Make an Enriching House for Your Pet

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Whether or not you’re new to the world of hamsters otherwise you’re searching for some inspiration for upgrading your hamster cage, we carry you an entire information on the way to arrange your hamster’s cage to make it comfy and enriching on your pet. 

A well-set-up hamster cage ought to encourage your pet to maneuver round, discover, dig, forage and be lively to make use of up their power. A cage that doesn’t present numerous enrichment will trigger your hamster to be bored and careworn, resulting in harmful behaviors akin to cage biting and frantically attempting to flee.

Though it’s simpler to simply pop up your pet in a tiny cage with a small wheel and a home, this is able to make your pet depressing. Hamsters are extraordinarily lively animals that spend all evening working round and looking for meals within the wild. They run as much as 6 miles per day, so being cooped up in a tiny cage doesn’t present them with sufficient area and enrichment to occupy themselves.

Right here’s the way to do a correct hamster cage setup, beginning with getting an appropriate cage.

A Appropriate Cage

Very first thing first, to have the ability to arrange a hamster cage correctly, you could have a big sufficient cage. Sadly, these small hamster cages that may be bought in a pet store received’t work as they’re smaller than the beneficial minimal. These cages additionally don’t have sufficient room to suit all of the equipment {that a} well-set-up hamster cage wants, akin to deep bedding, a big wheel, a sand bathtub and different necessities.

A hamster cage needs to be at least 640 sq. inches. Your choices are shopping for a ready-made cage of that measurement or larger, utilizing a specious aquarium or making a DIY cage out of a plastic bin or IKEA closet akin to Detolf. I wrote an in depth information on the very best hamster cages right here so you may see your choices in case your present cage is just not sufficiently big.

Secure & Deep Bedding

You may have a sufficiently big cage, and also you’re prepared to start out setting it up and making it comfy on your furry potato. The very first thing you’ll want is bedding (substrate).

Hamsters are burrowing animals, in order that they want a deep layer of bedding to dig and create underground tunnels to sit back in. They sleep of their burrow, away from all the hazards they assume await them on the floor. With the ability to burrow is crucial for his or her well-being.

Sadly, it’s widespread for hamsters to be housed in cages with solely an inch or two of bedding with no choice to burrow. In these circumstances, homeowners typically see their hamsters gnawing on the cage bars and marvel what the difficulty is. Hamsters get careworn when their wants usually are not met, they usually can’t categorical their pure behaviors, so they begin biting the bars. Analysis has proven that hamsters residing in deeper bedding present considerably fewer indicators of stress, akin to cage biting.

How A lot Bedding to Use?

So let’s get to the specifics – how a lot bedding do hamsters want? The bedding depth depends upon the species of hamster you will have. There’s an enormous distinction in measurement between dwarf species and a Syrian hamster, whereas a Chinese language hamster is someplace within the center.

  • For dwarf species and Chinese language hamsters, the minimal quantity of bedding they want is 6 inches, though 10 inches is beneficial – particularly for Chinese language hamsters, that are a bit bigger. 
  • Syrian hamsters want at the very least 10 inches of bedding attributable to their measurement, however 12 inches is preferable.

Right here’s one other method to take a look at it. Think about three hamsters positioned one over the opposite. Might you bury them within the bedding? If that’s the case, it needs to be deep sufficient. If not, add extra bedding till the highest imaginary hamster is roofed.

With our hamster bedding calculator, you may simply calculate how a lot bedding you could purchase on your cage, relying on the scale of your cage and the specified bedding depth.

What to Use as a Bedding?

Hamster homeowners mostly use these two choices:

  • Paper bedding
  • Aspen shavings

Hemp bedding can be secure, though it’s not very efficient at holding burrows. You need to use it to supply one other texture to stroll on, however greatest to stay with aspen or paper as the first bedding.

Maintain the next in thoughts when selecting which substrate to make use of on your hamster cage. The substrate needs to be:

  • Non-scented
  • Have the ability to maintain burrows
  • Non-toxic

Mixing completely different substrate varieties so as to add selection and completely different textures to work together with is all the time a good suggestion.

Nesting Materials

Along with the primary bedding (substrate), it’s necessary to supply nesting materials that your hamster can use to construct their nest. 

Sprinkle some mushy hay, akin to botanical or orchard, over their predominant bedding so your hamster can use it to construct their nest.

One other good choice for nesting materials is rest room paper. Rip off a couple of rest room paper sheets and put them within the cage. Though rest room paper is just not very absorbent, it’s high quality to make use of for nesting as hamsters don’t are likely to pee or poop of their nest.

Hidey Home

Hamster cage hidey house

Subsequent on the setup listing is a hidey home that your hamster can use to cover and really feel protected whereas up on the bottom. Most individuals go for a picket home as an alternative of plastic as hamsters can safely chew wooden. 

You will get one with out the flooring, so you may simply scoop it up and clear the leftover meals or poop underneath it.

A Wheel

Hamsters spend quite a lot of their time working on the wheel, so it’s necessary that the wheel they use is secure and might’t trigger any hurt.

When selecting a wheel on your hamster, hold this in thoughts:

  • A wheel must be fabricated from strong materials – No metallic bars or mesh that may lure limbs or trigger harm to your hamster’s ft.
  • A wheel must be sufficiently big – A wheel that’s too small could cause again accidents in hamsters as a result of they’re all the time working with their backs curved. Listed here are the minimal wheel sizes for every hamster species:
    • 8″ in diameter (20 cm) for dwarf species
    • 10″ in diameter (25 cm) for Chinese language hamsters
    • 11’’ in diameter (28 cm) for Syrian hamsters

Additionally, don’t use a flying saucer as their major wheel within the cage, as that one is just not substitute for an everyday upright wheel.

Sand Tub

Sand bath

Though hamsters are extraordinarily clear animals and don’t shrink back from grooming themselves, a sand bathtub helps hold their pores and skin and fur good and glossy.

Hamsters ought to by no means be bathed in water because it’s pointless and too demanding. A sand bathtub works nice for eradicating the dust and oil that has gathered in your pet’s coat.

It’s simple so as to add a sand bathtub to your hamster’s cage. All you want is a shallow container sufficiently big for the hamster to roll round in full of hamster-safe sand.

What’s hamster-safe sand? Listed here are the choices:

  • Reptile sand – pure coloration, with no added minerals or calcium (akin to Reptisand)
  • Chinchilla bathing sand
  • Kids’s play sand – warmth handled. If it’s not warmth handled, it needs to be sanitized by baking it within the oven for 20 min at 350°F (180°C). It’s additionally beneficial to sift it via a sifter to take away the bigger chunks that might irritate your hamster’s pores and skin.

What sort of sand to keep away from:

  • something labeled as “mud” or “powder” as these are too high quality and might trigger respiratory an infection
  • scented sand
  • clay-based sand
  • coloured sand
  • sand with added minerals or calcium

You would possibly discover that your hamster makes use of a sand bathtub as their rest room, however it will make spot cleansing that a lot simpler. Should you’d desire to maintain the sand bathtub clear, you may present two sand baths in several elements of the cage. That method, in case your hamster does resolve to pee and poo in a single, it should hold the opposite for bathing.

Meals & Water Equipment

Whereas it’s greatest to scatter feed your hamster to encourage foraging and motion across the cage, a meals bowl can nonetheless be useful to place recent meals in in order that it doesn’t get misplaced within the bedding and spoil.

For water, you need to use both a water bowl or a bottle. Some individuals assume utilizing a bowl is unsafe as hamsters can drown, however the bowls we use for water are so small there’s no method a hamster can drown in them. So whether or not you’ll use a water bottle or a small water bowl is as much as you – each are utterly secure.

Should you’re utilizing a water bottle, do common inspections to examine if it’s working correctly. Bottles can get caught, and being with out water for just a few days might be detrimental to your pet’s well being.

Cage Equipment

Now that we’ve added the important cage provides, it’s time to make the cage much more enjoyable and enriching by including completely different equipment starting from bridges and cork logs to tunnels and chew toys.

It may be arduous to maintain your pet entertained as they all the time appear to have limitless power, however these equipment ought to assist hold them occupied.

Listed here are some accent concepts for the cage.

Cage furnishings:

  • Cork logs
  • Hideouts
  • Wood bridges
  • Wood ladders
  • Tunnels
  • Platforms

Chewables:

  • Chew toys
  • Herbs and foraging vegetation
  • Branches – should you use branches collected outdoors, make certain the wooden is secure for hamsters. The branches also needs to be cleaned and dried to kill bugs or parasites earlier than use. Keep away from branches and twigs you discover close to closely used roads or that may have been sprayed with chemical substances.
  • Cardboard tubes
  • Willow balls

Nesting materials:

  • Gentle hay, akin to orchard or botanical hay – sprinkle hay throughout their cage as hamsters use it to construct their nest and nibble on it.
  • Bathroom paper sheets and paper napkins – hamsters love utilizing them for his or her nest.

Different equipment:

  • Rocks to file nails – if you wish to use a rock that you just discovered outdoors, give it scrub with sizzling water and cleaning soap earlier than placing it within the cage.

Unhealthy Hamster Cage Setups: What To not Do

Now that we coated every part a hamster cage must should hold it’s resident pleased and cozy, let’s go over some examples of dangerous hamster cage setups. The next gallery is displaying some fairly horrible setups which can be, sadly, nonetheless typically seen amongst hamster homeowners.

A few of the commonest errors are:

  • a cage that’s method too small
  • not sufficient bedding (often solely an inch or two of bedding)
  • a kind of bedding that isn’t appropriate or doesn’t permit burrowing
  • a too small wheel
  • not sufficient enrichment to provide hamster one thing to do

Let’s take a look at some examples on what to not do when organising a hamster cage.

How Typically to Change Hamster Cage Setup

Hamsters get bored simply, so you may change issues round occasionally when doing an entire cage cleanout. When doing a deep clear, bear in mind to all the time hold at the very least ¼ of their outdated bedding to reuse within the cage. This retains the hamster’s residence smelling acquainted to them and stops them from getting careworn.

Should you’re utilizing the beneficial minimal cage measurement of 620 sq. inches, the cage needs to be good for a month earlier than it must be utterly cleaned. That’s if the cage is frequently spot cleaned to take away any dirty bedding. You may take that chance to make a cage overhaul, swap issues up, and add some new enjoyable equipment.

Why a Good Cage Setup Is Important for Your Pet’s Properly-being

Cage setup is the one factor that may take advantage of vital distinction in your pet’s high quality of life. Keep in mind that your hamster’s cage is their entire world. They spend virtually your entire day in it, so it must be set as much as fulfill their wants and permit them to specific their pure behaviors. It ought to be capable of mimic their pure habitat and supply them with related enrichment that they might get within the wild.

Attempt to see issues out of your pet’s perspective when organising their cage, have their pure habitats and behaviors in thoughts so you may present a glimpse of that of their cage.

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