With hamster accessories often difficult to come by in SA, or quite pricey when you do find them, here are a few relatively easy things you can have a go at making yourself.
MENU OF ITEMS ON THIS PAGE SO FAR (click to go to):
CAUTION & SAFETY NOTES ON POPSICLE (LOLLY/CRAFT) STICKS
These are incredibly handy and inexpensive items for crafting various items for your hamster's habitat (fences, lining wheels and ladders, building structures, etc.). However, there are some serious risks involved that need to be noted but, since many hamster owners around the world use them to build amazing structures without any issues, we don't want to give them an outright "ban". There is risk involved in just about everything we use for hamsters in captivity so it is important that you please take note of the following precautions when using these sticks.
These sticks splinter very badly if gnawed, which will be really hazardous if your hamster ingests pieces or gets them in his pouches or mouth. They are not suitable as chew toys.
The sharpness of splintered popsicle objects can also cause bad scratches and cuts to the body and feet.
Make sure he has plenty of other more suitable gnaws and chews in the habby that may take focus away from chewing up his walls and structures.
It may be worth testing a few simple structures first to see if he is "one of those" destructive kinds of hams. In such cases, you should remove the items immediately and rather invest in safer wood sticks/rods or thick cardboard for your projects.
GAPS IN FENCES, STRUCTURES, & LADDERS:
There have been too many incidents where hamsters have gotten a foot or toe stuck in gaps and joins (even the most tightly closed items). While it appears to be mainly dwarf hamsters that have been at risk, NEVER underestimate the size of any hamster's toes, feet & nails, and how easy it can be to get stuck. If any part of the limb gets stuck, your hamster will either gnaw it's own foot off to free itself, or it will break or sprain it's leg in the panic to get free (many are found dangling from the fence with a twisted broken limb). In both cases, there will be severe pain and shock that could result in death if not found within minutes of the disaster ... your hamster will require immediate veterinary attention at an exotics vet. A broken or too-damaged limb will have to be amputated if the hamster has not already gnawed it off.
Gaps in fences (where you prefer the visibility of a picket fence appearance) need to be as follows -
Dwarfs: minimum 1cm spacing.
Syrians: minimum 1.2cm spacing.
However, we still prefer you to not have any gaps at all, just to be perfectly safe. If you do insist on gaps, cheap flexible chopping mats from Crazy Store (e.g.) are nice and translucent and work really well to cover the inner side of fences.
Solid fences & walls - The inside of these where the hamster is active, HAS to be covered with card all the way to the top of the structure, so that just the outside is visible to you as decorative and to provide sturdiness of the wall. Do not underestimate a toe or little nails getting stuck in the closest of joins!
Ladders and structures -
The insides of boxes, nest boxes, and houses should be lined with cardboard on the inside.
Tops of ladders and the outsides of structures should be coated to help seal the joins. Safe non-toxic coating like Wondaseal or Modge Podge can be used (note that Modge Podge is not waterproof if pee'd on or water spilled).
Platforms/shelves should be lined with something solid - cardboard, paper, place mats, etc. Flexible chopping mats are very useful since they are easy to wipe clean, as well as being transparent, so your popsicle sticks are still visible.
Tongue Depressors are usually better quality and smoother than craft/popsicle sticks. They are also longer and wider, which should make your construction go faster. Since they are longer, walls & fences will also be higher and safer.
Cheapest places to buy: Dischem or salon supply stores (if you have a friend in a salon business).
Easiest way to cut these sticks without them splitting is with a carpet knife and do a few gentle scores until you're all the way through. Please ensure that any sharp corners or edges are sanded smooth.
PAINTS & TAPES
Never use sellotape on any of the projects as these pose a risk if chewed.
Masking tape is much safer as it's more papery and slightly less risky.
Where masking tape won't hold sufficiently, Clear Packaging Tape sticks well but only if you can stick it down really flush so that the hamster cannot grip any edge to nibble it.
Duct Tape is stronger and good for lining MPet Wheels and covering joins.
Obviously, if there are any signs of tape being gnawed,
we do recommend that you remove it and find another solution
Paint that is suitable for human baby toys, cribs and walls are also safe.
Kids non-toxic craft paints.
NON-TOXIC WOOD SEALANT
To seal the surface to make them less absorbent against urine and spills, only use a non-toxic coating, like WondaSeal OR Gripseal (available in clear and other tones). Found at many hardware stores and online via Takealot.
Modge Podge craft glue/coating is also safe to use, but is basically PVA glue and won't hold up to washing items in water.
A hot glue gun can be used for construction projects, but try to find non-toxic glue sticks, or ensure that the glue is hidden.
PVA glues (Cold Glue), water-based wood glues and kid's craft glues, are safe for projects, where the glue needs to dry hard.
Contractors Acrylic (Low VOC) is great for sealing joins in habitats and, because it is slightly flexible, won't crack if there's small movement while moving the structure.
Cooked flour glue/paste is great for making paper mache and edible items: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SA0PZZ9hEA0. Please note that any flour used as an adhesive should be baked first (180-200degC for 20min), or use this cooking method in the link for glues. Raw flour can contain E.Coli from the grain, and milling processes do not always kill it, so it's always safer to make sure it is eliminated.
STRING / ROPE / TWINE
String can be used in certain projects, be it decorative to cover cardboard items, for hanging toys and swings, or to tie materials together instead of using glue.
Some hamsters may take to nibbling strings or ropes and you will need to watch out for this as the threads can pose a tangling risk to limbs and teeth. Generally, though, these do seem to be ignored by most hamsters.
Petroleum is used in the manufacture of some strings, particularly sisal types, so try to find ones that state "non-toxic" just to be safe.
Recommended strings: Twines made from hemp are great and are available via Hemporium and some of their stockists: https://www.hemporium.co.za/Fabric
WATER BOTTLE STANDS
This one is good & easy if you're desperate, as a temporary measure until you find something
more durable and permanent.
If it’s not very stable, maybe try stuffing a
little sandbag inside at the bottom
(wrap sand in paper towel)
or stick it to a wider flat base - cardboard, tile, or lolly stick -
using a hot glue gun or aquarium glue.
This one is also useful to glue to the inside wall of a tank or bin, if you don't want it
free standing, and once you are sure where you want it to stay.
(Please see note about Popsicle Stick Safety)
This holder is also easy to make by simply sticking lolly sticks to a cardboard tube that fits your water bottle loosely (make the tube by cutting any easy-to-bend piece of cardboard if you don't have a good fitting tube already). Simply get the little hole in the right position for the spout, or leave an open gap above it, like the square one in the YouTube link above, which may be easier to remove and replace the bottle.
Alternatively, for a more durable solution, get an off-cut of a pvc plumbing pipe (beg from your local plumber) and drill/melt a furrow down the side, stopping at the appropriate height for the water bottle, sand down any rough edges, and stick it to a tile or lolly stick base for sturdiness. You could also glue lolly sticks all around the tube like the one on the left.
Or you can simply melt/drill/grind a hole in a spare segment of hamster tube, using one of the holes, that are already there, as the starting point.
REMINDER OF THE MINIMUM SIZES:
Upright Spinners - Dwarfs 18cm - 25cm /7-10” Syrians – 27cm-30cm/11-12"
Flying Saucers - Dwarfs 23cm (9") and Syrians 31cm (12") ...or larger)
Use the correct sized dish for Syrian’s or Dwarfs.
To remedy the possible scraping sound that is mentioned, simply stick a piece of felt or fleece fabric on the post behind the wheel.
TURN YOUR STIFF OR NOISY WHEEL
INTO A SILENT SPINNER
FIDGET SPINNER HACKS: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MXUTu-4z4tc
WOODEN WHEELS & USEFUL TIPS.
If you're lucky to have a garage full of power tools,
here's a more complicated, but beautiful, one:
Note: A hamster that isn't yet potty trained may pee in the wheel. In such cases it's best to seal the inner surface. Sealing may also help to prevent splintering.
Here's a simpler one made from craft sticks:
You can also use a plastic plant pot drip tray, or a plastic lid.
If you don't want to use craft sticks, make ridges with hot glue, or line the entire dish with a lightly textured plastic place mat.
Use the fan or fidget spinner hack (above)
Materials: popcorn lid (chef tony's popcorn), wooden sticks, glue gun, old cpu fan.
DON'T BOTHER WITH THESE STRING/YARN/TWINE LINING HACKS for MPet wheels. They may look pretty cool but your efforts will be destroyed in one night! Furthermore, the woven kind of hack can be abrasive and pretty harsh on the little feet, risking bumblefoot and painful abrasions.
USING THE BARREL OF A BAD WHEEL TO MAKE A GOOD WHEEL
Get a length of PVC Conduit piping from your hardware store (really cheap), and 3 x T-joins,
a pack of about 10 nuts n bolts & 3 or 4 washers,
and a thin metal screw-rod (about 8-10cm long).
Use a saw or angle grinder to saw off the framework and bar from the front of the bad wheel.
Use the cross-bar from the front to make an "X" with the back bar, pushing the screw-rod through the holes and securing with a nut and a washer.
Use a gluegun to secure the loose bar to the edge of the barrel.
Place a strong card inside the X-frame and make a hole in the center to pass the rod through and secure with another nut and washer so that the rod is right at the end of the nut (adjust the nuts at the back).
Use the illustrations as guidelines and make measurements for cutting and connecting the pvc pipe to make your frame high enough to accommodate bedding and wide enough to keep the wheel sturdy.
You can also use this method to make a completely new wheel, using a straight-sided round container, similar to making a hedgehog wheel)
TUBES & PIPES
Warning: do not use plastic and cardboard tubes on the exterior of the habby. It is too easy for the hamster to gnaw through and escape. Hard PVC pipes and acrylic hamster tubes are hardier.
LOLLY STICK TUBES
Use extra sticks to make larger tubes for Syrians
(Please see note about Popsicle Stick Safety)
10 THINGS TO DO WITH CARDBOARD TUBES
Use empty toilet paper rolls, paper towel roll.
For Syrians wanting a swing or adventure tunnels, Pringles tubes can be used for a better fit (simply cut off the metal end and rip out the foil lining).
TUBES FROM POOL PIPES
These are great for dwarf hamsters but unfortunately too tight for Syrians.
Simply cut to size, sand any rough edges and attach to cage sides with pipe cleaners.
Semi-transparent ones are available so you can still see your hamlet inside.
They cost about R80 for a 1m to 1.5m length.
For longer tubes, ventilation holes can be melted with a soldering iron or drilled.
TUBES FROM WATER BOTTLES
Melt ventilation holes into the sides for longer systems.
TUBES FROM PVC PIPES
Don’t use these for steep inclines as they will be too slippery for your hamster climb, unless you can actually reach in to make some ridges with a hot glue gun.
TUBES FROM FLEXIBLE AUTOMOBILE PIPES
Available in two different diameter widths for approx. R100 from car shops at China Town, but also from mechanic/automobile shops for more.
Wonderfully flexible to twist into any convenient formations and length you may need. The ridges provide excellent grip so that even a dwarf hamster will be able to manage steeper inclines, and the diameters make it suitable for both the smaller and larger species.
POSTAGE TUBES come in various lengths and diameters and are REALLY inexpensive from places like PostNet, Merrypak, Packit, or possibly your local stationery shop.
If you have a fabric/curtain shop nearby, you can also try to bum an EMPTY CORE from them for free (the tube that the rolls of fabric are wrapped around).
Cardboard is also a lot healthier than plastic, and easy & cheap enough to replace if necessary.
by Kevin Campbell (Ontario, Canada)
PRINGLES TUBES are very handy things, and the diameter is suitable for both dwarfs and Syrians! Use them as entrances to nests, access through barriers from one zone to the other, tube swings, or just as a random tube for the hamster to run through. Simply use a box cutter or craft knife to cut to whatever size you require for your project.
 Cut the bum off (easier to peel),  hook a piece and peel out the foil lining from inside and around the lip (the foil could be dangerous if nibbled and ingested by the hamster) and  cut to the size you require.
(Note: The colour printing ink is toxic, and there is also a foil layer under the printed layer. Not all hamsters will, but if your hamster starts gnawing the tube, please remove it immediately and opt for a plain cardboard tube instead, in similar size, like the postage tubes; or try to peel off the printing layer with that foil)
NOTE: IT IS ADVISABLE TO REMOVE ANY TUBES MADE FROM UNNATURAL MATERIAL (PLASTIC) IF YOUR HAMSTER SHOWS SIGNS OF GNAWING AT THEM as the bits pose a danger of blockages in the intestines. Generally they won't bother if there are enough other more inviting items in the habitat to chew on (Whimzees, Gnaw Sticks, Seed Gnaws, etc.) but some hamsters will insist on gnawing at ANYTHING. In such cases, rather consider cardboard tubes or paper pulp or paper mache methods.
Any good sized tube will work. Tie a piece of string around it, towards either end, and fasten to bars/mesh at
the top (or wherever convenient) at a height that the hamster can reach to get in and out, or use a sturdy
stone or brick as a step below the ends.
BRIDGES & LADDERS / RAMPS
FIX THAT OPEN-RUNG LADDER!
BUILD A NEW RAMP
(See below under Platforms / Shelves)
Make them as long or as wide as you need.
Made from EMPTY TOILET ROLL TUBES
Make sure there are no gaps where the hamster's foot can get stuck!
Made from LOLLY STICKS
(Please see note about Popsicle Stick Safety)
Made from STICKS/WOODEN RODS/DOWELS
These would also make great ladders.
Make sure there are no gaps where the hamster's foot can get stuck!
PLATFORMS / SHELVES
(Hint: use thicker cardboard than
demonstrated for better sturdiness)
Seems the video is no longer available but you get the gist.
CLIMBING STRUCTURE / MULTI-PLATFORM
Hardboard can be used for the platforms (or thick cardboard but won't be as durable.)
Legs are cut to lengths from empty core rolls (cardboard).
Make the heights of each level at a reachable distance for either Syrian or Dwarf hamsters.
If the height of the top platform is going to be a considerable drop, it would be a good idea to fence it with lolly sticks, or build it as a box instead to be a room.
SUPER EASY SHELF
(Great for bin and tank cages....to keep food and water clean. You can possibly find these things in China Town or hardware stores.)
Similar, but a little narrower, available from Gelmar:
CRAFTY PLATFORM & RAMP ~ From the book "Homemade for Hamsters by Carin Oliver"
HANDY TIP for any wood or cardboard shelf:
To prevent the shelf from becoming dirty, and to make it easier to wipe clean, use a flexible chopping mat to cover it.
Easy to cut to size or any shape, and transparent so that it doesn't conceal your construction material. You can even line bland cardboard surfaces with decorative paper and then cover with the mat.
Available at Crazy Stores and many Plastics shops for approx. R50 for two.
PAINO PLATFORM HIDEAWAYS can be made out of thick sturdy cardboard, empty paper towel tubes, and a cutting knife (or from wood if you have power tools).
Great for bin and tank cages....hamsters love being underneath shelves, so this would provide two such spaces.
BEDROOMS / NEST BOXES
Quite honestly, you do not need to purchase a special house/bedroom for your hamster to sleep in. In fact most plastic domes and houses are not particularly healthy....sweaty & hot in summer and not very warm in winter.
Any little cardboard box will do and is healthier than plastic, easy & cheap to replace whenever necessary: Wheetbix boxes and large printer cartridge boxes can be cut shorter, those catfood pouch boxes, oats boxes, etc, are all good.
A solid bottom also makes it easier to empty and clean than trying to pick out poops and old food from bedding below a dome.
You can even place a section of a Pringles tube through the entrance (foil lining peeled out, see below).
Make the lid slightly shorter so that there's some ventilation and keep it loose on the sides so that it flaps open to make emptying easier.
And while you're cutting up your Pringles tube, you can also use the bottom end to make a food bowl if you're desperate!
Many dwarf hamsters love to use an empty PRINGLES TUBE as a bedroom, instead of a box or house. (Note: The colour printing ink is toxic, and there is also a foil layer under the printed layer. Not all hamsters will, but if your hamster starts gnawing the tube, please remove it immediately and opt for a plain cardboard tube instead, in similar size, like the postage tubes; or try to peel off the printing layer with that foil)
 Cut the bum off (easier to peel) with a box cutter or craft knife,  hook a piece and simply peel out the foil lining from inside and around the lip (the foil could be dangerous if nibbled and ingested by the hamster,  cut down to a size you want (half or longer appears to be ideal),  punch some holes along the top for ventilation,  put the plastic lid back over the lip and secure with some masking tape,  and put some stripped up 1-ply toilet paper inside to give him the idea.
These are fun little adventure hidey chambers that are also safe for the ham to nibble and claw on (good for teeth and nails). Whole coconuts are really cheap to buy when in season and you won't find a cheaper accessory in any shop.
They're a great addition to a sand or coco-peat pit or even as a hanging swing hovering slightly above the bedding or a shelf (make sure your ham can actually master getting into a moving object though).
Larger coconuts could also be used as sand baths, but will absorb urine odours if the ham decides to use it as a toilet, so make sure your little one has already "bonded" with another container for peeing in.
The coconut meat that you remove can also be fed to your hamster as a healthy treat. Here's how to store it properly so it doesn't go rancid: https://thegardeningcook.com/storing-fresh-coconut-meat/
To complement their natural foraging instinct, hamsters may enjoy a box or two similar to these, made from a simple egg boxes. Ideal for dwarf hamsters, but you can make them from any other suitably sized box for Syrians (e.g. cardboard takeaway drinks cartons). You can then fill it with different substrates and hide treats inside for the hamster to forage for: safe dried leaves and grasses (freeze first or dry fresh in the oven yourself); bedding toppers (see additional substrates); strips of clean crumpled paper, torn up egg boxes, etc.
(by Sofie Rongved of HWC group)
An 18-egg box also works well for a dwarf hamster. Squash alternate dividers flat, cut a hole for an entrance and another in the lid at the opposite end, fill with various substrates of choice, and pop in some treats for him to forage for.
A CHAMBER BOX with a lid and no bottom will mimic burrows and chambers that hamsters would build in the wild.
You could also create a similar easier one using thick cardboard instead of wood, if you don't have power tools...scissors or a box knife would work just as well and you may not even need glue if you cut the inside divisions that they squeeze in really tightly.
If you have a cage where the open bars prevent provision of a suitably deep burrowing area, you can make a simple burrow box from a plain cardboard box (or wood, if you’re handy). Otherwise, it is better to simply have a division or clear section of bedding in your solid habitat. But if you have no options for suitable division:
The front and one side of this open-top cardboard box have been cut out and covered with thick transparency film so that you can possibly view the hamster’s activity. A tube somewhere at the bottom is necessary as a lower entrance/exit.
A bridge or another tube for top access from a shelf on this one, but you could have a ladder leading up to the top instead, or build the box up to the height of a shelf and the hamster can simply hop in from there. Don't put a lid on it....it's supposed to be open at the top for the hamster to burrow down into, as if it's going underground.
A Syrian would require a considerably larger/longer burrow box than a Dwarf would.
This one may be suitable for a dwarf, but we do recommend something longer and/or wider for proper tunneling.
NEVER LEAVE YOUR HAMSTER UNATTENDED IN ANY PLAY AREA THAT DOES NOT HAVE A LID!
This one folds up for convenient storage and is made from hardboard and duct tape (50 x 30cm panels)
Make sure you place high objects in the center so that the hamster doesn’t use them as leverage to hop over.
You can use this method to make a playpen out of any other material.
Cardboard could work, but may be too lightweight and could be lifted by an ambitious hamster, or if s/he's a chewer, s/he could escape. Hardboard is much heavier and sturdier.
This will be such a fun addition to your playpen, or you can make a larger one with higher sides as more of a playpen.
Watch that your hamster doesn't chew through the cardboard....don't leave him unattended in any cardboard structure.
Some more great maze ideas: https://www.facebook.com/OfficialExtra/videos/285855088763106/?t=39
Use a smaller box/lid for hamsters and press dried treats and seeds between the strips. Pack some of the strips tighter together, if you like, to make the ham work a little harder for some of the morsels.
Excellent for gnawing & scrabbling to keep the teeth and nails trimmed, as well as to keep those muscles in shape.
If you can't figure out a maze yourself, here's a plan that you can enlarge
PAPER MACHE & DIY CLAY MACHE
Depending on your project and the sturdiness you require, you may want to consider if a "clay" mache or the standard mache is needed.
There are quite a few different methods/recipes. Here are some videos for good options and worth watching:
PAPER MACHE CLAY https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SA0PZZ9hEA0
PAPER MACHE WITHOUT USING FLOUR https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JYN2QPR6gu0
STANDARD MACHE PASTE (Cooked flour glue/paste) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SA0PZZ9hEA0. (Please note that any flour used as an adhesive should be baked first (180-200degC for 20min), or use this recipe. Raw flour can contain E.Coli from the grain, and milling processes do not always kill it, so it's always safer to make sure it is eliminated.)
STANDARD MACHE METHODS: These are fairly flimsy structures unless you make layers and layers and layers, but they work well and look good.
You could also use this method to make lightweight tubes using a long sausage balloon as a mold. Remember to use the cooked paste or baked flour.
CRATER FOOD BOWL
Use any container of your choice as a mold, even a balloon.
HOLLOW WOODEN LOG
(using cardboard egg boxes and drinks carriers)
FAKE ROCK WALL & HIDEAWAY
Good recipe to also make any other structures…bridges, ramps, etc.
If you want to make the clay darker, or a colour, use food colouring in the liquid.
Here's another version of the paper pulp "clay" using a balloon as the structure. The shape possibilities are entirely up to you (you could even make tubes/tunnels by using a long sausage balloon). Obviously, this wasn't made with a hamster in mind, so you could cut out the front as a doorway.
The PVA glue mentioned would be kid's non-toxic craft glue and if you wanted to paint it you could use food colouring, although not too sure if you want to use white paint.
MESH OVER WIDE BARS
HOW TO MESH A CAGE THAT HAS WIDE BAR SPACING, e.g. a rabbit/guinea pig cage.
REFURBING RUSTY CAGES OR BARS
DIY PAPER BEDDING
KAYTEE CLEAN N COZY STYLE
You’ll need a lot more than this recipe to fill an entire cage.
or try ERIN'S EASIER METHOD
We recommend still chopping it up a little with scissors, or cutting the serviettes into shorter pieces before shredding, in order to avoid long tangling strands.
For brave and industrious people!!!!
Quite honestly, after all the effort and paper used to make enough (and electricity), you may as well have purchased the real deal commercial product! But feel free to give it a go.
Not as soft as commercial Carefresh and you’ll need a LOT of paper. Other sites use toilet paper or paper towel instead, but it still turns out rather rough. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XqQugFW0FYU
(HONESTLY...NOT WORTH THE EFFORT)
One of these could also be useful as a holding ‘cage’ for when the main habby is being cleaned. The small bin is also great if your ham has to do an overnighter at the vet.
HOMEMADE SEED GNAWS
(Adapted slightly from a recipe by Erin: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AXNCwKvZFIY )
2/3 cup Mixed Canary Seed (or a mix of any small seeds)
2 or 3 Tbsp Flour
Unsweetened Baby Fruit Juice/Puree.
Mix flour and seeds together in a small bowl.
Start adding a little liquid, enough to make a stiff dough.
Roll small pieces of the dough into little balls. Keep your hands wet to prevent the dough from sticking.
Flatten the balls slightly. If you want to string them up in the cage, cut out a small hole in the middle with a straw.
Place on a baking sheet, lined with wax-free liner or Spray-n-Cook.
Bake at 150degC for 15 to 20 minutes, depending on how thick you’ve made them – they should be rock hard.
Let them cool and then string a few up and hang in the cage for your hamster to have a good old go at, or simply give him one to do what he wants with it.
Store extra in a ziplock bag or airtight container in the freezer.
BOOSTER “MEATLOAF” RECIPE:
Great for nursing females, babies, sick/weak hamsters, and elderly hamsters. (Or as an occasional treat for any hamster).
NO salt or seasoning to be used:
1 Tbsp of plain oats (without oat bran)
1/2 Tbsp of plain probiotic/organic yogurt
1/2 Tbsp tinned Hills Restorative Care (chicken)
1/2 Tbsp of shredded carrots and/or broccoli (or any other safe veggie/s)
1 pinch of wheat germ (optional)
Weak Rooibos/Nettle/Dandelion Tea (or plain boiled water)
Protexin Soluble (available from most vet shops and some pet shops)
Mix all together, except the Protexin.
Add rooibos tea, a few drops at a time, until it’s to a consistency that you’re happy with.
Feed in consumable portions (with a pinch of Protexin added).
Freeze or refrigerate any excess in convenient portion sizes for extended use.
Remove any leftovers that haven't been eaten within a few hours.
BUTTERNUT PIP TREATS: (MOST HAMSTERS LOVE THESE!)
If you make butternut or pumpkin for dinner, or to puree for your hamster, don't throw away the pips!
Press them out of the raw veg and wash in very hot water to get rid of the slimy feeling.
Pat dry with some paper towelling and leave to air-dry for an hour or two on a piece of wax paper or cling wrap.
Pop them into a sealed container and store in the freezer.
Give as little treats. They defrost quite quickly.
- FACTS & HOW TO MAKE HAMSTER-SAFE PB
PLEASE WATCH BEFORE YOU GIVE PEANUT BUTTER TO YOUR HAM: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ml_lN9cce1A
Not all peanut butter from the supermarket is safe - use organic only (no ingredients other than peanuts), or you can easily make your own from plain peanuts, which you can use in recipes or give a smear as a healthy treat.
As the video explains, do not give your hamster a blob of peanut butter. Make sure it is in a thin layer so that the little one can only lick it, to prevent a mass getting stuck in the pouches or becoming a chocking hazard in the throat. Also be careful of feeding too much (and whole peanuts too) because they contain aflatoxin which can be harmful to hamsters in large amounts. Purely as a weekly treat will be good.
GOOD COMMERCIAL PEANUT BUTTERS
If you do not want to make your own, organic peanut butter with no sugar, salt or preservatives are the safest choices and just as good.
Nature's Choice is GMO-free and available in the health foods sections at Dischem and most supermarkets.
Simple Truth Peanut Butter is available from Checkers stores.
Recipe by Abby Angus
Approx. 60ml Purity Baby Food - the smooth types without chunks (not fruit for dwarfs)
3 Tbsp Flour (cake, whole wheat, or oat flour)
1 Egg White
Mix all ingredients together and pour into baking moulds. - Use more flour to make a stiffer dough if you want to shape/cut them instead and place on a baking sheet.
Bake at 150degC until cooked and hard.
Pop them into a sealed container, or vacuum-seal in small batches, and store in the fridge. (Have not tested how well they defrost if stored in the freezer)
Give as little treats.
Note: Avoid any of the baby foods that have lemon juice or "acid" added, grape juice, pineapple, tomato, garlic, spices, salt, raisins, onions, leeks, and pork.
NIBBLE/SEED ROLLS seem to be quite a hit with hamsters....keeps them busy, and it's great for the teeth.
Cooked flour glue/paste is great for making edible items: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SA0PZZ9hEA0.
Please note that any flour used as an adhesive should be baked first (180-200degC for 20min),
or use the cooking method in the link.
Raw flour can contain E.Coli from the grain, and milling processes do not always kill it,
so it's always safer to make sure it is eliminated.
Ordinary cake & bread flours are not the healthiest flours for hamsters, so you can opt for others if you prefer,
e.g. Buckwheat Flour, Chickpea Flour, Spelt Flour, Quinoa Flour, or Coconut Flour.
DRY MIX OPTIONS:
Your hamster food mix.
A mix of other seeds: Mixed Canary Seed, hemp seeds, meal worms, flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, white sunflower seeds/hulled sunflower seeds, hulled busckwheat, etc.
Safe botanical ingredients (dried flower and/or foraging mix).
Or all of the above mixed together.
It is a messy project (sticky fingers, seeds flying all over, etc.) and if you're not up to it, you can order nibble rolls from:
Keri's Custom Cabins - https://www.facebook.com/Keris-Custom-Cabins-101749812528868
HOMEMADE HAMSTER DRY FOOD MIX GUIDELINE
(Better than an inferior commercial dry mix)
THIS IS NOT A PERFECT BALANCE, AND DRY FOOD SHOULD NOT BE USED AS THE SOLE DIET.
IMPORTANT TO NOTE: Besides the fact that mixing your own balance dry mix can actually be more expensive than buying one of the recommended good quality local mixes (Hyggelig Hamster Haven or Oliver's Burrow), certain factors should be noted:
Nutritional value of grains and seeds differ from harvest to harvest due to seasons, weather at time of harvest, and quality of each crop. Length of time & temperature changes during transport and storage also play a major factor in quality and value. It is therefore quite difficult to determine a complete balance, which is why commercial pet food manufacturers are required to get each batch of food tested, per the farmers' reports, as well as transportation/storage factors, in order to get them registered to legally sell per the nutritional content on their packaging. Therefore, some batches will have more of certain ingredients in them than what other batches will because of the nutritional differences of each harvest of each ingredient.
Before you think you may have a business opportunity here, kindly note that it is fine to make your own food mix for your private/personal use, but it is actually dangerous and dishonest to sell homemade food mixes to other unsuspecting hamster owners without the necessary tests, nutritional & balance info.
HOWEVER, for those people who live far away from access to good mixes, and unwilling to purchase from our recommended online local suppliers, making your own will still be better than providing any poor quality mix sold at your local pet shop. This isn't the cheapest or the easiest solution, but it's a more balanced and natural one.
This GUIDE OF DRY INGREDIENTS makes about 730g
Try to get GMO-free/organic products!
DO NOT JUST USE ONE INGREDIENT FROM EACH CATEGORY! It is important that your hamster gets its important variety of nutrients from different ingredients.
200g Variety of WHOLE GRAINS:
Barley, Hulled Buckwheat, Oats, Spelt (hulled wheat), Rye, Red & White Sorghum.
100g Variety of GRAIN FLAKES:
Barley Flakes, Puffed Barley, Milk Thistle seeds (not during pregnancy), Rolled Oats (without bran), Rice Flakes, Rye Flakes, Wheat Flakes or unsalted Weetbix.
100g Variety of SMALL SEEDS:
Black Sesame, Chia, Hemp, Quinoa, Flax/Linseeds, Rape/Canola seeds, and various types of Millet (Japanese, foxtail, yellow).
Milk Thistle seeds are also safe but not for pregnant or suspected pregnant hamsters.
Note: Good quality Mixed Canary Seed has flax, rape and millets ready-mixed.
80g Variety of PROTEINS:
Crickets, Dubia Roaches, dried Egg Food (avian), Gammarus (small freshwater shrimps), Grasshoppers, Silkworm larvae.
If your hamster doesn’t like any of these, be sure to include plain chicken and beef, and cooked egg, two or three times a week in the fresh food diet (an occasional portion of plain steamed flaked fish is also fine).
Reduce the amount of protein serves for elderly hamsters.
100g Variety of DRIED HERBS & FLOWERS:
Calendula & Marigold petals, Chamomile flowers, Chickweed, Cornflowers(pink & blue), Dandelion (roots/leaves/flowers), Dill leaves/stems, Gingko leaves, Grass (Wheat/Barley),Hemp leaves & flowers, Hibiscus, Lemon Balm, Mallow, Oat Straw, Parsley root, Red Clover, Rose petals, Stinging Nettle roots/leaves, Sunflower petals, Yarrow.
Also safe, but not during pregnancy or suspected pregnancy: Milk Thistle leaves/stems, Thyme.
Flower and Herb mixes are also conveniently available in shops - Burgess Excel Wildflower Forage and Burgess Excel Luscious Leaves.
50g Variety of FATS:
Brazil Nuts, Coconut Flakes, Hazelnuts, Pecan Nuts, Pumpkin Seeds, Walnuts, White Sunflower Seeds (Safflower), hulled sunflower seeds.
50g Assortment of DRY TREAT FOODS:
As a treat and to make the food more interesting.
Chopped up CBD Biscuits, Cornflakes (salt & sugar free), Pea/Sweetpea flakes, crumbled unsalted Rice Cakes or Puffed Rice, dried Strawberry flakes.
Mealworms (don’t use only mealworms as a protein/fat/treat ingredient as they are very high in fat and potassium).
50g HAMSTER PELLETS:
Burgess Hamster food, Brit Hamster food (in other countries, Lab Blocks are recommended, but we don’t get these in SA).
Mix together and freeze for 48 hours to ensure that most ganonies in seeds, flowers and grains are killed.
Store the bulk of the mix in a sealed container in the fridge or freezer to maintain quality.
Tip: Remember that each hamster has his/her particular taste it may not eat all the ingredients. It is, however, important that they get the variety of nutrition that each ingredient offers. If your hamster is fussy and you are concerned that he may not be eating the full balance of his mix, simply grind up a little of the mix finely in a small liquidizer/electric coffee grinder/pestle & mortar and mash this “powder” into his/her favourite fresh food (works well in pureed foods).
NOTES ABOUT OTHER INGREDIENTS:
It is usually pointless to use these, since most hamsters don’t really like them, so could be a waste of money.
Fresh foods are an important part of the diet anyway, so rather feed vegetables in fresh or pureed form from the safe fresh foods list.
Dried legume veg (e.g. peas/split-peas, lentils, mung beans):
Also pointless. You may as well feed your hamster little stones. Most are only suitable cooked or sprouted anyway, so should be part of the fresh foods.
Rather don’t add. Most dried fruits tend to be risky due to stickiness because they can become stuck on teeth, on the pallet, in a cheek, in the pouches, etc. and a hamster could scratch itself open quite badly trying to get rid of the irritation.
Sugar content is also very high and difficult to assess in dry form.
We therefore recommend feeding fresh or pureed fruits from the safe fresh foods list.
Dwarf hamsters should only have a small piece of fruit once a week.
Pasta & Rice:
While some hams may enjoy gnawing on a raw/dry piece, they become quite sharp and could damage the inside of the pouches.
Pasta and Rice can also swell up inside the stomach and, if too much is eaten, can cause tummy aches.
Rather served a little cooked chopped up pasta/rice mixed into fresh mushier foods.
Not the best “nut” for hamsters, but the occasional treat in the shell can be fun.
Organic peanut butter (salt & sugar free), is fine to use in treat recipes.
Good online shops for some of the organic herbs/flowers/seeds: https://essentiallynatural.co.za/295-flowers-herbs
Many herbs, grains, and seeds are also available in Dischem (check in the vitamin supplements and the health foods isles).
Good online shop for live or dried insects: https://www.jozibugs.co.za/82-dried-feeder-insects