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Old 08-20-2018, 04:12 AM   #1
alpacassei
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Default Retirement cage for a very elderly Stephano

My oldest hamster Stephano recently turned 2 (so proud of him!). Heís become very weak and frail though, he canít walk across deeper substrate anymore because its too uneven, heís struggling to drink from a water bottle, and only leaves his bed for a short walk over to his food. He doesnt even use a wheel or flying saucer anymore.

I turned my hospital/transport cage (the spelos XL entry, around 60x25cm ) into a retirement cage. Thereís enough room for his house, tunnel, chews, and water bowl; he actually seems to be more relaxed and happier with his new home!

After I moved him, he had a little explore, then went straight into his house and slept! Heís come out to eat since and he doesnt seem to be so hunched over and nervous as he was in his 80cm cage, which is definitely a good sign!

I left a little area of deeper substrate because he still seems to enjoy burrowing but most of it is quite shallow so he can get around easier
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Old 08-20-2018, 10:37 AM   #2
flowerfairy
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Default Re: Retirement cage for a very elderly Stephano

Aww sounds like he is already appreciating the change.
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Old 08-20-2018, 11:27 AM   #3
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Default Re: Retirement cage for a very elderly Stephano

I think that there are times when a smaller cage is kinder for the hamster and it certainly sounds as if Stephano appreciates the change. I tend to have slightly different set ups with my older hamsters than I would for the youngsters, often removing the wheel if they lose interest in it or I have concerns about their ability to use it safely.
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Old 08-20-2018, 11:40 AM   #4
dreamtree1234
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Default Re: Retirement cage for a very elderly Stephano

I'm glad that Stephano is enjoying his retirement cage. It is probably much easier for him to get around in there than in his previous, larger cage.
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Old 08-20-2018, 02:33 PM   #5
alpacassei
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Default Re: Retirement cage for a very elderly Stephano

He just came out for a snack and a sand bath before going back to bed!

I’ve noticed he’s been leaving his sunflower seeds (used to be his favourite) so I’m not sure if the shells are too hard for him to bite easily now. I’m going to try giving him some that have been shelled and see if he’s more interested in them.
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Old 08-20-2018, 07:16 PM   #6
Thin Lizzy
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Default Re: Retirement cage for a very elderly Stephano

It's never easy when they get older, the retirement cage sounds ideal for Stephano. Try him with some porridge or scrambled egg.
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Old 08-21-2018, 02:30 AM   #7
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Default Re: Retirement cage for a very elderly Stephano

I did something similar with our last hamster Charlie when he became very old and had walking difficulties. He also seemed to appreciate it and even perked up a bit sorting out the house and making a nest.

It's hard when they get so old. You may find some days he makes the effort to get favourite treats and some days it's just too much of an effort. Or he may have toothache as well

I used to put some baby food in a little egg cup pushed down into the substrate a bit as well as the hard food and Charlie loved licking up his baby food. Age four months is usually fine as it tends not to have onion, tomato and spices which aren't good for hamsters. Pumpkin and chicken was Charlie's favourite. I found latterly he didn't like eating porridge or scrambled egg off a teaspoon as it seemed to be an invasion of his space when I put the teaspoon near his nest so just leave things nearby and he'll take them if he wants them. But if a bit of scrambled egg on a teaspoon tempts him out to eat some then I'm sure he'd enjoy it

They seem to carry on with their little routine and habits until they literally don't have the energy - which is nice that they keep being hamstery and taking care of themselves. Also why it's important to keep putting the regular hard hamster mix out so they can pouch and hoard it - they do that even if they're not eating it - it's their routine and activity. I used to put the hard dry hamster mix in the usual bowl and some extra in another smaller bowl (sometimes a baby food lid) that had been soaked in a tiny bit of boiled water so it was softer. If you put the water on when it's boiling it soaks up easier and quicker - and then leave it to cool completely before putting it in the cage obviously! I also used to use another baby food lid and put 2 or 3 broken up science selective biscuits in that - soaked - he loved those.
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Old 08-21-2018, 03:49 PM   #8
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Default Re: Retirement cage for a very elderly Stephano

I’m so happy for you and Stephano that he is enjoing his retirement cage! I’ve actually never heard of deep substrate being a problem, it makes a lot of sense! That’s a really great point!
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Old 08-21-2018, 04:44 PM   #9
alpacassei
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Default

I made him a porridge out of oats and soaked biscuits and pea flakes from my Syrianís Harry Hamster mix with small pieces of finely chopped peanut and sunflower seed. He loved it! He also seems to be managing well with fresh vegetables still.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sasha04 View Post
Iím so happy for you and Stephano that he is enjoing his retirement cage! Iíve actually never heard of deep substrate being a problem, it makes a lot of sense! Thatís a really great point!
I think it doesnt help that Stephyís very small for a Russian hamster, heís barely bigger than my robo and weighs only 40g.
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Last edited by Fluffagrams; 08-22-2018 at 12:02 PM. Reason: Consecitive posts
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Old 08-22-2018, 08:25 AM   #10
Serendipity7000
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Default Re: Retirement cage for a very elderly Stephano

I also had to go with very shallow substrate for Charlie in his old age as he had difficulty walking. Another option could be to use hemp mat instead of substrate for the floor (it's intended for sick animals)and just have a pile of substrate in one corner for "playing with" I get the hemp mats from Zooplus - they're quite cheap and very large - you just cut the size of piece you want from it and have spare to replace the existing piece if and when it gets a bit chavelled.

I think they still need some substrate at least in one area or under the nest, as their instinct is to bury things and dig at it a bit even when frail.

This Hugro one is the only one I've found any good. I did get another brand from Amazon once and it was awful and shed a lot and didn't seem safe. Rodipet do one that is ok as well.

https://www.zooplus.co.uk/shop/small...ll_pets/182988
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