Hamsters are a popular pet for families with children. Thanks to their cute appearance and low-maintenance care schedule, they make great pets. Although hamsters are a cute addition to any family, they do require special care.
Here are some tips on caring for your furry friend:
In order to be safe and comfortable, every hamster needs a cage to call home. As a general rule, the larger the cage is, the better. You can choose between a 10 gallon aquarium tank (with a wire mesh lid), a wire mesh cage or one of the more hamster specific homes with tunnels and different compartments.
Keep in mind that certain hamsters, such as Syrian hamsters, are solitary by nature and will fight to the death if placed in a cage with other animals. Dwarf hamsters, on the other hand, are sociable and will happily live with other dwarf hamsters (same sex best to avoid breeding).
The cage should be lined with a soft, absorbent bedding such as shredded paper or aspen shavings. Cedar or pine chips should not be used as they emit a strong scent, and can irritate a hamster’s nasal passages and eyes.
You should make sure there is enough room in your hamsters home for a wheel for plenty of exercise and a hideaway box for nesting / sleeping.
Hamsters are high-energy creatures that need a high-energy diet to match their lifestyles. They will do best on a store-bought hamster mix, which will contain a variety of cracked corn, seeds, grains and pellet-based foods.
In addition to the pellets, however, hamsters need a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables and will enjoy treats like carrots, lettuce, apples and even spinach. Sunflower seeds are an enjoyable treat too. Be careful never to give your pet hamster foods like raw beans, onions, chocolate, candy or rhubarb, as these foods are poisonous to them.
Fresh water should be available always and most hamsters are happy to use a purpose made inverted drinking container available from your pet store.
Hamsters will quickly dirty a cage and, for this reason, it is important that the cage be cleaned daily. Remove feces, old food and wet bedding every day in order to keep the space clean and hygienic. Ensuring that you maintain a soft, dry, clean environment for your pet hamster will go a long way toward ensuring their overall health. In addition to daily cleaning, the cage should be emptied completely every week and scrubbed thoroughly with warm soapy water in order to kill bacterial or germs that may be lingering on bars, floors, or toys.
Unlike humans and other animals, a hamster’s teeth grow continually, which means they will need to chew in order to slow growth and maintain dental health. In order to facilitate this for your animal, you will need to provide the hamster with something hard to chew on. Materials like twigs or dog biscuits are ideal, although untreated wood will work as well.
In the event that your little friend takes ill, do not delay getting him or her to your veterinarian. Signs of illness include lethargy; poor coat condition, decreased appetite, a wet perineum / tail area and increased periods of sleep or inactivity.
Not only do hamsters make great pets, but because they are so easy to care for, they make an ideal first pet for children as well as grown-ups. If you have recently adopted a hamster, follow these simple tips to ensure your furry friend is getting the best possible care.
Content reviewed by a veterinarian