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Old 01-08-2024, 07:55 PM   #1
Newborn Pup
Join Date: Jan 2024
Location: UK
Posts: 1
Default I need help with my bar chewing hamster!

Hi! I've super recently (about 2 weeks ago) gotten a hamster called ralsei and I've been having a little bit of trouble, and I need some advice.
I'm 17 and still live with my parents, and I've always been in love with animals, so this year my parents got me a hamster cage for Christmas so that I could get a hamster! I was super happy about this obviously but I've always thought that I wouldn't get a hamster or any other animal until I knew that I would be able to look after it properly and give it everything it needs. I know hamsters need big enclosures with different areas of stimulation and such, and unfortunately, although this cage is labeled as extra large it is not quite what I would've chosen to house a hamster in. My family doesn't have much money so I obviously really appreciate the cage my parents have got but I'm just worried that it's not enough for ralsei, and I really just want him to be happy. The cage is quite tall with lots of levels, ramps and quite alot of base space, and has bars instead of glass.
I got ralsei on boxing day and he is such a lovely Syrian hamster. He was seemingly very young when I got him as he was quite small for a Syrian hamster, and since he has grown a bit. I know he is probably still settling in to his new environment but he is still quite skittish. He is very curious and I absolutely adore him so much. However, he has a terrible bar biting problem.
Despite his cage maybe being too small he has loads of chew toys which he does not touch. In his cage I have put wooden nibble sticks, a dangling wooden and straw thing, lots of thick cardboard, and dangling food sticks, however he is not interested in the slightest! The only thing he really ever wants to do is chew on the bars. I've tried lots of different things like slotting in chew sticks through the bars where he commonly chews or weaving cardboard through the bars to try to get him to stop, but he always either chews the cardboard away or justs starts biting the bars in a different part of his cage.
Ive been trying to keep him stimulated and happy as much as I can but I've had problems with this. He has a sand bath in his cage which he loves so much, and if he's not sleeping or chewing on the bars, he will be in there. He also has a wheel in his cage but never uses it (and it definitely does work). However he really loves running in his ball when it's on its stand, but this doesn't really fit in his cage so he can only go in it for about 20 mins a day. I also have a play pen which I put lots of toys and interactive things in but he just seems set on trying to escape instead of playing.
Im so sorry for such a long message and I'm also really sorry if I have put this in the wrong place or anything. This is my first post on this forum but I am absolutely desperate for help. I really want to help ralsei before he develops any negative behaviours permanently or he damages his teeth, and in general I just want him to be more happy! Unfortunately I don't think I could buy him a new, bigger cage right now because I have absolutely no money, but I am saving up. My house is also very small and I know that a big enclosure just simply couldn't fit. If I had known my parents were going to get me a hamster for Christmas I would've told them not to because I just don't have enough money or space to look after one as best as I could, but I'm so glad to have ralsei in my life and I'm really just trying to find ways to improve his.
Any advice would be so greatly appreciated, and again, I'm sorry if I've put this in the wrong place!!
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Old 01-10-2024, 08:57 AM   #2
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Jeir's Avatar
Join Date: Nov 2014
Location: UK
Posts: 241
Default Re: I need help with my bar chewing hamster!

Unfortunately, the cage you have sounds very unsuitable for any hamster, and the chewing is likely in response to it; he's bored because he doesn't have enough room. You and your parents also seem to be victims of stores being untruthful when it comes to hamster care.

A suitable cage for any hamster should be at least 80x50cm, but preferably 100x50cm. Continuous horizontal floor space is a lot more important than vertical space. Having too many levels can be bad, as hamster are not good climbers (no matter what they think!), and a fall can do a lot of damage.
Pets at Home sell the 'Hamster Plaza' for 80, which is a very good cage, and one I use for my Syrian. They also sell the 'Hamster Heaven' for 75, and I think I've seen it on offer for 55 a few times. If you're into DIY at all, you can likely make something much cheaper using a suitable sized storage box, or something from IKEA (The Dettolf used to be a popular DIY cage).

The wheel for a syrian should be at least 11inches/28cm, with larger syrians needing 12inch wheels. I currently use Nightangel wheels, which are on the expensive side, but there are cheaper wheels by Trixie and Bucatstate that are suitable.

The 'hamster balls' should not be used at all, as hamsters are almost blind and rely on their whiskers to 'see' where they're going. They can't 'see' in the ball, so any time they crash into something, it's just scary. He's probably panicking inside it, rather than enjoying it.

You could have a look on youtube for suitable DIY toys you could try making to help with Ralsei's boredom. SomethingAnimal has a large number of DIY projects, and DIY cages, that might interest you. There are plenty others as well, but Ollie's is the one I'm most familiar with. =)

Sorry you're having so much trouble with little Ralsei. The start-up costs for hamsters can be a lot, but it is very worth it in the long run, as you can use most things for multiple hamsters. Also, please don't take anything I've put above as judgement. We all started somewhere, and this is just some guidance to help you work out what to do to help Ralsei have a happy life with you.

Last edited by Jeir; 01-10-2024 at 10:03 AM.
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cage, hamster, bars, ralsei, happy

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