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Learning About Your Dwarf Hamster
Introducing the Dwarf Hamster
Many people have seen the common Syrian hamster and know what it is and what it looks like. However, not everyone has seen the Dwarf hamster, which is a little less common than that of the Syrian Hamster.
The Dwarf hamster originated in China. Northern China is very dry, making it easier for a Dwarf hamster to survive. Therefore, these hamsters are also known as "desert hamsters."
Dwarf hamsters are all different in sizes, colors, and have their own unique little personalities. In this article you will learn how to care for your Dwarf hamster and what his behavior is telling you. So, take a seat next to your little pocket pet and get ready to discover what his little world is all about!
Dwarf hamsters are very tiny, requiring only about an ounce of food per day. Keep in mind that it's very important that this one ounce of food is very nutritious; dwarf hamsters can be very active, and just like humans need a well balanced meal for energy, so does your furry little friend. This well balanced meal may include carrots, seeds, fresh raw vegetables, nuts, and grains. Just have fun giving your hamster a wide variety of healthy foods. However, just as there are certain foods you would not give your dog, those same foods must not be given to your hamster. Foods such as onions, potato spuds, grapes, and chocolate should not be given to your hamster. Also, try to avoid giving your furry little friend fatty foods such as cheese and meat. These foods can cause your hamster to become over weight, which can cause severe health problems.
Now that you know what to feed your hamster, lets talk about where that food may be disappearing to within minutes. Dwarf hamsters are hoarders. This means they like to hide their food. They may bury it in different corners of their cage, they may store piles of food in their play tunnels, and they will DEFINITELY store food in their cheeks, also known as their "pouch." Hamsters are very clean, tidy creatures. They want to be sure they store their food in places where they do not urinate or defecate.
Behavior Problems or Natural Instinct?
Dwarf hamsters, like humans, have many different moods. Once you get to know your pocket pet, you will gain a better understanding of exactly what his moods are judging by his behavior. Do hamsters get in a bad mood? YES! Although they don't have bills to pay or missing car keys, there are things that can be equally as stressful for them. You may be asking yourself "what does a hamster have to be upset about?" Well, maybe he just ate his last sunflower seed and those were his favorite food item you gave him, maybe he accidentally urinated where he planned to store his next meal, or maybe he forgot where he stored his last meal. This may seem silly to us but we have to remember that his world is very small, making the smallest disturbances seem like boulders crashing down on his world.
So, you may be wondering what behaviors to expect from your hamster. Lets start with the hamster "squeak." When you reach into his cage, first let him know you're there. Dwarf hamsters can't see very well so they may not see you coming causing them to react by biting. At about 6 inches away from your hamster start shuffling his bedding around to make noise so he will know you're there. Hamsters are very curious so they will immediately run to where all the commotion is taking place. Lay your hand down, palms up and let your furry friend crawl into your hand. If he begins doing the hamster "squeak" and rolls over onto his back, this means he is feeling threatened or he's in a bad mood and he may bite. Simply walk away for about thirty minutes, then try again.
As we discussed earlier, hoarding is a natural instinct for your Dwarf hamster. This behavior cannot be changed or stopped. Before giving your hamster more food, check his bedding for hoarded food. Not doing this can cause your hamster to become over weight.
Storing food in his pouch is also a natural instinct. When you pick him up if you see little pieces of food falling out of his mouth, don't panic, your little pocket pet did not just vomit in your hand. This can happen if they are frightened or if their pouch has become too full. Simply discard the food they dropped.
Dwarf hamsters enjoy running around in their plastic hamster ball. You may notice that they defecate in their ball as well. As mentioned earlier, Dwarf hamsters are very tidy so they would rather defecate in their ball than in the place where they spend most of their time. When your hamster is finished running around in his ball, simply wash it out and set it on a towel to dry.
Why is my hamster running and climbing frantically around his cage? Your hamster is happy! Sometimes this behavior may seem like you're little furry friend is upset, but on the contrary, this means he is happy and loving life! So, just sit back and get a good laugh out of his acrobatic skills!
Keeping Your Hamster Happy
Variety is the spice of life for Dwarf hamsters. They get bored easily do things to keep their interest. Change where you place their chew sticks or hammock every week. Give them a different vegetable, seed, or fruit every day. Each time you buy new bedding, change the type of bedding you buy (don't buy cedar chips for your hamster's bedding - they are allergic to cedar which can shorten their life span). Another way you can add some variety is to buy different play tubes to attach to your hamsters cage. Each brand of cage should come with different play tubes you can purchase separately.
Don't be afraid to hold and play with your little pocket pet. Once you've had your hamster for a while he'll begin to trust you. Once that trust is established he'll be crawling all over you, and may even fall asleep curled up in the palm of your hand.