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Old 02-03-2021, 10:38 AM   #1
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Default Bioactive hamster cage?

So in the future, I have a lot of plans to really step up my hamster care and try to mimic their natural habitat as much as possible. One concept which I thought of was making the enclosure bioactive.

If you don't know what this means, it's essentially adding invertebrates to the substrate such as springtails and isopods/woodlice, which then consume decaying matter such as mould and faeces. I've seen this done with both rats and hedgehogs, but I've only heard a couple people discussing it online for hamsters. I really feel like this could be very beneficial as it would mean I would never have to clean the enclosure, apart from areas such as the sand bath. This could definitely make a hamster a lot less stressed.

To do this, I would use a soil substrate mixed with aspen for odour control, as well as maybe hay, sphagnum moss, etc. to make it easier for burrowing. I do not intend on planting any plants directly into the substrate as this would cause moisture problems, though I might add some safe potted ones depending on how the hamster reacts.

I was curious to see if anyone could find any problems with this as I might not have considered certain things. I couldn't really think of any apart from the fact I might need to create small humid spots in parts of the enclosure for the inverts to thrive.
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Old 02-03-2021, 01:20 PM   #2
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Default Re: Bioactive hamster cage?

For the short answer: No, just no.

Humid environments are very dangerous for hamsters. Their environment, if too humid, can lead to things like mold & general fungal growth along with respiratory health issues.

Soil isn't safe for hamsters. The most similar thing you'll find is pure coconut fiber and even that needs to be used very carefully to not be too dry or too moist(again, respiratory issues etc). Moss is something I would strongly discourage the use of - it inevitably traps humidity which you absolutely do not want in a hamster enclosure.

Live plants should not be used in the cage and potted ones outside the cage can be unsafe due to the soil. Hay can be very sharp and cause eye injuries and such, as well as being potentially dusty and a good way to introduce unwanted pests into your enclosure so it does require strict precautions like freezing at least 2 days before using it along with going through every piece to make sure nothing is too sharp etc.

Very deep substrate honestly does the job good enough in a very large enclosure and if you're using a safe substrate that is appropriate for burrowing it'll be much safer and still allow hamsters to exhibit natural behaviors.
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Old 02-03-2021, 02:12 PM   #3
Ria P
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Location: Wiltshire, UK
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Default Re: Bioactive hamster cage?

No, that's a bad idea and would create an unhealthy environment for a hamster.

Think about it. A hamster does not come from the jungle or a humid environment like a reptile for example so why would you want to expose him to one? It's unnatural and not species inappropriate.

With a large habitat and deep substrate you hardly ever need to do a cage clean anyway and spot cleaning is usually enough. You can still create a wonderful and natural setup but be careful with plants because hamsters are likely to eat them.

I know what a bioactive tank is but i find it ironic because everyone who keeps hamsters tries their hardest to keep bugs OUT of their habitats, lol.
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Old 02-03-2021, 05:57 PM   #4
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Default Re: Bioactive hamster cage?

Sorry but agree- very bad idea for a hamster! Humidity and mould could result and hamsters have extremely sensitive respiratory tracts and could get fungal lung infections. It’s a lovely idea for the right species. It could actually be a welfare issue.

The other thing is - it isn’t necessary because hamsters are very clean little things and will use a litter tray (pee). Their pee is the only unhygienic bit. You just empty the litter tray once or twice a week and the rest of the cage stays clean and dry. I go four months without doing a substrate change doing this - apart from occasional spot cleaning if necessary or just adding a bit of substrate because it’s flattened down.

Also they eat their own poops sometimes! This is normal behaviour as they have two stomachs and can redigest nutrients from their poops. So the hamsters themselves are bioactive!

They don’t eat all of them though but can have little hoards or poops too (emergency food supplies to help them feel secure).

Their poops are not dirty or smelly but more like seeds and dry so they aren’t an issue unless they start taking over the cage and then you can just spot clean them.
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