Miss G the Syrian hamster used to have a very exciting cage from Rotastak, (the Mission Pod, all tubes and plastic) - but it was very difficult for my daughter to clean and I never felt it was altogether secure against the machinations of moggies. It was also very easy for her to kick sawdust and food out of, which got annoying. I had taped all the joints, but one day Miss G made an escape and that trauma decided me: a new cage was a necessity.
We went to Pets At Home, intending to find an old-fashioned style of simple rectangular wire cage & base, the likes of which my childhood hamsters had resided in (mostly safely, except for one - who somehow broke a bar, vanished and was never found despite much searching - eventually presumed eaten by the cat).
This 'Paula' cage from Ferplast caught our eyes. One was already made up on display so we could get a good idea of how strong it was. It does have a tube that arches over the roof of the cage, but it's much sturdier than the Rotastak one had been. At around £20, it seemed like a good buy.
There was a bit of assembling to do, when we got the cage home. The tube needed to be put together, although you can choose not to use it and simply block off the holes where it goes using the supplied ends. It was very simple to do, and took less than ten minutes to get the whole cage set up and ready for Miss G (a startling contrast to the age it took to put the Mission Pod together). The wire section of the cage attaches to the plastic base by two clips, one at each end. You can put quite a bit of sawdust in the base for the hamster to root around in. Cleaning it out is a simple job of detaching the base and chucking out the sawdust, giving it a wipe-down and replacing the sawdust.
With the cage, there was a bowl, water-bottle, exercise wheel and house provided. The house is made of two clip-together sections, so is easy to open to empty when cleaning out. Miss G moved in quickly, and seems very happy to have an enclosed place to nest - her previous cage couldn't fit a house in.
The wheel is fixed to the bars by a twisting fastener, so you can choose where best to site it. Miss G was used to an enclosed wheel, so this open one confused her for some time, and she went over the outside instead of running on the inside! But she got the hang of it and was soon making the most horrendous din squeaking round. A bit of oil on the spindle solved that problem (I used vegetable oil in case any leaked where she could get at it).
The bowl included was quite large. I decided to use the round one she had previously instead as what with the house and tubes and wheel she didn't have much free space left. The water bottle is a nice little one, probably only about 30ml, but oddly its nozzle doesn't fit through the bars without being forced. It does mean it is firmly held, but I do have minor misgivings about having to bend out the bars, even slightly.
We have noticed that Miss G seems less frustrated in this cage - less prone to gnawing the bars. She climbs and hangs as though on monkey bars, and uses the tube for a bit of crawling and food storage. I feel it's a good solid cage and the cats can sit on top of it and stare in without me worrying too much that they'll get her. In fact, the feisty Miss G is more likely to vault up and nip their paws than anything else.
I'd recommend the cage to anyone with a small rodent to house.