This is what it looks like out of the box, after I assembled it.
Amazon.com states, "Critter Trail Begin N Connect Habitat is an ideal starter home for your new hamster, gerbil or mouse." ( I don't agree with this, as the cage is too small, even for a "starter cage".)
The first thing I noticed was that the cage is called, "Begin N Connect", and I hope that a new hamster owner does not get this as a stand-alone cage for their pet. The thing with CritterTrail is that you really have to get at least two large cages to connect to make a decent-sized hammie habitat. Luckily I have two other cages connected to this, the CritterTrail Burrowing Maze and the Two Level Habitat. Both are connected with elaborate tubes and accessories. The cage itself, the one I got, is cube-shaped and small, and I cannot stress how terrible that would be for a hamster to live inside without extensions.
As far as assembly went, the cage was more difficult to put together. I would have preferred a clamp on each side, similar to the other cages by the same company. Instead there were strange plastic things that linked the top and bottom together.
As you might be able to tell in the picture, the one green plastic thing still popped out, no matter how hard I pushed on it.
Other than that, everything was in pretty good condition. It is safe for a hamster, perhaps not a gerbil or mouse though. The base was shorter than the other cages, which meant an agile mouse could hang on the door latch and pull it, which was secured by a small spring. My one concern is that the roof does not actually clamp onto anything. It lifts on and off and you have to take extra care to place it correctly over the sides or it may not line up correctly (allowing a potential escape). I do not have to worry about hamster escapes with my Mickey, as he does not like to climb cage bars.
The top of the cage had two openings closed by thin plastic that could be punched out. The CritterTrail line has accessories that fit in these holes, such as the Treat Dispenser.
The top of the cage was also a blue glittery color, the sparkles molded into the plastic.
There was a solid plastic wheel included as well. It was very sturdy and did not seem to make a squeaky noise when Mickey ran on it.
The base is purple. As I said before, it is shorter than the other cages, but Mickey, being chubby and a non-climbing type of hamster, didn't seem to notice the difference.
The cage also came with extra caps, both of which I did not use. These ones are red, the other ones I have are green, yellow, and blue.
I don't mind the extra cleaning, but I am unsure if I can get away with just unclipping the part on the green piece that connects to the base.
I don't know if the smaller rubber pieces on the green plastic will fall off during the process or not, so it may be wise to just assemble and take it apart every time I clean the cage.(every week)
I did read this customer review, and this is what they said about the assembly issue.
"Cute looking and colorful, appeals to kids but it is a HORRIBLE design. Every week I dread cleaning it because the poorly constucted cage literally falls to pieces as soon as you remove the bottom. Cheap plastic tabs are all that holds the separate peices of the wire cage together and it falls apart even when you are trying to be very careful with it. I would never buy this again even if it was half the price I paid. It is not worth it. Bought another cage for the same price and I LOVE it (it is called Tube Time and is larger and has more features) the wire part iteself is all one peice so it is a breeze to clean in a fraction of the time that ths awful one takes. I would only recommend this cage to someone who wants to be instantly aggravated when trying to assemble it."
I was able to assemble it pretty easily without too much trouble. You just need to put it in the right holes on the base, then slide in the green pieces. With just a little patience it will work out fine. I do agree about the cleaning bit, therefore I will just use a wipe or safe-for-pets spray solutions and a paper towel instead of dumping the entire tray into a trash bag.
I think the cage is a nice add-on that a CritterTrail cage user will appreciate in their setup. Of course, is Mickey happy with it?
Let's ask him.
Sniff sniff.... What an interesting cage...
Or maybe I could give the wheel a try.
Mickey gives it 4 stars, and I give it 4 1/2. I think it's great and gives him more room to roam.