Watson, H. A study into viable wooden enrichment objects for Syrian hamsters. Animal Technology and Welfare 19(1), 86-88.
Failing to provide hamsters with a method to wear down their teeth can lead to detrimental behaviour such as bar chewing, and health issues, for example, overgrown teeth and tooth loss. However, hamsters use their cheek pouches to store and carry movable items. This can cause health problems if wooden enrichment objects produce splinters which can become lodged in the cheek pouches. The aim of this study was to take a comparison of wooden products available on the market and determine a safe and effective object to be provided for hamster enrichment. Trial objects were: large aspen chew brick, medium aspen chew brick, and aspen balls. Daily observations consisted of: location of trial object each morning by dividing the cage into quadrants, surface damage and soiling, weight reduction of trial object. The aspen balls had higher recorded movements between cage quadrants, more surface damage and soiling, and lower remaining weight. It was also noted that after the aspen ball had been chewed, the remains, when gently pulled away came apart in soft and short curls. These results confirm that a ball shape object is a more interactive and stimulating design for hamsters and the ball is thereby more frequently chewed by the hamsters.