Can Hamsters Eat Cheese ? Are The Cartoons Right ?

When I first got my Teddy I wondered if he can eat cheese like I saw in Tom & Jerry. As it turns out, hamsters can eat many different things. Some of them are actually in your pantry or fridge !

can hamster eat cheese (2)

So can my hamster eat dairy ?

The short answer – yes, hamsters can eat some types of  dairy. But in a small amounts, and only certain kinds. Some dairy products are safe for hamsters, some can cause digestive problems.

Lactose content plays a major role in how well mammals respond to dairy, and hamsters fall into the mammal category. Not all milk-based products are okay for hammies.

This is due to the small size of hamsters, and their different gut than humans. Hamsters can tolerate some kinds of dairy, and I’ll cover the main kinds in the rest of the article.

Hamsters can eat cheese

Cheese is safe for hamsters, both regular cheese and white/cottage cheese, including feta.

This is mostly because the fermenting process ends in a product that is safe to consume for most creatures. The lactose content in cheese is much smaller than in regular milk.

The gut has an easier time processing cheese than any other dairy product, since there’s less lactose in it.

You’ve seen Jerry in the cartoons go nuts over a bit of cheese. Well, hamsters love cheese just as much as mice do, since they’re not so distantly related after all. Also, the strong smell makes hammies want to go for it instantly.

You can see my Teddy in the first photo of this article, happily munching on a bit of Gouda. The first time he even smelled it, he was all over it.

So yes, hamsters can eat cheese, and their stomach is okay with it. Be sure to give your hamsters mild cheese that is not very aged. Overly smelly (pungent) cheese may sit badly with them, such as Parmesan or Pecorino Romano.

Soft cheeses like brie, or washed rind cheeses have a mold or bacteria culture that may be unsafe for hamsters, so try and avoid giving them to hamsters.

Hamsters can eat a tiny bit of yogurt

Yogurt is another story here. The probiotics are a welcome bonus, and it will help with digestive problems. However with hamsters it’s the bacteria culture that  can cause trouble.

You see, hammies have a different kind of stool than humans. The only reason hammies ever have a wet stool is if they’re very very ill and this is not something okay for them.

So I’m not saying giving your hamster yogurt will give him a runny stool. But I am saying that yogurt may cause bloating and digestive problems for your hamster.

Which is why I recommend that you don’t give your hamster yogurt often, or in large amounts. Something like half a teaspoon is enough, and it should not be given more than once per week.

Hammies will eat many things that are not okay for them. They can’t really know the difference between the foods unless they try it, so they rely on you to keep them safe.

You will find yogurt listed as an ingredient for some treats for hamsters. That’s usually alright, since it’s in a small amount, and mostly there’s powdered milk where it says yogurt. Actual, natural yogurt does not keep and can’t be used in most treats.

Hammies should avoid milk

When it comes to milk, I recommend you avoid it completely for your hamster. The amount of lactose is the highest in milk, and it’s the one most likely to give your hamster a bad tummy.

Hamsters only suckle from their mothers until they’re 3-4 weeks old. After they’re weaned, like most mammals, they can’t process lactose and will have trouble digesting it.

Most everyone has a degree of lactose intolerance, some more extreme, some more manageable. Younger mammals, like baby hamsters or humans can process it well enough.

Adult humans or hamsters can’t stomach milk and will have trouble with it.

(If you like this article so far, you can pin it to your Pinterest board by clicking the image below. The article continues after the image.)

can hamster eat cheese (1)

Commercial hamster food has enough mineral content

You can feed your hamster with things you’ve already got around the house. Like meat, and veggies, and some cheese. You can find a list of safe foods for your hamster right here.

But it’s both easier and more nutrition-conscious of you to feed your hammy a pre-made food mix, that will give your hamster enough to cover the basics.

Commercial food mixes do have a high enough mineral content, which is something you might think you’re helping your hamster get with extra cheese or yogurt.

A good food mix like this one is going to help your hamster cover all his bases. You’ve got protein, veggies, vitamins, fibers, and minerals. And the selection in this bag is very wide, so your hamster can choose whatever he like.

Be warned though, that hamsters can become very picky with their food, and they might ignore bits of the mix sometimes. That’s okay, you can add a peanut here, a walnut there, and make sure your hammy gets all the nutrition he needs.

You’ll find the Amazon listing for this food mix here, and you can check out the reviews as well.

You can supplement your hammy’s food with whatever you have on hand as is okay for him to eat. For example I give my Teddy a small bit of cooked chicken, or cooked egg white whenever we’re cooking, er even a bit of carrot.

A word from Teddy

I hope you found what you were looking for in this article. I know us hammies might want to eat everything, but only some kinds of dairy are okay. For example I love Gouda, and Maasdam cheese, but maybe your hammy likes Cheddar better ?

If you want to know more about us hamster you should check out the articles below. You’ll find out things like how large a cage we need, and why we sometimes freeze when you walk by us.

Related blog post
Cleaning A Hamster Cage – How Often, And How To Do It Right
Cleaning A Hamster Cage – How Often, And How To Do It RightEvery hamster owner’s got this question, and I know I had it too when I first got my Teddy. How often should I clean the hamster’s cage ? How do I clean it right ? Do I need to spot-clean every few days ?  In time, and with a bit of help from other hamster owners, I figured out how often to clean Teddy’s cage. And I learned how to do it without disturbing him too much, so he’s not shocked to find a completely different cage when I let him back in. Table of Contents ToggleSo how often should I clean the hamster’s cage ?Why a hamster’s cage can get smelly in the first placeCleaning the hamster’s cage, the right wayPut the hamster in his transport cage/exercise ballTake out everything already inside the hamster’s cageDeep-cleaning in case of illness or too many stainsRinse/scrub especially dirty objects or parts of the cagePut the bedding and objects back into the hamster’s cagePlace the hamster back into his homeShould you spot-clean the hamster’s cage every few days ?A word from Teddy So how often should I clean the hamster’s cage ? Ideally the hamster’s cage should be cleaned once a week. In some cases it can be once ever two weeks. This is for a single hamster, if you’ve got two or more living in the same cage, you won’t be able to leave it for 2 weeks. This is because several hamsters pee, poop, and leave bits of food in more numbers than just one hamster. And these are the activities that make a cage messy. So more hamsters in a cage equal more frequent cleaning. Still, there are some shortcuts you can take without hurting the hamster, and I’ll tell you in this article. But first, let’s see in detail what makes a hamster’s cage messy. Why a hamster’s cage can get smelly in the first place Usually a hamster will spend the majority of his time in his cage. Unless you’re putting him in an exercise ball, or transport cage to go somewhere. That means there will be lots of poop, food, and pee in the bedding. For the most part, it’s the pee that smells. This is easy to clean, since hamsters always choose one corner of the cage to pee in. Pooping can be done anywhere though. The hamster’s pee corner is always the same, unless he decides to change/move his nests’ location. The pee corner will be the one farthest away from the nest. So simply removing the bedding from that corner will be enough to remove the smell. There will be a white, dry spot under the bedding, which will not come off easy. We’ll deal with that later. If you’ve got more than one hamster, then there will possibly be more than one pee corner. It depends on whether your hamsters share a nest, or just the cage. It varies from hamster to hamster. Finding the pee corner is easy enough, though. Aside from that, droppings will be absolutely everywhere. In the nest, in the food bowl, under the water bottle, sometimes sticking to their fur (rarely, but I saw that on Teddy a could of times and he took it off real quick). Droppings do not smell, and they’re very dry. But they do look bad, and some people spot-clean them just to make the cage look better. As for the food, there will always be a food stash hidden in the hamster’s nest. He never eats all of the food at once, but he makes this huge stash of food, just to be sure h always has enough. Giving him more food won’t stop this from happening, it’s simply the hamster’s instinct. Depending on what you’ve give the hamsters to eat, you might find bits of fruit or veg in his food stash. They might start to smell, so taking them out fast would be a good idea. So those are the main culprits for why a hamster’s can develop a smell. Unless the hamster is seriously ill and needs a vet immediately, it won’t be him that’s smelling bad. He’s actually a very clean and non-smelly creature, and keeps his scent down to a minimum.   Cleaning the hamster’s cage, the right way Now that we know what can get the hamster’s cage dirty, let’s see how we can clean it – the right way. I say this because there are some people who do it wrong, even if they have the best intentions. Those are all honest mistakes, and can be easily corrected. I’ve made a few of them myself. Let’s see what we should be careful with: Scent – no strong chemicals used to clean the hamster’s cage, or scented soap. There are hamster-safe disinfectants available at your vet’s office, ask him for a recommendation. Leave the hamster a piece of his old bedding and nest. It will be easier for him to recognize his home, even if it is the same cage he’s known his whole life. Do not rearrange the cage unless absolutely necessary. Hamsters rely on smell and memory to navigate their cage, and are not keen on changes. They become nervous/stressed when they don’t recognize or find their nest. Provide enough bedding, but keep it reasonable. The hamster needs to be able to move about his cage. This varies from hamster to hamster. Digging hamsters need more bedding than runners, for example. Hamsters are very sensitive creatures. Removing him from his cage and putting him in a new habitat is stressful for him, especially if he does not have his scent there to know it’s a familiar place. This means that cleaning his cage isn’t something he likes, but it must be done to keep your home clean. So we need to be very careful with some things when we clean the hamster’s cage. Chief among them being scent and cage layout. Hamsters do not really use their eyes, they can’t see well. But they have a great sense of smell, and they rely on it heavily. Leaving them a handful of their old bedding, even with a few droppings, will make the place seem familiar. The nest should have as much of his old nest as possible, without being too dirty. Giving him a completely new set of paper towel strips to use as a nest, without some of his old nest, is going to be hard on him. Also, changing the location of his hideout(where he builds his nest) is not okay. I did this with Teddy and he spent the entire night with his cheeks full because he didn’t recognize his hideout all the way on the other side of his cage. Moving the general location of the food bowl or water bottle, and other objects he uses often isn’t recommended either. This is especially true if you own a blind hamster. He will rely on his memory alone to figure out his cage, and will be very grumpy after you’ve moved his furniture around. Now let’s start with the cleaning process. Put the hamster in his transport cage/exercise ball You’ll want the hamster out of his cage for this. This is a stressful operation for him, and it’s best of he’s not there. You can use  his exercise ball (this is what I do with Teddy) and let him roam the house for a while, until you’re done cleaning. This is only recommended if you finish cleaning his cage in under half an hour. Leaving the hamster in a closed space like the exercise ball is not safe, as he’ll need water and fresh air. If you’re taking longer than 30 minutes, or don’t have an exercise ball, you can also use the hammy’s travel cage. It should have a bit of bedding in it as well, a hideout and a few objects to keep him distracted. Whichever method you use, you’ll need to pick you hamster up and place him in the cage or ball. Baiting him with a bit of food in your hand works best. Take out everything already inside the hamster’s cage Once the hamster is safe and out of the way, you can start with his cage. Take out everything that’s in his cage, his wheel, hideout, food bowl, water bottle, toys, everything. Set them aside and check which need to be scrubbed, if any of them do. Most of the time they’re okay and do not need a rinse. You’ll notice your hamster’s nest, and that he’s got a food stash to survive the Apocalypse. Take everything out, but save some of the food and nest to put back into the cage when you’re done. About the bedding, changing the whole thing once per week seems to be the best bet. There will be bits of poo, but not too many, and the cage will start to smell a little, but not bad enough to be noticed from across the room. We use a litter scoop to dig out the bedding and keep things sanitary. For example this one. It’s fairly large, yes but changing the bedding by tipping the whole cage over isn’t the best idea. For a while we did it like that, and got bedding all over the floor, even when we tried to be careful. A scoop will just make life easier. You can check out the listing on Amazon here, and read the reviews as well. Once you’re done with removing all of the bedding, you’re left with an empty, dusty cage. Sometimes it will need a complete rinse, sometimes it will be decent. However I recommend rinsing the cage in the shower with hot water if the size isn’t too large. Or, you can use a moist, clean towel to wipe down the cage and remove most of the dust. When you’re done with the cleaning process, pat the cage dry and make sure there are no wet spots. Deep-cleaning in case of illness or too many stains Sometimes you need to deep-clean the cage. For example if the hamster is very ill, lives in a temporary quarantine in a different cage, and this one needs cleaning. Or if there’s too many pee stains on the cage bottom. You will need a hamster-safe disinfectant from your local vet. Make sure it does not smell strong, or doesn’t leave an odor behind. Use it as the bottle says, and make sure you scrub the affected ares very well. If you’ve got no disinfectant on hand, a mixture of 1:1 water and vinegar will work well. Whichever you use, make sure to rinse everything very very well. If you can still smell it, it will be way too much for the hamster. If it needs a scrub with unscented soap, do that too. The pee stains (the white, crusty stains) will need extra scrubbing and won’t come off easy. The disinfectant might remove a good part of it, however most of it will only be removed after you’ve left it to soak overnight. After you’re done with everything, pat the cage dry and make sure it has no wet spots. The bedding will stick to those parts and mold will have an easier time forming. (If you like this article so far, you can pin it to your Pinterest board by clicking the image below. The article continues after the image.) Rinse/scrub especially dirty objects or parts of the cage Sometimes the objects inside the cage will need some extra cleaning. For example if you’ve got a plastic hideout for your hamster, it will form condensation and will need to be rinsed in hot water and patted dry every time you clean the cage. Wooden objects can be cleaned too, if they’ve been stained (with blood for example, in case the hamster nicked himself on something, or two hammies had a fight) with hot water and a bit of non-scented soap. Food stains will come out too. However they need to be very well dried before you put the back into the hamster’s cage. Which means that if you’ve got a spare (like a spare food bowl or hideout) you will need to use that one for the next week. There are some objects that become much too dirty and need to be completely replaced. For example a textile-based hamster toy can be washed, yes, but some stains or smells possibly won’t some out. In such cases you’ll need to throw out the object and get a new one. Put the bedding and objects back into the hamster’s cage Once everything is cleaned, dried, and ready to be assembled, we can start putting it all back together. Starting with the bedding, place about an inch/2-3 cm of bedding evenly across the surface of the cage. Place a bit more in the corner the hamster uses as a hideout/nest. Make sure to sprinkle bits of his old bedding all over the cage. If you hamster is a runner like my Teddy, this is enough bedding. If he’s a digger however, he will need at least double this amount of bedding so he can burrow into it. Place every object the way it was before you cleaned the cage. The hideout, the food bowl, the water, toys, everything. The new nesting material should be left right outside the hamster’s hideout, along with bits of his old nest. Putting them directly into his hideout won’t help, as you’ll never be able to arrange them the way he likes it. Best to let him redecorate his home the way he always does. Make sure his food bowl is full, and his water bottle full as well. Once you’re sure you’ve put everything back into place, you can place the hamster back inside. Place the hamster back into his home Putting the hamster back into his cage will be fairly easy. If he’s in an exercise ball, you can open it inside the cage, near the food bowl. He’ll definitely come out then, and start pouching everything. If he’s in his travel cage, baiting him with a bit of food in your hands will work well too. Baiting hamsters with food always works, since they’re hoarders and will jump at every opportunity to eat. Once the hamster is safely in his cleaned cage, everything is done. Should you spot-clean the hamster’s cage every few days ? Yes, if you think the cage gets a bit too smelly from time to time you can do this. It’s usually the pee corners that smell, so that’s what you’ll need to change. I said I have a trick I can tell you about, and I will right not. See, hamsters will always pee in the same corner. So placing a bowl or half of a plastic hideout in that corner, filled with chinchilla sand is going to act like a litter box. The sand will clump up and you can remove the clumps when necessary. Or, you can throw out the sand altogether and replace it every few days. There’s something very important here though. Sand is great for hamsters, and they’ll even take a bath in it. But it needs to be sand, not dust. Many chinchilla bath sands (even if they say hamster sand or small rodent sand) are great for hamsters, but there is a problem. As far as I could find online, none of the formulations are sandy, they are dusty, more like flour. If you were to press the sand with the back of a spoon, it would keep its shape. This is not alright, since hamsters are very sensitive and inhaling that much dust can be lethal for them. So whichever brand of sand you use, make sure it is sand, and not dust. It can be more on the granulated side, it will work well. Most of them are made of dried up sea shells and minerals, which is alright. They’re usually whitish grey, but don’t be surprised if you find brown sand too. A word from Teddy I hope you found what you were looking for in this article. Us hamsters are fairly easy to take care of, but we do need regular cleaning and we need your help with that. If you want to know more about us hamsters, you can check out the related articles below. You’ll find more info on how to keep us happy and safe. [...] Read more...
Hamsters Living With Rabbits ? Shedding Some Light On This
Hamsters Living With Rabbits ? Shedding Some Light On ThisA hamster and a rabbit living together might sound odd, but it’s a question we stumble upon often. Can hamsters live with rabbits ? Would they get along ? Sounds like a reasonable, if a bit misguided,  question from an owner who would like to introduce his two pets. While rabbits are fairly even tempered and seem kind of relaxed, hamsters are another story. Let’s see if they would get along, though. For a more detailed comparison between hamsters or rabbits, you should read this article here. Table of Contents ToggleSo should hamsters be living with rabbits ?A little about the hamster’s personalityAbout the rabbit’s personalitySize and cage differences between the twoFood and diet difference between a hamster and a rabbitA word from Teddy So should hamsters be living with rabbits ? No, hamsters and rabbits should not and can not live together. There are a few reasons for this. First, the hamster is very territorial, will fight anything that tries to trespass, and is very jumpy and easy to frighten. Second, a rabbit is a very social animal, who will want to cuddle and also establish a hierarchy of sorts. Bunnies have a lot of personality, and they also have the advantage of being ridiculously larger than hamsters. In short, a hamster-rabbit combo can’t go well, at all. The bunny will demand cuddles, grooming, run around, and generally own the place. This leaves the hamster in a subordinate position, which he does not take well to, and will bite, hide, and be stressed out of his mind. In some extreme cases the hamster may end up dead, since a kick or bite from the a bunny can be fatal for it. And given how tiny a hammy is, an accident isn’t that unheard of. But let’s get into the personalities of each animal, and see why they are they way they are. A little about the hamster’s personality A hamster is a very territorial, solitary animal. Even the hamster breeds that can live together in pairs – more on that here – can end up fighting to the death. This is the reason I’d recommend keeping all hamsters separate, not just the Syrians or Chinese. Hamsters like having their own space, their own food, and keeping away from other animals. A hamster will mark things as his own with his scent glands. He will try to be the dominant one in any setting, and hamsters housed together can end up bullying one another. You might argue that your two Dwarf hammies get along just great. They might, but because they were introduced as babies, and grew up together. They grew up of the same size, species, and scent profile. They have the same type of reactions, and will know how to read one another properly. A hamster will be jumpy and scared most of his youth, while he learns the new sights, smells, and sounds in your home. He’ll even get scared of you walking past his cage when he’s in his first few weeks. A scared hamster is unpredictable, and is very likely to nip. There’s a lot more to hamsters than just what I said here. You should check out this article, on what it’s like to own a hamster and why they can be good pets (also a few cons of owning a hammy). And this article here, to understand the difference between the two main types of hamsters, and thus the general disposition of hamsters. About the rabbit’s personality A rabbit is very different from a hamster. I’m not even going to cover the size difference, since that’s one major but obvious reason to never house them with a hamster. A quick word for those who assume rabbits are rodents – like I did until I got my own hamster and learned the differences: Rabbis are not related to hamsters, they are not rodents. Yes they bite and chew and burrow, but rabbits are lagomorphs. They share a very distant ancestor with the hamster – about as distant as the dinosaur extinction – but that’s about it. That being said, rabbits are very social animals, and in the wild they live in colonies. They love being groomed, and they actually have a hierarchy. If you’ve ever been to the pet store and seen 78 rabbits piled on top of each other, maybe you thought it was cute (like I did). But it’s their way of establishing dominance. The top rabbit is the one getting all the attention, food, grooming and so on. This doesn’t sit well with other species, like the hamster. Rabbits will actually come up to each other and ask for (or demand) attention, cuddling, and general social chit chat. They will mark their territory with large pellets (aside from their regular droppings), or spraying pee, or rubbing their chins (scent glands) on things they’ll consider their own. Rabbits aren’t aggressive by nature, but they won’t think twice about kicking or biting back if they feel threatened. They do give out warnings though, but unless you’re a rabbit, or a human with a keen eye, you won’t know what’s coming. Actually if you’ve got a rabbit, or are thinking of getting one, I really think you should check out this site. It’s got a clear explanation of most bunny behaviors, and you’ll get a good glimpse into what having a bunny is like. As far as I’ve read it’s a bit like having a cat, except the meowing and shedding. (If you like this article so far, you can pin it to your Pinterest board by clicking the image below. The article continues after the image.) Size and cage differences between the two There’s a few differences when it comes to habitats, between hammies are rabbits. A hamster can live in a cage that’s 24 x 12 inches, and about 12 inches tall. That’s 61 x 30.5 cm, and about 30.5 cm tall. That’s the minimum for a Syrian hamster, and they prefer larger cages anyway. A rabbit will need much more than that. It needs both a living space, and an exercise space. The minimum for the living space would be 90 x 60 cm, and 90 cm high/ 35.4 x 23.6 inches, and 35.4 inches high. The exercise space should be a minimum of 2.43 x 1.21 m/ 8 x 4 feet, with height allowance. Rabbits can sometimes jump very high, and like to jump on top of things. Finally, for rabbits the living and exercise areas should be linked together, for easy access. If you want to know more about picking out a good rabbit habitat, you need to check out this site. It’s also where I did part of my research for this article, and they’re pretty good with rabbits. Alright, you might say that hamsters love a big cage anyway, and would do well in a habitat as large as the rabbit needs. Fair point, but let’s consider how these two animals keep their space. A hamster will sleep the day away, much like the rabbit, and will make regular rounds of his space. A rabbit will do the same, and they are both very territorial. No matter how large their territory is, these two can’t live together. They’re both too attached to ‘their’ things to share them with anyone else. Well, rabbits do share their ‘home’ but only with those they consider to be family (never a hamster). And they do see some areas as theirs, some as public areas, and some as ”do not enter”. They’ll try to enter those anyway when you’re not looking, entitled little fluffballs these guys. Hamsters on the other hand only know ”their” space. All of it. So finding bunny scent on the outside of their hideout will be a source of stress and lots of fighting. Food and diet difference between a hamster and a rabbit Alright, now that we’ve settled territory and living spaces and personalities, let’s talk about their food. Since they’re not even related, their foods will be very, very different. As with any other combination between hamsters and another animal, keeping their food separate won’t be feasible. One will poke into the other’s food bowl, and that’s not a good idea. Not only because of tensions coming up between the two. But also because the rabbit won’t find anything worthwhile in the hamster’s food, and the hamster will steal the good bits from the rabbit’s food. A hamster will have an omnivore diet. That means they can eat any type of food, with some exceptions – more on that here. However they will need grains and hard dry food to keep their teeth in check. A rabbit on the other hand will need a different diet. First off, hay, lot and lots of hay since they much on it pretty much all day. This can be a problem, since the hamster will try to use this as his nesting material. Another thing rabbits need is fresh veggies and some fruits, which again can be attractive for the hamster. Finally, pellets are considered to be the best kind of feed for rabbits. This way they won’t be able to pick and choose their favorites. A pellet is like a large kibble, with all the nutrients the rabbit needs, and all pellets in the bag are the same. A word from Teddy I hope you found out what you were looking for here. Us hammies don’t really like to share anything, and a big bunny can be very intimidating for us. Best to keep us separate. If you want to know more about us hamsters, then your should check out the related articles below. You’ll find info on how to keep us happy and safe. [...] Read more...
5 Creative Ways to Tell Your Hamsters Apart
5 Creative Ways to Tell Your Hamsters ApartIf you have two hamsters from the same species, they can look exactly the same, especially if they are hamsters from the same litter. In that case, it can be quite difficult to distinguish hamsters when you first become their owner. To differentiate them, you need to figure out a way to tell your hamsters apart. On the internet, you can find various tips on how to mark your hamsters to tell them apart. However, you have to be very careful. Tips such as to tie a ribbon around your hamster can be extremely dangerous and can even cause the death of the hamster. To help you safely differentiate your hamsters, here are some creative ways to tell your hamsters apart. Table of Contents Toggle1. Food colors2. Cut a small piece of hair from your hamster3. Put hamsters in different cages4. Study your hamsters’ personality5. Study the smallest differences on your hamsters 1. Food colors Sometimes it will happen that hamsters have absolutely no noticeable physical differences. In such cases, unless you know them very well, you will not be able to distinguish them which can sometimes create problems. Some owners have therefore decided to use the hamster labeling method with food colors. Food colors are edible and non-toxic if used in very small amounts in the hamster diet or when coloring toys in the cave.  This is why some owners have decided that food color could be used to put small dots on your hamsters so they can distinguish them. For example, one hamster will have a blue dot and the other a red one. Another method that some owners use is dyeing the tail of your hamster. Previously, this method was questionable for use because food coloring contains many chemical ingredients that can cause skin irritation and various inflammations. Even today the safety of artificial food dyes is highly controversial. However, in modern times there are many food colors that are made from natural ingredients, and there are simple instructions on the Internet for making your own natural food colors. For example, carrot or paprika is used for orange, spinach for green, strawberries or raspberries for pink or for red color beets. Such natural colors are safe to use on the hamster. If you just put a dot on your hamster with natural food colors, your hamster should have no consequences. Some owners recommend that the same can be done with a permanent marker. However, hamsters are constantly cleaning and licking, so they would surely lick a dot made with a permanent marker at some point, which would certainly be poisonous for them. The hamster might not die, but he could easily experience poisoning and get sick. By no means put permanent markers because, in addition to being intensely fragrant, they contain figures of chemical ingredients that can be poisonous, but also irritate hamsters skin. However, if you have two hamsters and cannot distinguish them, there is no need to label both hamsters with food colors, but only label one. You will know which hamster has a dot and which does not. Also if you opt for food coloring you will have to repeatedly label the hamsters with a dot because the food color will be constantly rinsed off. If you notice that the hamster has any reaction at the place where you put the food coloring, immediately stop using food coloring to distinguish the hamster and turn to one of the safer methods. 2. Cut a small piece of hair from your hamster Although the method with food colors is safe to use today if you use natural food coloring, there are also simpler ways to distinguish hamsters. A safe and easy way to distinguish hamsters is to definitely cut a small piece of hair from one of them. Some owners usually cut hamsters’ hair because their hair grows too much, so it is full of food and dirt. Haircutting a pet is very simple, and all you need are good scissors. To cut your little five, or in this case, cut off a small piece of hair, it is best to use surgical scissors or scissors for children. Surgical scissors are very sharp so you will simply be able to cut off all the hair you want with one stroke. If you use scissors for children, they have a rounded tip that will prevent injuries even if the hamster twitches and is restless during the haircut. It is best to cut a piece of hair on the upper part of the hamster’s body so that the cut is noticeable and so that you can immediately distinguish it from another hamster. It is easiest to cut a hamster if it is done by two people at the same time. One person needs to gently hold the hamster to calm him down. The other person should use both hands to cut a piece of hamster’s hair without injuring it. Use one hand to hold the hamster’s hair while you will use the other hand to cut it. It is best to hold the chunk of hair between your middle and index finger and then to cut it past it so as not to injure the hamster. If the hamster trusts you and is fairly calm in your arms, you don’t have to seek the help of another person. Grab the hamster in one hand and play with it until it calms down. When it calms down, take scissors and carefully cut a piece of hair in a visible place and the job is done. If your hamsters are spirited and you can’t tire them out or you are afraid that you might hurt them if you cut a piece of hair yourself, it is best not to do it. Take one of your hamsters to a vet that will cut off a piece of your hamster’s hair in just a few seconds without hurting him. There is a possibility that they will charge you for it, but it is certainly better to pay for that vet than to hurt your hamster. 3. Put hamsters in different cages To distinguish hamsters, perhaps the easiest way is to put them in different cages. If for some reason, you do not want to use any of the above methods, it may be easiest for you to place the hamsters in separate cages that you will arrange differently or to place a name tag on each. That way you will know at all times which hamster it is and you will not be able to replace them. Unless of course, you let them both out of their cages at the same time. If you put them back in the wrong cages, you will notice that they are behaving confused and that they are not used to being in that cage so you will quickly notice your mistake. This solution in some cases is not only desirable but also necessary. Most hamsters are very territorial animals that love solitude and their space. If you want to keep hamsters in the same cage, the best option is to take a Dwarf hamster that can live in pairs with other members of its species. Moreover, they even enjoy their company. But it can also happen to them that over time they stop getting along and start bullying each other. Syrian hamsters, on the other hand, have to live alone. These hamsters only meet to mate and the rest of their lives must be kept separate. If you put two Syrian hamsters in the same cage, they will start to stress very quickly and they will fight, which can end in the death of one of the hamsters and serious injuries to the other. The golden rule for hamsters is to never, ever mix different hamster species in the same cage. If you want hamsters to live together, if they get along well it is best to keep siblings together to avoid fights. If you are taking hamsters from different nests try to get to know them as soon as possible to get along as well as possible. Once they are older than eight weeks they are very likely to react badly to one another. In addition, make sure you have a large enough cage for each hamster to have space for themselves and that you have more than one feeding area to be able to feed on their own food bowls and water bottles. No matter how hard you try, sometimes hamsters just won’t get along with each other. In these cases, hamsters will often fight or bully one another which can be very dangerous and even deadly to one of them. If you have two of the same hamsters living together in the cage observe well how they behave, whether they get along and whether there are any problems. Living in an environment where hamsters are constantly fighting and harassing each other can be very stressful so rest assured that none of your hamsters will be happy. In this case, it will be necessary to separate the hamsters into different cages. This will ultimately help differentiate hamsters, but it will also make their lives more beautiful and peaceful. 4. Study your hamsters’ personality You constantly observe your hamsters to find the slightest difference. You try and try, but you still can’t find the differences that would help you to know which hamster is which. Physical appearance is simply not a thing that can help you because your hamsters look identical. But if you study them well you will notice that hamsters do not behave identically. As much as they look the same as humans, hamsters have different personalities. One of them, for example, will be shy, will often spend time in the cottage, and will run away every time you give him food. The other will be brave and will like to cuddle, will spend a lot more time outside the house, and will be more open to contact with you. Hamster’s personality depends on the species of hamster, how tame they are, and do they like to have friends in the cave. For example, Syrian hamsters quickly develop a relationship with the owner and are in a very friendly mood. However, they like to be alone and are very aggressive towards other hamsters so you cannot keep them with others. According to the behavior they show towards you, but also, in general, the habits and behavior they show in the cage, you will be able to notice the behaviors according to which hamsters differ. Place in the cave two different feeding bowls and two different water bottles. Since hamsters are fairly territorial animals even when they live together they are very likely to drink from different water bottles and eat from different feeders. If it is easier for you, record their habits and notice if they repeat some behaviors and if they do some things that are specific only to them. For example, it could be carrying food to a certain part of the cage or sleeping in a specific place. It is also very important to observe how your identical hamsters get along. It can happen that hamsters will not get along best and will cause stress. If you hear them fighting or see injuries on one of them, don’t wait for the situation to calm down. The hamsters will just keep fighting more and more until they get completely angry and kill each other. So you can be left without both hamsters because they can easily die from injuries. By studying their personalities and behaviors you will notice in time if something is happening and you can easily prevent such events if you separate them into two different cages. If the hamsters look exactly the same, they will most often be hamsters from the same litter so you should have no problems with fights and bullying, but you never know with their personalities and primitive instincts. Personality can be a great indicator and help you distinguish which hamster you are at any time. For this, you will need a lot of patience, paper and pencil, and the interesting company of your little pets. This way you can get to know your pets very well, and you will feel like a real scientist studying animal behavior. If you have children, be sure to include them in this activity because they will learn everything about hamsters. Besides, it will certainly be interesting to them to notice new things about their pets every day. 5. Study the smallest differences on your hamsters This method may not be completely creative, but it will certainly help you differentiate your hamsters in the long run. Besides that, this method can be very interesting for you and especially for your children if you make it a real detective job. Your main task is to find a difference between hamsters. While your hamsters may seem exactly the same at first, there are small differences that can help you differentiate them. However, to find these differences you need to study the bodies of your hamsters well and look for any spot that deviates from the usual fur color or some irregularity. Even when you spot spots on both hamsters, observe if they are exactly the same shape and if they are in exactly the same place. It can happen that the spot on one is just a little bit higher or lower than on the other hamster. For example, when it comes to White WInter hamsters, it often happens that it is difficult to find differences between two completely identical all-white hamsters. In such situations, pay attention to detail. Does one of the hamsters have a slightly shorter or longer tail than the other? Does the hamster perhaps have some spot or any irregularity on its tail or on the rest of its body that could help you distinguish them? The owners of the looking hamsters themselves state that it was precisely these small details that enabled them to distinguish hamsters at all times. In addition, when you study two hamsters of the same species for a long time, you notice some details that you did not see at first. For example, one of the hamsters has a slightly different head shape, a slightly different ear shape, or a more protruding muzzle. One of the hamsters may be barely noticeably larger than the other or be a shade lighter or darker in color. These are all little things that you will notice over time. To identify which hamster it is, take a good look at the color of their eyes. Hamsters can also have different eye shades and you can differentiate them accordingly. If there are no obvious differences and you can’t find any difference even after a long study, it’s best to turn to study their personalities and behavior to help you differentiate them. If this is not possible then turn to the method of using food coloring or cutting the piece of their hair. One of these methods will surely help you to easily tell your hamsters apart. [...] Read more...
What Do Hamsters Eat ? – Food List And Exceptions
What Do Hamsters Eat ? – Food List And ExceptionsWhat do you usually feed your hamster ? What can hamsters eat ? What should they NOT eat ? I had some many of these questions when I first got my Teddy, and I can tell you what I found out. Some I found out by trial and error, some I asked vets, and some still I found out from other hamster enthusiasts. So I’ve compiled a big ol’ list here, so you can have all the info you need for your hamster’s food and diet. Table of Contents ToggleSo what can hamsters eat ?What hamsters should never eatProtein foods your hamster can eatVegetables and Legumes you can feed your hamsterHamsters can eat pasta and bread too !Nuts and seeds your hamster can eatFruits your hamster can eatPre-made food mixes for your hamsterGrain and pellet food mix for your hamsterTreats for your hamsterHow much does a hamster eat ?Dangers of overfeeding your hamsterWhat to do if your hamster is not eatingA word from Teddy So what can hamsters eat ? First off, hamsters are omnivores. That means they can and will eat anything from plant-based food, to grains, to meat and insects. This applies for every kind of hamster out there, be it Syrian, Robo, Campbell, or Chinese. If you look at a box of hamster feed, you will usually just see grains, a few seeds, and a few vitamin pellets. But if you turn the box and look at the ingredients, you will often see protein sources like chicken/fish/beef/shrimp.  You can feed the hamster an omnivore diet yourself, or get a pre-made mix that will last for several weeks, even a couple of months. I’ll get into more detail with each food group a hamster can eat, along with actual examples you probably have in your home. And I’ll give you a couple of food mixes you can buy for your hamster, along with other treats. But first, let’s see what hamsters should definitely avoid. What hamsters should never eat In general hamsters should stay away from anything acidic. Even if you give your hammy a piece of orange he will turn away from it, but that’s just because of the strong smell. Best to avoid acidic food altogether. There are other foods your hamster should avoid, mainly because his stomach is not built for such foods. Here are a few examples of foods your hamster should never eat: any type of citrus at all – lemon, orange, clementine, grapefruit, etc. any part of a tomato, it’s acidic as well, even if less than a lemon chocolate, and anything sweet – can cause diabetes fruit seeds or peels – apple, grapes, strawberry, etc onions, garlic, peppers, spices – anything extra spicy or tasty will upset his stomach high-fat content foods – like extra fat meat, or even some types of dairy anything unwashed like unwashed fruits or vegetables any part of a rhubarb(1) almonds, apricot pits can be highly toxic celery or very stringy/fibery foods like cabbage anything containing added sugar or salt raw potato or beans (any kind) These are all foods that your hamster is better off not eating, since he can’t digest them. In some cases these foods will kill the hamster, so best to avoid them completely. Alright, now let’s get into the food groups your hammy can eat, along with actual examples. Yay ! Protein foods your hamster can eat Hammies do eat protein, and it doesn’t have to be soy-based necessarily. While you can feed your little hammy something soy-based like tofu, you can also find some soy protein in his food mix as well. But I wouldn’t advise giving the hamster and actual, raw soy bean. Best to stay away from that. For example I’ve given my Teddy boiled egg white, boiled unseasoned chicken and turkey, and he loves them both. Actually, most of the time hamsters just store food in their cheeks and hide it in the house. But with the egg and chicken, Teddy dropped everything he had and ate them right there. Of course, the pieces you feed your hammy should be small, so he can eat them on the spot. If you give him too big a piece, he might want to save some of it for later and we all know how quickly meat goes bad. Mealworms are sometimes a treat for hamsters. I’ve never give my Teddy one, but I’ve met hamster owners who give them to their hammies as treats. Not all hamsters will like them, but you can try. Do not give them mealworms too often though, since they are very filling. Teddy: If your feed any kind of meat or egg to you hammy, keep it simple, unsalted, unseasoned. Never feed any raw protein tot us, like raw meat or egg. Dairy is also a good protein source, but don’t give it to your hammy often ! Hamsters are mammals just like us humans, and as such we can’t process milk-based products very well when they are in large quantities. So, keep the dairy to a minimum. Something like a peanut sized piece, once per week is alright. Vegetables and Legumes you can feed your hamster Most vegetables are safe for hamsters to eat, but some are to be avoided. Especially legumes like lentils, beans, peas, chickpeas and so on are not alright. This is mostly because of their high fiber content, which can upset your hamster’s guts. So best to stay away from legumes for your hamster. Vegetables like leafy greens and roots are mostly alright. But let’s talk about a few clear examples. Here are some vegetables your hammy can totally eat: most leafy greens, like spinach, watercress, lettuce, kale cucumber, zucchini carrots are okay, but any other hamster than a Syrian will have to eat them less frequently (higher sugar content than other vegetables, can cause diabetes for dwarf hamsters) sweet potato, cooked – same as carrots, keep a very low intake for dwarf hamsters asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower (cooked) You probably have most of these in your fridge or pantry already. So feel free to feed your hamster small pieces of these veggies as a treat, or even as a supplement to his usual food mix. Hamsters can eat pasta and bread too ! But only in small quantities. The thing with pasta, bread, rice, and so on, is that they’re all high carbohydrate foods. As such, your hamster needs them, but not as much as you’d think. The carb content of a hamster diet should not get past 20%, since they require a balanced dies of protein and veggies as well. So here are a few examples or carbs and bread your hammy can safely eat: Bread, as long as it has no added sugar and has a low salt content. That rules out toast bread, hot dog buns, and hamburger buns as well. Whole grain or multi-cereal bread is great for hamsters actually. Dry grains, of basically any kind Cooked brown rice, unseasoned Cooked wholegrain pasta, unseasoned. Regular white pasta becomes too sticky for your hamster, and will leave residues in his cheek pouches that can cause problems later on. Corn flakes, oat flakes, most muesli mixes Unsalted, unsweetened crackers and biscuits, small piece The food mix you give your hamster is usually well balanced, so don’t feed your hammy too much additional bread or other carbs. Keep them as a small treat every now and then. Nuts and seeds your hamster can eat Hamsters love to chew on a lot of things, and nuts and seeds give them just that opportunity. Most nuts and seeds are okay for hamsters to eat, but there are a few exceptions. Here’s a list of seeds and nuts your hamster can enjoy: dried sunflower and pumpkin seeds, with or without shell, unseasoned peanuts and hazelnuts, unsalted, plain; remove shell and skin walnuts chestnuts, without shell, cooked, plain sesame seeds Do keep in mind that nuts and seeds have a high fat content. So don’t feed too many or too often to your hamster. Keep them as a treat every now and then. Especially if the food mix you bought for the hamster already has a couple of seeds and nuts included. Teddy: Stay away from almonds though. They classify as a nut, but they are toxic for us hamsters ! Fruits your hamster can eat Most kinds o fruit are safe for hamsters. There are a few exceptions, and I’ll cover those too. But first, here is a list of fruits your hamster can eat: apple, pear, peeled and cored (no seeds) strawberries, no seeds banana slice, in a very small amount grape, no seeds, peeled dates and figs, dried raisins blueberries, blackberry, raspberry cherries, no seeds Again, keep the hamster away from citrus fruits. The citrus oils is toxic for hamsters, and will harm them. If you’ve ever peeled an orange and got your hand close to your hammy, you saw him pull away. (If you like this article so far, you can pin it to your Pinterest board by clicking the image below. The article continues after the image.) Pre-made food mixes for your hamster These are a convenient way to feed your hamster, and often are actually pretty well thought out. If you see the ingredient list, and think there’s something vital that’s missing (like proteins) you can look for another brand or supplement with proteins like the list above. Grain and pellet food mix for your hamster I use a pre-made mix for my Teddy, and give him fruits, veggies, and meat whenever I’m cooking. So he gets the grain and pellets mix, with an assortment of carrots and other foods I have around the house and are safe for him. As I said above, I’ll give you a few options on store bough food to give to your hamster. The first one I found is an actual food mix, with a fair amount of seeds and pellets as well. The whole bag will last you for a couple of months or more, depending on how much you feed the hamster, and what you supplement alongside (More on that below). You can check the Amazon pricing here, and other details as well. Treats for your hamster While most hamster food mixes have a balance of protein, vitamins, and carbs, you can give your hamster occasional treats. These don’t have to be often, but need to be kept as a treat every few days, or when you’re trying to teach or tame your hamster. For example I give Teddy cheese drops as a treat, and he absolutely loves them. The drops can be made of other fruits or veggies too. But Teddy seems to prefer the cheese. I found a variety pack that you can give your hamster. They’re yogurt based and suitable for all kinds of hamster, rats, gerbils, even ferrets. You can find the listing on Amazon here, and check the price as well. There are other types of treats hamsters go for, like for example simple dog treats (no flavors) or milk bones, and some granola bars(no sugar or honey). But my Teddy loves these cheese yogurt drops, and he gets them 2-3 times a week. Teddy: Whatever treat or food you choose, make sure you feed us hamsters responsibly ! Treats are treats and we don’t need them every day. Food mix is a great way to make sure we get the proper nutrition and stay healthy. How much does a hamster eat ? Alright, now that you know what kind of foods your hammy can and can not eat, and you’ve seen a few examples of pre-made food and treats, let’s talk about how often to feed the hamster. This depends mostly on the hamster himself, in that a baby hamster will need a bit less food than an adult hamster. But in general, 2 teaspoons of dry food are enough for an adult Syrian hamster. Dwarf hamsters need less, 1 teaspoon. It might sound like very little food, but look at the size of your hamster. Not only can he not eat much, but also dry food keeps him full for much longer than veggies. If you’re unsure, grab a teaspoon and put the necessary amount in your hand. I’ll attach a photo here of how much 2 teaspoons of dry food is for my Teddy. This is enough for an adult Syrian hamster. Teddy: Remember, we don’t need a lot of food, and we also hide food in our hideouts ! So if you just fed your hammy, and see no food there 5 minutes later, don’t give him more food. He just took the food into his hideout, to snack on later. Us hamsters are funny like that, and love to hoard our food ! Dangers of overfeeding your hamster The first and immediate danger is getting your hamster fat. While you might think that a chubby hamster looks cute (and he does, not gonna lie) it’s very bad for his health. Hamsters are very active creatures, and must be able to run and sprint and dart through tubes or into hideouts at any point. This is their instinct, and a large fat hamster will not be able to do any of these, or at least not properly. This will shorten the hamster’s lifespan as well. A hamster can only live for so long (2-3 years), might as well make his short life comfortable. If you want to know more about why your hamster can get so big or fat, check out my article on this exact topic. There I’ll tell you everything you need to know about why hamsters can get fat, and even how to slim yours down. Hint: it involves getting your hammy more exercise opportunities. For this a great hamster wheel is essential. You’ll also find out what a reasonable weight is for the hamster himself, so you have a guideline to follow. What to do if your hamster is not eating Some hamsters are very picky about their food. They will not eat just anything, and need more attention in that way. So play around with his food, change up the flavors a bit. Maybe he only likes chicken flavored pellets or treats. That could be a start to your hamster eating more. If your hammy is not touching dry food, try with veggies. Give him alternatives, like a piece of broccoli, one asparagus, and a small kale leaf. See which he likes, and keep giving him that. Then, continue adding new foods to his diet, from the list of foods I wrote above. Until you reach a mix of vegetables that you can give him daily, and you know he will eat them. If veggies are not an option for him, try giving the hamster meat. I’ve never seen a hamster turn down meat. Make sure the piece is cooked, but unseasoned. The extra salt is not needed in your hamster’s diet, since he needs much less than humans. If, in an exceptional case, your hamster turns down every kind of food, call the vet. Especially if you see other signs of a possible illness like sparse fur, a wet tail (very bad), dried blood on his body, or anything that looks out of the ordinary. In a worst case scenario, you might want to know how much a hamster can survive without any food and water. I wrote an article on that topic, and the point is that if your hamster is not eating, but at least has water he has a higher chance or survival. In any case, contact your vet if your hammy seems sick, along with not eating. A word from Teddy I hope you’re very clear now on what us hamster can and can not eat. I know it’s a bit of a list to remember, but it’s in your hamster’s benefit. If you’re not sure about a food, and you can’t find any info anywhere, maybe don’t feed it to your hammy. That way at least you’ll be sure he’s safe. You can find more info on the best kind of bedding for us hamsters, or why we sometimes eat our own poo, and even why we’re sometimes scared of you ! Just check out the articles below and you’ll find your answers. References: https://www.rspca.org.uk/adviceandwelfare/pets/rodents/hamsters/diet [...] Read more...
Where Hamsters Come From – Origin Story Of Your Furry Friend
Where Hamsters Come From – Origin Story Of Your Furry FriendIf you’ve ever wondered where your hamster comes from, know that I asked myself the same question. Turns out hamsters have a short history of being pets, and some really wild and rugged ancestors. It’s a whole story, really. And there’s more than just one hamster type. Today there’s 5 types of hamster available for purchase, and they’re all a bit different. But let’s start with the basics: where do they come from, where do they go ? (Cotton-eyed Joe) Table of Contents ToggleSo where do hamsters come from ?About the Syrian hamsterAbout the Roborovski DwarfAbout the Campbell DwarfAbout the Siberian/Winter white DwarfAbout the Chinese DwarfThere is a wild European hamster no one has ever tamedHow the wild hamster came to be your cuddly petPet hamsters vs wild hamsters – is there a difference ?Is a hamster a good pet for your home ?A word from Teddy So where do hamsters come from ? Hamsters, as a whole, have several ‘roots’ but they all stem from the same general region. Reaching from southern Turkey, Syria, Russia, Siberia, Mongolia, parts of China, hamsters are mostly Asian in descent.  At least the ones that we’ve been able to domesticate somewhat, and keep as pets. Each hamster type has a different story, but they have a common thread. That of being noticed in the wild by one scientist or explorer, and brought back to the Western world as pets. The modern hamster, aside from variations in coat patterns, is very much the same as the wild hamsters discovered about a century ago. Next, we’ll cover the roots of each hamster type, and how they came to be our pets, including how to care for them given their ancestry. About the Syrian hamster Originally from southern Turkey and Syria, the Syrian hamster is the largest of the pet hamsters (up to 7 inches/18 cm). They come from a very hot and dry place on this planet. They’re the most diverse-looking hamsters out there. They can be all in one color, spotted, ringed, with a dominant spot, golden, or ashen, or pretty much any color combination you can imagine. The most common is the Golden variation – also the one found in the wild – with orange on the back, and white on the belly, with a bit of grey on his ears. My Teddy is like that. The Syrian was first sighted in 1839, but didn’t become a pet until the past few decades. You see what happened was that all the way back in 1930 a zoologist named Israel Aharoni was able to find a mother hamster, with a litter of 11 babies. They were found in Syria, and brought to Jerusalem for study. Not all of the litter survived, since the mother sensed danger and started eating the babies. Unfortunately that happens, and the zoologist wasn’t aware, no one had known hamsters before. A few of the babies survived, and were raised in the laboratory in Jerusalem. Some escaped, and became the wild hamsters of Israel. In 1931 a few of them were transported to Britain, and from the on raised and passed on to various laboratories for studies, and to breeders as well. Today’s modern Syrian hammies are descended from that one mother found in Syria, since none have ever been successfully captured and bred since. So my Teddy – Golden Syrian male – is probably related to your Syrian hammy, like very very distant cousins. About the Roborovski Dwarf The Roborovski hammy, or the Robo Dwarf, was first sighted and noted by Lt. Vsevolod Roborovski, a russian expeditioner. These hammies are much, much smaller than the Syrian, and they’re actually the tiniest of all hamsters. They grow up to 2 inches/ 5 cm and that’s it. Robos live in parts of Kazakhstan, Mongolia, and China. The regions of those countries that the hamster lives in are particularly dry and sandy, with very little vegetation and water, so this hammy has learned to be great at surviving on very little water. The Robo was brought in the common household only around 1960 when they were imported into the London Zoo, in the U.K. Given their small size Roborovski hammies have become very popular as pets, and they’re among the hamster types that can live in a pair. Even if they’re the smallest and hardest pet to literally hold onto, Robos win with their cuteness. Their fur markings are more limited than the Syrian hamsters, but they live the longest – up to 4 years being the record. About the Campbell Dwarf The first ever Campbell Dwarf was found and collected in 1902 in Mongolia by Charles William Campbell (hence the name). The territory these hamsters live in is somewhere between southern Russia, northern China, Mongolia, and a part of Kazakhstan. Most hamsters, aside from the Syrian and European hamster, come from that area, actually. Of all the hamster species, the Campbell Dwarf is the most social. They’ve been found living with other hamster types in order to share tunnels, protection, and food. They also come close to human settlements to find warmth, shelter, and food. For example they can be sometimes found in mongolian yurts in the winter months. It’s unclear how these furry creatures came to the Western world since there are no definite records. Still, I’d imagine it happened like with the rest of the hammies that can be purchased now.. About the Siberian/Winter white Dwarf The most confusing hamster type out there, it’s usually confused with the Campbell Dwarf. The Siberian hammy’s name is always a mix, ranging from: Siberian (given the region it lives in) to Winter White since its fur changes to white in the winter to Russian since it inhabits parts of Russia and finally Djungarian for another region of China this hamster lives in plus the added “Dwarf”, to make it all even more confusing Now that being said, this particular hamster lives in parts of Russia, Siberia, China, and Mongolia. The appearance is a lot like the Campbell Dwarf, but with a few key differences. The Siberian Dwarf is small, with a white belly, and a browny color on its back, a dark stripe going down the back, and a dark spot on its crown.  In the winter the fur goes almost completely white. The Campbell hamster has the same look, but grey on its belly, and has a much thinner stripe down the back, with no dark fur on the crown. They can interbreed only by male Siberian and female Campbell , but the result is a sterile litter. Naming and discovery happened in 1773 by Peter Simon Pallas, who first described it as a mouse, and later renamed it Mouse Songarus. The Siberian hammy was brought to Germany (and the West in general) only in 1968, all the way from western Siberia to the Max Planck institute in Germany. About the Chinese Dwarf This hamster was also discovered by the same zoologist as the Siberian Dwarf, Peter Simon Pallas, and recorded in 1773. There is some serious confusion between the Chinese hamster, and the Striped Chinese hamster. They seem to be the same species, but it’s honestly hard to make sense of the conflicting info. Some say they’re the same, some say they’re each other subspecies, some say they’re completely different. What’s definite though is that they both have a longer tail than other domestic hamsters, and look mostly the same. As in mostly brown with a few darker hairs, and a very thin dark stripe going down the back. These hammies are larger than a Dwarf, but smaller than a Syrian. As in, the reach up to 4 inches/ 10 cm, yet they’re classified as Dwarf types, given that they’re still smaller than the Syrian. Chinese hamsters are also very territorial, and can’t be housed together. They and the Syrian hamster will fight to the death, even if introduced to their own siblings as babies. The region these hamsters live in ranges from Mongolia, China, Korea, Western Siberia, Southern Russia. There is a wild European hamster no one has ever tamed Alright, after all these hamster types that you can find in most pet shops, there is another one. A much larger, completely impossible to tame hamster. The European hamster, or black-bellied hamster, can grow to double the size of a Syrian hammy. So that puts an adult European to about 8-14 inches/20-35 cm ! Their fur is usually brown, with a black belly, chest, and neck and a few white markings on the neck and paws. Its territory ranges from Belgium and Eastern Europe, all the way to Western Russia. Aside from this, not much is known about this hamster when it comes to who named it and why it’s not suitable as a pet. I’m guessing its large size makes it harder to keep in check, and thus wouldn’t be a good pet. That’s just my guess though. How the wild hamster came to be your cuddly pet Now that you know where your hammy came from, now let’s see which kind of hamster you have. You can find a simple, clear guide to hamster breeds here, so you know which hamster type you have. And here you’ll find the main differences between the Syrian hammy, and the Dwarf type hammies out there. There’s quite a few differences. Okay, now you know which hammy you have. But how did it become your pet ? Actually, why did hamsters in general become pets ? Well, as you’ve read most of the hamster types were imported to either Britain or Germany for study. Back in the day zoologists and explorers did intense research and expeditions to find out everything you now read in your zoology and biology textbook. They did more than just that, but that’s the part where the hamsters come in. So hamsters became both laboratory animals, and zoo expositions as well. Once scientists and professors started getting valuable info about the hamsters and they became widely known, they started to become gifts. For a dignitary or diplomat, hamsters were given as pets, and were exported into toe U.S. as well in the late 1900’s. So the hamster has a history of curiosity in the wild, to laboratory animal, to zoo animal, and finally as a pet.  They became very popular as pets in 1930-40, and only grown in popularity since. (If you like this article so far, you can pin it to your Pinterest board by clicking the image below. The article continues after the image.) Pet hamsters vs wild hamsters – is there a difference ? When it comes to temperament, the modern hamster isn’t all that different from the wild hamster. Given the fact that the selective breeding process has been going on for less than a century, your hammy at home isn’t decidedly tame or domesticated. Unlike dogs for example, who’ve been bred for thousands of years, and became domestic and tame and loving pets, hamsters have a very short history of being pets. And there is also the difference between rodents and canines, which makes rodents harder to teach. That being said, if you were to release your Syrian hammy in your back yard, it would have a low chance or survival, depending on where you live. If you’re in a warm, sandy, dry place, it would be a lot like his home and he’d scamper away to dig a burrow. If you’re like us in a cooler, more humid place, with all 4 seasons, your Syrian hammy would perish as soon as autumn kicked in. It’s not necessarily the cold that gets to them, but the humidity that goes through their fur and makes them sick very fast. When it comes to markings though, the modern hamster has many more variations than the wild one. Aside from that though, your pet hammy is mostly the same as his wild cousin. Is a hamster a good pet for your home ? A hamster is a great pet to have, but he comes with his own challenges. Hamsters are very sensitive to temperature, light, sounds, and smells. They don’t do well in crowded, loud homes, and react very badly under stress. They also get stressed very easily, to there’s that too. The ideal home for a hamster is a quiet, calm home, with not many adults, children, or pets running around the house, and of an even temperature. For this reason, and the fact that they’re mostly nocturnal and sleep during the day, hamsters are deceptive pets. They look cute and sound easy to take care of, but need constant handling in order to remain tame. A lot of patience and calmness in needed to take care of a hamster, and quite a bit of attention to detail too. Like the cage size, the spacing between bars, the kinds of food he gets, and so on. Hamsters are still wild animals, and rodents at that. So they’re excellent escape artists, and will often gnaw on everything they can. That being said, having a hamster as a pet can be rewarding on its own. It’s just very different from having a puppy or a kitten. You can find out more about what having a hamster is like. And if you want to know how to choose a good hamster for you, check out this guide on the health and personality traits to look out for in your pet hamster. A word from Teddy I hope you liked reading about us hammies, and how we came to be your pets. I know it can be a bit confusing, but we’ve had a wild ride all the way to your home. If you want to know more about us hamsters, you can read the related articles below, for steps on how to care for us and so on. [...] Read more...
Do Hamsters Eat Insects? You Need To Know This!
Do Hamsters Eat Insects? You Need To Know This!If you have a small hamster, you are probably asking yourself if a hamster can eat small insects. It might be because some insects might get into your hamster’s cage, or you are curious about what a wild hamster looks like. We know cats might hunt and eat some little flies, which might make us think insects are safe for pets, but there is a big difference between a small hamster and a cat. I have an entire article about what hamsters eat in the wild, and it can be fascinating to understand the difference between a pet diet and a wild hamster diet. In this article, I want to talk about what insects a hamster can eat, when it can happen, and if you have to give insects to your pet hamster for a balanced diet. Table of Contents ToggleDo hamsters eat insects?What kind of insects do hamsters eat?Should you feed your pet hamster with insects?Should you give extra protein to your hamster?Can hamsters eat other small animals?Do hamsters get or eat fleas?Do hamsters eat each other?Conclusion Do hamsters eat insects? Yes, hamsters can eat insects in the wild. However, they don’t do this too often because it can be dangerous for them since a lot of insects might contain harmful bacteria for the hamsters. They will eat insects only if this is the last food option they have and only if the insects get in their way, a wild hamster will not hunt for insects on purpose. Most people think that hamsters eat more insects than they actually do because hamsters are omnivores. However, in reality, they eat very few and only when they have no other choice. If you want to know more about what a hamster diet looks like and what you should feed your pet hamster, I have an article about what food a hamster can eat and the exceptions. What kind of insects do hamsters eat? Wild hamsters can eat worms, grasshoppers, small bugs and even spiders, but it is important to know that all of those might be harmful to a hamster if they eat big amounts. This is one of the main reasons why a wild hamster usually doesn’t live as long as a pet hamster, they don’t really know what food is harmful to them. It might be a plant or a toxic seed for the wild hamster, and if they are hungry, they will eat it anyway. Of course, this is not the main reason for a wild hamster living less than a pet, but it is up there, with the most important one being the fact that they have a lot of predators. Should you feed your pet hamster with insects? I saw some people consider that they have to give insects to their pet hamsters, which might make sense if you consider that hamsters are omnivore animals we tend to believe they might need some meat in their diet. However, they can live very well only with seeds, grains, and vegetables. So it is not worth the effort of trying to give your hamster insects, and it might also be dangerous for them. Should you give extra protein to your hamster? Aside from a pre-made mix, seeds have a lot of protein, so you should not worry about that. You can give your hamster a little bit of boiled, unseasoned chicken, or a little piece of boiled egg white if you are worried about the protein intake of your hamster. As I said before, it is not necessary, but it is much safer than giving insects to your pet hamster. When you think about good protein sources, you might be tempted to feed your hamster legumes like peas, chickpeas, beans and lentils but those also have a high amount of fibers which might upset the hamster’s guts.  The best and safest protein sources for a hamster are seeds and nuts. Can hamsters eat other small animals? I saw this in a few articles that claim that a wild hamster can eat small birds, frogs, or lizards, but I believe this is true only for European hamsters, which are much bigger and stronger, but even then, they will not look for those if it is not the last option they have. Especially since in the wild, most frogs and lizards can be poisonous, even for humans or other bigger animals than hamsters, so we can imagine why it is not safe for hamsters to eat those kinds of animals. Do hamsters get or eat fleas? Talking about insects, one of the most annoying insects for any kind of animal, including us, are fleas. They are annoying, hard to kill or get rid of them, and obnoxiously fast. Unfortunately, hamsters can also get fleas. Pet hamsters will only get fleas if directly exposed to them like by you or another pet you have that might have fleas. In this case, if you observe your hamster carefully, you might see black dots moving in its fur, which are fleas. If there is more than one, it should be visible. However, if there is only one flea, it might be harder to spot.  If you own a Syrian hamster do not confuse its black spots for fleas ! Syrian hamster s have a black spot on each hip, which are scent glands. The spots are much larger than a flea, and resemble the brown skin spots some humans get. I was scared the first time I saw those spots since they look like the hamster has a health problem. You will know without a doubt if your hamster has fleas when he scratches and bites excessively at certain areas of his body, accompanied by vocal sounds indicating irritation. Furthermore, wet spots may appear on the fur due to the hamster’s attempts to lick off the flea. About hamster eating the fleas, like other animals that get fleas, they will have a hard time caching the flea before it jumps elsewhere, so there are not big chances that your hamster will actually eat the flea. Here is an article that will guide you to get rid of the hamster’s fleas. By the way, I wrote a big article about 10 most common health problems in hamsters that is very useful for any hamster owner. Do hamsters eat each other? Yes, hamsters can eat each other in certain situations. They actually fight to death more often without actually eating each other. This is especially true for Syrian hamsters, which are solitary animals, so they don’t share their space with other hamsters. For them, any hamster is an enemy like any other animals, so they will fight right away if it crosses their property. Syrian hamsters have a hard time even reproducing since the female will fight the male shortly after they have time to make babies. Females raise the babies on their own without the male being there. Even the hamsters that can live together will often fight each other. The fact that dwarf hamsters can live together doesn’t mean that they will. It is a pretty delicate process to make hamsters be friendly with each other and usually, it happens only for the hamsters that are from the same family. It is quite hard to introduce a new member to a family of dwarf hamsters without them fighting. Dwarf hamsters are still territorial animals, so they will protect their territory. Some hamsters develop this territorial attitude later than others, so you might be surprised that hamsters that get along pretty well start fighting suddenly. Conclusion So the conclusion is that hamsters can eat insects, but that doesn’t mean that it is recommended to feed your pet hamster with insects, in fact, it can be quite dangerous. I hope this article clarifies the misconception that insects are part of the hamster diet because they are omnivores and need animal protein. Keep your hamster safe, and don’t be afraid to rely mostly on pre-made mixes that you buy from the pet shop. Most of the time, they are good enough and save you from wasted time and unnecessary risk for your hamster. [...] Read more...