Sand is great for hamsters, it can keep their claws short and their fur clean. It also provides a nice cool place for them to sit in the summer heat. Simulate a hamster's natural habitat, keep them entertained, digging for treats buried in the sand. Add sand to your hamster's environment by putting this cute DIY sand pit in their cage. Constructed from cardboard, balsa wood and popsicle sticks. It can be removed from the cage for easy cleaning.
What sand should I use?
Sand that is clean, dry and dust-free, e.g. play sand. ⚠Never use chinchilla dust, as this can cause respiratory problems in hamsters. You can sterilise sand by sifting it through a sieve, spreading it thinly on trays and baking it in the oven for about 15 minutes.
What cardboard should I use?
Cardboard that is clean and free of any ink, tape or glue
What wood should I use?
Balsa is the safest kind of wood for pet toys because the splinters are soft and fluffy and can not hurt them.
I used 4mm balsa sheets for the walls and 13mm balsa strips for the supports. You can find packs of balsa wood at craft stores or online. Alternatively, you could use some thick cardboard or popsicle sticks.
⚠ Avoid soft woods like pine and cedar and man-made boards like plywood and MDF as they contain toxic things
What glue should I use?
Any glue that is non-toxic and water soluble e.g. PVA, Elmer's and school glue. Non-toxic means that it will not poison the hamster. Water soluble means that if the hamster were to accidentally swallow a little, it would just dissolve. Since hot glue is not water soluble, it would not dissolve, and could cause blockages, which is why I don't recommend it.
What paint should I use?
Soy Paint and Plastikote project enamel (the brush on kind) are both non-toxic. Any paint that is labelled as safe for babies should be ok. Use it in thin coats and sand away any blobs because it's still not good for them to swallow in large quantities. If your hamster is a big chewer, it might be best to avoid paints.
You could also stain the wood with a natural food dye, or make your own from vegetables.
What if my hamster pees in it?
If you're worried about this, you can apply some brush-on plastikote (a non-toxic enamel safe for hamsters, but not the spray on kind) to the floors so that they can just be disinfected and wiped clean
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