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Old 02-14-2020, 12:38 AM   #1
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Location: TX
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Default Discourage chewing on cage?

My Syrian Blondie has settled in well since I got her in November and I have very few problems with her anymore. My family helped me make a custom lid for her Detolf which consists of a plywood frame and a wood and mesh door that's soon to be attached with hinges (in the meantime I just have something sitting on the door to weigh it down).

Blondie tends to want to escape, which I know is pretty typical, and I try to give her some playpen time so she tires herself out. She's got a nice big wheel and plenty to chew on. And yet she insists on climbing up the walls to chew on the frame of her lid. I'm just worried she might damage it badly enough that we have to repair it, which would be a pretty big pain in the neck.

Is there any way I can discourage her from chewing on the sides and top of the cage? The first thing that comes to mind is the type of thing you'd do for a puppy (bitter apple spray, hot sauce, etc.) but I have no idea if that's safe for hamsters and I definitely wouldn't try it without confirmation. How do y'all get your hammies to stop chewing on wood they shouldn't chew?
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Old 02-14-2020, 11:32 AM   #2
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I completely understand it is worrying. What are the measurements of her cage? To be honest, it may just be a case of her wanting to chew on that specific wood which is a bit of a problem haha. I wouldn't recommend putting something on the wood to stop her chewing it because this could be harmful but maybe make some DIY toys and place them in her cage. There are so many tutorials on YouTube if you just type in 'hamster treat toy'. This is so she can try and solve how to get the treat out of the toy and then have a reward at the end which would stimulate their mind and also give her something fun to do! It'll keep her busy for a little while. Another thing you could possibly do is put peanut butter on her wooden chews that are already in her cage which will make her want to chew those instead so she can have the peanut butter. Obviously give it to her in moderation because it's quite fatty though

I hope this helped and best of luck!
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Old 02-14-2020, 12:36 PM   #3
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Default Re: Discourage chewing on cage?

I would not use a bitter spray or hot sauce.. I'm guessing hot and spicy things are in the hot sauce - a most definite NO NO for a hamster. Can you put cardboard over the wood somehow? so she can chew on that instead? Is that a possibility?

Like Megoneill says what other things are in her cage, can you build on that to try and distract her. If like Megonelli suggests, you do use peanut butter, make sure it is 100% peanut butter, and you scrape most of it off. It's just so a slight smell/taste is left behind.
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Old 03-02-2020, 01:39 PM   #4
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Default Re: Discourage chewing on cage?

Thank you for your replies! I've been busy and haven't had a chance to respond.

I appreciate the ideas, I'll definitely sit down and try to make her some things to chew that will keep her from trying to break out--she's actually doing that as I type this post.

Since I made this post she's been sleeping a lot more, her schedule has changed where she gets up at the most random hours and goes on her wheel for maybe 1-2 hours before going back to sleep. Yesterday she was up at 2 PM without prompting, got some exercise and went back to bed to munch on some seeds. The next time I saw her was 3 AM and she was awake when I went to sleep maybe an hour later.

Sleeping a lot could be a sign of understimulation too, right? I try to give her playtime but she gets antsy 30 minutes in and tries to break out of her playpen. She's a crazy one.
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Old 03-04-2020, 12:55 AM   #5
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Join Date: Feb 2020
Location: Ireland
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Default Re: Discourage chewing on cage?

We got a male Syrian hamster one week ago, he is now nearly 8 weeks old. He seemed very happy when we first got him but he is now bar chewing and monkey barring occasionally as well as he looks like he is just trying to get out. (trying to climb on top of his wheel and up on the sides) He also has normal behaviour like using his wheel, exploring, foraging for his food, burrowing etc. He doesn't seem to be too interested in toys though. He is in an Ikea Detolf so well above the bare minimum when it comes to space. He has lots of hideouts and an area with deep bedding for burrowing too. Please see below link for photos. (photos of different hideouts taken with toy to show more clearly, some photos of original set up with oven dried compost which we changed after 2 days due to mold growth from condensation from his breath)

Current hideouts:

- Glass jar in sand bath
- Clay tunnel hideout with three chambers
- Terracotta pot
- Corner of high bedding covered in moss
- Hidden area under stairladder
- Coconut
- Seagrass nest
- Wicker ball nest
- Pvc pipe
- Cork tunnel leading to his nest in burrowing area
- Long glass jar with toilet tissue

Current toys:
- Wheel (30cm)
- Wooden ball with bell
- Wooden sea saw
- Wooden chew ring
- Chew stick
- Bridge from driftwood
- Ramp from branches

He has a water dish, gets food sprinkled through his cage when his stash is gone and he gets some fresh fruit/veg and/or mealworms daily too.

I've spot cleaned once where he's peed but besides his sandbath jar he also pees in his burrowing area (a different spot every day) so I don't want to clean it too often as it ruins his burrow.

Any advice appreciated! Thank you
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Old 03-05-2020, 07:55 AM   #6
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Location: North of England
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Default Re: Discourage chewing on cage?

No don't use anything on the wood to deter her. It isn't just that it's harmful but it's a fairly negative thing as well in terms of trying to bond with the hamsters. Also don't blow on her as some people do as that also creates a lack of trust. I also wouldn't use peanut butter - it's sticky and not good if stuck in their pouches. I think that is generally considered not a good idea.

She is trying to chew her way out, as hamsters do. Do you have a photo of her set up in the detolf as it's a large cage and sometimes it can be a bit open/bare for them. She may be less inclined to want to escape if it's how she likes it.

As well as her wheel maybe try having different areas of substrate depth - eg one end deeper than the rest or a higher level in the middle and lower levels either sde with her house at one end on a lower level and her wheel at the other end on a lower level. 20cm wide bendy bridges on their side can be used to "fence off" different substrate depths.

Large tunnels like cork logs also break up the space and can lead from one level to another. They also like quite a large house/nesting box that's dark inside - a shoebox with a hole cut for a door. Ideally cut the base out of the box and sit it on top of substrate so she can dig down under it to bury hoards. Then you can use the lid as a lift off roof to check inside. You can also fit a corner litter tray inside a large house (near the door end is best) and then they tend to use it. So you just take the houseroof off, empty the litter tray every few days and the cage stays mostly clean and dry. This benefits the hamster as less stress with cleanouts and means you can afford to put a lot more substrate in. Basically the more substrate - the less often you need to clean out and can just "spot clean" the odd handful occasionally if needed,and empty the litter tray.

The vitakraft chew sticks are usually popular but get demolished pretty quickly! If she's a chewer then also add lots of cardboard - for hides and tubes so she can chew on that - eg an tissue box or egg box. You can also make treat parcels out of toilet roll inners so they have to chew the toilet roll holder apart to get at the treats.

Quite a few things you can do with toilet rolls - this video from Erin's hamsters shows 10!
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