Our last article compared the pros and cons of tanks vs. bins, now let’s take a look at the differences of plastic vs. wire housing…starting with plastic.
- Protects against drafts
- Easy to see through
- Prevents bar chewing
- Usually has poor ventilation
- Might be chewed up quickly
- Prone to crack over time
- Might be hot and stuffy inside
Plastic cages are probably one of the most popular/sold housing types available today. They are usually designed to be very colorful and eye appealing to both children and adults
There are many different types and styles, ranging from round to rectangular, and some are even made to be clear and in the shape of an “aquarium” tank, which can be a great thing if you want the look of a tank without the weight! However, the largest these are typically manufactured to be is in a 10 gallon size, so if you ever wish to expand, the only possible way is to insert long tubes through the lid or to perform modifications such as cutting a hole at the side of the unit and joining the tube through it. Some brands that are available in the UK (such as Savic, ZooZone, and FOP) make wonderful housing as they are quite roomy and allow for an 8 inch wheel, if needed, but again they might be difficult to add on to, should you wish to expand.
With a plastic cage (I happen to use the Habitrail OVO line as an add-on), I love the fact I can blast the fan or a.c. in my room without worrying about it blowing directly on my hams and they can stay toasty warm in their little dens. However, this also means I need to control the temperature more closely to avoid it getting hot & stuffy on summer days. The ventilation in most plastic cages that are on the market today can also be very poor, if you use these as a sole habitat, so if you choose to use plastic, be sure to clean it out often to avoid ammonia fume buildup inside. Just because you can’t smell it doesn’t mean it isn’t there. Perhaps you can consider attaching a wire cage for better airflow so your hamster can have the best of both worlds! Oh yeah, wire cages….let’s look at those now:
- Allows proper ventilation and air flow
- Gives opportunities for climbing
- Allows for better interaction with your hamster
- Gives your hamster a chance to smell and see his surroundings
- A bad choice for hamsters who are impulsive bar chewers
- Bedding & droppings do not stay inside without a deep base
- Hard to take photos through the bars
- Not ideal for drafty environments
- Hard to add on with no pre-cut tube holes
With wire cages, you need not worry about them getting as stuffy or stinky like a plastic housing unit, but of course they still need dilligent cleaning, like any cage. There are some models on the market today which are made for easy disassembly where you can slide out a bottom tray or lift the top wire part off and clean the base out. Try to find a cage with a deep enough base to allow for ample shavings for your hamster’s burrowing pleasure, but also so the bedding isn’t kicked out and ends up on your nicely-vacuumed carpet! Also take care, when cleaning the metal parts, that water and other solvents are wiped and dried off completely to avoid rusting the bars.
The main drawbacks of a wire cage is that 99% of them do not have precut holes to connect tubes for expansion. Unless you get one big enough to start, such as the Jack 72 resort, it will be frustrating to add-on to these. Another thing to keep in mind, if you are a budding photographer, is that the wire bars make a great “prison cell” effect for your photos, but after about 3 shots, they will start becoming annoying and you’ll wish you had a better view of your furry critter!
Overall, Wire cages are a great choice if your ham is a little monkey who loves to climb and you live in a warmer climate, but keep in mind what was said about bar chewing……*nom nom nom*