Pet Furniture

Published on December 24th, 2009 | by Jules Yap


Expedit hamster home

Martina from Austria probably has the luckiest hamster in the world. Here’s the home she built for Sonic the hamster.

“I am an adult keeping a little dwarf hamster. I don’t like the traditional cages – I find them indescribably ugly and also most of them are much smaller than the space recommendations given by animal rights organizations. So I looked for a solution that would provide my hamster with a lot of space to run, high levels of bedding to buddle and give me something beautiful to look at when watching the little furball go about her activities.

After lots of research and planning I hacked a 5×5 Expedit into my dream hamster cage. I got the Expedit used for €50,- and shortened it to 3 rows of 5 columns as the room would have looked too full with another 5×5 Expedit in it. I then added 2 sets of Capita feet (8 feet in total) to get the height I wanted (eye-level when I sit in my chair) and to get a more floating look.

The cage area has a deep area on the left side where the hamster can buddle 40cm (~16in) deep. The right side has less bedding because you have to secure heavy things like stones and wood so the hamster isn’t squashed when she buddles under them. Securing everything with 40cm high platforms or “legs” was not an option, therefore the shallow area. A back plate was added to close the cage and to give more stability I screwed the backplate also to the inner divider plates (esp. the shortened top one) of the Expedit. Air holes are in the top and on both sides. The front of the deep area is plexi glass, the sliding doors are real glass. I then used aquarium silikone to seal all the little gaps between the cage area and the non-cage area so no bedding (or pee ;) can go through.

I used a set of white Dioder strip lights for the cage illumination plus a red LED christmas light chain so I can choose between white and red light. Hamsters are red blind so you can watch them under red light without disturbing them. (I could have used another colored Dioder but I was too cheap for that. The Xmas-lights were only €5,-.)

The interior also contains Ikea products: the 2 houses were hacked from a Fira set and the little food bowls are actually Glimma tea light holders.

I added 2 red Lekman boxes and some Krus food storage bins for hamster stuff and food. The rest of the space will be filled with office stuff as the cage is in our study and we have a lot of binders.”

Click for more pictures of Sonic and her Expedit hamster home.


I’ll be celebrating Christmas with family and friends tomorrow, so will lay off the computer for a day. For all you peeps out there celebrating too, Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

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The Author

Jules Yap

"I am Jules, the engine behind IKEAHackers and the one who keeps this site up and running. My mission is to capture all the wonderful, inspiring, clever hacks and ideas for our much loved IKEA items".

59 Responses to Expedit hamster home

  1. sara says:

    i wanna make it from my guinea pigs :) ))

  2. Anonymous says:

    I love this idea! Thanks for all the feedback and photos. I will be trying to build one this year.
    Tampa, Fl

  3. Very lucky hamster…wonderful work done you..!

  4. Cheap Cars says:

    Honestly, this should be incorporated into a magazine story. Congratulations on making such a beautiful and thoughtful home for your hamster.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Love knows NO boundary! Truely amazed at your affection toward your little friend. Long live the hamster! – from an ex-owner of siberian hamsters.

  6. The only thing that could stink is hamster pee and hamsters, coming from dry areas pee very little. Healthy dwarf hamsters only drink about 1ml = 1/1000th(!) of a liter per day. That’s about 1/236th of a cup in US measures.

    So what you do is you toilet train your hamster (which most hamsters learn quickly) and then clean the toilet every day or every second day and any obviously dirty spots as needed.

    And the rest is just a case of the more bedding you have the less you have to clean it. The deep digging area alone contains more than 100liters (about 25gal) of bedding – that’s not like a normal tiny cage with an inch of bedding at all. Those have typically only about 5-10liters of bedding in them. Sure, if you don’t toilet train your hamster and the hamster pees onto such a small amount of bedding it doesn’t take long for it to be all soiled.

    But with 100liters+ even if the hamster maybe takes one wee beside the toilet it just gets lost. If you have that much bedding and toilet trained hamsters you get to have really long cleaning intervalls, use less(!) bedding in total and have a lot less smell than owners with small cages who use little bedding and change it every week.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Doesn’t that make your house smell TERRIBLE!!?? And how do you clean it!?

  8. Azayles says:

    I LOVE Tina’s work, she’s so resourceful and extremely talented! She really sets the bar for these types of habitats.

  9. Holly says:

    This cage is absolutely wonderful. It is your cages that have inspired me to go out to Ikea and make wonderful homes for my pets.

  10. @Anonymous from Oct. 28: I’d rather do one big digging area than two small ones. The purpose of the digging area is that the hamster can build a burrow and a burrow needs a bit of room.

    @Anonymous from Nov. 18: Thank you very much. Unfortunately, Sonic died of diabetes last year. But I have a new group of dwarf hamsters living in there. The current setup looks like this:[email protected]/5181058633/in/set-72157625399853750

  11. Anonymous says:

    Utterly impressive!! Sonic must be the happiest hamster alive. You have put so much creativity, ingenuity, and care into your creation. Seeing such inventiveness is what makes this website so enjoyable. Thank you for sharing this!

  12. Anonymous says:

    I have know changed my plans and will be building a hamster home for two Roborovskis from a Expedit TV Storage Unit (but the old version that is 5 by 5 cube). But I just wanted to ask, would you mind explaining to me if the digging area is better as two cubes horizontally because at the moment I have designed two burrowing sections but one cube each. Is it better to have one big one or two little ones?

  13. Anonymous says:

    Thanks for sharing all your pics and plans of this fabulous hammy home! I’m hoping my boyfriend can make something similar and you have certainly answered all my queries :) Your hamster was extremely lucky to have you as an owner!

  14. Anonymous says:

    How much did it cost? and can i pay you to build one for my hamster?

  15. That is a cool hamster cage.

    So much better for the hamster, than a rubbish little cage.

  16. Anonymous says:

    This is the plan for the cage I described above
    The first image in the gallery

  17. Anonymous says:

    This is amazing!!! The best hamster cage I have ever seen!! I am now planning to make something like this but with the full 5 x 5, a bigger burrowing area, a maze and a gymnasium plus a smaller cage for when I clean my little girl out. With storage on the bottom row. Will you please advise me on if this will work?

  18. Allison says:

    Wow thats brilliant and it has given me some ideas of what I could posibly do with my four gerbilariums and hamster cage as they take up almost the whole of my spare room lol xx

  19. Anonymous says:

    The interior also contains Ikea products: the 2 houses were hacked from a Fira set and the little food bowls are actually Glimma tea light holders.

  20. for a start I didn’t know hamsters were red colour blind. hacking an Expedit to keep a hamster in is an awesome idea. I thought was clever using mine for my vinyl records. A lot less imaginative there. definitely a lucky hamster though!

  21. tina_6500 says:

    @Ligeia: you can find more “making of” pics on my flickr album[email protected]/sets/72157623028334679/
    and I wrote down a lot of info on how to make sliding doors here:

  22. tina_6500 says:

    For all those who were wondering: I’m still happy with the hamster cage, there were no problems with gnawing or ventilation (there are additional vent holes on the top, you can see them in my flickr album) or anything. I even started a blog where I collect similar hamster homes. You can find more info about my cage and about building hamster cages on my German/English blog here:

    @anonymous: re: the formaldehyde: a) the link you give states the exact opposite as your claim, namely, that in the last years (actually for about 20(!) years in the EU) emissions from particle board have been reduced to next to nothing and so it is actually safe for animals (in the US it might be different, I don’t know).

    b) in addition, the Expedit I used was a couple of years old, so it would have gassed-out in the meantime anyway PLUS, all the cut edges were completely sealed with aquarium silicone

    c) Sonic the hamster definitely died of DIABETES which was diagnosed using urine test strips.

    and d) people over here (Germany, Austria, Switzerland) build hamster cages from particle board all the time and our hamsters reach the same average ages as reported on international or US hamster forums.

    So, at least in the EU, particle board is definitely NOT AN ISSUE.

  23. Anonymous says:

    IKEA furniture is not safe for animals to live in.

  24. Anonymous says:

    This is the worst idea ever. No mention of it here, but the BoingBoing post about this project mentions the Hamster is now dead. ParticleBoard / pressed composite materials should not ever be used for animal enclosures, due to the chemicals used in their production. That’s what caused the Hamster to meet his untimely demise.

  25. Ligeia says:

    Hallo! Ich hoffe du schaust mal wieder auf diese Seite und kannst mir antworten ^^
    War es sehr schwer diese Schiebetüren zu machen? Ich würd nämlich gern mal sowas für meine Hamsterdame bauen, aber ich trau mich da einfach nicht richtig drüber >.<
    Gibts da irgendwo eine Schritt für Schritt Anleitung?
    Und diese “Luftöffnungen” – wie hast du die gemacht?

  26. Wow, that hamster is pretty lucky to have his own “luxury house”. How do you clean them up, I mean the cage, is it hard to maintain?

  27. motorhomes for sale says:

    That’s amazing. I just showed my son & now he wants me to build something like this for his two gerbils!

  28. Tystarr says:

    I been planning something like this for my leopard gecko for so long. This will definitely help me.

  29. bed frame says:

    Wow! I think that is the biggest hamster cage I ever saw and also it is the most beautiful. When I was a kid I always wanted to have a hamster pet but my mom doesn’t want pets in our house.

  30. Term papers says:

    Wow, thanks for the comments! And I’m so amazed I made it into the top 10 selection =:-))

  31. Store 19 says:

    Great job! I remember all the small cages they had for hamsters when I was a kid! That’s why I always wanted to let him out and run around. Lost the little guy a few times as well.. I always ended up finding him though!

    Good times,

  32. Anonymous says:

    How did you cut down the Expedit? Was it fairly simple? I want to cut down my 5×5 one too but I am afraid I will completely wreck it if I try. Any tips would be greatly appreciated!

  33. eliewriter says:

    Sonic’s home is really wonderful. I’ve been looking all over for ideas on creating a home for the Robo hamsters we’re planning to keep and this is the most unique by far.

    Honestly, this should be incorporated into a magazine story. Congratulations on making such a beautiful and thoughtful home for your hamster.

  34. This is amazing … i have a hamster, too.. since some weeks .. and i’m looking for a new cage system .. bc i hate this traditional hamster cage i had from my last hamster years ago .. your “cage” is definitely a very beautiful one ;)
    best wishes, dani :)

  35. 5X5 expedit furniture must be secured to the wall with the enclosed anti-topple device.I like your idea of 5X5 expedit putting into cage.

  36. Whoa, this is amazing. Are you ever worried about having to clean the deep area or replace the bedding down there?

  37. Anonymous says:

    Das ist ja SPITZE – ich Graturlier dir zu dieser Hamster-Villa – echt gut gemacht :-) ))
    Spanische Grüeässlis, Maya

  38. tina_6500 says:

    The chewing is no problem – since the walls are completely straight the hamster can’t get a “grip” to bite it. Over here, many people build hamster cages out of veneered particle board. It works very well even for the bigger syrian hamsters with a lot more biting power.

    If you have any corners in your cage where the hamster could get a grip you can put aluminum L-beams for protection. I did this where the “step” is from the deep area to the shallow area. If you build a cage for a female syrian (who are often more wild) you could even put aluminum in all the corners, not just where the “step” is to be totally on the safe side.

    Only the sliding doors and the long glass panel to prevent the bedding from falling out are real glass. The front of the deep area is plexi glass. The back of the cage is a 4mm wardrobe backside from the hardware store.

    Just added a drawing that shows how to make the sliding doors to my album here:[email protected]/4258227410/

  39. Anonymous says:

    Thank you for explaining the sliding glass and for uploading more pics. :)

  40. Anonymous says:

    Awesome cage!
    Just curious, do you put glass on each side of the cage? or is it just for the sliding door?
    I’d love to adapt your idea for my lil guinea pigs :D

  41. Anonymous says:

    Looks great but good luck, when we were kids our hamsters would have managed to chew their way through the wood in a few days.

  42. tina_6500 says:

    Wow, thanks for the comments! And I’m so amazed I made it into the top 10 selection =:-))

    I have added some more photos of the cage and how I built it in my flickr album here:[email protected]/sets/72157623028334679/

    The sliding glass doors are easy, you just buy 2 E-shaped plastic ledges (is that the correct word?), one is glued to the top, one to the bottom. And then you put the glass in. Just like in a normal terrarium.

    A hamster toilet is just a small ceramic bowl that you fill with chinchilla sand. You can train your hamster to use it. First, you find out which corner your hamster normally uses. Then you clean out the peed on bedding, place the toilet there and put a bit of peed on bedding on top. After a while, most hamsters learn to use the toilet. They are available as “corner toilets” in a triangle shape from pet shops. It works even better if your hamster’s house is big enough to put the toilet into the house. Hamsters like to feel safe when they “go”.

  43. Anonymous says:

    At risk of sounding dumb, what is a hamster toilet? Is there a way to train a hamster to use a certain location or container to go to the bathroom? Your information about hamsters being very smell-oriented was interesting and it would be great to have our hamster use a “toilet” so we can keep him happy.


  44. Anonymous says:

    How did you create the sliding glass effect?

    By the way, awesome job.

  45. Shannon says:

    This is the best hamster cage I’ve EVER seen! Makes me want to get another one (though I don’t think that would be okay with my cats). Great job!

  46. Wow Thanks you’ve got me thinking about our Snakes Cages LOL

  47. Anonymous says:

    I would love to do something similar for my little rabbit! Alas, I am not handy. I will definitely not show her this as she might run away and try to move into your house. Congratulations on a wonderful job!

  48. memory foam says:

    Congrats on your work of art. You rightly said that Martina has the luckiest hamster. Cheers!

    - Herman Swan

  49. interior design online degree says:

    Holy crap that is awesome! I wish I was a hamster so I could live there =)

  50. I pleased by getting by here myself your hamster really good work.Nice management of putting cage and kitchen.

  51. Shelly Rayedeane says:

    Is the Hamster’s name Dick? Just kidding.

    Merry Christmas. Lol.

  52. DJinny says:

    This is wayyyy tooo niiiceee to be true!!!
    Wow! very professionaly done too!
    I’m so impressed!!
    Sending this to my animal lover Sister right this moment!!

  53. tina_6500 says:

    Hi there!

    Thanks all for the nice comments. It’s sooo cool to be featured here! *grin* In Germany/Austria/Switzerland the recommended cage sizes are quite big so the enthusiasts all have big cages. I know lots of people who have cages my cage’s size or even double that.

    I don’t think it will be too much of a problem with cleaning. Sonic mostly goes on her toilets (she has one in each house). So I only clean the toilets and surroundings every day, the rest of the bedding can stay in there longer. Actually, over here it is considered good practice to NOT clean a hamster’s cage all that often because hamsters are so smell-orientated and it irritates them a lot when you completely clean the cage. So we only clean out the obviously dirty bedding and toilets frequently. Even when we do a big cleaning we typically keep about half the bedding so the cage still “smells like home” to the hamster. This strategy only works for big cages with lots of bedding, though. Basically, the more bedding you have the less often you have to clean.

  54. MyFuZZyButtZ says:

    This is really something special for both you and your little fuzzybutt, Good Job!

  55. Anonymous says:

    Just amazing, and I applaud your concern for the welfare of your pet. I do wonder how hard that will be to clean though. Having had hamsters before, I know how the cage can get…
    Still, just a beautiful idea.

  56. Anonymous says:

    Wow – that is amazing, congrats on your work of art. Did you ever think of maybe just making holes so they are different rooms?

  57. Jennifer says:

    this is awesome! your hamster is very lucky.

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