I often watch my little hammie entertaining himself in his cage and wonder what else I could give him to keep him occupied. Of course, there are several hamster toys and things that can be fun for him, but it got me thinking; can hamsters have rocks in their cage? Surely, this would be great for climbing and playing.
You can put rocks into a hamster’s cage and they can help keep their claws trim, but you must make sure that they are not too small. It is also important to ensure that any rocks you place in the cage have been thoroughly cleaned and sanitized.
Knowing this, I’m excited to get started, but there are some other things that we need to think about before rushing off to find some rocks for your hamster.
Are Rocks Safe For Hamsters?
One of the first things that you will need to think about when choosing rocks to put into your hamster’s cage is the size of the rocks. Hamsters may mistake small rocks for food and could be tempted to try and pouch these.
For this reason, it is never a good idea to use smaller rocks and stones to line the cage floor. This bedding should always be made from fine shavings and shredded paper.
Conversely, you can use bigger rocks for your hamster to play on; they will also use them for climbing. A lot of hamster parents are drawn in by using rocks as toys for two reasons.
They can add a nice aesthetic to the cage, making it look more natural, and they are also cheap to source from outside.
However, when you do decide to collect rocks from your garden or another outdoor space, it is crucial that you do not place these directly into the hamster’s enclosure before they have been cleaned.
Anything from the outdoors could harbor bacteria or other nasties that may pose a risk to your pet’s health. For the sake of the small cleaning task that this requires, it is certainly worth investing that little bit of extra time to make sure that your hamster is kept safe and well.
Before we look at how you can effectively clean the rocks to make them safe, it is important to point out that rocks can be purchased from a pet store.
There are many options here, and one of the most common is for owners to choose rocks from the fish section of the pet store; here, you will likely find a variety of shapes and sizes as well as rocks with holes or openings that your hamster will love going through.
Of course, make sure that any gaps are large enough for your hamster to fit through comfortably.
Another thing to consider when using rocks from the pet store is that some of these products may have sharp or rough edges, so make sure that you give them the once over before deciding which to take home.
Alternatively, you can collect rocks from outdoors, but you must be sure to clean them to remove any dirt or germs. Omitting this step could lead to your pet becoming ill, and this is simply never worth the risk.
How To Clean Rocks For A Hamster
Before you start cleaning, you will need to keep in mind that the rocks will need to soak, so this is not a process that will be done in a few minutes. That being said, it won’t require copious amounts of work for you either.
To begin, you will need to scrub the rocks with some non-scented soap; using anything with a scent could cause irritation to your hamster.
It is not uncommon for these little rodents to have an allergic reaction to detergents and cleaning products, even if they are natural.
Now you can soak the rocks in some distilled white vinegar, be sure to leave them for a good while as this will sanitize them deeply. When they have finished soaking, you will need to repeat the first step to make sure that all traces of vinegar are removed.
All you need to do now is to wait for the rocks to air dry, and you can pop them into the cage and enjoy watching your hamster play on them.
How To Safely Install Rocks In The Cage
Rocks are heavy, and so if they were to fall on the hamster, they could seriously injure them, or even worse, kill them.
For this reason, it is essential that you only place rocks on the ground level of the enclosure. Some cages have raised platforms and rocks should never be placed on these.
Furthermore, you might want to make sure that the rocks are placed below the surrounding bedding. This can be easily done by shifting the bedding out of the way and nestling the rock within it. Doing this will prevent your hamster from attempting to burrow under the rock.
If it is a particularly large or heavy one, there is a chance that as your hamster snuggles down beneath it, it may sink and crush the animal.
Can I Use Wood Instead Of Rocks?
If you do not have access to rock or if you simply prefer to use wood, then you might decide to go for some wooden hamster toys.
These are plentiful in pet stores across the globe; you certainly do not need to look far to find them. These come in many shapes and sizes including little wooden hamster houses, tunnels and climbing platforms.
Wooden toys are also good for your pet to chew on, but you should always opt for a hard wood.
If you are using wood in place of rocks, it is entirely possible to use a clean block of wood that has not been treated with chemicals or stained. But do keep in mind that woods like cedar and pine can be toxic to the hamster, so avoid these.
What should hamsters have in their cage?
A hamster may be a small animal but they need lots of space to move around and plenty of equipment in their enclosure. You will need a good bedding, or substrate as well as some nesting material. A food bowl and water bottle will give your hamster access to the correct diet and nutrition. Toys and climbing equipment are good for exercise and a wheel is a must for running. Some owners also supply their pet with a small sand bath to help with cleaning.
What household items can hamsters play with?
Once you have installed some rocks or wood in the cage, you may begin wondering what other things you may have lying around the house that your hamster might enjoy. Cardboard tubes such as those from toilet paper are great for your pet to tunnel through and you will always have a plentiful supply of these.