Bar Biting

Bar Biting is bad for hamsters. It is a common reaction to boredom and can cause misaligned and damaged teeth. In extreme cases, the constant vibrations can cause brain damage. Often hamsters chew the bars if there is nothing else to gnaw on, no stimulation, or their cage is too small. They can become obsessed causing mental health problems and depression. If you have a cage over the recommendations, a 11″+ wheel, and plenty of things to do and they still bite the bars, then you might want to consider putting them in a tank or bin cage to stop it. The Royal Veterinary College recommends a Glass Tank instead of a Cage as you can provide a deep layer of bedding, allowing your hamster to make a Burrow like they would in the wild. Also, No Bars means No Bar Biting.



Studies have shown that “hamsters in small cages knawed significantly longer and more frequently” and that “wire gnawing might be an attempt to escape from the cage” this research can be seen on our Hamster Cages Page.

It’s sad to see a hamster when it’s constantly focused on trying to escape it’s cage. If you provide a bigger home (at least 100cm x 50cm of unbroken floor space) and plenty of activities to do then it’s very likely that your hamster will enjoy and love it’s surroundings and bar chewing will become far less frequent.



Top Tip: Some hamster keepers recommend 150cm as a minimum length and will use a glass tank or an IKEA Detolf which is 163cm long, its a glass cabinet which can be placed horizontally on the floor or put on a long stand, and used as a tank. The price varies between £40 -£60 and is a far better way to spend your money then paying the same price for a tiny cage. Also there are no bars so you will completely avoid the bar biting issue. For inspiration some amazing hamster cages can be seen here.


When Hamsters can Burrow they Live Happily Underground and Don’t Bar Bite



Research shows that giving your hamster the ability to burrow results in a far happier and less stressed hamster. Research on Bedding depth has shown “Hamsters kept with 10 cm deep bedding showed significantly more wire-gnawing and a higher running wheel activity than the hamsters in the other groups. In 80 cm deep bedding wire-gnawing was never observed.

sciencedirect article



It is recommended to have a section of at least 6 inches of bedding but 10 inches (25cm) is much more suitable as the hamster can make a deeper burrow like they would have done in the wild, it is also a way to make them feel safe and warm in their environment.


The RSPCA say: “In the wild hamsters are extremely good diggers and construct deep, dark, underground burrows so, if possible, give your hamster a thick layer of litter/bedding in which to dig and burrow”



Behaviour of golden hamsters kept in four different cage sizes


“Cages for laboratory and pet hamsters are usually small. Using video recordings, the behaviour of sixty female golden hamsters (Mesocricetus auratus), housed individually in four different cage sizes, was compared in order to draw conclusions about their welfare. The cage sizes were 1,800 cm2, 2,500 cm2, 5,000 cm2, and 10,000 cm2. Enrichment items and litter depth were standardised and all cages were equipped with a running-wheel (30 cm diameter). Stereotypic wire-gnawing, usage of the provided space, weight gain, and reactions to mild husbandry stressors were used as welfare indicators. Stereotypic wire-gnawing was observed in all cage sizes, but hamsters in small cages gnawed significantly longer and more frequently. There were no significant differences in running-wheel activity. In small cages hamsters made use of the roof of their wooden shelters as an additional platform more often than in big cages, which could suggest that they needed more space. Therefore, the welfare of pet golden hamsters in cages with a minimal ground floor area of 10,000 cm2 seemed to be enhanced compared with smaller cages.”


Authors: Fischer, K; Gebhardt-Henrich, SG; Steiger, A

Source: Animal Welfare, Volume 16, Number 1, February 2007, pp. 85-93(9)

Behaviour of Golden Hamsters kept in four Different Cage Size study PDF – Click Here

“Wire gnawing might be an attempt to escape from the cage (similarly in mice, Würbel et al. 1998a, 1998b).”