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Old 04-16-2020, 03:47 PM   #1
Nika
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Question Enrichment advice for very active Syrian?

Hey there!
I have had two Syrians before, so I have a bit of experience with hamsters! I am reusing a lot of my previous hamster toys/accessories (of course properly cleaned and sanitised) so my new hamster, Cocoa, has plenty of toys to play with and a nice well-sized wheel. My issue is that she's way more active than my previous hamsters were, and regularly demands my attention - which is fine! I just need some ideas to add enrichment to her cage and a playpen so I can have some playtime with her out of her cage.

Right now her cage has 2 shelves other than the "ground", several bridges, a hammock, shorter tunnels (I plan on making a longer one for her), a puzzle feeder, some boxes, a hanging mixed chew toy (with a mix of wooden things on it) and some flavoured chew toys.
I'm a bit unsure as to what I could put in her playpen that's new and interesting! Any ideas?

She's a chewer and a climber, so anything that caters to that would be lovely! She also seems to like anything that's... alike a worm? She destroys any string she sees (I only use sisal string and keep a close eye on what she does with it so it's safe ) and her favourite snack is mealworms. I especially welcome DIY ideas (the pandemic hasn't been kind to my income, lol).
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Old 04-16-2020, 04:42 PM   #2
Presley524
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Default Re: Enrichment advice for very active Syrian?

This may sound strange but you could try building her a maze out of cardboard. You could also try to make movable walls out of the cardboard so you could use it inside the playpen and will be able to change up the different "hallways" and "rooms" with her toys. I'm sorry that description is terrible haha

Also, does she use her wheel a lot? What happened with mine when she was getting to be very active and constantly seeking attention was that she had an open wheel but did not like it and wouldn't run and when I got her a closed wheel she runs like crazy and it helps a ton! Not sure if this applies here, but I figured it might be worth mentioning haha
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Old 04-16-2020, 10:34 PM   #3
cypher
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Default Re: Enrichment advice for very active Syrian?

In the cage do you scatter feed or use a bowl? Scatter feeding can keep them busy, you can also make things like toilet roll. treat toys for both food & treats (there are ideas here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NuPeyD6w-CI) or make little boxes for her to destroy with food in.
Does she have whimzee dog chews? These are usually a favourite with hams so she'd probably love them.
In the playpen you could just use different tubes & boxes to explore, if she doesn't chew them she might enjoy climbing on & under some cushions, maybe a shallow box full of paper of substrate to hide a few treats in she can dig around for.
You might find more ideas here.
Hamster toys and accessories from recycled household items thread
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Old 04-17-2020, 10:31 AM   #4
TinyBubbles
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Default Re: Enrichment advice for very active Syrian?

I learned yesterday that it wasn't toys but a lack of "cover" that could cause this type of behavior. We got a new playpen delivered, I thought it had a strong plastic odor so I let it air out a few days (after one I couldn't smell it but I gave it a second day for my super-smeller.) I ordered some items that I thought we'd give him in the playpen but not his everyday house that haven't come in yet so I put in the hideout from his original cardboard maze and I thought it would be fun to cover his favorite things with halves of plastic Easter eggs and let him have his own version of an egg hunt. It was very apparent his stress level was through the roof. He moved one egg for a sunflower seed then ignored the rest (with mealworm and broccoli underneath) and just tried to find an escape. I had a box of tissues nearby so I quickly emptied that and added the box and my son got a hide from his cage and instantly he calmed down. Poor little guy just felt way too exposed in this giant new space.
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Old 04-17-2020, 12:47 PM   #5
Nika
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Default Re: Enrichment advice for very active Syrian?

Quote:
Originally Posted by cypher View Post
In the cage do you scatter feed or use a bowl? Scatter feeding can keep them busy, you can also make things like toilet roll. treat toys for both food & treats (there are ideas here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NuPeyD6w-CI) or make little boxes for her to destroy with food in.
Does she have whimzee dog chews? These are usually a favourite with hams so she'd probably love them.
In the playpen you could just use different tubes & boxes to explore, if she doesn't chew them she might enjoy climbing on & under some cushions, maybe a shallow box full of paper of substrate to hide a few treats in she can dig around for.
You might find more ideas here.
Hamster toys and accessories from recycled household items thread
Thanks for the advice! Yes, I scatter feed her which seems to work well! ) Thank you for the toilet roll idea, I've used a couple of those but it's good to see new ones!
I will look into those ideas for her playpen! )
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Old 04-17-2020, 12:49 PM   #6
Nika
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Default Re: Enrichment advice for very active Syrian?

Quote:
Originally Posted by TinyBubbles View Post
I learned yesterday that it wasn't toys but a lack of "cover" that could cause this type of behavior. We got a new playpen delivered, I thought it had a strong plastic odor so I let it air out a few days (after one I couldn't smell it but I gave it a second day for my super-smeller.) I ordered some items that I thought we'd give him in the playpen but not his everyday house that haven't come in yet so I put in the hideout from his original cardboard maze and I thought it would be fun to cover his favorite things with halves of plastic Easter eggs and let him have his own version of an egg hunt. It was very apparent his stress level was through the roof. He moved one egg for a sunflower seed then ignored the rest (with mealworm and broccoli underneath) and just tried to find an escape. I had a box of tissues nearby so I quickly emptied that and added the box and my son got a hide from his cage and instantly he calmed down. Poor little guy just felt way too exposed in this giant new space.
Hm, interesting, thanks for the advice! She has her main "bed" which is a little wooden house that she seems to love, and I have a box for her on the second level of her cage as well, but I will definitely give her some more hides!
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Old 04-18-2020, 06:55 AM   #7
Ria P
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Default Re: Enrichment advice for very active Syrian?

I once cut four entrances (one on each side) in a square cardboard box, put Timothy hay in it then placed it in the centre of a playpen. My hamsters would run through it, sit in it to groom and climb on top of it via a bendy bridge next to it.

Cardboard is a hamster's best friend and ever so versatile. They also enjoy a different type of wheel in their play area like a flying saucer and you can get a 12in version for a Syrian. An empty and cleaned Pringle tube is ideal for a Syrian and you can easily connect individual cardboard boxes with cut plastic bottles but avoid sharp edges by smoothing with sandpaper.
A chewable cardboard maze/run with hidden treats may well appeal to her.
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Old 04-18-2020, 12:56 PM   #8
Serendipity7000
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Default Re: Enrichment advice for very active Syrian?

Some females can be very active. It sounds like she would enjoy ripping up cardboard (nesting instinct)- egg boxes, toilet rolls etc.

I think sometimes the way the things are set up in the cage can make a difference - as to whether a hamster feels secure with the variety of contents or it works for them. Sometimes people have lots of hanging ramps and ladders - but they swing and don't feel very stable and hammies can get a bit bothered by them. Or a shelf or item may be difficult to access etc.

What cage have you got and do you have a photo of her set up? We might be able to suggest some tweaks. They generally do better with more floor area and less height so it might be the cage itself isn't quite right for her. Or it could just be moving the odd thing or adding a more stable ramp or something. I have problems with ramps and ladders generally - but I like the large cork logs -placed next to a shelf they make a ramp up that doesn't move - and make a tunnel as well.
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Old 04-26-2020, 08:57 AM   #9
Nika
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Default Re: Enrichment advice for very active Syrian?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ria P View Post
I once cut four entrances (one on each side) in a square cardboard box, put Timothy hay in it then placed it in the centre of a playpen. My hamsters would run through it, sit in it to groom and climb on top of it via a bendy bridge next to it.

Cardboard is a hamster's best friend and ever so versatile. They also enjoy a different type of wheel in their play area like a flying saucer and you can get a 12in version for a Syrian. An empty and cleaned Pringle tube is ideal for a Syrian and you can easily connect individual cardboard boxes with cut plastic bottles but avoid sharp edges by smoothing with sandpaper.
A chewable cardboard maze/run with hidden treats may well appeal to her.
Thank you for the ideas!! yes, I do love making toys out of cardboard for her )
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Old 04-26-2020, 09:15 AM   #10
Nika
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Default Re: Enrichment advice for very active Syrian?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Serendipity7000 View Post
Some females can be very active. It sounds like she would enjoy ripping up cardboard (nesting instinct)- egg boxes, toilet rolls etc.

I think sometimes the way the things are set up in the cage can make a difference - as to whether a hamster feels secure with the variety of contents or it works for them. Sometimes people have lots of hanging ramps and ladders - but they swing and don't feel very stable and hammies can get a bit bothered by them. Or a shelf or item may be difficult to access etc.

What cage have you got and do you have a photo of her set up? We might be able to suggest some tweaks. They generally do better with more floor area and less height so it might be the cage itself isn't quite right for her. Or it could just be moving the odd thing or adding a more stable ramp or something. I have problems with ramps and ladders generally - but I like the large cork logs -placed next to a shelf they make a ramp up that doesn't move - and make a tunnel as well.
Hi, thank you for the comment!!
I started out with a slightly smaller cage for her first that had more vertical space, but because of the bar chewing getting really bad, I decided to set up my detolf for her. Here's the current set up (I hope the pics work lol):

The bigger hamster house is a more recent addition and she hasn't started using it as a house - any advice on convincing her to do that is welcome!
At the moment I don't really have ladders and platforms in the cage (I do plan on adding some, she had a hammock in the previous cage that she really liked) and I am waiting on the sand for her sandbath to arrive (which was meant to arrive already but I suppose the pandemic is not helping postal services). I expect the sand bath to help.
Even in the detolf she seems to be doing a lot of bar chewing (on the lid, and in the corners with the metal bars). I'm quite concerned as the bars leave an imprint on her nose with time.

Edit: I realise it's not super clear on the pics, one side of the cage has a lot more bedding/substrate and it's about 15-17cm (6") deep there, and I will probably add some more soon (as soon as my next bad of aubiose arrives haha)
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Last edited by Nika; 04-26-2020 at 09:21 AM. Reason: adding info
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