11 February 2012

Christopher blocks access to her nest

Christopher in her nest, with a blocked tube
Hamsters are small, they don't live long. Given their small bodies, it comes as no surprise that their brains are not the size of cows or humans. Nevertheless, they have them, and it should be obvious to even the most casual of observers that something is going on in those brains. Just the fact that we don't know yet what is going on does not mean nothing is going on.

Case in point: I just reattached a nesting ball to the Habitrail Cristal cage that my current hamster Christopher has taken up residence in.

She promptly brought her food to it, including the two hazelnuts she has been trying to breach for weeks now. She also brought bedding down, and then construction really started. Almost all the bedding she had brought down, she pushed back into the upward tube, leaving no bedding in the ball.

She went to sleep, the ball started to become humid on the inside. When she awoke and eventually decided to climb up, I removed the ball, threw out the wet bedding and put her food into the cage. The ball was then cleaned and put back into its place with nothing.

Christopher in her nest, with lots of condensation
Christopher heard that something was happening, climbed down, saw the empty ball, and -undaunted- brought back all her food into the ball, followed by new bedding. She covered the food with the bedding, went back to play upstairs, and when she came down again to sleep, she pushed all the bedding back into the tube.

Before sleeping however, she had one last task to perform: a good pee on her food. Needless to say, this led to even more condensation in her ball, and the perfumes coming from it had taken a distinct turn for the worse.

Yesterday evening, same scenario except for one difference: she had brought down less bedding than the previous days, although she did push it back into the tube before going to sleep. When I woke up, however, she had taken back the bedding and the tube was now open. Unsurprisingly, there was no condensation in the ball now. None.

I am curious as to what will happen next!


  1. Hamsters are very territorial and...place oriented. Because they have poor eyesight they depend on their sense of smell.

    What is going on is she feels threatened that someone is in her territory so she's blocking access. While you're doing the right thing to make sure she has ventilation, the problem is you're also throwing away what is familiar to her.

    Females can be a bit more territorial than males so they're more possessive. This is because they also have to worry about getting pregnant and defending her babies as well.

    If you throw out her bedding, please leave some of it behind so she feels less threatened. She's urinating on her food because "that's mine!" It's also a bit unhealthy. She's looking for smells that are familiar to her. So keep a bit of her old litter and food around.

    I usually set up one of those dens as a potty, I put in the potty litter, and add in some of the soiled litter. Pretty soon the hamster gets the idea to urinate in the den you set up as a potty. It's also very cute because they go into grooming mode and may even burrow a bit in the litter to keep their fur clean.

    I own multiple hamsters, and of different genders, so I often observe more interesting behaviors since their cages are somewhat close.

    I actually got the habitrail ovo after observing one of your youtube videos. I got it because a lot of the bar cages are unsuitable or too small for my hamster, Lady. She is the largest hamster I have owned and can't fit in a lot of the items stores sell these days. I ended up replacing a cage for my male hamster with another Ovo and they chew a bit less since both cages have another habitat hooked up.

    1. Thank you for your nice comment, Q.T. I think you are correct. It is the only explanation that makes sense in this case. I do indeed leave some litter in the ball, but possibly not enough. Instead of putting her food back, I put it back in the main cage. The moment she notices it, she immediately starts carrying it back to the ball, and makes a new nest.

      The hamster you saw in the videos, was my first hamster. She did something similar, but not quite identical, and when I moved the nesting ball to halfway the height of the tube, instead of the bottom part, she started to block that part of the tube.

      The interesting part, which cannot be seen in the videos, unfortunately, is that -while constructing that blockage- she demonstrated that she knew exactly what she was doing, as she not only compacted the hay and the litter from above, but also went to the other side, to compact it from below.

      This new hamster is much more scared than the first one. That's why I moved her from the Zoo Zone 2 to this Habitrail Cristal. She seems a lot happier in here, and scared though she may be, she is far more willing to be picked up than the others. In fact, it takes her a minute or so, but she climbs on my hands by herself. The two other hamsters have never done that.

      So you have several hamsters! Do you breed them as well?

  2. You are quite welcome. I actually used to breed hamsters in my younger years, but at this time no plans to breed them. I actually love their color and would be curious, but for the health of the females I think it's best not to breed them. Females have shorter lifespans and breeding them can shorten it further.

    Lady and her sister, Sista were bought out of a pet store that didn't know how to treat hamsters. In fact, the reason for their obesity was because they were in breeder pens and no wheel. Lady is a much happier hamster, but has become a bit more territorial because she knows her sister is about as competition. Moosh (Persian/Farsi for "Mouse") she isn't too aggressive around. But I never put them together without careful supervision, since nature takes over.

    When I let Lady out of her cage, she rubs against everything she considers hers. There's a large wheel outside the cage she likes to run in and she'll mark the back wall and part of the mattress. When she sees her sister's cage she will run around the cage and observe her sister. It's interesting behavior for sure.

    Of the three hamsters, Lady and Moosh have shown their pleasure towards me. You'll see it when hamsters stretch. Moosh stretches when he sees his wheel or ball. Lady stretches when I give her toilet paper rolls and let her out of the cage and call her name.

    As for your first hamster, I recall you saying when she made the blockage she also urinates down the same tube? She may have been creating a potty for herself, since it's likely she didn't want to urinate on all her food. If, for example, the hamster decided to nest in the transport pod, she will need to have the potty nearby. I bought an extra den so that where ever my hamsters decide to nest, a potty is available. Lady used to sleep in the cubby behind the wheel, but her butt always stuck out because she's really large. When I borrowed her transport pod up top to house her sister when I got her from the pet store, Lady detected the intrusion and rubbed herself all over it. She now decided to further make it hers, and it is her current nesting area (which is what I wanted her to do in the first place because of her size!)

    Since Lady has been with me for the month, she's lost a lot of the fat from the pet store from not being able to move, but is still a long hamster. She is my favorite hamster due to her friendly nature. She often knows when I'm eating and will come out. If I have her in the ball when I'm eating, she comes over and begs, licking the sides of her ball. Her love of dog biscuits gives me the impression, she's part dog due to her behaviors.

    It's nice to talk to a fellow hamster owner, and I found your blog after I saw you update the comments to your youtube video. I often like watching it because I agree the behavior of hamsters are fascinating. Each one of mine has their own personality and their semi nocturnal behavior makes it much easier to take care of. They don't get lonely if you're not at home at work. They're busy sleeping.

    I have a few more youtube videos of Lady's stretching behavior and obsession with dog biscuits I should post a bit later. Since I also do art, I'm trying to balance those videos as well.

    1. Thank you for your nice reply! I agree with you that it is fascinating to see the different personalities of the hamsters. They only have tiny little heads, with corresponding brains, but that doesn't seem to prevent them from being uniquely them and not someone else.

      The video clip hamster did indeed urinate down the blocked tube, but I think that was more convenience than anything else. My current hamster happily urinated in the flat tube I provide for a while, while a curved tube just a little further was used as an intentional stash.

      I then made a construction to attach the nesting ball, with the superfluous part of the tube sticking out downward. She blocked that off, and peed in it. The current construction, where the superfluous part of the tube is sticking upwards, prevents that. That's how she started blocking the upward part of the tube, something she can only do when she is inside the ball.

      I recorded it, and it is my intention to post it on YouTube, but I still have to do it. It'll hopefully be within the next couple of days.

      Your idea of buying an extra den is great. I have been contemplating the same thing, but since the store is a number of kilometres from here, I have to find the time to get it. Also, I am not sure yet how I am going to set it all up. I may end up putting her in the large Zoo zone 2 again, although I doubt it. She was really scared in that thing.

      I sometimes think I'd like to breed them, because that's what hamsters do in nature, and also, because the genetics fascinate me. The thing that is keeping me from doing it, for now, is space. In order to do it properly, and be prepared to bounce back from genetic accidents, it is best to hold on to the hamsters for a long time rather than to give them away or sell them, and that means that I would need quite a bit of space to keep all the cages. I am not sure I have enough space to keep 20 or so cages.

    2. I like the stretching as well. It is just too bad that I have -so far- not succeeded in taking a picture of it. It is soooo cute!

  3. To be frank, everything about hamsters are cute D:

    Don't they make you want to hug them so tightly ?

    1. I agree. Just being a hamster makes a hamster cute. They are like little teddy bears, aren't they?