It’s late at night, and you’re just about to drift off to sleep when you hear a distinctive sound: your hamster is chewing on his cage bars again. Not only can this hamster behavior be annoying to human ears, but it can also potentially cause injury to your furry friend.
So why do hamsters bite their cages, and what can you do to stop them?
The reality is that there are many different reasons why hamsters chew cages, including everything from boredom and stress to dental maintenance and full-blown escape attempts. But because this behavior can potentially damage your pet’s teeth, it’s important to find more appropriate avenues for all of your hamster’s chewing desires.
Why Do Hamsters Chew Their Cages?
Just because your hamster chews on their cage doesn’t mean they hate the home you’ve prepared for them. In fact, there are lots of different reasons why hamsters gnaw on their cages.
Before we go any further, it’s worth pointing out that chewing is a perfectly natural and healthy behavior for hamsters. Your pet’s four front teeth grow continuously throughout their life, so chewing is your hamster’s way of keeping those teeth at the optimum length.
But that’s far from the only reason why hamsters gnaw on cages.
Some pets will do it out of boredom, as a way of passing the time. Some use chewing as a way to burn off some energy, indulge their playful nature, and attract a little extra attention.
Unfortunately, other hamsters may do it because their cage is too small, so they want to escape and find new territory to explore. Chewing bars can also sign that your pet is stressed and unhappy, so it’s important to get to the bottom of the problem and find a practical solution.
Finally, you may be wondering why your hamster always seems to chew their cage at night. This is because hamsters are nocturnal animals, so they prefer to sleep in the day and are most active at night.
Is Biting the Cage Bad for My Hamster?
OK, so if your hamster needs to chew to keep their teeth nice and short, surely chewing their cage is nothing to worry about, right?
While chewing is good, chewing metal cage bars is bad for your furry friend.
That’s because metal bars are harsh, and gnawing at them can cause damage to a hamster’s teeth, including broken and misaligned teeth. Pressing their face up close against the cage can also lead to the development of bald patches and sores.
Biting and chewing are bad news for your pet’s cage as well.
If left unchecked, your pet’s chewing could eventually create a gap large enough for them to escape through, which is the last thing you want.
It’s not just a problem in wire cages either; hamsters can also chew plastic cages, especially if they find an exposed surface to sink their teeth into.
Finally, we should also point out that your hamster’s nocturnal chewing can be bad for you too. After all, it can be pretty hard to get a good night’s sleep when your hamster is using their cage bars to do some flossing!
How Do You Get Your Hamster to Stop Biting the Cage?
The good news is that you can take a few simple steps to encourage your hamster to stop chewing on their cage.
Safe Chewing Alternatives
The most obvious step is to give your pet something more appropriate to chew on. But what else can hamsters chew on?
There are a wide range of hamster chew toys available that are specially designed for gnawing hamsters. These wooden toys come in a variety of shapes and colors, so make sure your pet always has a steady supply of chew toys available.
The ASPCA advises that a hard dog biscuit can also help wear down teeth. At the same time, a balanced diet will aid the development of healthy teeth, and your hamster may also like gnawing on a carrot.
The other simple thing you can do to stop your hamster biting the cage is make sure to provide them with plenty of environmental enrichment. The aim here is to stop your pet from getting bored and turning to chewing on the cage to alleviate that boredom. By providing an exercise wheel, tunnels, and other play equipment, you can help ensure that your pet always has something fun to do.
Tackling Other Causes of Cage Chewing
Finally, check whether your cage is large enough for your pet – at least 450 square inches of floor space is a figure commonly quote by some owners’ organizations — and remove any potential causes of stress for your hamster. For example, if they don’t get on with their cage mate, you might need to consider other housing options.
If you can do all of that, you’ll hopefully be able to put a stop to your pet’s cage chewing behavior.
Are There Any Other Solutions?
If all of the above steps fail to stop your hamster gnawing on their cage, don’t despair — there’s still one other option available. You could try moving your pet to a glass aquarium-style cage. That way, your hamster won’t have anything harmful to gnaw on, but they’ll still be kept in a safe environment that offers you an unobstructed view of your pet.
Glass cages do have some downsides — they’re heavy to move, not as well ventilated as wire-top cages, and may also be difficult to keep clean. But if your hamster won’t stop biting their cage, this may be the best solution for your pet.
Chewing is a healthy behavior for any hamster, but chewing on their cage bars isn’t. And because it can cause tooth damage and potentially allow your pet to escape, cage chewing should be tackled straight away.
Happily, the solutions to the problem are quite simple. By providing safe items for your hamster to chew, and addressing any issues that may be prompting their chewing, you’ll ensure that this annoying behavior becomes a thing of the past.