Posted: April 1, 2008, 5 a.m. EDT
Q: I've got a hamster that almost constantly bites its wire cage and the water bottle. I tried offering her wooden sticks made for hamsters to bite on, but she won’t touch them. How can I stop her from biting the cage and water bottle?
A: Hamsters do this for many reasons. Most importantly, they need to keep their teeth trim and burn off excess energy. Make sure your hamster has varied activities and distractions. Is her wheel a decent size with a solid running surface to encourage regular use? Do you take her out for other activities? How about a play ball? These things tire them out, and they spend less time burning off energy biting bars and engaging in other habitual behaviors.
Some hamsters have a preference for chewing metal, and a stainless-steel spoon near the nest can be a treat. Some get interested in wood chews if you rub a carrot, nut or other favorite food on it to flavor it a little. Many hamsters are fascinated with things they can actually tear to pieces. Toilet paper rolls come in handy here. They're free and plentiful.