A healthy hamster is active, so it is essential to provide physical and mental stimulation as part of their care routine. If you are wondering how to entertain your hammy, you’re not alone.
Here are some of the most effective ways to entertain a hamster:
- Create a playtime to interact with your hamster.
- Provide your hamster with a variety of toys.
- Provide a spacious, multi-level cage for your hammy.
- Hide treats and let your hamster find them.
- Furnish your pet’s cage with a variety of items.
- Add an exercise wheel to your hamster’s cage.
- Offer mentally stimulating foods like commercial pellets.
- Alternate your hamster toys and furniture at intervals.
The rest of this article will explore these tips in greater detail. So, keep reading to understand how to eliminate or reduce boredom and make your hammy happier and healthier.
1. Create a Playtime To Interact With Your Hamster
If you’re like most new hamster owners, the first thought that crosses your mind when you think of entertaining your pet is buying a hamster ball or some other toy.
Indeed, there’s nothing wrong with providing toys, but nothing beats spending quality time with your cute furball. And here’s why.
First, your pet will get to know and trust you more when you regularly interact with it. Also, you will understand your hamster better when you create time to play with it. Like any relationship, having a pet companion is a win-win situation for both the animal and the owner.
Loyal companionship is particularly important for adults living in urban settings like New York, Washington, and other big cities in the United States. A pet can help you deal with stress and other emotional issues.
So, playing with your hamster is not merely for its entertainment. The activity can also offer some degree of therapeutic support.
Play with your hamster every day (if your schedule permits) or as often as possible. Put your pet in a playpen or a spacious room and enjoy quality out-of-cage time with it.
Remember to hamster-proof the environment before letting your hamster out of its cage, and never leave your pet unattended while it’s out.
Read Why Is My Hamster Limping?
2. Provide Your Hamster With a Variety of Toys
Hamsters are intelligent little critters that enjoy playing with lots of toys. Hamster balls, puzzle toys, and other store-bought toys are great for entertaining your hamster.
However, be cautious when picking a hamster ball. Hamsters don’t have great eyesight, so choose a clear plastic hamster ball that allows your pet to see better. Also, choose a model with tiny vent holes that your hamster’s small paws won’t fit in.
Chew toys are also important for three reasons. First, they entertain your pet for hours, providing mental stimulation and amusement. Secondly, chew toys help hamsters maintain good oral health. Gnawing on chew toys will keep their ever-growing teeth from becoming too long.
And lastly, chewing toys can reduce the destruction of valuable property. Instead of shredding important documents, pieces of clothing, and soft furniture pieces, hamsters will sink their teeth into chew toys.
Store-bought chew toys are great, but you can also offer cereal boxes, paper towel tubes, and toilet paper tubes as chew toys. These alternatives usually don’t cost extra money, and you easily replace them.
3. Provide a Spacious, Multi-level Cage for Your Hammy
Hamsters are small critters, but that doesn’t mean they will thrive in a small cage. Housing your hammy in a tiny enclosure is the fastest way to cause boredom and health issues for the animal.
But what exactly does “spacious” mean when it comes to cage size for hamsters?
Here are usable floor space recommendations by the National Hamster Council:
- Smaller hamster species like Dwarf hamsters = at least 800 cm2 (124 in2) of usable floor space.
- Larger hamster species like Syrian hamsters = at least 1,000 cm2 (155 in2) of usable floor space.
Remember that these are the minimum usable floor space requirements for a hamsters’ cage. Consider going above these space recommendations if you can. The more room your pet has to roam and play, the happier and healthier it will be.
Hamsters live inside a series of underground tunnels in the wild. For this reason, it is usually a good idea to add sections and multiple levels to your pet’s enclosure. But don’t choose a space-saving multi-level cage.
The goal is to entertain your cute fluffy pet by providing a wide cage and not a compact or affordable enclosure. If there is one area where you shouldn’t spare any expense, it is buying a large enough cage for your hammy.
4. Hide Treats and Let Your Hamster Find Them
Hamsters enjoy scavenger hunts because that’s their natural way of finding food in the wild. Providing a similar opportunity in captive situations does three vital things for your pet.
- It enables your hammy to get enough exercise as it hunts for food.
- It encourages digging or burrowing in search of food, promoting the animal’s foraging instincts.
- The borrowing process helps trim your hamster’s nails.
Consider hiding treats in different locations inside the habitat instead of hand-feeding your hamster. Of course, you don’t have to hide your pet’s food during every mealtime.
However, you can get creative once in a while and do one or more of the following:
- Scatter your hamster’s seed mix across the floor of the habitat.
- Hide treats inside plant-based paper beddings.
- Crumple some pieces of plain paper and put a handful of seeds inside them.
Your hamster has an excellent smell, so finding the food won’t be too difficult. Plus, the animal will enjoy the hunt!
Remember, hunting isn’t fun in a small cage. That’s why the previous tip recommends a wide cage for hamsters, regardless of their small size.
Read Why Is My Hamster Hissing?
5. Furnish Your Pet’s Cage With a Variety of Items
Imagine spending the rest of your life locked up in a wide empty room! You’ll quickly run out of ways to entertain yourself, no matter how spacious the room is.
That’s another way of saying a spacious cage with enough room to run around is not enough entertainment for your cute little hamster.
No doubt, hamsters require wide enclosures. But an austere cage with mere barebones in hamster hospitality won’t do your pet any good, regardless of the size.
A 2015 research published in the Royal Society Open Science suggests that enriching a hamster’s cage can positively affect the pet’s behavior. Your pet needs more than a few bowls, a water bottle, and light bedding if it must thrive.
However, cage enrichment for hamsters is not just about stuffing the enclosure with a vast array of toys. Instead, it is about providing opportunities to help your hammy let out its energy in creative ways.
Boredom can lead to destructive behaviors in hamsters. For example, the animal may sink its teeth in anything nearby and, if possible, shred it to pieces just to let out pent-up energy.
You can avoid such behaviors by furnishing the cage with various items so that your pet has enough mental stimulation from its environment, even when it is not actively playing with toys.
Consider the following hamster cage décor:
- Hamster hammock
- Hamster toy swing
- Hamster maze
- Climbing ladder
- Hamster hideout (plastic igloo, ceramic mushroom, and more)
With more than 18,000 pet stores in the United States, you can easily find various furniture items for your hamster’s cage in almost all the big cities like Los Angeles, Chicago, and more.
Item colors don’t make a difference to hamsters, so don’t worry about which shades your hammy will like best. These animals are color-blind and nearsighted. So, focus on providing a variety of items instead of worrying about colors.
Interestingly, you don’t have to spend a lot of money to enrich your pet’s cage. You can create DIY projects from common household items to entertain your hammy and make its living environment more fun.
6. Add an Exercise Wheel to Your Hamster’s Cage
A wheel is a must-have in any hamster cage for several reasons. First, it provides enough exercise for the animal, as they can run up to six miles (9.65 km) on the wheel in one night.
Running is one good way to maintain a healthy weight in hamsters and prevent obesity.
In addition to weight maintenance, running provides mental stimulation, preventing boredom, depression, and other associated risks.
Here’s the thing, though. Not all exercise wheels are created equal.
You may accidentally hurt your hammy in a bid to provide entertainment if you choose the wrong exercise wheel.
Keep the following in mind when adding an exercise wheel to your pet’s cage:
- Choose a hamster wheel with a solid bottom. You want to avoid options with plastic or metal rungs and wheels with cross supports. These features are potentially dangerous and can result in severe injuries if the animal’s tiny legs get between the rungs while running on the wheel.
- Choose the right wheel size. Running on a small wheel can be very uncomfortable for hamsters because they will have to bend their backs while using the wheel. In many cases, hamsters won’t use a wheel if it is too small since it can hurt them.
- Pick a noiseless wheel. Hamsters can run all night and drive you nuts if the wheel is noisy.
Read What Can You Feed a Dwarf Hamster?
7. Offer Mentally Stimulating Foods Like Commercial Pellets
Play and exercise opportunities won’t do much good if your hamster isn’t eating a balanced diet. Feeding nutritionally complete foods may not seem like a way to entertain your hammy, but they are a source of mental enrichment for hamsters.
Offer mostly commercial pellet and seed mix, and provide small bits of fresh fruits and vegetables as occasional treats.
Remember to follow the suggestion for hiding treats in the bedding and different spots inside the cage to make feeding more entertaining.
8. Alternate Your Hamster Toys and Furniture at Intervals
Providing toys and exercise wheels is all good and fine. But it won’t take too long before your hammy grows weary of playing with the same toys all day.
Like humans, hamsters can do with a few changes in their living environment once in a while. Keeping the same set of furniture pieces and toys in the cage for too long can make your pet lose interest in playing with them.
You don’t have to spend money on new toys all the time. However, switching out a few toys can keep things exciting for your pet.
However, you should do this carefully so that you don’t cause unnecessary stress for your hamster.
Consider the following suggestions:
- Switch out only a few toys at a time. Changing all the toys and furniture at once can put these little critters under stress. They will assume they are in a new environment, making them anxious.
- Remove the exercise wheel for a day or two. Let your pet miss running on its wheel for a couple of days. The animal will likely renew its interest in using the wheel when you return it.
- Provide DIY toys. Spending money on toys from pet stores can add up after a while, even if they are cheap toys. It is usually cost-effective to make hamster toys from common household items. When they chew and shred the toys into pieces, you can easily replace them without spending a cent.
Bottom line: changing things up once in a while inside the cage can positively impact your hamster’s behavior.
And keeping old toys in the cage can lead to boredom.
Of course, there is no way to accurately tell what your fluffball is thinking and feeling.
But one thing is clear. Boredom is not a good state for hamsters because it can lead to mental health problems such as depression.
Read How Long Can a Hamster Go Without a Wheel?
Remember that a busy hamster is a happy hamster. For this reason, make an effort to prevent boredom by providing enrichment and mentally stimulating toys.
Besides chew toys, tunnels, and exercise wheels, providing a nutritionally complete diet is essential for mental stimulation.
Lastly, remember to spend a few hours daily playing with your hammy. Interacting with your pet is priceless and increases bonding.
You may like the following Hamster articles:
- Why Is My Hamster Lying Flat?
- How Much Water Does a Hamster Drink?
- Why Is My Hamster Not Coming Out at Night?
- How To Tell If Your Hamster Is Blind
- Why Does My Hamster Lick Me
My name is Everly. I am a Milwaukee-based mom of 2 and have been a proud owner of many hamsters throughout my life. Like many of us, my introduction to hamsters happened when I was very young. My family saw several hamsters come and go through the years, and I enjoyed playing with them, but I never fully appreciated them until I grew up and my own children decided to jump on the hamster bandwagon. At that point, I was determined to learn all I could about caring for these adorable pets. Read more