Hamsters, just like other rodents, love to chew on things. While it’s fun to watch your little pets enjoy chewing on their toys or cage, it can indicate an underlying condition. That said, why do hamsters bite their cage?
Your pet hamsters tend to bite their cages due to several factors, including dental problems. Moreover, it might result from stress, anxiety, or hyperactivity.
Overlooking this problem may result in a decline in your pet’s overall health in the long run. That’s why it’s important to know the warning signs you need to look out for and the actions you need to take.
In this guide, we’ll explore the reasons why your pet hamsters are biting their cages, the risks, and some tips to stop them from biting their cages.
Have you noticed your hamster chewing the bars of its cage a lot? Your hamster could be doing this because it might be bored or stressed.
Regardless of the reason, gnawing on their cages is usually unhealthy and can be problematic moving forward.
That being said, here are some of the reasons why hamsters chew on their cage:
Your pet hamsters have a special set of front teeth called incisors. Their incisors continuously grow throughout their lifespan. Their chewing habit prevents their teeth from getting too long to the point that they protrude from their mouth.
Thus, if you notice your hamsters chewing on their cage bars, it could be because they’re trying to wear their overgrown teeth down.
At the same time, hamsters tend to chew their cage bars because they don’t have any toys to chew on or because their food isn’t chewable enough. When this happens, changing your pet’s diet may be necessary.
When hamsters are stressed, they become restless and more alert. They tend to move around a lot, gnaw their cage bars aggressively, and appear nervous.
Furthermore, here are some stress triggers affecting hamsters:
According to a study by Gernon Kuhnen, keeping hamsters in small cages can induce chronic stress.
That’s why The Humane Society of the United States suggests that the standard hamster cage size should measure 24 x 12 inches and 12 inches in height. At the same time, it must be cleaned or organized occasionally to prevent stress.
Your pet’s bedding material is essential in keeping them healthy. Hence, avoid irritating materials, like pine or cedar shavings, since they’re known bronchial and skin irritants.
Too much noise isn’t healthy for your pet. Since hamsters are natural prey, exposure to loud noise can make them feel excessively scared.
Hamsters are delicate animals that need to be handled gently. So, if you have children or cats that threaten them in your home, your hamsters may develop anxiety.
Exercise and good nutrition help alleviate stress symptoms in your pets. Pet hamsters need to be fed nutritious and fresh food regularly. Aside from that, they should also be given a running wheel to keep them moving daily.
Sometimes, there could be no good reason for your hamsters to gnaw on their cage bars! Since it’s their nature to chew on almost everything, their cage bars are no exception to their chewing habit.
At the same time, your hamsters may not have enough chew toys or company to keep them interested.
Watching your hamsters chew on their cage bars can be entertaining and cute, but don’t be fooled. Biting their cages can be detrimental to your hamsters’ health and results in dental problems, poisoning, and poor health.
First, constantly gnawing on their cage bars can injure your hamster’s mouth. Your little pets may acquire painful mouth lesions, gum problems, or worse, a broken incisor.
Since their incisors are their main teeth for feeding, they may suffer from loss of appetite. Furthermore, these oral problems make your pets prone to bacterial infections too.
Second, the chemicals in the cage’s metal bars or the paint coating can be toxic to your pet. For example, the paint may contain volatile organic compounds that can harm pets.
So, ingestion or inhaling metal debris (especially in rusty cages) or paint chips may lead to problems like airway obstruction, GI tract issues, and sometimes death.
To sum up, cage bar chewing is a serious threat to your pet’s overall health. You should intervene when your pet is uncontrollably chewing its cage, along with various behavioral changes.
It can be problematic once your hamsters develop an aggressive cage-biting habit. Since stress is one of the top reasons why hamsters develop a habit of chewing their cage, it’s best to resolve the triggers first.
That said, here are some tips to help stop your hamsters’ unhealthy cage-biting habit:
1 – Give them toys or treats that they can play with or chew
Giving your pets toys like wheels, climbing toys, or miniature playgrounds to keep them busy may help reduce stress.
At the same time, healthy chew treats like applewood sticks can help improve their dental health.
2 – Transfer your pet to a spacious cage
A small cage is one of the main reasons why your hamsters become anxious and stressed.
So, instead of keeping them in a cage smaller than the recommended size, giving them a new home where they can thrive and live healthily is best.
Ideally, a 24 x 12 inches cage that’s 12 inches in height is substantial.
Aside from putting them in a bigger cage, make sure to prepare a comfy bed made with non-toxic or non-irritating materials.
3 – Keep your hamsters away from noisy areas, traffic, pets, and children
Transferring your hamster to a more spacious cage will be useless if you don’t place it in an environment where it can thrive.
Place its cage in a quiet area away from windows, speakers, and televisions as much as possible. Furthermore, keep the cage out of children’s or pets’ reach.
4 – Keep the cage clean and avoid disturbing your pets during their downtime
While keeping the cage clean and organized is essential in promoting your pet’s well-being, only clean it when they’re active or not sleeping. Disrupting your pet during their rest or sleep period elevates their anxiety.
5 – For non-stress-induced chewing, transfer pets to a glass cage
There are hamsters with chronic chewing habits that are just difficult to address. That’s why even if you give them toys or treats, the issue doesn’t resolve.
In this case, changing their cage might be the only way. Transferring them to a glass cage with adequate ventilation is substantial.
However, don’t deprive them of access to treats or toys they can chew on.
6 – Schedule a visit to your local vet to check for underlying disease
Since your hamsters may develop serious dental health problems, seeing a doctor is the best and most recommended choice.
Aside from addressing oral health issues, your hamster’s biting habit may be influenced by mental distress or stress-related health conditions.
Tyzzer’s disease or mite infestation can be some of the underlying causes. At the same time, your vet may require changing your pet’s diet.
To conclude, hamsters bite their cage because they’re either stressed out, bored, or their teeth are overgrown.
Since stress is one of the major concerns, resolving the triggers first may help control their excessive cage-biting habit.
Furthermore, transferring your pet to a bigger cage away from stressful environmental conditions will be helpful.
Apart from that, giving them toys and treats to play with or chew on, and seeing a veterinarian may help resolve the issue as well.
We hope this guide’s been helpful; thanks for stopping by!
I have a bachelor’s degree in Film/Video/Media Studies, as well as an associates degree in Communications. I began producing videos and musical recordings nearly 15 years ago. I am a guitarist and bassist in Southwest MI and have been in a few different bands since 2009, and in 2012 I began building custom guitars and basses in my home workshop as well. When I’m home, I love spending time with my three pets (a dog, cat, and snake) and gardening in my backyard. I also like photographing wild birds, especially birds of prey.