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Old 10-08-2018, 10:34 AM  
Hamsters University
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Join Date: Sep 2014
Location: North of England
Posts: 21,172
Default Re: How to get hamster out for cleaning cage

Firstly, does the cage really desperately need cleaning? Or can you just spot clean while he's in there? Spot cleaning is removing the odd handful of soiled substrate (eg pee'd on) and replacing it with another handful and then mixing it in a bit (so it still smells familiar). Apart from the substrate and maybe the wheel there shouldn't be that much that needs a lot of cleaning. Toys etc tend to go quite a long time and then just need a wipe. Nest and hoard can be left alone - unless they've been pee'd on - most hamsters choose a corner of the cage as a toilet and pee there. When they're young they sometimes soil the nest but it tends to stop happening.

Anyway - if the nest and hoard aren't pee'd in they can be left. If they are pee'd in then you may need to remove them - but try to leave some of the dry nest behind and if you remove any hoard, replace it with new food in exactly the same place - they are very precious about their nest and hoard and don't like them being messed with. Then put new torn up strips of plain white toilet paper out somewhere in the cage (not in the house) for the hamster to take/pouch back to the house to rebuild their nest.

Anyway - if nest and hoard are ok I would just spot clean. Then give the wheel a clean a few days later. It's best not to do big cleans or clean everything at the same time - because that removes all the hamster's scent and they feel lost and stressed. They scent mark in the cage to find their way around (they don't see well) so they know where everything is.

If you have enough substrate in (4" deep minimum) then spot cleaning now and then is just fine - and you can easily go 2 months or more without needing to change all the substrate. Better for the hamster and cheaper for you. The more you have in there, the less often you need to change it.

Also if you don't have a litter tray, that would be a good idea - they will use a litter tray if you put it in the right place! (ie the place they have chosen to pee - often a corner of the cage). You can buy corner litter trays or just use any kind of dish - a shallow pyrex dish eg - and put chinchilla bathing sand in it. Then you just empty the litter tray every 5 days or so and the rest of the cage stays clean and dry. They are naturally quite clean little things and tidy, when they get chance to have a regular routine and don't have the cage disturbed too much.

Don't worry about poops - they're not dirty or smelly and sometimes they hoard them and eat them (which is normal). They have two stomachs and can redigest nurtrients from their poops. So unless they are taking over in a big way (when you would spot clean a bit) just leave them.

Anyway - assuming you still want to get him out - I used to use a large tube/tunnel and put it over the house entrance (or near the house entrance) and put a smelly treat at the far end (eg cheese or cucumber) then they walk into the tube to get the treat - you put your hands over either end of the tube and lift it out - you'll need a box or something they can't escape from nearby - to put the tube down in. Or - I used to have the hamster ball nearby and take my hand off one end of the tube and put that end inside the hamster ball - so then they walk out of the tube into the ball and you pop the lid on. But don't leave them in a hamster ball when you're cleaning - a pet carrier or large box with some toys in they can't escape from nearby is better.

I find our hamsters are better in another room if i'm doing something to the cage - they get quite anxious when they can hear and smell you messing with the cage!

Anyway - if you do get him out - resist the temptation to clean absolutely everything so it's all spanking clean - not necessary and not good for the hamster. Try and leave as much as you can and just do the essentials. Cages don't need disinfecting unless there has been illness or disease - if pee has soaked down to the base of the cage then a warm damp cloth is fine (or washing up water) for the cage base. Avoid using anything scented as this can affect them - they have a strong sense of smell and are prone to respiratory problems with dust and strong scents.

Hope that helps!
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