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Old 08-11-2021, 11:56 AM   #1
Newborn Pup
Join Date: Aug 2021
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Default Easily bored hamster, please help

I bought a hamster a little over 3 months ago. She came from a small cage with bars all around, roughly 40cmx20cm possibly smaller. I knew she would be a bar biter as this was her behaviour in the pet shop so I bought her a plastic guinea pig cage with a wire top (100cmx55cm) to prevent this behaviour. After two/three weeks, she began biting the nozzle on her water bottle so I had to replace it with a water bowl which she immediately took very well and drank from it without issue. I bought a shelf to replace the hole where the bottle was which she also enjoyed. However, She began biting the top bars by standing on the shelf.

I thought she may possibly be bored even though she had many wooden furniture, forage flower/grass packs, toys, wooden chew sticks, arches and cardboard tubes. So I bought a climbing frame to add some entertainment and also added way more substrate for her to burrow in. This did not help and she consistently used the shelf to bite the top bars. So I bought her whimzee dog chews, extra wooden sticks and toys. This helped for a short period.

I decided to remove the shelf as it was becoming unbearable and filled the hole with a wooden chew stick. I then thought she wanted to explore so I start letting her out in my room after she got used to handling. She was super happy with this for a while as she can do what she likes in my room without escaping. However, once she got a taste for freedom, she start using her climbing frame to bite the top bars again. I bought her whimzee dog chews, extra wooden sticks and dog gravy biscuits which was recommended by many hamster forums I read. This also help for a short while.

I thought maybe I wasnít given her enough time to roam so I extended her free time to an hour then to two hours in the evening (sometimes 2/3 hours). Sheís generally allowed do anything she pleases in my room as I have blocked up the one corner where she could potentially escape. She eventually only start bar biting for a few minutes and gave up so I could deal with that. She then grew tired of free time in my room so I introduced her to the landing and bathroom. This really helped with bar biting as it almost became non-existent for a short period but it eventually starts again.

As soon as she started again, I decided right she clearly doesnít spend much time burrowing so maybe she just needs more tunnels to explore the bottom of her cage. I bought a tunnel system and buried it under her substrate with the others to allow more access and encourage her to burrow more. She loved it for a day or two then back to bar biting.

Sheís loves to climb and be up high so I felt slightly guilty that I took her shelf away and bought her a hammock which she loves but I had to remove it so she canít reach the top because she driving me mad!!

She also has access to a sand bath with about 2/3cm of sand because she loves to dig in it. Although this behaviour has also become less since free roaming. Her substrate is easily 10cm on one side with her tunnels and arch underneath. She scatter fed daily sometimes in toilet tubes.

Itís starting to stress me out. I spend my free time in the evening letting her out and I feel like no matter what I buy or do, itís just not enough for her. While Iím bloody mentally exhausted trying to keep her from getting bored. Letting her out in the evening was fun at first but now I regret it because she doesnít seem to enjoy anything anymore and then I donít enjoy spending time with her. I dread going to my room in the evenings because she just wants to get out and bar bites. Btw, I live in a shared house therefore I canít move her to another room. To be honest, Iím at my wits end with her. I have done everything for her and Iím an animal student so I made sure I was giving her the best home which satisfied her.

Any ideas what to do? I know itís a natural behaviour in captives to chew bars but I just canít put up with it on a consistent level. I got her for companionship and to reduce my anxiety but the constant reading and trying to find new ways to keep her entertained is actually giving me anxiety at this stage. She get bored way too easily and Iím out of ideas!!
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Old 08-13-2021, 08:23 AM   #2
Ria P
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Location: Wiltshire, UK
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Default Re: Easily bored hamster, please help

Hello and welcome to HC!

Your hamster is very lucky that you took her home.

Is your hamster's wheel big enough for her to run comfortably with a straight back?
A Syrian needs a 28cm wheel like the Trixie wheel.

If she's a persistent and habitual bar chewer then she may need a glass tank that is high enough for her not to be able to reach the meshed lid.

I've recently come across a female Syrian like yours who could only be rehomed into a large tank.
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Old 08-15-2021, 06:36 AM   #3
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Default Re: Easily bored hamster, please help

Some females do need a lot of space. If she has been used to a barred cage as well she may be having difficulty adjusting to the tank style. They always try to look for a way out and the top is the way out! It's very common for them to chew the water bottle hole as well.

It's a good sized cage but I think that style is a bit limiting on what you can do for enrichment as it's not particularly tall or easy to fit shelves in. There are some good 100cm barred cages that are a bit higher (but not too high) allowing for shelving as well as good depth of substrate and a lot more variety. I'll add a photo of our recent Savic Plaza set up - it's still 100cm x 50cm like your cage but has a lot more scope.

On the other hand you may worry she would bar chew in a larger barred cage. The only real alternative then is something like a detolf or 4 foot fish tank, both of which are good options for Syrians.

The detolf is an ikea hack. A cheap option for a glass tank as tanks are really expensive. It's a glass cabinet tipped on its side with the door left off so it's open at the top. It then needs a lid (usually two smaller lids) makign so a bit of diy involved - just some strips of wood with mesh attached though.

You can find some reasonably priced second hand 4 foot fish tanks (I could never find one) but again they would need a lid making.

These are difficult decisions as they involve cost!

If she's been in the (is it a Zoozone?) for 3 months now and not settling it does sound like she might need a bit of an upgrade to a different style of cage. The advantage of the Savic Plaza is the interaction with the hamster as well as it has a large front opening door. And they seem to like that. Ours come to the door when you open it and put the paws on and go nose to nose for a bit

Also as Ria says, if her wheel isn't big enough that could make her hyperactive. The 28cm trixie wheel should fit if it's the 100cm zoozone. And yes if there's a shelf she will climb on it and try and get to the top bars. So something with a bit more height would be helpful there.

It may just be needing more enrichment and more to do in the cage. Have you got a photo of the set up?
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Old 10-05-2021, 04:42 PM   #4
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Join Date: Jul 2021
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Default Re: Easily bored hamster, please help

Its all about routine routine routine and sticking to it!

Im a qualified behaviourist so my advise is professional. Yours like everyones including mine will get bored and more than likely start cage biting. Mine free runs my hole flat she knows her name and comes when called she also still uses her ball which she enjoys for a change.
What you need to do is make a routine and religiously stick to it as you would with a dog with there food and walking times. She must knows what to expect and when to stop this behaviour. Bordem comes from a lack of this or a total cage life with no freedom. My routine with Bella is that she without fail or excuse she comes out every other day either for a free run or in her ball and at ruffly the same time every time around 9pm. She learnt it in around 4wks and knows and trusts the routine that she will be let out and when so theres no need to stress not noing if she will ever get let out again. She hasn't cage bit since not even on the days she stays in!
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bought, room, time, bar, biting

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