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Old 07-11-2021, 10:20 AM   #1
Pixie The Hammy
Newborn Pup
Join Date: Jun 2021
Location: Derbyshire
Posts: 14
Default Happy in small cage, stressed in big cage.

Hi, someone seems really worried about their hamster, so I'm not asking this for me I'm asking this for them.

They say whenever they put their hamster in a big cage (way above minimum), providing enrichment, big wheel, lots of hides, chew toys, barely any open space their hamster gets so stressed and freaks out.

However, when their hamster is in a small cage (they say the small cage is about the minimum) its really happy and acts like a normal, happy hamster. I'm not sure if this is a problem, I'm just sure they would like to use the big cage rather than the small.

Any help is appreciated, thank you.
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Old 07-11-2021, 12:56 PM   #2
Ria P
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Join Date: Mar 2019
Location: Wiltshire, UK
Posts: 7,100
Default Re: Happy in small cage, stressed in big cage.

Do they put the hamster's things and substrate in the bigger cage? If its a completely new set up without his scent anywhere he'd be unsettled at first.
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Old 07-11-2021, 02:41 PM   #3
Hamster Antics
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Default Re: Happy in small cage, stressed in big cage.

There is also settling in time. Any hamster gets freaked out and stressed after a change of cage and it can take two weeks (during which time no cleaning or tinkering with the cage contents) for them to settle in. As Ria says also when doing a cage change there needs to be no cleaning at that time and everything moved over - old bedding, old nest etc and similar layout - helps them settle a bit quicker and be less stressed.

Having said all that - some hamsters don't feel so happy in bigger cages especially if they are slightly nervy. They may not come out of their house much or may creep around the sides to avoid the open space in the middle. But - they probably use most of it at night. A babycam on infrared at night shows what they get up to!

I would suggest your friend sticks it out for a couple of weeks with the new bigger cage and doesn't disturb anything much and leaves the hamster alone for a bit - it's like when they first come home. The hamster won't instantly be wanting to do the normal coming out to play stuff - but will do so again once they've settled in.
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Old 07-12-2021, 04:09 AM   #4
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Join Date: Mar 2015
Location: Bath, UK
Posts: 3,640
Default Re: Happy in small cage, stressed in big cage.

How long have they had the hamster and how old is he/she?

I've had a fair amount of experience with hamsters who have been unhappy in larger cages to begin with but after a few weeks in a smaller cage, adjusting to living alone, they have settled enough to be upgraded to something larger.

There are some hamsters that prefer smaller spaces though and if after trying the usual suggestions to help the hamster to settle, they're still unhappy then it's kinder to let them live in the cage where they are happiest.

The way that I usually look at this situation is that hamsters can't read... they don't know what cages the internet says they should be happy in but what they do know is how they feel about their environment and as responsible owners we should be providing them a home that allows them to live freely from fear or distress.
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