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Old 11-02-2022, 05:32 AM   #1
NanaBeaver
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Join Date: Jun 2022
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Default Changing cage set up

I have seen all the advice about changing cage setups and it seems to be a bit conflicting.
I completely empty and clean Coco's Detolf every month and then set it up again a bit differently. Spot cleans every few days. I always have a quarter of it at the same end as a deep substrate burrowing area, practically right up to the top with Katee clean and cozy and a tunnel in it. At the other end I always place the wheel and the sandbath. Not much substrate as the wheel is very big for a Detolf..I also put her house back in the same place with used bedding in it and her food stash usually renewed. In between I put changes of substrate, just now she has Tiny friends farm eco bedding topped with hay and round the wheel and sandbath aspen and some pebbles. Then in the space in the middle I put a different arrangement of toys, tunnels and platforms. I have a hoard of toys so I kind of rotate then monthly.
I'm sorry I can't post pictures of it but I'm a technoplegic and can't get my pictures onto the laptop.
I think Coco enjoys this idea, she runs around exploring and likes the different levels and different substrates. She appears happy and healthy so I think this system works for us. Any comments appreciated thanks.
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Old 11-02-2022, 05:52 AM   #2
Pebbles82
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Default Re: Changing cage set up

They usually prefer everything to be in the same place as before - toys etc. Some hamsters get very upset if a favourite item is removed or something is in a different place. Others may accept it. I think the main thing is some things still smell familiar after a cage clean so everything isn’t cleaned/changed at the same time.

They are usually happy accepting a new toy but not so keen on a favourite one being removed. I tend to leave the nest alone unless it’s pee’d in - it can upset them if their nest is “stolen “. Not the same as substrate. I also try and leave some of the old dry hoard (the top part - the older stuff is usually underneath) as well as adding a bit more.

If all their old hoard is removed they can start peeing in the hoard then it has to be removed - which can be a vicious circle!

What is it you find conflicting?
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Old 11-02-2022, 06:02 AM   #3
cloudy
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Default Re: Changing cage set up

You really do not need to empty and deep clean the cage monthly. Hamsters rely on their cage having their scent to feel secure and only soiled bedding needs removing. I would not remove the hoarded food either because having that helps them to feel safe.

I think us humans like everything to look clean and tidy but there is no need to with hamsters.

I find these videos on hamsters so helpful so I will put a link to one just in case you would like to see too.
How I spot clean my cages! - YouTube
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Old 11-02-2022, 06:54 AM   #4
NanaBeaver
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Default Re: Changing cage set up

Quote:
Originally Posted by Serendipity7000 View Post
They usually prefer everything to be in the same place as before - toys etc.

If all their old hoard is removed they can start peeing in the hoard then it has to be removed - which can be a vicious circle!

What is it you find conflicting?
I have seen some advice sites where it is advised to change things around as a boredom breaker. To break the monotony. Not everyone thinks the same.
As I said this system seems to work for us. But I will bear your remarks in mind. I keep essentials in their constant places and I put back a certain amount of used bedding and substrate so that it is still familiar. I take out rotting food from her stash and replace it with new stuff.
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Old 11-02-2022, 08:42 AM   #5
Pebbles82
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Default Re: Changing cage set up

Ah yes - I'm not a fan of the swapping things around to stop them getting bored as I do think they like stability and familiarity. Some hamsters may accept the changes better than others.

I had to change the set up in my cage very slightly recently, when a house needed replacing, which means moving the wheel and changing the access to the shelf. He wasn't bothered about the wheel being moved but was quite thrown and confused for a few days about the changed access to the shelf. Kept going to the wrong end and looking confused, then found it again. They really do get into routines.'

However relieving boredom and sameness is something that can be done now and then as well. I tend to do that by adding a different treat stick or something. Adding anything new always perks up their interest, but you can't do that too often or you'd have no space left! So I keep to foody things mainly. As well as the hamster mix in the bowl our hammy gets an "extra" on top of a flat hide (he knows to go looking for it!) and some little treats like sunflower seeds up a ladder or elsewhere in the cage. And add a new treat stick now and then.

I put the veg at the opposite end of the cage on a dish. So they get a routine of hunting for food! And know where to find it. I started doing that initially for a shy hamster to get him to use the cage more.
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Old 11-02-2022, 10:57 AM   #6
NanaBeaver
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Default Re: Changing cage set up

I see some people change themes for their cage setups. Many are seasonal and a lot of people did a halloween theme recently. I do think variety is the spice of lfe but I am aware that hammies are territorial and like some things the same.
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Old 11-02-2022, 12:05 PM   #7
Pebbles82
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Default Re: Changing cage set up

I think it's a balance maybe. Yes some people do change cage themes and it looks fun - as long as it's not a massive change for the hamster. A lot of the themes are things on the outside of the cage. Major inside themes I think is unfair on the hamster.
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Old 11-02-2022, 12:47 PM   #8
AmityvilleHams
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Default Re: Changing cage set up

Themes honestly are for the humans, not the hamsters. Frequent change is extremely stressful for them especially with big substrate change and such. Unfortunately you won't always see signs of stress or stress induced illness, but it does lead to a weaker immune system and with hamsters being fairly sensitive already it's best to avoid unnecessary stress like that.

A much better alternative to the intrusive and stressful full themes is just decorating safely outside the cage. For cages on any kind of stand or furniture you can decorate those too. I would definitely be careful still to not put anything unsafe like electrical cords, fabric, etc within hamster reach but you can do quite a bit with exterior decorations for themes.

A safe option for a pop of color inside the cage would be using hamster safe edible flowers scattered around in small amounts. For example you could do red or pink rose petals for a valentine's theme, or The Hay Experts have black mallow that I think could've fit into a halloween theme.
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Old 11-03-2022, 06:05 AM   #9
LunaTheHamster1
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Default Re: Changing cage set up

I think it depends on the hamster and maybe the hamster species, i definitely see a difference between my robo and my syrians. For example, with Comet my robo's cage setup I still do cage themes but i learnt to keep his main wooden hid, 2 ceramic hides and 2 platforms with his sand bath and wheel on in more or less the same place. If i want to do a theme I just change out the extra hides i put in, e.g. in his sandbath he used to have a darth vadar hide and now he has a fox hide, but it's in the exact same spot. Comet doesn't really like change but he seems to accept it if a hide swops for a hide but in the same place. The middle part of the cage may change a little bit, i.e. i might move his cork log a few cms's to one side something like that, but it pretty much doesn't change otherwise.

I think with syrians (especially females) it comes down to the hamster, i think like you state there is contradictory advice because some hamsters get bored and need things to change. I do wonder what they think though when they go to bed and the cage is setup one way and when they wake up it's all changed, so I can also see why this might stress some hamsters. I think when things change in their cage it may take a day or 2 to settle again, but if you change things in a hamster run they seem to accept that really quickly.

Also, if you don't ever change anything you don't learn how to improve on things in cage setups for your hamster. Looking back over the years I think my cage setups have changed and improved a lot. If I had't ever tried to change anything I wouldn't have learnt what my hamsters like best. So, I think it's a fine balance.

Re how often you deep clean, I only ever deep clean when a hamster has passed, got weevils/bugs in the cage or a medical condition may have been caused by something in the cage. It wasn't clear to me with what you wrote, but when you are cleaning are you replacing all the bedding? if so, you really don't need to do that, just do the dirty sections i.e. where they pee and poo a lot
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Old 11-03-2022, 11:03 AM   #10
NanaBeaver
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Default Re: Changing cage set up

Thanks everyone for your input. I have learnt a lot and will be more wary in the future. I just thought that in the wild Hammies can run for miles at night over new terrain and different locations. I assumed a change of scene would be good for her but I will leave her now and see how she settles down. I am so glad I found this forum.
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