Complete Guide to Caring for your Hamster

Small, stocky rodents called hamsters can make wonderful pets if given the right care and medical attention. Although they can live up to five years, hamsters often survive only one to two years. Animals that prefer to burrow and store food at night include hamsters.

The Syrian hamster, commonly called the golden hamster, is the most prevalent species of hamster. Short or long hair can be found on Syrian hamsters (known as the teddy bear variety). Another prevalent kind of hamster kept as pets is the dwarf.


Size of Hamster Housing

Larger housing is always preferable, but hamster housing should at least include a 15–20-gallon cage with at least 150 square inches of solid (not wire) floor space. Given that hamsters are expert escape artists, you can utilize wire cages, aquariums, and plastic habitats if they offer a secure, escape-proof environment for your pet.

Housing must have adequate fresh air ventilation to prevent the development of odors from rotten food, excrement, and urine. With very few exceptions, hamsters should always be housed alone because they can be aggressively territorial and physically harm each other when they fight.


Hamster Bedding

Carefresh Natural Bedding, grass hay, and Fresh News Small Animal Litter are among the most preferred sleeping materials. Paper towels and plain, unscented, white toilet paper are also okay for short-term use.

Use of cedar or pine shavings is not advised since they contain aromatic oils that are extremely irritant to the skin and mucous membranes of hamsters. Furthermore, commercial nesting materials, sometimes known as “fluff,” should not be used because they could result in limb strangulation, pouch impactions, or intestine obstructions.

To allow the hamster to burrow and dig, bedding should be replaced 1-2 times each week, especially under hides. Hides are particularly crucial in the habitat since hamsters like calm, isolated spaces to sleep in.


Hamster Enrichment

Toys are a favorite pastime for hamsters, who use them for a range of activities including chewing, climbing, exploring, burrowing, and hiding. To give enrichment for their hamsters, many hamster owners utilize paper bags, cardboard boxes with holes cut out, hideaways, and paper towel rolls. Solid connecting tunnels can also enrich the environment, but they need to be cleaned every week.

Typically, hamsters prefer jogging on exercise wheels. To avoid injuries, only supply wheels with a stable running surface.

Hamsters can avoid boredom with regular enrichment and toy rotation.


Hamster Cage Temperature

The ideal cage temperature is from 65 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit, with a relative humidity of 40 to 70 percent. Torpor, which resembles hibernation in hamsters, can occur when the temperature drops below 40 degrees Fahrenheit.


Diet of Hamsters

Commercial meals, pellets, or blocks with 16% protein content are excellent for hamsters. Hamsters thrive on the popular block or pellet brands Oxbow and Kaytee. The calorie requirements of your hamster will depend on its size and health; nevertheless, most hamsters will require no more than about 2 Tablespoons of pellets every day.

For hamsters, seed-based meals are “formulated” and sold, however these should only be used as a supplement to pellets. Diets high in seeds often result in vitamin E insufficiency and obesity because they lack essential nutrients.

Additional fruits and vegetables can be given to hamsters as a supplement, but they should not make up most of their diet. Hamsters enjoy eating greens, seeds, carrots, apples, raisins, peas, peppers, and cucumbers.

Sudden dietary changes may cause diarrhea and intestinal problems, which can be serious and lead to the hamster’s death. As a result, be sure to gradually introduce each added supplemental food item.


Health Needs of Hamsters

The health of your hamster must be maintained with yearly veterinary visits. Your veterinarian will conduct a comprehensive examination, note your hamster’s weight, look for dental disease, and go through feeding and care. They can also help with nail care and early detection of medical issues.

Owners of hamsters may be perplexed by this anatomical distinction between them and other rodent species. On their hips, hamsters have elevated, pigmented glands that can resemble tumors or thinning hair. These are neither lesions nor dermatitis; they are smell glands. If these glands are not symmetrical or there are any additional issues, it is always an innovative idea to have a veterinarian examine them.

Hamsters, like many prey species, may conceal disease until it has sufficiently advanced. Hamsters in good health have bright eyes and are alert. They will look around the area and have a gleaming, clean coat. A healthy hamster will have no discharge from the nose or eyes, and its teeth and nails will be of regular length. If your pet exhibits any of the following symptoms: lethargy, breathing problems, nasal discharge, sneezing, decreased appetite, behavioral changes, or other worries, call your veterinarian at once.

Some typical hamster ailments may include: abscess and impaction in the cheek pouch, respiratory conditions, temporary diarrhea (due to diet), skin injuries, obesity, dental illness, eye problems, ringworm, dermatitis, urinary stones and heart conditions.

It is crucial to discuss any illnesses with your veterinarian. Keep in mind, hamsters can contract infections from people, most notably the COVID-19 and influenza virus. So, you’ll want to keep your distance from your hamster if you are sick.


Hamster Cleaning

Each day, the water sipper and food bowl should be cleaned and replenished. Most hamsters will sip water from a water bottle that is fastened to the cage’s side and has a lick spout. Weekly or as needed, cages should be cleaned. Hamsters dislike being exposed to filthy environments since it can lead to illnesses of the skin, eyes, and respiratory system. Be sure to keep 1-2 of the cage’s corners clear of the sleeping and eating areas, so that pets can urinate and defecate there.

To minimize respiratory and skin irritation, the cage must be properly rinsed after cleaning and dried before reintroducing a hamster. Diluted bleach (1 part bleach to ten parts water) is a good sanitizer for cages.

Regular brushing of hamster coats is recommended, especially for long-haired varieties. Additionally, hamsters require regular nail trimming. If your hamster’s nails overgrow or appear strange, call your veterinarian. Owners should keep an eye out for any growths in their hamsters, inspect their teeth for dental disorders, and examine their hind ends for feces or urine stains.

Unless your veterinarian specifically instructs you to do otherwise, hamsters normally keep themselves clean and do not need a second bath with soap and water. However, some hamsters, particularly Dwarf types, do take regular baths in sand made from chinchillas. When the hamsters are finished bathing, the sand needs to be removed from the cage so that it will not continue to irritate their respiratory systems.


Handling Hamsters

As nocturnal animals, hamsters can be easily startled if unexpectedly awakened. Since they have poor eyesight, it is advised to first converse with them before taking them up. Angered or poorly socialized hamsters will nip. Because of this, they are typically not good pet choices for young children.

Additionally, if managed aggressively, scared, or feeling sick, hamsters may bite. Owners can gently cup the hamster in their two hands when holding it. Hamsters have a lot of excess skin around their necks because of cheek pouches. The scruff of the hamster’s neck can be gently but firmly grasped to help restrain them; however, this should only be done for a brief period.


Offering modest, expensive rewards is a safe way to start with a new or young hamster. Daily management is crucial. The first benefit of touching hamsters is that it socializes, tames, and makes them friendlier. Some may even show affection and take pleasure in this time spent with their owners. Daily handling also enriches the ecosystem. This aids in preventing boredom, as does the regular switching out of toys. If a hamster is amenable, this daily connection should begin with brief, infrequent bursts, and progress to longer periods of time. This method of collaborating with infants typically results in docile, tame, and infrequently snappy hamsters.



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