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Old 02-09-2019, 08:11 AM   #1
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Join Date: Feb 2019
Location: United Kingdom
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Question Hamster stopped using wheel

Hi everyone! I'm new to this forum and am a first time hamster owner. I have a very active golden syrian hamster, 16 weeks old. She is currently in the rosewood pico XL cage which has a few treat and chew toys, bridge, and 2 tunnels. I noticed that she kept biting the bars at night and after some research found out that her wheel which came with the cage was too small. So I got her a 8" trixie wheel (anything bigger won't fit in the cage) and she really took to it! She was crazy and used it for 2 days straight! I noticed she didnt bite the bars at night. But one day she just stopped using it and now its been 1 week and she still hasnt used it. She either hesitantly goes in the wheel but doesnt use it and comes straight back out, or she uses it for 2 seconds and that's it. There isnt anything wrong with her illness-wise, she is very much active in the hamster ball and I haven't changed anything in her diet. I was just wondering if this is unusual behaviour, how to stop the cage biting and encourage her back on the wheel? I have tried placing treats in the wheel but she just reaches inside to grab them without using the wheel. Any suggestions/advice?
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Old 02-09-2019, 02:04 PM   #2
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Default Re: Hamster stopped using wheel

It all more than likely comes down to the cage being very small, hamsters cannot display normal behaviours in something that size and will often act strange or out of character. The bar chewing is a sign of stress & boredom which is to be expected. So it's time to think about a cage upgrade ASAP, the Barney from zooplus is normally about 50 which is a good price and decent size. The 8 inch wheel might be ok for now but it is definitely on the small side, ideally they need 11-12" wheels.
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Old 02-09-2019, 02:10 PM   #3
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Default Re: Hamster stopped using wheel

I agree, the cage she is in is very small and Syrians (females especially) need atleast 100 x 50cm of space to run and burrow. I also recommend the Barney on Zooplus!
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Old 02-09-2019, 07:47 PM   #4
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Default Re: Hamster stopped using wheel

The Rosewood pico cage isn't good for a hamster. It isn't just the small size of the base - floor area - it's also a bit tall and has a plastic house at the top.

Hamsters are basically ground dwellers who like to live in burrows - or a nesting box that mimics a burrow, open underneath and sat on top of the substrate. Their normal behaviours are to hoard in or under their nest and have a toilet they can bury nearby their nest or house.

So with the house at the top your hammy has to come all the way down to the substrate at the bottom to make a toilet area. And then sometimes they just end up peeing in the nest instead and it gets all stinky.

With the house being so small and enclosed as well it needs cleaning out a lot and having their nest taken away stresses them. Cleaning generally stresses them as well.

The wheel will just be part of the issue. They tend to bar chew when the cage isn't big enough as well.

how long have you had the cage and the hamster. If it's not long and you got it from pets at home, some people have successfully asked for a refund saying the cage isn't suitable - even after it's been used. So you could get another cage and then see if you can get a refund for the Rosewood pico.

The same thing happened to me at first - i got a 3 tier rotostak and it was totally unsuitable. our syrian is now in the barney cage mentioned above

it costs about 50 and has just about everything you need except a few toys. it has a good shelf and a good sized house for a syrian hamster - although it's an idea to paint the wood shelf and the inside of the house with plastikote water based enamel paint which is pet safe. It has an 8" wheel that's quite basic and ok to start with but you already have an 8" wheel. ideally an 11" wheel is better as they run better in it.

She may be using the wheel at night and the novelty has just worn off a bit - but it's probably also due to the set up not being right for her.

if the barney is too big for you to fit in then the alaska cage is about the smallest size you'd want - the base is 82cm by 48cm ish. Room for plenty of substrate. it has a shelf but you'd need a good sized house to sit on top of the substrate. it also has a good big front opening door which helps with taming and interaction. The price is reduced at the moment as well so it's 31.99

For now maybe try and rearrange the pico cage a bit. put as much substrate as you can in the base, without it falling out of the bars and add another house at floor level - a tissue box with a hole cut in would do. i'd also recommend removing the top plastic house if that's possible.

Then get rid of the long walk up to the top - maybe have two of the shelves at the same level as each other and just one ladder to the shelves. So the only reason she has to go up the ladder is to get to the shelf - with a food bowl on it eg. She can then basically live in the base of the cage with the house and wheel.

if you upgrade her cage, it doesn't completely stress her out. Although it's nicer for them with a new cage, they need to adjust as any change of environment is stressful. i tend to do a transition over a day or so where they just play in the new cage, partly set up, before moving in. And move everything over from the old cage without cleaning anything so it smells familiar.
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