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Old 03-07-2023, 02:28 PM  
Hamster Overlord
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Join Date: Jun 2019
Location: London
Posts: 763
Default Re: "Bioactive" Enclosure

I think bioactive enclosuees for hamsters probably only really work in a very large, well-ventilated enclosure which possibly also has some kind of drainage system where the humidity and moisture levels can be kept in balance. Hamsters are much better suited to a drier environment than a humid and even our homes may be slightly more humid than is ideal for them. I think in this kind of enclosure, safe live plants could work but I'm wary of them in smaller enclosure (apart from perhaps small potted plants in a safe substrate) due to the amount of moisture and light needed.

Soil isn't inherently unsafe for hamsters. Wild hamsters live in soil, after all. The problem is that commercially bought soils may be treated with things that aren't ideal for hamsters to be living and in also that there's a risk of them carrying bacteria which pet hamsters with their likely less well-exercised immune system (compared to a wild hamster which lives in an environment with lots of bacteria) may not be able to cope with.

When it comes to things like hay, I think here it's beneficial to move away from viewing things as simply safe or unsafe and consider safety as a spectrum from the most safe things with the fewest risks to the least safe things with the most risks and possibly also the fewest benefits. Looking at safety in this way allows for more nuanced discussions where people can have different opinions without anybody necessarily being wrong. In my experience the simplistic view of just safe vs unsafe tends to lead to quite unproductive discussions and also a huge amount of misinformation (I have seen people genuinely claim that hay is poisonous to hamsters, probably they came across an unnuanced discussion online where it was said to be unsafe). Hay, like almost everything, has a small risk associated with it (the risk of eye damage), and also some benefits. It's possible to minimise the risk and maximise the relative benefit by choosing softer hays. Personally I choose to use hay but some people prefer to avoid it. On the other hand, I don't like using egg boxes in enclosures because I worry about bacteria from the outside of the egg, whereas lots of people do use egg boxes and I've yet to hear of a hamster getting sick from one. It would be a boring world if we all did things the same way and had the same opinions.

I also use clay sands because I find they have various benefits over quartz sands or play sand and my own research hasn't yet turned up anything alarming with regard to confirmed risk but I know some people prefer not to use them.
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