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Old 05-17-2017, 01:42 PM   #1
gimgim
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Default Recycling food hidden under the bedding

Hi, my first post here!

I have had a robo hamster (Hammy) in a 2-level cage for about 6 weeks now. The bottom is covered by a thick layer of aspen shavings that I change every two/three weeks. Food bowl is on the upper level.
While cleaning up today, I found that Hammy stored a huge quantity of seeds under the bedding. I think it's about 1cm thick in the locations I have checked.
Until now, I though she was eating 3+ bowls of food a day

I want to clean up the cage and replace the shavings, but unsure what I should do with the seeds. Should I:
a) Separate old shavings from seeds and keep the configuration by placing the layer of seeds under a layer of fresh shavings
b) Remove all food and re-use it by feeding it to her from the bowl
c) Thow away everything as contaminated with urine (I think I can separate the feces)

Thanks!
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Old 05-18-2017, 08:51 AM   #2
JLPrairie
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Default Re: Recycling food hidden under the bedding

Both c and a. The layer of food you found is called a hoard, a for new hamsters for their hoard to be removed is very stressful. It's similar to coming home and finding that your fridge and freezer are both completely bare.
Remove the soiled food and most of the feces (keep in mode that hamsters do eat their feces) and put the food back.
How often are you feeding Hammy? Feeding whenever the bowl is empty is a poor way of feeding. 5-10 grams of a good nutritious mix (ca you tell us what mix you are using?) and a little sliver of fresh fruit/veg every day should be okay. Supplement daily with some source of safe animal protein (when in doubt, ask!) and fiber every two days. (Note:these are my personal ideas.)
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Old 05-18-2017, 09:02 AM   #3
cypher
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Default Re: Recycling food hidden under the bedding

I wouldn't clean out all your substrate so often, you only really need to so spot cleans, any areas where you ham pees (don't worry too much about poo, they eat some & the rest is dry) then just clean parts of the cage, maybe half or less at any one time & always keep some of the old substrate & nest material as well as either leaving some of the hoard or replacing it with some fresh mix.
All hams do hoard but if your ham is hoarding a lot you can cut back on the amount you feed, don't cut back too much but try not to over feed, it could be that over cleaning the cage is making your ham feel a little insecure & more inclined to hoard more than usual.
Does your ham have a sand bath (with chinchilla sand)? Most Robos will either pee in the sand bath or in the wheel which usually means you don't have much wet substrate to worry about & can clean less.
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Old 05-18-2017, 09:20 AM   #4
FelicityAnn
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Default Re: Recycling food hidden under the bedding

I was reading in the German forum yesterday that if the substrate is deep enough (and they mean D..E..E..P) then they never clean it all out. They only ever spot-clean, and if your hammie uses a toilet corner, that's all that needs cleaning.

The faeces should be left in, as hamsters re-eat them to extract maximum nutrition, and as they are dry, they never smell.


Reaaly good advice here - worth using Google Translate if you don't speak German: Portal - www.das-hamsterforum.de
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Old 05-18-2017, 06:27 PM   #5
AprilPearl
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Default Re: Recycling food hidden under the bedding

I think everything has already been said. I actually just wanted to say something about the faeces eating.

Hamsters don’t eat the ordinary poop pellets that you find in their cage. They produce two kinds of poop: the ‘wet’ one (which has some complicated name beginning with a c that I cannot remember), which they eat directly from their bottom and still contains some unused nutrients (thus the re eating) and the dry pelleted kind. Food is digested, comes out as the former wet kind and then re eaten before finally coming out as dry pelleted poo which is not re eaten. We never see these wetter poops because they are eaten immediately. So, removing any poops you find in the cage is not a problem, as they will be the kind that has already “gone around” once and thus no longer contains any usable nutrients so would not be re eaten by the hamster.

Could not find a good sciencey article on it, though the Hamstetlopaedia explains it really well if you own the book. This website explains it quite well in layman’s terms, though:

Why Do Hamsters Eat Their Own Poop? - Dwarf Hamster Blog

This is the key point:

“Hamsters do not eat all of their poop though, only the ones that can get additional nutrition from. The other type — the ones that you see all the time in your hamster’s cage — is passed out and not eaten.”

So, you are good to take out the faeces you find in your hamster’s cage with a bit of spot cleaning.

Last edited by AprilPearl; 05-18-2017 at 06:37 PM.
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Old 05-18-2017, 06:39 PM   #6
Drago
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Default Re: Recycling food hidden under the bedding

Quote:
Originally Posted by AprilPearl View Post
I think everything has already been said. I actually just wanted to say something about the faeces eating. It was my belief that hamsters don’t eat the ordinary poop pellets that you find in their cage. They produce two kinds of poop: the ‘wet’ one (which has some complicated name beginning with a c that I cannot remember), which they eat directly from their bottom and still contains some unused nutrients (thus the re eating) and the dry pelleted kind. Food is digested, comes out as the former wet kind and then re eaten before finally coming out as dry pelleted poo which is not re eaten. We never see these wetter poops because they are eaten immediately. So, removing any poops you find in the cage is not a problem, as they will be the kind that has already “gone around” once and thus no longer contains any usable nutrients so would not be re eaten by the hamster.
The word you are looking for is "caecotroph". This behavior is common in almost all species of rodents as well as in other critters such as rabbits. Caecotrophs are different than the typical pellets you'll see lying around the cage. These are generally passed at night when us humans can't see so you may go your hamster's entire lifetime without noticing this behavior! However, hamsters do occasionally eat feces lying about in their cage. After reading some studies and articles on coprophagy in hamsters, the results found were inconclusive. All we know is that the feces aren't hurting them, but could potentially be helping so it's best they're left in. If you're a neat freak though, removing some bits of feces once a month or so won't hurt a thing
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Old 05-22-2017, 10:30 PM   #7
gimgim
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Default Re: Recycling food hidden under the bedding

Thank you so much for all your replies. I had trouble logging in and I ended up cleaning up the cage and dumping the hoard

Hammy has been less active after that. Aside from the hoard, I think the problem is that I have used less bedding. I am going to add more now, and place some seeds under it.

She has a sand bath (that I filter periodically) and I have noticed she pees on the wheel and on the top plastic floor (very easy for me to wash clean every week or so). For the mix, I have used Vita Garden and I also bought Vita Seeds (mostly millet) as I thought she liked it a lot (before realizing there was a lot in her hoard). She does not eat the flakes (veggies?) and the cylindrical pellets.

I will keep you posted abot the new developments and thanks again!
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Old 05-22-2017, 11:35 PM   #8
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Default Re: Recycling food hidden under the bedding

Vita Garden is Higgins,correct?If so that mix on its own is way too low in protein to be suitable.You'd need to change mixes sadly,with the best option being Burgess dwarf hamster food rather than any other foods(any other would be either poor quality or have pieces too large for robos).
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Old 05-23-2017, 08:38 AM   #9
gimgim
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Default Re: Recycling food hidden under the bedding

Thanks, I will do that. I didn't mention though that I hand feed Hammy one or two meal worms a day. She loves them.
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Old 05-23-2017, 08:41 AM   #10
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Default Re: Recycling food hidden under the bedding

Even with mealworms it's at a level that would be too risky to play with.If it were for example Carefresh and Higgins Sunburst you'd get around 15.5 or 15.6% protein which is less risky to just add protein to(which you should do regardless of the food if it does not contain animal protein to make a truly appropriate natural hamster diet!).The ratio for that is two thirds Carefresh to one third Higgins,exact amounts vary depending on the individual hamster's weight and feeding frequency.
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