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Old 05-03-2021, 09:29 PM   #1
rachaelrichards17
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Default Help would be greatly appreciated.

Hello all. My daughter and I are new here as well as fairly recent to raising her Albino Syrian Sequoia. She was adopted by my 16 year old daughter in January after a bit of schooling and weve been learning lots more since in hopes we can give her the best life she most definitely deserves. With that we recently added on a 14 x 14 burrow box to her always growing habitat. She abruptly moved herself right in to the bottom of it moving her food stash and completely filling and closing off her old hut which I thought was pretty funny. But so now shes made this very intricate burrow/nest underneath about 8 inches of bedding/hay/aspen and moved from peeing in two specific corners of her house to peeing in what Im guessing is a potty tunnel in the burrow box that I cant easily access. Im very particular about keeping her habitat clean and tidy. I typically remove her wet soiled bedding daily and do a spot clean of her poops once to twice a week along with a complete clean about every 4-6 weeks. How do I go about finding and removing her wet nesting material without destroying her hard work in building this burrow???
I have ordered play sand to bake and fill a bigger sized closed top potty I think will be easier to bury back once removed and hopefully we can potty train her to make things less complicated in the future. Is that a good idea and if not what do I do???? Please help!!! Thank you so much.
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Old 05-05-2021, 08:45 AM   #2
Ria P
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Default Re: Help would be greatly appreciated.

Hello and welcome to HC!

You see, the trouble is that hamsters hate it when we clean their habitats so its better to clean as little as possible.
I don't follow a time schedule and let my nose be my guide.
If something smells bad then i clean it and usually do it when the hamster is not in the cage.

Syrians are quite good and many use a sandfilled toilet to pee in so i would definitely try that. Maybe put a bit of peed on substrate in the toilet if you can.
I wouldn't worry about cleaning poops so often because they don't smell.
It's better to do a part clean instead of a whole clean because removing all their scent doesn't go down too well with hamsters.

I used to clean too often at first but then found that it hadn't been necessary and that i had upset my hamster unnecessarily as well so became much more relaxed about it.

I'd wait until the burrow box gets smelly or check it when your hamster is not in her cage.
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Old 05-05-2021, 01:58 PM   #3
Serendipity7000
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Default Re: Help would be greatly appreciated.

Hello! It's really annoying when they nest somewhere inaccessible! I've had a few syrians now - the first was a learning curve until I found what worked. I tried the thing of deep substrate so they could build tunnels and had the same issue you're having. Stinky mess - even the hamster wasn't happy with it.

What I found was - although hamsters vary in whether they are diggers or not - they tend to only dig burrows and tunnels when they don't have a big house. When you give them a big house, that is nice and dark inside, with a litter tray inside - that mimics an underground burrow and they are happy in there, build a big nest and use the toilet - that makes life much simpler - you then just empty the litter tray once or twice a week and the rest of the cage stays clean and dry - with that method I go about 3 months before changing the substrate (keeps the hamster happy too) and just spot clean the odd handful out now and then and add a new handful. Any other items, like the wheel or any toys can be cleaned as and when. It is much better to do "partial" cleans and not clean everything at the same time as then something always smells familiar and they are less stressed.

Anyway back to housing. Your hamster has chosen to nest under the burrow box because it's nice and dark.

So my suggestion is - put a nice big house in. Put a bendy stick bridge tunnel over the entrance so it's dark inside. Put a corner litter tray inside the house at the back/end nearest the entrance (they choose the end furthest away from the entrance to nest as it's darker).

A shoebox house is ideal. Cut the base out so it's open underneath and sits directly on top of the substrate (so they can bury hoards under the nest and have normal behaviours like that). Keep the lid as a lift off roof (easy to get the litter tray out without disturbing the nest). Cut a hole for a door - ideally at one end of one of the long sides so the other end is darker.

The flat roof also doubles up as a platform to put a food dish on eg. And the bendy stick tunnel entrance doubles up as a ramp onto the roof.

This works for me every time The tunnel entrance tempts them to move in (they head for the dark) - there is enough space for them to build an enormous nest and their natural instinct is to pee away from the nest - they will use the litter tray.

You probably won't have space for that and the digging box so I would remove the digging box, spot clean the pee a bit and then pop the new house over the topof where the digging box was.

It's always best to leave their nest and hoards if you can - they get very precious about those and as Ria says they can start peeing on the hoard if you keep removing it. I leave it till I do a substrate change. Dry food hoarded keeps fine. Unless it's pee'd on, then you have to remove it but try and leave a dry bit behind and always add new food in the same place, to replace some of the hoard.

They actually eat from their hoards mostly. The food in the bowl is usually just pouched and then hoarded and they snack in bed

Makes it nice and easy for both of you. Easy for you to get at the litter tray so it doesn't get too stinky. Easy for the hamster to find a cosy dark place to nest and easy for them to get in and out of.

I find usually if they have a big dark house, they don't bother to dig tunnels. There has been the odd "digger" exception. Who nested UNDER the house! If yours does that then just keep minimal substrate under the house and part bury it (so just the top half is sticking out of the substrate) - then they can't disappear too far down inside the house - if that makes sense.
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Old 05-05-2021, 02:06 PM   #4
rachaelrichards17
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Default Re: Help would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you for your help and suggestions. Its greatly appreciated. I am hoping that the potty training idea will go over well with our sweet little hammy. My main concern is still the problem with getting into the bottom of this burrow box and cleaning a potty out(getting it out and back in) or just removing soiled material which ever way we end up. How do I go about doing so without demolishing her burrow? It had been about two weeks so I finally broke and attempted to locate and remove the material that shes wet on and it was a disaster. I tried to just remove the top half of the bedding and such from the box so I could lightly feel down into her burrow and determine where her potty was, nest, food stash etc and just taking the bedding off the top collapsed most of her hollowed out area. We spent a great deal of time trying to rebuild it into something resembling what it was from what I could gather. Needless to say she was not happy with us once back in her habitat and aware of what had happened. I swear the next morning she was making chattering noises at me as though she was still bothered. I gave her a piece of strawberry as an apology but going forward how can we clean without doing damage? Even if it is more rarely. Weve read up on Syrians and wet tail so we cant help but worry. Our main objective is to always keep her happy and healthy. Thanks again for the advice.
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Old 05-06-2021, 08:33 AM   #5
Ria P
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Default Re: Help would be greatly appreciated.

Is it a burrow box you bought from a shop like the ones with the glass/perspex sides and solid base?

Personally, i can't really see the point of having a burrow box. Hamsters usually chose where they want to burrow. All we have to do is give them enough substrate.

I think when they can burrow freely wherever they like then the potty is more accessible, for you and the hamster and more likely to get used.

A lot depends on the individual hamster though.

I don't know what kind of cage set up you have but for a female Syrian you're probably looking at 100cmx50cm continuous floor space, something like the Savic Plaza to make things practical.

My Syrians have bottomless guinea pig sized Ferplast houses with a removable roof so i can easily lift out and clean the en suite toilet the lazy hamster uses. The other is very houseproud and only ever pees in his corner toilet outside his house. My departed Syrian was the same. None of them burrowed but immediately moved into their houses.

Did she sleep in her house before you got the burrow box and what was the reason for getting it in the first place?
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Old 05-06-2021, 10:53 AM   #6
Serendipity7000
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Default Re: Help would be greatly appreciated.

Yes I’d just take the burrow box out . And swap it out for a large house. She is peeing in her burrow/under her nest so she can stay in the one enclosed area. As an example, have a look at this Rodipet house (which is bigger than a shoebox house. I have used this with a few hamsters and every single one of them has built a nest in the front left larger compartment. And all but one used the potty tray in the middle back compartment. One - a rescue - chose the small back compartment at the rear as his toilet- furthest away from the nest. He was a very neat tidy hamster. The litter tray just lifts out- it has sand in it and they pee on the sand. You just empty the sand out and refill it!

They will use a litter tray - if it’s in the right place. Ie the place the choose to pee. At the moment she is choosing to pee in an inconvenient place because she doesn’t have a human made burrow-house with enough space for an en-suite toilet! If you scroll down there’s a video. You can make something like this out of cardboard - or a shoebox house or any large wood house with space for a litter tray inside. I find they will always use the litter tray if it’s inside a house. She will be happier in the long run as her nest won’t need to be disturbed.

Rodipet Hamster House Maze DaVinci 41x26 cm, 7cm
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Old 05-06-2021, 02:37 PM   #7
rachaelrichards17
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Default Re: Help would be greatly appreciated.

I added on the burrow box because I had done a bunch of reading saying that it would make her happier because they burrow regularly in the wild and need to be able to mimic their natural behaviors. I guess instead of reading suggestions on adding the burrow box I should’ve just deepened her substrate lol. I can take a picture of the home we’ve built for her, just ignore the fact that she has a smaller wheel and saucer. I started her out with a 9” wheel knowing she’d get bigger and her new 12” wheel is expected to arrive on Saturday so I’ll be removing the smaller stuff then. Gotta keep up with her growing. My next adjustment will be enlarging the tunnels that attach her rooms together. I would love everyone’s suggestions on what I can do to alter it in any ways that will make her happier. She is very dear to us so I am regularly looking for information on how to raise her right. I like the shoebox nest idea. The “hut” she had originally was rather big I thought but I’ve come to realize there is no “big enough” in the hamster world lol. I also read somewhere not to put their houses on the floor. My daughters only here part time and she’s pretty quiet when she is here so Sequoia stays in this room where it’s quiet and calm and I check on her each morning and let her out each night when she gets her veggie. I’m the one responsible for Sequoia the majority of the time. She originally resided at my daughters dads but they wouldn’t upgrade her habitat or provide for her properly and within a few weeks it became obvious Sequoia was unhappy. She was destructive of her home and always restless and when Becca brought her here she was a different hamster. It’s much quieter here and we’re much more involved with her care then they were there so we decided she would reside here with me full time. So we’ve gotten to present lol. I’ll attach a pic of her house if I’m able. I would love all the feedback I can get on improvements and I’ll get to work on this new house for her. Or I guess maybe I should wait until her potty arrives Saturday. Or better yet, what do you all suggest using for a potty?
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Old 05-06-2021, 03:01 PM   #8
rachaelrichards17
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Default Re: Help would be greatly appreciated.

How do I attach a photo on here from my iPhone camera roll?
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Old 05-06-2021, 03:05 PM   #9
Ria P
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Default Re: Help would be greatly appreciated.

I use corner toilets filled with sand. I have the Rodipet ceramic ones but the cheaper Trixie plastic ones are just as good.
Did you have a look at the thread "Let's see your cages" on the Forum under Housing? There's plenty of ideas for set ups there.
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Old 05-07-2021, 12:31 PM   #10
Ria P
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Default Re: Help would be greatly appreciated.

Quote:
Originally Posted by rachaelrichards17 View Post
How do I attach a photo on here from my iPhone camera roll?
Scroll down to Manage Attachment and click on it then click on Choose File from wherever you store in on your iPhone click on Upload wait till its uploaded and then click on Close This Window top right which will take you back to your post with the photo attached. You then have the option to preview before you submit your post.
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