An inconvenient hole in a hamster cage doesn’t need to end that cage’s use. Most holes can be repaired and the cage go on for many more years of use.
I have used several techniques for fixing holes in cages, both for holes chewed by hamsters and also holes created by manufacturers (in some cases created for purposes which still elude me).
The manufacturer’s hole that helped the hamster create her own exit in the main photo was intended to attach a wheel. I usually block these holes using wooden clothes pegs, but forgot to replace them after cage clean out – a lapse that the hamster took full advantage of!
1) Duct Tape
I use this on very small holes (1-2mm), often for ones pre-drilled by the manufacturer, such as in bases of the Savic Rody or on the plastic vent in the glass of some perfecto tanks. I’ve found that if a hamster can’t smell the outside world through the cage base then they are much less likely to start chewing. I only ever put the duct tape on the OUTSIDE of the hole in the cage base. I would then use the cage for a hamster who is more laid back (e.g. a male) and not put a hamster that chewed the hole back in!
For holes of 1-2cm a bolt and washers can be a very useful low-DIY method for securing the cage and preventing further trouble. There are various ways you can do this:
A bolt-on toy/chew, like this coop cup blocking a pre-made water bottle hole
A plain bolt and 2 washers, one inside and one outside (also blocking a pre-made water bottle hole)
Using a washer/toy and some wire. This photo is of an emergency fix I did. Personally I prefer the more secure way using a bolt as this did move a bit too much and still allowed a little chewing.
3) Plastic patches
Sometimes though the hole is just too big, or the wrong shape, or both! In this situation I use plastic patches. When I make a bin cage I always keep some of the plastic panels I cut out, just in case I need to patch a cage in future. I know some people who have used old plastic rulers or even expired credit cards/loyalty cards to patch cages.
First I cut the plastic patches to size, making sure they are a good bit larger than the hole. I cut two patches, one for the inside and one for the outside.
I prefer not to use glue on my cages (though I know others do use strong glue to secure patches). I use my soldering iron to melt the edges of the patch, slowly melting and pausing to let the melted areas cool enough to stick the patch to the cage as I work. Be careful as it’s really hot work – keep all pets/children out of the area and open the window for ventilation. Also take care not to melt the cage base too much and create further holes (I know it sounds obvious but I tend to get carried away with my soldering iron!)
When the patch looks like it’s secure, I check it over and melt any bits that are sticking up, uneven, sharp or anywhere that there is a gap. Make sure there are no gaps at all, even small ones. When I’ve patched one side, I then do the other. The patch outside the cage doesn’t have to be as smooth so I prefer to do that one first as a practice.
I recommend checking all cages regularly for signs that the hamster is starting to chew anywhere and taking action to prevent/fix any damage before it gets too big. Hamsters, however, can turn pristine plastic into a massive hole overnight despite your best efforts. If you have a cage chewer, I recommend a glass (not plastic) tank with a secure lid.
And yes, the bolts and securing strips on this lid have been essential. It’s my Hamcatraz cage – the one that the cheekiest destructive escape artists are moved to!