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Old 05-25-2021, 12:03 AM   #1
Imogen
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Exclamation Hamster keeps trying to cover his house with wood shavings?

Hi there.

I've had my hamster about a month and a half now, he is a male Syrian hamster called Remy. Not entirely sure how old he is though.

Since about 2 or 3 days ago, I noticed him starting to cover his house with the wood shavings and it's become kind of annoying. I get he likes digging and is probably doing it as "something to do" or he just ... does it.

However, I don't want him doing this for a few reasons

- It becomes kind of hard to clean his house, I have to remove the lid, take out some of the bedding before removing the actual house to remove all the loose faeces and put new bedding

- He makes a big "mountain" which then makes it hard to have a fairly decent space to place lots of different wooden enrichment toys around a fair amount of his enclosure

- Ends up no matter what with flinging alllll the shavings into his sand bath that I want clean as it looks a mess otherwise!

Within the last 2 - 3 days I have attempted to move his hidey house but he's still trying no matter where it is. I've tried placing his wooden tipi tent next to the place he's now re-trying to cover in the new position and he keeps trying to push it out the way or ends up covering the entire tipi in wood shavings.

Even before I moved it to try and see if he would stop when he first did he, he managed to cover up like 4 of his toys and they completely got buried. This little mountain had a hole where he could walk into his hidey house.

I've tried making sure there's enough bedding in the house so it's warm and cozy and it's actually at a point where it's completely almost cram packed (but still enough for him to manoeuvre and have it how he likes inside) so it's warm but he's still trying to do it.

My room does get cold, but I've made sure within the last month it's warmer then it used to be as well as covering his home made bin cage with a blanket with a bit of the top slightly uncovered for enough air but to keep it warmer inside. It's always warm enough to sit without my blankets on and feel fine in temperature when I sit on my bed with my laptop for a few hours before going to bed.

Anyway to get him to stop?



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Old 05-25-2021, 03:00 AM   #2
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Default Re: Hamster keeps trying to cover his house with wood shavings?

He has literally completely covered his house...
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Old 05-25-2021, 05:58 AM   #3
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Default Re: Hamster keeps trying to cover his house with wood shavings?

Basically he is doing what is in his nature, I think he is trying to feel safe, From the looks of the photo it appears you have it in the middle of the cage. Have you tried putting it up against the sides, he may feel safer like that and less exposed.
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Old 05-25-2021, 08:06 AM   #4
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Default Re: Hamster keeps trying to cover his house with wood shavings?

Lol . They are funny little things. They pile substrate round the house when they feel the cold in my experience. Ours start doing it in about August when the nights her cooler and keep doing it right through to summer. They also like to block k up the entrance door so it’s darker inside. They do need somewhere to retreat to that’s dark (especially as they sleep during daylight!). The tipi - he either doesn’t like it but does like it snd isn’t sure what to do with it so playing with it like a toy. A bit of a game. He tips it up, you straighten it - he tips it up again.

I think it’s perfectly normal behaviour. In terms of cleaning out - a litter tray really really helps. Syrian hamsters will use one if you put it in their chosen pee place - often a corner of the cage. A corner tray with sand in and they will pee in it. You then just empty the litter tray and the house should stay clean and dry inside. Baby hamsters still havd the odd accident where they pee in their nest but tend to grow out of it.

If you clean out too much and disturb his house and nest too much, he will work even harder to bury it as they don’t like their house and nest being disturbed. They are very precious about the nest and their hoards snd if hoards are removed they can start peeing on them - to deter people from stealing them and mark them as their own. Then it’s a bit of a vicious circle. Although the cycle can be broken eventually.

After going through all this a few times I now give them a large house- large enough to fit a litter tray inside and with a roof that lifts off. Easy to empty the litter tray. If they have a large house that’s dark inside they are more settled and have normal habits of nesting , hoarding and peeing in there, in separate areas. Putting a bendy stick bridge/tunnel over the entrance door helps make it dark inside (light can’t go round corners either so the ends of the house will be dark - away from the entrance). You could do that now with your current house.

It looks like you have space for a larger house though. If a house is too small they won’t use it (the tipi may be too small). Syrians generally need rat sized houses, tunnels and hides etc. Most things sold for hamsters are only big enough for dwarf hamsters. A few more floor toys like large tunnels may help him feel more secure and they also like overhead cover - something to sit under like a shelf or roof hanging rat Sputnik.

It’s also normal for them to forage at night and keep busy organising their home. They are very active at night. I often find in the morning that there’s a big hole in the substrate down to the cage base and a big pile of substrate next to the house (insulation and also makes it more like an underground burrow). So I just add more substrate to fill the hole!

A shoebox house is a good size and cheap - you just cut the base out of the box snd keep the lid for a lift off roof and cut a hole for a door - plus bendy bridge tunnel entrance.

Or a guinea pig house is a good size (whether you put the litter tray inside or elsewhere). Labyrinth houses with well too as they are automatically dark inside - if they’re big enough - but they can be expensive. He may be happy with the current house with a bendy bridge over the door.

They like extra hidey places too - coconut hides are popular (round). Our previous Syrian used to sit in his every evening for a wash after waking up.

If you’re cleaning out a lot, it isn’t necessary and can stress them as it removes all their familiar smells (and doesn’t help with bonding/taming if they see you as the disruptor!). It’s only their pee that is smelly and unhygienic. So spot cleaning the pee area is all that’s necessary once or twice a week (eg taking the odd handful out snd replacing it). With a litter tray you just empty that once or twice a week and the rest of the cage should stay clean and dry. Poops aren’t really dirty or smelly and can just be spot cleaned if there are quite a few - picked out. Sometimes they hoard some of these too as emergency food supplies (they sometimes eat their poops which is normal behaviour - they have two stomachs).

Have you thought about trying paper bedding like Fitch? I switched to that from shavings years ago. Hansters love it as it’s soft - less messy when piled up as it holds its shape better. It’s also dust free. I started by mixing Fitch in with the shavings snd then switched over to it completely.

With a litter tray and spot cleaning you can easily go three or four months without changing the substrate - so saves on substrate as well as smells

Main thing is to not clean everything at the same time as it removes all their familiar smells. So if you do the substrate , don’t clean anything else at the same time and keep back some of the old clean substrate to spread on top of the new so it still smells familiar- that layer will get spot cleaned out eventually. Then wheel another week, any toys another week again etc.

Too much cleaning out may also maje him want to hide away more from you. Sorry if you already know all that akready.
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Old 05-25-2021, 06:44 PM   #5
Imogen
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Default Re: Hamster keeps trying to cover his house with wood shavings?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Serendipity7000 View Post
Lol . They are funny little things. They pile substrate round the house when they feel the cold in my experience. Ours start doing it in about August when the nights her cooler and keep doing it right through to summer. They also like to block k up the entrance door so itís darker inside. They do need somewhere to retreat to thatís dark (especially as they sleep during daylight!). The tipi - he either doesnít like it but does like it snd isnít sure what to do with it so playing with it like a toy. A bit of a game. He tips it up, you straighten it - he tips it up again.

I think itís perfectly normal behaviour. In terms of cleaning out - a litter tray really really helps. Syrian hamsters will use one if you put it in their chosen pee place - often a corner of the cage. A corner tray with sand in and they will pee in it. You then just empty the litter tray and the house should stay clean and dry inside. Baby hamsters still havd the odd accident where they pee in their nest but tend to grow out of it.

If you clean out too much and disturb his house and nest too much, he will work even harder to bury it as they donít like their house and nest being disturbed. They are very precious about the nest and their hoards snd if hoards are removed they can start peeing on them - to deter people from stealing them and mark them as their own. Then itís a bit of a vicious circle. Although the cycle can be broken eventually.

After going through all this a few times I now give them a large house- large enough to fit a litter tray inside and with a roof that lifts off. Easy to empty the litter tray. If they have a large house thatís dark inside they are more settled and have normal habits of nesting , hoarding and peeing in there, in separate areas. Putting a bendy stick bridge/tunnel over the entrance door helps make it dark inside (light canít go round corners either so the ends of the house will be dark - away from the entrance). You could do that now with your current house.

It looks like you have space for a larger house though. If a house is too small they wonít use it (the tipi may be too small). Syrians generally need rat sized houses, tunnels and hides etc. Most things sold for hamsters are only big enough for dwarf hamsters. A few more floor toys like large tunnels may help him feel more secure and they also like overhead cover - something to sit under like a shelf or roof hanging rat Sputnik.

Itís also normal for them to forage at night and keep busy organising their home. They are very active at night. I often find in the morning that thereís a big hole in the substrate down to the cage base and a big pile of substrate next to the house (insulation and also makes it more like an underground burrow). So I just add more substrate to fill the hole!

A shoebox house is a good size and cheap - you just cut the base out of the box snd keep the lid for a lift off roof and cut a hole for a door - plus bendy bridge tunnel entrance.

Or a guinea pig house is a good size (whether you put the litter tray inside or elsewhere). Labyrinth houses with well too as they are automatically dark inside - if theyíre big enough - but they can be expensive. He may be happy with the current house with a bendy bridge over the door.

They like extra hidey places too - coconut hides are popular (round). Our previous Syrian used to sit in his every evening for a wash after waking up.

If youíre cleaning out a lot, it isnít necessary and can stress them as it removes all their familiar smells (and doesnít help with bonding/taming if they see you as the disruptor!). Itís only their pee that is smelly and unhygienic. So spot cleaning the pee area is all thatís necessary once or twice a week (eg taking the odd handful out snd replacing it). With a litter tray you just empty that once or twice a week and the rest of the cage should stay clean and dry. Poops arenít really dirty or smelly and can just be spot cleaned if there are quite a few - picked out. Sometimes they hoard some of these too as emergency food supplies (they sometimes eat their poops which is normal behaviour - they have two stomachs).

Have you thought about trying paper bedding like Fitch? I switched to that from shavings years ago. Hansters love it as itís soft - less messy when piled up as it holds its shape better. Itís also dust free. I started by mixing Fitch in with the shavings snd then switched over to it completely.

With a litter tray and spot cleaning you can easily go three or four months without changing the substrate - so saves on substrate as well as smells

Main thing is to not clean everything at the same time as it removes all their familiar smells. So if you do the substrate , donít clean anything else at the same time and keep back some of the old clean substrate to spread on top of the new so it still smells familiar- that layer will get spot cleaned out eventually. Then wheel another week, any toys another week again etc.

Too much cleaning out may also maje him want to hide away more from you. Sorry if you already know all that akready.
Thank you so much!
All your information was so helpful. Yes, I did have the hidey house in a corner for quite awhile but moved it to try and make a bit more space to add more toys which has worked really well. I have an idea that I can do to replace the house in a corner and keep all the "main" parts on one side and have all the play equipment spread out the other end. (I'll send over a picture in another quote. I'll send it in about 15 minutes)...

With the hidey house it's very dark inside, it only has two small circular windows on the right and left and the back and front wall is completely closed in besides the door opening on the right. It's definitely dark! He's had his hidey house for about 2 weeks now and he only recently started doing this.

Funny you say that about the tunnel, I have actually placed the wooden "tunnel" i had over the front of the opening of his hidey house so it blocks any light going into the opening.

As with the toilet, he now uses the corner where the hidey house was before to go to the bathroom and he seems to be pooping in the corner opposite it (as well as some spread around).

I do want to invest in a coconut hidey house and make some sort of underground little window burrow so I can see in while he's in it. I can't seem to find them anywhere though.

As with the cleaning, I've been quite paranoid keeping him clean I guess...!! I had an old female Syrian back in 2010 when I was 9, she wasn't cleaned as much as she should've been when I look back and she always stunk. I've been cleaning his hidey house literally every 2 days which I can see is now probably very very bad! But I always replace the old stash he stored with a new lot like it's never been moved. Same goes with the place he wee's in, I do that every 2 days. He has a very big sand bath, but he doesn't wee in it (only the odd time he does by accident)... Is there a way I can get him to wee in that? (It's a big round bowl filled with sand, I'll send it with the picture I'll send in a bit).
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Old 05-25-2021, 08:22 PM   #6
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Default Re: Hamster keeps trying to cover his house with wood shavings?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Serendipity7000 View Post
Lol . They are funny little things. They pile substrate round the house when they feel the cold in my experience. Ours start doing it in about August when the nights her cooler and keep doing it right through to summer. They also like to block k up the entrance door so itís darker inside. They do need somewhere to retreat to thatís dark (especially as they sleep during daylight!). The tipi - he either doesnít like it but does like it snd isnít sure what to do with it so playing with it like a toy. A bit of a game. He tips it up, you straighten it - he tips it up again.

I think itís perfectly normal behaviour. In terms of cleaning out - a litter tray really really helps. Syrian hamsters will use one if you put it in their chosen pee place - often a corner of the cage. A corner tray with sand in and they will pee in it. You then just empty the litter tray and the house should stay clean and dry inside. Baby hamsters still havd the odd accident where they pee in their nest but tend to grow out of it.

If you clean out too much and disturb his house and nest too much, he will work even harder to bury it as they donít like their house and nest being disturbed. They are very precious about the nest and their hoards snd if hoards are removed they can start peeing on them - to deter people from stealing them and mark them as their own. Then itís a bit of a vicious circle. Although the cycle can be broken eventually.

After going through all this a few times I now give them a large house- large enough to fit a litter tray inside and with a roof that lifts off. Easy to empty the litter tray. If they have a large house thatís dark inside they are more settled and have normal habits of nesting , hoarding and peeing in there, in separate areas. Putting a bendy stick bridge/tunnel over the entrance door helps make it dark inside (light canít go round corners either so the ends of the house will be dark - away from the entrance). You could do that now with your current house.

It looks like you have space for a larger house though. If a house is too small they wonít use it (the tipi may be too small). Syrians generally need rat sized houses, tunnels and hides etc. Most things sold for hamsters are only big enough for dwarf hamsters. A few more floor toys like large tunnels may help him feel more secure and they also like overhead cover - something to sit under like a shelf or roof hanging rat Sputnik.

Itís also normal for them to forage at night and keep busy organising their home. They are very active at night. I often find in the morning that thereís a big hole in the substrate down to the cage base and a big pile of substrate next to the house (insulation and also makes it more like an underground burrow). So I just add more substrate to fill the hole!

A shoebox house is a good size and cheap - you just cut the base out of the box snd keep the lid for a lift off roof and cut a hole for a door - plus bendy bridge tunnel entrance.

Or a guinea pig house is a good size (whether you put the litter tray inside or elsewhere). Labyrinth houses with well too as they are automatically dark inside - if theyíre big enough - but they can be expensive. He may be happy with the current house with a bendy bridge over the door.

They like extra hidey places too - coconut hides are popular (round). Our previous Syrian used to sit in his every evening for a wash after waking up.

If youíre cleaning out a lot, it isnít necessary and can stress them as it removes all their familiar smells (and doesnít help with bonding/taming if they see you as the disruptor!). Itís only their pee that is smelly and unhygienic. So spot cleaning the pee area is all thatís necessary once or twice a week (eg taking the odd handful out snd replacing it). With a litter tray you just empty that once or twice a week and the rest of the cage should stay clean and dry. Poops arenít really dirty or smelly and can just be spot cleaned if there are quite a few - picked out. Sometimes they hoard some of these too as emergency food supplies (they sometimes eat their poops which is normal behaviour - they have two stomachs).

Have you thought about trying paper bedding like Fitch? I switched to that from shavings years ago. Hansters love it as itís soft - less messy when piled up as it holds its shape better. Itís also dust free. I started by mixing Fitch in with the shavings snd then switched over to it completely.

With a litter tray and spot cleaning you can easily go three or four months without changing the substrate - so saves on substrate as well as smells

Main thing is to not clean everything at the same time as it removes all their familiar smells. So if you do the substrate , donít clean anything else at the same time and keep back some of the old clean substrate to spread on top of the new so it still smells familiar- that layer will get spot cleaned out eventually. Then wheel another week, any toys another week again etc.

Too much cleaning out may also maje him want to hide away more from you. Sorry if you already know all that akready.






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Old 05-25-2021, 08:23 PM   #7
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Default Re: Hamster keeps trying to cover his house with wood shavings?

In the last picture, he's covered up 4 of his toys.

Also, he's scattered fed, hence why there's no food dish.
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Old 05-26-2021, 09:46 AM   #8
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Default Re: Hamster keeps trying to cover his house with wood shavings?

He's lovely Looking at the photos he could maybe do with some more/bigger floor toys at the end away from the house. Things like cardboard tunnels go down well (pringles tubes are a good size for syrian tunnels) or a tissue box hide - places to go and explore.

I wouldn't move anything again as that might unsettle him as well, but adding a few new things at the emptier end would be accepted find - it;s just things being moved around they don't like.

He will need a bigger wheel as he gets older. A popular inexpensive one is the 28cm plastic trixie wheel (the one with holes in) - costs about £9.

Yes it may the cleanouts that are making him bury the house - to try and keep people out or something! They tend to see a sand dish/bath as different from a toilet. If he pees in a corner of the cage then it could be a good idea to add a corner litter tray with sand in there.

I use these.

Trixie Corner Toilet, 16cm x 7cm x 12cm: Amazon.co.uk: Pet Supplies

They seem to like corner litter trays. Ours are very tidy and pee in the back corner and sit in the front part to have a wash. You may find you don't need the sand bowl as well if that happens. You could try moving the sand bowl to the pee corner but he might pee over the edges if it doesn't fit properly in the corner. Or he may decide it's not a toilet because he's been using it as a sand bath!
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