Register FAQ Calendar Search Today's Posts Mark Forums Read
Front Page

Ads by Google

Go Back   Hamster Central > Hamster Central Forum Topics > Behaviour


Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 09-16-2014, 04:25 AM   #1
Vectis Hamstery
Vectis Hamstery's Avatar
Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: Southampton, UK
Posts: 4,577
Default Managing Bar Chewers

I've had quite a few cheeky hamsters over the years who have taken to bar chewing. Here are a few of the tricks I've used to try and address this (illustrated by some of the cheeky hamsters who wanted to be in the photos!)

Training (human training the hamster, not the other way round)
Firstly I try not to reward bar chewing with cuddles. No matter how annoying it is or how sweetly they beg.

Pretty please? by vectishams, on Flickr

My first female Syrian Bella trained me very well to get her out each time she chewed! I've had other hamsters who have only chewed their bars when I was in the hamster room and not paying them attention as they'd learned it got a response.


Some of my hams have started bar chewing if their wheels have stopped working or they have outgrown them. I always check the wheel of a bar chewer as fixing/replacing the wheel can be an easy solution to a chewer.

I've found bar chewers are often the cheekiest hamsters so I make sure their cages are well secured. I recommend padlocking or clipping barred cage doors shut:
Cage security by vectishams, on Flickr

A narrow barred cage can help reduce bar chewing and associated bar rub.

It's important to check the cages for signs of damage regularly and block off any potential chew points. Places that hamsters can smell the outside world through a tank are prime areas for chewing of cages to start:
L1040604 by vectishams, on Flickr

Bolts and washers are useful for blocking holes, whether the holes are planned by the manufacturer or custom made by the hamster!
L1040462 by vectishams, on Flickr

I wouldn't choose a plastic tank type cage or a wooden cage for a known bar chewer. Instead I use glass tanks with 6mm mesh lids, secured so they can't be pushed up by a determined ham. If you use a perfecto tank, the mesh lid can be pushed forwards enough from inside for a ham to escape so slip a bolt or padlock through the hook at the back.
lympy's new cage by vectishams, on Flickr


Putting something in the area most favoured by chewers can provide distraction.
Wheel by vectishams, on Flickr

Some wooden chews can be bought, such as the bolt-on one that Tania is standing on or the little wooden one in the peg. I also use wooden clothes pegs on their own clipped to the bars. Attaching a large wooden toy is another option - I prefer to use wire to do this rather than cable ties.

I make sure there's plenty of enrichment in the cage and other chewing opportunities such as:
wooden playsticks/fiddlesticks
Dog chews
antlers, e.g. StagBar
Swinging bridges (these are loved by my hams)
Metal kebab toys (which I fill with barley rings as a healthy treat)
Wooden logs stuffed with paper and treats hanging from the roof

Toys for cheeky girls by vectishams, on Flickr
kebab treats by vectishams, on Flickr

Cheeky hamsters often like new activities to keep them from misbehaving. I find cardboard toys the easiest to improvise and change around. I always ask fast food shops for an extra drinks holder. With a little rope it makes a fun hanging swinging bridge for Atlanta.
Cardboard toys by vectishams, on Flickr

Putting the hamster's dinner ration in a small cardboard box or eggbox and then sealing it makes the ham work to get their food, and keeps them occupied. You can see this in one of the photos in the 'cage' section above - the box had been attached to the roof to make it harder! Another way of hiding the food is to use a small section of toilet/kitchen roll tube wrapped in plain paper to form a cracker.
crackers copy by vectishams, on Flickr

Scatter feeding can also keep chewers occupied, but if using a food bowl I recommend a ceramic not a plastic one.
I found my Cadie rather soggy one morning having chewed a big hole in her plastic bottle:
oops by vectishams, on Flickr

Some very naughty hams may need a metal and glass water bottle not a plastic one!
Cadie-resistant bottle by vectishams, on Flickr

I hope this may keep your cheeky chewers occupied - for a minute or two!
Vectis Hamstery is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-16-2014, 04:37 AM   #2
PM Fluffy for custom title
2LittlePuds's Avatar
Join Date: Aug 2014
Location: Lancashire
Posts: 1,400
Default Re: Managing Bar Chewers

Thats brilliant, really informative. Thankyou
2LittlePuds is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-16-2014, 04:48 AM   #3
Luv My Tiny Cuties
Esmy's Avatar
Join Date: Feb 2014
Location: North Carolina
Posts: 4,203
Default Re: Managing Bar Chewers

That is an anazing guide Vectis! Can it be stickier to make it easier to find? I don't have any bar chewers in bar cages anymore but I still love some of the ideas, like wrapping their food up!
Esmy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-16-2014, 04:49 AM   #4
Hamster Pup
MamaHam's Avatar
Join Date: Sep 2014
Location: London
Posts: 161
Default Re: Managing Bar Chewers

wow thank you. this is so helpful.
MamaHam is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-18-2014, 08:40 AM   #5
PM Fluffy for custom title
Munchalot's Avatar
Join Date: May 2013
Location: Devon, UK
Posts: 2,197
Default Re: Managing Bar Chewers

I'm intrigued by the mention of antler. We sell the StagBar antlers in our pet shop, and I had wondered whether that was something a ham could chew. We also sell the StagBar multi-chews, which is a large piece of antler with rope and rubber ring to chew, which made me think of psyco-chewer Tansy. I wouldn't use the rubber ring though, too dangerous for my nutcase. :L
I know some rodents will gnaw bones and antlers in the wild, which made me wonder.

Do they actually like them?
Munchalot is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-18-2014, 08:49 AM   #6
Strong Brew Hamstery
Hekomi's Avatar
Join Date: Feb 2014
Location: Ontario, Canada
Posts: 5,282
Default Re: Managing Bar Chewers

We have three, Munch - two for the dwarf boys, one for Java, and none of them use them. But whimzees are well used.

Hekomi is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-18-2014, 12:42 PM   #7
Vectis Hamstery
Vectis Hamstery's Avatar
Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: Southampton, UK
Posts: 4,577
Default Re: Managing Bar Chewers

I have StagBar antlers in my duprasi cages. Sirius has definitely had a go at his and it's lasting well. Cassie only got hers a week or so ago.
Vectis Hamstery is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-18-2014, 01:17 PM   #8
Senior Hamster
DanniDorrito's Avatar
Join Date: Aug 2014
Location: Quebec, Canada
Posts: 443
Default Re: Managing Bar Chewers

I brought Marbles home in a smallish cage, but had ordered a larger one the next day, so he was in the small cage for his first week with us. He went nuts on the bars and we tried everything to prevent him from doing so, but ultimately we knew it just came down to him being bored and not having enough space.

His new cage came (10gal tank with cage topper) and it was wonderful, but he soon fell back into the habit of bar chewing. Again we started trying everything again to get him to stop, and thankfully we found a solution!

After we purchased a suspended bridge for the top of the cage he stopped bar chewing almost altogether. He still did it occasionally in a specific spot, but the hanging bridge has kept him very entertained (He loves climbing). We placed a honey stick in the spot where he still chewed, so now when he goes to that corner he will just chew the wooden stick, he did it a lot at first but has slowly stopped.

It has been around a week since he last chewed the bars, we are very happy and it seems Marbles is too!

We'll still continue to give him new things to chew and new experiences to keep him entertained, he seems to enjoy trying new things with us
DanniDorrito is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-20-2014, 03:34 AM   #9
Senior Hamster
Oatmeal_Cupcake's Avatar
Join Date: Jan 2014
Location: Utah, USA.
Posts: 604
Default Re: Managing Bar Chewers

Kit Kat has learned that if she wants to come out all she needs to do is still by her door and I'll come and open it. However, if I don't see her waiting or I can't get to her at that moment then she will chew on her bars. If she starts chewing I let her chew until she stops. Usually she only chews for 15 seconds and runs off to her top bin. Once she has stopped, I will wait about 15 seconds more and then I'll let her out.

I figure any attention from me while she's chewing is a reward for her. I don't give in to her chews and she knows it won't get her out. Best not to reward any bad behavior or they'll think that chewing is the key to getting out.

Kit Kat only has two bars she chews on and those are blocked of by clothes pins at night when I've gone to bed.

There are a lot of other bar chewing factors and they are all wonderfully highlighted by Vectis Hamstery. Well said!

Kit Kat forever in my heart - 11/12/14.
Oatmeal_Cupcake is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-08-2014, 09:19 AM   #10
Newborn Pup
AmberAutumn's Avatar
Join Date: Oct 2014
Posts: 18
Default Re: Managing Bar Chewers

Thanks for this post! It's so informative. I really like the drinks holder idea, and the egg box. My ham Autumn is so noisy, I'm actually losing sleep over her bar-chewing! I've taken out the bars now (she has two Super-Pod Rotastack cages amongst others) and I've unfortunately had to minimise her space in doing this-but not by too much.

I'm definitely going to order more toys and enrichment items to keep her occupied!
AmberAutumn is offline   Reply With Quote

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump

Powered by vBulletin®
Copyright ©2000 - 2024, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Search Engine Optimisation provided by DragonByte SEO v2.0.43 (Pro) - vBulletin Mods & Addons Copyright © 2024 DragonByte Technologies Ltd.
Copyright 2003-2022, Hobby Solutions
All times are GMT -7. The time now is 07:17 PM.