Life with your hamster will be very exciting, and looking after your pet will become easier as you become more acquainted with its personality and needs. Although we hope your time with these little animals will run smoothly, owners of all levels of experience need a bit of advice from time-to-time. The following information will help you answer six frequently asked questions about hamsters.
This article includes questions and answers on a variety of topics, from cage biting to recovering a lost pet. Hamster ownership can sometimes be a bit tricky, but it’s likely that someone else has had the same experience, so whatever it is, you’ll probably find a solution to the problem. Good luck!
Why Do Hamsters Bite?
Hamsters can bite when they’re scared, when they’re stressed, or when they’re confused. Sometimes a hamster will bite its owner and it will lead to a lot of fear and frustration on your part, but this needn’t be the case – if your hamster bites you, then there’s almost certainly a reason for it. Your hamster could be frightened, in pain, or simply uncertain how to react to you.
Knowing a little bit about hamster psychology will help you understand why your hamster has bitten you, and will also help you take steps to minimize the chance that this happens again. We’ve created a page that helps you understand a little more about what your hamster is thinking and feeling, and we hope it helps you improve your relationship with your pet.
If your hamster keeps biting the bars of its cage, then there may be some things that you need to do to improve your pet’s life. Gnawing on the bars of the cage can indicate one of a number of things, including boredom, a lack of space, or overgrown teeth.
Metal bars aren’t very good for your hamster’s teeth – they’re too hard to get through, and they can cause serious tooth problems by breaking them and pushing them out of their normal alignment. If hamsters regularly chew bars, then they can suffer from problems such as broken teeth, misaligned teeth, and mouth and facial injuries.
READ MORE: How to Stop Your Hamster From Biting
For the most part, your hamster will entertain themselves. However, lots of owners recommend that they are brought out of their cage and played with at least once every 24 hours. If your hamster is chewing its bars, then the first thing to do is take it out of its cage for some play time. Try increasing the frequency with which you play together with your hamster for a while, and see if this reduces the bar-chewing behavior.
Another thing to try is to provide your hamster with something to chew. Hamsters have very long teeth that are constantly growing, and if they don’t have enough hard food to chew then they’ll gnaw whatever they can get their paws on – if there’s nothing else thcan be can mean that your pet may resort to nibbling the bars of its own cage. A possible solution to this is to buy a hamster chew or gnaw. This is a special piece of wood that is safe for your pet to munch on, and allows your family pet a more comfortable, safer way of wearing down their teeth.
Finally, if you’ve tried the above two options for a few days, then your problem may be the cage itself. Your hamster may be trying to escape because their cage is too small – if they’re somewhere they don’t wish to be, and there’s no obvious way out, then the obvious thing that they’ll try to do is attempt to gnaw their way to avoid it.
If none of these options work, then you may want to purchase a large glass cage that doesn’t have any bars. These are often reclaimed aquariums, and thus are quite a good size, but it’s a good idea to get the measurements before you purchase any new home for your pet.
Why Do Hamsters Keep Falling Over?
The bucket trap is a method that lures your hamster into a little trap. The vestibular system is the set of tissues within mammals that help us balance.
If your hamster also tilts its head to one side and wobbles as it walks, then it has likely got a problem somewhere within its ears, such as an infection or tumor. Ear infections can often be treated by a vet through a course of antibiotics, but if it’s a more serious problem, like a tumor, then the problem may end up being more difficult to treat. We recommend that you take your hamster to the vet for diagnosis and treatment.
Another reason that your hamster could be a little unsteady on its feet is that it has recently suffered a stroke. If your hamster sways as it’s walking, tilts its head a lot, or walks in circles, then your hamster could’ve recently suffered a stroke. To find out more on strokes, check out our hamster illnesses article.
Why Do Hamsters Keep Scratching?
If your hamster is scratching itself repeatedly, then some of the most likely reasons include dry skin, mange, mites or some form of allergic reaction. What makes it a little harder is that your hamster will usually only move around at night – which means that if you’re trying to catch your hamster by sound you’ll have to wait until it’s dark to hear it moving around. This can be solved by smoothing a little bit of petroleum jelly on the back of their ears once per day. This should be enough to provide some relief to your hamster, and to keep the skin nice and hydrated.
There are lots of potential reasons for hamsters to stop moving temporarily: they can freeze both out of fear and surprise, or they are able to pause their movement so that they can listen more carefully to something that they’re unsure about. Sarcoptic mange is certainly caused by mites, and they cause lots of dry, irritated skin that is quite scabby and crusted. The mites are microscopic, but although they’re invisible to the human eye, they’re causing your pet lots of discomfort and pain, as they burrow under your hamster’s skin. It’s important to your pet’s health that this condition is treated quickly, as it’s very painful.
If your pet has dry, irritated skin all over its body, then the diagnosis could be non-mange mites. Mites are tiny little invertebrates that live on your pet’s pores and skin. In small numbers, this variety is not a problem, but in larger numbers they can be extremely uncomfortable for your pet. The skin on your hamster will become quite crusty, and they may be suffering from some hair loss. This can end up being treated by some medication given to you by a vet.
Another option is that your hamster is allergic to something in its cage. If your hamster has a poor reaction to something, then this could be the cause of the itching. Allergies can be dangerous if not treated or addressed. If the scratching is accompanied by anything like wheezing, sneezing, labored breathing, or discharge from the nose or eyes, then the problem scratching could be due to an allergy.
Don’t forget that your pet can be suffering from multiple health problems at once. For example, if they’re scratching as well as having a runny nose and trouble breathing, they could be suffering from a respiratory infection and a mite infestation at the same time. In the event that you can’t figure out why your family pet is scratching itself so much, then a vet will usually be able to provide you with a diagnosis.
Why Should I Give My Hamster A Sand Bath?
If your hamster is looking a little grubby, then you might want to give them the opportunity to clean themselves with a sand bath. Sand baths are the method by which hamsters would clean themselves in the wild – they don’t tend to enjoy water baths like we do! Water and liquids wash away lots of the special oils on their coat that are usually important to their health, and so removing these substances can cause your pet some skin problems. It’s best not to water-bathe your hamster unless it has got something harmful on its coat, such as for example human food that it shouldn’t digest.
Before you give your hamster a sand bath, you might want to question why your hamster is dirty. Are they not grooming themselves properly? Is their skin scabby? Are they losing their hair? Is usually the place that looks unclean around their rear end and genitals? If any of this is the case, then bath might not be what’s needed. The root cause of the grubbiness can be a health problem.
Watch your hamster for some time to see if it’s carrying out normal grooming behaviors.
- If it’s not cleaning its face with its paws, then it may have a leg injury that needs attention.
- If it’s not licking itself or reaching round to groom its back legs then it may have overgrown teeth.
- If your hamster is grooming itself as normal but is still looking grubby, then it may have a skin condition.
- Matted hair and balding could mean that your hamster has a problem like skin mites or sarcoptic mange.
- An unclean rear end is really a symptom of the life-threatening condition known as wet tail. However, if your hamster is showing thwill be freezing behavior to excess then you might want to get them checked by way of a veterinarian. If there are any worrying symptoms then we recommend you take your pet to notice a vet.
If you’re sure that your pet is in good health, then feel free to go ahead with the sand bath. Find a small container that your hamster can fit in, and fill it halfway to the top with sand – chinchilla sand is a good option if you can’t find one specifically for hamsters. Put your hamster in the little container, and it may then have a small bath of its own accord by squirming around in the sand. Some hamsters like these baths, and other’s don’t, so be prepared for your hamster not to take to it.
Why Do Hamsters Freeze?
Another cause of scratching is mange. Although you might want to alter your hamster’s environment to make it less stressful, there isn’t usually a problem with your pet’s health.
Identify what’s making your hamster untidy, and then see if you can use this symptom to figure out what your hamster is suffering from in our hamster illness section.
The normal cause of hamsters stopping still is fear. Is your hamster a new pet? If so, it’s in a very strange environment and there will be lots of things capable of scaring them, from new sights and smells to unfamiliar noises and people. Even if your hamster hasn’t becomeen brought into your home recently, there are still things that can make it nervous. For example, does your pet freeze a lot when the TV is on? Hamsters have good hearing, and so a dog barking on the TV, a loud bang, or even a strange noise could possibly be enough to give your family pet a bit of a fright.
If your hamster stops moving, then this could be in order to enhance their senses so that they can figure out what’s going on around them. Hamsters don’t have great eyesight, so they rely on their other senses more than we humans do, and if they aren’t moving, then they can better hear what’s going on around them. In the wild, freezing when they hear some sort of noise near them allows them to listen carefully to what’s going on, and by stopping their movement they can also reduce the chance they’ll be spotted by a predator.
How To Find A Hamster?
Hamsters are wily little creatures who are well known for their skills as escape artists. You’d be surprised at how they are able to fit into the tiniest of spaces and squirm into crevices in your home that you never even knew existed.
If your hamster’s ears are very dry and flaky, then this could just be a little bit of a dry skin issue, just as many humans get.
One of the most important things to do before you start looking for your hamster is to ensure that your other pets can’t find it either. If you have larger household pets, in that case your hamster is in danger and will need to be found quickly. As soon as you know your hamster has escaped, one of the first factors to do would be to remove other pets from your house temporarily, such as cats, dogs, large birds and ferrets.
One option is to put any other house animals you may have into their carry cases (especially cats, dogs, ferrets, large birds and reptiles) and put these in one room of the house. Check that room on your hands and knees, investigating every nook and cranny that you can find. Once you’re certain that your hamster will ben’t in that room, then you can let your other pets out of these have cases (unless they’re a danger to one another). It’s best to keep your other pets in this room until you’ve found your hamster, as they can do serious harm to your smaller pet.
If your hamster manages to escape, then there are some things that you can try before you search the rest of the house on your hands and knees. Below we’ll teach you how to use a bucket trap, but if there are lots of different methods owners have developed over the decades, such as surrounding treats with foil, or using a hamster’s wheel to hear when your hamster is in a certain area of your house.
A hamster that keeps falling over is often suffering from a problem with its vestibular system. As well as keeping dogs, cats, birds and ferrets out of the trap room, an absolutely crucial thing to remember with the bucket trap is that the bucket needs to be the right size, which is about nine or ten inches deep. This is a size at which the hamster can’t easily clamber out, but it’s also a size that means the hamster won’t hurt itself when it falls in.
Once you’ve selected the proper bucket, be sure to pad the bottom of it with towel or lots of very soft bedding.Try to find a good balance between providing padding for the pet and giving it too much so that it can use the material to climb out.
Next, you’ll need to put something delicious in the trap. This needs to be something with a strong odor so that your hamster can smell it and be tempted by it. This could be a slice or two of apple, or something such as broccoli. Be sure to keep this food fresh, as hamsters can get sick from eating moldy or over-ripe foods.
Next you’ll need to provide some means for your pet to reach the lip of the bucket. The easiest way to do this is to build a little stairwell with a few books. This way, your pet will clamber up the steps and fall into the little bucket onto the nice soft bedding. If you think your hamster is big enough to not be supported by a bit of tissue paper, you may want to put a sheet of this over the top of the bucket and place the treats on top of the paper, so that your hamster will undoubtedly be fooled by the paper ‘floor’ and head straight for the treat.
Check your bucket a few times a day to see if you’ve caught your errant pet. If the bucket trap trick doesn’t work, then you may need to set more bucket traps around your house (and exclude animals from more rooms) or locate your hamster manually by setting out its wheel and laying a couple of sound-trapped treats. If you listen very carefully, then at night you may be able to hear your pet scrambling around.
To prevent your hamster from escaping again, we recommend that you have a thorough look at your cage to determine how your pet escaped. It’s good practise to check your cage often so that you can make sure that there are no gaps that your hamster can escape through again. Hamsters can fit through truly tiny gaps and gnaw their way through wood and plastic, so if you spot an area of the cage that has been bitten and is looking quite thin, this might become a hole through which your hamster may soon escape.
You may also need to think carefully about where you place your cage. If your hamster is stressed or unhappy due to noise or light then it might have more incentive to get away from this area by escaping the cage. Have a good think about noise levels or whether or not any other pets can be scaring your little hamster. You may also want to think about how happy your pet is. Does it have got enough to do? Is its cage large enough? A hamster that keeps attempting to escape might not be happy in its little home.
READ MORE: Caring for Pet Hamsters