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Old 07-01-2019, 10:32 AM   #1
Merle
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Smile How to enrich the cage of a hamster who hates my guts..?

Hey there everyone..

Over the past year I've come to the conclusion that my hamster hates my guts. He takes no food from my hand (he just stares at me like "I'm never gonna take it anyway so bugger off already"), touching him in any way is completely out of the question and I can't even get im out of his cage for cleaning (my boyfriend is the only person who gets im out of there when cleaning can't be postponed anymore).

So I've come to terms with that and I leave him be. Even if he hates me he should have a good life.

So here are my questions:

1. How'd you enrich a cage of a hamster that doesn't get any out of cage time? (And note here, he just doesn't want to it's not that I don't try)

2. Are there any specific chew toys that your hamsters like? My hamsters never seemed interestet in any chews I provided them with (need to be available in Germany)

3. Any other toys your hamsters enjoy? Maybe a puzzle toy? (I've already got lots of bendy bridges, tunnels, hides, etc. which he never uses when I'm around so I can't even be sure he enjoys those)

I've got about 850 square centimetres of floor space and I always think it's not enough because my hamster is a giant and the rat sized house and the 13 inch wheel already take up a lot of space.

I'd appreciate any suggestions, links, photos, etc.!

Have a nice evenig!
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My beloved hamsters, you'll stay with me forever! <3
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Last edited by Merle; 07-01-2019 at 10:58 AM.
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Old 07-01-2019, 10:53 AM   #2
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Default Re: How to enrich the cage of a hamster who hates my guts..?

Hi, I’m so sorry to say this but I put my hand over my mouth to stop myself from giggling when I read the bold he hates me part. Please forgive me for that...the honesty of your thread is quite refreshing in the sense that by admitting to the situation as it really is you’re the best owner for that hamster despite it hating your guts which probably isn’t true. That little soul is lucky to have you - you’re loving him for who he is. Good on you!

Please send a picture of your cage set up and different parts of the cage visible so that we can all put our heads together and support you on giving advise.

Please, please send a picture of your hamster - what’s his name?

I really think you have a great sense of humor despite bringing in a back up team (your boyfriend) to “evacuate” your hamster for cage cleaning...giggle.

Can you also send some background on your hamster...maybe something will come up that more knowledgeable hamster owners can help you with. Maybe something happened in the past that you overlooked and can be remedied.
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Old 07-01-2019, 11:20 AM   #3
Merle
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Default Re: How to enrich the cage of a hamster who hates my guts..?

Don't apologize for laughing it's the only thing I can do myself at this point.
I just want to make sure he has a happy life even if I'm not part of it if he can help it.

So, here are some pictures of the cage I'm working with (I really don't like it anymore because the diagonal side pieces really take away alot of space. But whatever it's what I've got)

The first picture shows the now grumpy senior hamster of 1,5 years named Whiskey (He was around 3 months when the picture was taken though). He's a cutiepie but oh well. You know my situation.
As mentioned before he had no interest in interacting with me right from the beginning. He somtimes took food from my hand though he didn't look happy to do it he just couldn't resist the treats. I'm guessing it has something to do with me being a woman because he seems to be more inclined to interact with men (Maybe some past trauma, I can't be sure). So I've tried over a year now to get his grumpy ass to like me but I guess that ship has sailed. I'm not even mad at him, how could you with that face. Some Hammys just don't like humans all that much.

DISCLAIMER:
1. The pictures with the big levels are old, I just posted them so everyone can see what kind of cage I've got. They've long been removed to have more continues floor space. (It's a set up of my late Hammy Sir Henry)
2. the only picture of a set up I've got is not a finished one. It only shows the basic items but is missing the big house, a few toys and chews I added in later. (I really can't and won't show you the current setup because Whiskey is a nasty one and my boyfriend's not here until tomorrow to clean up his mess)

I hope the pictures do show enough so you can get a feel for the dimensions and whatnot.

Attached Images
File Type: jpg Screenshot_20190701_200226_com.huawei.himovie.overseas.jpg (589.9 KB, 32 views)
File Type: jpg IMG_20170813_193633.jpg (4.16 MB, 38 views)
File Type: jpg IMG_20170813_193531.jpg (4.29 MB, 32 views)
File Type: jpg IMG_20180621_095540.jpg (2.66 MB, 28 views)
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Old 07-02-2019, 12:34 AM   #4
Ria P
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Default Re: How to enrich the cage of a hamster who hates my guts..?

I also found your honesty very amusing and want to thank you for it. I have a grumpy and very moody male Syrian called Henry who prefers his own company and likes to do his own thing in his cage.
I've had him since March and took him out of his cage a few times a week for taming, time in his playpen etc but he never used to ask to come out and often would try and kick me when i lifted him out. Once out he either sat and sulked so i put him back or he walked about sniffing on the floor or up and down my legs. I then hamster proofed the spare room and let him free roam and the more often he had the chance to explore the longer he wanted to stay out.
Last night he displayed some very unusual behaviour because he almost acted like a normal hamster. It all came about with Schwartzie (thanks Schwartzie!) asking for a photo of Henry eating a pea from the pod. He run around amongst kitchen utensils exploring so i could take a photo and seemed to really enjoy the kitchen counter, when i put him back he actually and for the first time ever came to the open cage door trying to get out! Unheard of and totally out of character. I then took him out and let him roam in the spare room for a bit. I'm still stunned.

My advice to you would be to get your hamster out and to let him run around somewhere safe. Wear gardening gloves if needed in case he decides to bite. If he still doesn't like being out after trying a few times then at least you definitely know that he wants to stay in his cage only. I found that taking Henry out too often or daily put him off but i can gage his mood by his reaction. He now gets really excited when i walk to the spare room with him and Henry never used to do 'excited'. I'm sure that Whiskey doesn't hate the person who feeds him but like Henry tolerates us humans.
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Old 07-02-2019, 01:18 AM   #5
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Default Re: How to enrich the cage of a hamster who hates my guts..?

Hey!

Since I live in Germany, I think it would be easy for me to help you a bit & recommend some toys I also have the same situation as you - I have a hamster who is absolutely terrified of humans, so I therefore can't give him any time in the playpen. I'd recommend having a cage as big as possible (from own experience, I find that the cage needs to be at least 1 square meter to keep a hamster happy without a playpen (mine is only 9600 square meters, but im building a new cage soon). Of course, this isn't a must though, it's just something I've noticed while owning hamsters

So to start, I would recommend adding a lot more bedding if you can, in germany the minimum amount of bedding for a syrian is 25cm! This will also give him something to do I'd also add more things like flax, dari cobs, millet, etc, (these can easily be bought in a fressnapf or megazoo or somethings, (check the birds section)). This gives your hamster something to do, and encourages natural behaviour.

As for chew toys, they aren't really common to use here. Instead, we use only wooden houses, tunnels, etc, so a hamster can chew those. But if you really want to, you can use apple tree twigs, that you can find in most pet stores.

Pleaseee don't use any plastic toys, but instead cork logs, grape vine pieces, etc (not to meantion that plastic in hamster cages is not seen as good hamster care here (aside from the wheel))


(Ps. Do you speak german by any chance?)

Have a lovely day everyone!
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Old 07-02-2019, 03:17 AM   #6
Serendipity7000
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Default Re: How to enrich the cage of a hamster who hates my guts..?

I would also say he doesn't hate you But is independent and a bit lazy! Our last Syrian, Charlie was like this. He would never, ever, voluntarily come out of his cage - and he would never ever take food from your hand -but he was as tame as anything and once out would go to sleep on the sofa under a blanket (or go to sleep on my knee) and he loved being stroked behind his ears.

Now it took 2 months of bathtub taming from being a young, feral, petshop hamster before we could even pick him up. My feeling is - he had just never been acclimatised to human beings, didn't trust or like peoples hands in his cage (in the petshop they cleaned the cages out every single day).

He was also a bit grumpy and would give you black looks if he didn't like something, and turn his back and show you his bum if he was really not pleased!

But he really was absolutely adorable and funny. Interestingly he didn't like men very much.

He has a lovely big cage and I am sure he likes his lovely big house. Our last Syrian, Charlie, once he had a nice big house, was even less inclined to come out.

Their personalities are all different, and yes past experiences can shape them to a degree.

However, I would say one thing all hamsters have in common (and some more than others) is they absolutely detest anyone messing with their cage, changing anything, removing anything or cleaning the cage.

I am not sure what your cleaning routine is but I would suggest changing it - assuming you change all the substrate when you clean out.

I am also aware you don't have a current photo of the cage - so just going by the ones above. It is a lovely tall cage, without fall risks due to solid sides - and you could easily have 6 to 8" depth of substrate in it. I would go for 6 to 7" depth and see how he reacts to it. That would be easy enough to do - just add it to what is currently in there,and mix it in with the old a bit.

Would he actually bite if your hand was in his cage? Or run at your hand? If not then, yes he may be bothered by your hand adding extra substrate, but more likely to follow your hand around anxiously checking what you are doing. If it's not possible to do it while he's in the cage, then have him out of the cage to do it.

First thign I will say about getting him out of the cage is - some hamsters just will not accept being picked up while they are in their cage. And are very territorial about their cage (most are territorial about their cage to a degree).

Referring back to our last Syrian, Charlie, the only way to get him out of the cage was via a tube. I would put the tube over the entrance to his house, with a tasty, smelly treat at the far end (away from the house entrance) and he would walk into the tube to get the treat. Then put your hands over the ends of the tube and lift it out (and put it down into something safe and secure next to the cage - eg a large cardboard box he can't escape from and you can transport him elsewhere, where you can let him out, in that).

An alternative, if you have a hamster ball is - after lifting the tube out of the cage, put one end in the hamster ball, keeping the other end covered (wear gloves the whole time if you feel nervous he may bite) and he will walk into the hamster ball. Then pop the lid on and you can then carry him, carefully, in the ball, to the place you can let him out, where he can't escape from (eg bathtub or playpen area).

Now Charlie soon sussed it was a trick! And would try and grab the treat and retreat quickly, backwards, back into the house before I could move the tube to get my hand over both ends! So then I'd have to give up that night. But mostly I managed to achieve this - providing the tube is long enough! Mine was about 10" long, 10cm diameter rat tube.

I didn't feel guilty about tricking him, because once actually out of the cage he was quite happy! And he could never resist the treat (usually cheese or cucumber).

This is the only way I could ever get him out of the cage, without a lot of stress for both! Because he wouldn't come out of his house, and messing with his house just made him even more upset and stressed. He LOVED his house!

I think your hammy is a) lazy b) a home bod c) loves his big cage and house and can't be bothered to play with humans lol.

He/they get even worse, after a cage clean - they then want to stay in the cage and guard it permanently because some invader has messed with it! Which is why I started doing spot cleaning and adding substrate while he was in the cage so he could see what I was doing.

The other thing he was completely OCD about was - anything moving in the cage - everything had to be exactly in the same place - if I moved something even 1cm he would give black looks and I'd get the bum treatment and he'd be stressed and hide away for a long time.

So when people say - change things about for variety - for many hamsters that it is the worst thing you can do. They need familiarity.

You will probably never be able to pick him up when he's in his cage. But if you get him out regularly - maybe every 2 or 3 days - into a playpen area with a few toys - eg tunnels, a wheel, a couple of hidey places, and occasionally stroke him on the back when he's in there (use one finger and only do it once or twice each time he's out), he will get used to you and get into better habits.

So cleaning - with 6 to 7" of substrate (and it will take a lot of substrate but it will last ages) you won't need to do a full substrate change more than about every 2 to 3 months - and even then it is best to replace some of the old substrate (keep some old clean and spread it out on top of the new). You can just "spot clean" and use a litter tray.

With a litter tray (and if he doesn't use that I will eat my hat!) you can jsut empty it out every few days and the rest of the cage should stay clean and dry for a very long time. Don't worry about poops unless they really start taking over in a big way - then you can spot clean a bit (ie take out the odd handful and replace it with a new handful of substrate and mix it in a bit).

Don't clean everything at the same time - which is our human instinct - it is much better to clean wheel a different time, toys a different time again - and basically leave the house and nest alone until substrate change time - and even then I leave them alone, other than to prune the bottom part of an overly large hoard (but always add some new food to the top of the hoard if you remove any). Don't remove his nest unless it is pee'd in and even then try and leave a little bit of old nest behind and add new nesting material elsewhere in the cage.

A picky hamster will hate you messing with his house, more than anything. Torn up strips of plain white toilet paper are best for nesting - a big pile left somewhere in the cage,maybe near the house. They take pieces to refurbish their nest, and make it cosy. Charlie actually used to carefully weave the strips into a lovely big ball! It looked like a beehive with an entrance hole. So lazy, antisocial hamsters, may have extra skills pertaining to their personality disorder lol! A bit like dyslexic humans have extra spacial awareness and often to make good architects and photographers.

I got to the point where I never cleaned Charlie's nest inside his house. And he would chuck bits of it/a pile of it out of the house door when he felt it needed refurbishing and would drag new paper in and rebuild it. So if not pee'd in, just leave it. Of course if the hoard is pee'd on it needs removing, but again try and leave some old hoard behind and add some new food.

The one thing that creates distrust is if you mess with their nest and hoard. And can lead to them constantly peeing on the hoard to deter invaders from stealing it - which becomes a catch 22.

So if you don't have a litter tray with Chinchilla sand in, would recommend adding that. You put it in his chosen pee place - often a corner of the cage, although if it is a large house they often move their pee corner inside the house - so put the litter tray in there. Our hamsters have always liked having an ensuite toilet in their house! If the house isn't big enough for the litter tray - get a bigger house and put the litter tray inside.

So to add enrichment:

More substrate - he may start building mountains with it and messing about with it more.
Add some large tunnels - like a cork log - they make big dark tunnels and also an interesting texture to climb over - it could lead from the floor of the cage to the roof of his house (propped at an angle) if the house has a flat roof.
This gives more overhead cover as well - more tunnels and hidey places.

A platform on legs at one end means he has something to sit under and climb onto and it's a place to put additional toys and a food bowl.

With Charlie I used to put different treats in different parts of the cage to make him get out and do things more and get some exercise!

So food bowl on shelf, but his bit of daily veg would be elsewhere in a plastic hide, so he knew where to go and find it each day, plus an extra daily treat somewhere else in the cage - same place each day. Either half a walnut or brazil nut or pecan nut, or a tiny piece of cheese, or a blueberry. Varied it each time.

Also scattering a little bit of his food each day - not too much in case he doesn't take it all - so put the food in the bowl as usual but scatter a pinch or two of it.

This will get him more interested in his cage at feeding time.

If you can rig up a playpen area for out of cage time, or a safe fenced off area of a room, with the odd toy in, you'll probably find he's a different hamster!

Time of day makes a big difference sometimes. With Charlie - between 7pm and 8pm he was dozey, lazy and would happily sit on my arm for a stroke or just curl up and go to sleep. From 8pm onwards he was highly active and running all over the place.

Some hamsters just won't sit to be held or stroked for more than a minute or two but that doesn't mean they don't like you.
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Old 07-02-2019, 03:18 AM   #7
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Default Re: How to enrich the cage of a hamster who hates my guts..?

So basically - it could be cleanouts that are making him a bit anti. And yes out of cage time regularly can make a big difference - he can enjoy new and different things. Try the tube method!
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Old 07-02-2019, 04:03 AM   #8
hamster thorn
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Default Re: How to enrich the cage of a hamster who hates my guts..?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Serendipity7000 View Post

An alternative, if you have a hamster ball is - after lifting the tube out of the cage, put one end in the hamster ball, keeping the other end covered (wear gloves the whole time if you feel nervous he may bite) and he will walk into the hamster ball. Then pop the lid on and you can then carry him, carefully, in the ball, to the place you can let him out, where he can't escape from (eg bathtub or playpen area).
Just please never use a hamster ball. In my opinion they are cruel and dangerous! I personally love to use a massive jar, as then you wouldn't need to move the hammy from one container to another

Last edited by souffle; 07-03-2019 at 02:04 AM.
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Old 07-02-2019, 07:59 AM   #9
Merle
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Default Re: How to enrich the cage of a hamster who hates my guts..?

Thanks alot for your input Sendipity and Ria!

I don't think that the cage cleaning is causing his attitude towards me. I never change out all of the substrate at once during the lifespans of my hamsters. I mostly replace 1/3 at a time and leave 2/3 of the old substrate in the cage.
Maybe it's cleaning out the nest and hoard that's causing the issue because I have to take everything out since he seems to be sleeping in poo, mixed with pee and food. I always try to save as much bedding as possible but when it comes to his house he truly is a nastly little thing.

The thought that comes to my mind then is. Why is he only desinterested in me and not my boyfriend? We both clean his cage and try to get him out everytime so he should be mad at the both of us. He even takes food from my mom, so the women-excuse only works that far...

As for having more substrate in the cage. I currently have almost double the amount of substrate in the cage as is shown in the photos and a while ago even more than that. The only thing Whiskey does is walk over it to harden it up and form his pathways. No digging. So there's that!

Next week we'll go to Ikea and I'll look around for one of those dishracks to put in as a small level for him to hide under.

And if IF I get him out of his cage, I'll try the bathtub method again, because sadly we don't have a room where he can roam freely since it's an old building and we once already had a hamster sitting in a hole behind a radiator. So, no more of that please!

Serendipity, I can totally relate to your hamster tricking you. Guess what happened last night? I have a hamster house with sloped edges that works as a "bowl" where the hamster can walk in one side, I close of the pathways and he clims out into his travelbox on the other side. So it works like your tube method. This time though, he tricked me. Took his treat and in less then a second he jumped out again an vanished into his house before I could blink.

I'll try everything I can to make sure though that he's happy!
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Currently the mom of a grumpy grandpa long haired syrian named Whiskey! :3
My beloved hamsters, you'll stay with me forever! <3
~ Poppy, Lulu, Pebbels, Fienchen, Toni, Sherlock, Trudi, Murmel, Sir Henry ~

Last edited by Merle; 07-02-2019 at 08:43 AM.
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Old 07-02-2019, 08:14 AM   #10
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Default Re: How to enrich the cage of a hamster who hates my guts..?

I would definitely avoid any dishrag or any kind of fabric, there are big risks of that sort of thing getting chewed and ingested which could cause intestinal blockages or some sort of injury.
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