An average wild hamster travels about 8 miles a day in search of food, water, and shelter. Unless your pet hamster’s cage is 8 miles long, he might be bored and in dire need of some daily exercise. A hamster wheel or an exercise ball may do the trick, but he may want some mental exercise that enables him to think and solve problems, just like his buddies outside. While you shouldn’t let your hamster (or any domesticated pet, for that matter) go free in the wild, the only option left is to build him a challenging maze.
Step one: Pick a base.
The base serves as the “floor” of the maze. It could be a poster board, piece of cardboard, some plywood, or a tabletop. The surface should be smooth and easy on your hamster’s paws. Make sure the base is large enough for a stimulating maze – at least 2 feet by 2 feet. The bigger, the better!
Step two: Decide on building materials.
Since your hamster is a defenseless little creature, there are many precautions to take when choosing a material for the walls. You would want to avoid any materials with sharp edges, flimsy walls that may collapse and injure your hamster, or anything that would make your hamster sick should he ever chew on it. Stay away from toxic glue or sharp nails during the construction of the maze. Lastly, make sure your hamster can’t climb tall walls, for a small fall is enough to break its bones. All that being said, Legos, sanded plywood, sturdy cardboard, and hamster tubes would make great walls, if built correctly.
Step three: Design a blueprint.
Once you have the base and the walls ready, it is time to design the best maze hamsterkind has ever seen! Take the size of the base and the thickness of the walls into consideration when drafting up a blueprint. Let your imagination run wild (but, once again, make your hamster’s safety your biggest priority.)
* A few things to remember:
With hamster tubes, every dead end should be large enough to allow him to turn around.
If building with walls, ensure that the pathways and turns are at least three inches wide so your hamster may navigate and turn around comfortably.
* Stuck in a rut? Follow these tips and you’ll end up with something a-maze-ing:
Start the path straight for a while to get your hamster acquainted with the maze, then present him with his first test – a four-way crossing.
Avoid creating dead ends your hamster may spot from the main route. Instead, give him an opportunity to turn a corner or two before having to do a 180.
Branch it! Feel free to split a dead end into a few extra paths that may lead to more dead ends or back to the main route. This technique significantly adds to the complexity of the maze.
Make room for the prize. The hamster has to be rewarded for all his hard work, right? Instead of creating an exit, you could make the destination a treasure room full of the hamster’s favorite toys and treats.
Step four: Build it.
Now, it’s time to use the building materials you chose to build a safe maze for your furry little friend. Again, no toxic glue, sharp nails, and flimsy walls. Children builders should be under adult supervision.
Upon completion, don’t forget to add the prize(s) to the treasure room!
Step five: Make your hamster’s day!
It’s time to sit back and admire your hamster’s intelligence. Put him in the beginning of the maze and watch his problem-solving skills come to light. Never leave your hamster unattended, for any hamster parent knows that a lot could happen in a second. Also, don’t let him go without water for a long period of time.
Step six: Pat yourself on the back.
Once your hamster has mastered the maze, don’t be surprised if he invites his friends over to show off his awesome new toy!