Ever wonder what goes on behind the scenes of GCH? Here we’ll give you a tour and share our enclosures as well as talk about products we use and recommend.
Our syrians are housed in the 34 gal Samla bins which can be purchased at Ikea. These are currently the largest bins available in Canada which are also tall enough to fit a 12″ bucket wheel. All of our syrian hamsters are also provided with a sand bath, bucket wheel, a variety of toys, and hides. The bin pictured above belongs to our Heart Hamster, Breya.
We use one of two sized bins for our roborovski and dwarf hamsters. The larger bin, which is the 104 L Sterlite bin, is typically used to house groups of 2 or more hamsters (roborovski and dwarf hamsters can live in same sex groups although they need to be supervised in case of fall outs). The top two photos are of the 104 L bin, this bin belongs to Cat and Minnie the robos. As you can see, we have provided a sand bath, 2 wheels (one for each), a saucer and a variety of hides/toys. The second size we use is the 99.4 L Sterilite which we keep single roborovski or dwarf hamsters in. They are also provided with a sand bath, wheel, and variety of hides and toys to keep them busy. The 99.4 L is pictured in the last two photos, this is the bin that Oria lives in.
All hamsters are provided with deep bedding (we prefer to use Uber bedding, but any paper based bedding will work provided there are no added scents to it) in which to tunnel in.
Bins or Tanks?
We prefer to use home made bin cages here simply because they are very easy to clean, lift, and stack. We typically have anywhere from 15 to 30+ hamsters here at any given time so being able to neatly stack enclosures is a necessity. Tanks are a great option for pet owners as well, a 40 gal breeder is what we would consider the smallest for a hamster but bigger is always better! We do not use tanks because they are simply to heavy which makes them hardly for us to clean and impossible to stack.
What do we feed our hamsters?
Proper nutrition is so important! Here we feed a high quality lab block alongside a mix for added nutrition as well as a variety of healthy treats. The lab blocks we use are Mazuri Rat & Mouse and we use both Versele Laga Hamster Nature and Higgins Sunburst mixes. We also add greens in daily and the occasional bit of fruit.
From time to time we have litters here and we feed them a mush made from ground lab blocks, nutritional yeast, Esbilac powder, and baby food before moving them onto their “adult diet” as described above.
For treats, our hamsters love Whimzee chews, Love Ducks, and Owlies. You’ll notice that none of these treats are specifically marketed towards hamsters, or even rodents! Sadly, a lot of the food and treat items made for hamsters on the market is actually not good for them, a lot of them being very high in sugar, so we avoid them. Variety is key and we also like to share some “people food” with our hamsters. A small piece of chicken here and there, a little bit of cheese- I have also been known to make teeny tiny burritos for them just for a little fun!
Lets talk about bedding!
We have probably tried every paper based bedding on the market and our hamsters definitely have their preferences! Our favourite by far is Uber Bedding as we find it is the least dusty and also fantastic for holding the shape of tunnels! It can be a little hard to find but if you have a Global Pet Foods around you they are more than happy to order it in.
We prefer paper-based bedding to shavings as the paper is much more absorbent and allows our hamsters to make elaborate tunnel systems. Any bedding used for small animals MUST be unscented as they have sensitive respiratory systems and the scented bedding can be detrimental to their health. If you choose to use shavings, be aware that not all of them are safe. Pine and Cedar MUST be avoided as the scent is much too strong, both of these have been known to cause severe respiratory issues in small animals.
We also prefer using white bedding as it is so much easier to spot clean! Doing an entire cage clean can be stressful for hamsters so we spot clean and only do the entire enclosure when necessary. How often we do this depends on the hamster, our syrians tend to need their entire bin cleaned monthly while our dwarfs can go longer (except for 626 & Fawn, they sure know how to make a mess).