Why is My Hamster Chewing The Bars of Its Cage?

Hamsters sometimes keep their owners awake all night by chewing the bars of their cage. Learn more about how to prevent this annoying habit.

Hamsters are nocturnal rodents often kept as pets. One of the most common complaints people have about their pet hamster is that the animal is chewing on its cage bars all night long.

Indeed this was one of the questions I encountered on WebAnswers recently where a user was asking if it was normal for a hamster to bite and chew on the bars of the cage.

Sadly, while it is a normal behavior, it is not a particularly good one, or any indication of happiness in the pet. A hamster who chews on the bars of its cage is bored. It is not necessarily trying to chew its way out, but it is passing time by engaging in a bad, somewhat compulsive, habit.

Hamsters are rodents and rodents do need to chew, but even with ample chew toys many start chewing on the bars of their cage.

This is really an indication of boredom and mental frustration. It is hard for some pet owners to think that a hamster would be mentally frustrated, but this is very common. In the wild a hamster would have a lot more space than most cages provide, they would spend their night looking for food, gathering some here, some there, making trips back and forth from sources of food to their den. In most cages the hamster does not need to go further than a few inches to find its food and water.

Some people offer exercise for their hamster by putting it in a ball, or giving it a wheel to run on in the cage. Both are better than nothing, but neither replicates a natural, satisfying, habitat for a hamster.

A person who is considering getting a hamster, or who has one and wants to make their pet’s life better, needs to invest in a huge cage system, one that offers tunnels and variety, and can be changed around regularly.

Image via Wikipedia –

The cage pictured above is not suitable for a pet hamster other than for a day or two, as when transporting it for a move.

While small cages with bars are sold for hamsters they are really not suitable for containing these pets. This is much the same as when we look at old style zoos where the animals use to be kept in small, boring cages, compared with some modern zoos, where the animals are given more room and more variety within their enclosure.

You can also provide tunnels for your pet by giving it empty toilet paper, or paper towel rolls, or by letting it out in a large room to explore.

Never punish a hamster for chewing its bars.  They do not understand punishment, and the problem was entirely created by you keeping it in a cage that left it little else to do.

As well it should be noted that keeping hamsters in small aquariums is equally cruel.

Read here for more information on Hamsters.

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  1. Bored hamsters who escape into a house full of cats can make life quite exciting for everyone for a short while. Please understand that I was very young and foolish when I learned this valuable lesson. :)

  2. Very useful information.I will surely remember this …

  3. My son used to own a hamster and he provided them with toy inside the cage. Good info again.

  4. Hamsters, like all rodents, chew because their teeth are continually growing. The options given to reduce boredom are correct, but the only way to keep your hamster from chewing its cage bars is to provide more appropriate things to chew, such as alfalfa bricks, wood blocks or hard vegetables such as carrots. If night-time gnawing keeps you awake, put the cage in another room at night.

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