Choosing the right cage or enclosure for small pets

The size and type of cage you get will depend on which small pet you own. Our vets have written lots of advice about the best home for different pets.

There are some really important rules that apply to any animal living in a cage or enclosure:

Cage size

Your pet’s cage or enclosure should be as large as possible. Remember that this will be your pet’s toilet, dining room, bedroom and gym. Imagine how you would feel if you had to do all of these things in just one room!

Aim to give your pets as much space as you can. Sadly, many small pets in the UK live in small hutches or cages without enough space to live happily. Make sure your pet is one of the lucky ones.

Bedding, substrate and digging material

All pets will need a suitable substrate to line the bottom of their cage. They’ll also need comfortable and safe bedding material. If you own a small pet that loves to dig, like gerbils, you’ll need to provide them with digging material, such as potting compost.

Toys and entertainment

We call this ‘enrichment’ and it is incredibly important for small pets. Try to think of making their cage into an adventure playground full of activities and fun things to do. The type of things they find fun depends on the species so you will need to research to find out what is suitable for your pet. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Rabbits love tunnels and hides as well as access to outside runs. They should never only live in a hutch.
  • Gerbils and some hamsters love to dig and they love making tunnels out of potting compost and shredded cardboard.
  • Most rodents like Hamsters, Gerbils, Mice, Rats, Guinea Pigs and Rabbits love to chew and enjoy shredding toilet roll inserts and other cardboard toys.
  • Ferrets love toys and playing in tubs of plastic balls or dry, uncooked rice as well as lounging in hammocks.
  • Chinchillas love jumping from level to level inside their cage.
  • Mice, hamsters and rats love climbing ropes, ladders, swings and other obstacles.

As you can see, there are many ways you can enrich your small pet’s lives. It is so much fun finding out what makes your pet excited and what they love doing. Make sure your pets can never be bored and have plenty to do when they are not resting (this is just as important as play time so you will need to research where they like to rest and sleep too!).