Hamster Basic Care
A hamster is a very common first time pet to own. Children usually want a hamster for a pet, because they are adorable. It will teach your child responsibilities at a young age. When you find the hamster you want, make sure to be prepared before you bring one home. Do not have more than one in a cage, because hamsters are territorial and will fight until death. Never house a different species of animal with a hamster. A hamster is a very simple pet to care for. They can live up to seven years with proper care. Most of them are super friendly if you treat them right.
You need to find a cage that is safe for your hamster. Hamsters can climb, but they will hurt themselves so find a cage that is long in width and short in height. A good cage size would be at least 30 inches long by 12 inches high. This cage needs to be escape proof, so the bar spacing has to be 1/2 inch. A one level cage is safer to prevent your hamster from falling and breaking a leg. To prevent escaping, zip tie the door shut every time. This can ensure that your hamster won't escape the cage.
Add one to two inches of bedding to the bottom of the cage. Use aspen wood shavings, recycled newspaper pellets, or Care fresh bedding. This will prevent any dust that can cause respiratory infections. Purchase organic cotton so your hamster can use it to nest. You will need to change this bedding every two weeks.
Find a ceramic heavy food dish. This can prevent your pet from tipping it over and making a mess. A attachable water bottle is good to have as well. This can prevent the bedding from getting wet. Change the water every other day.
Purchase a hide out for your hamster. Make sure this hide is large enough for your pet to fit in. People usually buy a plastic igloo. I prefer to use a wooden hut, because it will provide your pet more privacy. Place the hide out in a corner on the bottom floor of the cage.
Hamsters need a wheel to run on. They love the exercise and will run every single night. I suggest finding a quiet wheel, because hamsters are nocturnal and will be up all night. Find a wheel that has no holes in it. This will prevent your pet from getting its feet caught and can prevent injury.
You will need to purchase a lava ledge, because hamsters need something to grind their teeth down. A hamster's teeth never stop growing. A lava ledge is the safest item that you can find for your pet to chew on.
Tubes and toy balls are great for your hamster. She/he might get bored through out the night and play with them.
Exercise balls are great for your hamster to be in outside the cage. Find a exercise ball that is the appropriate size for your pet. Your pet will run around for hours inside the ball. You may need to empty the ball to remove any poop. Keep an eye though and make sure the ball doesn't get stuck anywhere or go down any stairs. Never throw the ball or kick it. If you hamster has troubles learning how to use the ball, gently push the ball around with your foot or your hands.
Feeding Your Hamster
Your hamster will need a good diet to stay healthy. You will feed a pelleted diet or fresh food. You can feed both, but make sure you do not over feed. A high quality pelleted diet should contain 12-15% protein and 3-6% fat. Feed this diet about 1/3 cup of a day with a fresh serving every night. Fresh foods are great for a hamster along with a pelleted diet. Do not over feed or your pet will have health issues. You need to make sure the fresh foods are prepared correctly. You will need to chop, slice, peel or remove seeds. The table below will show what is appropriate and safe foods that you can feed.
Cabbage (limited amounts)
Chips & Junk Food
Peaches (no stone)
Plums (no pits)
Raspberry Leaves (helpful for diarrhea)
Clover (not from outside)
Handling And Bath Time
Do not give your hamster a bath to often. It will cause the oils to be stripped from their skin. Fill the sink two inches of luke warm water. Use a teaspoon of baby shampoo and gently give your pet a bath. Do not keep your eye off of your pet, because your pet can drown. Use a towel to dry your pet and let your pet completely dry before returning him/her back to the cage. You can also use a damp cloth to wipe your pet down if needed. Only give your pet a bath once every few months.
Hamsters will bite when threatened, so be prepared. While your hamster is out of the cage, be sure to keep a close eye at all times. Handle your pet gently and calm. Let your hamster roam around of your lap. Make sure your couches are covered, so your pet can't escape.
You can clean the cage however you like, but the easiest way to do it is in the bathtub. Remove everything from the cage and make sure to have someone keep an eye on your hamster. Use hot water and dish soap. Let the cage soak. Throw any bedding away and remove any food. Wash everything else using the same method. Let everything completely dry before putting everything back together.