How much space does a hamster need in its cage? My friend's always tries to get out, and I think he might be a bit cramped.


6 Answers 6


A lot of people keep hamsters in 10-gallon tanks, but the Humane Society writes:

Size: Minimum 24 inches long and 12 inches wide; 10-gallon aquariums are too small. Consider not only size but shape—a long aquarium is better than a tall aquarium with unused height.

So you might want to consider a larger 20-gallon tank if you can manage it. Hamsters are very active and like to run around a lot, and they like to have different areas for different things: one place for food storage, another for sleeping, and so on. They're really quite happy with more space!

But I don't think that's why your friend's hamster is always trying to get out. To be honest, that's just normal hamster behavior! I've had over a hundred pet hamsters, and I can tell you that most of them were very happy and had more than enough space, but they'd all try to escape anyway. In fact, hamsters are well known for this behavior: they're often referred to as "escape artists"!

Just make sure they can't get anywhere they can hurt themselves. Make sure any Habitrail lids (or other openable sections) are securely fastened. Hamsters chew everything in sight, and they can eventually gnaw away the tab that holds a skyhouse shut and pop it open. Or they can chew an opening large enough to squeeze through--they can squish themselves through surprisingly small spaces! So make sure you regularly inspect your hamster's living environment and keep it secure, whether it's large or small.


If the hamster is constantly trying to get out, this could be a sign that the cage is too small. In my personal experience I've seen several hamsters with negative behaviour traits (aggression and/or constant bar chewing) have their behaviour improve after being moved to a larger cage. I did have one hamster who would bar chew regardless of cage size;I have heard wild Syrian hamsters have territories up to 5-miles.

While there are several species of hamster with varying sizes (Syrians are the largest and most common to have as pets), recommended cage sizes end up being similar across the board as Syrian hamsters are solitary, while dwarf or Chinese hamsters tend to be kept in small groups.


It depends on the breed of hamster. If it is a Syrian hamster, its cage needs to be at least 360 square inches of floor space or more (12 inches by 30 inches). But if it's a Chinese hamster, or any of the dwarf breeds, it needs 288 square inches or more (12 inches by 24 inches, or 1 foot by 2 feet).

Make sure to add lots of toys such as tubes, hideouts, ladders, etc. Also, you will need a wheel and chews. Just make sure it's the right size wheel though! Syrian hamsters need at least a 8 inch wheel, while the dwarf breeds and Chinese hamster need at least a 5 inch.

Lastly, the hamster will need food, water, and bedding. Make sure its a safe kind of bedding such as: aspen, or any paper based bedding. (carefresh, kaytee clean and cozy, crittercare, etc.) NO scented bedding such as: pine, cedar, etc.

If the hamster is trying to get out, his cage is too small, or he is bored, so give him toys and a bigger cage. Hope I helped!


Hamsters do not actually need or want a large cage. What they want is someplace that they can burrow and nest. They are active little critters that like to play at night, and burrow and next during the day. So make sure they have tubes, and a wheel to play with and they should be fine.

Once they get loose in the house and they always seem to want to get out no matter how fun their cage is. Ours would get out occasionally and would go hide near our laundry. We would put its cage with the wheel near by and with in a few hours usually we would find him running in his wheel.

Hamsters are different sizes, and bigger hamsters need bigger cages. They need enough space to nest and enough space to get exercise. That said smaller cages need cleaned more often. If you give them the minimal amount of space that they need then the cage will need to be cleaned every day.

  • 1
    this doesn't actually answer the question. what size cage do they need?
    – jk.
    Nov 2, 2013 at 8:14
  • 1
    Hamsters do both need and want large cages. There is no such thing as a cage too large for a hamster
    – Niahc
    Nov 20, 2017 at 22:25

Cages do need to be rather large.

Buying typical pet store cages is generally a bad idea. Most of them (at least at my pet store) are far too small and even unsafe for our hamsters. Many pet companies are only in it for the money, not the safety and welfare of our pets.

Many people recommend cages as small as 24x12 inch cages, but many experienced owners would suggest much higher than that. Also, in the respect of dwarf hamsters, they may be small, but they tend to be extremely active (especially robos) so the size difference in cages between Syrian, dwarf, and Chinese hamsters should not be much different. Also, please watch this Youtube video for better information.


Hamsters need at least 360 square inches of floor space and a 10 gallon is just too small! Imagine if you were stuck in a small room for your whole life! A 20 gallon works but I prefer the 20 gallon long tank and you have to keep in mind I would not go any bigger than a 20 gallon long because of the air ventilation it can become hard to breathe and cause respiratory problems (according to a vet). A 20 gallon long should be your best bet for her.

  • 1
    Did you mean not to go smaller than a 20g for air ventilation issues? Or could you elaborate on what problems come with the larger tanks?
    – Spidercat
    Jan 19, 2015 at 20:28

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