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Old 12-10-2019, 11:42 AM   #1
GloucesterPaul
Newborn Pup
 
Join Date: Dec 2019
Posts: 2
Default Hamster Heaven Biting

First time poster, I'm hoping someone can give me some advice

We've had my Syrian, Mary, for 6 weeks now. She lives in a Hamster Heaven cage and is continuously biting the cage. It used to be solely on the door of the penthouse, now it's anywhere.

I tried a bigger wheel. Firstly I tried the initial set up it comes as, but I removed one of the platforms as I wanted to fit a bigger wheel in as she didn't seem to use the one it came with. I got the Trixie Wheel 28cm, she doesn't use that either. I then tried a half way in between wheel which she's also not touched.

I've tried putting plenty of entertainment into the cage. She has toys, seesaw tunnel, chews etc.

She comes out of the cage for at least an hour a day, sometimes two, in her ball, but also out in the open. We weren't going to get a ball but had to a few weeks ago just to give her some run around time as she clearly isn't using the wheel. Incidently when she is out of the ball, she often 'digs' the carpet and when in her playpen I've made, she just tries to dig and scratch the corner.

We've done all of the usual things correctly that we've read online with regards to feeding, cleaning etc.

My last resort I tried putting lemon juice on the cage, she still bit, and olive oil, still bit. I feel like now she's biting the whole cage that I wouldn't be able to cover it all even if I got a Stoppa spray for example.

I'm desperate to work out what to do as I've read about all of the problems they can develop over this. Any ideas?
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Old 12-10-2019, 04:03 PM   #2
Engel
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Location: UK
Posts: 274
Default Re: Hamster Heaven Biting

Can I see your set up please. She may be bored
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Old 12-10-2019, 06:22 PM   #3
Serendipity7000
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Default Re: Hamster Heaven Biting

Are you maybe cleaning her out too much? That can stress them and lead to them bar biting as they don't feel secure in their environment with a lot of disturbance and their scent removed.

She will probably be using the wheel at night. I would put the 28cm Trixie wheel back, remove any tubes and the penthouse. Keep the solid shelf and make sure the base of the cage is filled with substrate to 1cm or so below the rim. And add a large-ish house (a shoebox house is ideal) and put a bendy stick bridge over the house entrance so it's dark inside. They like having somewhere dark to retreat to and to build a big cosy nest in. Then just "spot clean" the pee area. If she uses a litter tray you can just empty that every few days. The rest of the cage should stay clean and dry so just spot clean occasionally (ie take the odd handful out and replace it, if it's soiled anywhere) and you can then easily go 2 months without needing to change the substrate.

It's also important not to mess with their cage too much or move things around. Don't put lemon juice or any other nasty tasting thing on the bars. It won't help and it's bad for them. All you can do is weave strips of cardboard into the bars in the area where she's chewing - it distracts them and they may chew the cardboard instead. eg cut up cereal packet. But she may just move to another area of bars.

It is either set up, too much cleaning, too many changes or she may just need a bigger cage if she is a particularly active syrian. They really do need their wheels to burn off energy as well. So keep the 28cm one in there (and check it is spinning properly). To see if she's used it at night, put a bit of substrate on top of it before you go to bed. If it's gone in the morning she has used it during the night.
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Old 12-10-2019, 06:37 PM   #4
GloucesterPaul
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Default Re: Hamster Heaven Biting

Thank you for the replies, I've attached a photograph of the set up.

We've only cleaned her out once fully and that was last weekend, apart from that it's just been removing the poop and wee.

I've also been using the weaving cardboard trick and also wedging her chewing sticks into the bars too and she usually pulls them out of the way or sneaks her nose underneath to carry on.

As you can see from the photograph she has many things to keep her entertained and the largest wheel I have is currently in the cage. You've made some good points about what to put in, any more suggestions based on the photo?
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File Type: jpg cage.jpg (27.6 KB, 21 views)
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Old 12-11-2019, 05:06 AM   #5
Serendipity7000
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Default Re: Hamster Heaven Biting

Ok. This might be worth a try. The ladder to the pink shelf looks a bit steep - sometimes they don't feel secure going up and down the ladder. So I'd add a lot more substrate, which they like anyway, and it will also make the angle of the ladder less steep. It looks like a small flying saucer at the front. If it is, I would take that out (it's too small forthem to run in properly) and put a house there. Not sure where she is nesting, but they do get stressed if they haven't got anywhere dark to retreat to and a house big enough to build a really big nest. You could just make one out of a tissue box. A shoe box house is ideal if you can fit it in (maybe a child's shoe box). You cut the base out of the box and sit it on top of the substrate so it's open underneath (they like to bury their hoards under their nest). Cut a hole for a door and keep the lid as a lift off roof. You could even part bury it so only part of the house is sticking up but make sure there is still substrate under it. That way you can check inside if needed by lifting the roof off, without having to take the house out so the nestdoesn't fall apart.

Their nest and their hoard are their two most precious things and they don't like them being messed with. So don't remove them or throw them away if they're dry and not pee'd on. If you do have to remove some of the hoard, if it's pee'd on or been there a long time and getting a bit large, then I tend to "prune" the bottom half if needed - but always put new food back in exactly the same place or they start doing strange things like peeing on the hoard to deter people stealing it. If you have to remove the hoard because it's pee'd on, always replace it wiht new food in the same place.

For nesting, torn up strips of plain white toilet paper are best - and safe to chew. A big pile of these somewhere on the cage floor - but not actually inside the house. They like to take the paper to the nest and build it or refurbish it. Keep topping up this pile as it goes down. They build really really big cosy nests in winter because they feel the cold.

That may distract her out of it if she's got a nice big house to move into and can build a nice big nest in it. Especially if it's dark inside. So if you have a bendy stick bridge, put that over the house entrance. It also attracts them to move in (a tunnel entrance) and makes a ramp onto the roof (somewhere to go).

Not sure how long you've had her but I suspect the big cleanout may have stressed her. It's usually recommended not to clean anything for the first two weeks, while they're settling in and scent marking. Apart from the pee area - just spot cleaning that.

Generally, with enough substrate you can just spot clean the pee mostly and go a good 6 to 8 weeks without changing all the substrate. Don't worry about the poops - they're not dirty or smelly and sometimes they eat them or hoard them (normal) - they have two stomachs and can redigest vitamins etc from their poops. They can also see them as emergency food supplies! So unless they start taking over I wouldn't worry about them too much until you come to change the substrate.

With spot cleaning the pee you can easily go 6 to 8 weeks before changing the substrate and then don't clean everything else at the same time, so something always smells familiar (they scent mark to claim the territory and also to help find their way around the cage as they don't see well, so they don't like things being moved around either - but adding something new is usually accepted well.

So substrate one week, wheel a different week, empty the litter tray/spot clean the pee in between every few days. Even when changing all the substrate it's a good idea to keep about a quarter of the old substrate back - the cleanest bit, and spread it on top of the new replacement substrate. It helps them accept cleanouts better.

So I would suggest. Remove the tubes and penthouse and use the tube blockers and at the same time add the new large house at the front where the purple thing is - with the bendy bridge. Put some cucumber inside it and a couple of treats. She will probably move in overnight and build a nest in there.

It will maybe "shock her out of" the bar chewing and distract her as well and she'll be able to have normal hamstery behaviours that help settle them - like building a big cosy nest, burying hoards under it and having a dark place to retreat to.

So I would take her out of the cage and put her in a safe place while you do all that (pet carrier?). I even used to put the pet carrier in a different room while changing things in a cage, because our hamster used to know (hear/smell) I was messing with his cage and get stressy, but was quite happy in another room and then just being put back in the cage.

After you've made the changes, also scatter some food around - it distracts them foraging for it.

See if that helps. Another thing with the bar chewing is they often stop when they lights are out and no-one is in the room to give attention. So you could try going to bed early and putting the lights out for a few nights and see if that helps settle it as well.
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