Syrian hamster care guide
Syrian hamsters are tidy and appealing companion animals who do best when kept alone and make excellent pets when properly socialized. They tend to fight when housed together.
Syrian hamsters are larger than dwarf hamsters, and while they share some characteristics, they are distinct in their own right.
Typical Syrian hamster appearance and behavior
- Syrian hamsters were formerly known as golden hamsters because to their short, reddish-gold fur. They belong to the rodent family, which includes gerbils, rats, and mice. They now come in a range of colors and lengths, and are commonly classified as short-haired or teddy bear.
- Syrian hamsters have weak vision but a keen sense of smell. Their incisor teeth naturally yellow with age because to iron pigment deposits. Inside their mouths on both sides of their faces, hamsters have huge, muscular outpouchings called cheek pouches. They keep food, bedding, and other tiny objects in these pouches, which can become so full that the cheek pouch swelling reaches all the way back to their shoulder.
- Hamsters are nocturnal, which means they are more active at night, but they can adapt to your schedule and become more active during the day. Hamsters may run in their wheels at night, making them an unsuitable pet for light sleepers. They like chewing and should be given safe wooden toys, mineral blocks, or other chewable materials to munch on in order to keep their constantly growing incisor teeth worn down. They enjoy burrowing and hiding food.
- Hamsters bond to their pet owners and can be lovable companions with gentle daily care. They may bite if startled (particularly if they are sleeping). Never squeeze a hamster’s body when holding them because you could injure them, and keep hamsters on soft surfaces in case they jump so they don’t get hurt if they fall.
- Hamsters can be taught to use a litter box, which helps to keep their environment clean. Their urine is usually murky. They will hibernate if kept in a cool place with limited food.
- After ovulation, female hamsters generally pass a thick, creamy, white discharge. Their scent glands, which are located bilaterally on their flanks (hips), are flat and frequently produce a greasy to waxy yellow secretion that males could use for territorial marking; females have scent glands as well, but they are less prominent, and the secretions are associated with the estrous cycle.
Suitable habitat for Syrian hamster
Provide as much space as possible for your hamster to hide, burrow, exercise, and play. Metal, wire-based habitats provide improved ventilation, but their bars are too small to allow escape. Glass or plastic habitats may be utilized, although these are more difficult to keep adequately ventilated; bedding in tanks may need to be changed more frequently to avoid an ammonia smell collecting from droppings. To prevent escape, all habitats should have a firmly fastened lid. Your habitat should be at least 12″ W x 12″ D x 24″ H. Habitats should be situated off the floor and away from possibly predatory or too inquisitive pets such as cats and dogs.
Building your hamster’s habitat
Hamsters adapt well to regular household temperatures of no more than 80°F; severe temperature shifts should be avoided. Never place the habitat in direct sunlight or in a drafty environment.
Use 1-2″ of high-quality, commercially available paper-based bedding or crumpled paper for bedding. Paper-based bedding is favored over any type of wood shavings since it is digestible (if your hamster eats it) and produces less dust, making it less likely to irritate their respiratory tract. If swallowed, wood shavings can induce gastrointestinal (GI) tract obstruction. Nesting material enriches the environment by allowing hamsters to bury themselves and establish nests.
Many hamsters prefer to hide in their habitats. Hard plastic hideaways are easy to sanitize but should be removed if hamsters nibble on them to prevent ingestion of plastic particles. Commercially accessible wood and hay-based habitats are available for them to cover in and chew on.
For exercise, provide a properly sized running wheel with a smooth running surface to prevent hamsters from grabbing and damaging their toes and feet.
Hamsters enjoy a wide range of toys and tubes that keep them cognitively and physically occupied.
A small animal playpen and an exercise ball provide additional possibilities for your pet to obtain the activity they require.
House adult hamsters separately. Different types of small animals should not be housed together.
Cleaning your hamster’s habitat
Clean the habitat of filthy bedding and discarded food on a daily basis.
At least once a week, thoroughly clean and disinfect the habitat and its contents with a small animal habitat cleaner or a 3% bleach solution, emptying and replacing all bedding; completely rinse off any cleaner or bleach residue, allow the habitat and décor to dry completely, and then reintroduce your hamster to their habitat.
Feeding Syrian hamster
A well-balanced hamster diet includes:
- High-quality hamster lab blocks or other commercially available, nutritionally complete pelleted hamster chow, as well as small amounts of grains, vegetables, fruits, treats, and Timothy or other grass hay.
- Daily allowances of grains, vegetables, fruits, treats, and hay should not exceed 10% of their overall diet.
- Chocolate, caffeine, and alcohol are toxic to hamsters and can cause disease or death.
- Avoid salty, sweet, and fatty foods.
- Clean, fresh water in a water bottle that is replaced on a daily basis.
Things to keep in mind when feeding your hamster:
- Food and water should be provided at all times.
- Water bottles should be checked on a regular basis to verify that the water flow is patent.
- Vegetables and fruits that have not been consumed within 10 hours should be thrown.
- Because hamsters are more active at night, provide food in the evenings; feed once daily.
Hamsters are naturally clean and rarely require baths, but they can be spot cleaned with a damp washcloth or unscented baby wipes if necessary. To keep their fur clean, dry, and less oily, some hamsters enjoy a weekly dust bath; provide a shallow dish of commercially available rodent dust for hamsters to roll about in.
If a hamster’s teeth appear to be overly long, consult a veterinarian; they may need to be cut.
Where to get Syrian hamster?
Hamsters can be purchased at your local Petco. To check for availability, contact them ahead.
Syrian hamster supplies
- Appropriately sized habitat
- High-quality hamster food
- Nesting fluff
- Food bowl/water bottle
- Exercise wheel
- Exercise ball
- Hideaway place
- Wood chews
- Mineral chews
- Chew tubes
- Dust and dust bath
- Small animal playpen
Syrian hamster health
Signs of a healthy hamster:
- Active, alert and sociable
- Eats, drinks, and passes droppings regularly
- Healthy fur without patches of hair loss
- Clear eyes and nose
- Breathing is unlabored
- Walks normally
- Enamel covering hamsters’ front teeth is normally yellow and does not have to be cleaned off
- Red flags
- Weight loss
- Abnormal hair loss
- Diarrhea, dirty bottom or lack of stool
- Labored breathing or open-mouthed breathing
- Eye or nasal discharge
- Skin lesions, bumps or scabs
- Itchy skin
- Overgrown teeth
- Decreased appetite
- Coughing, sneezing or wheezing
- Swollen cheek pouches that don’t empty in a few hours
- Bloody droppings
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!
Waiting for our next post here.