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A Safe Hamster is a Happy Hamster

Updated on June 28, 2013
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Jeannie has been writing online for over 10 years. She covers a wide variety of topics - hobbies, opinions, dating advice, and more!

Safety First

Do you have a pet hamster or are you considering buying a new pet hamster?  If so, you need to take into consideration your pet's safety.  Hamsters are adorable, but they are also known for getting into trouble.  The best approach to owning a hamster is always staying one step ahead of your hamster.  You never know exactly what they are thinking, but sometimes you can imagine.

Escape Artists

Hamsters are great escape artists.  If you put them in anything, they are bound to try to find a way out.  Even if you think there is no way, trust me, where there is a will there is a way. 

When picking a cage for your little guy or little gal, you need to look at the wires.  If the wires are too far apart, your hamster can figure out how to squeeze through.  Even if you have a large hamster, have no fear, your chubby friend can still figure out a way to get out.  Currently, the wires on my hamster's cage are about a quarter of an inch apart from each other.  I had a cage with wires about half an inch apart from each other, but she kept chewing and trying to wedge her way out.  The smaller the distance of the wires, the better.  You also have some other options, such as all plastic cages or an aquarium.  You may find this suits you better, but be careful with the doors.

My hamster is brilliant at opening cage doors.  I have yet to find a cage with a door that she can't open.  She will gnaw through any door, or figure out how to work the latch.  Despite my frustrations, I have to admire her abilities.  The best recommendation I have for this situation is to get keychains and use them as "locks" for the cage.  The small circular kind works best.  Yes, it may be a nuisance taking that on and off the cage every night, but you know what is more of a nuisance?  Crawling around in the middle of the night searching for your hamster in every hole and corner is way more annoying than those keychains, I promise!


Wheel Safety

Hamsters love to run and they especially love the wheel. In most instances, a wheel will come with the cage. You may not decide to use that wheel if it is too noisy or it is unsafe. A good general rule with a hamster wheel is stay away from metal wire mesh wheels. I am not sure why pet stores still sell those things. I have heard numerous horror stories from pet owners about these wheels. A hamster can easily run too fast, get his or her leg caught in the wheel, and then they get stuck. Since the wheel is spinning with them in it, you can imagine the outcome is not pretty. The best you can hope for is a dizzy hamster. Of course, much worse can happen. Even if you do not have a pet hamster, these wheels are not safe for any rodents. I've heard of mice, rats, and gerbils getting their tails caught, as well. It can be especially dangerous if you have two rodents and they are playing on the same wheel at once.  One rodent keeps running while the other is caught.  It can be a tragic situation.

Let the Adventure Begin!

Of course, part of the fun of having a hamster is letting the hamster out of the cage to play. I would highly recommend buying a playpen for your hamster. These are available at any pet store and it gives your hamster about 4 square feet to play. Naturally, they will figure out how to get out of the play pen, so you must keep an eye on them. My dwarf hamster used to shimmy her way up the wires and leap. My teddy bear hamster just pulls the play pen up and tries to crawl under. Never a dull moment with hamsters!

Hamsters also love hamster balls, hamster cars, hamster carriages, etc. Make sure to watch them well when they are rolling around in those, too. If you have other pets, like a cat or a dog, you want to make sure they are in another room when the hamster is rolling about. Also, you need to make sure your hamster hasn't figured out how to open the door on the ball, too. Trust me, they will figure that one out. Some tape across the door works nicely.  Please remember to limit your hamster's time in the ball.  Your hamster can become overheated, especially if it is a hot day.  Another good rule is to keep the hamster ball with hamster indoors.  Not only can the sun be too harsh for your pet, there are other animals outside that are looking for a snack.  Don't let your hamster be that snack!

You can learn a lot about a hamster just from supervising their "out of cage" activities. For instance, my hamster heads into the bathroom every time she is in the ball. So what does this tell me? When she escapes from the cage, she will probably head straight to the bathroom. This is one of her favorite hiding spots.  She likes to try to climb in the bathtub.  I guess she likes the smell of my shower gel and thinks it's food.

If you like to let your pet crawl up your arm or leg, be sure to keep an eye on them. Hamsters have very poor depth perception. Your hamster may be scampering up your arm and decide to take a quick detour. If your hamster is a jumper, you want to make sure you stay close to the ground with him or her. If your hamster is a biter, DO NOT throw the hamster if you get bitten. I know it hurts, but the hamster does not understand that. Gently put the hamster back in the cage, scream and yell, clean the wound with an antiseptic, and bandage it up. You also want to remember what you were doing that provoked the hamster so you can avoid it in the future. Sadly, some hamsters are just biters. It doesn't mean they aren't wonderful pets. You just need to work with the hamster.

Fun with Hamsters

Now that you've learned all about hamsters, I am sure you are running out right now to get one. Just remember, hamsters are a big responsibility. Sometimes you see an adorable rodent in the store and you think they must be easy pets to own. That is not always the case. Hamsters can be a lot of work, but they are also wonderful pets. They are cute, furry, and very personable. Just remember to make sure you have your pet's safety in mind whenever you are buying a new hamster product. A safe hamster is a happy hamster. Your hamster will thank you. Well, your hamster would thank you if he could talk, that is.

Copyright ©2011 Jeannieinabottle

Want to prevent a hamster escape or find a missing hamster? Check out my eBook on Amazon: Tips on Finding a Missing Hamster


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