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Old 07-29-2021, 10:42 AM   #1
CuddlyCritterss
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Join Date: Jul 2021
Location: London
Posts: 2
Unhappy Hamster monkey barring - Unsure what's causing it. Advice?

Hello!! I'm looking for some advice about my 5 month old Syrian Hamster, Cinnamon, and his issue with monkey barring.

I got Cinnamon in May this year and we've bonded well! I love his cute little face, and he gets very excited to see me when he wakes up. Recently though, he's started monkey barring, and I'm not sure why. I'm worried he's stressed. I thought you guys could give me some advice on what to do.

So, of course a little information about Cinnamon's Enclosure: He lives in a 300 Litre Aquarium (48" x 24 x 18 / 864 Square Inches I believe) with a DIY wire mesh lid. His substrate consists of a mix of Carefresh Natural Paper Bedding, Aspen Bedding and Timothy Hay - He has Carefresh White Paper Bedding in his hides, some Zoo Med Eco Earth in a dig box and a Sand Bath with Tiny Friends Farm sand. The way his enclosure is currently set up, 1/3rd of the enclosure has around 4 inches of substrate while 2/3rds has 10 inches.

Inside his enclosure he currently has:
. x3 Tunnels: Sea Grass, Willow & a Cork log.
. x4 Hides: 2 Wooden Hides, a Ceramic Hide and a DIY hide made of a Cork Paper Folder & wooden craft sticks - This one's his favourite.
. x2 10(ish) inch large bendy bridges used as substrate dividers.
. x1 Terracotta plant pot.
. x1 Ceramic Dig Box.
. x1 Marble cooling slab.
. x1 10 Inch Trixie Wheel (He had a wooden one, but peed on it till it broke
. x4 Hanging Toys (Chews, Wooden Toys, Bells, Sticks..)
. Many other Toys (Willow Balls, Wooden Sticks, Loofahs, Vegetable Shaped Toys, Wooden Log Slabs, Birch Logs.. Lots of toys!)
. x1 Water Bottle

I also have a bunch of other Hamster items I will sometimes swap out to give him something different to interact with. The enclosure is in my bedroom, which is usually very quiet.

To keep him busy, I scatter feed his food and he also gets a lovely herb mix every so often - Only a little though, because it's a lot of smells and I don't want to overwhelm him.

So! Now you know Cinnamon, back to the issue: He's started monkey barring on the wire mesh enclosure lid and scurrying at the walls sometimes. At first I was worried he wasn't satisfied with the enclosure size, then I worried it was possibly something outside of the enclosure stressing him out? Me perhaps? Since he tends to do this more often when I walk by the enclosure. I'm really not sure. He seems to get very energetic, and that's when the monkey barring begins. I try to discourage it by making it so he can't reach the bars, but he always finds a way.

When he starts monkey barring, I'll offer him a hand to climb out of the enclosure on if he wants to. He usually takes me up on this offer, and we have a little cuddle and playtime, but he often goes back to monkey barring when I put him back. Yesterday though, he didn't even want to come out and seemed a little more skittish than usual, so I gave him space. I'm worried about him, I wish I knew what it was exactly that's causing his behaviour. Seeing him stressed breaks my heart. Hopefully you guys can give me some advice!

Thank you.
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Old 08-01-2021, 10:19 AM   #2
Poekie
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Join Date: Oct 2018
Location: Europe
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Default Re: Hamster monkey barring - Unsure what's causing it. Advice?

Cinnamon is very cute!

The first thing I'd try is increasing bedding depth and put in a lot of enrichment for him. Most hamsters like it when there isn't too much open space. I suggest looking at plueschraupe on instagram/youtube for inspiration. If making his cage more fun doesn't help, I would look into upgrading his enclosure.

Hope this helps
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Old 08-01-2021, 11:26 AM   #3
Ria P
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Red face Re: Hamster monkey barring - Unsure what's causing it. Advice?

The habitat and substrate depth sounds great to me and he's a lucky and very cute hamster.

I have a couple of hamsters who monkey bar but i never connected it with stress. One seemed to enjoy it and did one paw turns before she took ill but i had to adjust her habitat slightly so she couldn't fall onto something hard or edgy. I wished she was still fit enough to monkey bar and i'm sure she wished the same.

The other is a Syrian and monkey barred towards me to get my attention when i sat at my desk. Again, i didn't see it as a stress behaviour but more as a purpose. He doesn't like to wait for his out of cage time and communicates that by showing behaviours. He would dangle and drop so i had to attach a boredom breaker mat to the ceiling of his cage to stop him in his tracks.
That probably wouldn't work in an aquarium because it would compromise the ventilation unless you attach it in a hammocklike fashion.

I found that adding interesting things to the ceiling took his mind of monkey barring plus they caused an obstruction. He currently has a rat sputnik with a ladder leading up to it.

Sometimes they grow out of it or get bored with it and move on to something else. Ours hasn't monkey barred in months and likes his out of cage time every evening. I set up a hamster playground in the hall and let him run around. If you can hamster proof an area in your house, i'd try that because he could use up a lot of energy by running around and many hamsters like this kind of freedom.

A raised lid would akso solve the problem because he couldn't reach it.
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Old 08-01-2021, 06:00 PM   #4
CuddlyCritterss
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Smile Re: Hamster monkey barring - Unsure what's causing it. Advice?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ria P View Post
The habitat and substrate depth sounds great to me and he's a lucky and very cute hamster.

I have a couple of hamsters who monkey bar but i never connected it with stress. One seemed to enjoy it and did one paw turns before she took ill but i had to adjust her habitat slightly so she couldn't fall onto something hard or edgy. I wished she was still fit enough to monkey bar and i'm sure she wished the same.

The other is a Syrian and monkey barred towards me to get my attention when i sat at my desk. Again, i didn't see it as a stress behaviour but more as a purpose. He doesn't like to wait for his out of cage time and communicates that by showing behaviours. He would dangle and drop so i had to attach a boredom breaker mat to the ceiling of his cage to stop him in his tracks.
That probably wouldn't work in an aquarium because it would compromise the ventilation unless you attach it in a hammocklike fashion.

I found that adding interesting things to the ceiling took his mind of monkey barring plus they caused an obstruction. He currently has a rat sputnik with a ladder leading up to it.

Sometimes they grow out of it or get bored with it and move on to something else. Ours hasn't monkey barred in months and likes his out of cage time every evening. I set up a hamster playground in the hall and let him run around. If you can hamster proof an area in your house, i'd try that because he could use up a lot of energy by running around and many hamsters like this kind of freedom.

A raised lid would akso solve the problem because he couldn't reach it.
Thanks for the advice!! It seems since adjusting his enclosure a little, he hasn't been monkey barring anymore which is good! I do really like the idea of introducing a rat sputnik though, I'll see if I can buy one for him.

I'd love to set up an area of the house for him to free roam, unfortunately I'm not sure entirely how to go about doing that. The safest place would be in the same room as his enclosure, but there are a lot of places that would need to be blocked off - The bottom of the wardrobe, my computer desk (Wires!!) - Stuff like that. Any ideas on how to go about hamster proofing the room would be great!
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Old 08-02-2021, 07:48 AM   #5
Ria P
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Default Re: Hamster monkey barring - Unsure what's causing it. Advice?

Quote:
Originally Posted by CuddlyCritterss View Post
Any ideas on how to go about hamster proofing the room would be great!
Hamster proofing a room really means checking the environment inch by inch for possible hazards and removing the potential hazard. Electric cables, holes or cracks in walls or the floor etc, anything a hamster could chew or disappear into or climb up and fall off, things like that.
Hamsters are very creative, determined and reckless little animals.

Hamster proofing may not be possibility for you so don't feel bad if its not doable.

Even after closing all the doors leading off the hall and blocking off the stairs with a made to fit, slot in piece of wood, i still watched in disbelief as a small hamster managed to squeeze herself under the toilet door.

I thought that the bathroom was a safe bet until i watched a Syrian pancake horizontally behind the sink.
Hamsters do silly things just to find out if they can.

A large playpen could be an option if free roaming is not a safe possibility. You could also sit in a dry bath tub with your hamster to let him climb around on you. A homemade maze run made from cardboard boxes connected by empty plastic bottles could also be fun with toys and hidden treats to find.

A lot depends on the individual hamster's temperament.
I have a Syrian who is a crazy and fearless climber and never sits still and another who is a poser and often just sits or meerkats trying to look as cute as possible. He climbed up the back of the radiator when he was a baby and that was that.
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