So here is what you need to know about getting a home for your hamster.
There are many different kinds of cages you can keep your hamster in:
a wire cage with a plastic or metal bottom
an all-plastic modular cage with tubes
a plastic and wire cage with tubes
a tank meant for reptiles
Here are the pros and cons of each one:
A wire cage:
Wire cages are very good for hamsters. They provide good ventilation and hamsters love to climb the bars. They are also easy to clean. If you get a wire cage you need to make sure the bar space is the right size for your hamster. Typically a bar space of a half inch for large hamsters is fine. For dwarf hamsters however, the bar space should be around a quarter of an inch. Some wire cages come with a plastic or metal base. Metal is great because it can't be chewed, but if your hamster doesn't chew much a plastic one is fine.
An all-plastic cage:
I don't like these very much. They tend to be easy to escape from, they provide poor ventilation, and are very easily broken and chewed apart. They also tend to be very small. As I see it the only plus is the tubes. Hamsters enjoy crawling through them.
A plastic and wire cage:
These combine a wire cage with connectable tubes and expansion kits. This is the kind of cage that Pipsqueak has. It can connect with plastic tubes to other cages and can be expanded by adding other floors to it. If you have a hamster that chews a lot then you either won't want one of these or will have to check the tubes and plastic bottom for damage. Pipsqueak's cage doesn't have tubes yet, but I plan on expanding her cage soon.
These make good hamster homes, too. They don't provide as much ventilation as a wire cage, but it still gives enough. They are escape proof. However, hooking in water bottles and wheels is not as easy as in a wire cage. They can also be tricky to clean because they are heavy.
So here is a checklist for getting a hamster a suitable home:
Is the cage chew-proof? If not, you will need to make sure your hamster doesn't chew it.
Does it provide enough ventilation?
Is it big enough? (large syrian hamsters need a lot of room, dwarf hamsters can be kept in smaller cages.)
Is it escape proof? Do the doors lock? (hamster are very good at opening cage doors)
Is the bar spacing the right size?
If it is a tank does it have a mesh top with locks? If not, you will need to get one.