Watching a hamster crawl through tunnels is half the fun of having one, right after watching him stuff his cheeks and run on the wheel. But do all hamsters use their tunnels ? Are they worth getting for your hamster ?
I’ll tell you my experience with Teddy (Syrian male hammy) and what I’ve learned from other hamster owners.
So do hamsters use tubes/tunnels ?
Yes, most hamsters do use tubes or tunnels. Some will use them more often, some will use them every now and then. But all hamsters are drawn to small, tight, hidden pockets of space.
This is mostly because of the nature of rodents, to always seek a tunnel or hole to hide in. Also, in the wild hamster nests are made of a series of long, interconnected tunnels and galleries.
So a tunnel or tube will feel very familiar to him. That being said, some hamsters will be more on the lazier side and won’t use them much, instead preferring to sit down and snack on something.
There are a few things you should look out for, when you get your hamster a tunnel toy, for their own safety. Let’s talk about that.
What to look for in a hamster tunnel
For the most part tunnels (the store bought kind) are made of plastic and as such can be a bit slippery. You should check to see if the tunnels have rungs on the inside, so your hamster can actually get a grip.
Another issue is airflow. Being plastic, and being mostly external tubes (running on the outside of the cage), the tubes will not be easy to escape. This also means that airflow could be restricted, so there will be a bit less air in the tubes than in the cage.
This also makes cleaning and drying the tube much easier.
Most tunnels will be clear, so you can watch your hammy scamper up and down. However when you assemble the tunnels, you need to be careful to not create very sharp angles, so the hamster can turn easily. A U-bend is alright, as long as it’s wide enough.
You should make sure your cage can support a tube opening though. Our Teddy’s cage came with tubes and we can always connect those tubes to other extensions. But no all cages can do that. There are tutorials online on how to create a safe tube opening in your hamster’s cage though, and you can get some ideas from those videos.
Aside from all this, hamster tunnels are pretty much great for hamsters, and for us owners too. Let’s see a few examples.
A few hamster tunnel/tube examples
You can get all kinds of tube, or tube toys. Some of them can be made at home, some can be bought. It depends on what you’re planning to use the tubes for.
For external tubes, or a complex tube series, I recommend plastic tubes, since they will definitely keep the hamster contained. Let’s see some options for both kinds.
Store bought hamster tunnel toys
For the most part tubes can be constructed any way you like them, as long as they fit.
This tube style for example is popular, and leaves you room for creativity. You can build a whole set of complex tunnels, as long as you don’t go overboard and tip them over (center of gravity and such).
You’ll see only one style in the photo here, but the listing on Amazon shows you all their available pieces. You can combine them as much as you like, and create a whole playground for your hamster.
They can be used both inside the cage and outside.
You can check the listing on Amazon, and read the reviews as well.
You’ll have to check your cage if it can fit the openings for tunnels. If not, they can be created securely, with a few online tutorials.
DYI hamster tubes and tunnels
Many hamster toys can be made at home, very simple, from cardboard rolls. If you have toilet paper or paper towels, then you’ve got a whole bunch of tubes for your hamster.
Unfortunately cardboard is a favorite among hamsters to chew on, so these tubes can’t be used as external tubes. Connecting them would also be a chore, and there is no airflow as well.
But, inside the cage, our Teddy always has a couple of tubes he uses to get from one end to the other. I guess it’s more exciting that way. Sometimes those tubes end right in front of the water bottle.
He doesn’t even bother to get out and drink water like normal hamster, he just twists himself up to get a drink and then darts back in.
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Giving your hamster a tube to play in is as simple as just placing the tube inside his cage. But, if you want to get fancy you can cut a few holes in a long tube and he’ll use as a hide and seek toy.
You can leave it at that, or you can use a few shorter tubes (like the toilet paper ones) to create a tube system on the floor of his cage. Just fold the end of the tubes a bit, so they fit into the holes, and make an entire system.
Do keep in mind that it won’t last long, though. Hamsters love cardboard, and will chew their way through it. So the tunnel system will be bitten here and there, and parts of it will be missing. The hamster’s gonna have a great time though, so there’s that.
A word from Teddy
I hope you found what you were looking for in this article. I know us hamsters love to play, but we’d love to run around in tunnels too. I hang out in my tunnel quite often, and I’ve moved some food there as well, so I have a snack when I go there.
If you want to know more about us hamsters you can check out the related articles below. You’ll find out how to keep us safe and happy.