Mar 192012
 

When your pet hamster is left alone or every time you look in on it, do you notice that your hammy is gnawing on the wires of its hamster cage? This cage bar chewing could be a problem you need to fix.

Hamster Gnawing

Hamster Gnawing the Bars by LuLu Witch, on Flickr

Hamsters need to gnaw because their incisors are continually growing, like human fingernails. If the incisors begin to grow too long, they can cut through your hamster’s cheek and lead to other health issues. So your hamster needs to keep gnawing to prevent overgrown teeth.

But too much gnawing can:

  • Cause hamster teeth to break
  • Get the teeth out of alignment with each other

These issues can result in your hamster having eating problems.

Another potential problem with too much gnawing is hamster brain damage. This can occur if the wire bars have paint with lead in them.

So if you see your hamster spending a lot of time biting on his or her cage bars, you should try to figure out what’s causing the extreme gnawing.

Causes

Two reasons for a hamster chewing too much on his or her cage are:

  1. Not enough to chew on
  2. Boredom

Here are some actions you can take to address these causes and help stop your hamster from cage bar chewing.

More to Chew On

It’s easy to provide your hamster with things to chew on. All different kinds of wooden chew toys are available including small houses, blocks and colorful sticks. You may also use cardboard tubes, like the kind you find under all that toilet paper or paper towels. chew toy

Some hamsters can be picky about what they chew. So if one type of chew toy doesn’t work, try a different one.

Food is also good for a hamster to chew on. Some people have found success with unflavored hard dog biscuits. Then there are treat sticks and drops that hamsters can chew on, as well as the seeds you normally feed your hamster. Be careful not to overfeed your hammy, though.

Stop Hamster Boredom

Boredom is another cause of bar chewing. Hamsters need to run and keep active, especially at night.

Every hamster cage needs an exercise wheel so your pet can get its running in. But your hamster may get bored running only in its exercise wheel. Try putting some hamster tubes inside the cage so your hamster can do some extra running. Or you can build a hamster maze out of tubes to give your hamster a fun new activity. hamster exercise ball

Another good idea is to let your hamster explore some new areas outside its cage by putting it in an exercise ball.

Your hamster may also be bored because its cage is too small. You may want to try a larger cage that has additional levels for your hamster to climb. Or you can connect two cages to give your hammy some extra room.

Another option is to change the type of cage you use. I don’t recommend all hard plastic cages because of ventilation issues, but you can try a bin cage in which you have drilled plenty of ventilation holes. These cages mean your hammy will have no wires to chew on. plastic bin cage

Or you can switch to an aquarium that doesn’t use any wire bars. aquarium

Finally, if you have a dwarf hamster, you may want to add another hamster to the habitat so your hammy can have a friend to play with.

 

Experiment with new activities or new chew toys to get your hamster to stop gnawing too much on its wire cage bars.


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Mar 102011
 

If you’re thinking about buying a wire cage for your hamster consider some of the following: wire cage size, height, cleaning, and security. For a discussion of the wire bars themselves and their pluses and minuses read The Good And The Bad About Wire Hamster Cages.

Size

Hamsters need a lot of room to run around and exercise in. If you’re cage is too small your hamster won’t get the exercise it needs and will get bored. Your wire hamster cage should be at least 24 inches long by about 12 inches deep (61 by 30.5 cm). Different heights are available. Read the next section for discussion of wire cage heights. wire hamster cage

Remember, along with your hamster, your wire cage will also need space for an exercise wheel, a water bottle, some hamster toys, and a food bowl. Then your hamster needs plenty of bedding space for digging around, sleeping, and using the bathroom. So keep your hamster happy by giving him or her enough space to move around in.

Some people use two small wire cages and use an adapter kit to connect them with tubes. This gives your hamster the chance to get more exercise by running between the cages. Cutting holes in wire cages to connect them is not recommended.

Height

Hamsters like to climb around their wire cages. They can get their little feet around the wires and climb all around the bars. Some will try to climb to the top of the cage, even if it two or even three stories. But hamsters can slip and fall. If they fall from a great enough height, your hamster can get hurt. wire hamster cage

Because of the danger of falling, if you use a tall hamster cage, be sure you have ladders and ramps so your hamster can climb up more easily. You can also use hamster climbing tubes so your hamster can get around its tall wire cage.

Cleaning

Cleaning this type of hamster cage is usually pretty easy. The bars are lightweight and usually just snap out of the sides of the plastic bottom. You can then just rinse the bars off to get them clean. You will still have to do some more serious cleaning for the bedding in the plastic base. See the article called Easy Steps to Clean Your Hamster Cage for more detailed information about how to do that.

After you have replaced the bedding, you reattach the wheel and the water bottle, put the wire cage back on and attach it back to the plastic base. You are then ready to put your hamster back in its clean cage.

When you’re putting the cage back together is a good time to decide if you want to move things around. You may want to change the way things are hooked up or where the hamster toys are located. Sometimes your hamster can get bored if he or she has the same layout all the time in its cage. So move some tubes around or put new tubes in or change the location of different toys in the cage. This will give your hamster something new to explore and keep him or her from getting bored. wire hamster cage starter kit

Plastic base depth

The plastic at the bottom of the cage is for holding the bedding and any hamster toys you want to put in. Make sure the plastic bottom is deep enough to hold about 2 inches of bedding. This will let your hamster have room to burrow and sleep and make a place to go to a bathroom.

However, because the cage has spaces between the wires, when your hamster starts kicking up his or her bedding or throwing around their food, some of it is likely to get through the bars and onto the space around the cage. Plan on leaving some room around the cage for this bedding. You’ll have to keep that area clean if you have this type of cage.

Security

The metal door on the wire cage should also be looked at carefully when you’re buying this type cage. You want to be sure it’s snaps tightly to the wires of the cage because if it’s loose your hamster will figure a way to pry it open and escape. Some people even use an extra piece of wire to tie the door to the wire bars so the door stays well sealed.

Consider all these things before you buy your hammy a new wire cage. As an alternative, you may want to think about using an aquarium for a hamster cage.


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