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Habitrail, a product made by the Hagen corporation, is a series of translucent plastic tubes and "houses" for use in home terrariums, designed specially for small pets, such as mice or hamsters. The design of the Habitrail is modular and can be configured however the owner likes, as well as disassembled for cleaning. The Habitrail is meant to mimic the habitat of the animal in question, usually a warren, or series of underground tunnels. The mascot for Habitrail is "Herbie the Hamster", who even has a video game based on him called Habitrail Hamster Ball produced by Data Design Interactive in 2005 and released for the PS2, and the PC.
Large Habitrails may contain multiple bathroom spots chosen by the pet, and a good Habitrail should incorporate small holes and metal bars to increase ventilation. Habitrails do not make good cages for gerbils, due to the tendency of these animals to chew obsessively.
Innovative features, including the bed, food area, and hamster wheel, make excellent use of the small areas. Use of clear plastics also make it easy to see the hamster scuttling around the various pods and tunnels.
Although Habitrails make fun and unique homes for hamsters or mice, they are rather small. This tends to be a problem for Syrian hamsters, who may not be able to fit through the tubes. This is typically common for pregnant Syrian hamsters. They often get lodged into the small and narrow mazes, making it quite an issue to get them out. Habitrails do not work well for dwarf hamsters, such as the Roborovski and White Russian types, as they can not climb up the tubes. In 2007, the Rolf C. Hagen Corp. updated the venerable Habitrail by introducing the Habitrail OVO, which features a very contemporary modular design that makes it easier to observe hamsters and maintain their housing.
Habitrail cages are currently one of the most popular and iconic small rodent cages available; however, since the release of the Habitrail OVO the company has received a large number of complaints regarding their products, such as the tubes being far too large for dwarf species of hamster while also being too small for adult Syrians (particularly pregnant or overweight hamsters), for whom the Habitrail OVO was designed, leading to many hamsters being unable to access the water supply. However, after the growing popularity of the four dwarf species, Habitrail made a similar cage to the 2007 model with narrower tubes, specially designed for dwarfs. Many purchasers also soon find that the products are much smaller than they were led to believe. This is reinforced by the fact that the cumulative room does not meet, or indeed come close to, the recommended floor space that many organisations set, such as the RSPCA.
The word "habitrail" is also used in reference to enclosed pedestrian walkways, particularly those with few or no side branches, offering no personal choice of route, and those interconnecting unpleasant workplaces such as factories and office buildings.
The Habitrail has become such a long-running institution that the name has almost become a generic word for any maze-like tubular structure: for example, "habitrail" is a common term for the raised wire-form ball guide in a pinball machine.