When we hear the word ‘toys’ we often think of fun, luxury items – something we pick up as a special little treat. What you may not realize is that purchasing (or DIYing) the right toys for your hamster can actually have an impact on his/her overall health and well-being! Let’s talk about the best hamster toys for your furry friend.
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If you share your heart with a pet hamster, you want nothing but the best for your little one. After doing your research, you purchased the best cage, food that you were sure would meet his/her nutritional needs and fun treats that are both healthy and delicious.
Now it’s time for the fun part – Hamster toys! In order for your little buddy to live a long, happy and healthy life, he/she will need the opportunity to play, exercise and explore. By creating a fun hamster-safe environment using toys and cage accessories, both purchased and homemade, you can provide this and more!
Do you need a little inspiration? Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered!
Create the Perfect Habitat For Your Furry Friend with These 4 Types of Hamster Toys:
#1 – Hamster Wheels
Arguably one of the most popular and recognized hamster toys, the hamster wheel is a classic for a reason! However, if you’re a first-time small animal owner, you may not realize that there are actually different options available.
The first factor to consider is the size of your hamster. A dwarf hamster may be able to get away with a smaller option, for example, than a full-sized golden hamster. In order to avoid having to replace your wheel down the road, you want to consider the full-grown size of your hamster. He/she should be able to use the wheel without their back arching much, if at all. However, avoid buying a wheel that is too big as it could make it difficult for your hamster to get it moving.
While most people immediately picture the old wire wheel, these are no longer the most recommended option. Plastic solid surface wheels (like the Kaytee Silent Spinner Exercise Wheel found HERE) prevent your furry friend from being injured when little legs and feet misstep landing between the wires. Both self-standing options and options that attach to the side of the cage are available, depending on personal preference.
Finally, you may want to play around and ‘test drive’ that wheel at home. If your hamster’s cage is in or near your bedroom, you may want to make a point of avoiding a wheel that makes too much noise.
#2 – Hamster Balls
If you’re looking to encourage your hamster to exercise but also want to break change things up a little, hamster balls are a great alternative. Also known as ‘run-abouts’, these clear balls allow your hamster to explore your home while keeping him/her contained. This prevents your furry friend from getting away (and into a place that you can’t reach) while also stopping your buddy from chewing on things that could pose a serious risk, like electrical cables.
You can purchase a standard clear ball, or add a little additional fun and functionality (or control) by purchasing a ball with its own stand to keep your hamster in one spot, a light-up LED ball (like the LED Kaytee Run-About Exercise Ball found HERE) or even a track for your hamsters ball to keep it contained to a specific pathway.
#3 – Houses, Hideaways and Climbing Toys
Another way to allow your hamster to explore is to create an interesting habitat. Many modern hamster cages allow for elaborate tunnel systems that can be changed and built upon, adding to the size of your friend’s habitat and providing an interesting change to the basic 4 walls. These tubes may simply lead out of the cage, around and back again, while others could lead to secondary burrows, wheels, ‘litterbox’ spaces, and more.
You can also add huts, hollowed-out logs and other hideaways within the main cage. This not only gives your hamster a place to explore but also a safe place to build a nest. Wooden ladders both provide climbing opportunities for your furry friend which allows them to explore and also encourages much-needed exercise.
The nesting instinct is a natural behaviour that you can expect from your hamster. You will also need to provide him/her with hamster-safe nesting materials such as chipped materials, shredded paper or processed corn cobs. Avoid cotton batting or cotton balls as it can get caught around your hamster’s feet and nails leading to injuries.
There are also many plastic options available at your local pet store. These should be inspected for damage regularly and removed if you see that your hamster has chewed too much or is at risk of getting pieces off.
#4 – Chew Toys
A hamster’s teeth are constantly growing, which means that you need to provide your hamster with something to chew on in order to prevent unnecessary dental problems down the road.
There are SO many commercial chew toys available. Some mount on the cage, hanging down for your friend to access while others are built to climb and play on. There are balls, rope toys, toys with bells and more. Feeling overwhelmed? Not sure where to start? Why not pick up a value pack with a variety of different wooden toys like the Zalalova Hamster Chew Toy 10 Pack HERE.
The most important thing to remember when selecting a chew toy for your hamster is that you need to find something that is completely safe, both pesticide- and chemical-free. For this reason, it is recommended to avoid cedar or evergreen woods. If you aren’t sure of the wood an item is made of or if it is safe for your friend, don’t be afraid to ask. If a vendor can’t give you a definite answer, err on the side of caution and choose something else.
DIY Hamster Toys
If you’re looking for an easy and cost-effective option, there are many options just laying around your home. For example, hamsters LOVE cardboard tubes like those found inside of paper towels and toilet paper. These not only provide a chew toy but can also be used to construct hideaways. As your hamster chews on the tube, he/she may also choose to shred the tube in order to create additional nesting materials.
Other options for building hamster-safe DIY homes include coconut shells and organic ropes, such as hemp. Always choose thicker rope options to reduce the risk that your hamster could become entangled in the toy.
Please Note: Rope toys or toys hung using rope should never be left in your hamster’s cage to be played with unsupervised.
Do you have fruit trees in your hard? Both hardwood and the branches of fruit trees make great chew options. You can also use the branches to construct tunnels and huts. Just remember – NO cedar or evergreen and NO chemically treated wood.
What hamster toys are the most popular in your house? Do you have any ideas or suggestions for fun DIY options? I’d love to hear about them in the comments below!