Hamsters

a Hamster laying on some green grass in the bottom of their enclosure

Hamsters are small, furry rodents that have become popular family pets in recent years. They are members of the rodent family and can be found in many pet stores around the world. Hamsters come in a variety of colors and sizes, making them an attractive choice for potential pet owners.

Hamsters make great pets for those who want a low-maintenance animal that is easy to care for. They are relatively inexpensive to purchase and require minimal space, making them an ideal pet for those living in apartments or other small spaces.

Are you looking for a new pet to add to your family? Hamsters are one of the most popular small pets, and they make great additions to any home. They’re easy to care for, relatively low-maintenance, and can provide hours of entertainment.

Hamsters are part of the rodent family and come in several different breeds. These little critters are usually between 2 and 4 inches long, with a short tail and small ears. They come in a variety of colors, including brown, black, white, and even red.

Hamsters make great family pets because they’re relatively low-maintenance. They don’t require much space or special equipment, and they’re easy to care for. All you need is a cage, food, bedding, and some toys. Hamsters are also quite active and love to explore their environment. They’ll often build tunnels and burrows in their cages, which can provide hours of entertainment.

Hamsters are very popular pets, and they have typically been seen in family homes and schools for decades, having been first domesticated in the 1930’s. Many varieties are available, but the most common ones are the Long Haired Hamster and the Dwarf Hamster. They have low maintenance needs and are quite docile. Keep in mind that they have a short life span compared to other pets.

When it comes to diet, hamsters are omnivores and need a balanced diet of proteins, carbohydrates, fruits, vegetables, and grains. They also need plenty of fresh water every day. It’s important to make sure that their food is fresh.

They are receptive to touch and tend to be friendly towards adults and children. They prefer to live alone in their cages and will sleep during the day. They are most active during the nighttime.

Hamsters are also very social animals and enjoy interacting with other Hamsters. If you’re looking to get more than one, it’s important to make sure that they’re the same breed and gender. Hamsters can be territorial and may fight if they’re not compatible. It’s also important to give them plenty of space in their cage so that they can have their own areas to explore.

If you’re a first-time pet owner, hamsters are a great choice. They’re relatively low-maintenance and easy to care for, and they can provide hours of entertainment. 

Hamsters are very easy to care for, needing little maintenance. They are relatively inexpensive, costing $10 to $20 per hamster.

Overall, hamsters make great family pets for those who are looking for an easy-to-care-for animal that is both entertaining and low maintenance. They are relatively inexpensive to purchase and require minimal space, making them an ideal pet for those living in apartments or other small spaces. With proper care and attention, hamsters can make a wonderful addition to any family.

Information about Hamsters

  • Average Size: 2 to 4 inches
  • Coat Colors: Brown, black, white, red, and gray
  • Grooming Needs: Low
  • Sensitive to Touch: No
  • Tolerance to Heat and Cold: No
  • Good Pet: Yes
  • Safe with Children: Yes
  • Good with Other Hamsters: No
  • Good with Other Pets: No
  • Good for Less Experienced Pet Owners: Yes
  • Training: They learn fast
  • Exercise Needs: High
  • Weight Gain: lack of exercise and fatty diet can lead to obesity
  • Health Concerns: Diarrhea, respiratory infections, and skin infections
  • Allergies: Strong scents
  • Average Life Span: 2 to 3 years

Physical Appearance of Hamsters

a hamster sniffing something in the grass

Hamsters are small rodents that only grow to about 4 inches long. Hamsters have small eyes, a short tail, and four hairless legs. The Hamster’s body is covered in short or long fur, depending on variety.

Hamsters can have different colored hair like black, brown, gray, red, and white. 

Hamsters have something unique which other domesticated rodents don’t have.  They have two large cheek pouches that they use to hide food. These pouches can hold a sizable amount of food.

Hamsters also have two large incisors that will grow throughout their lives.

Temperament of Hamsters

Hamsters sleep a lot during the day but remain active at night. Hamsters prefer living alone. Introducing a second to a cage will often result in the larger killing the smaller one. Hamsters are friendly to human beings and are receptive to touch. Hamsters don’t scratch and rarely bite making them great pets.

Training Hamsters

Hamsters are smart and can learn unique tricks. Before training your Hamster to perform tricks, first establish a bond with it. It’s also important to reward your pet with treats if it correctly performs a trick.

Teach your Hamster to stand by placing its favorite treat above its head. Then command the pet to stand as it reaches for the treat. Praise your pet if it picks the treat from your hand. Other tricks you can try with your Hamster is jumping or even jumping through a hoop.

Their Compatibility with Children

a Hamster eating food

Hamsters are awesome pets for kids because they are active and small which arouses the curiosity in children. The pets also have a relatively short lifespan making it unlikely that the kids will outgrow their interest in their pet.

Kids can handle a Hamster but an adult should supervise the initial interactions so that your Hamster doesn’t get injured. When scared, Hamsters can bite and kids can get scared by this. Fortunately this will be quite rare and will likely shock someone more than hurt them.

How to Handle a Hamster

The first step before handling the Hamster is cleaning your hands with unscented soap. Hamsters have a strong sense of smell and may reject your touch or even bite thinking your hand is a treat. Then place one hand inside the cage without touching the Hamster. Give your pet time to get used to you, and don’t rush to grab them.

After some time, your pet will approach your hand and crawl on top of it. Use your other hand to cover your Hamster without covering their head. Covering them helps them feel secure in your hands. Then lift your pet from their cage and gently handle it for a few minutes.

When returning your pet back to their cage, avoid putting them back inside too quickly. Place your hand inside with your pet securely held. Then open your hand at the bottom of the cage and allow your Hamster to walk off of your palm. Repeat the above steps every day until your Hamster gets used to your touch.

Best Habitat for your Hamster

When setting up a habitat for your pet, consider three things. Safety, ease of cleaning, and ventilation. There are many styles of cages available but the most common ones are the wire cages with plastic floors and platforms, aquarium style cages, and the plastic modular cages with many tubes and partitions.

Hamsters enjoy chewing on stuff including the bars on their cage, and other plastic materials. Make sure that if the cage has plastic materials, they don’t have any exposed edges where your Hamster can start chewing.

It’s also important to place the cage in a cool place away from direct sunlight or wind. Hamsters are greatly affected by extremely hot or cold conditions. The ideal temperature for your Hamsters is between 65 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

Cage

a Hamster running on an exercise wheel

The general rule of thumb when selecting a cage for your Hamster is to always go for a bigger size. The minimum recommended size cage is 24”L x 12”W x 12”T. Hamsters enjoy playing and running around in their cage and the floor should be smooth and not wire to allow them to run around.

The space between the cage bars should be about ½ an inch wide so that your Hamster is not able to squeeze through and escape. Hamsters are also notorious for figuring out how to open door locks and it’s important to secure the locks to keep your Hamster safe.

Bedding

Whether you use an aquarium or wired cage to house your Hamster, remember to give them comfortable bedding material. Hamsters use bedding for burrowing. A 1 to 2 inch bedding depth is ideal for Hamsters. Make sure not to put too much bedding in their cage because the extra bedding material will get kicked out of the cage then they burrow.

Shredded paper, tissue paper, and wood shavings all make great bedding. Avoid cedar or pine bedding materials because other than the strong scent, the materials have oily secretions that are dangerous if ingested by your Hamster.

Other than the bedding, it is good to provide nesting material that they can use for a blanket. The best nesting materials are made of shredded toilet paper and fleece.

Toys

Hamsters need a lot of exercise to remain healthy and to reduce boredom. Most cages come with a wheel. Make sure that the wheel is solid without any crossbars to protect your Hamster from getting stuck in between. Wheels can either be plastic, wooden, or metal.

Another choice of a toy is a Hamster ball. The ball should have good ventilation to avoid suffocating your pet while inside. If you want to place your Hamster outside their cage to play with the ball, make sure there are no stairs where they can roll down and get hurt. 

a Hamster drinking water from their bottle

It’s also a good idea to keep cats and dogs away while they are in the ball. Both have been known to attack the ball when they see the Hamster inside.  This is a lot more stress than they should have, and can make them afraid to use the ball later.

Hamsters love chew toys and chew toys help your pet trim their teeth naturally. Make sure that the chew toys are large enough so that they can’t choke your Hamster. The toys should also have no dyes on them because when ingested, the dye could cause them to become sick.

Habitat Maintenance

Your Hamster’s cage can become messy quite quickly because of their burrowing. Hamsters are known to urinate at the corners of the cage. This can cause their cage to  become smelly over time. If not cleaned, the urine may lead to moldy conditions that can give your pet respiratory infections.

Deep clean the cage once a week and replace the bedding material. It is a good idea to put in a small amount of old bedding material to help your pet recognize its smell. During cage cleaning, place your pet in its travel cage or inside its exercise ball so that it doesn’t get in the way while you’re cleaning.

Only use Hamster safe detergents to clean the cage, rinse, and dry it with a dry towel before replacing the bedding and placing your pet back. Wet cages can lead to moldy areas within the cage which eventually causes respiratory infections.

As you clean the cage, clean their water bottle and check if the sipper is clogged or if it has a leak. Replace the sipper if it looks like there is a problem

The Attention Requirements of a Hamster

Hamsters are low maintenance pets that rarely get diseases. You only have to feed your pet two times a day and clean its feeding bowls once a day. Check the water bottle to see if it needs a refill when the Hamsters are fed.

Hamsters require plenty of exercise time every day. As long as you give the pet toys and space to play, there should not be a problem keeping your Hamster in good shape. Remember to handle them often because they are friendly and enjoy human contact.

Health Issues

an illustration of a sick hamster

Hamsters have a strong immune system but just like other rodents, can become ill once in a while. 

Here is a list of general signs to look out for if your Hamster is sick.

  • Lack of an appetite
  • Sneezing
  • Wheezing
  • Hibernating for long hours 
  • Hair loss
  • Inactivity
  • Diarrhea
  • Runny nose

Most of the illnesses that affect Hamsters have to do with the respiratory system, gastrointestinal system, or skin problems. Here are some of the most common diseases among Hamsters.

Respiratory infections

Respiratory illnesses are either caused by bacteria or poor ventilation in the cage especially with the aquariums. A sick Hamster will show signs of labored breathing, sneezing, wheezing, lack of appetite, and weight loss. Occasional sneezing is normal for Hamsters and shouldn’t be the only sign to look out for when suspecting a respiratory disease.

A sick pet should be taken to the veterinarian for diagnosis and treatment. Avoid giving over the counter antibiotics because Hamsters like other rodents are sensitive to certain antibiotics.

Diarrhea

Hamsters have very sensitive digestive systems that can get irritated by diet changes, intestinal parasites, or wrong antibiotic treatments. A Hamster with diarrhea appears lethargic, lacks appetite, may lose weight, and often has poop sticking to its bottom.

When having diarrhea, a Hamster may become dehydrated which could lead to death. Make sure that the pet drinks lots of water during that time. Also don’t feed the pet fresh vegetables and fruits because they can aggravate diarrhea.

If the diarrhea doesn’t clear within a few days, make sure to visit your vet for a proper diagnosis and treatment.

Skin Infections

Most skin infections are caused by the presence of skin parasites. A Hamster with a skin infection tends to scratch against objects to try to relieve the irritation. They could also have skin lesions, flaky skin, redness, hair loss, or ringworms. 

The skin of a parasite infested Hamster has frizzled hair, and some patches without any hair at all. A sick Hamster should be taken to the vet for treatment with the right antibiotics or fungal treatments.

Circling

Circling is a condition in Hamsters where they seem to move about in the cage as though they’re moving in a circle. The main cause of the condition is ear infection but in a worst case scenario, it could be due to brain damage.

As soon as you find your pet moving in circles, take it to the vet for a diagnosis. Chances are that if it’s an ear infection, your pet can get treated. If brain damage is the cause, the vet will offer medication to manage the condition.

a Hamster eating food out of a bowl

Grooming and Care Tips for Hamsters

Hamsters are clean animals that have almost no smell. They spend about 20 percent of their day grooming themselves and may only need help if they have an injured leg or overgrown teeth. The best way to maintain a clean Hamster is to keep their habitat clean. This is because even though your pet self-grooms, they’ll still get dirty if their cage is dirty. 

Never bathe your Hamster unless it has a dangerous substance stuck to their skin.

Bathing

Wet baths are discouraged for Hamsters because they can have chills if exposed to cold temperatures. If necessary, make sure when bathing your pet the head remains above water to lower risk of drowning. 

Make sure to use warm water and not cold or hot when cleaning your pet. Immediately after bathing the pet, cover it in a warm towel and wipe it dry.

Another alternative to water baths is using a wet toothbrush to remove any dirt on your Hamster’s skin. As you brush the fur using a wet toothbrush, make sure that they remain still on your lap. After you’re done, wipe your pet dry.

Sand baths

If you realize that your Hamster isn’t self-grooming efficiently, you can help by offering it a bowl of fine sand. A sand bath for your Hamster can help it restore a shiny coat as well as remove dead skin. It’s important to note that not all Hamsters enjoy sand bathing so it’s not unusual if your Hamster doesn’t use the sand. If your Hamster isn’t open to sand bathing, you can try to encourage them by placing them inside the sand bowl. If they completely refuse to use the sand bath, then find other ways of grooming such as brushing.

Brushing

The short-haired Hamsters don’t require brushing because they can remove any dirt on their skin during self-grooming sessions. The long-haired Hamsters require brushing at least once a week because even though they self-groom they may not remove all dirt efficiently.

Buy a soft toothbrush or a brush meant for use on Hamsters skin.

Feeding Hamsters

Hamsters love to eat seeds

Hamsters in the wild eat seeds, small insects, and small plants. In your home, the main food for them should be commercial Hamster pellets. The pellets should contain about 20 percent protein, about 6 percent fats, minerals, vitamins, and 64 – 70% carbohydrates. 

Occasionally you can give seed mixes to your Hamster but give them in moderation because seeds are high in fat. Your Hamster’s diet should have at most 5 percent fat to keep them from gaining weight. Fresh fruits and vegetables are also great additions to your pet’s diet. 

The best fruits include melons, oranges, berries, and apples. Vegetables such as carrots, spinach, kale, and cabbage are good options to supplement the diet of your Hamster. Once in a while, you can offer your pet some cheese, yogurt, or breakfast cereals as a treat.

The best feeding bowls are those made of ceramic material because they’re sturdy enough that your pet cannot tip over them. Also remember to clean the bowls every day to avoid contaminating their food.

Hamsters in the wild hunt at night and often hide some food in their cheek pouches to eat during the day. Pet Hamsters also have a natural instinct to store some food. This might give you the impression that they are eating a lot more than they actually are. Usually you will find this hidden food stash when the cage is cleaned. It’s not unusual to find several food stashes when cleaning their cage.

Only feed your pet about 10 grams of dry pellets each feeding. The best times to feed them are mornings and evenings. If you live in an area where tap water has a lot of chlorine, the water should be filtered before being given your Hamster, or give them bottled water. The chemicals used to treat water aren’t good for Hamsters.