Gerbilarium clean out and plans

So, I found that dollhouse on the trash pickup curb and took it in to make something of it but in doing that saved this background and used it as wallpaper for the gerbils topper. LOL. I think it’s cute! Originally the function was only temporary to keep their mess within the topper and not over the side onto the floor in the back.

I haven’t bought a rotary tool yet or attained acrylic glass sheets which I plan to soon to make a barrier on the lower half of all sides of the topper to keep it tidier.


Now I kinda love it.
Also I added back the hanging hay holder. Make them work for their hay for while. Love these darlings.



Then later today I decided to try a homemade hammock out of jeans. I figured it would be harder for them to chew up if they decide to and if its a success I can have a jean hammock sewn well and sturdier.

And I added their suspension ladder bridge from Bobby’s Bunny Boutique placed in. I can’t wait to see them climb around on these. Right at this time they were snoozing when I put it in.



Get this suspension ladder bridge from Bobby’s Bunny Boutique!

I get asked this often so I will take this opportunity to answer as I just did this big clean!

How long does it take to clean their gerbilarium?

The larger the space and deeper the substrate and whether you supply a litter pan/box/pot for your critter to do all their business in – the less cleaning is required.

My gerbils go wee and poo in aragonite sand that I keep in a high sided metal pot. I change this sand out every couple days.

They also sometimes use the cardboard squares I place in there for them to chew. So when I see they have I replace the cardboard. This is spot cleaning. Something that should be done daily or semi daily.

Monthly I do a full clean.

Gerbils do not wee much. They are desert rodents and drink little and wee little. They are also very clean animals. So they do not have much of a smell (I have a sensitive nose and notice only a smell in their litter pot). Mine go mostly in their pot. When I scoop out their substrate I never notice poops. I am not saying there isn’t poops in the main substrate but for a month and two gerbils the fact I haven’t seen any is telling that they go mostly in their pot and that is changed semi daily.

With a full clean monthly I remove most everything from the topper. I sweep with a little hand broom the cardboard and tissue they shred up there and nest with inside their summer home in the topper. In the winter they sleep “downstairs” in their burrows. But I have noticed that when it is warmer they nest in a wood house “upstairs” to keep cooler. This is why I am an advocate of the big tank and topper extension for a gerbil set up.

I place my gerbils in a box to play in with tubes to chew and hide in while I begin to clean.

I vacuum the topper out with the hose attachments and remove it and then wipe it down with a cage cleaner chemical safe for animals. then go over that with a warm wet cloth to wipe the residue of the cleaner away. then dry it with paper towels.

Then I remove the driftwood and platform out of tank and begin to scoop out most of the substrate and then vacuum out the remaining bit. I use a cleaner to wipe out all the residue left in the tank and repeat same process as the topper.

I wipe all around the outside of the tank too.

I replace their driftwood and platform and add a semi deep layer of substrate (shredded aspen by Native Earth) and hay so they can shred and thicken their burrows. In the hotter months I put less substrate. In the winter I put at least 8 inches of substrate.

On goes the topper and I replace all their items in there. Add more cardboard and toilet paper rolls and treats in there before putting them back. Then I hand feed them their most favorite treat so they have a positive experience after all the upheaval.

Then I vacuum my floor all around the area.

All this process from start to finish including vacuuming the floor I have found takes an hour at least.

But this is only monthly. Therefore really not bad at all.

The semi daily spot cleaning as well changing out water in their bottles takes 5 minutes I think.


Bob’s rat ball

Another great item to use for travel as well daily use is the rat sized ball for the Syrians. Bob is getting the hang of it. I can see this working really well in and out of hotel rooms whenever we are on the road. While the dwarfs can be in a dry bathtub for free range exercise the Syrians need a bigger space in my opinion. This helps!


Many Syrians will need a much larger ball than the standard Syrian hamster ball. If you have a big Syrian then a rat sized ball of 11.5 inches is safe as they won’t be arching their spine which just like too small a wheel – can damage their spine.

Here is a video of him – I can’t embed video with the iPad app.
bob trying out his rat ball

Travel “stealth” Bins

I’ve discussed this a few times. The reality of my life. It’s nomadic. We pick up and go and sometimes with little notice. Also, we are on the East Coast and so with tropical storms that can crop up during the summer and fall this is even MORE likely to be a last minute thing.

I also mentioned briefly we had to stay in a hotel a couple weeks ago. This was very last minute. Within 10 minutes I was told we had to leave our premises and check into a hotel for a week while they got rid of mold and began work on foundation issues from flooding which caused the mold. Blah blah blah. We were very unprepared for that.

What do we bring? WHO do we bring? As in – ALL the pets? Some of the pets? It was fortunately a situation that my husband was able to check on the hamsters and gerbils every morning and every evening before his trek to work and to home to the hotel. And mid-day I came in to check on them. It’s not that they needed to be check on THAT many times daily for that week but I just felt so terrible to have left them with no plan. They were just sitting there in an abandoned house. IT wasn’t like we had gone on vacation and had a person coming to feed, water, and play with them. This was no plan. Just a surprise and animals aside it was dramatic and stressful. I won’t get into all those details as this is my happy place. But I will say it brought to light how slack I have been.

I had been in the process of making travel bins. I finished two. The one that Gabriel resides in at the moment until I decide to upgrade him. At this time he seems pleased as punch inside his space and with his daily outings it seems to suit him fine. And that very morning of the day I found out we had to leave our house I had JUST finished Strawberry’s travel cage.

Strawberry’s is truly legit. It’s a true travel bin as it’s made to be completely lightweight and with a 2nd level within. Which I will show and explain. His is the prototype for ALL the bins for all the hamsters. The gerbils of course will have something different.

As I brought Gabriel as he was the only hamster in a light weight travel bin at the time (I didn’t have time to fix up Strawberry’s to bring him as well) I learned many things about rodents and hotels. I learned that if we cart 7 bins of creatures into a motel or hotel we are going to get some unnecessary attention. This may or may not have us kicked out. So, I decided stealth was called for. I decided to order a set of 6 of these bins.

0007314909014_180X180It’s a purple tinted Sterilite bin. It’s 66 qts so small. I think it was 26 inches in length. The height is going to probably be an issue with the Syrian’s wodent wheels but I’ll cross that bridge later. But I will be able to mesh these in such a way that they can be stacked and all fit in the van in an emergency or when we inevitably relocate somewhere next May.

So, the plan …Save money! I have spent TOO much already. Especially, on all these super cool purple stealth bins. (I call them the stealth bins because coming into the dark of night into a hotel room I think the hotel clerks will have trouble deciphering what the heck is in the bins!)

1.  I have been collecting all these little plastic baskets I have around the house that I use to organize things. The blue one there has this awful tape still stuck to it from the store labeling that I have had so much trouble removing. These will be made into platforms (the 2nd level within) because they are cheap and already purchased so no more spending. They are super light weight so won’t weigh down our load from the car to the hotels and back to the car. And easy to fasten to the bins using a drill for holes in the bin and zip


2. Spare mesh and useless Super Pet playpen sections. This is what I had in the storage closet left over. The play pen is a complete fail for a hamster play pen. They climb over it. But it makes great bin cage meshing! Cut a little window out of the sides of the bin and use a section each of that and there you go! Re-purpose / save cash!

3. Coffee buckets. These are so useful. I use them to store hammy food and gerbil food and treats and I use them to scoop out the dirty substrate and I use one to shovel the fresh substrate out of the storage bin it’s kept in and into the cages. Now I plan to save a couple to cut out an entrance and then I have a nice, smaller, and super lightweight litter box for their travel bin.

4. Finally, the spare Critter Trail cage that Gabriel (my newest adoption!) came to me in. This is going to be a travel topper for my Gerbils. As they won’t have the plastic platforms they will have a secured to the lid topper. A nice little look out for them. Re-purpose. Recycle. Reuse!


And this is an idea of what it would look like once I make the platforms and zip tie them to the bin. A nice nifty little travel bin. Not big enough to be a permanent home but for nomadic families such as military families and or for emergencies such as Hurricane evacuations – or extended vacations where one chooses to bring the rodents along – you can’t go wrong with this!


Don’t forget a method to saw the plastic to make windows to mesh for ventilation such as a heated (over a flame) knife or the cutter on a rotary tool etc. Having the help of parents to do this. And wearing the appropriate safety gear.

And a water bottle that works well such as the types designed for tanks that hang over the side. The one I have by Oasis is fantastic. They are my favorite water bottles for many reasons. The metal is thin enough that the bin lid closes well over it. As always latching bins are the safest to use especially if you use a water bottle that hangs over the edge.

I’ll do a DIY on the travel bin making once I get them and get started.

Catch up!

Whew! Yeah. Sometimes a lot of life happens and blogs get put on back burner. We had a mold issue in a house with people with major allergy issues! Then I have picked up writing again. Or typing… Stories. I used to love to write stories and haven’t in years. Then the other week I had a plot bunny hop on top of my head and can think of little else!

But also? Just enjoying family. All of it. Which means my rodents included. I don’t think to take pictures or video or really much of anything with a blog mind. Just enjoy them all.

I have set up two little play pens and set the hamtrac back up and ordered a rat sized exercise ball. Pretty much what is happening is that I have ALL my hamsters save one, out at one time. What?!

I have Gabriel my Chinese in a play pen. then I put Strawberry in a ball on the trac. And then after 10 minutes i put him in the other play pen and may start trying Gabriel in the ball to see if he likes it. Then Penny runs free ranging in a hammy proofed room. The rat sized ball will be for Bob. He is prone to injury and I plan to give him mostly ball time and less time in supervised free ranging. Why is a long story but this is best for him. Snow is becoming hand tame. He has slowed down so much and more laid back than Patch. Patch – it stresses him out to be mottled with so I leave him alone until cage clean time. But Snow I handle amidst all this hammy activity and also put in the free play pen when Strawberry is in the ball.

I use the hamtrac because Strawberry can really get going around it while when just randomly about the room he seems to get stuck and confused and bangs hard on things constantly. So I am pleased with the thing. It’s the larger one and I am thinking about getting expansion pieces to obviously make it wider and put maybe some variety to the shape.

I also ordered more toys. And then I ordered MORE toys. Such as two more flying saucers for Gabe and SB (Strawberry) just for their play pens.

All of this is time saving and no more do I have to give them turns. Choosing which one to let out first is hard with those multiple sets of pleading eyes. And I am too worried about the small dwarf sized hams running free range in there. I prefer pens for them. And it has an entertaining feeling of absolute madness about it.

Anyway, I have Gabriel photos and some short Penny vids from the weeks that I haven’t gotten around to posting. I think a dump of them is in order!

Gabriel in our hotel bed and bath tub. (Our stay while mold was eradicated from our house).






And vids which I cannot embed with my WP app.

penny burrows in the kids toybox

penny meets strawberry

This is weeks ago of Gabe in a temporary play pen set up after we got him.
pay bin

Hopefully I will get something else posted soon! Just pressed for enough uninterrupted time to devote and lost a bit in other pursuits when I do have some time!!

Introducing Gabriel …


A few days ago I noticed a post by someone on a local Facebook group I am a member of. They were seeking to rehome a Dwarf hamster. I have 5 hamsters already. And two gerbils. A dog. And a tank of fish. Oh…and I think it counts – TWO children. So, I felt a tug in my heart but I ignored it and moved on. Then yesterday the lady posted a photo of the hamster in question and once again asked for someone to adopt him. I melted. Adorable. ADORABLE. And strangely similar to photos I had seen of Chinese hamsters. So, I took to the hamster groups I’m a member of on Facebook with his photo asking for their expertise in species identification. And sure enough the response was overwhelmingly, “That’s definitely a Chinese.”

Well, I don’t want to sound like a terrible person. It’s not that I dislike Dwarfs and hence I wouldn’t adopt a hybrid Campbells or Winter White. But, I feel I am at full capacity for rodents. I am a little self-conscious about it at times. And of course I have the normal worries a military spouse has …we could be stationed any where next year. It’s possible for it to be overseas but not incredibly likely …but it IS possible. And I’ll cross that bridge if I come to it. But for now the definite situation of the future is we will have to move and possibly far away from where we are now. And I don’t rehome pets due to moves in the Continental USA. But not because it’s easy to travel with animals. It’s not easy to travel with children or animals. No one wants to stay in a confined space. Kids in their car seats or Hamsters and Gerbils in small travel cages. And our van would look like a Clown car when loading and unloading this magnitude of living beings.

All that said – when I did realize it was most certainly a Chinese hamster I just could NOT resist. I have wanted a Chinese hamster for a very long time and here was one needing a home. I discussed it with the husband who shrugged and said, “Well, what is one more?” LOL. I mean, that was an off the cuff comment. He of course realizes each life is special and has a set amount of needs. But it is true that one more hamster would hardly seem like it tipped the scales into animal hoarders…. (does it?)

I set up a bin cage for him today. My son helped with meshing the lid and gluing legs to platforms and filling it up with toys and such. One new notable toy is the hanging ladder toy from Bobby’s Bunny Boutique that just arrived yesterday! And I cannot tell you how much I love that toy! I plan to use the other one I ordered for the gerbils in their topper. (More of a review on the product and the store that I love in another post!)

I decided to go smaller as I have heard that the timid nature of the Chinese likes a lot of substrate to burrow in and a lot of cover and hideaways to hide in and I didn’t want to overwhelm him with a large space when he is accustomed to a smaller space. Perhaps in a month or two I’ll upgrade him but for now judging from how he is moving about this space with ease and comfort I feel it’s just right for him at least for now!

One of the greatest things is that he is already so tame! Chinese hamsters are noticeably different than the other species of hamsters. Not just in some of the look to them but their nature. It’s hard to describe but I notice it already. And the best hammy induced feeling in the world??? Feeling their little elongated tail curling around your finger for balance. I’ve heard of this special Chinese ham facet but now I can tell you …it’s true what they say …it will MELT your heart!

Here is a quick vid of Gabriel settling in and a little view of his bin cage set up.

Time to upgrade my blog header!