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Elicit Hamsters Natural Behaviors

The best animal enrichments are those that elicit the animal’s natural behaviors. Animals that are arboreal will naturally use the vertical height of an enclosure. Animals that burrow will look for similar hiding places in bedding or structures. Nesters will spend much of their time fluffing, arranging and rearranging materials into a comfortable sleeping area. Collectors, such as Syrian hamsters, will remove feed blocks from feeders to store them in the bedding in some other area of the cage. Hamsters are uniquely adapted for this behavior by the presence of cheek pouches which allow the animals to stash and carry.

In the wild, hamsters live independent lives in deep burrows, where they may store several pounds of grain. Foraging trips may cover up to 8 miles. Males and females come together only for mating, and the female raises her young alone. Nesting materials and a den provide privacy for newborns. They are active in the dark and will run a wheel for the equivalent of long distances. Hamsters will fight less if housed together, sex separated, at weaning, or by providing hiding places to allow an animal to remove itself from the group.

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