A hideout. This one is not crucial if you don’t have it right away, but you should get it as soon as possible to make the cage more comfortable for your little hamster and give it places to hide.
Those are the necessary supplies you need when you bring the hamster home, in time you will want to buy more things and make the cage more interesting for your hamster, so check the article I linked above to see what you can give to your hamster.
A bin cage is a great option when it comes to a hamster cage, you will have to work a bit on it to make it safe for your hamster, but it shouldn’t be very difficult to do that.
A glass tank might be a better option in some situations, but it is more expensive and harder to find a proper one, so a bin cage is the best option for a new hamster owner.
I hope this article was helpful and your hamster has a cozy and big home to live in.