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Can Hamsters Live Outside? (And Do They Need Time Outside?)

Can Hamsters Live Outside? (And Do They Need Time Outside?)

The purpose of this blog is to share general information and is written to the author's best knowledge. It is not intended to be used in place of veterinary advice. For health concerns, please seek proper veterinary care.

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Hamsters are popular pets as they are small, inexpensive to feed, and do not take up much room. Apart from the ubiquitous hamster wheel, many hamster owners keep their hamsters in a cage with little room for exercise.

Hamster owners wanting to do the best for their little pets may feel that their furry friend needs time outside to get more exercise and breathe some fresh air. Some owners may even want to let their hamsters live outside, but is this a good idea?

Hamsters can live outside if the climate and housing conditions meet their needs. They cannot cope with significant temperature variations or heavy precipitation and are vulnerable to predators. They are nocturnal, and it would be challenging to spend time with them outside at night.

Hamsters can make excellent pets. It is essential to know the needs of hamsters to determine what makes a suitable habitat.

Can My Hamster Live in an Outside Cage?

There are several reasons owners may think of moving their hamster to an outside cage. The owner may want to improve the hamster’s living conditions and quality of life. They may feel that an outdoor cage would be better for the hamster.

Other people would like to provide extra space and a more natural environment by building a pen outdoors.

Sadly, other owners may have discovered that hamster cages need regular cleaning. Failing to do this results in a strong unpleasant odor, and the owner may seek to avoid this by putting the cage outside. In this case, the owner is strongly urged to rehome the hamster to someone who can offer enough care to the hamster.

Climatic Factors Determine If a Hamster Can Live Outside

It is important when housing any animal to consider the weather conditions that they can live in.

Hamsters originated in Syria, Belgium, Greece, Romania, and Northern China. They mostly live in warm, dry climates and hibernate in winter.

Hamsters do not like excessive heat. In their natural environment, they burrow into the ground to stay cool during the day. They wake up at night when temperatures are between 65 to 75° F (18 to 24° C).

Assess the temperatures in your area to see if it meets these requirements. Remember that most cages will not allow the hamster to control their temperature by burrowing into the cool earth. The environmental temperature is therefore critical.

Situating the cage in a sunny place could seem like a good idea, but the temperature may rise significantly at midday and in the afternoon. The hamster will suffer from heatstroke and could die.

Hamsters like dry conditions, so a wet, rainy climate will not be suitable. If your hamster is in a cage, it must be protected from rain to keep the hamster dry.

Keeping a hamster in a cage outside is generally not advisable as there are too many variables that cannot be controlled. The hamster’s movement is restricted by the size of the cage, which prevents the hamster from regulating its temperature.

Can My Hamster Live Outside in an Enclosure?

Determine if you have appropriate climatic conditions for your hamster to live outside by looking at the guidelines mentioned in this article. If your climate is suitable, you need to consider the specifications of the enclosure.

The pen must have a concrete base covered by a thick layer of a substrate such as soil or sand. The cement base is critical as hamsters in the wild burrow up to six feet down. If you do not include the concrete, you may lose your hamster. Concrete bases also protect against predators that dig.

The substrate layer should be as thick as possible, with a minimum depth of one and a half feet (50 cm). This will allow the hamster to indulge in natural burrowing behavior. Wood shavings could be used but do not offer the same insulating effect as sand or soil.

The enclosure should include natural plants that are safe for your hamster. Most herbs and fruit trees are safe for hamsters. Alternatively, plant shrubs in pots so that the hamster cannot reach the plant.

Plants allow for shade which is vital for the hamster to self-regulate its temperature. It would be beneficial to include a structure that the hamster could use for shelter from the heat and rain.

The pen should be constructed from predator-proof material such as weld mesh. Be aware that predators may come from the land or the air. The pen must have an enclosed roof to protect the hamster.

Unless you are willing to sit outside in the dark, you will probably not see much of your hamster in an outside enclosure. Hamsters are active at night and spend the day sleeping.

Do Hamsters Need Some Time Outside?

Owners that keep their hamsters inside may query whether the hamsters need time outside. Hamsters do not do well with significant temperature variations. Moving from indoors to outdoors may provide too large a change which will negatively affect the hamster’s health.

A better solution would be to invest in a tunnel system that allows your hamster stimulation and exercise by navigating through the branches of the tunnel. Tunnels for hamsters also protect them from hazards in the home, such as electric cables that might prove too tempting not to chew.

Can You Take Your Hamster Outside?

Taking your hamster outside will depend on the heat and moisture conditions outside. If the temperature outside is similar to indoors, your hamster should suffer no ill effects.

If you take your hamster out of its cage to let it run outside on the grass, you could risk losing your hamster. They can be speedy and creep into tiny holes that would be difficult to get it out from.

If you become distracted for even a short while, you may lose track of your hamster. They are vulnerable to attack by dogs, cats, or other predators.

It must be remembered that hamsters are nocturnal. Taking your hamster outside during the day will disturb its natural sleep cycle and cause stress.

Final Thoughts

Hamsters need a relatively constant moderate temperature to live healthy lives. Keeping them outside requires particular climatic conditions, which may be difficult to achieve.

If you can provide the appropriate climate and housing for your hamster, they may live outside. In adverse climates, they should be kept inside with suitable housing and a stimulating, safe environment to explore, such as a tunnel system.

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