How to Make a Doll House Into a Hamster Cage

Turning an old unwanted dollhouse into a hamster home can be fun for you, thrilling for the hamster and entertaining for everyone who checks it out. Here are some suggestions for changing an old dollhouse into a new hamster mansion.


  1. 1
    Find an unwanted dollhouse. Check that nobody wants it for play, heirloom keeping or for fetching a fortune on eBay because once you've changed it, it's no longer going to be that old dollhouse.
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    Clean the dollhouse. Unless it's particularly grotty, a warm, soapy wash should be sufficient for cleaning the doll house walls, floors and other surfaces. Use a little detergent for something stronger. This is best done on a warm, sunny day to allow for good drying, or if you're able to leave it in a room which is very, very warm.
    • Remove all wallpaper surfaces, carpets and anything else stuck to the dollhouse. You will need to ensure that the dollhouse is clean and non-toxic.
    • Remove any fabric (for carpet) off the floor or curtains, etc., because it won't be clean for long, and if a bulge or seam exists, it will be chewed and stripped out.
    • Remove any removable pieces to help with deeper cleaning.
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    Check out the floor areas, both base and upstairs. If these are made of wood or paper, they will need to be waterproofed or you will end up with one stinking mess after a short time. You could use a non-toxic paint to protect these surfaces. One source suggests using G4 pond sealant to protect the wood.[1]
    • Another idea is to use cookie sheets/baking trays or similar to line the base of the house and any other layers, to create a barrier between the wood and the house resident. If you're into craft, tile the floor areas using a non-toxic grout.
    • Alternatively, use thick layers of paper such as toilet paper, changed frequently, to soak up hamster wee, moisture and mess.
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    Measure the dimensions of the dollhouse. Before proceeding, you'll need all measurements for the additions you're going to make. Hopefully you'll be able to find most items around the house but you may also need to buy some, and having the measurements worked out in advance will save you money.
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    Check the suitability of the house for moving around in. You might need to widen some of the holes leading upstairs and exchange staircases for ladders, etc. Give the dollhouse a good look over with a hamster's perspective in mind. How will the hamster get up and down? Where will the hamster prefer to eat, sleep and play in this house? Choose the solutions to these questions according to the design of the dollhouse you're using.
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    Plan how you'll block all of the exit holes. Dollhouses come with a lot of possible exit places, such as windows, doors and an open back or front that allows access to the house. You'll need to block these up with suitable items, such as hardwood, galvanized wire (hardware cloth), wire mesh, plastic garden "wire" or heavy cardstock. Choose the materials for blocking up the holes according to the sizes of the holes and the need for viewing through the house. It is advisable that the part of the house which is most open to viewing (usually the front or the back of the dollhouse), is covered in wire or wire mesh, so that you and the hamster can see through and so that plenty of air circulates through the hamster house.
    • You might like to consider adding a small sliding-door in a suitable location so that you can put food/water/bedding into the house as needed. You'll also need to be able to open the house to remove the hamster for play and cuddling, as well as for cleaning.
    • Another door alternative is to cut through the wire front and hold the door in place with paperclips or spring clips.
    • Take note of small exit routes. A crack or any very small opening (seam or corner) will be a tempting place to chew. If such a place is in an outer wall, or floor it will, if possible, soon be enlarged to form an escape route. Be sure to cover it well.
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    Build up the base slightly. Whether it's the back or the front of the dollhouse that opens out or is wall-less, you'll need to stop the hamster bedding from tipping out onto the floor or bench. Use a piece of wood across the base to create a small barrier; nail into place with a good edge overhang to prevent spillage of bedding. Do this prior to adding the wire covering.
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    Start attaching the barrier items to the dollhouse. For the windows, nail/screw in, staple in place or glue on the wood/heavy cardstock/wire barriers. Leave the front/back part until last because you'll still need work on the inside of the hamster house.
    • Consider allowing your hamster to be able to see out of some of the windows by using plastic wire netting or wire rather than wood. It is not only more interesting for the hamster but it will probably look prettier too.
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    Attach the water bottle to one side of the house. Drill a hole through the wall of the dollhouse to let the watering tube go through into the inside. Check to see that it's easily accessible for the hamster. An alternative method would be cutting a hole in a cardboard tube and putting the water bottle in that.
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    Put in some comfortable bedding, like straw, or tissue paper. Untreated wood shavings work best (not pine or cedar). If you want to turn a dollhouse bed into your pet's bed, do that too; in fact, old dollhouse furniture can be upcycled into all sorts of fun hamster things.
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    Put the hamster's favorite toys and climbing apparatus into the house. Arrange toys at different levels to increase the desire to run around the hamster house.
    • Hang some toys and chewing items. Be sure to include ladders and balancing areas to help the hamster move around and stay entertained.
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    Improve the outside of the hamster home. This is an optional step but you can certainly prettify the hamster home if you'd like. Use non-toxic decorating items, just in case of fumes off-gassing through the walls or in case your hamster chews through anything. Designs such as flowers, hamsters, your hamster's name, etc. are all suitable additions.


  • "School glue" is not toxic and might be helpful in applying cardstock, sealing cracks, etc. Eliminating airflow coming through a crack should make it less inviting for your pet to investigate and chew. (A very small amount of hot cayenne or habanero powder mixed in the glue might discourage consuming it.) However, airflow is important for health, so using an electric staple gun on wire is often a good, safe choice because it will be hard for the hamster to push off and he can still look outside.
  • This hamster home could serve a range of rodents, such as mice, rats, etc.––it doesn't just have to be for hamsters.
  • Just don't use it for guinea pigs.
  • Do not use cotton bedding! This is really bad for hamsters, as if it gets wrapped around their limbs it could cut off their circulation and if they swallow it, it could cause a deadly blockage in their system.


  • Be sure that any paint used is non-toxic. The hamster will chew on the walls and edges; it's in his nature.
  • Caution: Caulk and putty are probably non-digestible and toxic.
  • Perspex or plexiglass should only be used in small amounts, owing to the potential for heat build-up, blocking of airflow and possible contributor to the build-up of ammonia. A window here and there is okay, but not for the whole house.
  • If your hamster escapes, he will be hard to find, so be sure to seal all openings. If you were to grab the hamster suddenly, you would probably get bitten as a startled reaction; so try covering and trapping any escaped hamster with something like a box, or small net on a handle so you can pet him, pick him up and handle him carefully, if he is that tame.

Things You'll Need

  • Unwanted dollhouse
  • Barrier material (hardwood, galvanized wire, wire mesh, thick plastic garden wire/netting, heavy cardstock, etc.)
  • Non-toxic paint for sealing/decorating
  • Cookie sheet/baking tray for waterproof base (optional)
  • Electric staple gun and staples, non-toxic glue, hammer and nails, screws, etc., as required
  • Scissors, craft knife

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Categories: Featured Articles | Creating Hamster Habitats | Dolls and Doll Houses