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Debate continued….Plastic vs. wire cages

by HoppingHammy on July 28, 2008


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.

Plastic cages


  • 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:

Wire cages


  • 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*

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{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Alexis July 30, 2008 at 8:20 am

i would really choose a half-and-half cage that way i can still see my hamster and they can also breathe! :)

2 Claire July 31, 2008 at 1:38 am

I would choose a plastic, without the tubes.
But you can’t go wrong with just a 20 gallon aquarium. :)

3 Phoebe! August 4, 2008 at 12:10 am

My hamster’s cage is half wire half plastic, it has two plastic sides and two wired sides.
I think it’s fine for my hammy.
If my hamster’s happy, I am.

4 dusty August 4, 2008 at 9:15 am

Great and informative article!

Given the number of choices we have for hamster homes, this together with the “tank vs bin” article will help owners make a good decision.

5 Ippo August 9, 2008 at 2:03 am

I honestly prefer the wire, just because the hammies can smell what’s around them, but I’ve experienced some robos escaping through the wires. How about half tank half wire? So there’s still enclosure, but hamsters can still walk up to the 2nd floor & smell the outside? Plastics & wire cages are expensive. Tanks & bins are the cheapest.

6 Patrick August 12, 2008 at 10:44 pm

This was a great article I love using wire cages after the first month or so then I change to plastic because I had a hamster that lived in a plastic cage his whole life and he was the sweetest and lived for 4 whole years. I reccomend using plastic!

Again I say That was one of the best articles I’ve ever heard write some more so I can read your superior writing and knowledge of hamster ability


7 sarah August 28, 2008 at 6:37 am

i have a wire cage now i want a plastic

8 Tom September 23, 2008 at 3:51 am

Im wire cages all the way!

9 Bilquis December 3, 2008 at 9:37 am

I am a mother who grew up with plastic and tube cages when I was a child with 3 hamsters. Now that I’m all grown up with a family, my son began to show interest in having a first pet. He like the idea of having a hamster, so I went for the wire cage all the way. The wire cages are much easier to clean because of the easy pull out tray. Disconnecting, then cleaning, drying, and then reassembling the tubes for the plastic cage was too time consuming when I was a child. The cage we have now is a two story rat cage for our pair of hamsters. They are real climbers so every square inch of the cage becomes a climbing apparatus. Often times the hamsters don’t use the stairs provided in the cage. They prefer to climb to their destination. Unfortunately, they do occationally chew in the bars. As a remedy, I provide lots of chewing options hoping they will take me up on them.

10 Joe December 28, 2008 at 8:46 pm

plastic is way better you can attach it and have hours of fun with your little guy. :D

11 hamsty October 15, 2010 at 9:54 am

no plastic is not betta my friends hammy suficated in it

12 hamsty October 15, 2010 at 9:55 am

metal is the best not wire

13 sienna December 24, 2010 at 3:26 pm

wire cages! well, it honestly depends. if you have a hamster who chews on the bars 24/7, you should make get them a tank or something. but always beware of the paint on the wires. because it could hurt your hammy :( but i also choose wire because it will most likely never break. cuz its made of medal, duh! :D

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