Cage Setup for a Syrian Hamster
The video below was created to provide visual ideas for setting up a bin cage but can be used as inspiration for other equally or greater sized cages as well. The technique I share is based on the countless cages I have set up here in the rescue home; this particular one is for a young male Syrian hamster. To see a video about setting up a cage for a dwarf hamster click HERE
NOTE: Syrian hamsters are strictly solitary animals and should only live alone. For more information click HERE
Another note, Bincages for Syrians are tricky because their items are larger and take up more space. If at any time a Syrian hamster shows signs of cage stress and boredom, a larger, more enriched cage must be provided. A few stress behaviors include but are not limited to constant wall scaling, (when the hamster stands on rear legs and scrapes at the side of the cage with front feet over and over), continuously climbing taller items with intent to reach the top, actually reaching the top and attempting to chew out or monkey bar across the meshed lid, or chewing on bincage sides etc. Stress behaviors should be addressed immediately. I now have a page dedicated to larger cage setups which you can access HERE
The goal in setting up a cage for any hamster species should be to create a home with a balance of activities and places to hide as well as easy access to all areas. We want the hamster to utilize every square inch, be comfortable and thrive.
*Female Syrians go into heat every 4 nights and are more likely to display stress and boredom. One way to provide an outlet is to set up a well-designed play pen for out of the cage time for either gender showing stress behavior and boredom signs.
*Please note, the video can be paused if needed, and sound can be muted or played;
more options are available when viewing on a computer.
Items used to set up this particular cage are linked below. Everything can be found on Amazon with the exception of the bin cage itself which is sold at Home Depot and the bendy bridge which was purchased at Petco.
Cardboard Tunnels *They come in a pack of 10; okay if chewed and are big enough for a Syrian hamster, just replace once soiled or chewed up (pop off plastic ends and discard first)
Note On Bedding:
I mix a few different brands and consistencies together to achieve the best balance for the hamster to burrow. I am NOT a fan of adding in aspen wood or hay to stabilize the burrows, this does not work and furthermore creates sharp and coarse substances for the hamster to navigate through when attempting to burrow. I have had a surrendered hamster arrive with a piece of hay sticking out of the center of his eye and a sanctuary mouse here in foster care scraped the side of his face on some sharp aspen shavings. Both resulted in expensive veterinarian care, so I no longer use those in the hamster cages.
Cage Maintenance Tips:
*Water bottles can be hung with industrial strength velcro. Sometimes they leak or stop dispensing water, so always provide a water dish too, which also gives the hamster a choice. A little ceramic bowl under a hanging water bottle can catch any minor drips that are normal; this bowl is also an excellent place to serve fresh veggies (bowl may need to be rinsed out first).
*Hanging toys can be hung using a small command hook attached to the cage and some safe sisal string attached to the toy. Never use duct tape in a hamster cage due to the fiber threads inside being hazardous if chewed; if tape must be used choose clear packing tape but try not to use tape at all. Remember anything placed in a hamster cage can be eaten.
*Wheels can sometimes get clogged up underneath with bedding, so always ensure it freely spins.
*Hamsters move bedding all over the cage, they are their own interior designers so no matter how strategically you place it all and try to create barriers for it to stay in place, it won't. Let them put it where they want it and just fill in areas on top with fresh bedding, but don't disturb their burrows.
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