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Old 12-08-2016, 03:04 AM   #1
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Question Simple question on changing cage

Hi guys,

just a simple question...

My hamster (Morinozuka, "Mori") a Chinese dwarf, lives in a 40 gallon tank (glass) I'm just curious on how often I should be changing his cage. I do it every week but I'm wondering if I am changing too often.

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Old 12-08-2016, 03:32 AM   #2
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Default Re: Simple question on changing cage

Hello. Do you mean cleaning out his cage? Or moving things around? Or both? Anyway whichever, hammies don't like things being cleaned or disturbed really and it can cause quite a bit of stress for them because they scent mark everything to help find their way around as they don't see well. Plus it feels like there has been an intruder in their space sometimes (less so as the hamster gets older and knows you well, but they still prefer to move things around themselves generally!)

If you have a glass tank you will probably have plenty of room for a good depth of substrate. Maybe 4 to 6 " deep? Although that may sound like a lot, it doesn't actually cost more really because instead of cleaning out every week, you "spot clean". Most of the substrate stays dry and you take the occasional handful out, replace it and mix it in.

It's best to leave toys, wheel and house in the same position all the time really. Hamsters basically don't like change.

I tend to only do a "full" clean about once every 3 or 4 months - and even then I only change about half of the substrate, and replace half and mix it in with the new. Also do the toys at a separate time (maybe a week later) - but toys often don't really need much of a clean anyway. And the wheel at a separate time as well. That way there is always something that still smells familiar and it's less stressful for them.

It's fine just to use a cloth soaked in warm water as well - don't use anything scented as hamsters have a very strong sense of smell and this can be very strong for them. A disinfectant is only necessary if there has been illness or disease. With deeper substrate the tank itself may stay dry anyway, but this depends on your hammy's toiletting habits. I think Cypher said that dwarf hammies can tend to burrow down to pee, in which case warm soapy water would remove any pee smell. Just a bit of washing up liquid or something.

Using a litter tray can also help save on substrate and cleaning - hammies tend to use it (but then there is always a hammy that won't!). Sometimes they will use a sand bath as a toilet as well. The main thing is put the litter tray in the place they have chosen as their pee/toilet place then they're more likely to use it.

I found this video really helped me with cage cleaning as our hamster was very nervous when younger and got quite distressed if anything at all changed and especially at cage cleaning time. Erin's suggested method worked really well for us. You can adapt it slightly with a dwarf hamster if they tend to pee at the bottom of the cage. So instead of just replacing the top half to a third of substrate, just replace the same amount have spot cleaned the wet parts
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Old 12-08-2016, 04:19 AM   #3
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Default Re: Simple question on changing cage

They don't burrow down to pee Serendipity they just burrow, burrow & burrow more lol!
I do find with Chineseys especially that all the substrate gets well & truly mixed up as they burrow & dig a lot (some may make a nest at the bottom of the cage/tank too) which means that just cleaning the top layer doesn't work at all.
I only do partial cleans, maybe a third or half at a time but you do need to get down to the bottom of the cage as that's where poo, bits of food, loads of sand & everything else ends up. I don't have a set schedule for partial cleans but probably once a month or two months depending on how the cage looks & what they've been up to.
A lot depends on where they pee, if it's mostly in the wheel or sand then you don't need to clean nest areas too often but if they pee in the nest then that may need cleaning weekly with daily spot cleans if need be.
I always put back some of the nest & hoard when I clean those areas.
I don't find toys need cleaning often at all tbh.

If you do mean changing things in the cage I do that rarely if ever, most of my hams really don't like their set up being changed around so I keep a small area where I can add things or swap them around & leave the rest well alone.
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Old 12-08-2016, 04:25 AM   #4
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Default Re: Simple question on changing cage

Getting to the bottom is especially true of tanks in any species!Unfortunately dust,debris,food,and such stick to aquarium sealant so unless a tank is acrylic(molecular bond,not sealed but still leak proof)it will need to get that part cleaned during cleanings which means disturbing the substrate at least along the edges.I find the best way to clean sealant is just using a wet cloth you don't mind getting rid of or an extremely strong paper towel(I found out the hard way cheap ones just don't hold up)and just wiping the sealant.
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