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Old 07-05-2019, 02:26 AM   #1
Schwartzie
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Default Playpen and space

I was going through the forum and stumbled upon playpens. I’ve also seen playpens used on YouTube when owners have been spot cleaning or cleaning out their complete cage - won’t be doing that because I don’t want to stress Ragna out. I was under the impression that it optional but found a thread where it came across as something you need to have.

What exactly is a playpen? Meaning, why have one? If you’re cleaning out the cage you can use your travel box? If the cage has enough enrichment do you need to have your hamster in another area? Do you duplicate your cage in the playpen? I have seen bridges, hideouts etc...doesn’t this stress out your hamster because it’s new smells and it is away from its home and place to burrow? Do you put specific objects in a playpen? How big is it?

We live in a small villa so there is no space to keep a playpen out permanently and storing it would also be difficult. We have two large cats and they “own” the rest of the house - will be keeping Ragna in his own area but any other area is cat domain full of the cats scents. I wouldn’t be able to have an open area with walls because the cats could jump in and I don’t even want to think about that conclusion.

If I bought another cage 100cmx50cm and ran a tunnel between the two would that be ok as a substitute for a playpen? Is a playpen about more space or change of scenery?

Your advice is always so appreciated.

Last edited by Schwartzie; 07-05-2019 at 02:29 AM. Reason: Grammar
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Old 07-05-2019, 03:52 AM   #2
Serendipity7000
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Default Re: Playpen and space

Hi there. A playpen is nice if you have space - if not, it is not essential. People use them as a safe area for the hamster to have out of cage time - not all rooms are hamster safe for free roaming. And free roaming isn't necessary. I often used to use the top of our bed for out of cage time with our last hamster -and if the cage is in the same room and your hamster is fairly tame, this could be an option. Although still needs you to be there in case they try and jump off! I used to put rolled up blankets round the edge which slowed up any attempts to climb off so I could pick the hamster up before he got too far - and it creates a kind of "barrier" that may keep them inside the space.

For cage cleaning, there are occasions when you do need to take the hamster out of the cage, and putting the hamster in a pet carrier is fine - depending on the hamster! And how long you need to sort the cage out.

Our last Syrian was quite happy just going to sleep in his pet carrier for some time. Especially when he had his hay house in it to chew on if he woke up.

Our current syrian just constantly tries to escape from his pet carrier, chewing at the holes on top and isn't happy. So it isn't an option for any length of time for him.

I personally don't like leaving the hamster in a playpen, if doing a cage clean, unless it is in the same room very nearby, so I can keep an eye on him. If it is in a different room then someone else can keep an eye on him.

The last time I had to do a substrate change and change his set up slightly (he is getting older so needed to lower everything) I left him in his play pen in another room, with someone keeping an eye on him, but unlike as usual, he didn't explore and play, he sat looking very concerned and huddled in a hide - because he knew I was doing something to his cage! He could hear/smell what was going on.

So I think it's talking about two separate things really. Firstly there are occasions where the hamster needs to be put somewhere else, while you do a partial cage clean. A pet carrier or another cage is fine for that. Spot cleaning while they are in the cage, can work for most hamsters, but not all. Our current hamster is better out of the cage while I'm spot cleaning. Our last hamster was less stressed if he could see what was going on and follow your hand round just checking the changes were acceptable!

Secondly is out of cage time. It is good for hamsters to have out of cage time - ideally every 2 to 3 days, but again depends on the hamster - some want to be out a lot, some are reluctant to leave their cage, especially if it's a nice big one. But even reluctant hamsters benefit from out of cage time.

Their behaviour is very different out of the cage than in it. In the cage, they are more territorial.

It isn't necessary to have a playpen though, if you don't have the space or have cats which can be an issue. What is more important then is that your hamster is quite hand tame and used to you, so they don't frantically do a runner or can't be picked up easily (if not tame).

If the cage is in a bedroom, you could keep the door closed and have the hamster out on top of the bed, with a few toys etc, for some bonding time and variety/change of scene.

It could be good to have an area where the cats don't go, and ideally not in the room with the hamster cage as just the smell may stress the hamster. There are plenty of owners who have a cat as well - but the cats need to be kept away from the hamster.

As you say, you'll be keeping your hammy in his own area, so that is fine. But he could do with an area he can have out of cage time as well.

I used to have a cardboard maze/castle thing I used on top of the bed sometimes Not a playpen exactly but an area with a few sort of walls to explore in and to prevent a complete runner.
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Old 07-05-2019, 04:13 AM   #3
Serendipity7000
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Default Re: Playpen and space

To clarify - a playpen is a fenced off area for a hamster to have out of cage time with a few toys or a wheel in. It can be all kinds of things - a ball pit, something constructed out of correx or cardboard, or a ready made one (I have four sides of plywood that slot together now). Some people just let their hamster have "sofa time" and run around on the sofa, climbing under and over cushions etc) although again a rolled up blanket at the edge is a good idea. But if the sofa is claimed as a cat area, that wouldn't be an option.

Will add some photos etc. Before I had the wood playpen (and the space to put it up), I had a home made correx one, which could be stored away easily under the bed eg. The idea came from this forum Short video below shows it. I often left it set up around the cage (which was on the floor) so I could leave the cage door open - but even then it needed constant observation as hamsters are great escape artists and can chew cardboard or correx at the corners or take advantage of the smallest gap. I prefer the wood one as it is escape proof!

Will also add photos of the cardboard castle on the bed.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AvXJ-Jbo0CM



You can't see much of the cardboard castle here, but hamster is enjoying having a groom in a little house inside it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aZlOEHJaF18



Having internet connection problems at the moment so I'll add a couple more photos later
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Old 07-05-2019, 04:19 AM   #4
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Default Re: Playpen and space

Part of cardboard castle on top of bed

P5120164.jpg

This is Newt (current Syrian) in his wood playpen. It also folds away under the bed, but does need a fair bit of floor space.

P5210317.jpg

This is the wood playpen

https://www.zooplus.co.uk/shop/small...g/73299/453205
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Old 07-05-2019, 04:27 AM   #5
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Default Re: Playpen and space

So no it is not 100% necessary to have a playpen, and some hamsters will just spend their time trying to escape the playpen (no enclosed space is every big enough!). Many people think it is better than using a hamster ball for exercise though. I think a hamster ball can be ok very occasionally for a very short time (10 mins max) but is more useful for carrying the hamster from the cage to a playpen or the bathtub! Hamster ball probably isn't an option with cats.

They can just have out of cage playtime with you on top of a bed, or go in a pet carrier or another cage at cleaning time.
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Old 07-05-2019, 04:46 AM   #6
LunaTheHamster1
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Default Re: Playpen and space

I have my playpen because in the winter I can't use the conservatory (too cold) and it is the only room that is 100% hamster proof.

Also, because of the chronic illness I have I could not be chasing after Luna in a big area. My solution after many try's ( i will link below to my playlist on run ideas on YouTube)was a big plastic storage box on wheels, so it can be easily moved around and it lives at the end of my bed. This is also where i can put Luna and her house when I am cleaning her cage out, and she can just go back to sleep. She doesn't wake up till late so I can't be cleaning her out late at night.

You could also section off an area with some cardboard or something else, that you can just slide away. I can do this in my bedroom, but she eventually chews the cardboard and I have to replace it.

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...nMw9Ro6wJO-zmU

It's basically just an area that you can set up a few different toys etc and let your hamster run around in a safe and secure place - especially if you can't make your whole room safe and secure.
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Old 07-05-2019, 05:11 AM   #7
Schwartzie
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Default Re: Playpen and space

Quote:
Originally Posted by Serendipity7000 View Post
So no it is not 100% necessary to have a playpen, and some hamsters will just spend their time trying to escape the playpen (no enclosed space is every big enough!). Many people think it is better than using a hamster ball for exercise though. I think a hamster ball can be ok very occasionally for a very short time (10 mins max) but is more useful for carrying the hamster from the cage to a playpen or the bathtub! Hamster ball probably isn't an option with cats.

They can just have out of cage playtime with you on top of a bed, or go in a pet carrier or another cage at cleaning time.
Thanks so much for your explanation and videos/pictures Serendipity7000...Iím a visual person so it really helps to see what youíre talking about. Our cats have cat highways along the walls, cat towers and cat tv but they also claim lying from time to time on the bed. If I let Ragna have some time out of the cage would it be ok if the bed had had the cats on it previously? With cat smells...how bad is it for a hamster? Would lingering scents freak him out? Iím actually finding this very interesting because one doesnít think about how far scents go with hamsters? I donít want to settle Ragna then begin taming process and mess it all up after one session out of the cage because I wasnít aware of what Ragna was going through.

Thanks again for always being so helpful! Your advice has played a large part in my road to Ragna...thanks!
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Old 07-05-2019, 05:14 AM   #8
Schwartzie
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Default Re: Playpen and space

Quote:
Originally Posted by LunaTheHamster1 View Post
I have my playpen because in the winter I can't use the conservatory (too cold) and it is the only room that is 100% hamster proof.

Also, because of the chronic illness I have I could not be chasing after Luna in a big area. My solution after many try's ( i will link below to my playlist on run ideas on YouTube)was a big plastic storage box on wheels, so it can be easily moved around and it lives at the end of my bed. This is also where i can put Luna and her house when I am cleaning her cage out, and she can just go back to sleep. She doesn't wake up till late so I can't be cleaning her out late at night.

You could also section off an area with some cardboard or something else, that you can just slide away. I can do this in my bedroom, but she eventually chews the cardboard and I have to replace it.

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...nMw9Ro6wJO-zmU

It's basically just an area that you can set up a few different toys etc and let your hamster run around in a safe and secure place - especially if you can't make your whole room safe and secure.
Iím loving the idea of using a plastic container on wheels...that might work. I would check space. How big is the container? Thanks for the link..will watch them for ideas.

Like Serendipity said..itís not a must but nice to have...will see if I can make it work.
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Old 07-05-2019, 09:20 AM   #9
Ria P
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Default Re: Playpen and space

I bought two lots of the Trixie metal panels play pen which came in handy when i was taming Henry. It was big enough to put his then smaller cage base in and for me to sit in it. I was able to handle Henry and let him walk on my legs while he was within sniffing distance of his home but still within a safe environment. The metal panels don't work for every hamster but are fine for a hamster like Henry who would rather sit and sulk than make the effort to try and climb over a panel to get out. I can now use individual panels to secure certain areas in the house that are off limits for hamsters.
First time i put Henry on my bed he freaked and froze so i put him back in his cage and tried again a few days later. Depending on his mood he could be running all over the bed and use me as a climbing frame or he'd just sit next to me and look huffy.
He has taken to free roaming in a room i've checked inch by inch for any potential hamster hazards plus i keep a close eye at him. I had to transport him in an empty handbag the other night because he gets so wriggly and excited.
I let him loose on the kitchen counter to get the pea photo a couple of nights ago and he really enjoyed that. He rearranged my spice rack, tried to get into the washing up bowl and stopped to eat a basil leaf en route to the kitchen sink.
I also let him roam on the futon amongst pillows and a blanket but he's on a mission to jump off the futon nowadays or climbs up the back.
A lot will depend on your hamster, some like to get out of the cage daily and others don't. I think it is important to give the hamster the opportunity to spend time time outside the cage but i don't know how it works with cats and their smell because Henry is an only, very spoilt pet.
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Old 07-05-2019, 01:17 PM   #10
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Default Re: Playpen and space

Luna's plastic storage bin is great. It sounds like you may need to restrict the cats a bit to give the hamster some freedom? I am no expert on how much a hamster could get used to cat smells. Some other owners may know, who have both.
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