DIY Foraging hanging toy with Video of Penny enjoying it!

I saw a foraging toy in a friend’s bin cage that can be bought on Doctor Foster and Smith. But I decided to make my own because I could get Terra Cotta pots that were slightly bigger and use a kabob toy so I could make changes to it. It was SUPER easy and fast to make of course and was a success.

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First I got four of these terra cotta pots. One for each Syrian, the Gerbils, and Strawberry. I plan to make these for the Roborovskis as well but with twine to hang them lower for them and with smaller pots which I can find somewhere else but haven’t yet. Getting there! So, I also then used the box they came in to cut cardboard squares for the bottom and the top. And purchased some Kabob hanging toys (I have another already from before not pictured and also you could of course go even cheaper and use twine. Sisal or hemp twine /rope would work well. You can get clips to hang them from and tie a fat sturdy knot at the bottom of the base of the pot so it won’t slip off. I chose the metal kabobs for the sturdiness.) Then I had my crinkle bedding and some new treats ready and finally went to work!

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I used a piece of cardboard to keep the metal bottom from sitting flush on the clay bottom. The top piece of Cardboard works as the challenge of the hamster lifting it to get inside. Once your hamster gets the idea you can up the level of difficulty by cutting more squares and making them different shapes and piling them on top of one another so it’s heavier or trickier for them to get in. I made this one for Penny too easy. So, I’ll have to make a few changes so she really has to work harder to get in there. This is what the toy from Doctor Foster and Smith didn’t offer. A way to make it more challenging and why I thought I’d take it a bit farther! Also you can put more wood blocks or pumice chews, lava rock etc on the top to weigh it down more. Anything to make them work for the treats inside. I’m sure everyone can come up with more and more ideas. If you do this and try something different PLEASE post me pictures of it in comments! I’d love to see it!

Here is a video of Penny with her new toy! She of course didn’t take long to figure it out. It helps to put special treats that they do not get very often or never have had. Or a fresh vegetable. Something very enticing!

Video Tours & What’s new in the cages

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So, Strawberry got a platform for his wheel. This is to keep the wheel from falling down while he burrows underneath. What is it with dwarfs and burrowing under their wheels?

Penny and Bob got new litter pans. Penny’s is a pretty smokey grey and Bob’s is an exciting lime green! Unusual color for a litter pan. I didn’t get to choose as it was whatever the company decided to send but I was very happy with their choices. Yes, I know it’s just a litter pan but these are great! Maybe all Syrian hamsters are this way but my two love to spend a great deal of time in theirs. Just like humans and their restrooms I suppose. Mine do their business but also they groom quite a bit there. Bob particularly can be found in his pan often just chilling out. Having a light snack. Giving himself a little wash. What is neat about these pans are the shape. The roundness and the high backing. Penny was very happy to have gotten this. The one she had before was a Chinese take out container and she would go over the side quite often.

And I put in Patch’s Dip N Dive (made from a paper egg carton) tonight and he won’t leave it. He loves it in there so much I am not sure if he’ll come out except for food and water. Tomorrow Snow will get his – when I boil all the eggs within it to dye them Easter colors!

So, as well I did the most babble-y March tour video of all the hammy cages! What I was most thrilled with was that the hams were complete HAMS for the video. Especially, Penny. She pretty much began to give you all the tour herself. I wasn’t necessary. But they all made an appearance but Strawberry who was having a snooze fest. So I included a side video of him from earlier that day of him inspecting his new platform for his wheel to sit on. He likes to burrow under there and sleep.

And of course the Gerbils have gone through several set ups since the last video. So, it was time for one for them as well. This time I was alert and normal but my bebe was cranky and ready to be put down for bed! Alas! I have trouble with juggling! But the Gerbils were also pretty camera friendly. They were being impatient for their sunflower and peanut treat which I give them right before I head upstairs for bed.

I tried to make it an opportunity to be in-depth about their set up in hopes that people who don’t know better or are researching habitats because they do – will find mine and it will give them more ideas. Better ideas. But at least AN idea about how a Gerbil habitat should be set up. From the minimum size to what gerbils want and need in a habitat : deep substrate to burrow, something to climb, and room to run. As well all the other things they enjoy such as a sand pot. I do babble a lot but it comes from a good place and not from a love of hearing myself talk. I really want people to know what I now know. I was so naive starting out with the hamsters and in my childhood with rodents. I have learned SO much in such a short period of time since adult rodent ownership and just have this passion now for it to be out there more and more to fog out all the BAD information that is more readily available.

 

Hamster under the Mushroom Umbrella

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I saw this print on Etsy and had to have it!!!! The mushroom umbrella sent me over edge!!!
It’s by Christina Siravo from her Etsy Bluebirdie’s Bootique

I am so excited to get this. I myself draw and paint. And this is similar to my style. Since having children I haven’t had the time to feel comfortable and or the patience to do artwork anymore and seeing art like this fills me with inspiration again.

I always wanted to do children’s books for my kids and saw that in my head before I had them. Didn’t happen. But if I ever do so in the near future I know my largest muse will be none other than hamsters and gerbils!!!!

Video Cage Tour of Strawberry’s Tamburino & Blog Plans

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I know! I know! I am updating about Strawberry’s cage a LOT. I’ve been improving his cage layout day by day for some time now. Still fine tuning things. I added a couple things today which I show in the video.

And one may notice that I include the name of his cage often in posts. I do this for the benefit of people using Google search. A lot of my hits to this blog are of search terms for the cage my hamsters have and so I want people who are curious about these awesome cages to be able to zero right in on the posts featuring them in depth like this of the …you guessed it …FOP Gabbia Tamburino Linea Natura. (When I was about to order this cage there was hardly an image or video of it anywhere except for one member on Hamster Central forums and one in Italian language on Youtube with a lonely Gerbil in it.

I plan to make more time for this blog because I enjoy it. I always had all these plans for it – things I enjoyed – the entire original purpose was to show my cage set ups because although I cannot afford right now (nor have the space) to active collect now (I am sounding like a hoarder!) I am still a collector of cages! I have this mission to have every suitable cage for my critters that is available in the states. To be able to use it and review it and show it here and tell people how they can themselves procure it. Because more people in this country need to know there are better habitats for their hamsters out there. You don’t have to settle for Critter Trail! I was once that person. I got a Critter Trail for Strawberry when we brought him home and thought nothing of it. Then got the two Roborovskis and put them in a 10 gallon tank and thought nothing of that! Now, I can only ask myself – WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?!

I used to find and save in a folder on my desktop images I came across on image search of what people had done with IKEA Detolf Hacks for their hamsters. And just awesome layouts in general. All for the purpose to do a weekly “Beautiful cages I’ve found on the internet” series. My next big investment is a Detolf and so that is why I’ve found it to be the most interesting.

I also wanted to do a weekly : “Hamsters in the News” – just in the last week a hamster was found alive walking about in a blizzard somewhere across the pond. Nuts! Stories such as that!

I need to finish my informational tabs. I’ll be separating them by subject. Food FAQ, Habitat & Toys FAQ, Exercisers FAQ, and broaden the Gerbil page. Getting there. Getting there!

And lastly, I wanted to post little bios about special hamster stories. I have already in the past about a Rescue hamster I met named Marshmellow. But Ah! That all takes a surprising amount of time. Most of my time is broken up between many interruptions so what I do post and discuss on here is done with much haste! My videos I make are done with haste and anxiety! I am always listening out for a baby cry or a 3 year old breaking something. It’s a very inconsistent lifestyle at this time. And probably going to get worse before better!

Videos – I have been making use of Youtube’s new layout. Organizing playlists and developing a Channel. I do not have inspiration or aim to have a channel like Erinshamsters or other I could name (That is another idea – shout outs!) but right now the names of their Channels escape me – but I do want to make more use out of the blogging referred to as “vlogging” – video blog. I prefer writing to talking but there is something so personal and intimate as a vlog. Like I’m making myself even more available to fellow hamster and gerbil lovers out there!

All of this is in the works. I can at least promise to plan it. If I don’t follow through it won’t be for lack of interest or changing of my mind. I do love having the dreams.

 

And sorry to end on a melancholy note -but I must ask of anyone seeing this to send positive vibes out to my friend Marquelle. Her  Syrian hamster Cheeto was diagnosed with Pyometra. She’s a little bit of an older ham being over a year now and so surgery isn’t an option. It’s heartbreaking to begin with that we only have these little angels for so short a time even when they live for the fuller two maybe three years if you are lucky. So when it’s under 2 years it feels like even more of a robbery. Here are prayers that she lives long and comfortable for as long as that is possible. She is Marquelle’s special bond-hamster and it has saddened me so much today for her.

DIY Platform for the FOP Gabbia Tamburino Linea Natura

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Yogies! Ah the life. Yes, a dwarf probably shouldn’t be eating a sweet treat but I have no reason to think that he has diabetes. It’s not often anyway.

I was making platforms out of spare parts of wood I had just for the gerbils. But as they chew anything I was hesitant of putting one particular platform I put together into their tank! I used spare wood things I found on an aisle in Michael’s crafts. I’m not sure what they are for. But they have them in a plethora of styles. These remind me of thread spools. And the wooden crate like thing I used for the top shelf was just a wooden crate that a set of hand held instruments for my son came in. I used a spray sealant over it to make it pee-proof hopefully (set it outside over night to air out) and I used non-toxic hot glue to attach the spools at the bottom or the “legs” to it. It’s really that simple.

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So, I thought – why not use this for Strawberry? These types of shelves work for tanks, bins or big wire cages. Anyway, Strawberry has been feeling better lately and I imagine he might like something new to explore. So, I removed his dip and dive toy as that is good in small doses and moved in his platform and here it is. He seemed pretty happy about it.

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Originally I had his rope hanging ladder across the top of his hammock but after snapping a few photos I then realized I should change that up. I drooped it like a hammock. Beside the hanging coconut and the ladder to that which I also drooped.

He seems to prefer the challenge of climbing up his drift wood to get onto the platform instead of the bendy wood bridge. That’s my Strawberry. Always likes the climb to be as difficult as possible!

“It’s Just a Hamster …”

Bob when we brought him home as a young’un August 2012.

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Bob last month, February 2013

I’ve had a very dark, hard week emotionally. So, this post is going to be one of those type of things where I’m tired, and weird, and need to let out something good even if it’s half-arsed. Just because this is a safe place where I can put it. You know – what my hamsters mean to me.

Tonight in the hamster/play room I watched Bob scurry about. He climbed Penny’s cage as she’s in heat and the antics of the two of them crack me up. I’m not sure if it stresses them out. By appearances they seem to be excited and pepped up. She goes mad around her cage marking things and does these dances and then attacks her hammock and then she’ll stand in heat stance waiting for the Romeo who isn’t going to get in her cage! I feel sorry for them. Bob who is all bothered and Penny who is waiting for the man who isn’t going to find a way to break in the Mamble! Bob makes his way down the cage and at the end he does a cartwheel onto a cushion I have beside her cage. And he’s absolutely fine. It was almost like slow motion and a very cushioned landing. But it was also completely intentional the clown! And I chuckled. And I scoop him up and kiss his head. And he’s so patient and still and sweet.

Penny when she was very young and we first brought her home, December 2012

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Penny as of March 2013

People who will look at you and say or think to themselves silently – “It’s just a hamster!” – just have NO clue how delightful it is to be owned by a hamster. How much they can light up your life.

I’ve discussed with a fellow hamster friend – how hamsters are therapy pets. That with anxiety and depression sometimes there is nothing to look forward to. Oh, sure I have children and I would die a thousand deaths for them to be safe if that is what it took. I adore and love them. But they are my children. My little independent humans. They can try  my patience. One of them is old enough to talk back and press my limits. At the end of the day he is an individual and as much as I love him he can make me angry! And when I’m having a stressed out day he isn’t always going to cheer me up (and I will never expect him to). I do not look to my kids for happiness. A lot of my stress is from motherhood. I was the woman who didn’t want children but then suddenly I was nearing 30 and I did. Just like that. A switch. So, with prior anxiety issues (one of which is called Social Anxiety) which can get so overwhelming sometimes that I get depressed – and being moody in nature – having children at a time when I’m set in my ways and NEED a decent amount of alone time – really taxes me.

Snow as a new wee one, July 2012

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Snow as of February 2013

A hamster in my life (make that 5) is like this sunshine. I come into the room and I will hold one for a moment and the simplicity and gentleness and comedy that is a hamster (as well each having different personalities) will make my blood pressure level and I feel this calm come over me. All they want is food, water, safe shelter, and some play time. They don’t want to argue. Or talk my ear off. They do not judge me. They do not question me. They are gosh darn CUTE. And so soft and fluffy.

They love their toys and I love getting and making them toys. I love prettifying their cages and cleaning them and setting them up and as mundane as it is I enjoy refilling their food bowls and water bottles (Not really keen on scooping out their litter pans but it can’t all be perfect).

I enjoy typing away on my computer – posting about them as I am now – while I hear Penny scratching something behind her cage or earlier when Bob was out – scratching at one of the 6 little sand boxes I have under all the furniture in the room. Watching one scurry across the room randomly.

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Patch as of February 2012

Meanwhile the Roborovskis are awaking and are nibbling at their fresh food and beginning to do their somewhat stereotypical behavior (usually a term applied to gerbils but works with Robo’s as well IMO) and hopping on their saucers and having a go around and around. Strawberry is doing his strange run the wheel a few times then stop and peer out at me then back to the wheel to run a lap or two then to peer out at me again then back into his hideaway to not resurface until after 1am.

Strawberry our first hamster June 2012

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January or February 2012

I find a peace in this routine as well. It’s consistent. I know them. And that I am guaranteed peace when I go into that room with them. That I will feel better after a rough day. Or better even after a good day. And I will get a chuckle out of some antic.

I dread the day when they begin to leave me one by one. Right now they are all still reasonably young (as far as I know Strawberry too). But with fragile creatures like hamsters sometimes it can come without warning or obvious reason.

If I get into what the Gerbils do for my soul as well I’ll be typing all night.

I just felt compelled to write emotionally tonight. Something I don’t do all that often. People who think: “They are just hamsters” just don’t get it. And I wish they did. I wish there was more hamster lovers out there. More homes for those that need them. Better care for those who won’t just get them only as throwaway pets for their children. Who knows, a hamster may save someone’s life one day. Just their gentle, non-judgemental and non-invasive presence can be everything to a lonely person. Their ease of care and few demands may be the only pet a busy person can even imagine.

Have a night with a screaming, sick infant? I have them. A night where I just cannot make the time to play with my hamsters? They aren’t dogs who need that walk. That HAVE to have that walk. Or have to be let outside to wee. They aren’t going to take it personal if you don’t play with them that night (like cats lol).

They are wonderful, wonderful pets. Give them the best you can and they will give it back to you tenfold. I promise.

Dip & Dive Egg Box Toy (Video of Strawberry)

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Erinshamsters on her Youtube channel did a tutorial on this easy and awesome DIY toy for dwarf hamsters.

And so of course I had to do it. Strawberry is the hardest to please of all my hamsters so my first carton I saved was just for him. He absolutely loved it! That’s not easy to do – to impress this guy! Thanks Erin!

And I didn’t want to leave the Syrians out (the next two egg cartons I save will be for the Roborovskis) so I pulled out these two recycled cardboard boxes that were used to cushion an electronic item I had shipped to me. I’ll be putting them in their cages tonight and see how it goes!

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