What do new hamsters need?
Despite their small size, hamsters are very active rodents who require a large cage lined with a large layer of bedding with a nesting material, a large sandbath in one corner and a large wheel in another, hideouts, tunnels, ladders, toys and chew toys, a variety of food, water, daily attention, a little money set aside for the vet, and most importantly, lots of love.
What to buy for my new hamster?
Please read the entire article, from beginning to end; you will only read it once, but your hamster will benefit for the rest of his life from the knowledge that I transmit to you here, so make an effort; I know you dislike reading, but it is necessary for the good of your hamster.
Not only will I tell you exactly what you should choose and buy for your new hamster, but I will also give you tips on how to install your hamster’s cage, a perfect installation that will please your Little Fella. Let’s dive in right now.
- What you should know before taking the plunge and bringing this hamster home:
– Prepare yourself or your children for the possibility that the hamster will not live more than a year, even if it can live for up to four years in some cases.
– Because hamsters are crepuscular animals in the wild but nocturnal as pets, you will only see your hamster briefly during the day and only at night.
– Your hamster may bite and dislike being held, even if you are attempting to tame it; they are solitary animals who do not like to share their enclosure with anyone, not other hamsters or your other pets.
– If you want several hamsters, prepare several different enclosures, and your hamster will despise your cat and dog; in rare cases, it may even despise human contact!
– Expect your hamster to require daily attention, daily spot cleaning, a wide variety of food, and a special diet during the first few months.
– As soon as your new hamster settles into your room, you will no longer be able to turn up the volume on your TV, never shout in the room, no more vacuuming, your cat should never be left alone in the room, your friends should never open the cage, and you should no longer make too much noise during the day, because hamsters hate to be disturbed, surprised, or woken up, and diseases will follow.
– Hamsters, like rabbits and guinea pigs, have incisors (front teeth) that never stop growing, so they will require chew toys and various branches. I’m telling you this so you’ll understand that bar biting is a stress symptom in hamsters because they don’t gnaw on iron, copper, or plastic!
– If you travel frequently, you should be aware that traveling is not recommended for hamsters. Traveling stresses hamsters greatly, and you should plan ahead of time who will care for your hamster if you go on a trip.
After we’ve covered these few hamster facts, let’s look at what your new hamster will require for its new home.
Your hamster will need a large enclosure
When it comes to choosing a cage for your hamster, disregard what pet stores and even the RSPCA recommend.
Hamsters can travel 5.5 miles overnight and require as large an enclosure as possible.
Even if you can dedicate an entire floor or at least one room to your hamster, it will be insufficient.
So, 1000 square inches is the minimum floor area for your hamster enclosure; they say 450 square inches, but that’s nonsense!
You can build one yourself, use Ikea Detolf, or order one from aquarium manufacturers, but please do not confine your hamster of any breed in a cage with less than 1000 square inches of floor space.
Don’t fall for stores that tell you that you’ll put floors between two small cages or a tunnel between two small cages. More than 1000 square inches of continuous floor space is required.
To avoid moisture and mold, odors, and bacteria, I prefer that the enclosure have a glass front, the floor, and the other three sides be made of wood (melamine), which does not absorb water (and your hamster’s urine).
- Where will I put my hamster’s cage?
Hamsters like to be a little high to see what is going on in the surroundings (in the room), so put the enclosure on a support, a bahu for example, about 3 feet high.
The cage’s location must not be directly exposed to the sun or an air current, both of which are sources of heat and, more importantly, cold.
Because hamsters despise noise, keep the hamster’s room as quiet as possible at all times. Avoid walls and windows that face the road.
Your new hamster will need a safe bedding and a nesting material
Pet stores are also stocked with substrates, some of which are extremely hazardous to hamsters. But I can confidently recommend paper-based bedding, such as Kaytee; you can choose colored bedding, but natural white is the best.
Be aware that you will require a large amount of bedding when you first set up the cage, so purchase two or three bags to create a thick layer (15 to 15 inches) on at least one side of the enclosure and a thinner layer on the other (5 inches).
Your hamster is a burrowing animal and will enjoy spending time tunneling and digging in this bedding.
Paper-based bedding is also excellent for odor retention, the hamster’s tunnels do not collapse, and the hamster’s pee almost never reaches the enclosure floor.
After you have installed the bedding, you will only need to change half or a third of the bedding during cleaning if you do the spot cleaning correctly.
- The nesting material for nest building and hamsters nesting behaviour:
The hamster, a member of the Cricetidae family, gathers hay, bird feathers, natural cotton, dry leaves… in its natural habitat to build its nest, to which it reserves a subterranean chamber for when it reaches sexual maturity.
But in your enclosure, he will use the bedding, but he will especially appreciate it if you give him toilet paper. You heard me correctly, just tear toilet paper, dry and clean of course, toilet paper that is not colored or perfumed.
Your hamster will use it to make his bed and have a comfortable nest that is especially chaut and isolated from the elements, especially in winter, because temperatures below 20°C risk putting your hamster in a mode of survival known as hibernation.
All cotton nesting materials should be avoided because the cotton filaments can wrap around your hamster’s head or legs and cause serious problems.
Your hamster requires the wheel
Your hamster will need to exercise throughout the night.
These clever little creatures will walk up to 5.5 miles every night, and the wheel is ideal for simulating this distance.
The hamster spends a lot of time at night on his wheel, which keeps him in shape and keeps him from getting bored.
Your hamster’s wheel must be large enough for him.
The minimum diameter of the wheel for a Syrian hamster is 11 or 12 inches (not less than 8 inches for the small Syrian) and at least 8 inches for Dwarf and Chinese hamsters (not less than 6.5 inches for the small ones).
If you choose a small wheel, it will bend your hamster’s spine, causing pain (herniated disc) and, in the long run, possibly paralyzing him.
The wheel must also be made of solid plastic, and I prefer ones with lines or bands to keep the hamster from sliding when he runs on it.
Avoid bared wheels and meche wheels, they are dangerous for hamsters, their paws get stuck in them and they easily break a finger or a paw.
The sandbox (sand bath) for your new hammy
You can use any plastic sandbox as long as it is at least 4 to 5 inches high and has a surface area of one square foot.
This sandbox serves as your hamster’s bathroom, as well as its toilet (not always).
Put at least 2 inches thick of dust-free and sterilized children’s play sand or chinchilla sand.
Your hamster should never get wet, and if it does, dry it quickly with a towel to avoid stress.
Dwarf hamsters roll in the sand to clean themselves and take baths several times a day (during the night), while Syrians dig in the sand and throw it on their backs, shaking to get rid of it.
The sand grains will become coated with the excess oils from the hamster’s hair and fall back into the tank.
As a result, the hamster will maintain a clean fur free of hair agglomerates, as well as a fur that is well sealed and insulating from heat but especially from the cold of the night, especially during the winter.
Don’t believe the shopkeepers who show you hamster shampoo!
If your hamster hurts itself or does not arrive alone, you will only need a children’s toothbrush or a small non-metallic small pet brush to assist it in taking sand baths.
Small scissors to cut your hamster’s matted hair, even if it’s rare, and why not cut some of your Teddy Bear hamster’s coat when it’s hot in summer (long-haired hamster) if you’re going to buy one!
Hideouts and tunnels are a necessity for your hamster
Hamsters are prey, so they like to have places to hide, things to provide shade, and tunnels buried beneath the substrate to take shelter in case something stresses them out.
I recommend that you build at least two hideouts and two tunnels out of untreated natural wood if possible; otherwise, plastic will suffice.
I recommend the German natural enclosure installation for the placement of all of these elements because it best replicates the hamster’s natural habitat.
Purchase a small hideout that you will place in a corner of the sanbath; your hamster will enter it and, if you are lucky, will use it as a toilet, allowing you to clean the cage on the spot.
Ladders, bridges and climbing toys
Hamsters need a lot of physical stimulation, which is provided by the wheel, ladders,… but also mental stimulation.
A bored hamster is a hamster who will live only half its life!
So make sure your hamster’s cage is stocked with toys and chew toys, because your hamster’s teeth are constantly growing and must be filed every day by chewing wood.
Hamsters also enjoy climbing, so have bridges, a ladder, a branch… Be creative to always surprise your hamster and keep him entertained all night.
Consider changing the position of the elements in its cage on a regular basis to satisfy your hamster’s instinctive prospector; they enjoy puzzles and discovering new elements, toys, etc.
Food and water are essential for the health of your new hamster
Every day, your hamster will require at least 10% of its body weight in food.
The food is placed in a small ceramic or glass bowl that is heavy enough not to spill easily.
Same with the water, a bowl of water that you renew every day, you can add a bottle of water, but I prefer the bowl of water because it’s more natural and the bowl will be cleaned every day, preventing bacteria colonies from forming in the water.
Hamsters do not eat hamburgers, macaroni and cheese, or Doritos!
A hamster is an omnivore, it will need a strictly varied and healthy food if you want it to live as long as possible.
I used the word “strict” because you must be careful about what your hamster eats; he requires a balanced diet.
Basically a hamster will eat in the same day:
- A seed mix and cereals (food bag)
- Dried herbs that you sprinkle near his food bowl and on his cage elements
- A small mix of vegetables and fresh herbs
- Protein food, why not a mealworm or a piece of shrimp, dried meat
- Treats, like a tiny piece of fruit, just a little, twice a week or when you tame your hamster to encourage him to climb on your hand and trust you.
A travel cage, a small kitchen scale and some money for your hamster
You should also monitor your hamster’s health on a daily basis, and you should be familiar with the various symptoms of common hamster diseases.
Avoid things that can stress your hamster, such as noise and light at night.
But you’ll also need a small kitchen scale to keep track of your hamster’s weight, because a hamster that gains or loses weight quickly is almost certainly sick and needs to see a veterinarian right away.
In terms of vets, you should budget at least $100 in case your hamster falls off your hands and breaks a leg, or simply becomes ill and requires care and medication.
Your hamster may never see a vet in his life, but ask your parents if you are not working yet, or put this money aside, because if your hamster is sick, you must act quickly; the wet tail, for example, can kill a hamster if it does not heal in less than 3 days!
- The hamster carrier:
The pet carrier is very useful not only for transporting your hamster if you move with him or if you take him to the vet, but this small cage will also serve you during taming and cleaning his enclosure.
If there is enough space, you can put in some bedding, a small bottle of water, a bowl of food, a small chew toy, and a wheel.
- The playpen:
Your hamster needs a safe place where you can put him and exchange things with him. You can use an empty room or one with no furniture where he can go and hide and become inaccessible, but especially a room without danger.
The best option is to use a playpen, which can be purchased ready-made, but it is simply plastic panels, similar to those found in the Cube Storage Organizer, that you attach between to create a safe play area for your hamster.
A hamster requires you to be responsible above all else; it is a living being, and it should not only cost $20!!! Don’t even think about it!
To provide a happy life for your hamster, you must first learn everything there is to know about them, including how they communicate their joy, pain, and discontent.
Don’t skimp on the items required to welcome your hamster.
They are lovely pets, they will return your kindness, and they will also tell you that they will always be there to surprise you, to amuse you with their falls, their comings and goings, their squeaks, their mimes, their night escapes…
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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