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Bringing Home Your First Hamster

Updated: Sep 8, 2022

Bringing your first hamster home is very exciting, but you need to know couple things before you are ready to bring him home.

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Before you head out and get your hamster you need to set up his habitat. You want to minimize the stress your hamster will experience when you first bring him home.

Think about it. You are about to take him from a place he is already used to, and bring him into an unfamiliar home. Not to mention the car ride home might be very stressful for him too.

So to minimize the hamster’s stress, you need to have everything ready prior to bringing him home.


First get a large habitat.

Now not many people know this, but the minimum habitat size for a hamster would be a 40 - 50 gallons tank or at least 450 SQ inches of floorspace.

Now remember, I said this is the minimum!

I know you are thinking, “why do pet stores sell such a small cages for hamsters then?”. Well, great question. Would you like to live in a bathroom sized space, or a large house?

Now if you go to a pet store, most of the time a large enclosure like this would be around $150 -$200 or more.

Yeah, kinda expensive.

What I recommend you is try to buy it used. I have seen people selling their old (but in great condition) 40 gallon tanks for like $60. Big difference in price.

Or you can even make your own at home. There are several videos on the internet where you can find tutorials on how to do it.

Now that you have the habitat, you need to decorate it.

Get the following to start with:


Make sure you buy paper based bedding. Or Aspen Shaving bedding is fine too. Any other beddings can actually harm your hamster.

I personally use a paper based product called Kaytee Clean & Cozy White Small Animal Bedding and my hamster loves it. It’s soft and absorbs the pee very well, which makes it easy to clean.

Some of the reviews complain about it being “dusty”. Honestly I never had any issues with it, and any bag I bought so far wasn’t dusty. I even bought different colors and had no problems.

Now on the bag it says to put about 3 inches of bedding in your hamster’s cage, but they actually need more than that. Hamsters are natural burrowers, which means they like to dig holes and tunnels. So 3 inches is not enough. Your hamster needs at least 6 (or more) inches of bedding in his habitat.

You don’t have to have it 6 inches everywhere if you don’t want to, but at least in enough places so he can dig and burrow.

Note: This company also sells bedding that has fragrance in it (to hide the odor I guess) but I don’t recommend you buying that. Since your hamster is going to be living in this bedding 24/7, having any kind of fragrance in it can be harmful for him.

Fragrance is not natural for hamsters, and I don’t think they need it. If you clean your hamsters cage and change the bedding regularly he will not stink at all!

Food Bowl and Water Bowl

hamster with a food bowl full of food and a water bottle hanging

Very simple. Just get an appropriate sized food bowl from your local pet store or online.

As for the water bowl, most people actually use water bottles for hamsters.

I prefer glass water bottles, but plastic should be fine for a start too.

Again, make sure it is the right size for your hamster.

Now if you are using an aquarium or a large plastic bin as your hamster enclosure, you will need something to attach the water bottle with, or hold the water bottle with, so your hamster can drink from it.

There are several ways you can do this. Here are some ideas:

  • Create a hook using a long wire, and hang your bottle up

  • or attach a suction cup to the bottle and attach it to the glass

  • or use a Velcro tape to attach the bottle to the glass (or plastic)

  • Buy a water bottle stand to hold your bottle

Exercise Wheel

Make sure you buy an exercise wheel for your hamster. Hamsters have a lot of energy and they need a wheel they can run on to burn off some of this energy.

However you need to buy an appropriate size, and most importantly a safe hamster wheel.

Unfortunately there are some hamster wheels out there that actually can harm your pet.

For example wire and mesh wheels are very dangerous, as your hamster’s little foot or fingers can get stuck causing serious injury! Or worse it can actually rip your hamsters finger or foot off!

So don’t buy mesh wheels! Most plastic or wood based wheels (with no holes) should be fine.

I personally love this silent wheel as it is quiet and safe for hamsters. But there are many other wheels out there that work too.

But make sure you buy the right size for your buddy.

Hiding Place

Girl holding a wooden hideout with a hamster in it

Your hamster is going to need a safe hide out where he can hide and sleep.

This can be a little house or a hideout with several rooms (which I recommend).

I personally use one that has several chambers where my hamster can safely hide, store his food etc.

Hamsters in nature like to dig holes and make little tunnels and chambers underground. Each of these chambers have a purpose for them.

This type of hideout somewhat mimics their natural habitat and makes them feels safe.

So I highly recommend you getting one!

Or you can even make him one.

You should include several additional tunnels and hiding places as well.

There are so many cute hideouts out there! Check out my favorite ones in my personal Etsy collection!

Sand Bath

Do not ever bathe your hamster in water! Giving them a water bath can stress them out a lot, and they can actually get a cold and get sick!

If you think your hamster has dirt on him, just use a damp cloth to wipe the dirt off his fur.

Hamsters (much like cats) actually clean themselves pretty good, so you don’t have to shower him.