I used to have hamsters as a pet when I was a kid. Ever since, I’d occasionally tossed around the idea of having a pet hamster again, but never really followed through with the idea. Well, I finally got one again, thanks to an accidental discovery of a cool enclosure that sent me “down the rabbit hole” (so to speak) of using Ikea’s Detolf display case as a hamster enclosure. Here is a vlog about it…
After the accidental image search discovery of using the Detolf as an enclosure, the first video I happened to click on to watch was this one, detailing the setup of the Detolf for a hamster. I immediately knew after watching that video that I was finally gonna get a hamster again. I then spent quite a few hours watching tons of other videos all about hamster fun. One of the nice things about the modern era is the huge amount of information available. Between all the great YouTube vids and places like Hamster Hideout Forum, there was tons and tons of info that, quite frankly, would have been nice to have 30+ years ago when I had previous hamsters.
After I got the Kallax and Detolf assembled and in place, I started setting up the various equipment, supplies and toys in the Detolf (detailed below). While I was doing that, and watching the various videos, one thing a few videos pointed out was to try not to support the pet mills that pet stores use if possible. So, I did a bit of searching and discovered Nantucket Hamstery, which was an ethical breeder that was quite local to me (Huntley, IL), and their site and Facebook page certainly looked like a perfect choice. So, I got myself onto the waiting list for a hamster from the next litter. There are a number of reasons to want to go with a hamster from an ethical breeder, from better genetic lines to being properly handled (which will very likely mean better temperament), and simply not supporting the pet mills that simply don’t treat the hamsters nearly as well. So after a month or so wait, I was able to pick out a hamster from a group of photos and scheduled to pick him up, which I did on November 1, 2020. I had put together a list of potential names for him, but as a lifelong Weird Al Yankovic fanatic, I just couldn’t NOT use the name of Harvey. After all, then he gets his own theme song…
Here are an ongoing playlist of cute compilation music videos I’ve been putting together:
Anyway, here’s a full list of things with which I have started things off. This is the result of doing a bunch of reading and watching the various YouTube videos. But, this is all a starting off point, and I may end up tweaking things over time as I see how well this stuff works and what Harvey takes a liking to.
- IKEA Detolf
This is the glass enclosure itself. It’s assembled minus the front door and set on its back. I have mine sitting on an IKEA Kallax 4×2 shelving unit, which works brilliantly.
- 48″ x 16″ White Wire Closet Shelf
I got this from Menards, and it works PERFECTLY as a top cover. I have the glass shelves the Detolf comes with on the ends, and this wire shelf in the middle. I marked the length and cut it with a bolt cutter I had. Using a half dozen zip ties to hinge it to the back shelf plastic pole works brilliantly, and it hinges down and fits pretty much exactly on the front edge.
IMPORTANT UPDATE: Harvey managed to wiggle his way through this! I added a layer of “hardware cloth” along underneath it (overhanging the ends over the glass ends on the top) to make it escape proof.
- Sengled Multicolor 6.56 Foot LED Strip Lights
I had gotten a special deal on these a week or so before discovering the whole Detolf thing and deciding to get a hamster. Then I suddenly realized I had a cool use for them. I wasn’t sure how I was gonna rig ’em up, but it turned out to work REALLY well along the bottom corner edge in the back (I trimmed off a bit of the light strip length).
- Katee Clean & Cozy Bedding
A well-loved substrate/bedding option. I used about 2/3 of the 85 liter bag option to do the initial fill.
- Wodent Wheel 11″ Running Wheel
Syrian hamster need a large wheel. This 11″ one fits on top of a bit of the bedding and manages to fit with a little bit of space between it and the glass above it. I went with the “nail-o-matic” track pre-installed (which helps keep the nails trimmed)
UPDATE: I’ve taken this wheel out and he gets to use it in his play space when out of the enclosure. I have since put in a 12″ Silent Runner wheel, which I mounted to the wood end of the enclosure. It BARELY fits vertically under the glass and was challenging to mount so precisely (I also had to get a longer 3″ bolt from Home Depot that would reach all the way through the wood. BUT, if you can manage the difficultly precise mounting, it works VERY well. Was well worth the effort.
- Niteangel Water Bottle With Stand
This is actually kinda nice looking and functionally nifty.
- CooShou Apple Wood Playground
A nice climbing playground that’s also chewable, and has a little food holder on the highest point. There are a few other styles & arrangements available.
- Zoo Med Reptisand
Used for the sand bath. It’s confusing as to which sands are usable for this purpose, but this stuff seems to be the best loved for it.
- Niteangel Hamster Secret 2-Chamber Peep Shed Hideout
Simple but nice. I have it under the deeper burrowing end of the bedding.
- Niteangel 39×4 Inch Fun Tunnel
I have this buried under the burrowing end of the bedding, sticking out at the entrance.
UPDATE: Harvey shredded an incredible amount of this tunnel in a matter of a few days. I’ve taken it out since, so that the enclosure isn’t filled with bits of shredded plastic.
- Niteangel Ceramic Hamster Hideout
- Niteangel Ceramic Hamster Tunnel
The ceramic hideout and tunnel are kinda nice and pretty solid quality. For some reason, the hideout listing is missing on Amazon at the moment.
- Amakunft Small Animal Cage Tent
Something to open up from time to time for more open play time.
UPDATE: Yeah, this thing ended up being a terrible choice. Not only did he figure out how to climb out of it pretty quickly, but he also chewed a hole through it within a few times playing in it. NOT recommended for a hamster. I’ve since gotten a deal on a SONGMICS plastic panel set, which so far has worked fantastically for Harvey to play around in.
- Living World Pet Carrier
And here are some various foods I’m starting with. This will probably get more tweaking than anything else.
- Higgins Sunburst Hamster & Gerbil
- Mazuri Rat & Mouse Food
Many sites and videos recommend the basic diet to be a mix of the 2lb Mazuri bag with the 2.5lb bag of Higgins Sunburst.
- Katee Forti Diet Healthy Treats
An every-once-in-a-while treat
- Katee Mealworms
Gonna do a small sampling of mealworms for protein (a couple every couple days).
- Kaytee Perfect Chews
- Ware Sundried Seagrass Twists Small Chews
There are a handful of YouTube vlog channels on which I watched a good number of videos about hamsters in general. A few that stood out as particularly good are Victoria Raechel, ErinsAnimals and Munchie’s Place. If you’re looking for some good, basic starter info, here are a handful of good videos about hamster care in general (there will be a bit of info overlap in these, but they’re all good intro info vids):