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Old 07-24-2021, 01:33 AM   #1
JackieS
Newborn Pup
 
Join Date: Oct 2015
Posts: 23
Default Alaska/Furat

Hi, I got a new rescue hamster from my local Pets at Home yesterday. I have put her into an Alaska cage to settle in. However, I now keep rats and have a spare Ferplast Furat in the loft. Would this be better for her? I’m aware that it’s a tall cage, but was wondering if you can use hammocks etc to make it safe for her. Also, my previous rescues have been old and not very active……what enrichment can I put in her cage, she’s only young. Many thanks!
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Old 07-24-2021, 03:56 AM   #2
Serendipity7000
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Location: North of England
Posts: 21,858
Default Re: Alaska/Furat

No tall cages aren't good for hamsters - even with hammocks etc. They can climb to the top but arent good at getting down again and tend to just drop.

Is it the very tall double height one or the standard one? The very tall one would be a no go. The standard height one would need a full level making and additional shelves to cover the gap to the entrance to the full level.

The Alaska is much the better option - hamsters need more floor space and less height - they have more normal behaviours with more floor space - they are ground dwellers really. They like moving the substrate around (building mountains out of it or piling it up against their house to insulate it when it gets colder), burying things in it and digging in it etc.

The best enrichment you can give is

1) Plenty of substrate at floor level
2) A good sized house at floor level, open underneath so they can bury hoards under the nest and have enough room for a big nest and hoards.
3) Plenty of paper nesting material (torn up strips of plain white toilet paper - not in the house, in a pile in the cage somewhere - they like to forage for their nesting material, pouch it and take it back to build/line their nest).
4) Some scatter feeding (I do both - put some in the food bowl and just scatter a litle bit) - they are basically ground foragers.
5) Variety - floor toys like tunnels, extra hidey places - pringles tubes make good sized tunnels - they're better with rat sized toys (if its a syrian). If its a dwarf hamster smaller tunnels are fine.
6) A shelf or platform that's not too high - they do like sitting on a shelf and sitting under it - a safe place to go so they don't feel too exposed. It's also a place to put heavier items like ceramic toys or a food bowl and water bottle (drips on the shelf not the substrate).
7) A good sized wheel.
Not too much open space above - things like a hanging rat sputnik are good as it's something to sit under but they tend not to use them unless they're easily accessible - I usually tie a rat tube to the roof leading from a shelf to the sputnik.

Safety:

No chains or open ladders - they can end up hanging by a broken leg or falling and injuring themselves. Sisal string is fine for attaching things to the bars as its safe to chew.

No fabric - they can chew it and get digestive blockages or get threads wrapped round their teeth or legs (leads to amputations sometimes).

No fluffy bedding

Any hard or sharp floor toys need to be under something - eg under the shelf or under a sputnik - so if they do happen to climb to the roof and monkey bar across it (and drop) they don't land on something and injure themselves (spinal injuries) - so only have soft substrate to land on.

Substrate at least 4 to 6" deep.

For syrians - any entrance holes (houses, tunnels etc) need to be at least 6cm in diameter or they can get stuck (they can be quite wide with full pouches). For dwarf hamsters at least 5cm diameter.

They are very clean though and will use a litter tray so then you don't need to change all the substrate regularly. Most people just "spot clean" the pee (or empty the litter tray a couple of times a week). The rest of the cage stays clean and dry and you can then just do a substrate change as and when needed - I go about 3 months and then replace about two thirds of it, keeping a clean third back to spread on top so it stil smells familiar.

Dont clean everything at the same time, that stresses them as removes all their scent trails.

So substrate one week - as and when - wheel a different week - any other items a different week again - toys often don't need much cleaning very often.

Is it a dwarf or syrian hamster? If its a dwarf hammy, even the Alaska is a bit tall so needs setting up carefully.

Enrichment wise additionally - different textures can help - I like the large cork logs as a tunnel - interesting texture, something to climb over or run through. You can also get grass hammocks. Hamsters do like hammocks and they do provide good overhead cover, but they can still fall, so not too high up.

Access is another thing - they need stable access to a shelf eg - ladders that wobble make them nervous - so a solid ramp or ladder securely attached is better. I sometimes use the cork log tunnel part way under a shelf so it doubles up as a ramp to climb up the side of.

Hope that helps!
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