is sometimes forgotten that animal cages are designed to be the
manufacturers assume that the animal will spend quite a lot of its
time out of the cage,
there is much you can do to improve things. If you buy a length
of clear plastic tubing the same diameter as the hamster's tunnel
at a tropical fish shop or a DIY shop, you could extend its running
area as far as you like.
benefit from having part of the garden fenced off, to extend their
territory, though this is better left until the warmer weather begins.
of the most popular pets around today include a wide range of rodents.
These can vary from the chipmunk – a small form of ground
squirrel – through chinchillas, hamsters, gerbils, mice
and rats. All are thoroughly domesticated and available
from pet shops in a very wide range of colours – and all can be
bought complete with cage and numerous accessories.
a little thought, even the best can be improved upon.
you see chipmunks offered for sale in something like a small budgie
aviary, then you might think that's the way to keep them when you
get them home. However, kept in too small a cage they tend to develop
cage stereotypes – repetitive movements backward and forward, or
running round the cage over and over again. This is all symptomatic
of a cage which is too small.
too, benefit from as large a cage as possible. Some of the cages
offered for sale are extremely good and are a terrific improvement
on those of 10 years ago. But, why not make your own? You
can buy some aviary sections, or sheets of flat weld mesh and screw
or wire these together to make a large rectangular cage.
can be fitted with shelves and hung on one wall over some sheets
of newspaper. Not only will your pet have plenty of room, but your
cage will be unique.
and gerbils indicate that a cage is too small by frantically gnawing
at the bars. They rub raw an area just back from the nose. However,
remember, hamsters are nocturnal, and gerbils diurnal – they live
their lives by day.
the basic cages can be improved upon if you invest in the starter
Rotastack kit. By adding to this piece by piece, a veritable complex
can soon be assembled. This can be very expensive – but don't despair.
I have found them in car boot sales, and a youngster with a little
money can still manage to assemble a large combination if they put
their mind to it. Eventually, such a cage almost resembles hamster
life as it might be in the wild in all the fundamental essentials.
alternative way of keeping gerbils is in a naturalistic manner in
a large tank. A disused aquarium is ideal. Fill this
two-thirds full with sawdust, through which some peat should have
been mixed. The gerbils will dig their own maze of tunnels, nesting
chambers and food stores, and the peat helps the sawdust to bind
together, and prevents the tunnels collapsing. It is a fascinating
way to observe these creatures living a near-natural life.
Sir David Attenborough was filming his series Life On Earth,
he spent about a week in Mongolia with his head sunk down an underground
tunnel, observing the tiny Russian hamsters at work and play.
owners will have observed much the same thing – but a lot more
comfortably, in their own homes!