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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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This seems to be a popular, and oftentimes hot-topic on the forum here, so let’s take an in-depth look at some of the features both of these housing options offer, and let YOU decide which is better.

Let’s start with a tank…

(HoppingHammy’s tank set up for her hamster, Creampuff)


  • Clear visibility
  • Chew/escape proof
  • Elegant to display


  • Heavy
  • Breakable
  • Expensive

To elaborate on some of these points, a tank can be a very beautiful piece to display in your room, and is especially great for those who enjoy taking photos, since the glass is so clear. They come in a variety of sizes to best suit the space you have, though the bigger you get, the heavier it is to lift…which could result in a crack if you aren’t careful moving and cleaning it.

Most tanks are just plain and simple, but the United Kingdom sells a brand called “Perfecto” that comes with permanently attached glass shelves. This can be good to add more room for toys and give climbing opportunities, but might also be a detriment and chew up precious floor space…not to mention it might make cleaning more awkward too.

The price, in US$ for a tank (plain with no shelves) and lid combo, averages around $25 for a 10 gallon and $45 for a 20 gallon long. Given the fact that you buy a solid, mesh cover with locking clips, a tank is virtually escape-proof for those who might have an extra naughty “Houdini”.

When compared to any plastic or wire cages on the market, it is a bargain considering the amount of floor space you have, but when compared to the price of a bin, can drain your pocketbook much more.

So let’s look at a bin now…

(wiffy’s bin set up for her hamster, Neko)


  • Cheap (need I say more?)
  • Customizable
  • Lightweight


  • Harder to view hamster
  • Can look a bit cheesy
  • Not completely chew/escape proof (unless made correctly)

For those who are on a budget, but wish to give their hamster/s as much room as possible, a bin is the way to go. The amount of floor space you can give, for the price, is probably the #1 advantage of these, in my opinion, as well as the fact you can customize them to suit your needs. Shelves, or smaller shoe-box sized bins, can be added in and bolted to the sides, tubes can go up and around the perimeter, or you can just leave it plain for an all-across, one level. You can also add on smaller bins and connect them via tubes as well as create a double-decker apartment.

Keep in mind, though, that most bins are slightly frosted and can make viewing your hamster a bit difficult, and depending on how you construct it can also mean the difference of whether your hamster escapes or not. Some hamsters, given the time, might chew their way out if they find a ridge or drilled hole to sink their teeth into. It’s best to find a bin with smooth, rounded edges and keep drilled holes out of their reach if your hamster is prone to chewing.

All-in-all, bins can be a spacious, and affordable housing choice.

A final thought to leave you with…

At the end of the day, it’s not about which housing is better of the two, it’s about finding what is most suitable for YOU and for your hamster’s needs. Debate solved! ;)

Up next? Comparisons between wire and plastic cages. Stay tuned…


To construct a bin, check out this pinned topic which has helpful links on construction:

To view a chart showing popular aquarium sizes and dimensions, click this link:


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