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How to Choose Food, Water, and Bedding for Your Hamster

Updated on June 12, 2013
In this photo is a beautiful Teddy Bear Hamster ( Male )
In this photo is a beautiful Teddy Bear Hamster ( Male )

How To Choose Food, Water, And Bedding For Your Hamster

If you give a hamster proper care and attention it will grow to love you and be your best friend. Also keep in mind that all Syrian Hamsters must be housed along as they are very territorial and will fight to the death. Dwarf Hamsters can be housed together in a small colony. Keep in mind that Golden Hamsters, Teddy Bear Hamsters, and Syrian Hamsters are one in the same animals. If you put either of the three in the same cage or enclosure they will kill each other. Syrian Hamsters become territorial at 4 - 5 weeks of age and they will start fighting and they will fight to the death.

Housing For Your Hamster Friend

You can easily use one 10 gallon aquarium with a locking lid to keep one hamster in. If your going to be keeping several Dwarf Hamsters together you need to have a tank of 20 gallons or larger. You have to allow room for your hamsters food dish, water bottle, a wheel for it to run on and other toys. If you have a wire cage the bars must be 1 cm or less or the hamster or hamsters will escape. You need at least four inches of bedding in your hamster cage or enclosure. You should use CritterCare, CareFresh, or shredded newspaper. You will see people use wood shavings for hamsters but this is not good for the hamster. Wood shavings can cause health problems for your hamster as can the oil in the wood shavings.

You need to be very sure that the cage or tank is escape proof. You will need a heavy duty wire top because reptile cage tops will not work. They will just chew through it and you will never find or capture a hamster that gets loose in a three bedroom house. If you have a cat it will most likely capture the hamster before you do. So be sure that your hamster enclosure or tank is escape proof.

Hamsters love toys. If they are small enough they will love the cardboard tubes that come in toilet paper or paper towels. Mice also love them as toys. You can also hang small metal bells securely in your hamsters cage or enclosure and also small mirrors. Hamsters love looking at themselves in a mirror. I think they think they are looking at another hamster. Most hamsters love the plastic balls that you put the hamster in and then they walk the ball all over the house. It drives the cat crazy to see the hamster in the clear plastic ball rolling it around the house.

Hamsters make wonderful pets. In time you'll see your hamster watching for you to come take it out of it's enclosure or tank. I have one large Teddy Bear male that follows me all over the house and he loves to get in one of the plastic balls and he rolls it all over the house. I've got him in a large enclosure with multiple tubes he can crawl through and he just simply loves his big nice house with all it's tubes, built in wheel and little rooms.

Mother Hamster With Her Two Babies In This Photo
Mother Hamster With Her Two Babies In This Photo

In case you don't know the average adult hamster is 4 - 5 inches long and they will live 2 - 3 years. They are really clean animals and one thing you'll notice about them is they will be constantly cleaning themselves. I think hamsters smell like peanut butter.

It is possible for hamsters to carry infectious diseases so be sure to wash your hands with lots of warm soap and water anytime you handle your hamster or anything in it's cage. Be sure to wash your hamsters enclosure or tank with a bleach solution at least once a week. Make your bleach solution five parts water and one part bleach. Be sure to wash all surfaces with the bleach solution and then wash it clean of the bleach smell with plenty of cold running water.

A well balanced hamster diet should consist of a high quality commercial hamster food and smaller amounts of grains, fruits, vegetables, and timothy hay. Never give your hamster alcohol, chocolate, or caffeine. These things can make your hamster sick and could kill it.

Never give your hamster anything but chlorine free water. I always use bottled water and never water out of the spigot. Your hamsters water should be changed on a daily basis. You will only have to change your hamsters water as needed if your using a gravity water bottle for your hamster.

You should make sure that your hamster always has fresh clean food and water available. Any fruit or vegetables not eaten in 24 hours should be taken out of your hamsters cage or container and discarded.

Your hamsters cage, tank, or enclosure should never be in a drafty area or in full sunlight. You really don't need a light in your hamsters cage or enclosure but you do need to make sure your hamster stays between 60 - 75 degrees. Much below 60 degrees and the hamster will get chilled and it could get sick and die.

I use shredded paper to go in the bottom of my hamsters cage. I shred newspaper through my paper shredder and it's that paper that I use for bedding for my hamsters cage or enclosure. You will see your hamsters constantly working moving their bedding, food, and other things in their enclosure or tank.

Hamsters Teeth Health

Be sure that you keep plenty of wooden chew sticks in with your hamster or hamsters. They chew on items almost constantly to keep their incisor teeth healthy. Their incisor teeth grow all throughout their lives so you must provide them with something to chew on. If you think your hamsters incisor teeth or nails are too long take the hamster to your veterinarian to be checked.

Signs Of A Healthy Hamster

1. It is normal for your hamsters teeth to be yellow. No you don't need to and shouldn't attempt to clean them. You should keep plenty of wooden chew sticks in with your hamster for it to chew on. Below are some great hamster chew sticks for you to choose from.

2. A healthy hamsters breathing is clear and it walks normally.

3. Your hamster should have healthy fur and clear eyes.

4. Your hamster should eat and drink on a regular basis.

5. Yes it's normal for your hamster to sleep in the day time. Hamsters are nocturnal.

6. Your hamster should be active, alert, and sociable.

7. If your hamster appears to have a wet tail it needs to go to the veterinarian.

Ask ahead of time if your local veterinarian treats small animals like hamsters. Some won't so always ask before you need a veterinarian.

Your Hamster Needs Wooden Chew Sticks In Order For The Hamsters Teeth To Stay Healthy.

Hamster on his wheel listening to see what is going on.
Hamster on his wheel listening to see what is going on.

Common Health Issues For Hamsters

If your hamster is losing patches of hair it may have mites. If it does it needs a trip to a veterinarian and you need to take its cage or enclosure outside and clean it with warm soapy water. This is one of the reasons you should use care before you buy a new hamster and only buy healthy hamsters. But you can get rid of mites.

If you see your hamster urinating frequently and its laying around a lot you need to consult with a veterinarian. This is one of the main reasons for learning everything you can about hamsters and make sure that you feed your hamster a healthy diet. Avoid giving it candy and similar treats.

I can not stress enough that you must provide your hamster with wooden chew sticks so it can chew on them on a regular basis and keep it's teeth healthy. If you think a hamsters teeth are getting overgrown take it to see a veterinarian. You should do the same with it's nails.

If an otherwise healthy hamster suddenly experiences a weight loss take it to see the veterinarian. You should do the same if you see its tail become wet and stay wet or if it seems to have diarrhea on a regular basis.

I don't want you to think your going to have your hamster at the veterinarian all the time. You may never have to take a well cared for healthy hamster to the veterinarian. If you provide it with the correct food, clean water, an exercise wheel and maintain it in a healthy clean environment your hamster can remain healthy. You can expect your hamster to live for 2 - 3 years.

Breeding Hamsters

If you keep a male and female hamster together you will have babies. A pregnant female needs to be in her own cage where she can have and raise her babies on her own. You can either try to sell the baby hamsters or give them away. Just please be responsible with who you give them to. If you don't want baby hamsters then keep the male and female hamsters apart.

Prepare Before You Bring The Hamster Home

Be sure to have everything ready for your hamster before you bring it home. You should have the tank or enclosure set up and ready before you bring the hamster home. You should already have the hamsters home, a exercise wheel, wood chew sticks, the hamsters food, and a gravity water bottle when you bring the hamster home. If your well prepared you will have a healthy happy hamster.

Look at your hamster carefully before you purchase it. The hamsters fur should all be there with no patches of missing fur. The hamster should have healthy teeth and it should be docile. Be sure if it's a young hamster that its old enough to live its mother and that it is eating well. I suggest putting your new hamster in his home with food and water and you should leave it along for at least 24 hours before you try to handle or hold it. If your scared of getting bit wear gloves until you and the hamster know each other. Please use care with children that they don't drop the hamster. And remember hamsters are escape artists. Be sure to lock its cage or enclosure doors. You need a heavy duty locking top on a tank. A reptile tank cover will not work. The hamster will just chew through it.

Hamsters Are Nocturnal Animals

Your bedroom is probably not a great place for your hamster unless you are nocturnal to. They can be quite noisy at night so keep this in mind.


If you have questions about your hamster feel free to post them below and I will try to answer them quickly.

Thanks For Reading My Hub Page On Hamsters

I appreciate you being here and reading my Hub Page on Hamsters. I also want to caution you to keep learning everything you can about hamsters if you are going to be keeping a hamster or hamsters in your home. Always keep doing research and I suggest keeping a journal. If you ever have suggestions, tips, or questions feel free to post them below.

About The Author

Thomas Byers aka Crazyhorsesghost has been keeping exotic animals, reptiles, and etc for almost fifty years now. He is an authority on hamsters and similar small pets and animals. At the time of this writing he has over 500 hamsters all healthy and happy. He is also involved in venomous reptile research and he has all kinds of other animals.

This Hub Page Is Dedicated To Socks, A Wonderful Tomcat And Friend

Socks was one of the best friends a man could ever have. He lived for 17 years and he was the smartest cat I ever had. He loved playing fetch, swimming, yes swimming, long showers with me, and he was hooked on the Cartoon Network. He had his own TV and would turn it off when he was finished watching it. Unfortunately after a long battle with feline diabetes he passed away on December 7th 2012. I will always remember him and miss him. Fortunately I have his great grandson who has now moved into the house with me. I will have to see how things work out with Felix. Thanks Socks for always being a wonderful friend who was always there for me.


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