Hamster Care 101 – The Basics!
26 May, 2017
Hamsters are cute furry little creatures that are great pets. Hamsters are generally known as being a great first pet for children, but they do require the proper care and maintenance. Hamsters are nocturnal pets and might not fit with a young child’s sleeping schedule (but they are less vocal than guinea pigs). However, if you give your hamster all that he needs to flourish, a hamster can be a wonderful addition.
Below are the essential supplies that you need to have for your hamster:
- 10-gallon aquarium (minimum) with wire cover, wire cage, hay, aspen shavings or pellet bedding.
- Exercise wheel (solid, no rungs)
- Cardboard tubes (recycle from paper towel and toilet paper rolls)
- Hamster food mix
- Attachable water bottle with drinking tube
- Unpainted, untreated piece of wood or safe chew toy
When choosing a cage, the enclosure should be placed away from direct sunlight and lined with an absorbent bedding such as timothy hay, aspen shavings, shredded paper or pelleted bedding. Don’t use pine or cedar chips, as the fumes from these products can be harmful to your pets.
Hamsters need to exercise and a wheel is an essential
Hamsters are big on exercise, so make sure your cage has a wheel for running. Hamsters also like to hide and sleep in enclosed spaces so you’ll need a small box with an entrance hole or a small flower pot for this purpose. And they love crawling through tubes, which can be homemade (empty cardboard tubes from paper towels and toilet paper) or from a pet supply store.
The basic hamster diet
Your hamster should eat a hamster mix which contains seeds, grains, cracked corn and pellets, and is available at almost all pet stores. Try to supplement your hamster’s diet with fresh food every two or three days. Try fresh grains, sunflower seeds, alfalfa pellets, and fresh fruits and vegetables such as spinach, lettuce, carrots and apples.
As with any pet, fresh, clean water should be available at all times. It is best to use an inverted bottle with a drinking tube, which should be changed daily.
Clean your hamster cage daily
Make sure to clean your hamster’s cage on a daily basis. Remove droppings, uneaten food and soiled bedding every day. Every week, remove and replace all the bedding, and scrub the bottom of the cage with hot, soapy water.
Hamsters love to be handled but ease into it
It’s important to learn how to handle your hamster as they love the affection. Try to start by feeding your hamster treats. Once your hamster is comfortable eating treats from your hand, you can gently and securely pick him up. Hold him for a short time at first, and then gradually increase your time with him.
Once you’ve hand-tamed your hamster, let your hamster play outside the cage in a secure, enclosed area, while you supervise. And, of course, watch any wires that your hamster might chew.
Keep up with your veterinary care
If you think your hamster is sick, make sure to go to the vet immediately. Common signs that something isn’t right with your hamster may include dull-looking eyes, matted fur, weight loss, shaking, runny nose and diarrhea.
A hamster can be a great addition to your family and a great way to teach your young children how to care for an animal. Or maybe you want to adopt a guinea pig?