Hamsters As Pets
Hamsters: The most popular and best known small
rodent pets, Hamsters are naturally solitary
creatures that prefer their own company, although
same sex pairs can be kept together. They generally
live for 2 to 3 years and are most active during the
evening and at night.
Thereís a vast choice of Hamster houses
available, ranging from simple cages to complex
multi-level stacking systems with interconnecting
Your Hamsterís home should be kept out of direct
sunlight and away from draughts.
Shredded paper nesting material should be provided,
along with wood shavings or sawdust. The cage should
be cleaned at least once a week and a small litter
tray can be provided, helping to maintain a hygienic
environment for your Hamster.
Types of Hamster
The most common (and largest) breed is the
Syrian, or Golden, Hamster. Remember they are
naturally solitary and prefer to be kept alone.
Russian or Dwarf Hamsters are smaller, growing to
about 8cm while Chinese Hamsters are slightly longer
when fully grown. If you must keep a pair, make sure
they are the same sex and do not mix species.
A good quality Hamster mix makes an ideal core
diet for your pet. This can be supplemented with
small pieces of fresh fruit and vegetables. Be aware
that Hamsters hoard food in their beds, so donít
give them too many green vegetables (which can rot).
Fresh drinking water should always be available,
usually in a gravity bottle although a small heavy
bowl can be used instead. Like all rodents, a
Hamsterís front teeth grow continuously, so provide
them with something to gnaw on Ė dog biscuits are
Looking after your Hamster
Exercise & Entertainment:
Most active during the evening and night, Hamsters
enjoy cardboard tubes to run through and chew on, or
a wooden ledge to climb on. Wire-spoked Hamster
wheels are not recommended; solid wheels are much
safer. Hamster Ďexercise ballsí should be used with
care Ė your Hamster can soon become exhausted.
Most Hamsters that have been correctly handled from
an early age will usually enjoy human contact and
rarely bite. If your Hamster seems nervous, hold
your hand in the cage without touching it Ė this
allows it to get used to your scent. As with all
pets, the rule is to be gentle and approach
carefully with no sudden movements. Never put your
hand into your Hamsterís bed in case you startle it.
Itís always best to wake your hamster first with a
treat, then scoop him up in your hands along with a
little bedding until it becomes accustomed to you.
Long haired hamsters will require daily grooming,
which can be integrated with handling.
Hamsters can breed extremely quickly from a very
young age and will produce a litter every few weeks.
You should therefore seek expert advice before
considering keeping a breeding pair and only if
youíre certain you can find good homes for the
Tips for a happy healthy Hamster
One Syrian Hamster on its own is a happy creature.
Two or more means frequent fighting, so keep this
species alone. Russian and Chinese Hamsters prefer
company so should be kept in same sex pairs or small
groups. Do not mix species.
As with all pets, if you are worried about any
aspect of your Hamsterís health, seek veterinary
advice. Hamsters are short-sighted, so if you let
yours out of its cage, watch it closely. For a
healthy life, your Hamster needs the following:
- A good balanced diet with no sudden changes
- Clean dry housing, cleaned once a week with
a mild disinfectant
- No extreme or sudden changes in temperature
- Water bottle and feed bowls cleaned daily
- Gnawing blocks and chew toys to help wear
their continually growing teeth
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