The first several hamsters in our house lived in an old aquarium. It was nearly indestructible, and easy to see the rodents run and play. It worked perfect for dwarf hamsters, but not so well for the standard size fur-balls. They need way more room to run.
When we took in a geriatric, second-hand hamster a few years ago, he arrived all decked out. Great big wire cage, a couple wheels, food, several chew toys, extra bedding, and everything else you could possibly need. Like the hamster, most of his belongings are no longer with us. The cage still is. Since our daughter has chosen large (relatively) hamsters the last few times, this cage works wonderful.
One downside to this rodent abode; it is not as durable as the glass box we used before. The current occupant is neurotic, like most hamsters. He chews on everything in sight. Including the metal bars. It is music to the ears in the middle of the night. He climbs and hangs on every square inch of the cage as well. I do not know if it was all of his activity or the number of times we have opened and closed the door, but one of the joints finally broke.
At first glance, I thought this would be an easy repair. Then I looked beyond the damage and into the eyes of the smiling pint-sized destruction machine that lives in the cage. I decided to find an indestructible fix. I figured it would be fine to leave the little man in the cage while I thought about how to fix it. After all, he is a “big” hamster, and only one bar was broken. My discovery? Turns out big hamsters can fit through small spaces.
After losing in a stare down, and getting dizzy watching him run on his wheel, I decided it was actually time to fix the problem. I had exactly thirty minutes before the kids’ bedtime. To slow down the Houdini hamster I made two small open chain links that I crimped to the broken bar. I crimped one to the bar above it, and the other to the bar below it.
I made the links out of copper electrical wire, and made sure to remove any sharp edges. Those sharp edges still on the links were put outside the cage. I did not want there to be anything dangerous for a rodent with a chewing problem to gnaw on. The wire is strong enough that he is unable to bite pieces off that may hurt him. He also is not able to make sharp edges on it. It is nearly hamster proof.
Fun fact of the day: copper is a natural mineral in most of the seeds and lentils that comprise hamster food. This means the occasional (nightly) nibble (gnawing) on the wire will not hurt him. In fact, a small amount of copper is essential for hamsters to be able to digest certain proteins. It also helps increase the pigment in their fur.
While I would not throw a handful of pennies in the cage for chew toys, a little copper fix on the cage will not harm him. It has been almost two months since I fixed the cage. So far, so good. The hamster is as neurotic, busy, and contained as ever.