Is your dwarf hamster stuck in a tiny cage? Can you hardly see it behind the cage bars? Do you want to give your dwarf hamster room to enjoy life and get a better view of it? This is the hack for you.
WARNING! This cage is NOT SUITABLE IF YOU HAVE OTHER PETS, i.e. cats that can reach the cage, as it has no lid. Bigger pets than dwarf hamsters can also climb out. Do not use the glass door as a lid, it will not provide good enough air flow to the cage.
I was not the first to have this IKEA hack idea, these DIY-cages seems to be quite popular among german dwarf hamster owners. I got the idea from this blog. Here you can also find instructions on how to make a lid and ideas for decoration. I made this simplified version for my two roborovski dwarf hamsters, and are so happy with it that I want to share.
What makes the IKEA DETOLF a good hamster cage?
It’s almost all glass except for the top and bottom panel made out of particleboard. It allows for a clear view of your hamsters compared to wired cages.
The DETOLF when laid on its side offers about 1000 square inches of space. A relatively large habitat for hamsters.
You don’t need a lot of DIY skills to turn it into a hamster home. Basically, all you need to do is assemble it according to IKEA instructions, leaving out the door and shelves. (Save them for another project!)
Shoebox for adding deeper bedding to some parts of the cage.
1. Buy an IKEA DETOLF display cabinet.
2. Follow instructions steps 1-10 provided by IKEA (they can also be found online here). Assemble the cabinet without the door.
3. Draw a circle on the plastic, approx. 1 cm bigger than the light socket in the DETOLF cabinet. You can use a cup, glass or another round item as a guide when you draw the circle. Just put in on the plastic and draw around the edge.
4. Cut around the circle.
5. Optional: Spray one side of the plastic circle and wait for it to dry. Do not spray on the side that the hamster can reach, in case the paint is toxic to it.
6. Glue the plastic over the hole on the outside of the cabinet (with the painted side facing out.) You glue it on the outside to keep hamsters from biting on the edge of the plastic. Wait for the glue to dry completely before you let a hamster use the cage.
7. Place the cabinet on its back on a sturdy surface i.e. on top of a KALLAX shelving unit – it fits almost perfectly, but not quite. The cage is a bit too big. However, it is very useful to have a shelf right under it where you can store stuff for your hamster.
8. Let the glass rest on a pencil or small piece of wood under the middle of the cage for extra support.
9. Go ahead and make your cage a home for your hamster. Avoid placing tall items so close to the walls that your hamster can climb out.
Tips to accessorize your hamster cage:
You can hang a drinking bottle from the inner metal frame by wrapping rubber band around it and make a hook out of a paper clip.
Empty toilet paper rolls make nice tunnels.
Hamsters love to dig, and you can add deeper bedding in parts of the cage by adding barriers. The simple solution: add a shoe box and fill it with bedding. Replace now and then.
As the DETOLF cabinet is not very deep, a smart hamster may figure out a way to do a prison break. A lid will stop your hamsters making a run for it. The most basic is to make a frame with mesh and place it over the glass cabinet. Here’s a simple tutorial.
Which IKEA furniture can I use to support the DETOLF?
The DETOLF glass cabinet needs to be well-supported on a flat surface to avoid risk of the glass panels cracking. You have quite a few choices depending on your budget.
KALLAX 2×4 shelving unit | MALM 6-drawer dresser | NORDLI 8-drawer dresser | STOCKHOLM sideboard (Photos: IKEA.com)
On the lower end of the budget, the KALLAX 2×4 shelving unit is a great choice at $80. It is a tad shorter (58″) than the DETOLF (64″). Add legs to the KALLAX for a more streamlined look.
An IKEA dresser such as the MALM 6-drawer chest is another option and measures almost as long (63″) as the DETOLF. Less risk of the cage falling over.
Another dresser you can use is the NORDLI 8-drawer chest. It’s a great size if your prefer your hamster cage to be placed higher for easier viewing of the little critters. The many drawers are useful for storing hamster food, bedding and cleaning supplies.
On the higher end, the STOCKHOLM sideboard. It also measures 63″ long with 15 3/4″ deep, just a bit shy of the DETOLF’s width at 16 7/8″. But it will work beautifully.
IKEA Hamster cage hacks that are not DETOLF
Glass and kitchen door panels
This hamster enclosure from Alexander makes use of IKEA Kitchen doors and drawer fronts and glass shelves.
Storage Cube Hamster Home
Martina hacked a 5×5 EXPEDIT, shortened to 3 rows of 5 columns, into her dream hamster home. As the EXPEDIT is discontinued, you can use a 4×4 or 2×4 KALLAX shelving unit instead. The cage area has a deep area on the left side where the hamster can buddle 40cm (~16in) deep.
Closet to hamster cage
This is one big hamster cage. Vyerny took the PAX wardrobe and laid it down on its side. She cut out the inner parts of the doors and replaced them with plexiglass. On the lower deck, the short side of the PAX, she added mesh wire to ventilate the cage.