I'm a little ashamed to say that my Syrian Hamster Frank was an impulse buy. Obviously owning any pet should be a thoroughly thought through idea before committing to anything but I actually came back with Frank after a trip to Pets at Home where I had planned to buy my dog a new collar. It was back in February and I'd just split up with my then boyfriend in one of those 'no-one is coming out of this without feeling thoroughly rubbish' sort of ways and, in my fragile state of mind, I thoroughly convinced myself that this beautiful white Hamster which was curled up in a ball fast asleep would be the only thing that would ever make me smile ever again. So I bought him.
I hadn't owned any sort of rodent in years and so I had to buy everything from scratch. As I hadn't planned to return with a Hamster I hadn't budgeted to do so and so I ended up buying Frank a rather cheap 'starter' Ferplast cage which cost £20. I'll give the cage its due, it was very good quality and contained everything Frank needed, it was just lacking in size. As Frank got older and bigger it was clear that this cage was far too small for him and that he desperately needed something bigger. His little home seemed more like a prison every single day so I cashed in my Dooyoo Miles and searched Amazon for a roomier cage.
I did have my eye on the Rotastak Adventure Zone cage which was more like three cages in one joined together by lots of tubes, it looked absolutely amazing but I couldn't find a single positive review about the quality of the cage online. Every review I read (and I read a lot) said the same thing, Hamster's chewed their way through the cheap plastic in a matter of hours and the tunnels didn't connect properly meaning many owners of the cage had apparently taken to taping them together! For £36 (Amazon's price at the time) I definitely wanted something sturdier and longer lasting and so the search for Frank's perfect home continued.
I eventually settled on the Rotostak Natro 200 cage as, unlike the previous Rotostak cage I had looked at, I couldn't find a single bad review for this one! It looked a decent price, was within my budget and many other Hamster owners commented on how spacious and well built the cage was. I bought the cage from Amazon where I paid £25 for it although this price seems to have gone up and is now showing at £27.48. As you'd expect from such an item prices vary significantly from store to store so it's worth shopping around. A quick google search has revealed this can be found from £22 right the way up to £47.99!
The cage arrived flat packed and so began my task of putting it together. Actually I was rather surprised at quickly I was able to do this, I managed it by myself (and I'm terrible at this type of thing) in about fifteen minutes. It's a simple case of attaching the four walls to the base using little plastic clips and then doing the same with the roof whilst connecting the tubes together by slotting them into plastic circular connectors. It really is a quick, simple and easy process which is easily worked out without the aid of an instruction manual which is fortunate as the one this cage is supplied with is absolutely useless. It's basically a diagram that's been poorly printed so you can't actually make anything out in the pictures!
The finished product is lovely. It has a deep brown coloured, thick plastic base with white coated bars to prevent rusting and a long green tube coming out the cage and then back in again. I love the neutral colour combination and it looks lovely on my room but, most importantly, it's a decent size. The cage measures at 51x46x30cm which, compared to Franks old cage which 46x29x22cm, is obviously quite a size difference!
This cage also comes with extras. You get a wheel, water bottle, wooden house and wooden play sticks which are all great quality. The water bottle stays in place perfectly using the provided clip and never leaks. The wheel is large enough for my male Syrian to happily get into and run around on (he used to stand on top of his old one because it was too small for him to fit inside)! The play sticks are easily bent to create a large dome for my Hamster to sleep under and the natural wood house looks lovely although it is pretty pointless!
This house is on two levels. There's a dome cut under the first level for your Hamster to hide in and a slope leading the way up to the second level which has another dome hole cut into it to allow your Hamster access, it even has a little window cut out of the top! It looks really nice and is really good quality it's just ridiculously small. Frank has never even attempted to get into the top hole of the house as it's smaller than his head! (Although he has tried to chew the hole bigger) and I've lost count the amount of times I've had to rescue him from the bottom hole because he's got stuck half way in. Fortunately he seems happy enough making his bed under the play stick dome and the deep base gives more room for deeper bedding so he has plenty to work with and this does make for a handy ladder up to the top of his cage so he can climb out himself when I open the door at the roof. It's a nice decoration it just doesn't serve its actual purpose. A smaller breed of Hamster may be alright but a Syrian has no chance!
I do feel the cage would benefit from a food bowl though as it doesn't come with one. I've just using the one which came with Frank's old cage but this is a plastic bright yellow one which really contrasts with the natural look of the rest of the cage. I'm continuously looking for one which will match the rest of the cage and its accessories but I've yet to come across one. I don't view this as a major problem; I don't suppose Frank cares what colour his food bowl is! It would just be nice to have something which matched.
Cleaning the cage is really easy and takes about ten minute to do. The walls of the cage come away from the base via two clips either side of the cage. As the base is smooth plastic it's just a case of wiping this down with cage cleaner and adding new bedding before clipping the sides back in place.
Frank has called this cage his home for around four months now and it's still in perfect condition and, since assembling the whole thing, I've not once had to reattach anything or do some bodge job DIY to repair broken bits. The cage has offered enough room for Frank to comfortably eat and sleep as well as play with the help of a few toys including a suspension bridge. He pretty much seemed to love it from day one and takes plenty of advantage of the little tubes which come out of the cage. In his old cage Frank just spent all day sleeping and if he wasn't doing that he was literally climbing the walls so it's lovely to see him running around and playing in this bigger cage. He's even lost a bit of weight now he's getting exercise inside his cage as well as outside. Frank seems to love the cage and I definitely do. For under £30 I think it's a real bargain and I can't pick any real faults with it at all.
Hamster cage with wheel, house and water bottle.