Fixing the door to the Topper

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The mesh I used for my Gerbil Topper was the 1/4 inch grid. It’s not as strong as 1/2 inch. I didn’t use 1/2 as I didn’t want them to be able to get their muzzles through it and start chewing habits. However, due to the need for them not to slip through the door and sides of the entrance I use spring loaded hooks and the tightness was causing the mesh to begin bending. And the door was floppier as well. I just became unhappy with it and did not feel it was secure enough. I was always afraid the mesh would eventually break causing the hook latches to come attached and therefore come home to missing gerbils. Ugh. The thought horrifies me.

So, I bent a section of 1/2 mesh in half and put the hard plastic borders around it (Totally blanked on what those are called! – The red things around the frame) and attached it. It’s so sturdy that I only need two spring latches opposed to the four I needed with the other door. And the way I folded the piece makes it a little difficult for them to get their muzzles through. And even if they could this mesh is very strong so they couldn’t gnaw through it if that’s even possible or desirable for them to try to do. It looks cleaner to me. I’m pleased.

*Other additions – I took the two sides off the burrowing box and flipped over the little steps and turned it into just another shelf for them to climb on. In the middle is just free space with no walls. Only walls are on the sides facing and the back to stand it up.

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Converting a Bookcase to Roborovski Cage

The Roborovskis get their bookshelf!

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As some may remember I found a bookcase style dollhouse out on someone’s trash curb for bulk pick up. I am big on recycling things so I snatch it up. The bottom portion I found to be unstable. There was a crack in the stilt. So I cut it down to just the two shelves and it proved to be quite sturdy.

My son didn’t care for it. I had hoped to make it into his Ninja Turtle lair/ sewer but he prefers the smaller shelf set up I made him for his Transformers so I decided to make use of this for the Roborovskis.

They are the tiniest of the hamster species and aren’t really great at climbing. DIY cages for Robos have a half partition usually for better visual as they most likely aren’t going to become super hams and fly over. So with that in mind I used the spare vinyl tiling I used to waterproof their floor to also make a portion. Also I used contact paper for the walls.

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The measurements are 38 inches in length and 13 inches in width. Pretty much perfect for Roborovskis. I do love my Robos but find they aren’t my type of hamster so after these guys I doubt I’d have more of this species. What I like about this bookcase cage is I can get different materials like acrylic sheets and mesh and vents and convert this to a Chinese hamster set up in the future. Or make the two shelves connect for a two floor cage.

I plan to do more for their set up inside. Not sure how long that will take me. It’s nothing fancy right now. But they seem pleased.

Here is a close up of Snow’s

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And close up of Patch’s

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D.I.Y Platforms

This one I have planned and have been impatient to do! Make my own hamster platforms!

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I went to Michael’s Crafts and bought these wood shapes and plaques all of which was under a buck each. I cut to size a Woodsies inch thick dowel rod and then sanded them. My 3 year old and I painted them with non-toxic kid paint. Then I elaborated more with paint to give it more personal touches. Then I drilled holes in the base and the dowels to glue and bolt them to the base. And used both wood glue and hot glue to attach the platform shapes to the tops of the rods. Then I used a sealant over it to waterproof it (pee proof).

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Bob’s is obviously Mushrooms. And Penny’s is obviously hers! The piece that has the bear like shape (meant to make it more like a hamster) has an imperfection that makes it seem like something stained it but that’s alright.

I am letting them air out for a few days before I put them in their homes.

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This was the original inspiration – these can only be bought from the UK:

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Gabriel cage additions

So I have been trying to come up with DIY toys for the hams. I was so close to buying Penny those 1 inch thick, 28 or 36 inch long rope perches used for rats and large birds. They were on sale on one site and then I found it even cheaper on another but it was still going to be $12 and that is breaking our goal so I refrained but I don’t know how longer I can resist.

For Gabriel I remembered this video on YouTube by Erinshamsters of her DIY cage for her Chinese Hope and the spoon staircase and hanging cup.

I took those ideas though I want to get a wider and cuter cup from the dollar store later.

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I also added 3 more piles of sand to his box and watched him sniff and dig in it for awhile. Ah, ham watching is much more interesting and relaxing to watch than the fish tank.

 

Making bin cage doors

So I tried to find some cheap or free used cages to use the doors for bin cages but had no luck. So I thought I would just make my own door for Penny’s second level of her bin cage. I also want to do this for Strawberry’s bin in the future especially with how well it turned out with Penny’s.

I took a useless Super Pet or Crittertrail(?) play pen fence piece that I cut down to size with steel cutters and zip tied the bottom to the mesh of the front of her 2nd story bin. I chose the blue piece as it matched the blue Crittertrail door I have on the bottom bin. Then made a sliding latch to hold it in place just like the way the doors of her Ferret Kit cage secure. I also had extra plastic door guards from my bunnyrabbit.com order for the use of my homemade gerbil tank topper. So I used them to keep the sides of the clipped mesh from scratching Penny or myself.

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Now I am working on the mesh lid. I wanted as much mesh as possible so I could give her back that system of hammocks I had going for her in the old cage now in this cage.

Guys! I have never seen Penny so content. She never begs to get out. She stays so busy. It’s so odd!

Penny in a double decker bin cage

Well, I came to a decision after a few issues with Penny in the Ferret Kit 100 aka Mamble.

My issues
1. Having to clear out the room I have the hams as i have to use the room for something else so less space.
2. I have trouble lifting the top off the base for cleaning and replacing it.

Penny’s issues
1. She fell a few weeks ago within the cage and broke a tooth. Two nights ago I saw her climb up the sides and fall twice in a row from taking gutsy fearless chances.
2. She is destroying the hammocks by obsessive digging and during free range obsessive digging in carpet tearing it up. The base to the cage is deep but not deep enough for the amount of substrate she needs to get her digging fix.
3. She started to bar chew.
4. She is bored in the cage.

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So, I thought … Why not make a double decker bin cage for her? Two 110 qt. bin cages which are both 80cm in length and with room to grow higher as well when I decide what type of bin to use for the 3rd floor. Initially it seemed it was a downgrade. At least in length. But once I set it all up with shelves and such I realized overall it was actually and upgrade in space. And the levels are safer for her as well give her more enrichment having “rooms”.

At least this is what I observed since putting her in.

Upon her first introduction she began to excitedly dig. And dig. And dig dig dig dig dig dig in the deep layer of substrate which is her personal favorite: Kaytee Comfy Cozy.

On this floor i wanted the convenience of a door that opens out to put things in like food and such and after seeing how my friend Kerri added a door to her bin cage using a cheap cage she got used it hit me to use the door off the cage my adopted hamster Gabriel came to me in. It works so well! I am on the look out for another used or free cage like that to make a door for the top bin as well.
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Also there is the pink plastic round shelf which I just soldered holes in the bin where the screws for the shelf needed to go to be secured on. Also I put her main litter /sand box on a little platform to keep it stable. Her pink igloo hideaway. And her food dish on the shelf. And to connect her to the 2nd floor is a Petco wood bendy bridge. That sits on the pink shelf and a hole is above in the lid and the bottom of the top bin. She easily climbs up and climbs down.
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For the 2nd floor I used a bin cage I already had made that wasn’t in use. I put in Ecobedding crinkle paper and a wooden platform I put together long ago originally for Strawberry but he never cared for it. She has another sand bath/litter box on this platform so it doesn’t take away from her floor space. Also her new flying saucer is in as her 12 inch wheel is too tall for these bins. She has a water bottle that attaches to the mesh and I plan to fix one to the bottom bin some how as well.
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The new space pod/ Sputnik hideaway works great and I am having a hammock custom made to fit her bin eventually. And lastly I soldered holes to attached the wood ledge just as an extra place for her to climb and find treats. I might make her a little side mesh window there someday.

For the top lid I am considering all mesh lid. But as I want to add a 3rd bin at the top I might hold off on that for awhile.

Finally I put new matching borders of decorative duct tape on both windows to make it pretty and Pennyful.

All I can say is that Penny has been busy and content for the past couple nights I have wached her. She hasn’t begged to come out and as she is acclimating to a new space I wanted to leave her alone a couple nights anyway.

This morning she was still very awake and burrowing tunnels in the cozy substrate in the bottom bin.

As for space this bin despite so much inside is decently light considering and sits on top of Bob’s cage. I am very very pleased. Relieved. So much space was freed up. Etc. I do not have to worry that she is going to fall and injure herself anymore. As she gets much older I won’t have to worry even more about the height issue of the ferret cage.

Gerbilarium clean out and plans

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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.

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

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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.

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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.