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Old 11-19-2021, 07:51 AM   #1
Stubbo
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Default New Syrian...how to prioritise cage contents...

So it looks like we're getting a Syrian hamster in the family at Christmas. The missus is the driving force (at the moment we have fish and dart frogs which are strictly my domain), but I suspect the hamster will end up under my jurisdiction too, so am doing the research.

So far I've invested in the biggest cage we can find a home for (Savic Plaza 100*50*50), have got a Rodipets 30cm wheel (the slightly angled plastic one), and also a Rodipets Da Vinci multi chamber home (the 6 compartment large one).

Far as I can tell these are all core to well being, as well as a good size sand bath...but am wondering how to make the cage sufficiently enriched once all this stuff is in it.

If the multi chamber hide sits on top of the substrate (assuming I fill the whole base first), then the wheel won't sit on top so will need to be at the other end, and that is all then taking up a lot of the floor space, especially once factoring in a large dish for a sandbath in the enclosure.

I had planned to try a German style running track, but there won't be enough room to do that properly...am thinking I can run plastic tubes around the very top inside edge of the enclosure to make that space accessible and safe, but with the wheel and the sandpit and the hide, won't have much floor space for toys, ground level tubes, etc without it being VERY cluttered.

So the question is, what are the most important components and considerations, should any of what I've already done be compromised on in favour of something else, or are there any hints and tips to maximise what I'm working with?

I could push the hide down to level with top of the substrate to make the roof at "floor" level and the wheel would then sit above it, but then there isn't enough space to burrow under the front edge of the hide...only outside into the rest of the base through the designated hide entrance (all be it there is another entrance on the top), and I certainly won't manage to get 10inches of bedding anywhere in the cage.

Would love ideas, thoughts, experiences etc on what can be done to make the enclosure as optimal as possible for the soon to be new arrival.

Thanks!
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Old 11-20-2021, 10:32 AM   #2
Serendipity7000
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Default Re: New Syrian...how to prioritise cage contents...

Hello. I have used that house a few times. There are two options. Either have it sat on the base of the cage as a “subterranean “ house with substrate piled round it. Or put it on legs. To support it (they can get squashed if they burrow underneath and it subsides on them, so it does need either supporting or sitting directly on the cage base).

I prefer the option of legs and it then also creates a kind of shelf or level on top. Rodipet do actually sell slot on legs for that house (but I find I need to saw about an inch off those or the house sits higher than the substrate in the cage - even with the base full of substrate). Or the other option is just glue dowels to it - which I did with our first one before Rodipet invented the legs!

I’ll reply more when on my computer rather than phone as have photos of both as examples.

I don’t think you need worry about filling the cage up - that is just variety and plenty of enrichment- and they need that. Too much open space can actually freak them out a bit.

I’m not sure which wheel you mean as I thought Rodipet only had wood wheels.

I think a shelf is the third important thing - but I don’t use the green shelf the cage comes with - because yes that does mean you can’t fit much in - the shelf and ladder take up too much space.

If you have a look at the let’s see your cages thread you’ll see some examples of set ups and I’ll link Moo’s thread to show you the set up I had in that cage recently. Which was basically-

House at right hand end, wood shelf at left hand end. Wheel on back bars next to shelf. And other bits and pieces. Hanging rat Sputniks are good - it’s a place to go and sit and provides overhead shelter (they also can get freaked out by too much overhead space - which is why a shelf is important ).

Actually the photo isn’t on Moo’s thread - I’ll find it and add it.
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Old 11-20-2021, 10:52 AM   #3
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Default Re: New Syrian...how to prioritise cage contents...

Here you go. Moo's cage set up (not easy to see everything). And the dowel legs I stuck on the house many years ago. I got 30cm dowels from Amazon and cut them to about 20cm I think. I stuck three on - two at the front, one at one side - and did it so the height meant the back and other side of the house rested on the lip of the cage base (but that was not for the Savic plaza cage so a different base).

For the Plaza cage I used the rodipet legs, chopped about half an inch to an inch off the bottom (depending how high you want it). I think it was half an inch actually. And used four legs. Two at the front - two at the sides, about half way along the sides. That holds it up fine, but you can't use them at the back because the cage base slopes in.

With the rodipet ones you have to think about where to put them on as a bit protrudes inside the house - but it isn't a big issue.

IMG_0749 resized.jpg

P4171198 resized 600.jpg

P4171200 resized 600.jpg
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Old 11-20-2021, 10:58 AM   #4
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Default Re: New Syrian...how to prioritise cage contents...

Shelves can be tricky to find. That one I had came from Ranchhouse cages on ebay. They do solid wood shelves that come with all the fittings for bars so very easy to attach. In various different sizes. Since the pandemic they don't have as many options but will usually make you one to a specific size if you ask. I just bought one that was 25 cm deep I think and 20" wide - which was a bit too wide so we had to cut a bit off to fit the inside of the cage. You also need to cut a small corner off at each side as the inside corners of the cage are actually curved. I can't remember where I got the ladder.

Or you can get something like Luna has - two of these overlapping.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Trixie-Natu...00LJV4578&th=1
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Old 11-20-2021, 11:07 AM   #5
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Default Re: New Syrian...how to prioritise cage contents...

Ranch house cages link. They only seem to have smaller shelves at the moment, but if you message them they'd probably make you a 25cm by 19" one. It wasn't that expensive - maybe £10?

https://www.ebay.co.uk/sch/i.html?_d...c=1&_nkw=shelf

Access to shelves is a real pain. I am not happy with most ladders and they can fall down (had that before and that can lead to injuries).

So for most of our hamsters I used to use a large cork log tunnel instead of a ladder - and have it pushed part way under the shelf. So it makes a tunnel to run through, leading under the shelf, and also a ramp to climb up the side of.

I get the Rodipet large size ones as they're not too long like other makes.

Rodipet® Cork Tunnel size L – ca 25 cm long and 12-15 cm in Diameter

If you look on the photo below (different cage though) you can see the cork log sticking out from under the green shelf on the right. It worked really well instead of a ladder.

P5250354.jpg
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Old 11-22-2021, 04:00 AM   #6
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Default Re: New Syrian...how to prioritise cage contents...

Thank you for all the suggestions!

I reckon I'll get some pine board and make my own shelf/platform...if I'm sticking dowel to the bottom of the house, I could do the same with a shelf (as opposed to fixing to the bars), and will no doubt need to do the same with the wheel which also needs to sit on a base, unless I make a floor level platform to sit the wheel and sand tray on.

The wheel is the Heureka! wheel found here: (Rodipet Heureka!

I've also got a load of plastic tube tunnels made by Ferplast so can use those to provide access to the shelves instead of ladders.

What do you do about a sand bath in your cages? I've read you should give ones big enough for them to roll in (30cm x 30cm ideally...think I can get in about 30cm x 25cm using a ceramic lasagne tray. Will then have about 70cm x 25cm floor space for other toys/boredom breakers/enrichment type stuff. Hopefully that will all be enough.

What's the best glue to use for the Dowels? Can you use regular PVA wood glue? Do you know if edge laminated pine timberboard is safe?
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Old 11-22-2021, 05:41 AM   #7
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Default Re: New Syrian...how to prioritise cage contents...

Good question about the glue. I swear by this stuff - it’s what people on the German hamster forums use. No smell (other than a faint sort of copydex smell), very strong non toxic wood glue. It’s called Ponal Classic. It only comes in a biggish bottle for about £10 but I think it’s worth it - I’ve used it for many other purposes since and it’s my go to wood glue.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Ponal-16803...DING_ADHESIVES

I actually don’t use sand baths for Syrians - I just use a litter tray with sand in which they pee in. None of ours have seemed that interested in sand except to pee in and a couple positively objected to it! It’s not essential for a Syrian although is essential for a Robo.

That wheel! I have never seen those before! Looks amazing - it must be a new thing. I can’t really tell from looking at the rear photos but it does look like it doesn’t remove from the stand to screw to the bars (probably can’t due to the angle anyway) so yes it would need to stand on something. I have sometimes used another, smaller house under the substrate as a stand.

In terms of that and platforms - have you seen the getzoo platforms? They are very good and come in various sizes and heights. They are easy to use in tanks but as with most things in legs, they don’t fit right up to the edge due to the sloping cage base. However you can doctor them slightly by just taking a bit of length off the back legs so they’re wedged against the sloping base.

For the maze house I find it fits quite well up to the back and one side without wasted space - if the legs are at the front, one side and one in the middle.

I think a screw in shelf would be easier in that cage though. If making one you’d just need a small drill bit to drill in for holes for screws to go in, plus some screws and large washers. That is all the bought shelves come with.

I found screws won’t go into the wood unless a hole is drilled first with a very small drill bit.

Just wondering if there is any other way of attaching the wheel. I have a Karlie wood wheel hung upside down so no need for support and leaves plenty of substrate under it. That would only work if the wheel is removable from the stand and reattached again after the stand is slotted through the top bars.

Or you could just tie the stand to the bars - not sure how secure that would be. I tend to attach wheels to the bars so they don’t take up too much space and protrude too much but on the other hand, a shelf under (or house under) provides another hide.

It doesn’t really matter if all the floor space has lots of items - makes it more interesting, like an obstacle course . Good access is important though - being easily able to get to shelves etc. For the house I just put a bendy bridge next to it. But they tend to sink if used for a shelf.

If the Ferplast tubes are hamster sized ones you need to be a bit careful that they’re big enough for the hamster. Some hamsters can get stuck - especially with full pouches. If it’s a straight short run it might be ok but depends on the size of the hamster. As a general rule, rat sized toys are better for hamsters. And yes they do take up more space - but you also have the roof. I used a Savic rat tube tied to the roof (sisal string) which led between the maze house roof and the shelf- diagonally across the cage roof. It actually led into a Sputnik at each end as didn’t quite reach.

But they could still do with floor access to the shelf as well. You could just tie a tube to the bars at sn angle leading to the shelf. But as that cage has a large front door I found anything going up to the shelf obstructed the door (as had the wheel at the back). But doesn’t obstruct it too much.

Generally shelves are better for cages and platforms better for tanks.

Etagen | Einrichtung & Zubehor | Getzoo.de
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Old 11-22-2021, 07:59 AM   #8
Stubbo
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Default Re: New Syrian...how to prioritise cage contents...

There's no way to use the wheel as anything but standing. Also whatever it sits on can't be higher than the plastic base top level or it catches the top of the cage (so a shelf in the bars is a no go) and it will definitely need to be a platform so I can control the height accurately enough.

If I make my own I can just set the legs in from the edge at the back so that the taper of the base isn't an issue. I'll just use some kiln-dried solid spruce shelving for this (sanded of course, and untreated). link

Is there any reason tot to use screws when joining items together...I could use small screws for the platform to screen into dowel or square section legs?

What material do you have that I can see 'surfacing' your platforms and ledges. Looks like a matting of some sort.

As for the tubes...none of the reviews suggest they're too small for Syrian and all say they've used them to replace tubes that come with Syrian Hamster cages so hopefully they're ok....I measure the opening of them as being 7cm. Can hamsters climb a very short vertical section, or do they need to be angled?

Lastly with the plaza cage, since you're familiar, how important is a section of bedding that comes up above the level of the plastic base? The base by my reckoning gives around a 6 inch bedding depth (maybe a smidge less) so is it very important to have a section that is deeper than this? I could ramp the bedding up to a platform to give a portion that is deeper (and use some kind of matting around the bars to prevent spillage) but obviously would need deconstructing if ever needing to take the top of the cage off as opposed to just accessing through the doors. That approach would reduce flat cage floor space for toys but obviously create a deep bedding area for tunnelling.

Oh, and having built the cage, in my opinion the door is 'loose' on one side...assumedly just bend the catch down a fraction with some needle nose pliars to firm it up?
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Old 11-22-2021, 10:57 PM   #9
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Default Re: New Syrian...how to prioritise cage contents...

Your diy platform idea sounds good. And screws are fine. It is hemp mat on top of the house and shelf It's safe if chewed but none of mine have chewed it. Occasionally they chavel it a bit or pull a bit off. I put it to cushion any falls if they happen to monkey bar across the roof when you're asleep at night. But also as a bit of insulation on the house in winter. I take it off in summer usually. On the shelf I've sometimes used it to protect the wood if I haven't plastikoted a shelf.

Rodipet sell the best hemp mats. Some of them shed too much. And some are too thick to cut. I get the 100cm one and just cut pieces off it to size. Which leaves spare if you ever need to replace a piece.

Rodipet® Hemp Mat 100 x 40 cm

7cm diameter is fine for tubes. Straight are better than angled as they're more likely to get stuck in an angled tube.

I think filling the cage base with bedding is fine. Having the bars, with things attached, and shelves and roof runs etc, adds to enrichment as much as depth of substrate.

Hmm about the door being loose on one side. Is it easily fixable? If it's a problem or leaves a gap I'd send it back for exchange.
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Old 11-23-2021, 02:00 AM   #10
Stubbo
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Default Re: New Syrian...how to prioritise cage contents...

It should be easily fixable...it still closes, but just isn't as firm to open on one side as it is the other...like the angle of the latch that pops over the bar isn't quite a 'turned over' as the other side.

I think just giving it a slight extra bend will resolve it easy enough.

Thanks for the link to the hemp mats!

Now I just need to find someone in the UK to source a Hamster from...we've got kids (6 and 4) who will do what they're told, but obviously will want to be able to 'pet' it, so getting one that is handled and tame from a young age would be advantageous, but we're in Essex and aside from the farm that provides to Pets at Home (and of course P@H), not finding any obvious source and certainly no reputable breeders within an hour or two. Might end up being taking a chance on the classifieds or Gumtree I suspect for a less established/affiliated breeder.
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