Pet Hamster 101
Hamsters are very fun pets to have! Personally they are my favorite rodents. There are also varieties to choose from: from the smallest type of hamster, the dwarf hamster, to the larger teddy bear and black european hamsters, all of them are equally great. Hamsters live about 2-31/2 years and are nocturnal like mice. The name 'hamster' comes from german and means "to hoard" since hamsters hoard extra food in their cheek pouches. You can tell they are hoarding food in their cheeks when their face looks puffier! Hamsters are funny little creatures that are enjoyable to watch and to take care of.
Here Are Great Hamster Accessories On Amazon!:
Here are all the supplies you need to properly care for you hamster:
- A large sized cage made for hamsters (or rats.) One of the things that makes having hamsters so fun, is all of the fun cages and accessories you can get for them. From glow in the dark cages to hamster furniture sets, the possibilities are endless. Just be sure the cage has no pokey, rusting wires or escape routes. Although larger than mice, hamsters can still flatten their bodies to fit through the same sized holes and cracks.
- A proper sized hamster wheel. In the wild hamsters are known to run at least five miles per night! So wherever a pet hamster is, shall there also be a wheel! The ordinary wire metal wheels do begin to squeak loudly which can be a bit annoying in the night. So I would buy one of the plastic wheels such as the Silent Spinner.
- Pine and cedar-free bedding as the oils in pine and cedar beddin are toxic to them (and all other small caged pets for that matter.) I've stuck with the Carefresh brand Pet Bedding for about 6 years. It's %100 safe for your pets and the environment, last twice as long, and absorbs 3 times more moisture and bedding than other beddings. Ive had only positive results with this brand.
- A water bottle with the metal tube and the metal ball at the end. Check often to be sure the water is not blocked. A tip on these is that after you fill them with water, turn them right side-up and tap the side of the bottle a few times to create a vacuum in the tube, releasing air bubbles so the water can be dispensed. Do not use dishes/bowls for the water. Cross contamination happens fast and bedding falls into the dishes often, absorbing the water and therefore dehydration sets in and can quickly become fatal.
- Safe chew items from petstores. The best chew items are wood blocks and apple orchard wood sticks. Hamsters have a need to chew since their teeth constantly grow and require trimming by chewing on objects. This is why, if they are not given items to chew, they resort to chewing the wires in their cage and sometimes getting hurt in the process. Also, if not given chew items, their teeth keep growing and wind up growing through the roof of their mouth or their bottom lip.
- Hamster food. Be sure the food you purchase your hamster, is formulated for hamsters and not mice or rats. Mice, rats, and hamsters all have different dietary needs. If it didn't matter then there would be only one universal bag. For an even healthier hamster, regularly provide washed lettuce, tiny carrots and raw (uncooked) noodles. Amazingly a dry food dog kibble here and there is a good nutrition boost. Avoid giving them romaine lettuce as it is poisonous to them, along with avocado. And if your not sure if a fruit or vegetable is poisonous or not to hamsters, always do research first.
- Food dish. Should be about 3 inches wide by an inch and a half deep. Porcelein is best since plastic can be quickly destroyed after being chewed on; Hamsters eat and drink often so be sure to check their food and water levels each day.
- Igloo or snak-shack hut. This is where the hamster will nest, sleep and stash its hoarded food as well as hide when it feels frightened.
*All of the above is the requirement of everything you will need in order to properly care for your hamster pet. One of the funnest things about owning a hamster is that you can buy an array of different toys and accessories to keep you and your hamster from every getting bored. Just be sure that you provide your pet with adequate space to run, explore, hide when tired or afraid, exercise, dig, eat and drink so that they are as happy and healthy as possible.*
Setting up the cage:
Now, when you set up the cage it's a good idea to rinse out the water bottle, food dish, and cage to be sure they're clean. Dry completely.
You might have to put the cage together (especially if you bought it in a box). If this is so, be sure that you do it properly and completely so your rodent cant escape or get pinched in the cage.
Fill up the water bottle and food dish. When filling the water bottle, don't fill it all the way to the top, fill it to about half an inch under the brim. This is to be sure that the air bubbles have a place to escape so that there is no obstruction in water flow.
Then evenly distribute the bedding in the cage leaving no cage floor uncovered. The bedding only needs to be 1 1/2-2 inches deep.
Now add a couple chew toys, you new happy hamster and enjoy!
10 Important things you need to know about hamsters:
- Hamsters are very territorial! It is best to have only one hamster per cage. If you want two, your best chances of that to work would be to buy two that were living together in close proximity in the same cage at the pet store. Even then, there is a possibility of them fighting for territory when you bring them home into the new cage.
- You will notice bedding starting to dissappear, and that the igloo is getting more and more full....this is natural; The hamster is simply making its bed softer and warmer.
- Hamsters can easily become dehydrated so keep track of their water. Some water bottles come with a little floaty ball so it is easier to find the water level at a glance. Signs of dehydration are: -Sunken-in eyes that are dull and not as bright as they should be.-Lethargy (where the rodent seems to be laying limply); Fatigued.-Droopy ears; A healthy hamsters ears are erect.
- As stated before, hamsters are highly territorial. Like us, they need much time to rest and sleep. So if they are disturbed/poked etc. when sleeping, they can bite!
- Remember that they are nocturnal which means that they are awake and active in the evening and night.
- Keep them from cold drafts and heat.
- Hamsters are at the bottom of the food chain so fall victim to snakes, dogs, and cats. Please keep them in a completely safe area where no cats can jump up and knock the cage over, or where dogs can tear the cage apart to get to them. Hamsters can even die just from the fright and shock that occurs when a predator tries to attack.
- Be gentle with them! They are small animalsthat can easily be hurt if dropped (no matter from how high up), and can be stepped upon. If you buy a run-about ball, make sure the lid is closed and cannot come open, and that the ball will NOT roll down the stairs! If the hamster is spun, kicked, dropped, or falls down the stairs while in the exercise ball, they can go into a state of severe shock or even die from broken limbs. Same happens if dropped from any height. Hamsters sometimes die from shock trauma as well.
- Hamsters are clinically blind and only see the best up to five inches in front of them. So keep this in mind always; especially every time you handle them.
- The better you take care of them and keep them as healthy as possible, the longer they will live. One of my old hamsters, Bear, lived 4 1/2 years!
All-in-all You Can Expect:
A very fun friendship! Hamsters are great at brightening a gloomy day. They each have their own personalities and habits that makes no two hamsters alike!
And with all the numerous toys and accessories you can buy them, such as playpens; cages with endless tubing systems; run-about balls; run-about cars and motorcycles!; race tracks; coconut huts and many many more, you'll find owning hamsters to become a hobby as well.