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My new dwarf hamster Basil was gifted to me the other day, and she already is constantly chewing on the plastic tubing in her cage. I'd prefer (safety and aesthetically) to get her a glass aquarium instead. Would a 20½ inch by 10½ inch (12 inch tall) glass fish aquarium work for her? I should I get a 20 gallon instead?

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For a dwarf hamster in Germany are a minimal cage space of one square meter (1×1 m or ~40x40 inch) recommended. They are more active than Syrian hamsters, so they need more space. In nature they would have much more space than one square meter as their own territory.

This measure is the ground level of the cage/tank. Upper floors are welcome, but do not count into the one square meter.

In general, a tank is interesting for you because your hamster could not chew on the wires. Plastic is, like you have rightfully noticed, not a good material to chew. But you should think about the conditions inside, for example if the litter (saw dust, straw, hay) is very dusty, this dust will stay inside the tank. Good for your room, but not healthy for the hamster. On the other hand, there won't be cold air movement occurring inside the tank and disturbing your hamster.

Regardless of what type of cage you choose, you have to place things in it your hamster could safely chew on. It is one part of their life to work their self through material to discover new ways. (The other part is digging and burrowing, so they need deep litter.) For example every spring: the plants, bushes and all is growing and they have to hold their favorite ways "clean". So wooden houses/bridges/seesaw will be interesting for you new little friend. Also fresh wood, but you have to get information about the kind of tree or bushes to cut it from.

For more information please see this question: Is this cage too small? (Here are some interesting ideas for low price alternatives to a tank or "normal" cage.)

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  • I've definitely considered all of these, I've already made sure the bedding I use is not a dusty one and is made of a safe wood, and I already plan on buying multiple small wood toys aswell as a short platform, freestanding wheel, a freestanding water dish, a small wooden house type item for her to sleep/hide in, etc. I'm unsure if I have space in my home for a 40x40 tank.. If she gets to come out and run around and runs around in a ball often, would a smaller tank be okay? Mar 1 '20 at 2:13
  • A Ball is no good idea. It holds a very high risk of overheating (imagine you doing sports in a locker) and accidents like falling down stairs or other highs. The 40x40 is for a hamster with coming out daily. Your ideas for furniture are good, but the furniture needs space too :) the 40x40 (=1600) could be split otherwise like 80x20 or 50x35 ... there are a lot of ideas you combine it with a furniture of you, for example on top in approx. 40-50inch high. Or inside a complete floor of a book shelf. This will bring you a good view to look on her, and her a good view to you... Mar 1 '20 at 8:00
  • Like suggested in the other question you do not need explicit a tank. You could combine transparent storage boxes so it fits the circumstances of your room. You could search for DIY cages for rabbits and Guinea pigs for ideas. Only thing to follow: your hamster should not be able to left the cage herself! :) You take a very good step to inform you about the needs of your little fur ball :) three most owners miss this step and the animals develop strange behaviors... Mar 1 '20 at 8:01

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