I’ve found that toys marketed for hamsters are often too small and the range can be quite limited. You don’t have to restrict your search for safe long-lasting enrichment for your hammies. I’ve found lovely things aimed at other species, and in DIY, home decor, kitchen and charity shops. As well as having reusable, clean-able toys my hamsters also have several cardboard tubes or boxes which they can chew or destroy to their hearts’ content.
In the Pet Shop
My favourite hamster-marketed accessory is the bendy wooden bridge. These make nice hides and are adaptable for different set ups, as well as being nice and cheap when bought online. I prefer the natural style ones rather than the heavily coloured ones; I have quite a few white hamsters and don’t want to risk them becoming blue-tinted!
Also in the small pet section, I find toys aimed at rats useful. The Ferplast rat tubes are great for Syrian hamsters and more suitable than the narrower hamster tubes. I like to use them instead of a bridge for a hamster to climb to a shelf in the cage. The rat-sized sputniks are also good for chunky Syrians, although they are very chewable.
I’ve found some nice wooden chinchilla houses to make nest boxes for my hamsters and duprasi. I like cardboard boxes for them to nest in but the wooden slot-together houses are a little more permanent and resistant to destruction. I prefer houses with no base so they are open to the substrate. My duprasi also like wooden steps marketed for guinea pigs to hide under, climb on and chew!
My quest for enrichment takes me on a tour of the rest of the pet shop too.
In the bird section there’s lots of fun enrichment. Coop cups can be a different way of giving a food bowl for a Chinese hamster that enjoys climbing. They are also handy for blocking off water bottle holes in cages that aren’t needed. Some parrot hanging toys can be suitable for hamsters, though take care with any rope ones as they may not be safe when chewed or if claws catch in them. The metal treat kebab sticks (made both for parrots and small furries) are well loved by my Syrian girls. My duprasi enjoy budgie nest boxes to have litters in – though I have to get the drill out to make the entrance hole big enough!
In the fish & reptile section some ceramic or resin ornaments and hides can be enjoyed by hamsters, like the one in the picture. I’ve used an Exo Terra water fountain (not a running one that needs electricity) for harvest mice who struggled to use a conventional water bottle and for a very cheeky Syrian hamster who chewed water bottle spouts yet filled water bowls with substrate. Reptile food dishes can make attractive additions to a more natural cage layout. I’ve also used wooden decor sold in the pet shop for fish tanks in hamster cages.
In the dog and cat section I’ve found ceramic and metal bowls which have made lovely sand baths for dwarf hamsters.
Outside the Pet Shop
Most of my sand baths are not in containers designed for animals. In my hamster room there are a variety of ceramic and glass containers: soap dishes, baking dishes and biscuit jars. My most recent sand bath find was some banana split dishes.
My dwarf hamsters also have a range of houses and hides found in the household and kitchen sections of shops:
- Oil burners
- Tealight holders
- Scourer holders
- Salt pigs
Some of the mugs and teapots I use have small chips in, but I check that these are not sharp before giving it to the hamster. Poundland had a fabulous range of tealight holders at Christmas (pictured in the main photo of this blog) which made great dwarf hamster houses, especially as they had much more ventilation holes than a house designed for a hamster.
My Syrian hamsters like wooden clothes pegs clipped to their cage bars to chew, and I find bulldog clips invaluable for securing cage doors.
Once you start looking, you’ll be seeing hamster toys everywhere you go!