Feb 172011
 

When added to your hamster cage, those colorful hamster tubes can be a lot of fun for your hamster. But keep these tips in mind when you’re planning your climbing tube mazes.

Connecting the Tubes

When you’re putting your hamster tubes together, you want them to fit together tightly – but not so tight you can’t get them apart. You might think about gluing or taping them together – but DON’T DO IT!. The glue can have chemicals that are dangerous for your hamster. And the tape will most likely not hold the pieces together securely. What’s more, seeing the tape can get your hamster’s attention and he or she might then get interested in trying to chew threw the tape and escape. Dwarf hamsters are especially good at this. hamster tubes

Keep the hamster tubes clean

Just like your hamster cage, you’ve got to clean out the tubes. Tubes get dirty over time and some hamsters will pee while in their tubes. And sometimes there are bits of leftover food in the tubes. If that was fresh food, over time it will start to rot. So you have to clean the tubes.

Here’s how to do it:

  • Be careful when snapping the pieces apart. You spent a lot of effort getting the pieces together, so you don’t want them to break when you’re taking them apart. You may want to rinse them under some hot water to make it easier to get the pieces apart.
  • Clean the pieces with warm water and soap and let them dry. Alcohol or other cleaners can leave a residue that can be harmful to your hamster – so don’t’ use that type of cleaner.
  • Reassemble the pieces carefully. Once again, follow directions, take your time, and don’t use glue. And while you’re at it, why not try out a new layout for your tubes?

hamster tubes
Inspect and Replace the tubes

Sometimes the plastic used for the climbing tubes can get cracked. This might happen when you’re putting it together. Or your hamster might be trying to gnaw through the plastic. The sharp edges of the plastic can be quite dangerous for your hammy. The edges can injure or even kill a hamster. Inspect your tubes to be sure they are in good shape.

If you spot a cracked tube, simply replace it. It’s better to have a few extra tube pieces around to use as replacements. It’s a lot easier than having to find a lost hamster.

Vertical tubes

You can make a lot of interesting hamster tube runs with vertical tubes, especially if you can place them outside the hamster cage. But don’t make your tubes go too high.

Dwarf hamsters, because of their size, may have a harder time climbing up vertical tubes. If your hammy finds it too difficult to climb, it may just forget about climbing at all.

But even with Syrian hamsters, if the tubes go up too high, they can be harder to climb. Or your hamster could get part of the way up, fall down, and get hurt by the fall. Don’t make your vertical tubes go up so high that they are dangerous.


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Feb 162011
 

Hamster tubes, those round, colorful, plastic parts, can provide your hamster with great fun and exercise. As part of your hamster cage , you can put together climbing tubes, compartments, and other segments, in many different ways. They can go horizontally, straight up, around curves, and even loop-d-loops. How you arrange them is up to what parts fit together and your own imagination.

But here’s a few things to think about before you start buying assorted tube sets.

Size

Hamsters come in different sizes and so do tubes. hamster tubes

The typical tubes you see advertised will usually work for Syrian hamsters, Teddy Bear, or Golden hamsters . Chinese and Campbell Dwarf hamsters are also usually good climbers. Dwarf hamsters, however, such as Roboravskis may find it harder to climb the tubes. Make sure your buy the tubes with ridges so their feet have something to hold on to.

But even with Syrians or Goldens, if they start to get too fat or get pregnant, they can get stuck in a tube, or “fun nel” as some manufacturers call it. They might even get stuck if they keep too much food in their pouches. If a hamster gets stuck in a tube, you may have to break the tube to get him or her out. So even if the tube size is right when you bought it, keep checking to make sure your hamster can still get through.

Safety

Although your hammy can have lots of fun running through his or her tube, your biggest concern is for your hamster’s safety.

Think about ventilation when buying your tubes. You want to be sure your hamster has plenty of air circulating while it’s in the tubes. Look for tubes that have small air holes. That way, you know some air is getting inside the tubes. (And these holes can help dwarf hamsters climb through the tubes.) If the tubes don’t have holes, and you connect a long row of tubes, there will be less air in the middle – where your hamster might decide to take a rest.

Ease of use hamster tubes

One of the real issues with hamster tubes is how easy, or difficult, they are to put together. Some people claim to have no problem snapping them together. But in many online reviews, people talk about how difficult it is to get two pieces of tube together. And some people have a bigger problem when attaching a tube piece to a hole in the hamster cage.

  • Read the directions. Sometimes the paper that comes with the hamster tubes actually will give you some good tips about putting the pieces together.
  • Start with smaller tube pieces and take your time.
  • Do not glue pieces together.

Cost

A set of hamster tubes can seem pretty inexpensive – they’re usually under $10. But if you start to put a lot of them together, the cost can start adding up. Start small and see how your hamster likes the tubes. Then you can start adding some on a little at a time.

See the Product page for more information.


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Jan 212010
 

Where’s my hamster? What hamster owner hasn’t said that at least once? Usually, your hammy will be hiding in its cage – in some tube, under some toy, or deep in its bedding.

Breakout by Stinging Eyes, on Flickr

But hamsters are explorers and if given the chance, they will get out of their cage and investigate their surroundings. We call it “the breakout” or “the great escape.” When it happens, it’s usually panic time! Because of their small size and ability to hide, an escaped hamster can be lost forever.

Preventing your hamster from breaking out is your best defense against a lost hamster. There are two primary reasons hamsters escape: Hamster cage problems and owner/handler problems.

Hamster Cage problems

Wire bars spaced too far apart. While Syrian or golden hamsters are about 5 to 7 inches (13 to 18 cm) long, some dwarf hamsters are only 2 to 4 inches (5 to 10 cm) long. So a wire cage built for a golden hamster can have bars that are too far apart for a dwarf hamster. Also, over time, when the cage is used, moved, and cleaned, some of the bars can become spread apart. And it doesn’t take much space between bars for a hamster to squeeze its body through.
hamster cage

Wire and plastic cages not put together well. A good hamster cage should have pieces that fit together tightly. But sometimes plastic parts don’t fit together well. Or maybe the cage pieces just weren’t put together tightly enough. This can happen after a cage has been cleaned. Either way, this leaves gaps between pieces that your hamster can get out through.

Aquarium cage top poorly secured. People who use aquariums for hamster cages often use wire mesh to cover the top of the cage This cover must be secured tightly or sure enough, you hamster will figure out a way to climb up to the top and push its way out.

Gnawing through. Hamsters continually gnaw to keep their growing incisors the right length. This means if you’re using a wooden cage, your hamster will likely keep on gnawing until they make a space big enough to fit through. Hamsters will also gnaw on plastic tubing which can eventually get too thin, allowing your hamster to break out. Even gnawing on metal bars can eventually spread them apart, giving your hamster an opening to escape through.

Latches. Metal and plastic cages will have a door to get your hamster in and out. Because they are used often, door latches are weak points. They can become loose over time. Your hamster can push against the loose door and away it goes!

For more information about the different types of hamster cages click here.

Owner/handler problems

Not paying attention. When your hamster is outside its cage, someone needs to keep a close eye on him or her. If the hamster is playing in its exercise ball or toy car, keep in mind that these toys can break or be gnawed through. If that happens, your hamster will be off and running. The same attention is needed when you’re playing with your hamster. Holding and petting your hamster is great fun. But if you decide to put hammy down on the floor or on your bed, don’t think it will just sit there – it may decide to make a run for it.

Handler is too young. Of course you want to share the fun of holding your hamster with other people. But some people, such as very young children, may get surprised by a furry little animal crawling on them and make a sudden movement like jumping. Your hamster will get scared, jump off the person, and likely run away.

Prevention

To prevent your hamster from escaping, keep the following tips in mind:

  • Check the spaces between wire cage bars to be sure they’re close enough to keep your hamster in.
  • Inspect plastic cages to be sure pieces fit together tightly and there are no gaps
  • Look over wooden enclosures for spots where the hamster is gnawing through.
  • Tightly secure the top on an aquarium cage.
  • Be sure cage door latches are always tightly closed.
  • Supervise your hamster when he or she is outside the cage.

Taking these safety measures means you won’t have to say “Hey! Where’s my hamster.”

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Aug 082009
 

There are three primary types of hamster cages.

Aquarium

Aquariums for hamsters are 4-sided and made of glass or plastic.

glass aquarium hamster cage

Aquarium Cage Advantages

  • You can easily see into the aquarium, giving you lots of opportunities to view your hammy.
  • Glass or plastic aquarium sides are very difficult for your hamster to climb up. This reduces the chances of your hamster escaping.
  • The bedding is not scattered all over the area around the aquarium because there are no openings on the bottom.
  • Probably the best cage for the smaller dwarf hamster.

Aquarium Cage Disadvantages

  • Glass aquariums are usually heavier than other types of cages. Ask yourself if you can lift and move the cage easily to clean it.
  • Glass aquariums can shatter if dropped.
  • Ventilation can be a problem. Ammonia fumes from dirty bedding can build up and harm your hamster.
  • You need a secure lid to keep your hamster in and other pets out. A wire top is preferred to a thin screen mesh because it is more difficult for your hamster to chew through it.
  • If the secure lid does not have clips, you will need a freestanding running wheel and water bottle or dish.
  • Plastic aquariums can get scratched over time.

For more information about glass cages, read 3 Critical Guidelines for Choosing an Aquarium Hamster Cage. 
NOTE: It is best to buy a glass aquarium at your local pet store as shipping can result in you receiving a broken aquarium.

Wire Cages

Wire cages for hamsters are made of metal wires, spaced close together. Most have a plastic or metal base on the bottom.

Wire hamster cage

Wire Cage Advantages

  • Lightweight
  • Provides good ventilation
  • Hamster love to climb up the wire bars. You can also add more climbing space by attaching wire ladders to the sides of the bars, creating a multi-level cage.
  • You can attach items such as a water bottle and a wheel from the wire sides.
  • The wire frame usually detaches from the bottom tray, making cleaning easier.

Wire Cage Disadvantages

  • Not good for dwarf hamsters unless the wires are very close together. If the space between the bars is too large, your hamster will crawl through and escape.
  • If the cage is in a drafty location, such as near a window, the open bars will let drafts through which can cause problems for your hammie.
  • Some hamsters tend to gnaw on the wire bars. Some people find the noise distracting. Also some wire bars are painted. Chewing on this paint is harmful to the hamster.
  • A shallow plastic bottom (smaller than 2 inches / 5 cm) means when your hamster burrows, his or her bedding could come flying through the wire and cause a mess outside the cage.

For more information about wire cages, read Guidelines for Buying a Wire Hamster Cage.

Wire and Plastic Cages

Plastic cages for hamsters are made up of colorful plastic on top and bottom and have metal bars in the middle. They may also be called hamster habitats.

Wire and plastic hamster cage

Wire and Plastic Cage Advantages

  • Colorful and bright as the plastic comes in many different colors.
  • Many have holes to which you can add tunnels and tubes to expand the size of the cage.
  • Deep base means bedding material is more likely to stay in cage.

Wire and Plastic Cage Disadvantages

  • Assembly can be difficult. Instructions can be poor and all pieces must fit snugly together.
  • Plastic cracks easily, especially when you are trying to put the cage together and must be twisting and maneuvering the parts.
  • Some doors are snap-in, instead of latch, meaning it is easier for your hamster to escape.
  • Plastic wheels attached to sides can make a lot of noise when your hamster is running.
  • Must take everything apart to clean all pieces. Note that some plastic cages have a one piece top which makes cleaning easier.
  • Plastic scratches more easily than glass.
  • Larger hamsters can get stuck inside plastic tubes.

For more information about combination wire and plastic cages, read Tips for Choosing Plastic and Wire Combination Cages.

NOTE: All-Plastic Cages

This type of cage is composed of all plastic. Because of a lack of ventilation, these cages should be avoided.


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