Mar 222010
 

So you’ve bought your hamster cage and supplies and have brought them home. Here are some simple steps to follow to prepare hammy’s home so he or she will feel welcome when they move in.

1. Clean the cage. It may be new, but your cage may have collected dust, dirt, and germs in its travels from the manufacturer to you. Simply rinse and dry each piece before putting it together. You can mix some mild disinfectant in the water for extra safety.

2. Decide on a hamster cage location . You want to put your cage somewhere on a level surface where the air can flow easily through the cage. Remember, you don’t want to put the cage in direct sunlight or too close to an air conditioner. And never put your hamster cage in a place where your other pets can get too close.

3. Lay down the bedding. Your hamster will need at least two inches of bedding material so he or she can burrow, play, and sleep. Hamsters will also use a part of the bedding for their bathroom. Aspen wood shavings or a paper-based material such as Carefresh is recommended. Avoid pine or cedar wood shavings as they contain chemicals harmful to hamsters.

4. Provide water. Hamsters, like us, need food and water to survive. You can use a water bowl or dish, but make sure it’s heavy or your hamster will knock it over. Hamster water bottles made of plastic are more commonly used. Hang the break-resistant plastic bottle outside the cage, with only the drinking tub sticking inside the cage.

5. Provide food. Put some hamster food in a small ceramic bowl. Make sure it’s heavy so your hamster doesn’t tip it over. And be sure to throw in some fresh vegetables from time to time.

Flying saucer

6. Put in the exercise wheel. You need an exercise wheel because hamsters typically like to run 3 to 6 miles (4 to 9 km) every day. The best kind is a wheel with a solid running surface and treads. The kind with wire spokes can catch your hamster’s small toes, resulting in injury. And make sure the wheel is large enough for the size of your hamster.

7. Add the toys. Hamster love to explore and they need to chew. So combine the two with chew toys. Put some wood blocks, little wood houses or a chew tube in your hamster’s home. That way, your hamster can play while keeping his or her teeth in good shape. You can add other toys, such as plastic cars and exercise wheels later.

8. Add the tubes, or levels. If you have a wire and plastic cage, there are usually holes where you can add additional hamster tubes. You can combine tubes in all sorts of ways so your hamster can climb through the crazy creative maze you create. In wire and glass aquarium cages, you can add levels with ladders that let your hamster climb up and down the full height of the cage.

9. Check your security. Before putting your hamster in his or her cage, check the latch on the door to make sure it fits tightly. If you’re using an aquarium, check the top to make sure the screen is fastened tightly and there are no spaces through which your hamster can escape.

10. Introduce your hamster to its new home. Gently place your hamster in its cage and give it some time to wander around and explore its great new home.


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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.

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.”

To learn more about taking care of your dwarf hamster Click Here!

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Aug 082009
 

You’re ready to buy a home for your adorable and furry hamster. Here are three things to think about before you buy.

  • Cage Size
  • Cage Security
  • Cage Sanitation

Cage Size

A hamster needs room to run, explore, play, and sleep.

Small cages 8 inches long by 12 ½ inches wide by 7-1/2-inches high (20 X 32 x 19 cm). This is adequate for the smaller dwarf hamster (2 to 4 inches; 5 to 20 cm). It is too small for the Syrian hamster (5 to 7 inches; 13 to 17 cm).

Average cage size: 12 inches long by 24 inches wide by 9 inches high (30 X 60 x 22 cm). Provides a bit more room for your hamster to roam.

Larger cage size: 16 inches long by 24 inches wide by 12 inches high (40 X 60 x 30 cm). This size will give your hamster plenty of room to exercise and burrow around inside the cage.

 

Adding height: Some of the cages you will consider have many levels to let the hamster climb and explore. But keep in mind that hamsters are near-sighted. This means they can fall off levels that are too high up in the cage.

On the left you can see a tank topper, which can be used to add height to a 10-gallon fish tank. Many people use an aquarium for their hamster cage.

Adding width: Some cages are designed to be linked together with plastic tubes. Keep in mind that the tube must be large enough for your hamster to fit through. And be sure the tubes fit tightly together or your hammy will surely gnaw his or her way out.

Bottom Tray Depth: When considering the depth of the hamster cage, make sure the cage has a deep bottom tray. A deep tray means the hamster will have plenty of room to burrow and make its home as well as find a place to poop and pee. Deep trays also help keep the bedding material from being spread out all over the area outside the cage.

Cage Security

One of the things your hamster will explore is whether or not they can chew their way out of their cage. Don’t take it personally. They just need to chew to keep their teeth in shape and prevent boredom.

Cages to avoid: Cages made of wood. Unless the wood pieces are thick (1/2 inch / 1 cm) and all pieces tightly fit together, you hamster will chew through and escape. Even thick pieces will eventually be chewed through.

Security Considerations

  • Wire cages: Check that the wire bars are not too far apart. Remember, dwarf hamsters can be as small as 2 inches; Syrians can be 5 inches. If your hamster can fit his or her head through the bars, their body will not be far behind.
  • Plastic cages: Corners and tubing should fit snugly together. Make sure the plastic is thick. Flexible or bendable plastic can be chewed through.
  • Aquariums: Corners should fit tightly together. The opening on top is the possible weak spot here. Make sure you use a heavy wire mesh covering (with space enough for ventilation) and keep checking for spots your hamster is trying to gnaw through.
  • Doors: Hamster cage doors should have latches. Check that these latches are strong and shut tightly.

Cage Sanitation

For the sake of your hamster and your nose, you will want to keep the hamster cage clean. Since you will be cleaning your hamster’s home at least once a week, you need to think about how easy, or difficult, the job is going to be.

Ask yourself:

  • How easy or difficult is it to take apart the wire or plastic cage?
  • As you will be washing it over time, is the wire cage resistant to rust?
  • Can you handle a glass aquarium when you’re washing it out? (Glass aquariums tend to be heavier that other types and can shatter when dropped.)

 

Keep these three S’s – size, security, and sanitation in mind when choosing hamster cages.

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