Ideally, a new hamster owner should thoroughly research hamster care before buying their pet. Unfortunately, not everybody does this. So, here, in no particular order, are 10 mistakes new hamster owners make… and our top hamster tips to avoid them.
Hamsters are often impulse buys – purchased at short notice with little or no planning – or surprise gifts. This leads to new hamster owners who don’t know the key dos and don’ts of hamster care.
If this sounds like you, don’t worry! You’re not alone. Everyone makes mistakes. It’s not something to be ashamed of. The important thing is that we learn from our mistakes and become better hamster owners over time.
This means learning not just from our own mistakes, but from other people’s mistakes too. And that’s why we’ve put this list of mistakes and top hamster tips together: to help new hamster owners learn from other people’s mistakes.
1. Feeding a bad diet
You should take care to feed your hamster a healthy, balanced diet.
Never feed your hamster citrus fruits or pieces of onion. These foods are acidic and this can interfere with your hamsters digestion.
You should also avoid sharp pieces of food or foods that are sticky. These types of food can get stuck in your hamster’s cheeks and cause injury and infection.
- Kaytee Fiesta Hamster And Gerbil Food, 4.5-Lb Bag
- Supreme Tiny Friends Farm Hazel Hamster Tasty Mix 2lbs
- Wild Harvest Nutrition Diet and Advanced Nutrition Diet for Hamsters and Gerbils
- Kaytee Forti Diet Pro Health Small Animal Food For Mice And Rats, 5-Pound
- Sun Seed Vita Prima Dwarf Hamster Food
2. Using unsuitable bedding
Despite what some pet stores may tell you, you should never use any of the following as bedding in a hamster cage:
- “Fluffy bedding”
- Corn cob
- Pine and cedar wood shavings – try Aspen shavings instead
- Any scented bedding
- Cat litter
Read our article on hamster bedding to make sure you choose suitable bedding for your hamster. Or get started with one of these great options:
- Kaytee Clean & Cozy White Small Animal Bedding
- Kaytee Clean & Cozy Natural Small Animal Pet Bedding
- Carefresh 99% Dust Free Natural Paper Small Pet Bedding with Odor Control, 56 L (Pack of 4)
3. Not cleaning your hamster’s cage often enough
Just like a human home, a hamster home needs to be kept clean in order for the hamster to stay healthy and happy.
Never leave soiled bedding or old food rotting inside a hamster cage.
Clean your hamster cage once per week – leaving just a small amount of the old bedding behind so that your hamster recognizes a familiar scent after the cage has been cleaned.
4. Keeping your hamster in too small a cage
In the wild, hamsters run for many miles every night. They won’t be healthy or happy if they are kept in small, cramped cages. You should invest in a quality cage – like these ones – instead. Your hamster will thank you for it!
Find out more about recommended hamster cages.
- Prevue Pet Products 528 Universal Small Animal Home, Dark Gray, CAGE
- Midwest Critterville Arcade Hamster Cage
- Savic Metro Hamster Cage
5. Keeping males and females together… when you don’t want babies!
Hamsters breed quite easily! If you add a male and a female to a cage then don’t be surprised if you notice signs of pregnancy in the female hamster very soon!
Plus, female hamsters have been known to give birth to up to twenty babies (pups) at a time. So not only could you end up with babies… you could end up with lots of babies!
Don’t put male and female hamsters together unless you WANT them to have babies.
Get our top hamster tips to keep your hamster happy!
6. Using a dangerous cage or wheel
Unfortunately, some companies manufacture low quality cages and wheels that use a rung and gap structure (like a ladder) rather than a solid surface.
Never buy any hamster product that contains small gaps where your hamster could get stuck. If in doubt, don’t buy it!
Some types of wheel and cage can be very dangerous, as the delicate legs of your hamster can fall through the gaps and break. Even worse, hamsters have even been known to break their necks or suffocate when their heads have got caught between the rungs of a cage or wheel.
7. Giving your hamster too small a wheel
A wheel is an essential component of any hamster cage. Your hamster wheel keeps your hamster healthy and happy, as it allows them to get much-needed exercise.
However, a wheel that is too small for your hamster could end up doing more harm than good. A small wheel forces your hamster to arch its back when it runs, which can be extremely bad for your hamster’s health.
Buy a nice big wheel for your hamster and look to make sure your hamster isn’t arching its back as it runs.
We recommend these hamster wheels:
- Suncoast Sugar Gliders Wodent Wheel Senior & Tail Shield – 11″ Running Wheel for Small Pets
- Kaytee Small Animal Silent Spinner Wheel Giant
- Kaytee Comfort Wheel
8. Letting your hamsters get fat
To stop your hamster from getting fat you should make sure to feed your hamster a healthy diet and give them plenty of exercise in a wheel or hamster ball.
9. Not learning about causes and symptoms of the disease
The two key things to remember when thinking about hamster illness are:
- if your hamster does get ill then the sooner you treat it, the better
- prevention is better than cure
In order to stop your hamster from getting ill – and spot any illness at the earliest opportunity – it’s important that you LEARN about the causes and symptoms of common hamster diseases.
10. Failing to look after your hamster when they’re out of their cage
Letting your hamster run around the house inside a hamster ball can be great fun for both you and your hamster!
- Kaytee Run-About Ball Mini Rainbow
- Kaytee Run-about 7″ Exercise Ball, Dazzle, Colors Vary
- Kaytee LED Run-About Exercise Ball
But you need to be careful! Never let your hamster roll around the house unattended or near stairs. If your hamster falls down the stairs then it is likely to be seriously injured – even if it is inside a hamster ball at the time.
Never allow your hamster to run loose around the house. Hamsters can crawl through very small gaps, so even in what appears to be a well-sealed room, your hamster could escape and never be seen again!
There’s lots to learn in order to care for a hamster properly, but reading these 10 common mistakes and our top hamster tips gives you a great chance of being a good hamster owner!
If you’re new to keeping hamsters then we hope you can learn from these mistakes and avoid making similar mistakes yourself. You can also find more hamster tips and hamster care advice in Essential Care Tips For Your Pet Hamsters.