Cleaning your dwarf hamster cage isn’t a fun task but it’s absolutely necessary for keeping your pets happy and healthy. You’ll want to clean your hamster cage every week to provide your pets a good environment to live in. Remember, your hamster(s) will live the majority of their lives in the home you provide them – so it’s worth keeping it in good condition! Below, I’ll detail exactly how to clean out your dwarf hamsters in 10 easy-to-follow steps.
Step 1- Remove the hamster(s) from the cage and place into an exercise ball
If you’re able to handle your dwarf hamster then this shouldn’t be an issue. For new hamsters or dwarfs that just don’t like being picked up – you’ll have to get sneaky.
Putting a hamster ball into their cage with a few treats inside is usually enough to lure any dwarf hamster away from its bed. Once the hamster is in the exercise ball, take extra care in making sure that the lid is secured. You don’t want to spend the night trying to catch an escaped hamster – especially if it’s a Roborovski! (trust me)
I usually apply tape to the lid of the hamster ball to stop any aspiring escape artists. You’ll be surprised at how dwarf hamsters can find ways out of just about anywhere. Their tactic is either brute force, or flexibility – they really can fit through the smallest of gaps. Each hamster will need a seperate exercise ball and lots of space to run around in. Your living room is probably the best bet, just make sure no stairs or other household pets are nearby.
Step 2- Remove the dirty sawdust, bedding and old food
Replacing the sawdust is essential, that’s where all the dirt would have collected since you cleaned the cage last.
It’s easiest to simply tip the sawdust out of the cage, into a black bin bag. This is usually the quickest option. You may find some buried food that a dwarf hamster has hidden from its cage-mate. It’s always interesting to see what your pets have been up to when you were asleep.
After, remove the bedding from the hamster house(s) and put this into the black bag also. I tend to leave a small amount of bedding and put this back in the dwarf hamster houses later. This means their scent will still remain so they don’t get too stressed when returning to their home.
Most hamsters have a designated Poo corner. It’s not a nice place to be but at least it keeps all the mess in one place! This will probably need some extra scrubbing later on.
Step 3- Remove cage accessories
No rocket science here – simply dissemble your cage.
Some cages come apart better than others. Just remember to remove all your cage tubes, platforms (if possible) and accessories such as food bowls and toys.
Step 4- Clean cage surfaces and accessories with an animal safe disinfectant
Removing all dirt and harmful bacteria with a pet-safe cleaner is probably the most important part of the cleaning routine.
I always recommend using a top-quality disinfectant spray that’s safe for dwarf hamsters – here is the cleaner I use. You’ll need to use a sponge or brush with the spray to make sure you give the cage a thorough clean. You’ll also want to give all cage accessories and toys a quick clean too.
Step 5- Leave the disinfectant to sit for 15 minutes, then rinse and dry.
Leaving the disinfectant to sit will allow it to work its magic! 15 minutes should be enough time, use these minutes to check up on your hamsters and make sure they’re okay. After, simply rinse the cage off with water and dry.
Step 6- Add new substrate (wood chippings)
Once the cage is cleaned and reassembled, the next step is to add in some new substrate. You may be using wood chippings, sawdust or pet-safe bedding – just make sure it’s safe for dwarf hamsters and that you have enough to fill up the bottom of your cage.
I buy wood chippings in bulk as this tends to be cheaper and I always know I’ll have enough leftover for every hamster clean. Be sure to layer it up by a few inches so your dwarf hamsters can burrow underneath (this will promote natural behaviour).
Step 7- Add clean bedding and refit tubes
Now it’s time to replace the bedding – be sure to use a soft, comfortable bedding such as this. Remember to add some of the bedding you removed earlier, to keep your dwarf hamster’s scent in the cage. This will help your hamster(s) to feel comfortable in their clean cage right away.
If your cage includes some plastic tubing, this is a good time to refit them. Depending on your cage and tubes, this can take a little time. Just remember to double check that they are 100% secure and fitted correctly.
Step 8- Reposition the cage accessories
Now your cage is reassembled it’s time to place down your cage accessories. Put the food bowl and water dispenser back in the same place and grab any other toys you’d like in your cage.
To provide mental stimulation, it’s good to change up the look of your cage and reposition some accessories. This is a form of animal enrichment and it promotes natural behaviours – best of all, it doesn’t cost a penny!
Step 9- Place the hamster(s) back into the cage.
Hopefully you or a friend has been able to show your hamsters some attention during this time. Now, it’s time to take your well-exercised dwarf hamsters home!
I like to place the exercise ball into the cage and then remove the lid, letting the hamster leave and explore whenever it feels ready. Sometimes this will take a few minutes or a few seconds, depending on your pet’s personality.
Step 10- Clean and disinfect the exercise ball
With your hamsters safely back inside their clean home, the final step is to disinfect the exercise ball(s) that you’ve just used. This shouldn’t take too long and once complete, you’ve finished all the steps!
So those are the 10 steps for cleaning your dwarf hamster cage! Below are some FAQs that will hopefully answer any cleaning related questions you may have. If you have a question that isn’t answered, let me know in the comments.
It’s recommended that you clean your hamster cage once a week. If you only have one hamster that doesn’t make much of a mess, you may be able to spot clean regularly and only carry out a full clean once every two weeks.
Use a petsafe cleaner that won’t have a bad impact on your pet’s health. This cleaner comes well recommended. Don’t use normal household cleaners as this could harm your hamsters.
Nope, your dwarf hamster will clean itself. You can provide your hamsters with a sand bath to encourage cleanliness and promote natural behaviour.
Want some more dwarf hamster care-guides? Here’s a whole bunch of great dwarf hamster advice.
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