In this article Shannon Cutts takes the strain out of shopping for the perfect hamster starter kit.
Choosing a complete hamster starter kit
Hamsters are so stinking cute, aren’t they?
It can be hard to resist these little fluff balls, with their wide round eyes and teensy tiny paws and adorable perky ears.
But even so, caring for a hamster is not a responsibility to take lightly.
These petite pets have fragile bodies and skittish spirits.
In the wild, their ancestors evolved into alert and adept escape artists to avoid predators.
Plus, they are crepuscular, which means they tend to sleep the days away, becoming active around dusk and throughout the evening.
Thinking about a hamster starter set
If you are an experienced hamster carer, you probably already knew these things
But if you are just bringing home your very first hamster, you probably feel like no amount of information will ever be enough!
In this article, we review everything you need to make sure your hamster’s needs are met, including just the right hamster cage kit and hamster starter pack.
Syrian and dwarf hamster kit needs
Hamsters come in two basic sizes: small and smaller.
The small size, which is actually quite large for a hamster, is called the Syrian hamster.
The Syrian hamster is still the most popular pet hamster breed and also the best known.
The smaller size, which can range from just smaller to really tiny, is called the dwarf hamster.
Dwarf hamster breeds include the Chinese, the Roborovski, the Siberian and the Russian Dwarf.
Dwarf hamsters are becoming increasingly popular as pets today.
For housing, it is important to consider the unique needs of Syrian and dwarf hamsters to be sure you pick a hamster starter set that will work for your breed of hamster.
(For more information about specific hamster breeds, we have this informative article just for you!)
In the next sections, we will review the basic kit hamster needs for both Syrian and dwarf hamster breeds.
Syrian hamster kit needs
Syrian hamsters are also called golden hamsters or Teddy Bear hamsters.
Both names fit so well – the Syrian hamster has lush golden fur and looks just like a pint-sized teddy bear!
But Syrian hamsters don’t like each other nearly as much as they like people.
In fact, each adult Syrian hamster MUST be housed in a cage alone or they will fight with each other!
Syrian hamsters can grow to be up to seven inches long, which is a really huge size for a hamster.
When it comes to picking out hamster cages, toys, exercise wheels, food bowls and play tubes, the Syrian hamster always needs the biggest size of each.
A cage providing 2 cubic feet of living space (width, length, height) is ideal, but an even bigger cage is better if you have the space.
Your Syrian hamster’s new enclosure should meet these minimum dimensions:
Cage size: 24” L x 12” W x 12” H (2 cubic feet)
Cage bar spacing (if plastic or wire): ½-inch or narrower.
NOTE: If you need to assess a potential cage to determine if it is sufficiently roomy for your new Syrian hamster, you can plug in that cage’s measurements using this handy cubic foot calculator.
Dwarf hamster kit needs
Size-wise, the largest dwarf hamster is just half the size of its Siberian cousins.
Here, four inches long is considered a “normal” sized adult dwarf hamster, and two inches long is really tiny!
Unlike the larger Siberian hamster, dwarf hamsters really crave the company of other hamsters.
With the exception of the nippy Chinese dwarf hamster, it is generally always best to keep these teensy hamsters in pairs (same-gender or different gender-fixed is best unless you want lots of dwarf hamster babies!)
Dwarf hamsters are so small that using wire cages can be problematic, especially for the tiniest breeds.
Here, solid wall habitats tend to be a safer pick.
Your dwarf hamster’s new enclosure should meet these minimum dimensions:
Cage size: 24” L x 12” W x 6” H (1 cubic foot).Cage bar spacing (if plastic or wire): ¼-inch or narrower.
For each additional dwarf hamster housed in the same enclosure, add:
12” L x 12” W x 6” H (0.5 cubic feet).
Hamster starter kit basics
Just because a hamster is very small doesn’t mean the learning curve is any less steep than it would be for a larger size pet.
In fact, it is because of their small size that getting set up to be a hamster parent can sometimes seem so intense!
They need a lot of accessories as well as a certain type of habitat to thrive in captivity.
Your new hamster (or hamsters, as the case may be) will need these starter kit basics:
- a proper habitat with a solid floor that is escape-proof and chew-proof
- an exercise wheel
- food bowls (one for dry food and one for fresh food)
- a water tube
- bedding for sleeping, nesting, burrowing and bathrooming
- a hide box
- chewables to keep their teeth trimmed
- toys, including ramps and play tubes for enrichment
- hamster-specific food and treat foods.
Hamster cage starter kit
If you have kept hamsters in the past, you may have odds and ends tucked away that are suitable for re-use.
But for many first-time hamster owners, it can feel like a daunting task to select each necessary hamster accessory separately and just hope they all fit well together!
The goal of a good hamster starter kit is to ensure you have a complete hamster kit that includes many or all of the accessories your new hammie will need – all in a single purchase.
So now read on for the best hamster cage starter kit picks for Syrian hamsters and dwarf hamsters!
Syrian hamster complete hamster starter kit
Not all complete hamster kit products will state that they are starter kits. What you need to look for is that they include most or all of the essentials listed in the previous section here.
These are some of our favorite Syrian hamster cage starter kit picks!
MCage Twin Tower Hamster Habitat
The basic dimensions of this five story hamster cage are what make us love it so much.
Not only does it come packed with accessories, but they are sized correctly for the larger Syrian hamsters.
Along with the habitat, you get ramps, tube tunnels, an exercise wheel, a hide house, a water bottle and a food bowl.
Pico XL Silver & Green Hamster & Small Animal Home/Cage
This hamster starter kit from Argos first became popular in the UK and has now made its way stateside under the name “Pico.”
This is a roomy multi-level hamster cage that is suitable for one Syrian or two dwarf hamsters.
You get a water bottle, food dish, platform and ramp system, an activity wheel and a hide box along with the cage itself.
As a bonus, you can choose between pink/purple and blue/green cage colors.
Lixit Animal Care Savic Hamster Heaven Metro Cage
Both Syrian and dwarf hamster owners love this Lixit hamster care cage system.
It is roomy and deep, and it comes with a variety of accessories including tubes and tunnels, platforms and ramps, an exercise wheel, a cage-top lookout point, food bowls, a water bottle and a hide box.
It is pricier than some other systems, but owners say it is worth it to get a good cage system on the first try.
Dwarf hamster starter kits
Finding a complete hamster kit for one or more dwarf hamsters should focus first and foremost on ensuring it is escape proof!
Dwarf hamsters are just so tiny that once they do escape, they can be very hard to find and recapture.
We like these dwarf hamster starter kit picks because they are escape-proof and they offer lots of extras!
Kaytee Critter Trail 2-Level Hamster Habitat
This roomy bi-level hamster enclosure comes with all the bells and whistles, including an exercise wheel, ramps and tunnel tubes, a water bottle, a food dish, and even a top lookout point area.
The size is ideal for two small dwarf hamsters and the bar spacing is a nice and safe one-quarter inch to keep even the littlest hammies safely inside.
Ferplast Hamster Cage
With a bar spacing of one quarter of an inch, a double story design, and a nice deep bottom for nesting and burrowing, it is easy to see why dwarf hamster owners love this dwarf hamster kit.
This would be ideal for one Chinese dwarf hamster, since it doesn’t have quite sufficient room for two dwarf hamsters to live well together.
It comes with a water bottle, food bowl, hide house and exercise wheel.
Cheap hamster starter kits
For an economical starter kit choice that is also fairly complete, we favor these hamster cage kit picks!
Favorite Small Animal Habitat Hamster Deluxe Pet Cage
This simple, affordable and attractive green/white/blue cage gets good reviews from hamster owners on a budget.
The kit includes a feeding bowl, a water tube and an exercise wheel.
However, it is small, only just nudging over one cubic foot.
This makes it a bit poky for more than one hamster, but the ⅜-inch bar spacing is also a little too generous for a solitary Chinese dwarf hamster.
This cage would be handy if you need some temporary accomodation without breaking the bank, but it’s not an ideal long term solution for any hamster.
IRIS Hamster Cage
This colorful and affordable hamster cage starter kit comes in two types: two-level and three-level, with safe and secure 3/8-inch bar spacing.
The overall dimensions are suitable for a single Syrian hamster. Your could also house two adult dwarf hamsters in here, if you’re confident they won’t fit through the bars. .
A water bottle, food bowl, ramp, hide box and platform system and exercise wheel come in the starter kit.
You can choose from blue, pink or red cages.
Interpet Limited Superpet Crittertrail One Small Pet Cage
This simple, colorful cage is a good choice for dwarf hamsters, with one quarter inch bar spacing and a cute little removable petting container you can place your hammie in during cage cleaning times.
It also includes a water bottle, a food dish and an exercise wheel.
Owners say the cage overall is nice and quiet and easy to assemble.
Hamster starter kit choices
We know how easy it is to get overwhelmed while reviewing the many habitats and accessories available for pet hamsters today!
The best feature about each of the hamster starter set picks you just read through is that each one can accommodate add-on features as you go along.
It can even be a good idea to start simple with cage furnishings to give your new fur ball time to acclimate before you add more tubes, tunnels, toys and other extras.
We’d love to hear about your new fluffy addition and the habitat you selected!
Please post your story in the comments section!
Quesenberry, K., DVM, MPH, DABVP (Avian), et al, “Providing a Home for a Hamster” Merck Veterinary Manual, 2018.
Malka, S., DVM, “27 Common Care Mistakes of Exotic animals [LI Vet Shares Experience]” Birds & Exotics Veterinary Clinic, 2016.
Bassert, J.M., et al, “McCurnin’s Clinical Textbook for Veterinary Technicians” Elsevier Health Sciences, 2017.