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Gerbils & Hamsters/should i keep soil in tank for hamster to make burrows?


I got syrian teddy bear hamster couple of months ago,before buying i did lots of research regarding hamsters on net, but i found this one much different from what i read,he never seems interested in any kind of toy or chewing woods etc, the only thing he wants is to escape n explore my house,he has even selected few favorite hideouts in my house,but strangest thing was when he escaped one day n made a deep borrow in kitchen pushing out piles of mud and cement,no matter how much i try he wont come out,finally he came out after two days in search of food when i captured him immedtly n put him in escape free tank,but now i feel if he was so much happy in his burrow then y dont i fill the tank with mud or soil so that he could make burrows n make himself feel at home as its similar to its natural habitat, i know that this idea isnt acceptable anywhere,yet why was he so comfortable in his homemade burrow than tank,while i use tissue paper bedding.

Hi Fiza

Thanks for your question, your hamster sounds like a great little character.

I've never had a hamster who burrowed and generally they don't - you usually associate digging with gerbils.

You need to be careful with what you put in his cage as hamsters pouch bedding etc. and you don't want him putting soil etc in his mouth.
Some hamsters try to escape all the time and it is vital that in cases like this the hamster has plenty to do. I used to have a hamster who kept escaping - I seem to remember she dug up one of my house plants!! I got her a much bigger cage and filled it with climbing frames and she was content after that, you could perhaps try this.  You might also like to create a 'bathing area in the cage - if you put a low dish and fill it with chinchilla dust that you can buy from pet shops your hamster may like this. They tend to roll around in it.

Also, does your hamster have an exercise ball? If not it would be worth getting one - tape over any joins in the ball as they have a habit of opening if they bang into furniture. Most hamsters love these balls - I suggest you let him have a run around for 30-60 minutes each evening.

I hope this helps


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Sheila Adby


Syrian hamsters are my specialty, however, I have kept Campbells,Winter Whites and gerbils in the past. I can advise on most subjects associated with hamsters, including housing, bedding, feeding, handling, new borns and catching escapees. I have had some experience of various health problems with hamsters and can offer my opinion and advice on basic health issues, however I am not a qualified vet and therefore cannot recommend drugs etc. My website is


I have been keeping hamsters and other small animals for more than 12 years. My favourites are Syrian hamsters and I foster litters and 'difficult' hamsters for a rescue centre. My job is to tame hamsters ready for re-homing, which is extremely rewarding. I also enjoy looking after new litters and raising the pups. I have co-written a book on hamsters with my local vet and have a website:

Hamsters in Sickness and in Health - Sheila Adby and Dan O'Neill ISBN186163218-5 (Capall Bann Publishing)

Educated to A Level standard in the UK.

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