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Old 03-24-2015, 06:50 AM  
Vectis Hamstery
Vectis Hamstery's Avatar
Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: Southampton, UK
Posts: 4,577
Default Mending a chewed cage

Hamsters do like to keep their humans busy, and the activity some of my girls have favoured over the years is chewing holes in their plastic cage bases. Obviously, I prefer they stay in their cages and would rather not have to keep throwing out otherwise servicable cages, so I have tried several ways of fixing the damage.

1) Duct Tape

I use this on very small holes (1-2mm), often for ones pre-drilled by the manufacturer, such as in bases of the Savic Rody or on the plastic vent in the glass of some perfecto tanks. I've found that if a hamster can't smell the outside world through the cage base then they are much less likely to start chewing. I only ever put the duct tape on the OUTSIDE of the hole in the cage base. I would then use the cage for a hamster who is more laid back (e.g. a male) and not put the hamster that chewed the hole back in!

2) Bolts
For holes of 1-2cm a bolt and washers can be a very useful low-DIY method for securing the cage and preventing further trouble. There are various ways you can do this:
a plain bolt and 2 washers, one inside and one outside (this was to block a pre-made water bottle hole)
L1040462 by vectishams, on Flickr

a bolt-on toy/chew, like this coop cup (also blocking a pre-made water bottle hole)
L1220791 by vectishams, on Flickr

using washers and some wire. This was an emergency fix I did. Personally I prefer the more secure way using a bolt as this did move more than I liked!
L1040470 by vectishams, on Flickr

3) Plastic patches
Sometimes though the hole is just too big or the wrong shape or both!
L1040604 by vectishams, on Flickr
P1100196 by vectishams, on Flickr

In this situation I use plastic patches. When I make a bin cage I always keep some of the plastic panels I cut out, just in case I need to patch a cage in future. I know some people who have used old plastic rulers or even expired credit cards/loyalty cards to patch cages!

First I cut the plastic patches to size, making sure they are a good bit larger than the hole. I cut two patches, one for the inside and one for the outside.

I prefer not to use glue on my cages, so I use my soldering iron to melt the edges, slowly melting and pausing to let the melted areas cool enough to stick the patch as I work. Be careful as it's really hot work - keep all small furries out of the area and open the window for ventilation. Also take care not to melt the cage base too much and create further holes!

When the patch looks like it's secure, I check it over and melt any bits that are sticking up, uneven, sharp or anywhere that there is a gap. Make sure there are no gaps at all, even small ones.

When I've patched one side, I then do the other. The patch outside the cage doesn't have to be as smooth so I prefer to do that one first as a practice!

This is my most recent patch on a hole the size of a pregnant Syrian hamster (thanks, Celtica!):
IMG_2577 by vectishams, on Flickr
IMG_2577 by vectishams, on Flickr

This is my first ever patch which lasted for many hamsters and many years until the cage was donated to a rescue and used as a hospital cage for rats. It served well for quite a few sick rats, until one girl who was unusually active after surgery!
L1060960 by vectishams, on Flickr

I recommend checking all cages regularly for signs that the hamster is starting to chew anywhere and taking action to prevent/fix any damage before it gets too big, however hammies can turn pristine plastic into a massive hole overnight despite your best efforts. If you have a cage chewer, I recommend a glass (not plastic!) tank with a secure lid:

Tanks by vectishams, on Flickr

(and yes, Cadie did escape this tank when the lid was just attached with velcro strips on all sides, hence the large bolts!)
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