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If your hamster has passed away and you’re thinking about getting a new hamster, you may be wondering whether you reuse their old cage.
So, can you put a new hamster in an old cage? Yes, you can put a new hamster in an old cage as long as the cage is sanitized properly. The cause of death will dictate how you clean out your hamster’s cage but failure to sanitize the cage properly could put your new hamster’s health at risk.
Sanitizing your hamster’s cage is different from a normal cage clean out, especially if you have a large cage and only clean out part of it at any one time. Read-on to find out how to do this properly and protect the health of your new hamster.
Cleaning a cage for a new hamster
If your hamster died of a natural death such as old age, organ failure or a non-contagious sickness such as cancer, then the only thing that you need to do is remove the scent from the cage.
If however, your hamster died of a contagious disease or if you’re unsure of the cause of their death, then you need to take precautions by sanitizing the cage thoroughly so that your new hamster doesn’t get sick. Here are the steps you need to take.
Empty the cage
It’s important that everything is removed from the cage including any toys, supplies and substrate. This is a full cage clean and you need to get rid of any scent left behind on anything, so unfortunately, you will have to get rid of all the substrate.
Wash the cage
Now this depends on what type of cage you’ve got. If you have a very large cage then you should wipe the interior of the cage down with a damp cloth or wet wipes. You can also vacuum the cage beforehand in order to clean those hard to reach areas and corners.
Don’t forget to clean the walls of the cage and any glass or metal bars too if you have them.
If you have a plastic cage, then hot, soapy water will do fine.
If you have a wooden cage then you need to be careful not to wreck the cage. You can sanitize a wooden cage using a pet safe sanitizer, but an even better option is to make your own using a vinegar/water solution (one cup of each) which is perfectly safe for hamsters.
Leave the cage to dry
If your hamster died of natural causes, then leave your cage to air-dry before adding any new substrate, supplies or a new animal.
If however your hamster died of a contagious disease or if the cause of death is unknown, then spray the cage with disinfectant (either vinegar and water or a pet-safe disinfectant), let it soak, wipe it off and leave it to dry for one to two weeks (the longer the better).
Finally you can add the substrate and supplies to the cage.
Can you reuse cage accessories?
Some cage accessories can be salvaged, others can’t. Wooden accessories such as hideouts, bendy bridges, cork logs and driftwood can be baked in the oven for 30 minutes at 200 degrees fahrenheit to kill any bacteria.
Plastic accessories, stones/rocks and any ceramics can be sprayed with disinfectant, scrubbed and soaked.
Anything that is made of paper or card or any any chews that have been used must be thrown away.
What to do with your old hamster cage
If you decide that you don’t want to put your new hamster in your old cagem, there are a few things that you can do with it so that it doesn’t go to waste. Here are some ideas for you.
Attach to an existing enclosure
The first option is to attach it to an existing hamster enclosure to give your hamster more room to roam. This can be accomplished by creating openings on the ends of the cages, butting them up next to each other, and using duct tape or super glue to keep them firmly in place.
If you use super glue, let it sit overnight to dry. This ensures that the glue is completely dried and you hamster won’t find himself stuck to it.
This also lessens the animal’s exposure to the fumes of glue. Although hamsters are small, they are active creatures. Giving them extra room to run and play in will only enrich your pet’s life.
Sell your enclosure
If you’re strapped for cash and have an old cage lying around, you can revamp them and sell them. You’d be amazed what a difference a deep clean and a fresh coat of paint can do.
Hamsters are mostly colorblind so you don’t have to worry about the color being jarring to the animal or having any real effect on them.
You could even create a design on the cage for example, you could paint the bottom portion of the hamster cage’s exterior a funky pattern that is eye-catching or you can even customize the design if you have a particular buyer in mind.
For instance, if I knew someone that was planning on getting a hamster, I could design the cage to match their interests. You could paint it a soft pink color and put stickers of their favorite cartoon characters along the bottom of the cage.
Often when you upcycle a hamster cage, you can often get your full purchase price back or maybe even make a small profit. While a crusty old hamster cage won’t do well on the marketplace, a uniquely colored, gently used cage will sell swiftly.
Donate your enclosure
Another way to rid yourself of old hamster cages is donating them. You could call around to local animal shelters and pet stores especially if they provide a home to small animals, to see who needs a cage.
Many shelters are not-for-profit and will most likely welcome your old cage, especially if it’s clean and well looked after. Other organizations will take the cage regardless of its condition, completing any necessary repairs themselves.