Keeping a Hamster is not Rocket Science. Hamsters as pets have been around for a few generations now. However, there are somethings that you will need to know if you are buying your first Hamster.
Hamsters are relatively inexpensive animals to buy and to keep...but that does not mean that they should not have the proper care they deserve. Most hamsters are very healthy throughout their lives and are very easy to keep. They are quiet (unless you buy a noisy exercise wheel) and clean. It is easy to purchase food for a hamster in about any city you might live in. In today's world water bottles are easy to find in both dept. stores and pet stores and usually do not cost too much, you will not need a very large water bottle. Hamster needs are pretty easy to meet.
There are many types of hamster cages you can purchase. Many are very cute but hard to clean. Some, although marketed for hamsters, are very small. Others have bars that are too far apart or not ridged enough to hold a hamster in it. So make sure you buy a cage that is roomy and safe for the hamster.
Hamsters are escape artists. You will need a cage with a door that locks when it shuts and bars that are tight.
Hamsters are lone animals. You do not keep hamsters together or they will fight and perhaps one will kill the other. Sex does not matter, they will fight, and if breeding, do not leave a male in a cage with a female unattended. However, Dwarf Hamsters are often kept in pairs or even groups without incident. Dwarf Hamster pairs are many times even left together when babies are born without any problems at all.
A Hamster Wheel is a must. Dwarf Hamsters may not need a very large wheel (6" minimum), but some Syrian Hamsters get to be a pretty good size, so buying a wheel that is approx 8" or larger is a very good idea. A smaller wheel may indeed hurt the larger hamster's back if it is bent to severely.
Hamsters need a wheel. It is not just for fun, they need it for their health. It has been documented that a hamster without the exercise of a wheel can become parallelized.
This is a photo of Running Bear at 3 weeks old on an 8" wheel. It may seem big for him now, but judging by the size of his father and his mother's brother, it will be just right as he grows. The mesh wheels move free enough that even a very young baby can use this type and size wheel.
Run About balls are also good excersize and fun for hamsters too. You can also find cute plastic little cars and motorcycles for hamsters to "operate" in most pet stores. Just make sure you get the correct size for the hamster that you own.
NEVER PUSH OR TOSS THE BALLS OR VEHICLES WITH ANIMALS IN THEM!!
This is a photo of baby Running Bear with my different sized balls. I have balls for mice, hamsters, gerbils and ratties. The animals love to explore the house while in the balls. So far my hamsters can use the mid sized ball, but if a couple of them keep growing, they will need the next size up. Better the ball or wheel is too big then too small.
Hamster should eat hamster food. Their food comes packaged, usually for Gerbils and or Hamsters. It will be a seed mix and may have too many sunflower seeds in it....now your hamster will tell you that there can not be too many sunflower seeds...check to see if the package has an expiration date. Many people open their hamster food and poor it into empty clean jars for storage. This will keep bugs out of your food. In the summer time, you may want to store your hamster food in the refrigerator. This will keep it fresh and bug free.
I do feed my small animals fruits and veggies. I use their head size as a guide to how much to feed. With hamsters, per day, a slice of, or half a grape is plenty. A small piece of apple the size of a dime is OK, and complete apple core is not. To give them part of the apple core is fine, but a core is almost as long as their body and could give them diarrhea.
Some Teddy Bear (long haired or angora) Hamsters will need help keeping their hair untangled. You can gently brush them with a soft (clean) toothbrush, a soft human baby hair brush, or a special made hamster brush from the pet store. Be very gentle and brush just a little at a time. Let the hamster get used to the idea of brushing it before you give it a full grooming.
There are many types of cages a person can/could use for a hamster. Some people build "monster cages" using tubing and other items. Just make sure that if you own a Syrian Hamster that you buy tubing and cages as well as accessories big enough for them to use. Secure bird cages can and have been used.
I keep my small pets in large sized clear plastic storage tubs you can buy for approx $5. You will need a very small drill bit and one the size of your water bottle nozzle. Drill holes for the water bottle nozzle and holding wire, mount on the outside of the tub, drill two holes, one on each of the long sides, take a running wheel off the stand and mount it on a straightened clothes hanger between the two long side holes. This will make the wheel more quiet and keeps it upright. Hang the wheel high so that the shavings do not stop the function, but not so high it rubs the roof, about 1" down from the top. Cut a large rectangle out of the top of the tub's lid, approx 12" x 9" and wire weave in a piece of rabbit cage wire, a piece of wire that is cut to about 13 1/2" x 11". These are cheap to make and easy to clean cages. I have used these for all sorts of small animals including pet rats.....never, however, put a degu in this type of housing......I know that for sure!
MITES, LICE AND WORMS
Any living mammal can get lice, mites, fleas, worms.......but they do have to get most from another carrier. (Chinchillas usually do not, their hair or fur is to tightly set.)
Most animals that are kept well, fed correctly, groomed regularly, excersized, and their area is kept clean will not host lice, mites and or worms. However, if your pet would sudden show signs of parasites, it is nothing to panic about or feel like you have done something wrong. Just take care of the issue straight away, both on the animal and it's environment.
Lice in Hamsters....I think would be very rare...mites however live on/in all living animals and are kept at bay by a health immune system. Keeping animals environments clean and caring for your animals correctly will keep these parasites at bay. If your animal is kept healthy, fed correctly, and you keep your animals cage clean, you should not have to worry about Lice.
All animals carry mites. Good health keeps them from being a problem. If the animal's health deteriorates, mite will increase to a point of problem. New animals coming in to your home, new food and shavings *can* (food and shavings usually do not) bring in mites to animals you now own that are parasite free. Many people store their seed mixes and other foods for pets in refrigerators and or freeze them for 24 hours before using them. This is suppose to kill any bugs and or eggs within.
Mites can be very hard to see on your animal with the naked eye. Deron and I keep a $1 pair of cheap 200% reading glasses in our First Aid Kit. You would be able to see areas that are sore from scratching if not the mites themselves with this type of help. Some mites live and breed only under the skin. If your hamsters or other animals are scratching a lot, stopping what they are doing to scratch, waking to scratch, have sudden bald patches, you might have a problem and you need to address it quickly. Luckily we live in a time of Ivomectrin......and that usually kills them quickly with no harm to the host.
MITES NOR LICE CAN COME IN ON NEW STORE BOUGHT SHAVINGS OR SMALL ANIMAL FOOD! THEY MUST HAVE A HOST. THESE BUGS COULD NOT LIVE THROUGH THE PROCESSING OF EITHER PRODUCT! Do the research for yourself because you are going to hear it from someone...."they came in on the shavings I bought at....." NO. THEY CAN NOT COME IN THIS WAY. Bolweavels can come in with food, that is why many people store their small animals food in the refrigerator or freeze it for 12 hours before using.
GROOMING YOUR HAMSTER
Most Hamsters are like a cat or a good oven, self cleaning.
Some however, like the Teddy's, long haired that is, need a bit of help from time to time. Some may even need a trim if their hair is fine and knotty.
You will need a very soft toothbrush or small human baby brush. Human toenail or children's safety scissors work well for trimming and if your hamster jerks or moves quickly, no one needs to get hurt. Blunt ended scissors will help prevent stabs.
Training the hamster to enjoy the brushing could take some time, over days. Just stroke it once the first time and see how it goes. If you have done this gently and softly, most animals will sit still. Some won't. Don't stop trying, just be patient.
Some hamsters will need their toenails trimmed, most won't.
You can brush any hamster in a very gentle stroke, and like any human, one they are accustom to the nice easy brushing, it is soothing.
If your hamster has a matt in their hair. WHATEVER YOU DO, DO NOT BRUSH FROM THE TOP OF IT (near the hamsters body) OR CUT NEAR THE BODY.
Start at the bottom (away from the hamsters body) and see if you can gently brush out the matt. If not you may need to trim it with scissors. Statr at the bottom of the matt, again, away from the body, the other end of the matt. Trim a bit off and try to brush it out again. Many times all it takes is getting the matted end off and it will brush out.
If you need to cut near the body of an animal PUT YOU FINGERS ON THE FLESH OF THE ANIMAL. In other words put your fingers (gently pinching the flesh of the animal to protect it) and the scissors.
NEVER, DON'T EVER, NEVER pull the hair out away from the animal and clip. You will surly cut the skin of the animal and inflict an awful, painful cut.
Take your time. Don't groom an animal when you are in a hurry or have other things on your mind. It is not fair to the animal....but neither is leaving it's hair a mess.
Over time you will find that grooming an animal, hamster, dog, cat, horse or other, not only freshens the animal. It will calm you and build a bond between the two of you. Enjoy!
PLEASE NOTE: If you are buying your first hamster or if you have had many, please read many hamster books and websites. There are many opinions on keeping and training pets. Keep in mind just because you read it once, it does not make it true. Many times "fads" come up in any species of animal keeping and training. Just because one or two people on an elist, group or chat list do things a certain way does not mean it is the only way. Please get several opinions from those that have kept the animals for several years.
The contents of this page for Hamster Care is still under construction.
I WOULD LIKE TO INVITE YOU TO A COUPLE OF eLISTS WE HOST AT YAHOO GROUPS. IT IS A GOOD PLACE WITH FRIENDLY PEOPLE TO ASK ALL OF YOUR MOUSE CARE AND TRAINING QUESTIONS. On elists you will be able to get more then one opinion, that is a good thing. With lists and books and websites to read your mouse should have the best care you can give.
|Baby Hamsters Rock|
|Rock n Baby Hamsters|
There are many things a person can do with a Hamster, they can make a great pet.
Have fun with your hamster, enjoy them every day, they live lives that are far too short and they are gone too soon. Remember that they count on you for their every need, please don't let them down.