Jan 122012
 

A bored hamster is a boring hamster. If you want to keep your hamster active and healthy you need to make sure he or she has some fun things to play with. Three of the most common things you can add to your hamster habitat to keep your hamster busy are hamster tubes, hamster toys, and hamster balls.

Hamster Tubes

These colorful and round plastic tubes are an inexpensive way to get your hamster moving. Individual pieces or sets usually cost under $10. You can put together a few tube pieces that can fit inside a large hamster cage, or you can go crazy and build extensive mazes outside the cage for your hamster to crawl through. Once you get to the stage where you’re building mazes, the costs can add up.

These funnels as they are called, can also go straight up so your hamster can have some climbing fun. There also tubes with resting places on the top. If you put some bedding at the top, your hamster can get some exercise climbing up then take a little nap when he reaches the top. Some of the tops of hamster tubes open up so you can actually take your hamster out and hold him or her.

Two tips for using hamster tubes. One, make sure you get the right size for the size of your hamster. A dwarf hamster may have some trouble climbing straight up a large tube. Number two is to make sure there are some ventilation holes in the tubes. You want to be sure your hammy has enough air to breathe as he or she is running around its tubes.

For more information, read Hamster Tube Tips.

Hamster Toys

The first kind is the type that the hamster needs to chew on. As you know a healthy hamster needs to keep gnawing so it won’t get overgrown teeth. A good soft wood toy helps your hamster keep his or her teeth in shape.

Then there are hamster fun toys you place around your hamster cage. These are toys that hamsters like to crawl around in.

Hamster Balls and Cars

You will probably have an exercise wheel inside your cage. Your hamster needs this wheel to get in his or her daily running and stay healthy. But for fun you can put your hamster in an exercise ball and let it run around outside the cage.

The balls have vents so your hamster can get air as it runs around. Hamsters love to push the ball around and explore new spaces in your house.

There are even circular tracks, called a hamtrac, that you can put the ball in so you can control where your hamster runs.

Naturally, you should keep your other pets away from your hamster while it’s in its roll around ball. And remember to keep any staircases you have blocked so that your hammy can’t fall down them.

Also available are plastic hamster wheels that fit inside hamster-sized racing cars.

When your hamster starts rolling the wheel, it looks like he or she is driving a racing car around. You and your friends can even hold hamster drag races. However, it only goes forward and backward, unlike a hamster ball that can go in all directions.

Summary

Giving your hamster fun accessories such as tubes, toys, or cars lets your pet get the activity and exercise it needs and keeps it from getting bored. You can also get pleasure just by watching your hammy play in its toys.

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Aug 162010
 

If you’re like most hamster owners, you clean your hamster cage about once a week. But before you start you need to gather all the cage cleaning supplies. Here’s what you’ll need and why:

Bucket or sink filled with mild soap and hot water. This is where you’ll drop the parts of your hamster cage you need to clean. For the parts that don’t fit, you’ll have to use the soapy water to clean them by hand.

Other cleaning solution options include unscented dish washing detergent or a drop of bleach for every cup of hot water. Another way to measure is one tablespoon (14.8 ml) of bleach for each gallon (liter) of water in the bucket. DO NOT use dishwasher detergent, laundry soap, or other harsh detergents.

The idea is to kill germs and bacteria. Just remember to thoroughly rinse whatever you wash so none of the disinfectant remains behind.

Plastic garbage bag or paper bag. You will use these to dump the bedding you’re going to remove from the bottom of the hamster cage.

You can use a 10 or 8 gallon size plastic garbage bag. A grocery store paper bag should also be large enough. Although the used bedding may fit in a grocery store plastic bag, the opening is usually too small to fit in a hamster cage bottom.

NEVER dump the bedding down your toilet.

Sponge, paper towel, cloth, or old towel. You will be using these to actually clean off all the parts of the cage and the accessories from inside the cage. The sponge should be used only for cleaning the hamster cage, not your dishes. Use paper towels, cloths, or old towels for drying all the parts after you’ve washed and rinsed them.

Some people have found success using disinfectant wipes on some parts of their cages. Just be sure you rinse and dry any areas you use these on.

Small travel cage or hamster ball. Before cleaning the cage you have to remove your hamster.

Put him or her in a small travel cage with some bedding and food or in a hamster ball that you keep in an enclosed space.

New bedding and food

Once your cage is clean, you’re going to need to add new bedding to the bottom of the cage. And to make your hamster feel comfortable when he or she returns to the cage, you should add some new food to his or her food bowl.

For more information about how to clean your hamster cage, read Easy Steps to Clean Your Hamster Cage.


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Aug 162010
 

If you can smell the bedding in your hamster cage, it’s definitely time to clean it. But really, you should do the cleaning before it starts to smell. The typical hamster cage should be cleaned about once a week. If it’s a larger cage, you may be able to wait about 10 days. If you are breeding hamsters, however, you may have to clean more often.

Cleaning your hamster cage can be a fairly easy event. Here are the steps.

Move your hamster out of its cage

You need to keep your hamster in something safe and secure while cleaning its cage. A clean carrying cage with bedding, water, some food, and maybe a small toy will do. As with any hamster cage, make sure there are no small spaces where the hamster can escape.

Another option is a hamster ball. But since you’ll be busy cleaning, make sure you keep the exercise ball is in an enclosed area. Otherwise, let someone else keep an eye on your hamster. A hamster should only be kept in its exercise ball about 20 minutes, which should be plenty of time for you to finish cleaning its cage.

Take apart the cage and its contents

Carefully separate all the pieces of the cage. Be careful separating any plastic tubes as you don’t want them to crack.

If the pieces fit, put them in a bucket or sink with soapy water or a large sink. If not, put them aside as you will have to wash them by hand. For more information about cleaning supplies, read What Supplies To Use for Cleaning Your Hamster Cage.

Next, remove all the other items in the cage. This includes the water bottle or water dish, food bowl, exercise wheel, and toys. Put these aside as you will want to wash them by hand.

Dump the bedding

Although you can clean the cage and its contents next, I prefer to take care of the bedding first, as it may have a strong odor.

Dump the bedding in a plastic garbage bag or a paper grocery bag. Sometimes, when it’s very wet, the bedding can stick to the bottom. In this case you can use paper towels or some type of scrapper (e.g. toothbrush, putty knife) to get that part of the bedding off.

Put the bag in the garbage. Some of the bedding will be wet, so do this immediately or your paper bag can leak.

DO NOT dump the bedding down the toilet or sink. This will likely cause a back up in your plumbing.

Clean the cage bottom

Using warm, soapy water, wash off the cage bottom. Since this usually is the part with the most urine, you should spend the most amount of time scrubbing this part of the cage. You can use a sponge or cloth to do this.

Then thoroughly rinse this part of the cage. If you live in a house with a back yard, you can take this part to the back of your home and wash it down with water from a hose. Make sure you rinse off all the soap and/or disinfectant. Then either let the part air dry or wipe it dry off with a paper towel, cloth, or old towel.

Clean the rest of the cage and its contents

Now it’s time to clean the cage parts that were in the bucket or sink with soapy water. This means all wire and plastic pieces. You can also use the soapy water to hand wash the exercise wheel, water bowl, food bowl, and plastic toys. Wood toys can start to rot if washed in water too often so just wipe them off.

You may want to use disinfectant wipes for some places you think are especially dirty or were used as a bathroom by your hamster. Some people also use a small brush (like a toothbrush) that they use only for cleaning their hamster cage.

Rinse each piece off using clean, hot water. Again, make sure you remove all soap or disinfectant. Then dry each piece using a paper towel, cloth, or old towel.

Your water bottle is the only piece that usually doesn’t need to be cleaned weekly. You may want to clean the water bottle every other week. You can use a bottle brush to clean inside it.

Put the cage back together

Reassemble all the parts of the cage. Be especially careful with plastic tubing. If you use too much pressure putting plastic pieces together they can crack.

Make sure all the pieces fit together snugly so there are no gaps that might allow your hamster to escape.

Put in new bedding

Drop in a new layer of bedding. To learn more about the different types of bedding, read Types of Hamster Bedding Material.

Some people put in a few bits of the bedding they saved from the cage before cleaning it. They say having something with the scent of the previous cage helps the hamster feel comfortable when he or she first gets back in its cage.

Put in all the cage accessories

Reattach the water bottle. Put the other accessories, including exercise wheel, food bowl, toys, and hiding places back in. Try to put them back in the same place as they were before. This will help your hamster quickly feel at home when you put it back in the cage.

Put some new food in the food bowl. This might be a good time to add a small treat.

Return your hamster to its cage

Gently place your hamster back in his now clean cage. Watch him or her scamper around making sure that everything is in its place.

You might also be interested in reading What Supplies to Use to Clean Your Hamster Cage.

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Jul 302010
 

When you take your hamster out of its cage it’s important that you keep an eye out for possible dangers that can result in injury to your hamster. Think about each of the following when your hammy is out.

Water

You may have seen the cute YouTube videos that show hamsters swimming. DON’T DO IT! Put in water, a hamster will probably start kicking. But that’s not swimming – it’s just trying NOT TO DROWN. What’s more, if your hamster stays in water long enough there’s a good chance he or she will then catch a cold or get pneumonia. So, please, keep your hamster out of the water.

Human Feet

If you let your hamster out to play on his own – in a tightly closed room, of course – be careful who is around. Because a hamster is so small, even a small foot can crush a hamster. Warn other family members and friends when your hamster is out to play.

Other Pets

Cats or snakes can and will try to catch and eat a hamster. A bird may try to peck it to death. Your dog may not want to eat your hamster, but its paw can easily crush it. So when you take your hamster out to play, please keep it in a place where other animals won’t be tempted to hurt it.

Electric cords

To keep their teeth in shape, hamsters have to gnaw on things. That means they may try to gnaw on any electrical cord they come across on the floor. This may include a cord going from a computer or lamp to a plug in the wall. If your hamster is going to be out, you should hide electrical cords, lift them off the floor, or pull them out of the wall and move them out of the way.

Small, sharp items

Your hamster uses its expandable cheek pouches to carry food and bedding. But outside its cage, a hamster is likely to put any small object it finds in its pouch. If any of these items are sharp, such as a pin, staple, or screw, the hamster can cut itself when putting the item in its pouch. Check for small, dangerous items in any areas where your hamster is going to play.

Exercise Ball

Hamsters like exercise balls, those clear plastic round balls. When you put them inside the ball it lets them to run as if they were on an exercise wheel. Your hamster can explore your house while being in a safe space. But there are dangers associated with these hamster balls.

First, the hamster can get dehydrated if you keep him or her in there too long. Recommendations for allowing your hamster to stay in the ball range from 15 to 20 minutes.

Secondly, you must be sure the ball doesn’t get near a staircase. The bumping and jolting of the ball as it goes down stairs can easily break the bones of your hamster.

Finally, remember that the exercise ball should only be used inside a house. The light outside a house is too bright for a hamster. What’s more, a lawn may be too difficult for a hamster to push the ball through.

Keep these possible hazards in mind when you’re taking your hamster out of its cage to play.

For other hamster dangers, read Hazards Inside Your Hamster Cage.


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