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Old 02-24-2021, 01:28 PM   #1
BThuringer
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Join Date: Feb 2021
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Default Bar chewing

Zeus, my 3 month old Syrian has developed the a habit of chewing bars recently, which has been making me quite worried as I know that it can be harmful and also means that he is bored/stressed.

He has plenty of chews and treats all around his cage which he uses, so I know that he has plenty of options and he shouldn't feel that he needs to resort to chewing his bars. He has a large cage (95 x 57 x h 50 cm) with multiple tiers, so there is a lot of space to play and explore. He also has a wooden wheel (28cm diameter) which he uses every night. I always scatter feed him and provide extra enrichment such as puzzles when he has time out of the cage. I also recently bought new climbing frames and tunnels for his cage when I was worried that perhaps it could be due to boredom, but he still continued to chew his bars.

Does anyone have any suggestions about what might be causing him to chew his bars? It feels like I've tried everything (and have spent an awful lot of money) but still come back to the same result, and I hate the thought of him being stressed/unhappy.
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Old 02-24-2021, 03:26 PM   #2
yasmin_the_hamster
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Default Re: Bar chewing

Quote:
Originally Posted by BThuringer View Post
Zeus, my 3 month old Syrian has developed the a habit of chewing bars recently, which has been making me quite worried as I know that it can be harmful and also means that he is bored/stressed.

He has plenty of chews and treats all around his cage which he uses, so I know that he has plenty of options and he shouldn't feel that he needs to resort to chewing his bars. He has a large cage (95 x 57 x h 50 cm) with multiple tiers, so there is a lot of space to play and explore. He also has a wooden wheel (28cm diameter) which he uses every night. I always scatter feed him and provide extra enrichment such as puzzles when he has time out of the cage. I also recently bought new climbing frames and tunnels for his cage when I was worried that perhaps it could be due to boredom, but he still continued to chew his bars.

Does anyone have any suggestions about what might be causing him to chew his bars? It feels like I've tried everything (and have spent an awful lot of money) but still come back to the same result, and I hate the thought of him being stressed/unhappy.
Hello,
I can see that you care very, very much about the wellbeing of your hamster. I also have an exttemely active syrian (4 months) and I have been there - I started with Alaska cage, moved her to Detolf in two weeks due to obsessive bar chewing, and at the end I built a DIY cage.

First, some hamsters need more free roaming time. I have found that my Yasmin wants 1,5-2 hours of free roaming! Since the room itself gets boring for her (despite all the toys etc), she chews closet, corners of bed and so on.She wants to climb on the radiator heating, so I always turn that off. She would climb walls if she could I always have to keep an eye on her.

Second, how deep is your bedding? Cages with bars usually do not provide enough space for deep bedding. Digging significantly reduces bar chewing and stress. If you have little bedding (10-20cm), you can use a carton box filled with bedding in your playpen, to make up for that a bit.
The influence of bedding depth on behaviour in golden hamsters (Mesocricetus auratus) | Request PDF

Third, some hamsters, especially this young, are just too curious, smart and active. I know how frustrating it is that your hamster is telling you that he needs more space. Maybe you can connect the cage you have with extra bin cage, where you can provide also burrowing area (it can be only burrowing area, since you already have so may toys and chews). This will not be as expensive as buying a brand new tank or building diy cage as I did.
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Old 02-24-2021, 03:27 PM   #3
yasmin_the_hamster
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Default Re: Bar chewing

Quote:
Originally Posted by BThuringer View Post
Zeus, my 3 month old Syrian has developed the a habit of chewing bars recently, which has been making me quite worried as I know that it can be harmful and also means that he is bored/stressed.

He has plenty of chews and treats all around his cage which he uses, so I know that he has plenty of options and he shouldn't feel that he needs to resort to chewing his bars. He has a large cage (95 x 57 x h 50 cm) with multiple tiers, so there is a lot of space to play and explore. He also has a wooden wheel (28cm diameter) which he uses every night. I always scatter feed him and provide extra enrichment such as puzzles when he has time out of the cage. I also recently bought new climbing frames and tunnels for his cage when I was worried that perhaps it could be due to boredom, but he still continued to chew his bars.

Does anyone have any suggestions about what might be causing him to chew his bars? It feels like I've tried everything (and have spent an awful lot of money) but still come back to the same result, and I hate the thought of him being stressed/unhappy.
Hello,
I can see that you care very, very much about the wellbeing of your hamster. I also have an exttemely active syrian (4 months) and I have been there - I started with Alaska cage, moved her to Detolf in two weeks due to obsessive bar chewing, and at the end I built a DIY cage.

First, some hamsters need more free roaming time. I have found that my Yasmin wants 1,5-2 hours of free roaming! Since the room itself gets boring for her (despite all the toys etc), she chews closet, corners of bed and so on.She wants to climb on the radiator heating, so I always turn that off. She would climb walls if she could I always have to keep an eye on her.

Second, how deep is your bedding? Cages with bars usually do not provide enough space for deep bedding. Digging significantly reduces bar chewing and stress. If you have little bedding (10-20cm), you can use a carton box filled with bedding in your playpen, to make up for that a bit.
The influence of bedding depth on behaviour in golden hamsters (Mesocricetus auratus) | Request PDF

Third, some hamsters, especially this young, are just too curious, smart and active. I know how frustrating it is that your hamster is telling you that he needs more space. Maybe you can connect the cage you have with extra bin cage, where you can provide also burrowing area (it can be only burrowing area, since you already have so may toys and chews). This will not be as expensive as buying a brand new tank or building diy cage as I did.
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Old 02-27-2021, 07:15 AM   #4
Jim
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Default Re: Bar chewing

Quote:
Originally Posted by BThuringer View Post
Does anyone have any suggestions about what might be causing him to chew his bars? It feels like I've tried everything (and have spent an awful lot of money) but still come back to the same result, and I hate the thought of him being stressed/unhappy.
Not everything has to be stressed induced. Think about it, he is small, unable to speak, so how is he going to get your attention? Have you found anything that calms him down after bar chewing?

Most of my hamsters used bar chewing to signal that they want out of cage time. Took them out for a bit, and they wouldn't touch their bars all night afterwards.

My newest is now with me for 2 weeks, still learning to trust being handled, but when she first wakes up she'll chew a bit. I feed her some alfalfa sprouts and some dehydrated duck out of my hand. And she goes to playing in her cages and doesn't touch the bars after that.
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Old 02-27-2021, 08:10 AM   #5
Jim
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Default Re: Bar chewing

Quote:
Originally Posted by yasmin_the_hamster View Post
Quote:
In this study, we showed that cages with at least 40 cm of bedding seemed to enhance the welfare of golden hamsters, although those in 80 cm bedding had more body fat compared with the other groups.
She did a follow up research tracking activity time.Follow Up Report

Quote:
Hamsters in deep bedding were significantly less synchronised to the light system, developed longer circadian rhythms tau (τ), had later activity onsets in the running wheel and a lower running wheel activity than hamsters in low bedding cages. Their activity onsets inside the bedding were later. Time differences between the onset of movements inside the bedding and the onset of running wheel activity were not significant. Thus, the later appearance of golden hamsters kept in deep bedding was not fully compensated by more activity inside the burrows.
So lots of bedding means lower activity, which with similar food intake, means fatter hamsters.
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Old 02-27-2021, 09:14 AM   #6
Ria P
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Default Re: Bar chewing

I also believe that bar chewing isn't necessarily a sign of stress or boredom.

Out of our seven hamsters three sometimes bar chew and those three are the ones who want the most out of cage time and attention. Sometimes they have to wait their turn because another hamster is running around on the floor and they don't like it. Our hamsters are not patient creatures which can result in a bout of bar chewing to tell me that they want out and that they want out Now. The chewing is a means of communication.

One hamster is just plain jealous when its not her turn to freeroam or get immediate attention. She is a little "me me me!" diva by nature.

Sometimes its enough to take a bar chewing hamster out of his cage, talk to him and let him climb around on me for a while, especially after he already had lots of out of cage time. He'll then go happily back in to run on his wheel.

No matter how big the cage is and how many toys and chews a hamster has, the other side of the bars still holds more interesting things for some hamsters.
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