Cages Advice & Evidence

Small Cages
are Cruel

Even though hamsters are very small they actually require a lot of space, it is not uncommon for hamsters in the wild to run 9km in one night. The Veterinary Association for Animal Welfare is Headquartered in Frankfurt and was established in 1985 by 150 veterinarians, also known as (TVT). They recommend the cage size should be at “minimum 100cm x 50cm x 50cm (L x W x H) which is 5000 cm2 (775 in2)” this is also recommended by other major organisations. It is the minimum cage size for ALL species of hamsters including Dwarf. Please note this is a minimum of unbroken floor space (not levels), the more space the better.


Don’t be fooled by what the pet shops recommend. Pet shops usually always sell cages which are far too small, this is because they are often cheaper for customers to buy and they save on shop floor space. If you buy a cage which is too small, your hamster will sadly live a miserable life.


Blue Cross say a cage should be no smaller than 100cm x 50cm x 50cm for ALL species of hamsters.


PDSA recommend a minimum cage size of 100cm x 50cm x 50cm for ALL species of hamsters.


Woodgreen recommend a minimum cage size of 100cm x 50cm x 50cm for ALL species of hamsters.


Switzerland legal minimum is 3800cm2 they advise the cage length should be 100cm – 150cm.


The Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture in Germany advise a minimum enclosure size for a hamster of 0,5 m2 – 5000 cm2 as can be seen on This PDF page 139. This equates to 100cm x 50cm.


Dwarf hamsters get a particularly bad deal by the pet shops. It’s true that they require a smaller wheel but they still run and travel just as fast. Just because their body is a few cm’s smaller, when they look around at their surroundings they still have the same thoughts as a Syrian hamster. Just like a taller human has the same perception of space as a shorter person. TVT research shows that Dwarf hamsters require the same size enclosure as a Syrian hamster.

Provide a Deep Layer of Bedding for your Hamster to Burrow

hamster burrow in beddingThe bedding material is the ground your hamster walks on and the ground your hamster will dig under to make a burrow section and a chamber to sleep. The bedding is also an absorbent for urine and spot cleaning will reduce smell. You need to provide your hamster with the correct type of bedding that will hold up the structure of a burrow e.g. Carefresh or Kaytee, its made from paper that seems more like clumps of tissue. You may also choose to mix this in with a different texture such as Aspen shavings or Teabag bedding. Please look at Our Safe Bedding Options.


                    Thanks to our friends at Hamster Society Singapore – The Art of Hamster Burrows


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 article


A hamster could start to burrow in at least 6 inches of bedding but a section of 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.

Good Cages / Tanks

As a SuggestionYou will see that owners often buy a tank at no extra cost than a cage and they create natural wild looking setups that your hamster will love. There are also IKEA Furniture Hacks such as converting a cabinet or a desk into a large hamster cage. No bars means no bar biting, it also allows you to add enough bedding depth so that your hamster can burrow. For inspiration take a look at our Amazing Setups page.


100 x 50cm (5000cm2)

Savic Plaza

100 x 50cm / 120 x 50cm (The Wheel included is too small)


115 x 60cm (6900 cm2)

A Glass Tank!

Various Sizes

Niteangel Bigger World

120 x 50cm (6000 cm2)

Laola Nagarium

120 x 50cm (6000 cm2)


120 x 60cm (7200 cm2)

DIY IKEA Komplement

100 x 60cm (6000 cm2)


201 x 75cm (15075 cm2)

DIY IKEA Linnmon

108 x 61cm (6588 cm2)

Ferplast Maxi Duna

99 x 54cm (5346 cm2)

Niteangel Glass Hamster Cage

120 x 50cm (6000 cm2)


100 x 50cm (5000 cm2)

Grosvenor XL

100 x 54cm (5400 cm2) 

Niteangel Vista

120 x 56cm (6720 cm2)

Aleko Pawhut

112 cm x 61cm

IKEA Detolf 

163cm x 42cm (6845cm2) Discontinued – Second Hand Only

DIY on a budget – Convert a large Plastic box into a bin cage

Marrakesh Terrarium

96 x 47cm

Skyline Falco 

100 x 50cm (5000 cm2)

Zoozone 2 Large

101 x 51cm (5151 cm2)

Other Cages to Consider:

  • Prolee 40″ – 100cm x 50cm
  • Ritz Large – 100cm x 54cm 
  • Kensington – 100cm  x 54cm
  • Coco – 100cm x 54cm
  • Plaza XL – 100cm x 54cm
  • Langham XL – 100cm x 54cm
  • Mamble 100 – 100cm x 54cm

Please Note: The wheel included is usually too small for a Syrian Hamster and you will need to upgrade to at least a 28cm wheel. Please see our page for suggestions if you need to buy a hamster wheel.


Often cages which are too small can’t fit an adequate size wheel, causing injury to your hamsters back. Also, you will probably see your hamster Bar biting in an attempt to break free for a better life. Bar biting can cause serious injury to your hamster. Research shows that a smaller cage size causes more bar biting.


Hamsters are protected under The Animal Welfare Act and must be “Protected from pain, injury and suffering”. There is a good argument that Hamster cages which are too small to fit an adequate size wheel should be banned. There is plenty of research that shows the injury that a small wheel will cause to your hamster. For example on Wikipedia it says “Tierärztliche Vereinigung für Tierschutz (TVT) recommends wheels should be at least 20cm (8″) for Dwarf Hamsters and at least 30cm (12″) for Syrian Hamsters, since smaller diameters lead to permanent spinal curvatures, especially in young animals.”  The research also found that hamsters use their wheel for an average distance of 8.3km per night.


“Unfortunately, most hamster cages sold in Pet shops will not fit an adequate sized wheel and it’s about time that the rights of hamsters are respected so that they can exercise without causing injury to themselves.”


It is also a legal requirement “for a suitable environment and place to live” and “to exhibit normal behaviour patterns”. It is not possible to provide an adequate amount of enrichment such as deep bedding for burrowing and multiple hides in a small cage.

Bad Cages

So what makes a cage unsuitable? A number of factors but the main one is floorspace, if it comes under 100x50cm (5000cm2) for all hamster species, if it’s too small to fit a 28cm wheel for a Syrian hamster, or a 20cm wheel for a dwarf hamster. If it’s easily escapable and/or has barred flooring which could lead to bumble foot. If the base isn’t deep enough to add enough bedding for burrowing.


Below is an example of some bad cages that don’t fit this suitability criteria. Sadly though, there are many other cages available similar to these and many hamsters across the world that have to live in them:

Some commentary taken from this Facebook post by Izzy Paine

1) Habitrail Ovo, too little floorspace and cannot fit an appropriate wheel

2) Pawhut 5 tier cage, too little floorspace, very small wheel

3) Rotastak Creepy Castle, too little floorspace and the wheel is too small

4) Beeztees spelos dwarf hamster cage, too little floorspace and cannot fit an appropriate wheel

5) Savic Spelos dwarf hamster cage. Not enough floorspace and wheel is too small

6) Rosewood Abode dwarf hamster cage, too little floorspace, wheel is too small

7) Ferplast Circus, Too little floorspace and cannot fit an appropriate wheel

8) Rosewood Eco Pico, too little floorspace and cannot fit an appropriate wheel

9) Ferplast Olimpia, too little floorspace and the wheel is too small

bad hamster cage imac fantasy

10) imac fantasy (even with added levels) too little floorspace and cannot fit an appropriate wheel

11) 24cm x 18cm how is this allowed!

12) Tinytales Cage / Toy!

Hamster Cage Study Conducted by Liverpool John Moores University


“The important note for pet owners is that ensuring pets have adequate opportunities to express natural behaviours in captivity improves their mood and is essential for their welfare”


“Hamsters Are Optimists When They Live in Comfy Cages”

Study Shows That A Smaller Cage Size Causes More Bar Biting


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).”

Story About a Finger Biting Hamster who had Cage Rage

I am going to talk about cage size. I am not judging you, but rather am mentioning it because of our own personal experience.


We found our Syrian hamster last February 12th, thrown out by the side of the road like trash. She was in a Tiny Tales cage. It was horrid. It was 65°F. outside. The only warmth to the whole cage was where she had huddled into a ball. I held the cage close to me and in so doing let a part of one finger protrude into the cage. The hamster proceeded to give me a nasty bite. Knowing she was stressed from both being outside and the cold temperature, I laughed the bite off, proclaiming her a ferocious lil beast. Hence, Beast, became her name.


Not having budgeted for the hamster, we didn’t automatically have funds to purchase hamster needs. Thankfully when we said we would keep the little Beast, one of my cousins said she would purchase a proper cage for her.


It still took two months to get the Prevue 528 cage. In those two months Beast drew blood from both my husband and myself. We couldn’t easily get in her cage to even spot clean. You had to trap her in a small corner with cardboard and be quick to remove uneaten vegetables at the end of the week and to clean her potty area.

Photo Credit: Wendy Zerla Torres

We didn’t care about the biting other than as a minor nuisance, as we hadn’t taken her in as a pet, but rather as a rescue. We were fine if we were never able to pet or hold her.


Finally the Prevue 528 arrived. We set it up and I gritted my teeth to catch Beast, knowing I was going to be bitten. She loved the new cage, settling in to explore. That was the very last time Beast bit either if us. Now, she doesn’t even bite if we have to wake her to clean her cage. She is a sweet pet. I had heard that a too small of a cage could make a hamster mean (cage rage) but had written it off as a myth. Now I have direct evidence that it does exist and providing a large cage can fix it. I hope our experience helps you and your ham.


The RSPCA used to suggest a minimum cage size measurement but this was removed after teaming up with Pets at Home in 2012. It is unclear if the removal of this specific advice is directly associated with the Pets at Home RSPCA “Working Together” relationship. The RSPCA are unable to give a good reason as to why they can’t bring in a specific cage measurement like The PDSA, Blue Cross and Wood Green, instead they simply say “buy as large a cage as you can”.


It is speculated that since they teamed up with Pets at Home and started a “Working Together” relationship the public started complaining that Pets at Home weren’t following The RSPCA Guidelines. In the below forum it says “The RSPCA removed the guidelines back when Pets at Home was getting a barrage of attacks from people online over the cages they sell.”


Forum Discussion on this page at


There was public outcry after the minimum cage size recommendation was removed from The RSPCA care guide and this resulted in a petition that received over 37,000 signatures.


Without a specific cage size measurement this ignores research from experts and leaves cage size open to interpretation from the customer who’s buying a cage. The lack of a minimum requirement from The RSPCA also allows Pets at Home who they work together with, to operate without restrictions. The RSPCA are also unable to suggest a deep Bedding Depth measurement and Wheel Size measurements in their “Working Together” Joint Leaflet with Pets at Home.


It is however positive to see that The RSPCA recommend a minimum cage size for hamsters on their adoption pages, for example they say a Syrian Hamster “will need a cage no smaller than 100cm x 50cm and a minimum 28cm diameter wheel.