Hamsters are generally clean, low maintenance critters that prefer to have their toilet, playing, and sleeping areas separate. For this reason, their cages can stay cleaner for longer, but that doesn’t mean you should neglect your hamster’s living space.
You should thoroughly clean your hamster’s cage once or twice a month, depending on the level of dirt and smell. If your hamster enjoys an exceptionally large enclosure, you have the advantage of having longer cleaning intervals. Ideally, you should inspect your hamster’s cage on a daily basis and get rid of the soiled litter, wetness, or uneaten food.
Cleaning too often or not too often can cause illness or stress to your hamster. That’s why you need to do it moderately.
Do you have to do it every week?
Remember, the whole idea here is to maintain a clean cage. Non-spacious or smaller cages get dirty faster, and that’s why a week sounds more reasonable. If your hamster has a larger cage, that means they have ample space to do their business, and you also don’t have to clean as often.
Ample space is beneficial in many ways. You may be able to go for one or two months without cleaning and still maintain a healthy, odorless, and tidy environment, so long as you conduct your daily spot on inspections. Your hamster is happier in a more prominent space, so if you can create more room, do so.
You also want to consider how smelly the cage gets when it is littered. If the smell is too strong or doesn’t go away completely even after a thorough clean up, you should consider taking your hamster to a larger space or another location.
While changing environments can be unhealthily stressful for your furry friend, a bad smell can get your hamster ill. So, a bigger space with a regular cleaning every week is excellent for both of you.
The principle also applies to those keeping more than one hamster. With more peeing, pooping, and tiny bits of food everywhere, the cage is likely to get messy more frequently. So, more hamsters more frequent cleaning.
Why do hamsters’ cages smell in the first place?
Hamsters spend most of their time in their cages. This means they will conduct all their business in that cage, whether playing, pooping, peeing, eating, or sleeping.
If you are keen enough, you might have realized that it is the pee that smells in most cases. To make things even better for you, your hamster will choose one corner to be their pee area, making cleaning more comfortable to do.
Your hamster’s pee zone remains the same always unless he decides to move or change the location. This happens if you fail to clean more often. The wetness and smell build-up may be too much for them that may be not be able to manage, so they move to another location, another far corner. Pooping is done anywhere though.
Locating your hamster’s pee area is easy; you just need to find the pungent smell at one of the corners. Droppings will be almost everywhere, including their fur sometimes. Poop is usually dry and not smelly, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore it, especially if you keep more than two hamsters in the same cage. Spot-cleaning them makes the cage cleaner and neater.
Bits of food is another common culprit for why your hamster’s cage is smelling. Hamsters never eat all their food. They will always leave some to make sure they have a regular supply for later. Giving them more doesn’t change the behavior because it is an instinct. These tiny bits of food can rot and start smelling, depending on what you gave them to eat.
Factors that affect the cleaning frequency
If you regularly check your hamster’s cage, you should be able to spot the dirty areas and clean there before the dirt accumulates. You could also go further to collect soiled bedding as well as cleaning dirty food dishes.
However, that heavily depends on a few factors that we will discuss below. Remember, you don’t want to underdo or overdo the cleaning.
The size of the cage
Like we already mentioned, the size of your hamster’s enclosure dramatically impacts how often you will need to do the cleaning. Larger cages accumulate waste that spread across their space, which may be less smelly.
On the other hand, a small cage carries all the waste in almost the same area and the smell may accumulate if the cage is not cleaned more often.
The number of hamsters using the cage
The more the animals, the more the waste, hence more cleaning. Some hamsters generally eat and defecate more than others. Others have a specific corner to pee while others may pee just anywhere.
This could make cleaning a bit complex and tedious. It also means frequent feeding and cleaning.
If you or another member of your family is affected by the odor
Hamster pee can be quite pungent. If you or your loved ones are affected by this smell, you may want to consider cleaning more often to eliminate it.
You don’t need to wait till the odor gets too intense, try daily spot-cleaning. That way, you get rid of areas or things that can worsen the smell. This helps reduce the frequency with which you may need to clean the cage.
How often the cage gets dirty
How dirty the cage gets heavily depends on the number of hamsters you are keeping as well as the hamster’s feeding habits. There is really no way of knowing how many times your hamster is going to poop or pee.
The most important thing is to ensure that you mark those areas so that cleaning them becomes more manageable.
How can you clean your hamster’s cage without stressing them?
Hamster cages are the easiest places to clean, and the process doesn’t require too many supplies to do it correctly. However, you need to be regular and thorough with your cleaning.
Just a couple of minutes and you are done. However, there are some things you need to keep in mind when cleaning a hamster cage to avoid stressing the animal.
First of all, never use scented soaps or strong chemicals to clean a hamster cage. If you don’t have a hamster-safe disinfectant, use mild soaps to aid your cleaning.
Hamsters rely on smell, memory, and instinct to navigate their cage. If you change the entire smell of the cage, you could trigger anxiety or stress in the animal.
Next, never wash all your hamster’s bedding at the same time; always leave one or two blankets to help them recognize their place. You also want to keep everything exactly where it was.
Never move the general location of the toys, food bowl, and water bottle. Hamsters do not see well and usually don’t rely on their eyes but the smell. So, switching the position of things in the cage is not recommended. The last thing you want is to confuse your little fella in their own home.
Hamsters do not adapt easily to change. They can be extremely sensitive and nervous when they fail to recognize their surroundings.
Remember removing your hamster from his cage means you are changing his environment, which can be a bit stressful for him, especially if he can’t find his smell.
This means that you cleaning his cage, is not something he likes. For this season, you need to carefully plan your cleaning and do it as fast as possible.
If you have to keep the hamster out of his cage when cleaning, keep a few things like blankets to help them familiarize themselves with the area. You can place him in an exercise ball or an alternative cage and bait him with some of his favorite snacks.
Should you bathe your hamster?
Hamsters are meticulous groomers and do a great job keeping themselves and their environment clean, and baths may not be necessary. Unlike dogs, hamsters don’t need help cleaning themselves. The only thing that smells around them is their pee.
Hamster fur has natural oils that help keep the animal clean and warm. So, if you frequently bathe them, you are slowly washing these oils away, and your hamster’s fur will never look the same way. That is why some hamsters prefer dust baths than regular water baths.
However, you can spot-clean them whenever you feel necessary. Their bottoms sometimes carry some dirt due to the constant peeing and pooping. Just be careful not to stress or scare your furry friend.
Hamsters don’t like alot of disturbances and drastic shifts. They like to be left alone to enjoy their space, so avoid cleaning them or cleaning their cage if it is not necessary.
If your hamster has a dirty spot that they can’t seem to clean themselves, you can clean this particular place using a piece of a soft washcloth and lukewarm water. If you have to bath your hamster, make sure they don’t get too wet or too cold.
Hamsters are not the best stress managers, and when they get cold and wet, they will panic and can develop a series of illnesses. They also don’t enjoy temperature shifts just as they hate changing environments.