Hamster Care Basics For Beginner Pet Owners

by Hamster Care

Hamster care basics

Hamsters make excellent pets if properly cared for and interacted with on a daily basis. There are 24 species of hamsters, with only a few of them being popular pets. Syrian, dwarf, and Roborovski hamsters are common. Their average lifespan is 2 to 3 years, but depends a lot on knowing how to care for hamsters. They are not difficult to care for, but you must be committed to meeting all of their needs.

Hamster cage requirements

The type of hamster habitat you choose, as well as what you put in it, have an impact on your hamster’s health. Syrian hamsters prefer to be alone and will frequently fight if they are caged with another hamster. If you want more than one Syrian hamster, they must be housed separately or separated by some sort of divider. Dwarf hamsters, on the other hand, are extremely social creatures who prefer to live in pairs. Bring home two hamsters of the same sex if you don’t want hamster babies.

A wire cage with a solid, deep-pan bottom is usually the best hamster habitat. Wire cages allow for more airflow, which helps keep bedding dry and prevents ammonia fumes from accumulating between cleanings. Another option that will keep the bedding inside the habitat is an aquarium, but the glass sides will reduce airflow. If you decide to use an aquarium, make sure it has a screen lid on top to allow proper ventilation and keep your hamster from escaping.

Give your hamster a variety of platforms to explore and climb on. If you’re using an aquarium as their habitat, a simple homemade wooden platform and ramp will suffice.

The bedding should be soft and absorbent. It is recommended to use bedding made of paper or aspen shavings. Pine and cedar shavings are toxic to hamsters, so avoid using them. Timothy hay is an excellent bedding option for hamsters if you want to supplement their bedding. The bedding, as well as any wet or stale food, should be changed daily. Clean the cage thoroughly once a week with warm, soapy water.

To avoid overheating, keep the cage away from direct sunlight, drafts, and other pets to avoid capture. The cage’s temperature should be between 65 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit, with a relatively low humidity level of 40 to 70 percent.

Habitat size

Bigger is always better, but the Animal Health Care Center of Hershey recommends providing at least 19 square inches of floor space per hamster. This amount of space means there’s enough room for your hamster to move around as well as all the accessories you’ll need. Your hamster’s head should not be able to squeeze through the bars and escape, and any doors should have locking mechanisms. Avoid cages with easily chewable plastic bars.

Hamster bedding

In order for your pet to burrow, their habitat should have 3 to 4 inches of bedding. Some of the safest bedding options for your pet include aspen shavings or recycled newspaper. Avoid using pine and cedar shavings because they emit harmful fumes.

Accessories for your hamster

Every hamster habitat requires some accessories to make it a suitable home:

  • Food dish and water bottle: Use a heavy ceramic dish that won’t tip over, and opt for a water bottle with a drinking tube, so your pet can have fresh water that isn’t filled with bedding and poop.
  • Exercise wheel: Hamsters need a lot of exercise, and a wheel gives them the best opportunity for exercising in their confined environments. To prevent injuries, choose a solid wheel rather than an open wire wheel. You’ll also find a variety of other exercise toys available to use inside or outside of your pet’s cage.
  • Hiding hut: Huts come in a variety of sizes and materials, but they all provide your pet with much-needed solitude. Plastic huts are easy to clean, but wooden huts provide something for your pet to chew on as well. Simply replace a chewed-through wooden hut.
  • Chewing items: Your hamster requires chewing to keep their teeth healthy. You can give them wooden chew blocks, pet-safe branches, and chew toys, as well as Timothy hay to chew on and burrow in.

Feeding your hamster

Nutrition is the first step in caring for a hamster. A healthy diet is one of the keys to keeping a happy hamster for a long time. The following guidelines will help you get started.

Feed high-quality hamster pellets

Your hamster’s diet should consist primarily of high-quality hamster pellets. These pellets are designed to provide your pet with balanced nutrition in every bite. You should choose pellets that contain 15 to 20% protein, according to CaringPets.org.

Amount to feed:

  • Dwarf hamsters: one-eighth cup a day
  • Large hamsters: one-third cup a day

Hamsters tend to hide food in their bedding and cheek pouches, so keep an eye out for any hidden food supplies to avoid overfeeding your pet.

Supplemental foods

You can also supplement your pet’s diet with a few fresh foods and cereals for added variety and nutrition, but keep this to a minimum so they continue to eat their pellets. A teaspoon of fresh food is sufficient several times per week, and any uneaten fresh foods should be removed after three to four hours to avoid spoilage. To avoid upsetting your pet’s digestive system, only offer one or two types of fresh food at a time, and wash all fruits and vegetables before chopping them.

Safe foods include:

  • Apples
  • Banana slices
  • Blueberries
  • Carrots
  • Kale
  • Peas
  • Raspberries
  • Squash
  • Strawberries
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Plain corn flakes
  • Plain Cheerios
Foods to avoid

According to the ASPCA, there are certain foods that are toxic to hamsters. These include:

  • Raw kidney beans
  • Raw potatoes
  • Chocolate
  • Onions
  • Rhubarb

You should also avoid giving your pet hamster mix. Despite being available at nearly every pet supply store, hamster mix contains a lot of fatty seeds, corn, and peanuts, and your pet will eat it instead of their pellets. Obesity and other health issues may result, potentially shortening their lifespan. If you can’t stop yourself from feeding hamster mix, limit it to 1 or 2 teaspoons per week as a treat.

Time and handling

It can be very entertaining to watch your hamster go about their business in their habitat, but you may also want to take them out of their cage. Hamster handling takes a lot of patience. Begin by hand-feeding your hamster small treats to get it used to being handled. Pick them up with a scooping motion once they are comfortable taking treats from your hand.

When your hamster has been completely hand-tamed, you can start letting them out of their cage for short periods of time. They might also enjoy bouncing around on an exercise ball. Make certain that the area they’re exploring has been thoroughly inspected for hazards.

Never leave your pet unattended in the house. They can vanish quickly and chew electrical wiring. You can give them some safe freedom by allowing them to explore while walking in a hamster ball, but make sure they don’t get too close to any stairs where he could fall. Allowing them 10 to 15 minutes to explore before returning them to their habitat is plenty of time.

How to hold a hamster

Hold your pet with two hands at all times. Hamsters are similar to slinky toys in that they can lean backward or forward and “pour” out of your hands. One hand should support the hamster’s entire bottom from the bottom, while the other should cup around their shoulder and over their back.

Monitor other pets

Keep an eye on any other pets in your household, such as dogs, cats, or free-flying pet birds. They may chase after your pet, which will frighten your hamster and could even lead to an unfortunate accident.

Veterinary care for hamsters

Because hamsters are nocturnal, they typically sleep most of the day and become active at night. They don’t need any vaccinations, so as long as you provide the proper diet and a clean environment, you should have little need for veterinary care. However, it is still advisable to schedule a well-pet exam once a year to ensure your pet’s health.

Hamsters do occasionally get sick or injured, so it’s important to know the signs to watch for which include:

  • Lack of appetite
  • Weakness/lethargy
  • Wet tail or visible diarrhea
  • Overgrown teeth or difficulty chewing
  • Coughing
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Discharge from the eyes, nose, or mouth
  • Lumps or swelling anywhere

Hamsters are also prone to respiratory problems. Common signs you may notice if there is some type of respiratory condition include:

  • Matted fur
  • Weight loss
  • Diarrhea
  • Shaking
  • Lethargic behavior
  • Runny nose

Avoid handling your hamster if you are sick to prevent respiratory illness. The common cold and pneumonia can be passed on to your hamster, so take care not to spread them.

If you notice any abnormalities in your hamster, make an appointment with your veterinarian as soon as possible.

The responsibility of hamster care is yours

Pet ownership can be a lot of fun, but it’s also a lot of work. It is your responsibility to provide everything your hamster requires to live a comfortable and healthy life. Interacting with your pet on a daily basis will allow you to keep an eye on them and spot problems as soon as they arise, as well as help the two of you form a loving bond.

If you want more helpful advice on looking after your hamster, including tips on food, toys, accessories and accommodation, add a comment below to let us know!

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By HamsterCareTip.Com

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