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Old 03-07-2023, 08:51 AM  
Hamster Pup
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Join Date: Oct 2019
Location: England
Posts: 232
Default "Bioactive" Enclosure

I want to preface this post by saying this isn't something I have plans on doing, just thought it was an interesting topic. I have read other threads posted about bioactive enclosures on here, as well, so I have a general understanding.

I have been running a hamster rescue for a little while now, and have been designing up some care guides of appropriate care. I am trying to link my recommendations with actual scientific studies, mainly conducted on Syrian hamsters. Due to that reason, I want to specifically be thinking about Syrian hamsters with this post.

Syrian's originate in Syria (surprising) - specifically the region surrounding Aleppo. They are also found in other areas, like Turkey. Ultimately, their region is very large has quite a diverse range of foliage, soils, sands, etc.

With that being said, they are not ever exposed to high humidity tropical-like settings. I feel as though that is all of our first thoughts when we hear bioactive enclosure, but this is not what I am referring to.

An enclosure must be humid enough to allow for plant growth, yet not moist enough to cause mould. Soils are known to hold humidity really well, but I was wondering what alternatives there could be that would actually suit a hamster?

Realistically, this is what hamsters are exposed to. I think the main difficulty is taking what is safe in the wild, and converting it into something safe in a 100x50cm enclosure. That must be where the difficulty is, right?

I feel as though making an enclosure as natural as possible would make certain hamsters happier. I have two male Syrians, absolute oafs that just like to snooze all day. Sure, maybe they would benefit from more of a naturalistic enclosure, but my thoughts are more with female Syrians.

With my rescue, I've taken in numerous female Syrian Hamsters. They are NEVER as happy as any other species of hamster, let alone male Syrians, with the exact same things. I was thinking a naturalistic enclosure would be what suits them better.

I started thinking this a few months ago, when a female Syrian, called Peeve, preferred her naturalistic things SO much more than anything else. She didn't make a soft nesting area with all the Kaytee I gave her. Instead, she would sleep in a little hut on top of COCO CHIPS. Not even coir, hard, hard chips!

She since has been adopted, but now I have a lovely girl called Willow. She seemingly has the same issues that Peeve did. I understand females need more space and more enrichment, but does anyone have any studies done on relatively bioactive enclosures, using dryer soils/substrates, on specifically female Syrians? I think it would be interesting to see.

Like I said before, this isn't something I'm planning on doing, so please do not get riled up that I've mentioned this. I've been reading all kinds of studies on bedding depths, but found nothing on actual substrate.

I mentioned earlier I found a post about bioactive enclosures. Here are some of the points I read:
•Humid environments are very dangerous for hamsters.
•Soil isn't safe for hamsters.
•Moss is something I would strongly discourage
•Live plants should not be used in the cage and potted ones outside the cage can be unsafe due to the soil.
•Hay can be very sharp and cause eye injuries
•Very deep substrate honestly does the job
I think this is an interesting topic and would love to see it developed. Personally, I don't use live plants in my enclosures, but I do use hay and moss. I found no ill consequences of it, actually the opposite! Moss is so good at covering small gaps, and all my hamsters seem relatively keen on keeping their current wee spots. Hay is great to help the sturdiness of burrows too.

Any thoughts on any of this?
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