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Old 11-07-2019, 10:31 AM   #1
elaraks
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Default Rescue hamster - is this normal behaviour / settling in

Hi,

I adopted a hamster the other day that had been previously neglected. It had been returned to the breeder by the person who had bought it after a month or two in a TINY cage, with no toys, no WHEEL even. The breeder suspected they'd been bullying it as well, or at least agitating it a bit. It had previously been quite calm, but now was very timid and would screech anytime people came near. While finding it a new home she worked with it, so could stroke it for a little bit or come close without it screeching but he's still very timid.

I brought him home on Sunday to an ikea detolf, with a lot of things in the cage etc. He doesn't use the wheel massively but I suspect he's getting used to it. He spent a lot of the first two night rearranging the cage - I suspect settling in? I'd wake up and he would have taken things from one side of the cage to another, moved massive amounts of bedding to pile up in certain corners etc. He's still very shy but seemed to be getting more inquisitive - he'll often come out to sniff now if we're in the room/near the cage before running back to his nest, and then repeating the whole time we're there, whereas before just completely hid if we were in the room.

However, he seems quite inactive? I wake up a lot in the night, and last night I couldn't hear him at all at any point and neither could my boyfriend. In the morning it didn't look like he'd moved much around the cage and very little of the food had been eaten (before he'd been eating a lot though). I went to change his water before I went to work (I thought he was in his nest as couldn't see him right away). When I put my hand in with the new water however, i realized he was behind the wheel, and he was awake but his eyes were closed. He ran into the nest and then started growling. As I was going to work i couldn't check him properly (for the eyes), but could the closed eyes be him just waking up and the growling be annoyance at being disturbed? Or should I be worried.

Could the inactivity as well (more generally he's a lot less active than other hamsters I've had) be him getting used to a MUCH bigger cage? He tends to do everytthing on one side.
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Old 11-07-2019, 12:23 PM   #2
Vierville
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Default Re: Rescue hamster - is this normal behaviour / settling in

First of all good on you for adopting this little one. He clearly is in a better home now.

I've found that of our three hamsters, one was extremely inactive, the other hyperactive and the third one was active in that he'd run on his wheel but that was about it.

They all have very different personalities, likes and dislikes so I wouldn't worry about that too much.

You mentioned that he was eating much more but appears to be eating less- I've found that our ones empty their food bowls straight after cage cleaning day but this is to replenish their 'stashes'...they aren't actually eating it all.

Hope this helps
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Old 11-07-2019, 04:12 PM   #3
alpacassei
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Default Re: Rescue hamster - is this normal behaviour / settling in

Sounds like normal behaviour for a hammy in his situation. If you haven’t already, giving him lots of hides and tunnels will help him feel safer.

As forchis eyes, he was probably just sleepy but keep an eye out for any sign of injury or illness (crustiness, swelling).
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Old 11-08-2019, 02:53 AM   #4
Serendipity7000
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It is all very early days They usually need a good 10 days to two weeks to fully settle and adjust to a new cage and new environment. During that period it's best not to clean anythng or change things around etc. Adding the odd new thing is usually accepted well as long as you don't take something else away or move things much!

Until he has made it his own - scent marked everywhere and formed a routine and habits, he will be skitty and nervous.

It doesn't mean he isn't active - it sounds more like he is hiding away until after lights out. He is probably out and about in the cage at night. You could put a bit of substrate on top of his wheel before you go to bed and see if it's gone in the morning then you'll know he's been using his wheel.

It is also getting cooler and they tend to come out less and keep cosy in the nest unless the room is warm and cosy.

One thing that can make them hide away more as well is if they feel a bit exposed in a cage - so with a large cage like the detofl you need plenty of (possibly large) floor toys so they can move around and always dive under something. It's a good idea to have a platform, a large house that's dark inside and things like the large cork logs make good floor toys - a big tunnel to run through and an interesting texture to climb over. Also lots of hidey places - a coconut hut eg, cardboard tissue boxes make good extra hides.

German tank set ups often have one long shelf along the back of a tank with a ramp up either side or even extending round one side( a "racetrack") although it would be really long in a detolf.

You can make a platform easily with a piece of kiln dried pine wood (make sure there are no splintery edges - sandpaper is your friend!) with dowels stuck on for legs. Or people use Ikea Knuff magazine racks to make shelves.

https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=ik...w=1252&bih=554

If you have a photo of the current set up we could advise if it's best to leave everything as it is for the first couple of weeks while he's adjusting - or whether to do some tweaking

This detolf set up is way beyond my creative skills but might give some ideas!

https://www.flickr.com/photos/125312803@N06/14203399270

Or this one. They do need somewhere dark to retreat to. This one has a large, semi submerged house on the left. A shoe box house is fine. Cut the base out of a shoebox, keep the lid for a lift off roof (and makes another level) and cut a hole in one of the long sides at the far end (means the other end is darker) and put a bendy bridge over the entrance for a tunnel entrance (also makes it darker inside and makes a ramp up to the roof).

https://www.flickr.com/photos/29840567@N03/7482824204

Sorry if you've already done this kind of thing already! Some people leave a detolf a bit too empty and exposed and a hamster may not feel very secure or have enough enrichment.
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Last edited by souffle; 11-20-2019 at 09:05 AM.
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Old 11-08-2019, 03:16 AM   #5
elaraks
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Default Re: Rescue hamster - is this normal behaviour / settling in

Thanks everyone!! I was just stressing at work for no reason - he's still hiding but seeming more confident all the time!

As for set up - I have three boxes, two on one side and a larger on the other with no bottoms that go directly into the substrate for him to choose where to nest and burrow, a pringles tube he loves to sit in, and a lot of smaller tubes and covers. I used the cardboard that came with a hamster ball as a kind of arch to provide cover as well, and have a flat bit of cardboard that I've put at an angle starting at a bar that sort of divides the cage. He often sits behind it when people are in the room and pokes his head out now every so often so think it seems to be helping him feel more secure out of his chosen nest area. He also has a sandbath, bridge, see saw, chew toys, wheel etc !

The one thing I want to change is adding more substrate, as it's a bit low from where I'd like it atm. The woman wanted someone to rescue him ASAP and I didn't realise how much megazorb I had left until setting up his cage on saturday so no way I could have got any for Sunday. Atm it's around two inches thick at the middle, but goes up to 6/7 at each end. When he's had time to settle in properly (so a few weeks time) I intend to add more but don't want to do so right yet! I've been adding bits of tissue paper each day that he's been taking to his nest, but not too keen on a big refill of megazorb rn.

My room is definitely a bit cold atm, so going to try make it warmer for him (funny because until a week ago it was BOILING even without heating on!), and try not to worry! When I'm at home I'm generally not too worried but tend to when I'm at work!
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Old 11-08-2019, 04:35 AM   #6
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All sounds like a time thing then. Agree that sounds like enough substrate for now and keep adding more paper nesting material.You could maybe drop in the odd extra handful when he's been in the cage a week and mix it in a bit, then scatter some food on top of that bit to distract from the change - he'll enjoy foraging for the food.

When he seems a bit more confident you could maybe tempt him into a tube with a smelly treat in (or into a hamster ball with a smelly treat in) and lift him out for some bathtub hand taming so he starts to learn to trust and bond with you. Maybe twice a week. Also try the tissue trick (put toilet paper sheets up your sleeve or down your bra for a couple of hours then tear it into strips for nesting material) so he gets more familiar with your scent.
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Last edited by souffle; 11-20-2019 at 09:06 AM.
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Old 11-08-2019, 11:49 AM   #7
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Default Re: Rescue hamster - is this normal behaviour / settling in

I’ve been in that situation too, not realising how little substrate I had left until it was too late! I've found just adding a few handfuls here and there doesnt bother anxious hammies as long as you dont move around their items and just put the bedding on top.
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Old 11-10-2019, 08:23 AM   #8
elaraks
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Default Re: Rescue hamster - is this normal behaviour / settling in

Well he is really coming on leaps and bounds - even climbing on my hand when I went in to change water! It's amazing to see how much his confidence is grown in a week of just having a better cage and owners.
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Old 11-20-2019, 09:03 AM   #9
elaraks
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Default Re: Rescue hamster - is this normal behaviour / settling in

Just thought I'd give an update - he's still quite shy, and I think had a bit of a scare over a few days when we had people round one night downstairs and it was quite loud. I've now given him a lot more bedding and he seems to be really enjoying that, as well as have been hiding seeds and treats in it and he seems to love finding them - as soon as he stumbles upon one spot now, he seems to realise there will be more hidden and rushes around scrambling to find them !

I tried giving him space for a while as he was hiding a lot again when we were in the room, but now he seems to be building confidence again - put my arm in the cage last night and he climbed on my jumper, sat there for a while while I stroked him, walked around then hopped off (but in quiet a slow and not panicked way!).

I love him so much he's very sweet and I can't wait to see him get more and more confident
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Old 11-20-2019, 09:04 AM   #10
elaraks
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here he is

https://imgur.com/a/Iu064WK

Last edited by souffle; 11-20-2019 at 09:19 AM.
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