“ Manufacturer: Rotastak / Type: Hamster cage „
I have kept hamsters for a number of years. My last cage broke and for Christmas my friend bought this cage for me. I have always been put off purchasing Rotastak as they are costly compared to other cages on the market.
The cage is brightly coloured and very appealling to a younger audience. It also looks very good when it is put together. However therein lies a problem! The instructions are not very clear. The cage consists of three layers the bottom which then leads up to a smaller middle layer and finally the top of the 'Space command' which is classed as the dining room where there is a feeding tray and a water bottle. The instructions themselves consisted of a picture, this was so useless I had to go online and seek further help from google. In between each of the layers are two blue tubes which connect the two floors together and enable the hamster the move between the layers. At the end of each of these blue tubes are 'knaw rings' which are metal circles which cover the plastic to stop the hamster from chewing the plastic tubes. The first problem I encountered was attaching the knaw rings. Some of them felt like they wouldn't fit. The biggest problem with the construction of this item was the yellow flourescent tubing running from the top floor to the bottom, It was almost impossible to connect the yellow tubes. The come in two pieces which are held together by red plastic pieces. Once you have wasted half the day connecting these yellow pieces you then have to manipulate the tubles to get them to connect the two floors. If you are too rough with them they detach from each other and your back at square one! After about 6 months of owning this cage I finally got the hang of it.
Now onto the actual problems I have encountered since Hammy moved in. The yellow flourescent tubes linking the upper and lower levels have holes in them to enable the hamster to breath, the hamster likes to take sawdust through the tubes which in turn falls through the holes all over my floor!. The inside of the tubes also gets very dirty, you need to then take them apart and wash them in hot soapy water. The are horrendous to put back together as I stated earlier in the review.
Also as I stated earlier the top floor has a sliding drawer which you can put food in and slide back in for the hamster to eat. Now anyone who keeps hamsters knows that they will chew anything! My hamster within a week worked out how to push the drawer out and chew the plastic. After a few weeks of this I have had to remove and throw away the top layer as the hamster could escape.
The third problem relates to the carrying section which my hamster normally sleeps in, if you look at the picture it is the section running off the cage (bottom left), if you pick up the cage to move it for cleaning this section has a tendency to fall off. You need to remove it first and place a stopper in there to prevent the hamster running off.
Finally I have noticed that all my knaw rings are rusty, this happened after about 6 months. I take the cage apart every months and wash it throughly and in between I wipe it with special wipes I picked up in pets at home. I have no idea how this happened.
You can purchase spare tubes, stoppers and knaw rings to replace damaged items, however even on ebay these items are very expensive and from pets at home they are extortionately expensive.
This cage is good for keeping your hamster entertained as the tubes are designed to recreate their natural environment, however it is an absolute nightmare to clean as it has to be taken apart which is time consuming and frustrating. You also need to keep and eye on your hamster as they chew like mad and can escape after a few nights of chewing in this cage. I would not recommend this for anyone with children go for a simple cage with bars it costs half the amount and is much easier to clean.
I have spent some time deliberating whether to write this review because in doing so I will have to make a confession of which I am rather ashamed. I have, in the past mentioned that a couple of years ago we bought a Syrian Hamster and that whilst the animal itself is a cheap, affordable pet the added extras any owner would need to buy can end up costing more than the pet itself. Take the subject of this review and the cause of my embarrassment - the Rotastak Space Commander Hamster Cage; I honestly don't know what came over me when I decided a year after settling George our hamster into his perfectly acceptable but unoriginal wired cage that he should have a new home in which to live. I think I was swayed by the magnificent picture (who wouldn't be?, I mean - Look at it!) which proudly adorned the Technicolor box and giving no second thought to the matter I ended up buying this for George. Now, there's nothing too shocking about wanting to spend a little cash on an upgrade for our furry friends living environment I agree but, and here comes the embarrassing part, it cost me 5p under £50.00.
£50.00 for a hamster cage can only be considered outrageous unless you are rolling in money or are a little *too* fond of hamsters. I neither have money to burn nor have I made that much of a connection with George, but that didn't stop me from deciding that he deserved this cage and so I parted with my hard earned cash and proudly left Pets at Home carrying this under my arm. Fast forwarding the part where I had to explain to my wife why I had bought a new cage when all I went to Pets at Home for was some Hamster food and conveniently omitting to mention the price of said purchase as soon as I arrived back at home I quickly set about constructing the various components which goes into creating this luxury hamster 'des res'.
Five minutes after taking all the parts out of the box was all it took before the first pangs of regret started to creep into my subconscious. There were *so* many bits and bobs that I really didn't know where to begin, I am useless as it is at anything remotely DIY so this cage was to be a 'challenge' and after the initial attempts to rally my wife into helping me falling on deaf ears it was down to me alone to assemble all the parts and make the construction Hamster friendly and secure. Frustrating just about sums up the experience as each individual component had to be unwrapped and joined onto its next door neighbour, essentially this was like constructing a 3D jigsaw puzzle with every part having to be securely fastened together. As you can see from the supplied illustration there are individual pieces which need joining together via plastic tubing and each tube was split in half and required putting together. The plastic was toughened and felt of good quality, there were no sharp edges or snags or catches and the pieces did fit together easily enough as individual components but trying to put it all together so that it resembled the picture was an absolute nightmare. Once fixed in place it was difficult to manoeuvre and manipulate around but in the end (2 hours later) I had something which (almost) resembled the picture above.
Feeling mightily proud with my achievements I was able to add sawdust at the bottom of the larger containers and some nice warm bedding into the top 'dome' having decided this was the ideal place in which George should sleep. Of course Hamsters are not logical creatures and George is no exception so upon being unceremoniously dumped into his new surroundings he did what any self respecting Hamster would do under the circumstances and refused to move. Thankfully, Hamsters are curious and inquisitive little things so eventually George did decide to check out his new home and took the first tentative steps into the tubing which runs from the bottom of the cage all the way up to the top dome part, and typically for me it was at this point when the joins gave way and the tubing collapsed. George is not an overweight Hamster and so is not particularly heavy yet every time I reassembled the tubing the joins just would not take his weight so in the end I had to cover them (the red parts in the picture) in masking tape. I said I was incompetent at DIY so this didn't surprise either me or my wife (who by this point had taken an interest in the project - mainly to offer 'advice') and so, I am ashamed to say, the job was botched.
Botch job or not and with additional masking tape in place the cage sat resplendent on the table on which George lives and was certainly impressive to look at. In its fully assembled state it takes up a lot of room and for those who wants to know its dimensions I can advise that it stands approximately 56cm in height and 77cm in length so do bear this is mind if this is something you are considering buying.
In case it isn't clear from the picture along with the various components which go into the construction of the cage itself you are also supplied with a water bottle, wheel and food bowl so it really is a complete unit for the money and for a while George seemed to enjoy being able to scurry from compartment to compartment. Problems soon began to set in though and the most annoying part of this cage for us was when it came to cleaning it. Because of how it is all fixed together to get the larger containers you have to remove various other parts to allow you access, this as you can imagine gets very tedious after a while and each time the cage was reassembled it seemed to lose some of its robustness. Hamsters have no toilet and so don't really care where they have to 'go' so to maintain a clean and fresh environment in which to live we found that we had to clean each component on a regular basis and when it came to keeping the tubes clean this proved to be an utter nightmare as bedding and sawdust became lodged into various pieces when George decided he wanted to have a change around.
It won't be much of a surprise then to find out that George didn't live in his Space Commander Cage for very long. We persevered for a good couple of months before deciding to dust off his old wired cage and move him back to where he came from, the ordeal of constantly cleaning became too much and to be honest we began to question the structural integrity of the Space Commander cage itself. Being taken to pieces and then reassembled on a regular basis seemed to weaken the plastic joins and in the end it just looked tatty. Rotastak is a well known name in the pet industry and we have bought many a branded product from them for George and in principal this is a really good idea for hamsters as there is plenty of room for them and allows them to explore their environment. In everyday use though it just wasn't practical for us to maintain and ended up looking like a big eye-sore after only a relatively short period of time.
If you are a Hamster owner with a degree in construction or just happen to be rather handy at putting things together then this cage from Rotastak may well appeal. You do get plenty for your money and when built it does look attractive and is certainly different to the usual wired cages that are available to buy. The cage is suitable for all small rodents (Mice, Hamsters, and Gerbils etc) and does come from a reputable name in the pet industry. I paid a little more than I should have done it appears after checking online as the cage is available to buy from £32.95 from some places so Pets at Home is probably best avoided if you wanted to check this out for yourself. Even at that price it is still expensive though, awkward to put together and difficult to clean so this should be factored when making a purchasing decision. Overall from my point of view I was disappointed and even though George was rather fond of the space it afforded him it just ended up being too difficult to maintain and it's on that basis that I wouldn't really recommend this to anyone else.
Georges 'Space Commander Hamster Cage' is currently collecting dust in our shed now and he is back in his easy to clean wired cage, this was an impulse buy which didn't live up to expectations and is a major regret now. If nothing else it has taught me a lesson and when I go to Pets at Home for Hamster food now thats what I come home with.
2 stars from me, a great idea but not recommended. Thanks for reading my review.