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Old 03-28-2020, 07:36 PM   #1
Mckenna
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Default New hamster owner in need of some advice

I have wanted a Hamster for a very long time, and have done a lot of research. I feel like I am prepared to get one now, but as Iím preparing I want to check a few things. I will be getting a dwarf hamster, and making my own cage. I will be making it out of a tall dresser that I have, and the dimensions are 17 1/2 inches deep, and 33 inches wide. Thatís a total of 577 inches of uninterrupted floor space. It will have two separate levels with some way to get down. Each level being 577 Square inches. I know this is technically above the minimum, but I was hoping to get some advice on if this is big enough for my hamster to be happy. One level will have about 10 inches thick of bedding so it has plenty of room to burrow. I also plan on including lots of different textures and enrichment on both levels. Do you think this is enough? Also using soil For a Hamsters controversial, what do you think if I put it in a small area for digging? Is that ok or should I avoid it altogether.
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Old 03-29-2020, 03:34 AM   #2
AmityvilleHams
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Default Re: New hamster owner in need of some advice

It really depends on the species you end up getting as far as cage size is concerned, but making cages out if wood furniture is a bit risky as hamsters do often chew their enclosures which is obviously not safe with treated woods and such.

Soil isn't a good idea. It can harbor parasites, mold, pesticides, and much more, but if you want something similar you can look for a high quality coconut husk product.

Regarding levels in general, they're pretty dangerous for hamsters. Hamsters definitely aren't meant for climbing - it's unnatural for them and they have very poor vision! You'd be a lot better off with a cage that has one continuous floor space that is larger, typically those with dwarf experience have agreed that hybrids do better in something around 80 cm x 50 cm or ideally 100 cm x 50 cm - both sizes being a good amount larger than your planned DIY cage! For robos and Chinese hamsters, while a lot of others will say around 70 cm x 40 cm a properly laid out 80 cm x 50 cm to 100 cm x 50 cm or even larger cage can work very well.

If you've seen a quoted "450 square inch" minimum in the US, that minimum is very inaccurate and honestly shouldn't exist in the first place. It was the most people would budge to on a particular forum no matter how much evidence there was of hamsters doing far better in 600+ square inch cages(dwarf hamsters, not so much Syrians who often will end up needing double that or more even though that is even an unpopular opinion here - any species can do great in 1000+ square inches though as long as the cage is properly laid out which a lot of people fail to do). The size was just barely larger than the previous equally unscientific and highly inaccurate 360 square inch "minimum", but it was still chosen for human convenience over animal welfare.
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Old 03-29-2020, 08:38 AM   #3
Mckenna
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Default Re: New hamster owner in need of some advice

Thank you so much for responding! The dresser is made out of Pine which I heard is OK in itís solid form. I know shelves can be a fall risk, but it would only have one small opening with some sort of a ramp down to the main level. Does that make sense? So each level would be solid no way to jump down the only way down would be through the whole down a ramp. Would that be OK? As for the size it would really help me to use the dresser I have, knowing that the materials will also be relatively expensive for me. Iím planning on getting a winter white or a campbells dwarf. I know size is only counting continuous floor space, and so I canít add the square inches of the levels together. So should I really try to find a bigger cage or do you think the amount of enrichment could make up for the cage being a little under the ideal 600 inches ? Thank you so much!
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Old 03-29-2020, 09:09 AM   #4
AmityvilleHams
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Default Re: New hamster owner in need of some advice

I would just get a bigger cage. It'll cost more in the short term, but in the long term it is a much better investment.

Even being made out of pine we don't want hamsters chewing their cages. It is a very big escape risk, and even if you don't have dogs or cats for example or any other predatory pets there are endless risks that can come to an escaped hamster. There's also not likely much of any guarantee that there are no glues, screws, harmful treatments, etc!

Exact cage options will depend on the country you live in. Decent sized cages do cost more in the US but as mentioned it is a very good investment to just get an 80 cm x 50 cm or so cage now rather than using an inappropriate setup. Species appropriate enrichment in a single level cage is much better and safer.
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Old 03-29-2020, 09:30 AM   #5
Mckenna
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Default Re: New hamster owner in need of some advice

Ok thank you so much ! I will see if I can get something else. Thank you for your help!
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Old 04-24-2020, 01:41 AM   #6
HamsterHaven2020
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Default Re: New hamster owner in need of some advice

I don’t agree with your statement that it’s the species of hamster that depends on the size (personally but yeh) I think that 600+ Sq inches is enough for any of the 5 domesticated hamster species. I would also say adding different textures (like soil -erinsanimals is a YouTube’s who talks about this topic as well as Tori Raechel) is perfectly fine as long as you treat it that way. Sorry if this come off as angry that’s just my personal opinion
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Old 04-24-2020, 11:15 AM   #7
AmityvilleHams
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Default Re: New hamster owner in need of some advice

Quote:
Originally Posted by HamsterHaven2020 View Post
I don’t agree with your statement that it’s the species of hamster that depends on the size (personally but yeh) I think that 600+ Sq inches is enough for any of the 5 domesticated hamster species. I would also say adding different textures (like soil -erinsanimals is a YouTube’s who talks about this topic as well as Tori Raechel) is perfectly fine as long as you treat it that way. Sorry if this come off as angry that’s just my personal opinion
Species can and frequently does make a significant difference in cage size. By no means am I saying that dwarf species need tiny cages, more that they can thrive in cages which Syrians tend to do just alright in(I'd still love square meter or larger cages for all species though if properly laid out).

Soil is not safe at all and should not be used, and erinsanimals often gives unsafe DIY projects and such. I would take every bit of information they give with serious caution and not assume that everything they do is fine!
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Old 04-24-2020, 11:28 AM   #8
HamsterHaven2020
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Default Re: New hamster owner in need of some advice

As long as the soil is mineral free, it is perfectly fine. I personally think Erinís animals is safe as I have done many if not most of her diys and none of my hamsters experienced problems but itís your opinion. As long as you stick to organic potting soil. It is fine and Erin (and other you tubers) have made videos on the topic.
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Old 04-24-2020, 12:32 PM   #9
AmityvilleHams
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Default Re: New hamster owner in need of some advice

That's not true at all. Any and all soil, mineral free or otherwise(including organic which can contain actual fecal matter among an endless list of issues with ALL soil) is NOT safe period.

Just because a youtuber makes a video on a topic and says something is safe does not mean that something is actually safe. Here on the forum we've had to actually explain to so many people why you should never use soil in hamster cages because of all the extremely serious and very real dangers it presents. It's not just my opinion.

Coconut fiber can, however, be a very safe alternative to soil which doesn't present all the risks of actual soil. It does still have one relatively minor issue of possibly holding onto unwanted moisture, but with a small amount of coconut fiber this risk is much lower(along with cages that have excellent ventilation). There is nothing in the way of additives with a high quality pure coconut fiber - no fecal matter, no fertilizers(organic or synthetic), nothing at all but 100% safe coconut fiber!

I'd like to point out that just because you and others haven't experienced issues with something does not make something automatically safe. There are many dangers for hamsters and other pets even when popular people say something is safe. Anyone can make videos without them necessarily being completely true.
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Old 04-24-2020, 06:12 PM   #10
Mckenna
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Default Re: New hamster owner in need of some advice

I respect both of your opinions! I do have a lot of trust erin‘s animals and believe that she gives good advice, but there’s always a certain amount of risk when trying new things. Just to be on the safe side I’ve decided to buy some coconut fiber because on Amazon it’s very cheap and then I don’t have to worry about it. Something unexpected came up and I don’t have my detolf yet but I’m getting a hamster in the next few days so I got a bin with a little over 600 in.≤ until my detolf comes after this corona craziness is done. But thank you all for responding!
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