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Old 10-08-2019, 01:04 PM   #1
SophieandEduardo
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Default My young hamster is a weirdo??

Ok so the title is a bit harsh....

I have a young Syrian hamster. He is doing well with getting used to me. Iíve been letting him run all over me in the bath because itís a place he canít escape from but can explore me at his own pace. Anyway.. heís doing a few things that I just canít explain!

I made him an enclosure, based on a very big long storage box. Itís divided into two sections - one with sawdust where his flying saucer wheel, cork log, food and water bowl and gnawing toys are. The other part is filled with deep paper bedding for burrowing and general snuggling and sleeping.

He had tubing running all around the edge of the bedding part, underneath the deep bedding. I thought heíd enjoy that. I started to notice that during the night he had been clogging up one of the entrances of the tubes with the sawdust. I donít know how he managed it to be honest it was very densely clogged up... but I thought oh well, itís probably natural for a hamster to not want too many entrances to his tunnels. But then something odd happened. He didnít come out one night. I wake up several times in the night (itís just normal for me) and didnít see him out at all. In the morning I had to investigate because I thought he might be unwell or dead. I gently parted areas of the bedding hoping to find him but he wasnít there... I got rid of all of the bedding and thatís when I saw him in the tube, with a dense wall of sawdust either side of him! He had barricaded himself in the tube and couldnít move or escape.

Why on earth?!?!
Sorry for the long post
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Old 10-09-2019, 02:32 PM   #2
AmityvilleHams
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Default Re: My young hamster is a weirdo??

It's really not that unusual. This is actually one reason why many people strongly discourage using any kind of plastic tubes and tunnels(and other plastic cage objects other than wheels), among other issues associated with using plastic.

Along with potentially getting stuck, plastic tunnels and other similar objects(houses etc) trap humidity. They also hold bacteria and odor, so this can lead to a much smellier cage as well as increase your risk of respiratory illness in any hamster.

Hamsters can make their own tunnels and burrow systems just fine given appropriate substrate that is deep enough(6-12" for Syrians, although even more would be ideal). This would eliminate the risk of any trapped hamsters as well as significantly increasing ventilation and in general ridding you of any of the issues plastic or other synthetic tunnel systems can bring(although the primary culprit when it comes to these tunnel and house style products is plastic).
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Old 10-10-2019, 12:56 AM   #3
Serendipity7000
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Default Re: My young hamster is a weirdo??

Hi. It’s what they do wherever they choose to nest. Block up the entrance. Makes sense really - keeps the draughts and light out so it’s cosy and dark inside.

It is a problem when a hamster nests in a tube or tunnel though as it gets messy and then needs cleaning out regularly and then they get stressed about their nest being messed with.

To help him have normal behaviours you could do the following

1) Give him a large house that is dark inside. A shoebox house is ideal. Cut the base out of the shoe box and cut a hole near one end of a long side for a door. At least 5 or 6 Cm wide. Use the lid as a lift off roof so you can check inside and it also makes a platform for a good bowl eg. Use a bendy bridge tunnel over the house entrance. This makes it dark inside and also provides a ramp onto the roof. Then put some treats inside it to tempt him in there. He will probably move into it overnight on the first or second night.

2. Make sure he has lots of nesting material but don’t put it in the house. Torn up strips of plain white toilet paper are safest and they like it. A big pile in the cage near the house. He will take some to build a big cosy nest with to keep warm . They tend to build a big nest at this time of year as they sense the cooler evenings and nights. He may pouch some of the toilet paper strips. This is Normal foraging behaviour - they forage for nesting materials and food, pouch them and take them to their nest.

3. If the house is large he is likely to move his toilet area inside it. So put a litter tray in one corner of the house (at the back opposite the door because they nest at the end away from the door where it’s darkest). With chinchilla bathing sand in the litter tray. I’ll link an ideal corner litter tray later. Any dish will do but the corner ones fit well and contain the pee at the back as they are high at the back. He will almost certainly use it. Then you just empty the litter tray once or twice a week and put new sand in, by taking the house roof off. That way you don’t have to take the house out and it keeps their nest in tact.

4. Make sure there is plenty of substrate - at least 3 to 4” deep. That way the cage stays clean longer and it enables normal behaviours like digging and burying hoards under the nest. With a litter tray the cage will stay clean and dry for weeks so no need to clean out as often . You can easily go a couple of months with just spot cleaning and emptying the litter tray and hut cleaning the wheel every few weeks (if it gets peed in as that is one place they do sometimes pee other than the litter tray.)

5. Spot cleaning is just taking out the odd handful of substrate and replacing it with a new handful and mixing it in a bit so it smells familiar. Don’t worry about poops unless they really start taking over. They are not smelly or dirty really - they are often eaten for extra vitamins or nutrients too which is another normal behaviour - they have two stomachs and can redigest nutrients from their poops. They may hoard some poops too (emergency food supply).

5. I would take out the tunne system at the same time as you put the house in. Your hammy may be a bit stress for a few days at the change so leave him alone for two or three days until he has settled in the house and avoid changing anything else in the cage for a while. They do need toys and tunnels and other hidey places - eg under a shelf - but rat tunnels are a better size for Syrians and a single one as a floor toy or attached to bars as a route from one shelf to another eg.

I like the large cork logs which make a big tunnel and also something to climb over and an interesting texture. Or you can get plastic or cardboard rat tunnels.

6. Safety. Avoid toys with chains or open rung ladders (you can adapt them by removing chains or filling in gaps between rungs.) any toys with entrance holes, the holes need to be 6cm diameter or more or they can get stuck.
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Old 10-10-2019, 05:17 AM   #4
SophieandEduardo
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Default Re: My young hamster is a weirdo??

Quote:
Originally Posted by Serendipity7000 View Post
Hi. Itís what they do wherever they choose to nest. Block up the entrance. Makes sense really - keeps the draughts and light out so itís cosy and dark inside.

It is a problem when a hamster nests in a tube or tunnel though as it gets messy and then needs cleaning out regularly and then they get stressed about their nest being messed with.

To help him have normal behaviours you could do the following

1) Give him a large house that is dark inside. A shoebox house is ideal. Cut the base out of the shoe box and cut a hole near one end of a long side for a door. At least 5 or 6 Cm wide. Use the lid as a lift off roof so you can check inside and it also makes a platform for a good bowl eg. Use a bendy bridge tunnel over the house entrance. This makes it dark inside and also provides a ramp onto the roof. Then put some treats inside it to tempt him in there. He will probably move into it overnight on the first or second night.

2. Make sure he has lots of nesting material but donít put it in the house. Torn up strips of plain white toilet paper are safest and they like it. A big pile in the cage near the house. He will take some to build a big cosy nest with to keep warm . They tend to build a big nest at this time of year as they sense the cooler evenings and nights. He may pouch some of the toilet paper strips. This is Normal foraging behaviour - they forage for nesting materials and food, pouch them and take them to their nest.

3. If the house is large he is likely to move his toilet area inside it. So put a litter tray in one corner of the house (at the back opposite the door because they nest at the end away from the door where itís darkest). With chinchilla bathing sand in the litter tray. Iíll link an ideal corner litter tray later. Any dish will do but the corner ones fit well and contain the pee at the back as they are high at the back. He will almost certainly use it. Then you just empty the litter tray once or twice a week and put new sand in, by taking the house roof off. That way you donít have to take the house out and it keeps their nest in tact.

4. Make sure there is plenty of substrate - at least 3 to 4Ē deep. That way the cage stays clean longer and it enables normal behaviours like digging and burying hoards under the nest. With a litter tray the cage will stay clean and dry for weeks so no need to clean out as often . You can easily go a couple of months with just spot cleaning and emptying the litter tray and hut cleaning the wheel every few weeks (if it gets peed in as that is one place they do sometimes pee other than the litter tray.)

5. Spot cleaning is just taking out the odd handful of substrate and replacing it with a new handful and mixing it in a bit so it smells familiar. Donít worry about poops unless they really start taking over. They are not smelly or dirty really - they are often eaten for extra vitamins or nutrients too which is another normal behaviour - they have two stomachs and can redigest nutrients from their poops. They may hoard some poops too (emergency food supply).

5. I would take out the tunne system at the same time as you put the house in. Your hammy may be a bit stress for a few days at the change so leave him alone for two or three days until he has settled in the house and avoid changing anything else in the cage for a while. They do need toys and tunnels and other hidey places - eg under a shelf - but rat tunnels are a better size for Syrians and a single one as a floor toy or attached to bars as a route from one shelf to another eg.

I like the large cork logs which make a big tunnel and also something to climb over and an interesting texture. Or you can get plastic or cardboard rat tunnels.

6. Safety. Avoid toys with chains or open rung ladders (you can adapt them by removing chains or filling in gaps between rungs.) any toys with entrance holes, the holes need to be 6cm diameter or more or they can get stuck.
Thank you thatís very very helpful
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Old 10-10-2019, 05:31 AM   #5
Serendipity7000
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Default Re: My young hamster is a weirdo??

It was typed on my phone so may have been a bit garbled with typos! It is all about allowing them to have normal behaviours and it really does affect their behaviour! They visibly look happier when they can busy themselves getting organised They often build mountains out of the substrate as well. I reckon it's to insulate the house in winter, but they are also clever enough to build a mountain they can climb up and escape out the top!

What cage do you have? Often people get sold unsuitable cages which doesn't help. The more floorspace the better. Tall cages have fall risks but that can be sorted with shelves or a full level. So lower wider cages are better.
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Old 10-10-2019, 05:45 AM   #6
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Default Re: My young hamster is a weirdo??

This is the potty litter tray I mentioned. Size is just right for a syrian. Ours tend to pee in the very back corner and then sit for a wash in the front. They are quite clean tidy little things if they have an ensuite bathroom! Chinchilla sand is better than potty granules (which aren't safe if eaten although none of ours ate any). If you're not in the Uk,Amazon.com sells similar ones but check the size carefully - this size is good but some are huge for guinea pigs.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Trixie-Corn...0710684&sr=8-7

If the house isn't large enough for a litter tray they will often choose a corner of the cage as a toilet so you can put the litter tray there. The trick is to put it where they choose to pee or they will ignore it. For me I have found it works every time to put it in a large house.

The reason for avoiding too much cleanouts isn't just to save you the hassle - it's because it really stresses the hamster. It removes all their familiar scent. They scent mark everything in their cages and leave scent trails and routes as well. This is partly to "mark" it as theirs but also to help find their way around the cage easily as they don't see well at all.

If the whole lot is cleaned at once they are lost and it doesn't smell familiar any more so it really does stress them. With a litter tray and spot cleaning you don't need to change the substrate nearly as often. With a large cage I go 2 to 3 months without changing the substrate, and even then I replace some of the clean old substrate on top of the new substrate - it helps them accept the clean. So the trick is - to clean things at different times, so something always smells familiar. eg wheel a different week from any toys and substrate a different week again.

Their nest and hoard are their most precious things. I always leave the nest alone. When it comes to doing a substrate change I prune the hoard if it has got too big. But dried food when hoarded lasts quite a long time so can be left unless pee'd on. If it's pee'd on and you have to remove it, but try and leave a little bit of dry hoard and then always put new food back in exactly the same place. If they feel their hoard has been "stolen" they start doing unnatural behaviours like peeing on their hoard to deter anyone from stealing it and then it's a catch 22! But can usually be resolved in time.

Likewise if the nest is pee'd on then it will need removing but again try and leave a little bit of old dry nest behind so it smells familiar, then put a big pile of new paper nesting material out again and they'll rebuild it. I keep topping up the paper pile regularly as they can build really big nests in winter to keep warm so if it gradually goes down, keep topping it up.

You can just leave the nest otherwise - it stays clean and dry and they refurbish it themselves - often chucking out a bit of nest and bringing new nesting material in.

Our first hamster actually used to clean out his own house! I would wake up and find a big gap in the middle of the cage with no substrate, and a big pile of whiffy substrate in front of the cage door. He had removed all the whiffy stuff for me to take away and dragged in a load of clean from the middle of the cage.

They need something to do!
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Old 10-10-2019, 05:46 AM   #7
Serendipity7000
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Default Re: My young hamster is a weirdo??

They aren't smelly at all and clean themselves and groom a lot. The only thing that is smelly is their pee and the sand soaks that up well and you can just keep emptying the litter tray every few days.
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