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Are You Ready to be a Hamster Parent?

Updated on January 12, 2015

When preparing to become a hamster mommy or daddy, there are several things that you need to take into consideration. Before you become a hamster parent make sure that you do plenty of research and ask questions before making your purchase.

Some things that you will need to know and consider are as follows: hamsters are solitary creatures and if they are not from the same litter (and sometimes when they are) they will not live together, they will dominate and even kill any hamster in his or her territorial. They are extremely territorial, meaning that they are selfish and do not play well with others. A simple rule to follow is to remember that hamsters, unless they are from the same litter and this could still be an issue, can never be housed together.

So when you find your hamster, make sure he or she has plenty of room. When hamsters live in the wild they have separate chambers in their burrows for eating, sleeping, and using the restroom. Their burrows are usually extremely large so you need to make sure that your hamster's cage is at least 24 inches long and 12 inches wide (a ten gallon tank is too small).

When you are ready to choose your hamster's home, a 20 gallon (or larger) fish tank makes a great home because your hamster will have plenty of room to roam. You can use Habitrail and Critter Trail cages but make sure you have at least three and plenty of tunnels for your hamster to run around in.

Now that your hamster's home is taken care of, what should put in the home? You want to use bedding but say away from pine and cedar because hamsters have respiratory problems and these can be harmful to your hamster. The best beddings to use are natural paper based beddings and aspen shavings, but make sure the shavings are not too large or it could hurt your hamster. They are little guys after all. You also want to make sure that you hamster's home has a wheel (silent spinners are great) because this is the only way for your hamster to get exercise. Another great thing to have in your hamster's home is a tunnel (or igloo) that he or she can sleep in, small toys (but do not overload his or her home), food (a small amount because they are pigs) and a non-leaking water bottle.

Another thing to consider is the location of your hamster's home. The ideal temperature for your hamster is between-75 degrees Fahrenheit, and the home should not be around excessive heat or cold. Also, hamsters do not like a lot of light so make sure they are not in direct sunlight and remember, hamsters are active at night and they can see in the dark. Since they are active at night, you might not want to put your hamster in your room and if you do, a Silent Spinner is great for you and your hamster! NEVER take the wheel away from your hamster since this is his or her only source of entertainment and exercise.

When handling your hamster it is important to tame him or her first. Do not make fast movements because they are easily frightened. Also, make sure you are sitting when you are finally able to pick your hamster up; they do bite and it is naturally to get scared and drop your hamster. So try to hold the hamster low to the ground IF you hold it at all.

Important Things to Know

  • If you use a wire cage make sure the wires are close together so your hamster cannot escape and so he or shes does not get his or her foot stuck, the hamster will chew his or her foot off if this occurs.
  • Make sure your hamster has air, do not cover his or her cage.
  • Make sure you are PHYSICALLY and FINANCIALLY ready to be a hamster parent. You should also be MATURE enough to handle the responsibility that comes with having hamsters.

Syrian Hamster


Types of Hamsters

There are actually 24 (if not more) rodents that are classified as hamsters. When you decide to shop for a hamster there are about five types of hamsters that are found in pet stores.


These hamsters are large and can grow to be around 6-7 inches in length. Syrians are usually golden brown with white undersides but they come in a variety of colors. They are known as "Teddy Bear Hamsters" because of their long hair but come in a variety of hair lengths. Syrians live for about 2-2 1/2 years and they prefer to live alone. These are very friendly little guys and are very common in the hamster world.


These are the little guys, they are dwarf hamsters and are usually 3-5 inches long. The majority of Campbells are grey with white undersides and live for 1 1/2-2 years. They can live with other hamsters from the same litter but can also live alone. Note: dwarf hamsters are not easily tamed and can be difficult to manage.

Winter Whites

Winter Whites are also a dwarf hamster and they are often called Siberian hamsters. These dwarf hamsters grow up to 4 inches long and they are typically white with a grey or brown stripe running down their backs. Winter Whites live for about 1 1/2-2 years, and can live with hamsters from the same litter or alone.


Roborovski, or Robo Hamsters, are very small and very quick hamsters. These guys take patience and time. A Robo hamster can grown to be 4 inches long and they are usually varying shades of brown. The life span for a Robo hamster is usually 3-3 1/2 years. Robos can live with hamsters from the same litter but prefer to live alone. Note: These guys are fast, curious and take a lot of work. I would not suggest a Robo for a new hamster parent.


The Chinese hamster is typically 4-5 inches in length, they are dark grey with a dark stripe running down their back and they have longer tails than other hamsters. The Chinese hamster will typically live 2 1/2-3 years and loves to live alone. The Chinese hamster is gentle, sweet, and is a wonderful hamster to have.

For more information please visit


What Should You Feed Your Hamster?

Although hamsters can eat hamster food, the majority of these foods are full of sunflower seeds, which they love, but sunflower seeds are fatty and can harm the hamster in the long run. If you choose to feed your hamster store bought, pre-packed food it is a good idea to pick out the sunflower seeds and use them as a treat and a training snack.

Various Foods for Your Hamster (Store Bought and Natural).

  • Pellets
  • Mixed Seeds and Grains
  • Timothy Hay and Alfalfa
  • Fresh Foods
  • Snacks and Treats
  • Dietary Supplements

Your New Hamster Can Eat the Following:

  • Apples (seedless) chopped very small
  • Banana (chopped very small)
  • Blackberries
  • Blueberries
  • Cantaloupe (Chopped very small)
  • Cherries
  • Cranberries
  • Grapes (seedless)
  • Lychee
  • Mango
  • Melon
  • Peaches (no stones)
  • Plums (not pits)
  • Raspberries
  • Raspberry Leaves
  • Strawberries
  • Asparagus
  • Bean Sprouts
  • Bok Choy
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage (Limited)
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Chard
  • Clover
  • Cucumbers
  • Kale
  • Peas
  • Romaine Lettuce
  • Squash
  • Zucchini

Your New Hamster Even Needs Protein.

  • Cooked Ground Beef (cooled and washed to remove grease)
  • Steamed, cooled chicken and fish
  • Mealworms
  • Boiled Eggs
  • Dog Biscuits

NEVER Feed Your Hamsters These Foods.

  • Almonds
  • Apple Seeds
  • Canned Food
  • Chocolate
  • Candy
  • Chips and Junk Food
  • Pork
  • Potatoes
  • Raw Beans
  • Eggplant
  • Fool's Parsley
  • Grape seeds
  • Avocado
  • Tomato Leaves
  • Citric Fruits
  • Watermelon
  • Jams and Jellies
  • Spices
  • Garlic
  • Onions
  • Leeks
  • Scallions
  • Chives
  • Pickles

For more information please visit this site:

Encore Gourmet Foraging Feast Hamster Food


The Best Toys for Your New Hamster

Your new hamster loves to play with store bought toys and toys that you make him or her. Before you run out and buy your hamster toys (or make them) you need to make sure that you know which toys he or she will like and if it is safe for your hamster.

Hamsters love....

  • Wheels (Silent Spinners are great)
  • Run-about toys (wooden and plastic balls, small of course)
  • Chew toys (wooden, paint, glue and pesticide free)
  • Climbing toys (ladders, slides, etc.)
  • Houses (hamsters love to hid and sleep in tight spots)
  • Plastic toys (non-toxic)
  • Sand (for digging and bathing)
  • Mineral blocks (for nutrition and biting)
  • Toilet paper rolls (for burrowing)

The list can go on forever, basically anything safe for your hamster that he or she can climb on, roll on, hide in, chew on, etc. will be great. If you have questions feel free to ask or contact a pet store.

When in Doubt Visit Erin's Animals on YouTube

Cage Variations

Choosing the right house for your hamster is very important. You have several types of cages to choose from: wire, plastic modular, aquariums, and cage-aquarium hybrids.

Wire Cages

  • Make sure there is half and inch or less space between wires
  • Make sure the floor is solid, as well as the platforms and ramps
  • Good for Syrians
  • Offer good ventilation
  • Easy to clean
  • Size needs to be a minimum of two feet


  • Size needs to be 24 inches long and 12 inches wide (not a ten gallon tank)
  • Needs a well fitting mesh screen for the lid
  • Good for dwarf hamsters
  • Keeps hamsters from escaping
  • Sadly the ventilation is not the best so it will need to be kept in a well ventilated area.
  • They will need tunnels.

Cage-aquarium Hybrids

  • Give you hamster room to roam.
  • Good for dwarfs.
  • Keeps hamsters from escaping.
  • They will need tunnels.
  • Poor ventilation so they will need to be in a well ventilated area.

The Humane Society website has tons of hamster related information that is great for a first time hamster parent.

Hamster Dream House


Running Around

Make sure your hamster has plenty of room in his or her cage, that he or she has a wheel and that you are able to provide a hamster ball for your new friend. If you have a dwarf hamster be sure to get a smaller ball and if your hamster is large do not cram him or her in a small ball. Give your hamster room to play!

Silent Spinners are Great for Hamsters and Parents!

Hamster Wheels

Make sure your hamster has a wheel, they need to run. Your hamster should have plenty of room so his or her back does not hit the bar inside the wheel or this could cause back problems for your hamster.

Happy Times Ahead!

The internet is full of information regarding hamsters and everything hamster related. This article is only the beginning, before deciding if hamsters are the right pet for you; do the research and make sure you are ready to be a hamster parent. When you are, you can find all the supplies you need online, at pet stores and on Amazon. I wish you love and happy times are ahead for you and your hammie!


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