Can Hamsters Eat Fruits ? Safe And Unsafe Fruits For Your Hammy

If you’re wondering about whether your hammy can eat fruit or not, you’re not the only one. My Teddy is always curious about what I have in my hands, and we eat a lot of fruit in this house.

At first I had no idea which fruit was okay for him, or if any fruit was okay to begin with. But let e tell you what I found out, so you’ll know as well.

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So can hamsters eat fruits ?

Yes, hamsters can eat some types of fruits. However hamsters should eat fruits in very small amounts, and not often.

The majority of fruits are okay for hamsters to eat, however citrus type fruits are not. They’re too acidic for the hamster’s gut.

We’ll cover in the rest of the article which fruits are safe for your hamster, and which should definitely be avoided. And also how much fruit you should give your hamster, and how often.

Some differences between Syrian and Dwarf hamsters

There’s a big difference between Dwarf hammies (Roborovski, Campbell, Siberian, and Chinese)  and the large Syrian hammy.

The Dwarf types are prone to diabetes, and need to stay away from very sugary foods and drinks. So that means that they can, in fact eat some fruits, but in a very small amount. And much less often than a Syrian hamster.

This is largely due to the size difference between the two hamster types. A piece of apple, for example, as big as a peanut might be acceptable for your Syrian hamster.

But for a Dwarf, the exact same piece holds much more sugars and carbs, which will lead to unwanted weight gain and the early stages of  diabetes.

Not only with fruits, but with some vegetables as well – like carrots, corn, and sweet potato as well. You can check the article “Can Hamsters Eat Vegetables” to read more about this.

Fruits your hammy can eat safely

Alright, with the difference between Dwarf ans Syrian hamsters in mind, let’s see which fruits your hamster can eat safely.

The most common fruits like apples, plums, cherries and grapes are alright. However all hamsters, everywhere, do not react well to the seeds of a fruit. In most cases the seeds are poisonous.

So it’s best if you never give your hamster a piece of fruit with seeds in it, of any kind.

Then, the very sweet fruits like banana, apricot, peach, mango, pineapple, papaya – most of the yellow fruits – should be given in tiny, tiny amounts.

For us these fruits are amazing and have the best taste and smell. However for hamsters these are just too sweet and savory. So it’s best if your hammy only gets an incredibly small amount of them.

None of these are poisonous so far, they’re just way too sweet for a hamster so you need to be careful.

Now, the berry types – like strawberry and raspberry, these are all alright for your hamster. But, again, without any seeds. So for example a strawberry should be lightly scraped to get all the seeds out, and the green top cut off.

A Raspberry is okay by itself, since the white core will come off by itself when the fruit is done.

Blueberries and cranberries are alright, but in very small amounts as well. As in, one or two berries every week.

Figs are alright for your hamster, but n a very small amount. And Dates are alright too, as long as they have no pit.

Coconut is safe for hamsters, but it should be given in very small amounts and sparsely. Coconut has a higher fat-count than peanuts and can make your hamster gain weight faster than bananas or mangos.

And finally, watermelon is safe for hamsters, if given in a small amount, just the red part, and without seeds. This is partly because of how sweet it can be, and the fact that it has a very high water content. Too much of it can upset your hammy’s stomach.

Fruits your hamster should be kept away from

Kiwi – although it’s great as a fruit by itself, the kiwi is not very safe for the hamster. It can be very sour sometimes, and the seeds are not alright for hamsters to eat.

This applies to Dragon fruit as well, since it has just as many seeds, everywhere in its flesh.

Blackberry – while they’re okay for hamsters by their nutritional value, I put them on the unsafe list because of how many seeds it has, and how hard it is to get rid of them.

There’s no way you can remove the seeds from a blackberry and have it whole. So for this reason, I advise against them.

Citrus – no citrus fruits are alright for the hamster. Actually, hamsters shy away from the smell of oranges and tangerines. You can check for yourself with a citrus fruit.

That includes oranges, tangerines, mandarines, kumquat, clementines, grapefruit (all kinds), lemon, and lime.

Star fruit – not safe for hamsters, since they contain a neurotoxin that can be fatal to hamsters, or other small animals. It can cause kidney problems in some sensitive humans too. Best to avoid it for your hamster.

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You can use fruits as a treat for your hamster

Since your hamster can’t have fruits very often, you can use it as a sort of treat. Particularly, you can use it as a very special treat when you’re taming your hamster.

That means that your hamster should not get this treat very often. But he cans till get a small piece of apple, or maybe a cube of mango, depending on whatever you’ve got lying around.

Simple treats like fruit chips – slices of fruit that have been carefully dried and made sure they’re not moldy – can be great for hammies.

I’ve used banana chips for my Teddy, and he loves them. It’s something he gets a kick out of. Probably the crispy, crunchy texture gives him a lot of incentive to nibble and nibble.

However these are banana chips, so they’re still sweet. Not as sweet as regular banana slices, the taste is a bit different. But do not go overboard when feeding your hammy these chips, since they are in fact real banana slices.

In this respect, the whole bag will last your hamster probably a year. If you get into the bag, that’s another story and completely up to you.

You can check the Amazon listing here, and see the reviews as well.

Do not give your hamster too much fruit

Whether you have a Dwarf or Syrian hamster, they can both develop health issues if given too much sugary foods. While a slice of apple does not compare to a cube of chocolate when it comes to sugar and fats, they are both still sweet.

Especially for your sensitive hamster’s taste buds. So it’s best to keep an eye on how much fruit and sweets you give your hammy.

A hamster that’s had too much sugar will become overweight, and develop diabetes. Both conditions can be life-threatening. Especially for a creature as small as a hamster.

If your hamster’s already overweight, you can read this article to see how to get him to a healthy, safe weight.

A word from Teddy

I hope you know now which fruits are okay for us hammies. I love banana chips, and I sometimes get bits of apple. But maybe your friend is into mangos more, you could try it out.

If you want to know more about us hammies, you can check out the articles below. You’ll find info on things like how big a cage we need, and how much food we need in a day.

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However, you would never drink stale water, so why should your hamster do that? You should change your hamster’s water every two days, and if the vet recommended it, you can even add supplements to it, but don’t do this without the vet’s approval. You also shouldn’t use a water bowl for distribution. Hamsters are messy animals and they will definitely spill water all over the place, which is great for bacteria, parasites, etc., but not so great for the hamster. You should try to feed your hamster at the same time every day. This will not always be possible, of course, as we all have our obligations and responsibilities, but it’d be good to try that. Hamsters are very active animals, and Syrian hamsters have a fast metabolism (just like dwarf hamsters), and they require exercise and food throughout the day. There is some debate on whether you should feed them in the morning or in the evening. If you feed your hamster in the morning, you’re ensuring that they have food throughout the day. On the other hand, if you feed them in the evening, you’re feeding them when they’re most active, as hamsters are mostly nocturnal animals. That’s why we’re advising you to feed them once in the morning, and once in the evening, that way you’ll be winning on both fronts. What Can Syrian Hamsters Eat? There are many foods that hamsters can eat, and many foods that hamsters shouldn’t eat. In this section, we’ll be covering everything you should feed your hamster, and we’ll be covering the foods you should avoid in the next section. The list we’re about to show you actually apply on all hamsters. Fruits: apples, bananas, blackberries, blueberries, cantaloupes, cherries, cranberries, seedless grapes, lychee, mangos, melons, peaches, plums, raspberries, raspberry leaves, and strawberries. Vegetables: carrots, celery, broccoli, dandelion leaves, cauliflower, clover, kale, bean sprouts, asparagus, chickweed, chicory, cucumber, corn, spinach, watercress, radicchio, romaine lettuce, turnip, peas, green beans, chestnuts, squash, sweet potatoes, zucchini. Nuts, seeds, and grains: pumpkin seeds, peanuts, millet, flaxseed, cashew nuts, sunflower seeds, oats, barley, walnuts, lentils, soybeans. Other foods hamsters can eat grasshoppers (pet food), mealworms (pet food), boiled eggs, plain grasshoppers, plain tofu, whole grain bread, cod fish (with bones removed), low-fat cottage cheese, brown pasta, unsalted peanut butter. You shouldn’t feed these things to your hamster too much, though. These are all things that your hamster can eat, yes, and they eat these things in the wilderness, but today’s food mixes for hamsters are optimized for their dietary needs. Your hamster is going to be okay if you feed it with the things we’ve listed, but you should definitely feed it with hamster mixes or formulas if you want to optimize your hamster’s diet. These things can be used as treats and shouldn’t take more than 10% of your hamster’s diet. We’re going to give you a few examples of food quality food mixes for hamsters. Tiny Friends Farm Hazel Hamster Mix – this is a very tasty mix, and it’s definitely the best choice for picky hamsters. You’ll notice that hamsters, just like people, have their own personal likes and dislikes. Some hamsters may love apples, while others won’t eat them. This mix is nutritionally balanced, suitable for all breeds, and it has vitamins included in the mix. What’s also great about this mix is that it has mealworms on top of its great choice of seeds. This is important because your hamster needs protein. Also, all hamsters love mealworms, so they definitely won’t be skipping this. Kaytee Forti Diet Pro Health Hamster Food – a great product if you’re concerned about your hamster’s health. This mix is full of healthy nutrients that every hamster needs to keep their body healthy. However, you should know that some packs have too many sunflower seeds, which can be bad for your hamster, so make sure to take them out if you notice that you’ve added too much. This mix also contains a lot of omega-3 oils, and the shape of the mix will help your hamster clean and pick its teeth. Kaytee Fiesta Hamster Food – this mix is also good for dwarf hamsters, not just Syrian hamsters. It has natural veggies and fruits to add some variety and improve the nutrient content of the mix. This mix will definitely take care of your hamster’s dietary needs, but there’s a problem that a lot of hamster owners have reported. It has so many fatty things (which is important for your hamster, but in this case, these fatty scraps in the mix are too tempting) that hamsters run and eat those as soon as possible, and leave out healthy foods. Since they’re full, many hamsters don’t return to finish their meal, so you might be throwing some of this food away. You can even use this mix for gerbils, as it’s good for them, as well. It also has plenty of natural fruits and veggies for your hamster to enjoy, and it’s rich in antioxidants to support your hamster’s immune system. When we’re discussing treats, you can use anything we’ve listed above as a treat. There’s no need for you to spend money on factory-made treats. However, there are some advantages to this, the most obvious one being that those treats are clean and optimized for hamsters, so you can be sure that what you’re rewarding them with isn’t unhealthy. We’ll take a look at just two examples: Tiny Friends Farm Lovelies and Kaytee Healthy Bits. These treats are universally loved by all hamsters, and they’re both fine for Syrian and dwarf hamsters. The Healthy Bits treat mix is definitely going to cause happiness with your hamster, as it actually contains honey. These treats aren’t too big, so your hamster(s) won’t have any trouble eating them. When it comes to nuts, we know that we’ve already mentioned them along with seeds, but it’s important to note that they’re a natural source of protein and necessary fats, with different hamsters liking different nuts. Here, we’ll expand on the list of nuts we’ve already mentioned: barley, cashew, flaxseed, lentils, millet, oats, peanut, popcorn, walnuts, monkey nuts. It’s also important to add fiber to your hamster’s diet, just like it’s important to have fiber in your own diet. Timothy hay alfalfa hay is a good, natural source of fiber. You should also know that Syrian hamsters absolutely love insects and you should definitely try to feed them whenever you can. Insects are a great source of protein, and they’re their main food source in the wild. Feeding them with insects isn’t essential, we understand that not all people are happy with keeping bugs in their home, but your hamster will definitely be grateful if you do. However, not all insects are good for your hamster, so here’s a list of insects that are: mealworms, wax worms, crickets, and grasshoppers. It’s important to create a well-balanced diet for your hamster. It’s best to use a mixture of the food suggestions listed above to create a diet that’s going to be both tasty and healthy for your hamster. Then, combine that mix with treats. Their diet needs to provide them with enough energy for the day. Hamsters are very energetic animals that need to burn that off in order to function properly. If they don’t run around enough, they will get stressed out. Choose a food mix as the backbone of your pet’s dietary plan, and surround it with treats and additions. The general rule is that a single tablespoon of the mix is enough, and mix that with a couple of treats. You should also try to keep it interesting for your pet. You can change your hamster’s meal plans, don’t be constantly feeding it crickets or mealworms, switch it up. You’re definitely not eating the exact same thing every day, so why should your hamster. If you notice that your hamster’s gaining a lot of weight, don’t fear cutting down on the portions. When feeding your hamster, use a ceramic food bowl. This is the best solution for feeding and a much better option than plastic feeding bowls. Hamsters will definitely knock the plastic feeding bowl over and spill food all over the place. This way, all uneaten food will stay in the bowl and be ready to get eaten later. They provide a designated area for feeding and they keep all the leftover food clean. Your hamster will quickly learn that it will always be getting food in that bowl, so it will start to move around it when it’s hungry. Hamsters will also fill their cheek pouches with secret stashes of food to build secret food stores near their bed. They do this by instinct, as in the wilderness they’re hiding their food from other hamsters. If you have more than a single hamster in the same cage, you’ll even notice that they keep hiding food away from one another. If you have the time, observe your hamster as it’s eating – this will give you a good idea of what it likes and what it doesn’t like. If you notice that your hamster doesn’t like a certain vegetable, replace it with another vegetable. If you notice that it won’t eat a certain fruit, replace it with another fruit. Obviously, if you see that your hamster’s sick from eating a certain food – don’t allow them to eat it anymore. A good example of this is watermelon. Even though it’s not poisonous for hamsters, it has so much water that their little bodies simply can’t handle it. While we’re at it, let’s just say that it’s also bad to overfeed your hamster. It’s in the hamster’s instinct to eat and eat and eat until they can’t eat anymore, they can’t help it. They’ll only stop eating when they’re absolutely full, and even then, they’ll stuff food in their cheek pouches and hide it somewhere. So, you can easily get your hamster fat if you’re not careful. Stick to the ‘one tablespoon a day’ plan. Also, don’t let your hamster fool you into thinking it’s hungry just because the bowl is empty – they’ve most likely hidden their food away in an attempt to get more of it. Hamsters would most likely eat even less than a single tablespoon a day in the wilderness, so you’re feeding them more than enough. Owners are often confused as the tablespoon of food can be larger than the hamster itself, but that’s more than enough for them. What Are Syrian Hamsters Allergic To? There are many foods that you should never feed your hamster, but it’s also possible that your hamster, as an individual, has developed an allergy to something. Here’s a list of things you shouldn’t feed your hamster. Almonds, avocado (it’s literally poisonous to them), apple seeds, chocolate, sweets, potato chips, pork, raw potatoes, grape seeds, rhubarb, tomato leaves, citrus fruits (oranges, lemons, etc.), watermelon, jam, spices, garlic, onions, chives, leeks. All hamsters are allergic to these foods, not just Syrian hamsters. You should always avoid feeding these foods to your hamster, as it will make it very sick. Almonds contain cyanic acid, which can make your Syrian hamster very sick. Seeds can also be harmful, and most often are, so remove them from the foods. There are certain seeds that are okay (we’ve listed them in the previous section), and those seeds are safe to feed to your hamster. Seeds that are in food mixes are okay, as long as there’s not too much of them. However, seeds from fruits are a big no when it comes to hamsters, so you should always remove them before feeding your hamster a fruit. This means that you can’t feed your hamster apples, peaches, and plums before you take out the seeds. Unfortunately (for the hamster), you can’t feed it chocolate. Theobromine is a substance found in chocolate, and it negatively affects your hamster’s circulation. Syrian hamsters are very strong, with very strong immunity, so it’s unlikely that you’ll be facing any problems with them. Unlike dwarf hamsters that develop diabetes easily. However, a poor diet can cause a few issues with any hamster. A poor diet can also cause diarrhea. You will recognize this by a loose stool, and you should consult a vet. Many illnesses can be caused by a bad diet, so you should always keep in mind that the problem might originate in food intake. If you notice your hamster losing weight, losing fur, breathing in distress, having a nasal discharge or skin lesions, you should take it to a vet. When it comes to allergies in the normal sense, hamsters can develop allergies the same way humans do, and they even sneeze the same way humans do. If you’ve noticed your hamster sneezing, they may be allergic to their bedding or something in their food. They’re also allergic to dust, just like us, so there may be microscopic dust in the air. To eliminate this problem, try changing beddings, foods, to an unscented fabric softener, and use an air filter by your hamster’s cage to eliminate all allergens in that environment. However, if the problems refuse to go away, contact a vet. There are also many things that irritate hamsters, although they’re not exactly allergic to them. Perfumes, pine and cedar shavings, scented candles, electric “plug-in” style diffusers, scented room sprays, and even some cleaning agents can be harmful and irritating to your hamster’s respiratory canal. You should move your hamster’s cage away from these fumes to deal with this problem – this is the path of least resistance. Cigarette smoke is especially irritating to hamsters, not to mention that it’s especially harmful. If you’re trying everything and you still can’t get your hamster to stop sneezing and it’s clearly in distress for more than five days – contact a vet. How Long Can Syrian Hamsters Go Without Food? This applies to all hamsters: hamsters can’t go for longer than three to four days without food and/or water. It depends on when did they have their last meal, what did they eat, how much did they eat, and how active they have been for the past few days. If you’re just going to be staying at work a bit longer than you’ve planned, you don’t have to worry about your hamster’s health – they’re going to be fine if they have their dinner a few hours later.  In summation – the feeding mix should be the backbone of your hamster’s diet. You should build your diet around it by adding various snacks and treats, that we’ve listed before. Those things are healthy additions, but they’re not exactly required. You should definitely avoid all foods on the list we’ve mentioned, as they’re toxic for your hamster. Not all of those things are lethal for your hamster, but many of them will still harm your furry friend. You should never overfeed your hamster with treats, as they should mostly be used as a reward for a job well done, for example; when you’re teaching it a new trick. Also, never overfeed your hamster on the food mix, your pet will get fat and that’s a whole other barrel of monkeys to deal with. Understand that each hamster has their own individual taste just like people do, and try to find out exactly what they enjoy eating, and what things they do not enjoy eating. Always keep your hamster’s water supply fresh and full, try to change your hamster’s water every two days. Know that hamsters can only live three to four days without food and/or water, so you shouldn’t worry if you can’t make it back home on time, or if you stay somewhere for another day unplanned, without a method of feeding your hamster (they probably have a hidden stash of food somewhere, anyway). Try to feed your hamster once in the morning and once in the evening, with keeping a single tablespoon for norm – half a tablespoon in the morning, half a tablespoon in the evening. Know that your hamster is definitely storing food away, so don’t be fooled into thinking that your hamster is hungry just because its bowl is empty. Always make sure to keep the food clean, and use it before the expiration date – never keep fruits and vegetables in the cage for longer than 24 hours if the hamster hasn’t eaten it, as it will rot and that can harm the hamster. Try to feed your hamster during a certain period every day, that way, it can get used to your schedule and won’t make a fuss if you’re present but not feeding it. [...] Read more...
Hamsters vs Guinea Pigs – Take It From Someone Who Owns Both
Hamsters vs Guinea Pigs – Take It From Someone Who Owns BothIf you’re aching for a pet but can’t decide between a guinea pig or a hamster, let me help you. I have a Syrian hammy, and 2 guinea piggies and believe me, there are some very important differences between them. In this article we’ll look at the main differences between them, and how much they both impact your life, so you can take a very well informed decision. If you’d like to know what would happen if you were to raise a hamster with a guinea pig in the same cage, you should read this article. Table of Contents ToggleDeciding between a guinea pig or a hamsterA quick rundown on hamstersA quick overview of guinea pigsDifferent temperaments between the two petsAbout the guinea pig’s personalityAbout the hamster’s personalityKid-friendly or quiet home ?Feeding requirements for hamsters and guinea pigsExercise and floor time for guinea pigs and hamstersHamster exercise and running routineGuinea pig exercise and floor timeCage requirements are very different between the twoBedding, nests, and objects in their cageTake your schedule and daily life into accountA word from Teddy Deciding between a guinea pig or a hamster That one is completely up to you. Decide after you’ve read this entire article, and see which would be best for you. I got a hamster at first, a Syrian male named Teddy. About a year and a half later, we got two piggies from a friend who did not have the time to look after them anymore. We’ve named them Jessi and Ka, because my piggies when I was young were named Jessica (both of them). So I’ve come to know some clear differences between hamsters and guinea pigs, and some common grounds as well. But let’s start with the basics. A quick rundown on hamsters Hamsters are nocturnal/crepuscular animals, and will sleep most of the day away. Their diet is made of mostly grains, with some fruits, veggies, meat, and nuts added to the equation. They need fairly large cages ( a minimum of 24 x 12 inches, and about 12 inches tall. That’s 61 x 30.5 cm, and about 30.5 cm tall.) and certain conditions to live in. Hamsters are solitary animals, even if you’ve seen some people keep pair of hamsters in the same cage. There are 5 types of hamsters: The Syrian hamster, the largest one and with the most coat color variations The Roborovski Dwarf, the tiniest of the Dwarf types – only 2 inches/5 cm The Campbell Dwarf The Djungarian/Winter white Dwarf The Chinese Dwarf You’ll rarely find all 5 types of hamsters in a pet shop, but you might find 2-3 types at a time. Syrians are the most common hamster you can get as a pet. The average hamster’s lifespan is  2-3 years. The Chinese Dwarf has the shortest lifespan, around 1.5-2 years, while the Robo Dwarf can live up to 4 years. A quick overview of guinea pigs Guinea pigs are larger than hamsters, about 20-25 cm/8-10 inches long and with a very wide array of colors. Some are shorthaired, some have long hair, some have swirls in their fur as a pattern, but their personalities do not vary from one fur type to another Guinea pigs live in herds, one male leading a groups of females. With pet piggies this is not wise, unless you’re looking to breed them.  Pet piggies are usually kept in all male or all female herds, and if males are ever kept with females the male is spayed. Their usual diet is made of timothy hay, along with leafy greens, some root-type veggies, and the occasional fruit. Guinea pigs have an  average lifespan of 6-8 years, though there have been piggies that lived over 10 years, so getting a piggie is a commitment. For the most part guinea pigs are neither nocturnal nor diurnal. Instead, they sleep in patches throughout the day, and have a certain sleep schedule you’ll be able to observe after a few weeks. Different temperaments between the two pets Both the hamster and the guinea pig are prey animals. They’re both skittish and both need some time before they’re comfy with you picking them up. Sometimes they’re never okay with that. But the common grounds stop there. There are many differences between hamsters and guinea pigs. When it comes to which would make the best pet for you, you need to take those into account. About the guinea pig’s personality Guinea pigs are herd animals. As such, they’re much more social and laid back than a hamster, who is a solitary animal. In fact, keeping a guinea pig alone is  a terrible idea, even if you’re always there to play with her. The company of another piggie can’t be replaced with human interaction, simply because we don’t understand piggies as well as another piggy. So, guinea pigs do well in groups or at least pairs. They can have varying personalities, the piggies themselves. Some are more outgoing, curious, and might come to check you out. others will shy away and rarely leave their huts if they know you’re there, even after taming them. Some will be relaxed and won’t protest when you pick them up, some will try their hardest to get out of your hands. Piggies rarely ever bite, even when they’re stressed. They can bite, yes, but they’re very docile and will avoid doing this most of the time. It varies from piggy to piggy. The one we have, Ka is a bit more outgoing, and is okay with being held, while Jessi hides most of the time. They don’t really get along and need 2 separate cages, but they talk to each other a lot. Another thing about a piggy’s personality and temperament, they are easier to bond with a young piggy. So if you’ve got an adult piggy, and bring in a young one, the young one will learn from the old one and become submissive. To even things out, it’s best to always get both or all the piggies young, and introduce them as youngsters so they can grow together and form their own relationship. Guinea pigs actually become depressed if they’ve got no friends, even if they do have human company. This is another reason to never keep a lone piggy. About the hamster’s personality A hamster, on the other hand, is very territorial. He has his own things, and will not share them with anyone. Putting two hamsters together is generally a bad idea, even the Dwarf types. While they may tolerate each other, they usually end up fighting and need to be separated. Hamsters are also skittish and will try to run away or hide when you try to interact with them. But they can be tamed, at least a bit, to know that you’re no danger to them. They have no problem biting you if you handle them wrong, or they feel threatened. For example my Teddy is a bit of a Rambo type, always curious, will fight anything (even a toilet paper roll) if it gets too close, and doesn’t really like to be held for more than 3 seconds. Some hamsters are a bit more tame, for example a family friend had a hamster named Oscar. He was the tamest, most relaxed hammy, and he let anyone hold him. The thing is hamsters are not very cuddly creatures, and won’t seek out your hugs and scratches on their own. Maybe a few select will, but as a whole this is something they learn to associate with food, and nothing more. Kid-friendly or quiet home ? Another important aspect, and a possible deal breaker for many people out there. If you’ve got children, or other small pets, the a hamster is the worst idea ever. This is because hamsters are very sensitive to everything – the room temperature, the noise level, the light level, drafts, being picked up wrong, being held too long, a sick person, and so on. Guinea pigs are sensitive too, but much less than hamsters. A hamster can get stressed very easily and develop an entire host of illnesses based on stress. A curious cat or a barking dog can be too much for the hamster, and kids continuously prodding at their cage can be very stressful. A guinea pig on the other hand is more relaxed. They don’t like being woken up and put on display either, but they react much less negatively than a hamster, and they recover pretty quickly. For kids I think a guinea pig is the best choice, instead of a hamster. I’d recommend a hamster only to quiet, patient, calm people who have time at night to tame and play with the hamster. A rowdy home with many pets and young children is not recommended for piggies, nor for hamsters. Feeding requirements for hamsters and guinea pigs Both the guinea pig and the hamster have very specific feeds. While a hamster could steal anything the piggy would eat (except the hay), a piggy couldn’t eat much of the hamster’s food. There is also the question of how often to feed them, and how much. For Syrian hamsters 2 teaspoons of commercial food mix is enough, daily. The Dwarf types only need one teaspoon. Much of the food will be hoarded for later snacks. Guinea pigs, on the other hand, need a fresh supply of timothy hay, available at all times, in endless amounts. Commercial food mix should be given 2 tablespoons per piggy, daily. So on short, you’re going to feed the piggy more often, and in larger quantities. There always needs to be a hay bag on hand, to re-stock their hay pile. Both Jessi and Ka go through about 3-4 fistfuls of hay, each, per day. Both guinea pigs and hamsters can be fed various treats that are already in your pantry or fridge. Fresh fruit and veg are favorites, a few examples include: guinea pigs – raw bell pepper, lettuce, cucumber, carrots, small slice of apple hamsters – cucumber, carrots, peanuts (unsalted, shelled), plain cooked chicken While the hamster will pick up all the food in his food bowl and store it in his nest for later use, a guinea pig does not. Piggies pretty much mess with their food and it ends up all over the cage. For example ours put a paw inside their bowls and tip them over to get to the feed. If we put the feed directly on their bedding, half of it ends up forgotten in the bedding. Exercise and floor time for guinea pigs and hamsters This is a very big difference between hamsters and guinea pigs. They both need exercise, and will run around pretty much all their waking time. But, they do it differently. Hamster exercise and running routine Hamsters are famous for their running wheels and exercise balls. We’ve all seen or at least heard of a hammy running as far as his little feet can take him, all night long. Given their small size, agility, and how hard they are to catch in general (especially if lost), hamsters aren’t let outside their cage often. In fact, the only way a hamster can spend time outside his cage is inside his exercise ball. This keeps things safe for everyone involved. Even then, they should not be kept in the ball for more than 30 minutes at a time. They will need water, a quick snack, and they will probably need their pee corner as well. Most of the hamster’s exercise is done inside the cage. This means that whatever running wheel you end up getting your hamster, it better be sturdy. He will use it every night, for hours on end, pretty much all his life. Hamsters can get bored very easily if they’ve got no way to expend all that energy. Many times this can lead to chewing the cage bars, or even trying to escape. Some people decide to let their hammy roam free in a hamster-proof room. This means that the room needs to have no hidden corners, or furniture that the hamster can get under, behind, into or between (hamsters are ridiculously good at this), and have no exposed surfaces that can harm them. Or that the hamster can harm, like a power strip cable, or charger for example. If you decide to let your hamster have floor time, have a good plan to catch him. Baiting him with food into his cage or exercise ball usually helps. Guinea pig exercise and floor time Guinea pigs are fairly different from hamsters in this respect. They need plenty of exercise too, but it’s a bit hard for them to get a good wheel, and an exercise ball is not a good idea. The main reason is that both a ball and an wheel need to be very large in order for the piggy’s back to be straight. Most people don’t have room for such a large wheel in their home, let alone the piggy’s cage. So that leaves the guinea pig owner with two choices: get a very very large cage, and/or supplement it with lots of floor time. Now, even if you do have a very large cage for the guinea pig, it’s probably not enough. This is because they need to be able to roam as much as they like, at all times. As large as a cage can be, it just isn’t enough and becomes repetitive. Some people dedicate an entire room to the piggies. That room is guinea-pig proofed, meaning the floor is easy to clean (piggies pee and poop incredibly often), there is no furniture the pig can chew on,  there are several huts/hideouts the pigs can use, and they are well contained. If you’ve got the spare room for that, it would be a great treat for your piggies, giving them so much space all for themselves. But, if you’ve only got the cage, you will need to improvise with floor time. This means that a certain patch of a room you designate will have to be guinea pig proofed. News paper lining on the floor, a small wire fence to keep them inside their enclosure, food and a hideout or two to cuddle in, and lots of running around. Giving your guinea floor time will greatly reduce their boredom levels and will keep them happy and bouncy. (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.) Cage requirements are very different between the two Alright, we’ve just talked about the exercise and floor time/free roam requirements. This means that their cages need to be very large in order to keep them happy and not stressed. For hamsters the absolute minimum is 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 he will do great in a larger cage than that. Dwarf hamsters can make do with smaller cages, but I’d recommend getting them a Syrian sized one as well. The problem is that most people don’t really have the space for a cage larger than that, so they end up with the minimum. Guinea pig cages do come in large sizes, and in fact the minimum is 110 by 60 cm/43 by 23.5 inches, for one guinea pig. Since guinea pigs should be kept in pairs you will need a cage almost double that size for both of them. Many people opt to make their cages C&C style – corrugated plastic and cubes. It’s basically a plastic bottom cage, which can be adjusted as much as you would like, with wire mesh as a fence to keep the piggies in. Most of these cages can be handmade, as long as you have the proper materials. They’re usually found at hardware stores, or building supply stores. Unfortunately hamsters can’t live in a C&C cage, since the spacing is too large for them, and they will easily escape. A guinea pig is large enough that the C&C cage will keep her in. Bedding, nests, and objects in their cage Both hamsters and guinea pigs need toys and some basic objects in their cage. Both can live well enough with paper-based bedding, or aspen shavings. Neither of them tolerates dust, and they have sensitive noses. Pine and cedar shavings or toys should be avoided. A hamster will need a hideout, in which to build his nest. So does a guinea pig, but she is not as attached to her hideout as the hamster. While the hamster will build his base and make it an impenetrable fortress, the guinea pig will switch between multiple hideouts. This means that yes, she will need many places to hide. Both the hamster and the guinea pig need wood-based objects to chew on. Their teeth always grow, even if they’re not both rodents (guinea pigs are caviidaes, or cavies for short). They need to constantly file down their teeth, in order to keep them in check and avoid dental problems. In the same vein, both hamsters and guinea pigs need toys in their cages to stave off boredom. Bored piggies and hamsters can get restless, start chewing the bars, try to escape, and even get depressed. They both need food bowls, simply because scatter-feeding them often ends up with a lot of food forgotten under all the bedding. Take your schedule and daily life into account Hamsters and guinea pigs need lots of time with their owners in order to come to trust them. Even after being tamed, they can lose that trust if you make a wrong move or scare them too much. Remember that they are prey animals, in the end. So in order to take your hamster or guinea pig, you need to dedicate time and effort. It could take days, it could only be a few weeks. but if you’ve got a very busy schedule, neither of them will be good for you. If you’re working nights and you need to be awake and at home in the evening, then you will have time and patience to train and tame your hamster. Possibly the guinea pigs too. But, hamsters sleep during the day, all day. If you’re like me and work during the day and go to bed fairly early (10 PM) you’re probably better off with the guinea pigs. They’re active during the day as well as the night, so you will end get plenty of time to spend with them. If you’re away from home very often, and for long periods of time, then neither of these pets are suited for you. This is because they don’t get a attached to their owners as other pets, and can’t travel with you as easily. In this case a dog would be better suited, depending what king of travel you’re doing. If you’ve got children that need changing, feeding, put to bed, a home to clean and some other errands to run, then a stationary pet like a hamster or guinea pig probably is not good for you either. Both the hamster and the guinea pig are confined to their cage, and won’t be able to follow you around. A cat, however, will be able to come and go as she pleases and will be with you in bed, the kitchen, the bathroom, and possibly in your work bag as well. Finally, keep in mind that guinea pigs are noisier than hamsters. The array of sounds they make, the loudness, and the frequency are all much higher. Depending on what kind of bedding you provide, you might also hear the guinea pigs moving about in their cage at night. You’ll simply her them much more often than a hamster. So take into account the kind of life you have, and whether you can dedicate enough time and energy to these creatures. A word from Teddy I hope you found what you were looking for here. Many people have a hard time choosing between us hammies and guinea pigs, but we’ve both got our good side and our bad sides. In the end it comes down to how well we’d work with your daily life. If you want to know more about us hamsters you can check out the related articles below. You’ll find out how to care for us and keep us happy too. [...] Read more...
10 Common Hamster Health Problems And How To Treat Them
10 Common Hamster Health Problems And How To Treat ThemA hamster with a health problem is a sorry sight. But, most health issues in hamsters can be solved, especially if caught in time. Let’s see what those problems are, and how to help your hammy. You’ll find these health issues grouped by body parts or type. Where possible I’ll link you to articles where I’ve covered that specific topic in more detail. Table of Contents Toggle1. Hamster eye problems2. Hamster dental problems3. Hamster ear and hearing problems4. Hamster nail problems5. Hamster skin/fur conditions and parasites6. Hamster Digestive problems7. Wet-tail in hamsters8. Diabetes in hamsters9. Tumors and lumps in hamsters10. Hamster cheek problemsAbout a hamster’s general healthKeeping your hamster healthyA word from Teddy 1. Hamster eye problems Hamsters rarely use their eyes, that much is known to most hamster owners. Whether you’ve got a Syrian or a Dwarf type, they both can’t really see. Still, health issues do come up with a hamster’s eyes. The most common of them being cataracts/blindness. This comes especially with old age in hammies. Do keep in mind that a hamster without his sight will be able to live his life almost the same. Since he doesn’t usually rely on his eyes, not seeing anymore will not be a big loss, as it could be for humans. Other problems include infections, pink eye, bulging eye, and eyes that have stuck shut due to a possible infection. Still, for a detailed rundown on all the possible issues that can happen with a hammy’s eyes, I recommend you check out this article. You’ll find there the issues themselves, and the treatments necessary. Sometimes a trip to the vet is necessary, sometimes the problems can be treated at home. 2. Hamster dental problems A hamster’s teeth are possibly the most important tool the hamster has. His teeth never stop growing, in order for him to be able to eat the hard, dry grains his diet is based on. Sometimes though, problems come up. Teeth become overgrown, possibly due to soft food or lack of a chew toy. Or a tooth might break or crack, or it could become infected. You can find out more about hamster dental problems here, and how to treat them. Again, some may require a vet treatment, some can be treated at home. For example overgrown teeth can be fixed by giving the hamster a multitude of chew toys he can file his teeth on. Most of the time though, hamster teeth problems can be corrected. Even in the case of an abscess an antibiotic treatment will help the hamster recover. A word on hamster teeth: they are never white. If you’re looking at your hammy’s long, yellow (possibly orange) teeth and wondering if you should brush them, don’t. When I first got my Teddy I thought I had to do something. Turns out hamster teeth are not meant to be white. Any white spots on the teeth are a sign of the tooth breaking down and possibly breaking away. 3. Hamster ear and hearing problems Hearing is one of the primary ways a hamster navigates his surroundings. As such, any problem related to their ears and how well they can hear becomes a serious concern. Possible problems include: Parasites like mites, than can travel deep into the hamster’s ear Earwax buildup, preventing hearing and can become painful Ear infection, which can spread to the brain Possible tumor which can take on the whole ear These are all treatable, however the hamster won’t be able to much on his own. Actually most of the time the hammy will need your help, with any kind of health issue. To find out more about the health problems hamsters can have with their ears, you can check out this article. You’ll find both the issues and the treatments, and even an example of a successful tumor surgery on a Dwarf hammy. 4. Hamster nail problems Nail problems are few, and are treatable too. A hamster’s nails are used mostly for scratching and pawing at food or bedding. Problems come up when the nails become too long, and that’s where most of the problems stem from. A hamster’s nails grow too long when he has nothing to wear them out on. Like plenty of wood surfaces, possibly a large flat rock, or any hard surface on his cage. This means that a hamster living solely on soft bedding, and nothing else, will end up with overgrown nails. The nails will grow very long, and eventually curve into the hammy’s paw. In some cases they will break and fall off. My Teddy had this happen, and ever since we’ve installed 2 more levels in his cage, which are bare plastic, and he also uses his tunnel which is made of hard plastic. An exercise wheel, used constantly, helps a lot in this regard. It wears down the hammy’s nails and keeps them trim. Aside from overgrown nails, hamsters can also get nail infections. If they’re small, as in they don’t reach the surface and only stay for a couple of days, they’re safe to ignore. However if it goes on for more than 2 days, and even comes to a point, you should visit a veterinarian. He will prescribe an antibiotic for the hammy to combat the infection. 5. Hamster skin/fur conditions and parasites Hamsters are usually very clean animals. This means that they clean themselves daily, several times a day actually, and don’t  normally attract parasites. However they can get certain skin conditions if their cage is unclean, or has spores of fungi. 2 of the most common are: Aspergillus – forms in the hamster’s pee corner. Grows white, and in time turns black. Spores can be deadly to hamsters, and very bad for humans too. If this happens, get the hamster to the vet immediately, and clean and disinfect the cage. Ringworm – not an actual worm, but a fungus. It will form bald patches on the hamster, in the shape of a circle (hence the name). Dry, flaky skin is on those bald patches, and the hamster might scratch at them furiously. Treatable, but again a vet is necessary. Aside from these two fungi, hammies can lose their fur because of old age. Other skin problems can be mites, and fleas as well. You can find out more on fleas on hamsters here, and how to treat them. All of these problems require a veterinarian and a deep cleaning of the hamster’s cage, and his toys and objects. 6. Hamster Digestive problems Digestive problems are never fun for anyone. However a hamster is more in danger than other mammals, because of hos their stomach is shaped. You see a hammy’s stomach forms a sort of U bend, which means that any gasses or bloating is very hard to release. Yes, hamsters are able to pass gas if necessary, but not as easily as us humans. And you probably won’t ever hear the hammy fart, sorry to disappoint. Given the hamster’s stomach and gut layout and design, something like diarrhea does not go well. Or an upset stomach either. This is why giving the hamster foods he can’t properly digest will be a big issue for him. You can find out more about hamster-safe foods here, most of them already in your fridge or pantry. Another thing to keep in mind is that hamsters can become constipated. This is more common with old hamsters, given that their system is breaking down and doesn’t digest foods as well as it used to. You can help a constipated hammy by giving him softer foods like carrots, steamed veggies from this hamster-safe veggie list, and getting him to a veterinarian if he does not produce and droppings in 24 hours after the soft food. 7. Wet-tail in hamsters Wet-tail is more common in Syrian hamsters than Dwarf types. Still , that does not mean Dwarf types can’t get wet-tail at all. They’re just much less likely to get it. Wet-tail is most frequent in young hamsters, that were just weaned (approx. 4 weeks old) and are eligible for adoption. It’s usually stress based, and everything from his mother pushing him away when he still tries to suckle, to being taken to the pet shop, and then take to your home is all very alien to him. So a young Syrian hammy that was just brought home might develop wet tail. Treatment does exist, but it’s not a 100% survival rate. Still, your hammy needs to see a vet right away. If you’ve noticed the symptoms within 24 hours the survival chances are pretty high. Symptoms include: a wet tail, because if a very watery diarrhea possibly smelly rear-end, because of the constant soiling smelly cage weakness, lack of appetite or thirst a matted, sweaty look about the hamster You can find out more about wet-tail in hamsters here, including how to treat it and the steps you should take in caring for a hamster recovering from wet-tail. 8. Diabetes in hamsters Another big problem in hamsters is diabetes. This is most common in the Dwarf types, so the Syrians have it easier here. Diabetes can come about in a few ways, mostly because of a poor diet. That means a diet with too much sugar and carbs, and very little exercise. This is not the only reason, but one of the biggest. Another reason is that the pancreas does not produce enough insulin, or that the body is very resistant to it. This means that the body’s blood sugar will stay very high. It will cause weight gain, circulatory problems, difficult breathing, and other problems that stem from these. You can find out more about diabetes in hamsters here, and also about how to treat it. Sometimes it’s not completely treatable, but at least you can do some things to make the hamster’s life comfortable even so. (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.) 9. Tumors and lumps in hamsters Sometimes hammies develop extra cells. These cells are sometimes benign, sometimes they’re harmful and become cancer. However even benign tumors can be bad for the hamster’s health, as they can block certain body parts. For example a tumor around the ear can extend to the entire half of the face. These usually can be removed, but not many vets are willing to perform surgery on such a small animal. The problem is that the anaesthesia is hard to do, and the patient himself is very.. well, tiny. Still, some vets have tried and even succeeded. I’m sure in your area you’ll be able to find someone who can help. Best to look for an ‘exotics’ veterinarian. They have experience with rodents, reptiles and birds and will possibly be able to help you more than a regular vet. Try everyone though, you never know who is going to save your friend. 10. Hamster cheek problems Finally, the hamster’s cheeks are another problem. The thing is that hammies stuff everything in their cheeks. Food, nesting material, a bit of bedding, droppings. Mothers even stuff their babies there when they move them. However sometimes these cheeks can become injured, either by a sharp corner from the food, or maybe they were over stuffed. They can sometimes come out completely, like an inside-out pocket. Other times the cheek becomes sticky with residue and whatever is in the cheek will become stuck. All of these can be solved, and they can also be avoided. Mostly by not giving your hamster any sticky, saucy foods that he will put in his cheeks (grain-based foods end up in his cheeks usually). You can find out much more about hamster cheek pouches here, including how to treat the various problems that come up, and how to identify each one. About a hamster’s general health Hamsters are fairly hardy animals. They don’t develop health issues very easily, even if they are so sensitive. However once they do happen, hammies don’t really know what to do on their own. That is, they can’t get over most problems on their own. A flea infestation will drag on for months, a cold can be fatal, and an infected cheek pouch can lead to death. Still, hamsters are able to take care of themselves, mostly by how absolutely clean they are. Up until their very last days, hamsters know that cleanliness equals health. So they tug and pull at their fur, comb through it, fluff it up, groom it some more, every few hours. This is also done to avoid developing a strong scent that predators will use to find them. Your help is crucial here. Your hammy depends on you, and his health becomes your responsibility. This is a reason to become fast friends with a good veterinarian (again, look for one labeled ”exotic”). Keeping your hamster healthy Keeping your hamster healthy revolves around a few simple things. Cleanliness is chief among them, and the hammy himself is very good at keeping himself clean. Still, there are a few things you can do to help your hamster friend stay healthy: Regularly cleaning the cage, once per week. More on safe bedding and nesting material here. Giving the hamster a commercial food mix, which has all the nutrients balanced the way he needs them. Only treating him to occasional treats, and in moderation to avoid weight gain and joint problems. More on hamster-safe foods here. Making sure that the floor or other surfaces you let him roam in the exercise ball are clean, and dust free. More about hamster exercise balls here. Keeping the hammy in a room that’s at a constant temperature. The optimal range is 20-23 C/68-75 F, and the cage should be kept away from drafts or direct sunlight. Having an exercise wheel for your hamster friend, so he can run to his little heart’s content. More on hamster exercise wheels here. Aside from all these, remember that your pet hamster needs a calm and gentle person handling him. So a child or other pet should be kept away from the hamster. Any interaction should be supervised. Hamsters are very bad with stress, and will bite back if handled wrong. A word from Teddy I hope you found what you were looking for here. Us hammies do get sick every now and then, and we need your help with getting healthy. So this article was supposed to give you an overview of what kind of problems we can have. If you want to know more about us hamsters, check out the related articles below. You’ll find more info on how to care for us properly, and keep us happy. [...] Read more...
Syrian Hamster 101 – Breed Info And Care Sheet
Syrian Hamster 101 – Breed Info And Care SheetWant to know everything there is to know about the Syrian hamster ? I know I did when I first got my Teddy home. Especially if you’re a first-time hamster owner, you will need to know how your new pet stands out from the rest. So I’m going to help you with everything I know about Syrian hamsters, including how to care for him and what you can expect from this fluffy, sweet guy. Table of Contents ToggleAbout the Syrian hamster – short overviewHow the Syrian hamster became a petSyrian hamster size and body shapeSyrian hamster coat patternSyrian hamster health and lifespanSyrian hamster pregnancy and breedingSyrian hamster housing and cagesSyrian hamster diet and foodSyrian hamster toys and cage objectsA word from Teddy About the Syrian hamster – short overview The Syrian hamster has many names. He’s the most common hamster type (there’s 5 out there) and the one you’ve probably got in your home right now. You’ll find the Syrian under names such as : Teddy bear hamster – their faces look a bit like a teddy bear face Fancy hamster/fancy bear – especially the longhaired ones Variations on coat pattern names, like Panda hamsters (white and black), Golden hamsters (the traditional pattern), Black hamsters (all black), and so on Syrian hamster Big hamster Syrian hamsters are the largest of the hamster types, and they are solitary. They can never share their home with another hamster, or else bloody and lethal fights ensue. Males have a particularly large rear-end, since their testicles are very large for their bodies and form a permanent bulge around their very small tail. Their scent glands are on their hips, so you might notice big black dots there. Syrian hamsters are the slowest hamsters – still fast though, they’re hamsters – and they’re easier to tame and train than the Dwarf types. As such, they’re great starter pets for people who have never had a hamster before. They don’t bite as much or as often as Dwarf hamsters, and they’re easier to hold onto, since they’re larger. My own little Teddy is a Syrian hamster (hence his terribly inspired name), and he’s a Golden one, with orange and white and dustings of grey. How the Syrian hamster became a pet Originally the Syrian hamster was discovered by 1839 in Syria (hence the name). A mother with a litter of babies was brought to Jerusalem for study in 1930, and most (if not all) Syrian hamsters available for sale today are descendants of that mother and her babies. A few of them escaped from the lab in Jerusalem and have settled as wild hamsters there. For the most part Syrian hamsters were used as lab subjects for observations, and later put on display in London’s famous zoo. This is discussed in much more detail in the origin story of hamsters, how they came to be pets and where each of them comes from. The Syrian hamster comes from Syria and southern Turkey. He is used to deserts and sand, but not high temperatures. He only comes out at dusk and dawn in the wild, when the temperature is bearable and his predators don’t see very well. He doesn’t see very well either, and relies mostly on smell and hearing to navigate his surroundings. Syrian hamster size and body shape The Syrian hamster is the largest hamster available as a pet. He can grow to be 13-18 cm/5-7 inch long, though some hamsters have grown bigger than that. They’re also the heaviest hamster, ranging between 100-200 gr/3.5 -7 oz, some of them going a bit over that. As opposed to the Dwarf types, Syrians have a distinct neck and their hind legs don’t have that elongated look. They’re more diggers than runners, you might say. Their faces aren’t as narrow and pointy as the Dwarf hamster’s, and they look ridiculous with their cheeks stuffed. Given their rounder, fuzzier face, Syrians have also been known as teddy bear hamsters. They do look a bit like that, I guess. The Syrian’s tail is short, thin, and a fleshy pink. It’s got no fur, and it’s not often noticeable. If you’ve got a dark haired hamster though, you might see it easier. They’ve got no fur on their paws either, unlike the Dwarf types. This helps them grip and grab easier in the sands and in their tunnels. Syrian hamster coat pattern Traditionally you will find Syrian hamster with the golden pattern, like my teddy shown above. Granted, my Teddy’s colors fade into each other, while other Golden variation have a stark difference between each color. Some look more like color splotches. The Golden variation is the orange on the back, white on the belly, and a few dark grey markings on their back, forehead and neck. Their ears are also grey. When the hamster is still a baby, he will look mostly orange with some white. The grey appears and becomes definitive only when the hamster becomes an adult, around the 3 month mark. This color pattern helped the Syrian hamster camouflage himself in the sands and escape his predators. It’s the usual color you’ll find wild hamsters. Any odd variations will stand out against the sand and they become easy prey. Breeders have focused on changing and enhancing the color patterns of captive hamsters. We now have a wide variety of hamsters colors to choose from. For example when I picked up Teddy he was in a cage with a light brown hammy, a couple of black ones, and a few randomly spotted hamsters. Imagine the Syrian hamster’s available color patterns like you would a cat’s myriad of colors. Except stripes. Hamsters haven’t developed stripes like the cats, but aside from that the colors come in rings, bands, patches, spots, mottles, full color, dustings, anything you can imagine. In time, as the hamster becomes a senior, your will see the fur get lighter overall, but no distinct silver hairs as you would in old dogs for example. Syrian hamster health and lifespan The Syrian hamster is the second-longest lived hamster, right after the Roborovski Dwarf. The Syrian can live up to 3 years in captivity, and some have been known to live past that. Genetics, as well as the care and stress levels play a big role in how long and how well your hamster lives. This means that some hamsters, although not suffering from any terrible illness, can wither away by their first year. Or, some can live to be 3.5 years old. Babies become adults by the time they reach the 12th week of age, and can breed as soon as they’re weaned. But generally, Syrian hamsters live up to 3 years, and are considered old when they reach their second birthday. My Teddy is currently a year and a half old (born in July 2017), and there are some changes happening to him. He’s lost a large part of his energy, doesn’t eat as much, and sleeps most of the time. This is normal for hamsters going into old age. You’ll notice the hamster is definitely old and frail when his fur starts getting sparse, and he develops a sort of bald spot starting from his rear end and back legs. This is the usual pattern, and there is nothing we as owners can do to help or change that. Aside from that sign, the hamster’s skin will become very loose, wrinkly, and he will have a bony/skinny appearance, although he seems to be eating. Unfortunately this means his end is very near, and you will have to keep a close watch on him. When it comes to Syrian hamsters, wet-tail is the most notorious and dangerous disease they can contract. This is a form of diarrhea, which if often lethal if left untreated, or discovered too late. You can find out more about wet-tail here, and how to notice it and treat 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.) Syrian hamster pregnancy and breeding Breeding is, like with other hamsters, kind of violent and the female will half mate, half fight with the male during their breeding window. The female comes into heat every few days, for 4 days straight, at night. That is when the male can be introduced to her, and the mating can begin. Sometimes the female is too violent and just want to pick a fight, so the male needs to be removed. Once the female accepts the male and the mating is successful, she will fall pregnant. The male will need to be kept away from the female, since she will attack him after becoming pregnant. The usual gestation period for Syrian hamsters is 16-18 days, after which the female will give birth to a litter between 3 and 15 baby hamsters. She should not be disturbed at all during the birthing process, and 2 weeks afterwards. Only provide her with food and water through the bars. Anything that scares, stresses, or annoys her can lead her to eat her young, especially if it’s her first litter. Another reason the male should be kept away from the female is because she can fall pregnant immediately after giving birth, which will be difficult both on her and all her babies. And also because the male will kill the newborns to get her full attention. So make sure you keep the male and female separated at all times, except when trying for a litter. Once the hamsters are born, they are blind and hairless. They will suckle from their mother until they are 4 weeks old, which is when she will wean them. The babies can now be introduced to solid food. They also need to be separated into all male and all female groups, to avoid surprise pregnancies. However keeping the hamsters together past week 8-10 of age is not recommended, since that is when they become territorial. It will not matter if it’s their mother or brother or sister with them, they will start fighting and it often is deadly. Always keep a Syrian hamster alone, in one cage. Syrian hamster housing and cages Of all the hamsters, Syrians have the largest minimum needs when it comes to cages and housing them. The minimum cage is 24 x 12 inches, and about 12 inches tall. That’s 61 x 30.5 cm, and about 30.5 cm tall. Of course, the bigger the cage the better. All hamsters, no matter their breed, will opt for a bigger cage, a bigger running wheel, and more space to run if they can. But, not everyone has the possibility of keeping a big cage for their hamster, mostly due to cost and space in their home. The best idea would be an Ikea Detolf. That’s a simple standing shelf, with the shelves removed, and put on its side. Construction a wire mesh for it is fairly easy, many tutorials are available online. Detolfs are expensive and big, so wherever you put them, that’s where they’re going to stay. Cleaning them is a bit different from an ordinary cage as well, but they give your hamster much more space to run around and play. What about commercial hamster cages ? Are they big enough for Syrians ? Well, sadly, no. For the most part commercial cages are too small for a Syrian. Not all, but most of them. Looking for a cage big enough is a bit of a hassle, but they can be found. For example this one, a wire cage with a plastic bottom, with an adjustable extra level. It’s got enough floor space for the hamster to use, and the extra level will give him a bit more. Hamsters don’t use all the levels in their cage, so just one level is enough. They prefer the ground level anyway, and might build the nest under that level. That being said, this cage provides both airflow, and containment. The spacing between the wires is less than half an inch, so the Syrian hamster won’t be able to squeeze himself through those wires. You can check the listing on Amazon here. As for the bedding, your hammy will need either wood shavings, or paper bedding. If you get wood shavings, make sure you get aspen, and stay away from cedar or pine as they can suffocate a hamster. Syrian hamster diet and food Syrian hamsters eat mostly grains, with a few vegetable and fruits added in. Nuts and seeds are welcome too, as is a bit of protein. Things like cooked, plain chicken and boiled egg white are good sources of protein, as well as mealworms and small insects. However commercial food mixes are more than enough, with a well studied composition and covering their dietary needs. So, giving your hamster a good food mix will go a long way. You can always supplement the hamster’s diet with foods you already have in your pantry or fridge. A safe foods list is here, and most of them are easily available across the world. The Syrian hamster will need 2 teaspoons of dry food mix per day, and he will hide most of it in his nest. Overfeeding him won’t make him stop hiding the food, since this is a natural instinct of his. It will only result in more hidden food, and a fat hamster, which can lead to diabetes and joint problems. Syrian hamster toys and cage objects The first thing about a hamster, any hamster, is that he loves to run. all night, every night. He will get lazier as he ages, but until then he will run as far as his little feet will take him A Syrian hamster is no different, so he will need an exercise wheel. The thing is, he will need a larger wheel than the other hamsters, since he is so large. The hamster’s back should not be arched when he runs, since this can create back problems. This is why the wheel itself must be very wide, to keep his back straight. For example a wheel like this one is large enough for any kind of hamster, but especially a Syrian. Syrians are the largest, and if yours happens to grow past 18 cm/7 inches long, then a wheel as big as this one will still fit him. It’s got a heavy bottom, so you’re sure it won’t move about the cage. And it’s got a tail and foot guard, so he doesn’t catch onto something. Best of all, it’s silent and won’t keep you up at night with squeaks and grinding metal. You can find the listing on Amazon here, and check it out for yourself. Aside from the exercise wheel, the Syrian will need some objects in his cage (aside from the food bowl and the water bottle). Like a wooden hideout for him to build a nest in, a chew toy, a few cardboard tunnels made from paper towel rolls. Climbing toys are welcome to, and so are hide and seek toys. Most of these can be either bought from a store or online, or even made at home from wood or cardboard. You can find out more about that here. A word from Teddy I hope you found what you were looking for in this article. I know us hammies can seem very confusing with all our cousins, but you’ll learn about each of us in time. Us Syrians are the biggest, and the friendliest by far. If you want to know more about us hamsters you should check out the related articles below. You’ll learn how to keep us safe and happy, and what we need for a good life. [...] Read more...