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Can a Hamster Live in a 10 Gallon Tank? (Explained)

Hamsters, often attributed as starter pets come with unique sets of responsibilities. They are low maintenance and lovely to have as a pet, but you should consider all the aspects before getting one.

One of them is proper accommodation, so let’s see if tanks are big enough for hamsters.

Can a hamster live in a 10-gallon tank?

A hamster cannot live in a 10-gallon tank as it is too small for living. Hamsters love to roam around, so a 10-gallon tank cannot provide enough space for them. Other than that, hamsters like to have separate areas for different activities like sleeping and eating, so more space is necessary.

10-gallon tanks work best as starter tanks. They are inexpensive. A 10-gallon tank is 20 inches long, 12 inches high, and 10 inches wide. Even though they are popular among pet owners, keeping a hamster in this seems brutal.

You can temporarily keep your hamster in a 10-gallon tank before moving it to a bigger house. But you cannot keep your hamster in a 10-gallon tank for long. There just isn’t simply no space for hamsters to live in.

The minimum cage size for hamsters in the US is 360 square inches, which equals 24 inches x 15 inches and at least 12 inches tall. So, there is no way you can accommodate a 10-gallon tank for a hamster.

Hamsters are active critters. They will always be on the move, and as stated before, they prefer large spaces for their different activities. They need space for eating, sleeping, and pooping. And after that you have to keep toys, so they do not get bored.

For toys, tubes, hideouts, spinning wheels, and ladders will do. You will always find hamsters on these toys. So, for the sake of your hamster, a 10-gallon tank will be too little for them to live in.

After putting their eating, water bowl, bedding, and toys for free time, your 10-gallon tank will be out of space for the essential elements. And hamsters come in different sizes, too, so let’s see the requirements for different hamsters.

Dwarf hamster:

You cannot keep a Dwarf in a 10-gallon tank. Adult Dwarf hamsters range around 2-3 inches. Even though they are small in size, they need space.

Syrian hamster:

Syrian hamsters are the biggest, and a 10-gallon tank is not enough for them. Adult Syrians range from 5-7 inches. For their large size, they generally require a large house. A 30-gallon tank is suitable for them.

Robo hamster:

A 10-gallon tank is not suitable for a Robo hamster. Robo hamsters are similar to dwarf hamsters in size. They also require a larger house, and a 10-gallon tank is not enough for them.

Is a 10-gallon tank big enough for a hamster?

A 10-gallon tank is not big enough for a hamster. Hamsters are tiny little critters that love to roam around. While some are shy in nature, most are exuberant and energetic.

It is common to think that an animal such small can live in a 10-gallon tank. But you will be wrong. A hamster requires a minimum of 360 square inches of space. That means the area should be 24 inches long and 15 inches wide.

Hamsters require separate space for leaving poops, eating and drinking, and sleeping. They also require space for playing with toys. Much room is needed so they can adequately exert their energy.

Your hamster may become aggressive, irritated, and depressed if you keep it in a 10-gallon tank. You do not want that to happen to your beloved pet. So, the best is to buy a 20-gallon tank for your buddy.

How many hamsters can live in a 10-gallon tank?

The answer is none. Not even a single hamster can live in a 10-gallon tank. It will be animal cruelty if you keep more than one hamster in a 10-gallon tank. Hamsters are best kept alone.

This is already enough stressed that hamsters cannot live in a 10-gallon tank. In addition, hamsters kept together often fight for space. So, it is inhumane to think about keeping two hamsters in a 10-gallon tank.

Keeping more than one hamster in a congested area will only increase troubles for the owner. The recommended size for two is a 30-gallon tank. Although they are small, they require space for their daily activities.

What size tank does a hamster need? How much space does a hamster need in its cage?

Hamsters come in different sizes. A Syrian hamster is a much more giant than both Robo and Dwarf. Your hamsters will love you if you keep them in a tank bigger than the minimum requirements.

In the US, the minimum space required for one hamster is 360 square inches. It means that your hamster’s living space should be 24 inches long and 15 inches wide. A 20-gallon tank is suitable for your hamster to live in.

A Syrian will need a 30-gallon tank as they are big in size. Hamsters run up to 4-5 miles every night, so you must provide them with adequate space to run. A 20-gallon tank is enough for a Dwarf or Robo.

It is best to keep hamsters alone because they often end up fighting. But if you want a single home for them, you have to look for a bigger space. A 30-gallon tank is recommended for keeping two hamsters.

Why can’t a hamster live in a 10-gallon tank? What happens if my hamster cage is too small?

Professionals recommend that you should not keep the hamster in a 10-gallon tank. It is not sustainable for the natural growth of a hamster. As a pet owner, your pet’s growth is crucial for proper development.

Small-sized hamsters need tubes, a standard 8-inch wheel, and other chewing toys for their happiness other than nourishment. A Syrian will require a larger spinning wheel.

Various complications arise when you keep a hamster in a small cage. They are discussed below.


An unhappy hamster will start chewing the cage materials or other stuff that they do not naturally chew. You will find it behaving weirdly as it looks for more space. This action damages their teeth.

A happy hamster will only bite on their food or chew toys and leave others aside.


Hamsters will become lethargic if they do not have enough space to roam around. In small tanks, you cannot even fit essential elements to keep them happy.

This gets worse when you keep a Syrian in a small tank. A small tank cannot provide your hamster a quality life which leads them to depression.

Your hamster will always be on the search for escaping this hell. An unhappy hamster will always try to climb up the cage.

Excess grooming:

Grooming is natural for a hamster but being bored, a hamster will excessively groom itself. This is a sign that your hamster has a skin problem. Small cages often lead to skin-related issues such as rash, mites, or allergy.


Another sign of an unhappy hamster is aggression. It will try to bite your finger and react with aggression every time you approach them. Small living space is a contributing factor for this.

If you find unusual behavior in your pet, consult a veterinarian before it gets worse.

What animals can live in a 10-gallon tank forever?

A 10-gallon tank is quite popular among pet owners as a starter. You can keep various animals in a 10-gallon tank: reptiles, small fishes, amphibians, crabs, and many more.

Animals are suggested to keep in bigger tanks, but there is nothing wrong with keeping the following animals in a 10-gallon tank.


Among lizards, Geckos, and Pygmy chameleons thrive pretty well in a 10-gallon tank.


Snakes such as Kenyan sand boa, Rosy boa, Egg-eating snake do well in a 10-gallon tank.

Freshwater fish:

While fishes require more space, some do pretty well in a 10-gallon tank. They are Tetras, Pygmy cory, Butterflyfish, Golden dwarf burbs.


Pacman frog and Fire belly toad are top choices. However, you can also keep Reed frog and African clawed frog for a long time.

Saltwater fish:

Clownfish, firefish, and small wrasses thrive well in a 10-gallon tank.

This list is only stating the few among hundreds of others you can keep in a 10-gallon tank. Consult a professional for better tips.

Final Thoughts 

Hamsters are energetic animals that require space for a happy life. Bigger tanks will keep them fulfilled. You can keep several animals without any drawbacks in a 10-gallon tank, but it is a big NO when it comes to hamsters. A large tank is not a luxury, rather a necessity for hamsters.