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Hamsters make great pets, especially for first-time pet owners. Though tiny, these little fur bundles can change your life in so many ways. They are nocturnal animals who love to play, burrow, hide, and run on their wheel. Simply watching a hamster do its work can be so relaxing. All it takes to keep your hamster happy and healthy is a clean cage, a good diet, and lots of love. So, to be sure that your little pet stays in good shape in its happy place, learn how to clean a hamster cage the right way.
Why is cleaning a hamster cage important?
Anyone who is planning to bring home a hamster is advised to learn how to clean a hamster cage properly. It is important because a clean cage is a critical factor to keep the hamster happy, healthy, and active. Hamsters are clean creatures that love to groom themselves. They love to make a little mess but hate a messy cage.
New pet owners should be wary of the health condition called Wet Tail. This often leads to serious health troubles and can be fatal sometimes. A dirty cage left unattended for a long time could be one of the main causes of this disease in hamsters.
How frequently should you clean your hamster cage?
Along with learning how to clean a hamster cage, you should also know about how often you should do it. Cleaning too often can be as stressful to a hamster as cleaning very rarely. The frequency of cleaning depends on the type of cleaning you do and the size of the cage. The pet’s water bottle and food bowl would have to be cleaned every day.
A smaller cage gets messy quickly. This means that you should be cleaning it more often. But the bright side is that cleaning a small cage is easy and takes very little time. When you have a large cage with absorbent bedding, you can reduce the cleaning frequency without upsetting your pet.
There are two types of cleaning routines you should be following for a hamster cage. Spot cleaning is what you do frequently. This can be done once in a few days. For extra messy hamsters, you could even do it once in two days. Deep cleaning of the cage has to be done a few times a month. For hamsters who love to make a mess cleaning once a week might be a good idea.
How much time does it take to clean your hamster cage?
Spot cleaning a hamster cage only takes a few minutes. As long as you know which corner of the cage your pet likes to do its business, you would be able to quickly complete the job. Deep cleaning a hamster cage should take less than half an hour for most average-sized cages. If you choose to wipe down and thoroughly wash the cage it might take slightly longer. This might not be required more than once a month.
What are the items you need to clean a hamster cage?
When you gather all the cleaning supplies before you start the job, you would end up saving a lot of time later. Try and make your cleaning process quick. Moving your hamster away from its cage for a long duration would stress it out. Here is what you need to clean a hamster cage.
· Cleaning brush
· Kitchen towels
· Tissue roll
· Dry cloth
· Cleaning solution/vinegar
How to clean a hamster cage – 10 easy steps
Observe where your hamster pees and poops. They are clean animals that love to keep their habitat clean. So, it is highly unlikely that your pet makes its hiding place dirty. There might be a little poop in its tunnels and wheels, however. Identify the corner of the cage where your hamster usually makes a mess. Scoop out the bedding in this area. Replace it with fresh bedding if there is too much bedding removed.
Evenings, when the hamster is awake, would be great to clean the cage. Cleaning the cage when your pet sleeps might make it nervous.
1. Wait till your pet recedes into its hiding hut or the exercise wheel. Gentle pick up the hut or the wheel with your hamster in it and place it in the temporary arrangement. You can use a spacious travel carrier with some bedding from the old cage for this. It would give the hamster a familiar space that is less stressful.
2. The first step would be to remove the water bottle and food bowl. Then pick out the toys, tunnels, and all other loose parts in the cage. Empty out the huts and toys making sure that there is no poop or bedding within them. There are chances that your pet has hid its chews beneath the bedding. Look for these chews and remove them before you scoop out the bedding.
3. Once there is nothing but bedding left in the cage, carefully scoop out the cleanest section of bedding from the cage and place it in a separate tray. You might have to place at least a little amount of the old bedding in your hamster’s cage when you rearrange it after the deep cleaning job. The scent of its old bedding would be comforting for your hamster when you place it back in the clean cage.
4. Scoop out and discard the rest of the bedding using a scoop and dustpan. Give the bottom tray a thorough wipe. Wipe it down with a clean paper napkin first. Then spray a little pet cage cleaning disinfectant. Choose one that is unscented and made of mild ingredients. There are many cleaners that can be sprayed directly. These do not have to be rinsed off after cleaning. Alternatively, you can use vinegar to clean the tray. Use a brush if there are stains you wish to remove.
5. Wipe the tray again with a dry cloth or napkin to make sure that there is no trace of the disinfectant solution left.
6. Wipe down all the toys and huts from the cage. If any of them have gotten messy you can give them a good scrub before you place them back. This might be necessary when your hamster has hoarded scraps of food. Rotten food might leave mold and a foul odor in the hut and toys. So it is important to clean them well before you place them back in the cage.
7. Use a piece of dry napkin to dry the toys and they are ready to go back inside the cage.
8. Place fresh bedding in the cage. Aspen is one of the most popular choices especially because it is highly absorbent. Paper and wood pellet bedding are also used. Ensure that you place the old bedding that you had saved in one corner of the cage. Replace the toys and huts in the same position as they were before the cleaning process.
9. Besides the above regular cleaning routine, you could also wipe down the grills and wash the cage fully once a month if required. This takes a little longer and you can use some mild unscented soap and water to clean the cage after you have removed the bedding. Once the cage is dry you can arrange it back as you do with normal deep cleaning regimes.
10. Place your hamster back in its cage and give it some time to get used to its clean cage. Do not forget to leave food and water when you place your pet back.
Hamster cage cleaning mistakes to avoid
· Using harsh cleaners for the cage -some cleaners might remove stains easily but might be harmful to use around your pet.
· Refreshing the cage ambiance with scented products – this might appear like an easy way to eliminate bad odor from the cage but it might turn out to be dangerous for your hamster.
· Leaving your hamster outside of its cage for a long time while you clean would be another major blunder. If it has a favorite hidey hut you would place your pet inside this hut and then leave it in a bin or a safe playpen.
· Changing the layout of the cage while you put the bedding back after cleaning is something you should avoid. Hamsters get easily stressed when they feel like they are placed in a new atmosphere.
· Going by the hard and fast rules for bedding thickness might not be a good idea. Considering the size of the hamster you should be willing to observe and experiment with the thickness. Some like to burrow while some only like to run around. In the former situation you might need thicker bedding and in the latter a thinner bedding layer.
Wrapping it up
Now that you know how to clean a hamster cage you would be able to maintain your pet’s cozy abode in its best condition. This would ensure that your pet stays fit and healthy. A dirty cage can shorten your pet’s lifespan. So, all the time spent cleaning your hamster cage is like an investment made on your pet’s health and wellbeing.