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Old 07-18-2019, 11:31 PM   #1
10Minutes
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Default My Strange Roborovski

Hello again, just wondering about some odd behaviour on part of my Louise (she still eats, drinks, and plays with her wheel as usual):

1. She has been as good as gold and tame enough for my husband and I to stroke her fur softly. She has gone as far as to putting her paw on our palms directly to eat treats. We've been on good terms for about a week.

She suddenly became really skittish. She jumps out of her skin and runs away even if the shadow of our hand moves anywhere near her, and she certainly won't let us stroke her anymore. There is only a half chance that she will take treats from the tips of our fingers - sometimes she does and sometimes she doesn't. She has been skittish for a week, and has also given both my husband and I a nip each on separate occasions (but she wasn't scared when she did the nipping, just a soft nip and remained where she was, sniffing us curiously). My husband says she is probably going through a hamster version of the teenage rebellion phase... I love her but I want my good little girl back!

2. She sleeps in weird places. She has a proper house, a ceramic house, an ice-house and a toilet roll, and she does use all of them, but sometimes, she would just sit in a ball in the open, half-dozing. She even goes as far as to remove all substrate from a corner of her cage and sits there on the bare plastic. Yesterday she sat on the bare plastic but burried her head in the substrate to sleep. She really likes the plastic a LOT and sometimes just keeps scratching the plastic non-stop for no apparent reason (amusement?). Any thoughts on her behaviour? It's just so unusual to me that she half-dozes in the open or prefers bare plastic half the time. Sometimes she sits in a ball and sometimes she just spreads herself out flat.

Edit: I don't think her scratching the plastic means she is trying to escape. She loves her current cage and doesn't bite the bars, or even attempt to climb them. Sometimes we leave the lid off when we watch her and she has never attempted to climb and escape, although she very well could (she has climbed to escape for about 5 minutes when she was first introduced to the cage a few weeks ago, but of course we had the lid on so she couldn't escape then).

3. She is terrified of cheese. I didn't expect this! I bought some cheddar for her and offered a tiny piece to her. She took one whiff and ran away from it, scared. I placed it on the substrate for her, but she started kicking the substrate frantically in the cheese's direction to cover it up. I tried gently to give it to her a few more times and decided to remove it before it scared her further. Anyone heard of a hamster that doesn't just dislike, but is positively scared of cheese?

Any thoughts? I'd like to understand more about her behaviour.

Last edited by 10Minutes; 07-19-2019 at 12:03 AM.
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Old 07-19-2019, 12:19 AM   #2
Ria P
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Default Re: My Strange Roborovski

I have a Syrian since March so am not an experienced hamster keeper.

You could try and add different textures to her cage like a terracotta plant saucer and a large, flat pebble stone to sit on. Maybe try a different substrate in a small section of the cage in case she doesn't like the current one.

I wouldn't worry about the cheese. She seems to strongly dislike the smell so don't offer it to her. I'd run a mile if someone would put herring under my nose because i can't stand the smell of fish!

I can only go by my own hamster but hamsters can be as moody as people. One evening my hamster sits on my shoulder having a little wash then runs off to explore and another evening he sits and sulks until i put him back in his home. It doesn't take much to put them off either and sometimes i don't have a clue why he behaves a certain way.

Hamsters are strong willed and do their own thing, not necessarily what you want them to do. As long as she's healthy i wouldn't worry. I also tried to figure out hamster behaviour but eventually concluded that i have to accept my lovely, grumpy and very independent hamster for who he is and enjoy his mostly elusive company.
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Old 07-19-2019, 12:42 AM   #3
LunaTheHamster1
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Default Re: My Strange Roborovski

Just wondering if it is hot right now where you live and if your hammy is trying to cool down by sitting on the plastic and out in the open. It was just a thought.
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Old 07-19-2019, 01:53 AM   #4
Serendipity7000
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Default Re: My Strange Roborovski

I think it sounds like the heat as well. The sitting out in the open and on the plastic etc. As for the skittishness - did anything happen just before this? A cage clean can cause that - especially if clean absolutely everything as it removes their familiar scent, sets back taming and you become an untrusted thief! Temporarily. If it is that, then best to only do partial cleans, and they don't need doing weekly as pet shops advise. By that it means - when you change the substrate, keep back half of it that is not whiffy and mix it in with the new, so it still smells familiar - and don't clean anything else. Another week you can do the wheel, another week any toys etc.

I actually find a robo much easier because they will often have more than one nest and ours has never pee'd in his nests (he made lovely cosy underground "hole" burrows all lined with paper ). They tend to pee everywhere else though, but because it's such tiny amounts and spread around I found it evaporated mostly! If you find a wet or whiffy patch of substrate though, you could "spot clean" it (ie take a handful out and put a new handful in). As and when necessary. I found spot cleaning quite hard with a robo as I could never see where he'd pee'd - but they will often use their sand bath as a toilet (ours does his poops in there) so then you just change the sand once a week eg (must be Chinchilla bathing sand and not "dust").

So you should be able to go a few weeks without doing a substrate change, if there's enough substrate in to start with.

The other thing is, changing all the substrate destroys their tunnels and burrows - sometimes it's necessary of course, but if done too often they can get very upset. What I did with our robo was only do half the cage at a time - he had two nests - one under his shelf on the right and one in front of his wheel on the left (both underground).

So I would only change the substrate on one side, and try to retain most of the nest itself. He would move into the other nest. Then when I did the other side, a week or two later - he woud move back into the first nest It worked out as a good system!

Would suggest not changing/moving anything in the cage or cleaning out for a couple of weeks now (except the odd wipe of the wheel when necessary but even that can easily go a week or more). And let her settle again and get back into comfortable habits. Then start again with the hand taming/feeding.

Adding more substrate or a new toy etc is usually accepted well. Taking something out or moving something isn't always accepted well.
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Old 07-19-2019, 01:54 AM   #5
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Default Re: My Strange Roborovski

Also - check her water bottle is working ok and is easily accessible ( ie easy to get to and not too high to reach). I found once the ladder had fallen down to a shelf and our robo couldn't get to his water bottle.
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Old 07-19-2019, 08:53 AM   #6
10Minutes
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Default Re: My Strange Roborovski

Thank you everyone! I do so love learning more about hamster behaviours and there's always so much to learn.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ria P View Post
I have a Syrian since March so am not an experienced hamster keeper.

You could try and add different textures to her cage like a terracotta plant saucer and a large, flat pebble stone to sit on. Maybe try a different substrate in a small section of the cage in case she doesn't like the current one.

I wouldn't worry about the cheese. She seems to strongly dislike the smell so don't offer it to her. I'd run a mile if someone would put herring under my nose because i can't stand the smell of fish!

I can only go by my own hamster but hamsters can be as moody as people. One evening my hamster sits on my shoulder having a little wash then runs off to explore and another evening he sits and sulks until i put him back in his home. It doesn't take much to put them off either and sometimes i don't have a clue why he behaves a certain way.

Hamsters are strong willed and do their own thing, not necessarily what you want them to do. As long as she's healthy i wouldn't worry. I also tried to figure out hamster behaviour but eventually concluded that i have to accept my lovely, grumpy and very independent hamster for who he is and enjoy his mostly elusive company.
Yes, she has a pebble.. and I have already tried different kinds of substrate, but she just pushes them all out.

Haha, yeah I'll certainly take your advice and never offer her anymore cheese in future. I just found it difficult to accept that a hamster would hate cheese and I thought she might like it if she gave it a chance... But nope, I have tried a few gentle offers and she just didn't take to it, so I won't be giving it to her anymore. Your Syrian sounds sooo adorable, and he seems to have a lot of random mood swings!

Quote:
Originally Posted by LunaTheHamster1 View Post
Just wondering if it is hot right now where you live and if your hammy is trying to cool down by sitting on the plastic and out in the open. It was just a thought.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Serendipity7000 View Post
I think it sounds like the heat as well. The sitting out in the open and on the plastic etc. As for the skittishness - did anything happen just before this? A cage clean can cause that - especially if clean absolutely everything as it removes their familiar scent, sets back taming and you become an untrusted thief! Temporarily. If it is that, then best to only do partial cleans, and they don't need doing weekly as pet shops advise. By that it means - when you change the substrate, keep back half of it that is not whiffy and mix it in with the new, so it still smells familiar - and don't clean anything else. Another week you can do the wheel, another week any toys etc.

I actually find a robo much easier because they will often have more than one nest and ours has never pee'd in his nests (he made lovely cosy underground "hole" burrows all lined with paper ). They tend to pee everywhere else though, but because it's such tiny amounts and spread around I found it evaporated mostly! If you find a wet or whiffy patch of substrate though, you could "spot clean" it (ie take a handful out and put a new handful in). As and when necessary. I found spot cleaning quite hard with a robo as I could never see where he'd pee'd - but they will often use their sand bath as a toilet (ours does his poops in there) so then you just change the sand once a week eg (must be Chinchilla bathing sand and not "dust").

So you should be able to go a few weeks without doing a substrate change, if there's enough substrate in to start with.

The other thing is, changing all the substrate destroys their tunnels and burrows - sometimes it's necessary of course, but if done too often they can get very upset. What I did with our robo was only do half the cage at a time - he had two nests - one under his shelf on the right and one in front of his wheel on the left (both underground).

So I would only change the substrate on one side, and try to retain most of the nest itself. He would move into the other nest. Then when I did the other side, a week or two later - he woud move back into the first nest It worked out as a good system!

Would suggest not changing/moving anything in the cage or cleaning out for a couple of weeks now (except the odd wipe of the wheel when necessary but even that can easily go a week or more). And let her settle again and get back into comfortable habits. Then start again with the hand taming/feeding.

Adding more substrate or a new toy etc is usually accepted well. Taking something out or moving something isn't always accepted well.
Yes, Luna and Serendipity, it has gotten really hot here. It can go up to 95 Fahrenheit on average! I have gotten her:

1. A little fan (outside her bin and not aimed directly at her. It's just a slight breeze in one small corner that doesn't even disturb the substrate, and she has ample space to run away to other parts of her bin if she is uncomfortable).

2. A ceramic hideout.

3. An ice house (aluminium based plate).

4. A nice piece of stone in the open area, and a plastic slide that she can lie on if she wants to.

5. A sand bath area with Chinchilla sand.

Any other ideas for her to cool down? I'm actually running out of space in her bin because of all her cooling stuff, and I want to leave her enough unbroken floor space to run around and burrow too, so I think it would be hard to fit new things in anymore. She does use all of them! It's just that half the time, I have no idea why she decides not to use them, and just sits around in the open.

She has access to a bottle at all times and I also manually feed her water from her bottle every evening to keep her hydrated. She does drink when I feed her, but not a lot (so she doesn't seem that thirsty). I will be getting her another bottle as a backup too in case one gets stuck.

About the cleaning, I haven't cleaned her original substrate out for half a month (but I have added more new substrate occasionally)! I know it sounds weird but it really doesn't smell at all. I was planning to clean half the substrate this weekend, but she's so skittish that now I'm kinda worried about it. How long is the maximum time we can go without cleaning the cage if it doesn't smell?
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