Converting a rabbit cage to hamster cage

This isn’t a detailed instruction. Lets hope photos can show the obvious but if you are happening upon my blog and want to ask a question about doing this please do. I might take a few days to respond but I will!

I got a used $20 rabbit cage with the footprint in inches: 41L x 20 H x 18 W – from a local pet Facebook group I am a member of and purchased 10ft of mesh that was 24 inches in height and 1/2 in spacing as to convert this to a hamster cage I had to cover over the 1 inch bar spacing which is too wide to contain a Syrian (an obviously smaller dwarf species) hamster. I would have needed a couple more feet of mesh had I not used the metal coated grid that came with it (used for the floor with rabbits and guinea pigs if you are old school but is not recommended at all) to secure to the back to save me time and mesh/ hardware cloth.

What you need:
1. Hardware cloth either 1/4 or 1/2 spacing. Amount of feet depends on size of cage but get more than you need is rule of thumb to cover mistakes.

2. Cable ties

3. Wire cutters and needle nose pliers (mine is both needle nose and a cutter)come in handy to thread ties through hard to reach areas. You’ll know what I mean when you begin cable tying the mesh flush to the sides while reaching an arm inside the front or top door to reach as far as possible deep inside.

4. Measuring tape or ruler.

For the shape of this cage that had thick bar framing and arched top I decided to measure (forgot to to snap photo of measuring tape) it in sections and cut out the mesh. For sharp ends I added a couple inches to the width and height of the sections so I could bend an inch over to have a non-sharp edge all around.

I decided to put everything inside as I wanted it set up so that I could find where I might have issues hooking hammocks to the top once meshed over or the shelf connected to the sides or water bottle. And adjust as I went along. I found that this was best and that I came to no issues except with the shelf I found I needed to cut squares in the grid in the back and the mesh on the right side to be able to remove the shelf if need be.

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I was in a rush and to secure the mesh tightly and flush and uniform to the cage it requires much cable ties all over in any place you notice the mesh sticking up away from the bars. I would recommend not to be in such a rush and place your ties less haphazardly. Not that how I randomly did so is any less secure but normally I am fixated on appearance of cages and liking things to look organized and symmetrical. If that matters to you then take more time.
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It has a front and top door and the entire arched top opens like a door but I cable tied that closed but meshed the top and front doors separate so I could continue using them. With the front door I came across the issue of the bars under the door where when it opens down it would be stuck by the mesh under the hinges so I used steel thick wire I had in hand with a steel cutter I have TI attach with cable ties to make a bar in the middle of the spacing to give it 1/2 inch spacing which will contain a Syrian hamster. Same with the spacing above the door. For extra security with the steel wire and the grid metal backing I criss crossed the cable ties like an X over sections where the original bars of the cage criss crossed.

The door itself I left the middle unmeshed as the way it opens you squeeze the latches like a spring. That area has a bar running down to make it cubed spacing and i felt it makes it small enough an opening I wasn’t concerned with my hamster being able to squeeze through. But you have to keep every possible vulnerability like this under consideration.
20130519-112947.jpgIt took me a few hours in total and as always a few scrapes to the skin as I am. A little clumsy. Gloves would probably be wise. It’s also not the most attractive cage on the outside but oh how it’s perfect size and with so many options for set up and my Bob LOVES his space and toys and levels. As my girl Penny runs about on her turn free ranging I watch Bob run about the entire perimeter of his cage and its so fun!

And I love a project. And I love to share my projects for both pride in accomplishment and public small pet awareness.

This is yet another alternative for spacious and cheaper housing for your hamsters in the USA or any country where it is difficult to find hamster cages that are humanely sized.

I also have a video compilation of Bob using every bit of his new cage and cheeky Penny makes a couple appearances (she was in heat that day and teasing poor Bob dreadfully). I am using a wordpress app for iPad which doesn’t let me embed youtube so if you come here before I can edit this to add the video please come back a little later to refresh.

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Lastly here is a shot of my updated hamster room. I rearrange it when I vacuum the entire room. I have placed Snow in the Tamburino and Strawberry is now in the Kevin. Patch is in the 20 gallon as he has slowed down lately and been not coming out much. When I put him back in a 20 gallon tank he has resumed his activity. Those Roborovskis of mine have always preferred tank like environments. They appear to not like cage bars/ mesh. Too many smells and sounds perhaps. Maybe the scent of other hamster species freak them out. Rest assured all my hams seem very content now and so am I. Finally.

As of now I believe I have finished cage purchasing and DIY. Next year we’ll be getting a bunny and DIY cages will resume. For now I am going to begin posting other people’s set ups (with credit and shout outs whenever possible). Because I still LOVE to see creative cages!

I want to twist my friend Kerri’s arm to share her process here as a guest poster for her IKEA Billy hack for her dwarf Smudge.

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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!

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!

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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Burrowing Box (Gerbils or Hamsters)

Well, I once saw an image during a search under burrowing boxes that inspired me to make this today for my Gerbil boys:

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It’s not as long as I had wanted originally. It is as tall though. Eventually, I will have wood cut at Home Depot to be the size I would prefer for them. Right now though to fit and keep in the large piece of driftwood  that they love to use I had to have a box of this size and no larger. As of right now they love it.

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Just four pieces of wood the same size – nailed together to form a cube (no bottom piece) and nailing to the sides the two wooden steps – and that is it. The picture really shows you all it is! I got everything from Michaels because our Michaels is next to Petsmart where I was today to get more fish for my aquarium. A quick peek in their wood section got me started.

When I came over to my blog to post this entry (I will get to posting Bob’s cage as well some other photos I have to share but this was something I was excited about today) I decided to do an update to my  “Process of a Gerbilarium” page. I renamed it appropriately: Process of a Gerbilarium and Gerbil FAQ. 

It’s still a work in progress just like the hamster pages.

Where I Just Gush Again About Hamster Cages

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I’m afraid this post will be a babble outlet for myself -pretty much discussing my love of my commercial cages and bin cages. I found a good deal on a hammocks off Amazon. It’s the Zebra print fleece by Ware and they were just under 6 dollars a piece. I have Prime so they arrived in less than two days. I am impressed by them. They are large and could cover more area but plastic shelves are behind them so they are forming a little half tunnel across the front. It didn’t take long after putting them in that I peeked into the room and was surprised to see Penny just chilling out in the one to the left. She likes it as a lookout but also a poo flinging spot. Her little zen hammock.

The wood house is from Strawberry’s Tamburino Natura. It’s meant for Guinea Pigs but works well as a platform and a house for a big Syrian hamster. She has a sand bath (I use Aragonite Sand) and Swheat Scoop for her litter. A 12 inch wheel and a couple of pieces of small driftwood to climb on as well the bendy logs hideaway. Two shelves with multiple ledges that you cannot see behind the hammocks that lead to the shelves and a rat sized tube connecting her from one corner shelf to the other. And then a few more ledges that she can choose to exit the hammocks to get down if she doesn’t want to go back the way of the shelves. She seems to like to have multiple ways to exit everywhere.

I can’t say enough good about this cage. The only thing you have to be careful about is the height because hamsters aren’t the greatest climbers even though they can and will climb. They often are clumsy and take a misstep and fall. And you have to be mindful of it when you set up. With Penny – she is so all over the place there was a need for all these levels and hammocks and ledges. I even put dangle toys on the sides to discourage her from climbing those spots – not that it worked mind you.

 

I’ve also been refocusing on my bin cages. I have only two but have plans to make another to put on top of Snow’s bin to convert into a double-decker. This time I plan to connect them from bottom of one and lid of the other and with tubes. I don’t feel that Snow needs the extra space and I don’t think that Snow could climb up the tubes at this point in his life. I wouldn’t leave it connected once made. I just am thinking to the future. In the future I plan to have a Detolf hack for Robo’s. And a double-decker bin for a Chinese hamster. This bin! (Which I redecorated with new tape a friend pointed me in the direction of! It’s retro like – floral yellow on green).

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The great thing about bin cages is that not only are they a great personal accomplishment – you made a wonderful sized home for your hamster – tender loving care – but you can fashion it how you want it to look. With decorative tape or whatever you can come up with creatively to make it personalized and pleasing to your individual eye. I had been so unhappy with this bin because unlike this bin  I loved my first bin which has the Zebra tape – wouldn’t change that tape for the world. But didn’t want two just the same. I wanted another that was different. But I couldn’t find tape that looked right to me. Until THIS tape (I also changed out the multi-color thicker cable ties with yellow skinnier cable ties). And suddenly I have this beautiful bin for me and for my hammy. Snow doesn’t care about how it looks of course. But he does care about the wonderful amount of space he has in there. Bin cages don’t have to look ugly! They might possibly be your favorite.

As my friend (who pointed out the tape) said – she looks at bins everywhere and thinks – that would make a great cage for my hamster! It’s so true. Once you’ve made a bin cage you become addicted to the ideas of how to make another and another.

DIY Rodent Play Pen

I did a new >>page<< : DIY Rodent Play Pen with a video showing mine which I’ll just show here as well since my “pages” are just for those stumbling on here and don’t need to go sorting through past entries to find helpful subjects (hopefully). The photo above shows Strawberry’s first go in it. He went bonkers (in that good way). But Bob as well the Gerbils have had their turn too.