Why Does My Hamster Keep Biting The Cage Bars?

It's commonly believed that metal bar-biting is a natural, and even a beneficial part of a hamster's life in a cage. This is not the case - and cage-biting can actually be detrimental to the animal's health.

If they regularly gnaw at the bars, hamsters can damage or even break their teeth. The habit can also lead to mouth and facial injuries, often through a condition known as bar-rub. Metal bars are not good for a hamster’s teeth - they’re far too hard, and will push the teeth out of their normal alignment.

bar rub is painful
Bar rub is one of the hazards of cage bar-chewing

A hamster that keeps biting the bars of its cage is lacking healthier forms of mental and physical simulation. The habit can also result from a hamster who lacks space, or who has overgrown teeth.

Hamsters are generally good at entertaining themselves. However, it is recommended that they are taken from their cage for some human interaction, and/or a session in the exercise ball, at least once every 24 hours. If you catch the hamster chewing the bars, intervene by taking it from the cage for some play time. You could then try increasing the frequency of these play sessions - again, a hamster exercise ball will take the pressure off you as the sole provider of fun!

if this fails to reduce the bar-chewing, there may be some issue with the hamster's teeth. If they are overgrown he might be driven to gnaw on the metal.

Give Your Hamster Something To Chew

Hamsters love to chew, so provide something good to chew on, to remove the temptation of the cage bars. Hamsters' teeth are constantly growing, and they need hard food and wooden chews in order to keep these teeth down to size. The cage bars are often a last resort, if there’s nothing else to chew on. If you feed your pet hamster pellets (which are quite soft), try changing to solid dry foods instead - that will help wear down the teeth.

Is There A Problem With Your Hamster Cage?

If you’ve tried the options mentioned above, with no good result, the problem may lie with the cage itself. Your hamster may simply be trying to escape from an enclosure that's too small. In the absence of an obvious way out, the only thing they can do is attempt to gnaw their way out. This problem is commoner than you might think, as cages intended for mice are often used in the mistaken belief that they are suitable for hamsters.

There are plenty of suitable cages available, many of them lacking bars altogether. A custom-made enclosure such as the Qute is ideal.

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Aliesha, 10 May 2021

My Syrian hamster keeps chewing the cage but I don't know why. She comes out almost every day. She has 10 inches of substrate, and the cage is 1209 square inches of floorspace. She also has a 28 cm trixie wheel amd four different chews and lots of toys and hides. Do you have any ideas as to what I could do?

Naomi, 12 March 2021

I have my hamster in a small rectangular tank and I had given him a wood stick to chew on and yet he tries to start biting on the corners of the tank. What should I do?

Tim, 10 March 2021

Our hamsters had her babies approx. 17 days ago. I Hve been feeding the 5 babies since about 9 days, as they were so active. The problem I that the cage is Now very dirty and smelly. (I have taken out Some filthy & soaking wet bedding & sawdust) When an I clean it properly andis it too early to remove 6all of them to a clean cage?

Téa, 2 March 2021

My new Syrian hamster began chewing bars on her second day home. I’m not supposed to touch her for 2-3 days to let her adjust. She has 4 chew toys (I only keep 2 in her cage at a time) and one even has a hard nut inside but she still chooses the bars! My cage is larger than the recommended size (I believe it’s 24” by 12”?). Is she stressed being in a new environment? Should I be worried?

Billie, 1 March 2021

Thanks I’ll try!

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