The most popular hamster cages and tanks are constructed from plastic, wire, or a combination of the two. However, glass homes can be a good choice for hamsters, but they have caveats.
Hamsters can live in glass tanks, provided there’s sufficient ventilation and temperature regulation.
Keep your hamster in an aquarium that’s 20-40 gallons. Provide sufficient food, water, and entertainment, and position the tank carefully so it won’t be knocked over and broken.
You’ll need to perform some DIY adaptation on a glass tank to ensure that your pet can breathe freely and doesn’t overheat on hot days.
With a little knowledge and know-how, you may even be able to build a superior-quality habitat that will last longer than a plastic or wire home.
Can Hamsters Go in Glass Tanks?
If you’re shopping for a hamster habitat, you won’t find many glass options in a pet store. Almost all homes marketed for small animals are transparent, solid plastic tanks or wire cages.
This doesn’t mean that glass tanks are unsuitable for hamsters.
With some adaptation, you can make an aquarium designed for fish or a vivarium targeted toward lizards into a cozy home for a small animal. Avoid terrariums are these to have lighter, fragile glass.
Pick up a tank of at least 20 gallons in size – ideally double that or even larger. Choose a habitat that uses its capacity in length instead of height.
You’ll be able to fill your hamster’s larger home with substrate and entertainment.
Advantages of Keeping a Hamster in a Glass Tank
There are undeniably some good points to homing your hamster in a glass habitat.
Using an aquarium theoretically makes it easier for you to see your hamster, harder for them to escape, and cleaning is simplified.
Aquariums are often bigger than traditional hamster enclosures sold at pet stores.
Long aquariums are better than tall ones, as your hamster won’t be able to climb the sides. The more room you have, the more entertainment you’ll be able to provide for your hamster.
Clear View of Your Hamster
Hamsters can be fascinating to watch.
If you’re keeping your pet in a glass habitat, you’ll have a perfect view of your hamster going about its business. That can be enjoyable, and it’s important if you’re trying to breed hamsters.
Pairing two hamsters in a single home introduce risk.
Dwarf breeds are usually happier to co-exist, but Syrians tend to fight once they reach sexual maturity. A glass habitat means you’ll be able to see if a conflict is brewing before things escalate.
Can hamsters see through glass? In truth, hamsters have poor eyesight and can barely see anything.
As per Behavioral Processes, hamsters use vision to catch prey but rarely watch the world go by. This makes the difference between plastic, glass, or wire negligible for a hamster’s vision.
Limited Escape Opportunities
Hamsters are infamous for their ability to escape habitats.
Some hamsters climb walls and find escape hatches on the ceiling of their habitat. Others use their strong teeth to bite through wires until they create a space big enough to squeeze through.
Hamsters are likely to get loose and embark upon an adventure if they live in a plastic tank or wire cage.
In theory, determined hamsters can escape from any habitat. However, it’s impossible to bite through glass, and it’s too slippery to climb. So, your hamster is unlikely to get loose.
Glass tanks make hamster habitats much easier to clean. You can wipe down the walls quickly and easily, and glass will soon air dry in the sun after you undertake a deep clean.
Your hamster will make less mess in a glass cage. If your hamster is digging and clawing at the substrate, it can fly out of the side of a wire cage. A glass home keeps everything in place until it’s time to clean up.
Risks of Keeping a Hamster in a Glass Tank
Is glass safe for hamsters, or will your pet be better off in a more traditional habitat?
Glass can be safe for hamsters, but you’ll need to consider some factors to keep it this way. You’ll need to place a glass tank tactically to reduce the risk of extreme temperatures or accidental breakage.
Heat and Ventilation
If you’re going to home your hamster in a glass tank, ensure the habitat offers sufficient ventilation. You’ll likely need to replace the current ceiling of the aquarium with a bespoke wire mesh.
A roof ceiling for a glass tank must allow the hamster to breathe without letting draughts in. Don’t leave spaces big enough for a hamster to escape through or another pet to access the tank.
Glass tanks heat up faster than plastic or wire alternatives, especially when exposed to direct sunlight. So, get a thermometer. If the cage temperature exceeds 72 degrees Fahrenheit, it must be relocated.
Another issue is where you’ll place a hamster’s water bottle.
Ordinarily, this would be positioned on the side of a tank, with a hole made to accommodate a sippy bottle. However, that’s rarely an option with glass.
The easiest way around this is to hang a bottle inside the cage. You can achieve this using a hook and wire or velcro backing. Neither is failsafe. If a water bottle falls on your hamster, it becomes an injury risk.
You could also look into a free-standing water bottle. Another solution could be a water bowl, although this may create more work for yourself.
While a water bowl allows a hamster to drink freely, it can get messy. Some hamsters like to play in the water and splash around in their drinking bowl. Others will just tip it over for fun.
We mentioned that your hamster won’t be able to climb the walls of a glass cage. That’s good for safety, but it can be distressing for your pet. Hamsters love to climb and monkey bar in wire cages.
You’ll need to tackle this by packing your hamster’s glass tank with entertainment and obstacles. Regularly introduce new toys and exercise equipment and provide climbing apparatus.
Glass tanks won’t accommodate tubes, so your hamster will need hiding places. You’ll also need to provide things to chew and gnaw on so the hamster can wear down its teeth.
If a hamster can’t follow its instincts, it’ll grow increasingly bored and stressed.
Watch out for signs of a hamster pacing a habitat but ignoring a running wheel or similar equipment. This is a warning that the hamster is distressed, potentially leading to ill health.
There’s no escaping the simple fact that glass can break.
Can hamsters break glass themselves? As we intimated earlier, there’s a small but notable risk of this happening if you place your hamster in a terrarium.
Designed for plants rather than living animals, terrariums tend to be too light and flimsy to make effective hamster habitats. Aquariums or vivariums are safer for hamsters, as it’s unlikely that a hamster will generate sufficient force to shatter the glass.
All the same, these hamster homes are not indestructible. If you drop a glass tank while cleaning it, it may crack or break, which is a safety risk for your hamster.
A glass tank is an ideal habitat for some hamsters, while others may find it constricting. If you feel that a glass home is best for your hamster, choose carefully and equip it appropriately.