Pimp My Hutch 2
Although I’ve looked after many hamsters for friends and family during holidays I’ve never kept one myself. This changed dramatically recently when one of these hamsters came for a 3 week holiday and never left.
I won’t go into details, but he was presented in the cage below left with nothing but a food bowl and a small plastic bed. This is a wholly inadequate set-up for an animal that can run 5km during a night! Before he went back to his previous owners I asked them if I could keep him and the answer was ‘yes’. Cue a quick name change and I now give you ‘Custard Cream’ (below right)!
The bizarre thing about cages like the one above is that they’re not made with the ‘inmate’ in mind: they’re made wholly for the convenience of the owners. Shove it in a corner with a poor creature inside and forget about it….
Amazingly, the cage above left costs around £30, but for half that price and a little time we made a much better cage for him. A shelf unit like the one below cost £14.99 from Argos. You may even have an unused shelf unit already languishing in your house that you could turn into a critter cage, or you could visit the many BHF charity shops for a suitable bookshelf or other suitable piece of furniture. Our previous effort was a six-foot bookshelf that we turned into a home for our 3 degus – you can view it by clicking here.
My husband Steve firstly fixed the flat-pack bookshelf together which you can do with a screwdriver, though if you can borrow a battery driver it’s much easier and quicker. Using a saw or electric jigsaw he cut two holes at the back of each shelf and fixed two scrappy pieces of wood to them to form ladders. You can buy ladders ready-made if you wish.
The most difficult part was the door frame (above right), but even that only consists of four pieces of wood screwed together. We used 13mm wire mesh on the front and stapled this all round the frame. The wire mesh is on the outside to prevent Custard getting hurt on any sharp edges. Steve also put an extra bit of wood along the bottom to stop our nosy degus getting too carried away: most rodents do not like each other and I was afraid they might nip Custard’s feet.
I went online and bought several things from Chinchillas2Shop and eBay for him. I bought a ‘silent spinner’ wheel (above left) which was less than quiet when he decided to bounce around on it at about 3am! My answer was to superglue it ot the shelf and now it’s silent!
I also got wicker balls (above right) and loofah pieces which I hide food inside, and wooden ‘bridges’. And as usual, the best toys you can give your pets are usually free – most of my rodents go crazy for cardboard boxes for example – and they love to chew on wine bottle corks.
Although I need to install more shelves and toys for him, I hope you can get an idea of of how well the hamster high-rise has come along in the photo below. Custard is currently dwelling in the cardboard box in the bottom right of the cage which he packs with offcuts of non-fraying fleece fabric that I give him when I am making plush pet beds! He also loves kitchen roll which he packs in his cheek pouches before empyting it into his bed.
I’m just grateful that somehow he managed o find his way into my care!