>Cleanliness, or rather, the lack of cleanliness is the only health problem
>I've seen associated with the closed plastic cages.
any of the problems mentioned in this thread.
I don't see how a plastic cage inherently can be less clean than a glass
terrarium. I've heard people complain about having to clean the plastic
tubes. Simple- potty train the hamster so that the tubes and any other
extensions don't ever get dirtied. Once you do that, you only end up
with a dirty corner in one cage and I don't see how the composition of the
cage (plastic vs. glass) will make a difference. I just scoop out the
dirty litter (not much) every two days and use soap and water on the corner
every two weeks. It helps to use absorbent litter and not to neglect the
cleanliness of the cage.
If the issue is that tubes in a plastic cage get dirty because the litter
gets dirty, that's different. Dirty litter can incline a hamster to make a
mess elsewhere in the cage or can dirty the hamster's paws and pass along
to the rest of the cage. But dirty litter isn't the cage's fault.
A common problem is rattling caused by the metal lids of the old Habitrail
cages (especially when a hamster is trying to open the lid). The new
cages have plastic lids that are more firmly shut than the old lids.
If you have the old cages, just use either *** bands or duct tape to
prevent the lids from rattling.
Next problem- lack of ventilation in the Habitrail tubes. Solution- don't
use long stretches of tubes. Try to keep tube junctions near cages and
other ventilated add-ons.
The only significant problems I see are that rare hamsters are too big for
the wheels and tubes and that some hamsters keep gnawing on the plastic.
A terrarium is best for big hamsters but gnawers might still be able to
live in a Habitrail. Young hamsters usually have to be trained not to
gnaw on the cages. I remove any of the add-ons when a hamsters gnaws on
them (ie if it bites on the wheel, it doesn't get to play with it). I also
make sure a hamster has plenty of things I encourage it to gnaw. I usually
give hamsters cardboard (no ink, wax or paint) or hard foods like dog
biscuits or a dried corn cob.