Buyer’s Guide – Choosing The Best Hamster Exercise Wheel

When your first get your hamster home, you probably have the small wheel that comes with the cage. Then you find out that wheel’s not good enough, and you need to find a bigger, better one. But how big ? How do you know which is best ?

This is something I went through as well when I got Teddy, and I’ll tell you how I found a great wheel for him.

hamster wheel (3)
Teddy, saying hi from his wheel

So how do you choose a good exercise wheel for your hamster ?

There are a few factors involved, and we’ll go through all of them.

1. The size of the wheel is very important. That depends on the size of your hamster. A large hamster, like a Syrian hamster, will need a minimum of 8 inches (20 cm) wheel.

Smaller breeds like dwarf and Campbell hamsters need a minimum of 5.5 inches (14 cm). But make sure you go above the minimum requirement.

The width of the running band is a minimum of 2.5 inch (6 cm) to fit the hamster properly, for all species.

2. The type of the wheel. Full, weighted, plastic wheels are better for your hamster. The metal ones are the next best thing, as long as the hamster has no way of hurting himself.

3. Mounted vs grounded wheels. Both are good options, but it depends on the type of cage you have. If you have no way to mount the wheel, then you’ll need to go for a grounded one.

4. Noise level. It’s important to get a silent hamster wheel, so be sure to check that when you get the wheel. Or to find some ways to make sure the wheel can be silent.

5. The hamster’s back should always be straight. If your hammy has his back arched back when he uses his wheel, then it is too small for him. Syrian hamsters have a big problem with this, since most commercial wheels are too small for them.

These are the basics. Teddy and I will walk your through how to properly use a hamster wheel, how to care for it, and precautions.

How to introduce a hamster to his running wheel

A hamster is a very curious creature, and he will inspect anything in his cage that is new. So when you place your hamster’s new wheel in his c age, put a treat in it.

The treat will draw the hamster towards the wheel, and he’ll notice that the wheel moves. It might take him a few tries to figure it out, but he will.

Once your hamster learns that the wheel moves, and is for running, he will start using it.

This was the case with my Teddy, a full grown Syrian hamster. When he was a few weeks old, he had a small, plastic wheel that was mounted on the side of the cage.

It was too small for him, even as a small hamster. So I went and got him a bigger one, a 7 inch/18 cm wheel, which he used until he grew too big for that one too. Then I got him a larger, 8.5 inch/21.5 cm one.

8.5 inch wheel
Teddy’s wheel, and he runs in it often. I took it out to measure it properly.

But Teddy took to his wheel like a fish to water. So I’m pretty sure your hammy will jump right into his wheel once he finds it.

It might take him a few minutes to figure it out, or even a few days. But he will eventually get there.

There are however a few hamsters that don’t use their wheel, they just walk through it. But we’ll cover that in a different part of the article.

The cage you have plays an important role here. If you have no way to attach the wheel to the side of the cage, you will need a standing wheel. To find out more about the different kinds of cages and what your hamster needs from his cage, check out my article here.

How to care for a hamster running wheel

Caring for a running wheel for your hamster is not going to be difficult, but some things need to be kept in mind.

For example the metal wheels will start screeching after a while, and will need regular oiling in order to be silent. That means taking the wheel apart, wiping off the old oil, and putting on a very small amount of fresh oil.

You can use almost any kind of oil, but remember to use just a small amount. Stay away from very fragrant oils, like olive oil, since your hamster might be tempted to lick it off the wheel. First hand experience here, had to take the wheel out.

Plastic, full wheels with guards on need you to take them apart, and some may require a screwdriver. Whenever you clean one of those, best to leave them to dry very well before putting them back. Plastic wheels don’t need any regular upkeep.

If you’ve got a grounded wheel, make sure to not get it all the way down to the bottom of the cage. Leave a layer of bedding just under it, to make as little noise as possible. This is also make sure the wheel doesn’t move around the cage much, and won’t bang into anything it shouldn’t.

The hamster will bite into and chew everything, including his exercise wheel. So do not mind the bite marks on the wheel. If you’ve got a metal one, the paint on it is safe for hamsters as well. Teddy’s been chewing on his since forever and he is fine.

How to clean a hamster running wheel

The solution to use when cleaning the wheel itself is very hot water, with just a bit of soap. A very small amount of soap is needed, and must be very well rinsed.

As I said above, you’ll need to take the wheel apart, and clean each surface thoroughly. Make sure that when you finish cleaning the hamster’s exercise wheel, you allow it to dry completely. If you need to, you can use a blow dryer on a low setting.

As for how often to clean the hamster’s exercise wheel, twice a year is enough. The hamster himself is a very clean creature, so he won’t be soiling the wheel by himself too often.

What to do if your hamster does not use his running wheel

Let’s say your hammy knows he has a wheel, he knows it moves, but he just doesn’t use it. Maybe he never did use it. Maybe he just recently stopped using it. Let’s see what you can try.

Start by placing a treat inside the wheel, to draw your hamster in. Continue doing this for a few time throughout the day, for a couple of days. Your hammy might need to re-learn or rediscover his wheel.

Now, after your hammy is back in his wheel, what if he just sits in it ? Try moving the wheel very gently. Do not move the wheel suddenly, but be slow and deliberate about it.

Your hamster will most likely follow along, and start walking in the exercise wheel. Keep doing this for a few seconds, and then let him move the wheel by himself.

If he doesn’t, give him more time. Repeat this method for a couple of days, and if your hammy still won’t use the wheel, it’s best to stop insisting. Some hamsters just aren’t runners.

However, you should be very careful about something. When you see your hamster not walking properly, or limping a bit when he’s in his wheel, contact your vet. Your hamster could be avoiding the wheel because one of his paws hurt. Especially if he stopped just recently.

And finally, some hamsters stop using their wheel when they get older. The older the hamster, the bigger the chances are that he’ll stop running.

It could be that they’re more comfy, they feel no threat, or they’ve just become lazy. The point is that they can sometimes stop using it at all. And there’s not much we can do about that.

Do hamsters even need exercise wheels ?

Yes, hamsters need an exercise wheel. In the wild hamsters are very active, fidgety creatures. They’re used to running around, darting here and hiding there. They can’t and won’t sit still for long.

How I wish I knew this before I got Teddy. I knew nothing of hamsters, I only knew they were cute and fluffy. But I never imagined he’d be a dynamo. Turns out not all hamsters are cuddly and like to be held, some are more energetic and want to be everywhere.

Still, Teddy is the cutest thing, and I’m glad I got an excited and energetic hamster. He makes for a funny pet, and pulls the wildest stunts.

Now, imagine what my life would be like if I didn’t get Teddy an exercise wheel. He’d be all over the place, and I’d be worrying about what to do. But since Teddy does have a wheel, he expends a lot of his energy on that wheel.

Hamsters need to have someplace to be active, like a running wheel or an exercise ball, or toys around their cage. The exercise/running wheel allows your hammy to do what he’d normally do in the wild.

Usually a hamster can cover up to 5.5 miles/ 9 km in one night ! This is looking for food, running from predators, finding new territory, and being curious in general.  Imagine your hammy with all that energy and no wheel to burn it all on.

A good hamster exercise wheel recommendation

A good hamster wheel is for life. It’s best to get your hammy his wheel since he is a baby, and let him grow into it. If you’ve got a Syrian hamster like me, then you’ll know they can grow pretty big.

The absolute minimum for a Syrian hamster is a 8 inch/20 cm wheel, but it’s important to go past that minimum since your hammy needs a bit more space than that, and he might grow very large.

This applies to dwarf hamsters as well, since they need a fair amount of space themselves.

So this is my recommendation, and a very good wheel as far as I can tell. This is not the wheel I have for my Teddy, since these are not available in my are, and do not ship here either. However they are just above the wheel I have for Teddy.

As far as I’ve seen, it’s a silent wheel, and it stays put quite well. It has a weighted bottom, so it will stay where you put it. This means it will be heavier than your standard wheel, but that’s just the bottom part, the wheel itself is easy to move by the hamster.

A hamster exercise wheel is going to last him his entire life, so don’t skimp out on it. It’s just as vital as the size of the cage he lives in, and what food you feed your hamster.

You can check the listing on Amazon for the exercise wheel here.

Dangers of not exercising your hamster

There are a few problems that come us when you’re not exercising your hamster, let’s talk about that. If your hamster has so much energy to spend, but nowhere to go, that’s a problem.

First, hamster can get anxiety and depression out of being cooped up for long periods of time with no activity. Hamsters bore easily, and need a lot of stimulation. Exercise gives them exactly that, so make sure you get your hamster a lot of exercise.

Second, in lack of anything else to do, your hamster will scale the cage walls, and try to escape. Partly out of boredom, and partly out of curiosity.

Third, he might develop a cage biting habit. If your hamster feel closed off, and wants to escape or find something to do, he might end up chewing on his cage bars.

While that may sound like an innocent thing to do, it’s not. It hurts his teeth, since the metal is too hard for them and is not an okay material to chew on.

Aside from that, it’s incredibly loud and it woke me up more than once.

So make sure you keep your hamster well exercised, whether it is with a hamster wheel, or exercise ball. Giving your hamster lots of toys to play with will also keep him active, even if he’s not running.

(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.)

hamster wheel

Precautions when using a hamster exercise wheel

When I first put Teddy in his wheel, I didn’t know about all of these. I learned in time, and I’m giving you these pointers to make sure you have all the info you need.

The wheel needs to have enough space to spin properly. That means that it needs to have just a bit of space between itself and the bedding. Otherwise the wheel won’t spin, and the bedding will go flying everywhere. Best to prevent that by keeping some space.

Sometimes, if you’re using a simple metal wheel, the metal bars will become misaligned. This can hurt the hamster, since he can get hit by those bars. Best to check them every day, to see if they get a bit wonky.

This happened with my Teddy, and I had to move the bars a bit. They may be metal, but they’re still malleable, so if your hamster’s hitting the bars, you should be able to twist them just a bit.

The best way to check this is by looking at the bars themselves. The ones Teddy kept hitting had a bit of the natural oil that builds up on Teddy’s fur, and dirt on the side. This was where it kept brushing up against the hamster, and that’s how I figured that I had to twist the bars a bit.

The plastic wheels don’t have this problem, but they have their own. For example flying saucer wheels require much more space inside the hamster’s cage than a simple vertical wheel, so keep that in mind as well. Also the hamster can suddenly ‘fly’ off that wheel if he stops so it can be a bit dangerous for him

And finally, be sure that whatever kind of wheel you get, the hamster can’t catch his feet in it. For example some metal and plastic wheels have a very poorly though out spacing between the bars, and the hamster can easily stick a whole foot inside.

If your have 2 hamsters, get them 2 wheels. This way your will avoid any possible injuries from one hamster getting in the wheel while another is running. Or out of the wheel. You’ve probably seen videos of hamsters flying out of a running wheel because their cage mate was still running. Avoid that.

How to tell when your hamster is comfortable in his exercise wheel

The hammy should feel a natural call to run in his wheel. Hamsters are meant to run, and they enjoy every kind of activity that lets them do that.

But there are a few ways to tell if your hamster is in pain or has a problem with his running wheel, and it’s important to know them. This way you can prevent larger problems like fur loss, injury or even worse.

  • The hamster’s back is straight, and not arched back. As with the exercise ball, the wheel is meant to be a running simulator and hamsters run with their back straight, or even a bit hunched.
  • The hamster is able to run in a straight line. This means that the bars on the wheel are properly aligned, and there is no tilting of the wheel. If there is any tilting, the hamster might get injured.
  • He has enough space to run on. By this I mean he has enough ‘lane’ to run in, and his running band is at least 2.5 inches/6 cm wide. Otherwise the hammy will hit his rear end on the sides of the wheel.
  • The hamster can keep up a consistent run. He does not have to stop often to readjust his position. This won’t really happen when he knows you’re there, since you will distract him. Watch your hamster from a distance to get a clear observation.

A word from Teddy

You know everything there is to know about us hammies now ! Running is a large part of our lives, and you know how much we run, and how big our wheel needs to be.

I know it might sound like a lot of space, but it will matter a lot to your hamster friend if he has a lot of space to run in.

If your want to know more about us hammies, you can check the articles below. You’ll find great info like what we can and can not eat, and even what kind of cage we need.

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13 Signs Of Old Age In Hamsters, And How To Care For Them
13 Signs Of Old Age In Hamsters, And How To Care For ThemIf you’ve got hamster and you think he is getting old, you should check out a few signs. My Teddy is a year and a half when I am writing this, so some of these signs I’ve seen in him. Others I’ve seen in other hammies I know, particularly Oscar (family friend) who was a very gentle and mellow hammy. So let’s see when hammies are old, and what signs to look for, and how to care for your old friend. Here are the signs you should look out for. Table of Contents Toggle1. Your hammy is close to his 2nd birthday2. His fur is starting to look sparse and matted3. Eye problems occur, especially cataracts4. Far less grooming than before5. Your hammy has lost most of his appetite6. Lack of energy, less playtime7. More sleep and resting time8. Shaky, unsure walking about the cage9. Dental problems, teeth break easily10. His cage is less clean, needs cleaning more often11. You notice less droppings in his cage12. Your friend might protest when picked up13. His general shape will changeCaring for a senior hamsterAdd softer food to his dietContinue interacting with himKeep his habitat/room comfortableWhen hammy passes awayA word from Teddy 1. Your hammy is close to his 2nd birthday Usually hamsters live 2-4 years, with Roborovski living the longest. A hamster, regardless of type, is considered old when he’s close to his second birthday. He may live much longer than this, or might not even reach his second birthday. But, that’s the majority of the cases. This is not to say that hamsters die of old age around 24 months, but that’s when they’re about 80 years old (in human years). As with humans, some hamsters live a very active life even in their old age, and some quiet down for the last 30 years of their life. For example my Teddy is a Syrian male, and he was born mid-July 2017. At the time I’m writing this he’s a year and half old, and he has slowed down, and plays less. He’s not 2 weeks away from his end, thankfully we still have some time together. But, he is way past his young adult life. Still, there are other signs you need to watch out for, in conjunction to the age of your hamster. 2. His fur is starting to look sparse and matted A hammy’s fur is usually bright, clean, possibly shiny, and always put together. Well, now that your hamster friend is becoming a senior, he might get a bit lazy or forgetful. So if his fur becomes a bit ruffled or matted, this is why. Older hamsters might also start to lose their fur. Hamsters are born blind, and bald, and unfortunately some hammies end up like that in their old age. You might start seeing bald patches in your hamster’s fur. Or it might just become sparse, and the hairs themselves will not be as soft and shiny as before. They’ll be rather matte, and coarse. They might also change color. For example my Teddy has a bit of silver hairs around his ears, where there wasn’t that color before. This will sound funny and/or gross, but it reminds me a lot of the ear hair some seniors get. Except it’s on top of his ears. He looks a bit like a madman. Do keep in mind that your hamster’s fur could also be looking bad because of a skin condition, which is very probably in his old age. So while fur loss isn’t a definitive sign of old age, it’s still worth noting. 3. Eye problems occur, especially cataracts Hamsters, like humans, can develop cataracts in their old age. This is because the composition of the inside of the eyeball naturally starts to break down. As such, the eyes will become milky, and unfocused. A hamster usually has bright eyes, even if they’re such a dark color. Most have black eyes, but I’ve seen hammies with red eyes, dark red eyes, midnight blue eyes too. You’ll notice your hamster has cataracts by the whiteness of his eyes. It might start out as a single white spot, and extend to the rest of his eye. Other eye problems might occur but the most common one of the loss of eyesight. Don’t panic if this happens to your hamster. In truth hamsters barely use their eyes in the first place. They’re notorious for not seeing well, and are very poor with judging distances or depth. You can find out more about hamster eyesight here. The point is that a hamster without eyesight can lead a perfectly normal life. He will still react to sound and smell, and will recognize you. 4. Far less grooming than before A hamster is usually a very clean, well groomed creature. You’ve probably noticed your hamster is grooming himself whenever he is not eating or running in his wheel. Cleanliness is very important to hamsters, since this is what keeps their scent to a minimum, thus attracting no predators. So, when your once very clean and shiny hammy starts to get a bit dusty, and doesn’t clean himself as much, he is getting old. Old hamsters don’t clean themselves as much. Partly because they can’t reach ever place anymore, and partly because they kind of don’t care. Especially the back of their heads, that’s a place you’ve probably seen your hammy tug at and comb like crazy. That requires the most effort, as well as twisting to the side to clean his flanks. Those probably don’t happen anymore. As a result, your hammy might get a bit smelly. This is especially true for the hamster’s rear-end. You might find his rear soiled from time to time, without there being an infection, or wet tail. You can help your hammy by using a clean cotton bud, dipped in a bit of warm water, and cleaning that area. You will need several cotton buds. Do not soak the buds, they need to be moist but not drenched. 5. Your hammy has lost most of his appetite An old hamster will change his eating patterns too. While usually he would eat a commercial hamster mix, with grains, seeds, and a few vitamins, now he will be picky. This happens with most hamsters, and my Teddy is starting to leave the hard, dry grains in his food bowl more often. He’ll go for softer foods like walnuts, carrots, boiled brown rice, broccoli, and so on. He does still hoard food, and I find grains there as well. But he doesn’t eat them as much as before. He simply doesn’t eat as much as he used to. Your hammy might be the same, and it can have several explanations. One of them could be that his teeth can’t deal with hard food as well as before. Another could be that grains can’t be digested as well, so he will need softer food. You should still keep his usual food mix, but only keep it to half. The other half replace with cooked, softer food like a bit of plain omelet or egg white, steamed broccoli, steamed brown rice, a bit of boiled plain chicken or even porridge. For more info on which foods are safe for hamsters, you should check out this safe and unsafe food list. About porridge, it should be cooked in water, plain with no salt, sugar, or any other condiments. Half a teaspoon of porridge or more than enough. Keep it on the dryer, lumpier side of porridge. 6. Lack of energy, less playtime An old hamster is a tired hamster. You could say he;s gotten lazy, but that’s not particularly true. Hammies are bundles of energy, and the only reason they even stop running on their wheel or playing with their toys is because they’re starting to get tired. No amount of extra sleep will get them bouncing back through their cage. It’s just something that comes with old age. For example my Teddy used to be a runner. My God he’d run the night away and wake us up with his squeaky wheel. When it wasn’t squeaking it was bumping against the cage, he was running so hard with his little hamster feet. Now I haven’t had to oil the wheel in several months. He does get into it, gives it a few spins, and follows my hand into the wheel if i hold it in front of the wheel. But on his own he won’t do much running or playing around anymore. He’s starting to turn into an orange fluffy potato, sitting on his hind-end, blinking at me. Even so, he’s still got some energy in him.   7. More sleep and resting time Another thing that comes with a lack of energy is more sleep. Yes, hamsters will sleep a lot even as adults. But as seniors, you’ll see even less of them. Unlike human seniors, who seem to not be able to sleep as much as they used to, hamsters will spend significantly more time sleeping than before. They still wake up and run around, eat, pee, spin the wheel a bit. But they go back into their nest soon enough. My Teddy used to be up around 9 PM, and start his usual rounds. Now he’s up earlier around 7 PM, for about an hours, then pops back into his nest. Which he moved out of his hideout, by the way, and now nests under the first floor of his cage. Which is transparent, and I can see him sleeping there. He does groom and eat in his nest, but he sleeps so much more. So if this happens with your hamster friend, don’t worry. He’s trying to rest, and catch up on some sleep. It won’t help him much, since his body is slowly breaking down and he is not a young hammy anymore. But he is still healthy, even in his old age. 8. Shaky, unsure walking about the cage A hammy is not the brightest creature, but he normally doesn’t bump against the cage. However an old hamster will start to slowly lose control of his footing. His feet will be weaker, and some joint or bone problems might occur. Problems like arthritis, for example, will make it harder for your friend to travel from one end of his habitat, to the other. He might stop in his tracks more often, or seem to trip. This will be present n very old hamsters usually, since it’s a sign that the body is very worn out. 9. Dental problems, teeth break easily A major problem with hammies is their teeth. They’re constantly growing, and need to be constantly filed down. An old hamster is often going to avoid the hard, dry grains in his food mix. This can lead to overgrown teeth, and other teeth-related problems. Dental infections can be more common in a senior hamster. Normally a hamster’s teeth get filed down when the hamster eats something very hard, like grains, or chews on something wooden. Like his chew toys, or possibly his hideout. An old hamster that’s avoiding hard surfaces for his teeth probably already has dental problems, but they will become worse with overgrown teeth. If this is the case, I recommend taking your hamster to a veterinarian. He will be able to file down, or clip the hamster’s teeth to an appropriate length. Another problems with teeth is that they might break more easily in senior hamsters. A broken tooth can lead to a infection more easily, and is painful for the hamster himself. Dental problems can make eating a chore for your hammy, and you will need to add softer food to his food bowl. 10. His cage is less clean, needs cleaning more often Usually a hammy’s cage is pretty clean. Aside from the odd droppings and seed shells, there isn’t much to clean. There is the pee corner, and if you’ve put a small litter box there then that’s easy to clean too. But a senior hammy will not keep just one pee corner. He will go on other places in his cage, and on his very old age will also pee in his nest. This is something hamsters – adult, healthy hamsters – never do. The whole point of having a pee corner is to keep the smell as far away from their nest as possible. This is done to keep predators from figuring out where the nest is. So an old hammy not using his pee corner is in his final stages. This will mean that you’ll have to clean the cage and change the bedding much more often. You can find out more about that here, including which beddings are safe for your hamster. 11. You notice less droppings in his cage Less droppings are related to less eating. If your hammy is not eating as much, he won’t be passing as much. This can also be because of blockage along the intestines. Constipation is not uncommon in seniors, both human and hamsters, and is one of he reasons you might notice significantly less droppings in your hammy’s cage. If this is the case for your hammy, make sure you bring him to a vet. He will know what to do to help the hamster’s gut, and if there is anything to be done in the first place. 12. Your friend might protest when picked up If your friend was usually calm and okay with being picked up, he might protest now. Nothing personal, it’s just that he is tired and would like a nap. As a senior he’s always tired, and would like a nap. It could also be that something inside of him is hurting, or he might have a sore part of his body. Hamsters aren’t the most expressive when it comes to pain, so you might not notice for a long time. 13. His general shape will change By this I mean that whether he was a chubby or slim hamster in his youth, now he will be oddly shaped. One of the first things you will notice is his neck. Usually his cheek pouches kept his neck fluffy and puffed. Now however his neck will be noticeable, and a bit on the skinny side. In fact the entire muscle structure will start to shrink and shrivel, and the skin will start to become thin and sag in places. Of course, your friend is still furry and this will be harder to tell. But you can still make out the general shape of him, and whether it’s starting to look bony or not. His eyes might look like they’re bulging too, since your friend’s face won’t be as full or fluffy as before. (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.) Caring for a senior hamster Your hammy has been by your side, all his life. Now that he’s getting old it’s important to make his final days as comfortable as possible. There are a few things your can do to make it easier for your friend, and here they are. Also, if you’re looking for a general supply list with what your hamster will need throughout his life, here it is. Add softer food to his diet An old hamster will have trouble eating. Not only that but he will also become a picky eater. However most hamsters won’t say no to a piece of cooker chicken or a bit of porridge. Here’s a rundown of the foods you can add to an old hamster’s diet: Porridge – cooked with water, not salt, sugar, any condiments. Keep it on the dry, lumpy side. Half a teaspoon per day is enough. Steamed veggies like carrot, corn, broccoli, cauliflower, or asparagus Cooked chicken or fish, plain, no oil Cucumber slice Cooked egg white, plain Steamed brown rice or wholegrain pasta These are all in conjunction with Hammie’s regular food. So feel free to make it a sort of half and half mix of his commercial food and these softer options. Be warned that he might ignore the commercial food if you give him too much cooked food, and you’ll end up creating an imbalance in his diet. Continue interacting with him A senior hammy, even on that can’t see very well, or at all, still needs your presence. Pay with his like before, bu expect him to not come out as often. Talk to him whenever you see him, and generally pay attention to the creature that brought you so many cute moments. He might be old and shaky now, but he was a maniac tearing the exercise wheel when he was younger. Remember that hamster, and honor him. Even if he’s not as active as he used to be, he might be easier to pick up, if he usually was very fussy about it. Keep his habitat/room comfortable Keeping your hammy’s habitat clean and warm makes things much easier for him. While a healthy, adult hamster will only need a cage cleaning about once per week, a senior might need it twice per week. However this is only if you notice a strong smell coming from his cage. If everything is okay, you can keep the cleaning schedule as it is. Do remember that cleaning the cage is stressful for the hamster. Even if you put him in a transport cage while you clean his usual cage, he will know something has changed. Hamsters are sensitive to smell, and a freshly cleaned cage will have much less of his smell than before. For that, you should keep a bit of his old bedding and nesting material in the cleaned cage, to make things more familiar. Another element if the temperature, which should be a 20-23 C/68-75 F range. That’s the most comfortable range for hamsters, and will keep your hamster friend happy and warm. Make sure the cage is away from any drafts, and won’t be in direct sunlight either. Any objects in the cage that require climbing like a rope or a high bridge should probably be taken out, since they can become dangerous. Especially if the hamster has also become blind or is a daredevil like mine. When hammy passes away At one point, even with all your efforts to make things comfortable and cozy, you friend will unfortunately pass away. While painful, try and focus on how well you took care of him. The feedings, the playtimes, the funny faces, even the annoying bar chewing. Your hammy was your furry little friend, and no other hamster will replace him. Even if you do end up getting another hammy, they will have a different personality, and be their own hamster. Honor your late friend, and say your goodbyes. You’ve done all you can for him, and now it’s time for him to rest. A word from Teddy I hope you found what you were looking for in this article. Us hammies don’t have a very long life, but I know we can make you happy. I hope the hammy you have is feeling well, and is as happy as a hammy can be. If you want to know more about us hamsters you should read the related articles below. You’ll find out how to care for us and keep us healthy. [...] Read more...
10+ Best Ways to Keep Hamsters Warm
10+ Best Ways to Keep Hamsters WarmMuch like humans, the hamster’s immune system is suppressed if they get too cold. This makes them more vulnerable to virus or bacterial infections, and you might put them at risk of having hypothermia if you have a very young or old hamster. Sometimes, hamster owners allow themselves to be tricked by the fur coat of their hamsters into believing that they can warm themselves. But this is far from the fact as these animals are not even that effective at abrupt decreases in temperature adjustment. Table of Contents Toggle1. Keeping hamsters warm in the winter2. Improve hamsters diet3. Provide extra bedding and substrates4. Don’t open doors frequently5. Exercise with your hamster 6. Keeping hamsters warm in a cold room7. Choose a perfect spot for the cage8. Use a space heater9. Heating pads for cages10. Prevent hibernation11. Keeping hamster cage warm12. Provide your hamster with a hiding home13. Take care of the water bottle14. Water bags and covers for warmth15. Monitor hamsters behavior  1. Keeping hamsters warm in the winter For starters, it is very important to know that most hamsters usually hibernate to spend the winter better. Hibernation is a condition characterized by drowsiness, marked decrease in body temperature, metabolic rate, and at the same time reduces the intensity of vital signs. You should try to keep the ambient temperature of your home above 60 degrees Fahrenheit in moments of winter. Besides, you need to feed the hamster the appropriate daily doses to stay strong and healthy. But in cold weather, it will not be enough to maintain low temperatures without risk. If you notice that its body begins to stiffen from the cold and even trembling, it is advisable to start caressing it gently to warm it up and wake it from that state of drowsiness in which it will enter. 2. Improve hamsters diet Try to give very tasty food with a high percentage of fat and protein, because in these times it is necessary to gradually warm-up. You should make him drink, add a little sugar to the water and give him a drink. Your hamster’s diet is the most important thing that you can do to avoid hibernation. The diet plays a critical role in the life and health of your hamster. If you do not supply it with enough nutrients, it will hibernate. Add fattening food to its diet. Feed it with avocado, sunflower seeds, and peanuts. This diet in your pet will accumulate more fats and keep it healthy. Hamsters come from dusty, arid, temperate areas like Syria and Greece, so they are used to being warm and relaxed. If the temperature falls below 60 degrees Fahrenheit, your hamster can become lethargic. And, if the temperature begins to drop below 50 degrees Fahrenheit, your hamster might be dead and collapse into hibernation mode. 3. Provide extra bedding and substrates During the winter, use extra bedding to keep your hamster warm. Many hamsters like to pull the material of bedding to create a nest. The only safe wood-based bedding for hamsters is Aspen. For odor control as well, Aspen is a great, affordable choice. Aspen, however, appears to cling to the fur of some hamster species, especially long-haired Syrian hamsters, but it does not harm them in any way. Make sure you have plenty of substrates laid down for them to burrow and make nests in. This is one of their favorite things to do and a natural way for them to cover themselves from the cold. A dense four-to-five-inch coating is going to be very beneficial for them. If he pulls lots of his bedding into his hideout, it’s one way to know that your hammy is cold. Even if they have plenty of nesting material in their hideout, hamsters can do this normally. Usually, people bring warm fabric in the bedding to make it easier for the hamster to get snug and comfortable. But you can also use other materials, such as chips made of hemp wood. The positive thing about using hemp wood is that it doesn’t have any dust and still looks fine. Hemp wood is also known to provide hamsters with a more natural environment. 4. Don’t open doors frequently It is common in the winter for your hamster to become more lethargic. This is because, to stay warm, they conserve their energy levels, opting to remain in bed for longer. However, if, due to intense coldness, your hamster falls unconscious or goes into hibernation mode, then this is life-threatening and you should urgently seek veterinary assistance. You should keep the doors of your home from opening and closing regularly. Often, strive to stop having the cage of your Hamster next to your house’s main entrance. Constant door opening and closing will lead to cold air coming into your home. This will trigger a sudden decrease in the temperature inside your house. Also, keep the windows closed of the space in which your hamster is situated. Particularly at night, when the temperature is much lower. 5. Exercise with your hamster  Hamsters need to work out to keep themselves fit and safe, even on cold days. It is recommended that their floor time on these days is increased. Let them out with closed drafts and ventilation in an open and spacious room. Do this for at least 60 minutes per day, if possible. In hamsters, lack of exercise will lead to different health problems. It may leave the hamster obese as well. Another symptom is when your hamster gets lethargic and also loses his appetite. By sleeping even more, he might be trying to save body heat and energy, so you may see him less frequently. Your hamster could physically shiver and shake in intense cold. 6. Keeping hamsters warm in a cold room You need to keep the cage away from the window and ventilation sources to prevent the hamster from getting cold. Your hamster can feel the temperature even though the windows are closed and sense it lowering bit by bit. The window areas are colder than any other place in the room. 7. Choose a perfect spot for the cage It’ll be safer if you pick a cozy corner of your room or some corner of the house when you decide the location where you can put the cage. This will make sure that the hamster does not feel very cold and will not hide inside the bedding. You can think about having thicker curtains for the window areas to fix the window issue. This will keep the area insulated, and inside the room, the curtains will retain the heat. In addition to this, you can also put rolled-up towels on the window sills, as cold air can enter through those sills. The best source of heat is the sunshine. Everybody requires sunshine in winter. For all living beings to keep themselves safe, sunlight is an excellent source. It is a perfect source of vitamin D, and it also has many health advantages. 8. Use a space heater Also, you could think about buying a space heater. It would shield the hamsters from the cold and keep the room heated all day by setting up a space heater. But make sure that the room doesn’t overheat, or you will harm the hamster. Also, don’t place the heater right next to the cage, especially if you own a metal cage. If you can’t afford to use a space heater, think about borrowing or renting one. If you can’t do that either, try to program your heating system to turn on more frequently than usual. This will keep the temperature of the room comfortable for the hamster. 9. Heating pads for cages Heat pads are a smart option for keeping your hamster safe as well. Various forms of heat pads can be found online and in pet shops as well. They come in different types and shapes, and for a long time, they can keep your hamster safe. The heat pads can be warmed up in a microwave and you can then position them under the cage. But note to use the heat pad sparingly, or the hamster’s normal immune system will suffer. Move the hamster’s cage away from drafty walls, doors, and spaces. Your hamster’s home is instantly on its way to heating up by getting cool air out of the equation. Simply pushing his cage away from a drafty window won’t make a huge difference if you keep him in the same room where the cool air is circulating. Move the hamster to a room that has better insulation and warmer air circulation, instead. 10. Prevent hibernation The biggest threat of keeping a hamster in a cold room is hibernation. There is no time or warning for a pet hamster located in a very cold room. He’s going to have to act fast to slip into a kind of slumber that can’t only keep him safe for a long time, but it’s going to dehydrate him as well. That slumber is a potentially hypothermic shock in serious situations, which can be fatal. There are a few steps you can do if you notice that the hamster is slipping into hibernation. Try to use body heat. Take the hamster and place it in your hands. Pat and rub the hamster to warm it up. Hold it for at least 30 minutes and make sure it changes behavior or looks more alert. If that doesn’t work, heat it with a bottle of hot water. Wrap the hamster in a towel with a bottle filled with hot water. The hamster should not be in direct contact with the bottle and should not overheat. This will help warm his body and get him out of hibernation. Give warm milk to the hamster. As soon as the hamster starts to be more alert, even a little, try giving him warm milk with a dropper. Heat the milk on the stove or in the microwave, but test first to make sure it’s not too hot. If you want, give clean water, water with sugar, or a drink with electrolytes, like the one’s athletes use to rehydrate, using a dropper. Anything you can do to make him drink water is a good idea. Rehydration helps the hamster to come out of hibernation. 11. Keeping hamster cage warm Layer the underside of your hamster’s cage with a thick blanket. Not only would the blanket be protecting the bottom of the enclosure, but it will also trap heat inside it. However, if your room is hovering about 60 degrees Fahrenheit, an insulating blanket will not fix the dilemma, so the amount of cold will only be minimized. But, if the hamster requires only a little more warmth, it is an acceptable low-cost and low-maintenance approach. You will need to keep the cage relatively close to the artificial heat source inside your home. In the coldest moments, you should touch it often to make sure it has not entered hibernation. If you feel his body cold and breathing slowly, he may be preparing for hibernation. 12. Provide your hamster with a hiding home Hamsters enjoy hiding places, as it allows them to control their body temperature and stay warm. Only by taking the appropriate precautions, you can plan hideouts at your home for your hamsters. To make an opening, carve a narrow opening out of a cardboard box. Be sure you do not leave any rough edges, or you could injure the hamsters. Your hamster will take advantage of this spot to relax. Keep some hay in the box (preferably timothy hay) so that there is plenty for the hamsters to chew on. Consider buying a hiding home for a hamster to put in the cage. This tiny home will provide an extra layer of protection for the hamster. They are usually made of wood, which is the best-known insulator in the world. To hold the cold out, you might even think about buying an igloo for hamsters. The hamster will hide and snug for as long as they want in the closed space. A well-insulated nest box made of wood, ceramic, or thick plastic provides a protected place for your hamster to sleep. Make sure the nest box is put in a stable position where it will not be overturned by your hamster to have it collapse on them. Every hamster cage has a water bottle attached to it. You need to take care of the water bottle as well. If the hamster has a hiding spot in the cage, where it snuggles up, you might want to move the bottle near that spot. If the hamster is too cold, it might not get up to hydrate. 13. Take care of the water bottle Also, water bottles sometimes freeze on cold days. It will leave your hamster dehydrated if not taken care of. To keep it from freezing, you can cover the water bottle with a towel or a small cover. The water bottle tip can get frozen as the mercury level decreases, reducing the water flow. You should check the tip of the bottle if the temperature is too cold by tapping it every few hours. It is also recommended that both the water bottle and the water bowl be used on cold days. If you want to extremely ensure the hamster’s warmth during winter, opt for a glass cage. In cold weather, glass cages are better insulators than metal and wired cages. A glass cage does not require extra covers or heating pads, putting enough bedding will be enough. 14. Water bags and covers for warmth You can keep hamsters’ cage warm by putting a warm water bag on top of their cage. You can even put the water bag inside, choosing one corner of the enclosure. Before using it, cover the water bag with a thick cloth or towel. Do not use it without a towel or cloth and make sure the water bag is not leaking. If your hamster doesn’t have a wheel in its cage, make sure that he is supplied with one during winter. Running on the wheel is the hamster’s favorite activity. During cold days, physical activity will generate heat and keep it warm. Put warm covers on the cage. The cover will help insulate the temperature and protect the hamster from the cold. See if your pet has enough coverage to prevent hibernation. If it starts to get cold fast, put more covers on to prevent this from happening, but make sure to leave openings, so the fresh air can still circulate through the cage. 15. Monitor hamsters behavior  Finally, the hamster’s behavior in winter should be carefully monitored. Pay more attention to the hamster’s behavior and whether he is warm during the colder months. You can put more coverage in his cage or give him food that is richer in fat than is normal. Take care of your pet to be safe and alert during the cold season. Hamsters can, like people, catch a cold. They will have a runny nose and will probably sneeze. You will notice the change in its fur as well. It will become matted and ruffled. If he is hot to touch, it means that his body temperature is high and he will usually have low energy, and loss of appetite.    [...] Read more...
Hamster Fur Loss: 4 Causes and Treatments
Hamster Fur Loss: 4 Causes and TreatmentsWe all love our pets and enjoy spending time with them, but it’s our duty to take care of them and keep them healthy. Many animals develop dermatological problems with age, shedding fur to the point where they’ve completely lost it, and hamsters are no different. It’s terrible to see your hamster lose its fur, as that’s the animal’s equivalent of humans being left without clothes on. Whenever we can, we should try to help our pet. That’s exactly what we’ll be discussing in this article: hamster fur loss. We’ll be taking a look at the reasons for your hamster’s fur loss and how to treat it. As these causes can vary from stress to old age, and the fur loss can appear at different places, keep in mind that there’s a lot to this topic, and you should visit a vet if this article can’t help you. Today, we’ll be covering hamster fur loss on their backs and behind their ears, and we’ll also be taking a look at flaky skin and fur loss due to old age, as well. Let’s get started! Table of Contents Toggle1. Hamster Fur Loss on Back.2. Hamster Fur Loss – Old Age.3. Hamster Fur Loss and Flaky Skin.4. Hamster Fur Loss Behind Ears. 1. Hamster Fur Loss on Back. There are many reasons why your hamster may be losing its fur. Friction is one of the most common reasons for this. If you’ve noticed your hamster losing fur after they’ve spent a lot of time burrowing or rubbing against the cage or toys, then friction is likely the reason for them losing fur. This is actually natural for hamsters, and you shouldn’t be worried. When they’re in the wild, they spend a lot of time digging and burrowing, so this is a normal process for them. Hamsters can also develop face sores from rubbing their face against the bars of the wire cage, or by water dripping down their face when they’re drinking. If it’s the latter, then you have to buy a better water bottle. If it’s the former, it may be a sign that the cage is too small, so you should get a larger cage for your hamster (preferably not a wire one). Even though many people find hamsters running on wheels amusing, overuse can lead to the hamster losing fur on its legs. Remove the wheel until the hamster’s fur grows back. Secondly, your hamster may be suffering from nutritional deficiencies. This is, clearly, a lot more serious than simple friction, and it’s just as common. If your hamster’s diet is low in vitamin B, then that could be the reason for its fur loss. Another thing that can also have an effect on fur loss is the lack of protein. If you think that this is the problem, you’re going to have to start supplementing your hamster’s meals with certain foods. Add unsweetened cereal, cheese, cooked eggs, whole-wheat pasta, and fresh fruits and veggies. Make sure to talk to your vet, as well, and if they recommend it, you can add water-soluble vitamins to their diet. Another unfortunate cause for fur loss can be found in parasites – ticks, fleas, ringworm, and mites are all capable of affecting your pet’s hair. If you notice that your hamster’s constantly itchy and it’s scratching itself – that may be because of ectoparasites. This excessive scratching is what’s causing the fur loss, and you should definitely contact your vet for assistance. Hamsters rarely get ticks, because ticks are mostly found outdoors, and hamsters rarely venture outdoors. Most ticks lay dormant during the winter, aside from a few species, and the only way for your hamster to contract a tick is for you or someone else to bring it in the house. If your hamster has contracted a tick, they’ll be scratching that area a lot – this is because they feel the bite from the tick and it causes an itch. When we’re talking about fleas, they’re also very rare for hamsters. However, when a hamster does contract fleas, they can shed all of their furs away. It’s easy to determine whether your hamster actually has fleas since they’re visible to the naked eye. You can also see their droppings, which look like small black dots on your hamster’s skin, easily. If your hamster does have fleas, all you have to do is buy one of the products made for clearing fleas off. There are many products for all furry animals, but try to find a product specifically for hamsters. It’s much more likely that you’ll find mites on your hamster than fleas or ticks. These are invisible to the naked eye, so it’s almost impossible for you to identify them on your own. They won’t cause any problems if they’re small in numbers, but if your hamster has a weakened immune system, irregular grooming patterns, or is stressed, the mites will increase their numbers. Signs that mites are present in this situation: reddened skin, rough dry patches, and fur loss. The best way to deal with this is by taking your hamster to the vet and let them take skin samples and take a look at it under the microscope. Mites are treated with topical sprays for hamsters, so make sure to buy that and use it the way it’s instructed on the packaging. Also clean your hamster’s cage, taking everything out and disinfecting it. A ringworm infection is also possible. All animals can get ringworm, and that includes hamsters. These fungal infections will appear as a distinctive ring of hair loss with flaky, yellowed skin. You have to be careful if you’re handling a hamster with ringworm, because you’re vulnerable to it, as well. Make sure that you’re always wearing gloves, that’s the best way to deal with that. Ringworm develops in environments that are too humid, so you’re going to want to keep your hamster’s cage properly ventilated. The way to treat ringworm is to wash your hamster with a topical shampoo for ringworm. Most of these contain miconazole, povidone-iodine, or keratolytic, and either of them should do the trick. If your hamster’s hair is already long, you may want to shorten it to ensure that the shampoo gets to all areas and washes everything. Shedding is another reason for fur loss, but this isn’t a reason you should worry about. Most furry animals shed, most often during spring and fall – it is normal to see periods of thin fur at this time, and keep in mind that Syrian and Russian hamsters tend to shed more than the Chinese and Roborovski types do. Hot spots are another cause for hamsters losing fur. Hot spots are, however, pretty rare when it comes to hamsters. These spots are actually open wounds, caused by a fungal infection that causes the hamster to scratch and chew their own fur and skin. To deal with this, take your hamster to the vet. Another thing that may cause your hamster’s fur loss is allergies. Hamsters can often become allergic to substances in their cages, usually their bedding – this can cause them to develop a rash and lose some fur. Don’t use cedarwood shavings for your hamster’s bedding, this is because oils within the wood are too strong for the hamster’s sensitive skin. Another thing that may cause this is dyed paper bedding, as well as dyed food. This is easy to fix – just find better bedding and provide a better diet to your pet. There are other possible causes for your hamster’s recent fur loss, but they’re less common and it’s unlikely that either of those things is happening. However, we’ll list them just in case: your hamster may be suffering from kidney inflammations, or T-cell lymphoma – cancer that attacks the skin, hormonal imbalances may be an issue, as well. However, these causes are all very rare and you should exhaust your options with the list of the most common reasons before you even think about any of these serious things. When discussing the loss of hair specifically on a hamster’s back, you have to understand that the most likely cause for that is one of the causes we’ve already discussed. There are perhaps a few things that cause hamsters to suffer from fur loss in specific areas, but their backs can be affected by any of the things we’ve mentioned. If you’ve noticed that your hamster’s losing hair on its back – it’s most likely because of one of the things we’ve already talked about. However, another reason why your hamster may be losing fur is because of its age, as older hamsters tend to lose fur, which is exactly what we’ll be talking about in our next section. 2. Hamster Fur Loss – Old Age.   One of the clearest signs of your hamster starting to age is their fur looking sparse and matted. A hamster’s fur is usually bright, clean, possibly shiny, and always put together – this is one of the reasons that makes them so appealing to the eye. However, once they start aging, they start losing their fur, and here’s why. The fur is mostly defined by genetics – most hamsters are born blind, and they’re also mostly born bald. Unfortunately, some hamsters end up like that in their older days, as well. Once your hamster ages (hamsters live from 2 to 4 years, depending on the species), you will probably start noticing patches of skin where fur simply doesn’t grow – this is because your hamster’s old. Even if your hamster is not balding, you may notice that their hair isn’t as soft and shiny as it was before, but it’s rather sparse. It can become matte and coarse, which is something that’s deemed odd for hamsters, who are usually shiny. The fur may also start to change color, just like with humans. Your hamster may actually start having their first grey hairs. Unfortunately, there’s no cure for aging, so you can’t exactly fix this. However, as they age, hamsters are more prone to diseases (just like humans are, as well). So, the reason for your hamster’s hair loss may not be hidden in numbers, but rather in a disease. Hamsters are also very well-groomed creatures, similar to cats (although those species aren’t exactly the best of friends in real life). They’re usually grooming themselves whenever they’re not eating, sleeping, or playing on the wheel. Their cleanliness is very important to them, as it keeps their scent to a minimum, which is a great defense against predators. So, if you’ve noticed that your hamster’s hair is less shiny and well-groomed, and is now becoming dustier and more reminiscent of a certain German scientist’s hair – it’s because your hamster’s getting old. Older hamsters can’t clean themselves as well as younger hamsters because of their many physical restrictions, they are also careless. The most effort usually goes towards cleaning the tops of their little heads and cleaning their flanks, they need to bend around like crazy to reach these spots. These spots are the first you’ll notice are becoming less groomed, because they’re usually the most well-maintained spots. The result of this is your hamster getting a bit more smelly, which is especially applicable to your hamster’s rear end. You might find his rear soiled from time to time, without there being an infection or wet tail. This actually also refers to the cage, as the hamster will clean their cageless when they’re in their older days. Older hamsters can also lose their hair due to a lack of protein (less than 16%) or iron in their diet. As we’ve already said, there isn’t really a way for you to affect this. We all get old and you can’t stop your hamster from getting old. Help your pet during this time and ensure that their final days are happy and enjoyable. 3. Hamster Fur Loss and Flaky Skin. We’ve already mentioned a few reasons for flaky skin or skin cabs when we were discussing fur loss, but let’s go into detail with them. One of the most common skin diseases that causes both fur loss and flaky skin are mites. Mites are one of the most common skin diseases in hamsters. If you’re suspecting mites, you won’t be able to identify them on your own in any way, as they’re invisible to the naked eye. You need to take your hamster to the vet. The vet will take a sample of the hamster’s skin and take a look at it under the microscope. Your vet may also brush your hamster while holding a white piece of paper to catch the mites, and then take a look at them using a magnifying glass. If your vet has diagnosed your hamster with mites, the first thing you need to do is isolate it from all other hamsters, as you don’t want them to get infected, as well. You should also wash your hamsters, and return them to their cages after washing and disinfecting the cages, as well. Mites are contagious, so your healthy hamsters are very likely to catch them if you don’t isolate the ill hamster. If multiple hamsters have already caught mites, then treat them all as prescribed. After that, you need to treat your hamster as your vet has prescribed. The most common and the most popular treatment with vets is medicated shampoo. However, hamsters don’t really like showers and baths, so they may resist and not let you apply the shampoo and wash them. The alternative to this is medicated ointment that you’ll apply to the affected area. There are different options when it comes to this: oral ivermectin, which kills parasites, is a treatment option. To apply this, place the prescribed number of drops of this solution in your hamster’s mouth. There are also anti-mite sprays available. However, they’re mostly an over-the-counter treatment, and you need to discuss this with your vet before you decide to apply it to your pet. Severe mite infestations are most often treated with a full-body dip. This dip is basically just a medicated bath containing ivermectin. Your vet will explain how to perform this, but know that your hamster could resist because they don’t really like baths. You may need to repeat this process numerous times, as many hamsters (especially older hamsters or hamsters with lower immunity) need to be treated for mites more than once. Make sure that you discuss this with your vet before you repeat the process. We’ve already mentioned that it’s important to clean your hamster’s cage before you put them back in. When doing this, wash all of the accessories in the cage; all the toys, water bottles, food bowls, etc. – do this with hot, soapy water. Use a hamster-safe cage disinfectant, as some other disinfectants may harm the pet. Make sure that everything has dried before you put it all back. Another disease that may cause skin scabs is ringworm infection. We’ve already discussed this and said that humans can catch ringworm, as well, so make sure that you’re always wearing gloves when dealing with this. To treat this, you’ll first need to visit the vet, as they need to diagnose the ringworm for you to treat it. You should suspect a ringworm infection is at play if you notice patches of hair loss where the skin looks crusty, flaky, and red. Your vet will take a look at this and take a look at the fur with a microscope – the affected area looks like rings. It’s especially possible if your hamster is older, as older animals have a weaker immunity. To treat this, follow your vet’s treatment instructions. Firstly, always wear gloves and make sure you’re not making any contact with your hamster or its cage without wearing gloves – humans can also catch ringworms. One option of treatment is medicated shampoo, containing either povidone-iodine (antibacterial) or antifungal medication. You should cut your hamster’s hair before you go through with the treatment, as it’s very important that they’re completely cleaned. This way, the shampooing will be very effective. Once again, just like with mites, isolate this hamster from other hamsters and place it in a separated cage (and make sure that all cages are properly cleaned). Another treatment option is topical treatment with griseofulvin, an antifungal medication. This is an ointment, so if your vet prescribes this, they’ll shave the affected area and you’ll have to apply the ointment. Know that treatment for ringworm usually lasts between 18 and 21 days, so this isn’t going to be finished very soon. Make sure that you’re keeping your hamster’s cage ventilated, as it can become damp inside if you don’t. Damp areas are ideal for fungal growth and they’re an increased risk for all kinds of infections, including ringworm. Wire cages usually have great ventilation, so you should consider buying one if you don’t already own one. Lastly, the most common reason for your hamster’s skin scabs are actually wounds. We’re not talking about wounds caused by diseases or infections, but by your hamster fighting (female hamsters are more likely to bite than male hamsters because they’re more territorial) with its cage mate or getting scratched by sharp bedding. This wound can become infected and it can cause a pocket of infection to form and leak abscess. Your vet will take a sample of the abscess and will have to surgically remove it and close the wound. After that, you’ll have to apply an ointment on the wounded area for some time. During this time, until your hamster’s wound has completely healed, you’ll need to remove the cause of the wound. This means that you have to isolate that hamster from all the other hamsters, as a fight or biting could reopen the wound and cause even more damage. If the wound was caused by sharp bedding, replace the bedding with something soft. Here are some other, more simple reasons for your hamster’s flaky skin: – if you have an older hamster, their skin is naturally weaker and their scabs may be caused by them scratching their belly on their bedding or any other hard surface. Your hamster’s skin will become sensitive when it gets old, so it doesn’t matter if this bedding didn’t cause any problems before. – you could notice your hamster’s scent gland having sores, this is usually caused by excessive grooming and licking. 4. Hamster Fur Loss Behind Ears. If your hamster’s getting older, then it’s completely normal for them to lose fur anywhere, including right behind the ears. If this is the case (you should primarily gauge that by its age), you won’t really be able to do anything about that. However, this doesn’t have to be the only reason. If you’ve also noticed redness or swelling around that same area, it may be because your hamster’s scratching itself too much. This can be caused by a number of reasons – firstly, just like humans, animals sometimes have to scratch themselves for no good reason. Secondly, it may be mites or fleas – this will cause the hamster to scratch themselves to the point of losing fur. You can cancel this out if you’ve recently cleaned their cage and they’ve only started scratching themselves recently – this means that the cause is most likely not mites or fleas. Thirdly, your hamster may be having an allergic reaction to something. Take a look at their diet and see if anything has changed. Maybe you’ve got a new pet? A dog or a cat and they’re having a reaction to them. Also, although it’s rare amongst animals, it may be psychosomatic. Maybe your hamster is under a lot of stress for some reason and that’s causing them to scratch their fur out. If you can’t find a reason for this article, we’d suggest visiting your local vet and let them find out what’s going on. Hamsters are without a doubt some of the most popular pets in the world. If you have a hamster and you’ve recently noticed that it’s started to lose fur, it’s most likely because of old age. However, if your hamster is not that old and that shouldn’t be happening, then it can be a number of reasons, ranging from dietary restrictions to infections. Make sure to clean your hamster’s cage regularly, even if they’re not having problems with their fur at the moment, as that’s the best way for you to ensure that they don’t start suffering from any issues in the future. If you’re having any further trouble, make sure to call your vet. [...] Read more...
Complete Guide To Choosing Dwarf Or Syrian Hamster Cages
Complete Guide To Choosing Dwarf Or Syrian Hamster CagesThe hamster’s cage is the most important purchase you’ll ever make for your furry friend. I know I made some mistakes when I got my Teddy his first cage. And I’m here to help you get your hammy the best cage ever. My Teddy is a fully grown Syrian hamster, but I will also cover the cage requirements for dwarf hamsters as well. Table of Contents ToggleSo how do you choose the best cage for a syrian or dwarf hamster ?The best cage size for your hamsterCage size for Syrian hamstersCage size for Dwarf hamstersThe best cage type for your hamsterWire cages for hamstersA good wire cage for your hamsterPlastic cages for hamstersA good plastic hamster cage recommendationGlass tanks for hamstersA recommendation on glass tanks for hamstersSafety and escape-proof rating of the hamster cageHamster’s safety in his cageIs the hamster’s cage escape proof ?How to clean a hamster’s cageHow to place a hamster in a temporary holdingHow to clean wire or plastic cages for hamstersCleaning a glass tank for hamstersMultiple levels or one ground level ?The airflow of the cage is important for your hamsterPlacing toys and hideouts in the hamster’s cageWhere to keep the hamster’s cage in your homeHow to safely move and handle a hamster’s cageA word from Teddy So how do you choose the best cage for a syrian or dwarf hamster ? This depends on several factors, and I’ll list them here. Then, we’ll get into detail for each and every one of them, so you have the most information. So, you have to be mindful of: The cage size – different needs for different hamster species The cage type – plastic vs wire vs glass tank Escape-proof rating of the cage Multiple levels or a simple ground level Air flow – some cage types aren’t the most breatheable Whichever kind of cage you get, be careful to check every nook and cranny before you buy it. Or, when it ships to you. Your hamster will check it anyway, so if there’s anything wrong with the cage, best to know before you put your friend in it. Teddy: Us hamsters are very curious creatures, and we’ll get our little faces into EVERY part of the cage. So make sure it’s safe for us before you let us in ! The best cage size for your hamster It will vary from species to species, but I’ll cover both types. In general hamsters need more space than you’d think, since they’re very active creatures and love to run around. Even if you see your friend as the smallest ball of fur, he will still need plenty of room to roam and explore. Cage size for Syrian hamsters The best size cage for your Syrian hamster would be 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. The height of the cage is not very important, because hamsters need more actual floor space than levels. Of course, you can get your hammy a cage with a few levels, aside from the ground floor. This is actually what my Teddy has. He has a combination of plastic and wire cage, with 2 attachable levels. I left the highest level out of the cage, so I can fit his 8.5 inch/23 cm wheel. Syrian hamsters are always housed alone. They are very territorial and will not share anything with another hamster, even a litter mate. Cage size for Dwarf hamsters The best size for a dwarf hamster is 18 x 10 inches, and a 12 inch height. That’s 46 cm x 25.4 cm, with a 30.5 cm height. That is for one dwarf hamster. You can house dwarf hamsters together, but not too many. 2 or 3 are enough, but for each hamster your add, you will need a bigger cage. So for example if you’ve got 2 dwarf hamsters, then they will need more space than I said above. They will need at least a Syrian cage, so that’s 24 inches by 12 inches (61 x 30.5 cm) for 2 dwarf hamsters. If you’ve got 3 dwarf hamsters, then you’ll need a much bigger cage. You’d be better off looking for a glass tank. We’ll cover that soon. The best cage type for your hamster There’s 3 main types of cages you can pick, and I’ll go through all of them. You can find combination cages (like plastic and wire cages), but not very often. Wire cages for hamsters The most common kind of hamster cage, and the one you will find in a pet shop most of the time. They have their own advantages and disadvantages, and I’ll go through them here. This kind of cage is made up of a plastic bottom, usually about the height of your palm. The attachable wire walls, which are actually most of the cage itself. Although, the most important part is the bottom bit. That is where your hamster will live, walk, eat, sleep, and poo. The wire of the cage is just how far he can go. But the floor space is the most relevant part of your cage, to be honest. Good points for a wire cage: breathable, lots of air flow for your hamster easy to clean, just a wipe down with a warm, moist cloth easy to take apart and reassemble generally sturdy, will last a long time Bad points for a wire cage: can sometimes have metal wiring on the floor, and your hamster can get stuck there is the hamster’s favorite chew toy bedding can easily fly out of it wire spacing is often too large for hamsters, they can squeeze their heads through When it comes to the space between the wire of your cage, the smaller then better. The thing is, hamsters are very curious, and will stick their faces everywhere and will try chewing everything. If your hamster’s head can fit between the wires, then his body can fit as well and he can escape. So, for Syrian hamsters a maximum wire space should be 0.6 inches/1.5 cm. And for dwarf hamsters, a maximum of 0.4 inches/ 1 cm. The problems is that most of the cages your will find in a pet shop have the wiring too far apart. If they’re large enough for a Syrian, then the wiring is too far apart. If the wiring is good, they’re almost always just large enough for a parakeet, not a hamster of any kind. A good wire cage for your hamster A good wire cage is one that has a sensible wire spacing, This one’s got less than half an inch, so it will keep even dwarf hamsters inside. It’s easy enough to work with and you an fit any kind of hideout or toy inside, and a tall wheel will fit as well. It has the added benefit of an extra level, which hamsters will love. My Teddy loves to hide under the home level, and yours is probably no different. This one’s level is adjustable, so you can place it whichever way you want. You can check out the listing on Amazon here. Plastic cages for hamsters These can be plastic bins that you can drill some holes in, and put a wire mesh in place of a lid. Or you can even find plastic cages at a pet shop, designed for your hamster. These are see-through, and are the second most common type of hamster cages. They’re usually a bit more pricey than wire cages, but they have the added benefit that they can be customized. Good points for plastic hamster cages: less bedding thrown outside the cage, contains poo and wood shavings better easier to customize, you can often find them with holes made for attaching tunnels and tubes less of a chew hazard, the hamster rarely chews on them since he can’t get his teeth on anything usually has a very large topside latch, so you can fit both hands inside the cage you can provide deeper bedding, since there is a higher plastic guard Bad points for plastic hamster cages: less airflow than wire cages or glass tanks, since the air holes are smaller more condensation or trapped air need more cleaning, since there is more surface to clean less sturdier than wire cages, careful when moving the plastic cages The plastic cages sound like a good option, and they can totally be a good option for your hamster. If you’ve got a hamster who loves to dig around and burrow, this might be for him. You can give your friend a lot of digging space and a whole bunch of bedding to roam around in. Just make sure that you get a version that’s well ventilated, so your hamster can breathe easily. As for the actual bins some people use in place of a hamster cage, I wouldn’t recommend that. The plastic is usually too soft and blurry, even if it can be drilled to get some air holes for your hamster. When it comes to basic, important hamster accessories like the cage or the wheel or exercise ball, or even the water bottle, I suggest you get a professional one. Those are made with the hamster’s comfort in mind. A good plastic hamster cage recommendation This is actually the cage I have for my Teddy. It has 2 levels, and they provide a lot of room for your hamster. My Teddy is a solitary adult Syrian hamster, But this would be alright for 2 dwarf hamsters as well. The best thing about this cage is that it comes with the tube attachments, which can actually fit an adult Syrian hamster inside easily. This is an easy to clean and assemble cage, with a great combo between plastic and metal cage advantages. There’s air, and there’s safety and containment as well. I removed the highest level so I can fit  9 inch wheel inside. The wheel that come with it, as well as the hideout I wouldn’t recommend, since they are plastic and small. You can check out the listing on Amazon here. Glass tanks for hamsters A third and final option would be to keep your hammy in a glass tank. This is a great option if you have a lot of space in your home, and can place la large glass tank somewhere. There are some special precautions, though. Glass keeps cold for longer, so make sure you keep the tank in a definitely warm room. Hamsters need an temperature of 20-23 Celsius/68-75 Fahrenheit to feel comfortable. A glass tank might keep them colder if not properly maintained. Good points for a glass tank: you can get them in a very large size, and will definitely fit any kind of hamster you have can be split down the middle with a large bendy bridge if the hamsters become rowdy you can see your hammy, but he can’t kick out any bedding can be found quite easily, it can even be a glass shelf with the shelves removed Bad points for a glass tank: cleaning and changing the bedding will need serious planning and will take more time more sensitive to temperature shifts you can’t move it around like a normal cage; the room you keep it in is its final room The glass tank is a seriously good option if you’ve got a room to keep the hamster in, and it won’t bother you during the night, and you can keep it an even temperature. Glass tanks don’t have to be aquariums. They can be that, but you can also use a glass shelf/display rack. When cleaning day comes, you’ll probably need a bit of help from a friend with this. But if you’re a dedicated hamster owner, you probably won’t mind the extra trouble to give your hammy the best home ever. The best thing to do is to find a wire mesh that you can use as a lid, on the top of your hamster’s glass tank. This is just a precaution. Most glass tanks are too tall for hamsters to climb, but you never know until they’re out. A recommendation on glass tanks for hamsters You can find a good glass tank here. It’s a 20 gallon tank, and that’s about the minimum for a hamster’s glass tank. The best part about it is that it’s tall enough the hamster can’t escape, and you probably won’t need a wire mesh to cover the top. Best to get one, just to be sure, though. The cleaning and washing and drying will be a longer process than the other cage types, but you can see your hamster clearly. When it comes to glass anything, it’s best to go there personally and buy it. Glass breaks very easily so don’t be surprised if that happens during transport. You can check out the listing on Amazon for this glass tank here. Safety and escape-proof rating of the hamster cage Another important aspect when you choose the hamster’s cage is how safe it is for your hamster, and how well it can keep him contained. Hamster’s safety in his cage Your hamster’s cage is his home. This is where he will eat, sleep, poop, run around, and just live out his entire life. It needs to be a safe place for your hamster. So let’s look at a few precautions to take: check for any sharp edges your hammy could hurt himself on, like some stray wires or sides no chipped edges if you’re using a glass tank the seams/corners are safe and can’t be chewed on, and have no visible glue that the hamster can gnaw on if you’ve got a multi level cage, make sure the levels aren’t too high so he can’t fall too far give your hammy lots and lots of bedding to shield him from  any odd edges make sure the cage fastenings don’t come open easily, and keep the cage top well secured If you’ve checked all of the above, and you’re sure your hammy can’t hurt himself on anything, then great ! Remember to keep the room temperature between 20-23 Celsius/68-75 Fahrenheit and he will be fine. Is the hamster’s cage escape proof ? Hamsters are escape artists. Not because they reaaaaally want to escape, but because they’re curious and want to know everything, If there’s something that smells like food, they’ll be all over the cage to try to get to it. If they see you they’ll be clawing at the cage to come and smell you. Hamsters are busy things, people to see, things to do. So they will try their teeth on everything, including the cage. If you’re not careful, he might chew through a cage fastening (depending on the material) and hurt himself and/or manage to escape. So let’s talk about what you can do to make sure your hamster can’t escape. if you’ve got a glass tank, use a wire mesh with metal clamps to fit it on top of the cage make sure the cage wiring and the wire mesh holes don’t have more than 1.5 cm/0.6 inch opening for Syrian hamsters for dwarf hamsters, make sure the opening between wires is no more than 1 cm/0.4 inches; Syrian hamster babies need smaller openings, like this one make sure that the cage fastenings keep the cage well closed and can’t be opened easily check the cage for any weakness that the hamster night chew on, like ripped plastic bottom or a small hole somewhere How to clean a hamster’s cage This depends a bit on what type of cage you own, but I’ll go through each type. Whichever kind you have, you must first place the hamster(s) somewhere else. So use an exercise ball, or transport cage, to keep the hamster while you clean he cage. How to place a hamster in a temporary holding If you can hold your hamster, then scoop him up and place him in his exercise ball or transport cage. If the hamster can’t be handled, then coax him into the exercise ball or transport cage with a bit of food he loves. He only has to stay there until you clean his cage. If you’ve put him in an exercise ball, make sure you keep an eye on him as well. Remove any and all toys and home and food bowls from the cage, until you only have the bedding. The cages are very simple, open the latches on the cage (usually on the side) and remove the top. Then, after you’ve removed everything but the bedding, look for soiled parts. If the bedding looks relatively clean and doesn’t smell, remove only the dirty parts. Use a rubber glove, and throw away the parts that need to be thrown away. Keep a bit of the old bedding and nesting material, for your hamster to feel more familiar. If you’re using a sand bath for your hamster, make sure you change and clean that as well. How to clean wire or plastic cages for hamsters As for the cage itself, it will need only hot water and a bit of soap. Small quantities of soap, since hamsters are very sensitive to smell. You can scrub the sides of the cage, or wipe them down, your choice. You can also bring the cage parts into the shower and give them a good cleaning there, just make sure your pat them dry with paper towels and especially the lower part. The bedding can get wet if you don’t, and will become moldy. Once you’ve washed and dried the cage, place the parts of the old bedding back onto the lower part of the cage. Put new bedding if you need to, until you reach a depth of about 1-2 inches/2.5-5 cm. Then, place back every toy and food bowl or accessory in the hamster’s cage. In his hideout, place the bits of the old nesting material, and some new nesting material in the cage. Do not place new nesting material directly in the hamster’s hideout. He will take it out anyway, and bring it back in as he thinks fit. My Teddy got quite annoyed when he found his hideout full of ripped up paper towel not the way he left it. Cleaning a glass tank for hamsters The bedding and toys need to be removed the same way as the wire or plastic cages. But the last bits of bedding will require something like a vacuum cleaner, to make sure you get absolutely everything out. The cleaning and washing part is done with hot water and a small amount of soap, but will need more rinsing with a moist clean cloth. You can’t bring the glass tank to the shower, but you can rinse it thoroughly with lots and lots or moist cloth. When you’re done washing it, dry very well with paper towels. If you want to be extra sure there are no hidden water droplets in the corner, use a blow dryer. Keep it a safe distance from the glass, at least 40 cm/16 inches and use a warm setting. After you’re done washing and drying the glass tank, place back the bedding and nesting material, with bits of old bedding and nesting material as well. Place the toys and hideout and everything back, and use this as an excuse to maybe redecorate the hammy’s place. Even if the glass tank is a glass one, do now use window washing liquid on it. The alcohol and strong smell will be harmful for the hamster, just stick to hot water. Multiple levels or one ground level ? This is entirely up to you, and the hamster will enjoy both. The thing is that hamsters need a lot of leg room, because they run and climb and explore new places. If you’re looking for a hamster cage that will give your hamster a lot of space, look for a low cage, with lots of space in width and length. This will take up a lot of actual floor space in your home. So, it depends on your home as well. If you choose a multi-level cage, you do give your hamster more room, and he will use the higher levels as well. He will hangout mostly around his hideout, so make sure you put that somewhere he will not fall far from. For example my Teddy has a multiple level cage. I took out the last level so I can fit his wheel inside, but Teddy uses all the space he has. When I gave him the extra level, he used that one too. A word of caution though. Hamsters can’t judge heights very well, so they will jump or fall from a high ground if they think it’s a shortcut. My Teddy is also plain silly and just forgets he has a nice ramp set up from his upper level to the ground level. He sometimes just jumps from the upper level (like 15 cm/6 inches) to the ground floor. He often just climbs up instead of using that ramp. That’s okay, he’s working out quite well. So if you get your hamster a multi-level cage, make sure your give the levels lots of bedding. And also, make sure the levels overlap a little, so he can’t jump too far down. This is because hamsters will use the actual floor of the levels as much as they can, so there is no point if giving them a ‘high ceiling’ type of cage. Hamsters spend most of their time on all 4 feet, and don’t need a lot of vertical space to stand. Just make sure that a large exercise wheel (9 inches/23 cm and upwards) will fit into the type of cage you have. (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.) The airflow of the cage is important for your hamster As with every living being, air is important. Stale air will give your hamster a lot of health issues, including lung problems, possible colds, and suffocation in extreme cases. To make sure your hamster gets lots of air, a wire cage is best. But to make sure the hamster won’t chew the bars, you need a plastic cage or glass tank. But with the plastic cage the air quality is often a problem. However a glass tank is often expensive. So what should you do ? Take a look at your budget, see which kind of cage you can provide your hamster and still be okay. Then, do the following: If you get a wire cage – keep it in a corner, away from drafts and in an even temp of 20-23 Celsius/68-75 Fahrenheit If you get a plastic cage – place the hamster in his exercise ball more often, and use that time to air out the plastic cage If you’ve got a glass tank, the air will be sufficient but again keep it from drafts, and when the hamster is outside the cage remove the wire mesh to allow for more air If you hamster’s cage isn’t properly aired, the condensation and air quality will give him health problems, and we want to avoid that. This is especially important with the ammonia fumes from the hamster’s pee. Protect your hamster’s cage from drafts and any especially cold air. Placing toys and hideouts in the hamster’s cage The hideout is where your hamster will spend most of his time. Place that in a corner, hidden from sight or at least under a bendy bridge or something similar. Hamsters will choose a very hidden and safe spot to build their nest, so put their hideout there. For example my Teddy often uses the most hidden corner of his cage to eat, under the upper level and blocked by paper tubes and bedding. To find out more about what kind of hideout is best for your hamster, as well as which kind of bedding is safe for him, check out my article. You’ll also find out what nesting material is okay, and how to take care if your hamster’s hideout. As for the toys and wheel, make sure you keep any tall toys away from the glass tank’s edge otherwise the hamster might climb out. The wheel can be anywhere in the cage, but make sure it fits into your cage. If it’s a mounted wheel, it will have to be attached to the side of the cage. A standing wheel can be placed anywhere. You can find my article on what kind of exercise wheel your hamster needs, according to his size as well. You’ll also find out how to clean and acre for the exercise wheel, and how to acclimate him to one. The toys, whether they’re food bowls or chew toys or bendy bridges can be put anywhere. Anywhere in the cage is fine, as long as they’re not in the pee corner. Hamsters usually choose a corner to pee in, usually the farthest away from their hideout. So, in that particular corner I put Teddy a sand bath. It acts as a litter box, and it keeps smell down to a minimum. You can use an old hideout, with a removable lid, or even special sand containers. Your choice, as long as you put something there to contain the sand. Other toys, like the chew toys and climb toys you can find out more about here. You’ll learn about the kind of toys your hamster needs, and what to look for to figure out which he likes the most. And you’ll get some DYI ideas for some of them as well ! Where to keep the hamster’s cage in your home This is something you’ll have to think about for a few minutes, see where the best option is. Best not to move the hamster’s cage often. Hamsters are sensitive, and do notice and wake up when you move their cage. It won’t shock or scar them for life, but they do notice. That being said, I do move my Teddy’s cage every day, because of my apartment’s layout. During the day when he sleeps he is in our bedroom, and I never move him. But at night, before I go to bed, I move him to the kitchen where my girlfriend can’t hear him rummaging through his cage. Hamsters rarely make noise, and they’re very quiet by nature, but she’s a light sleeper. In the morning, we take him back to the bedroom and don’t disturb him for the rest of the day. Now, if you’ve got an apartment with a better setup than I do, figure out a place to keep him at all times. It’s best if it’s a room where he can’t be bothered by other pets or curious children when he sleeps. If you have a room for the hamster alone, then you can probably get him a glass tank (not taking the budget into account) since it will stay in one place. The room you keep your hamster in needs to be free of drafts, with an even temperature. Do not place the cage in direct sunlight, or near a heat source. How to safely move and handle a hamster’s cage The cage should not be moved often, but there will be times when you must do this. When this does happen, make sure you do not grab the cage by the top part, at all. Even if it has a nice handle to hold, do not trust it. Most of those are poorly build and will not hold that weight. Do not hold the wiring, since your fingers can become stuck, and the hamster will possibly chew them as well. If you’ve got a long sleeve shirt, keep the sleeves or any shirt part away from the wire cage wall. If possible, try not to bump the cage into the wall or drop it. Avoid taking it up and down the stairs, since you won’t see very well. Even more important, if the hamster is still inside the cage. In these situations use a transport cage for the hamster, and empty the large cage to hold it in an way you can see in front of you. When picking up the cage, pick it up by the lowest part of the bottom. Make sure your thumbs don’t stick into the cage or the hamster might nibble and you might drop him. When placing the hamster’s cage down on the floor, do not bend over, but kneel. This is easier on your back, and safe for the hamster as well. A word from Teddy I hope you have a clear idea of what kind of home us hamsters need now. There are difference between hammies like me (Syrian hamsters) and dwarf hamsters, but we’re more alike than different. Us Syrian hamsters need larger cages, and dwarf hamsters can do with smaller ones, but always add more space for each new hamster. For example my dwarf brothers and sisters can be housed together, in same sex pairs. But I need to be alone, I don’t like sharing my space or toys or… well, anything. If you want to know more about hamsters in general, you can check out the articles below. You’ll find out more about why we eat our poop, and how much water we need as well ! [...] Read more...
Can Hamsters Eat Bird Food? You Need To Know This
Can Hamsters Eat Bird Food? You Need To Know ThisI have a hamster, and my inlaws have two parrots, so this question popped into my mind several times before doing research to see if a hamster can safely eat bird food. The first thought was that the pre-made food for birds and hamsters looked kind of similar, so I thought there was no harm in feeding them the same thing. But after doing a bit of research, I found out that there are more things we need to know before feeding our hamsters with bird food. I have seen people experimenting with hamster food a lot without checking if that is safe for the little hamster, so I’m glad you are here, and you are willing to fact-check those things before feeding your hamster. Table of Contents ToggleCan hamsters eat bird food?Differences between bird seeds and hamster foodSafe and unsafe seeds for your hamsterIs feeding your hamster with pre-made food mix enough?What other pet food can hamsters eat?What about cat food?Guinea pig/rabbit foodConclusion Can hamsters eat bird food? Hamsters can eat small quantities of bird food as a treat. However, swapping the pre-made hamster food with bird food long-term is unhealthy for your pet hamster. Those are the two main reasons why you should not feed your hamster with bird food. Bird seeds contain more fat than hamster food, and eating too much bird food might endanger your hamster. If you have bird seeds and don’t want to throw them away, you can give them to your hamster as a treat instead of the main food. When we talk about bird food, it is important to know that besides the seeds, there are bird pellets that contain more fruits and vegetables in the mix. This might sound like a healthier option, but it is actually more dangerous for hamsters since they can develop diabetes much easier, especially dwarf hamsters. Hamsters primarily east grains and seeds, not fruit.  Here is an entire article about hamster diabetes and all you need to know in order to prevent it. Dwarf hamsters are predisposed to diabetes, but that doesn’t mean a Syrian hamster can’t develop it. Also, those pellets might contain too much vitamin C for your hamster. Vitamin C is an essential vitamin for hamsters, and it is essential to ensure that they receive a balanced amount.  If the hamster doesn’t receive the correct amount of Vitamin C, the mineral deficiency can cause scurvy, resulting in diarrhea, lethargy and hair loss. If they receive too much Vitamin C, they are also at risk of experiencing diarrhea and weight loss. It is, therefore, imperative to ensure that your hamster receives the right amount of Vitamin C to ensure their health and well-being. Dedicated hamster food will always have the correct amount of Vit C. Differences between bird seeds and hamster food Bird seeds and hamster seeds are two types of seeds that offer different nutritional benefits to the animals they are intended for.  Bird feed usually consists of millet, sunflower, rapeseed, and canary seed, which may contain excess fats and sugars that are not beneficial for hamsters but are necessary for birds.  Hamster feed is composed of a mix of ingredients such as sunflower, pumpkin, flax, sesame, wheat, and corn, providing an array of vitamins and essential fats that hamsters need, making it a more suitable option. The hamster pre-made food mixes are fortified with vitamins and minerals to make sure your hamster doesn’t lack them but also does not get too many of them, as we talked about above. Safe and unsafe seeds for your hamster Hamsters eat a lot of seeds, however that doesn’t mean that any seed is safe for your hamster. Here is a list of safe seeds for your hamster, after which we will continue with the list of unsafe seeds for your hamster. Sunflower seeds Pumpkin Seeds Sesame Seeds Flax Seeds Wheat Seeds Corn Kernels Unsafe seeds for your hamster: Apple Seeds Grape Seeds Pear Seeds Citrus Seeds (Citrus fruits should be avoided at all, not only the seeds) Apricot Pits Cherry Pits If you want to make sure you feed your hamster properly, check my article on what hamsters eat, and there you will find everything you need to know. Is feeding your hamster with pre-made food mix enough? Yes, a pre-made food mix for hamsters should have all the nutrients a hamster need. Since hamsters are omnivores, we might get confused and think that this is not enough but in reality, hamsters eat very little animal protein, even in the wild. The occasional treats we give to our hamsters are not mandatory for a healthy hamster diet if you feed it with a proper food mix. Here is a good one I found on amazon. This one should last you a few months. What other pet food can hamsters eat? Maybe you have another pet, a dog, a cat, or other rodents like rabbits or guinea pigs, and you wonder if you can feed your little furball with their food. I have an entire article that talks about whether a hamster can eat dog food or not, so I will not get into much detail about that one here. But the short answer is no, hamsters can’t eat dog food (nor cat food). Those pets have very different digestive systems, and you have to keep in mind that dogs are carnivores. They don’t need too many grains or vegetables to be healthy. On the other hand, hamsters are omnivores, but do not normally eat meat. I discussed this in more detail in my article about hamsters eating insects. Hamsters can eat meat/insects but they don’t need to, even in the wild. Insects are not the first thing on their menu, they might eat a few of them if they can’t find any other food. But it is not what they need or prefer to eat. What about cat food? The same applies to cat food as to dog food. Hamsters should not eat cat food. A treat every now and then might not immediately hurt your hamster but it is better to avoid giving cat food to your hamster. If your hamster accidentally ate cat food that it found while you were playing with it, you should not worry if it wasn’t a large quantity. One or two cat kibbles should not affect your hamster at all. Guinea pig/rabbit food We tend to think that rabbits, hamsters, and guinea pigs are all rodents, so the diet must be similar, but that is not quite accurate. Rabbits and guinea pig are herbivore animals and they need way more hay, grass, leafy greens and vegetables than a hamster needs. Also, they can have much more vitamin C than a hamster. We’ve already discussed the side effects of too much vitamin C in a hamster’s diet. While a hamster needs fewer seeds and nuts than a bird, they still need a good amount of them compared to a guinea pig or rabbit, which doesn’t eat nuts and seeds at all. I had all those pets when I was a kid. I’ve had guinea pigs for about eight years, I’ve had a cat and a dog for a couple of years, and now I have a hamster, and I can tell you that they all have quite different diets. If you have other pet food and you don’t know if it’s safe to feed your hamster, you better throw that food away instead of putting your little furball in danger. Conclusion Hamsters can occasionally eat bird food or seeds, but that doesn’t mean you should include them in your hamster diet. It is better to stay safe when it comes to hamster diets, they can be quite sensitive, so you should stick to a pre-made food box and give some occasional treats here and there if you want to diversify the diet. I hope this article helped you understand the differences between hamster food and bird food and also why you should not give other pet food to your hamster. [...] Read more...
Do Hamsters Get Periods And Bleed ? A Word On Hamster Mating
Do Hamsters Get Periods And Bleed ? A Word On Hamster MatingIf you own a female hamster, you will need to know about her menstrual cycle, and if she bleeds during her period. Or if she even gets a period at all. Not all creatures are the same. Let’s see how the female hamster’s reproductive cycle works, and how it affects the mating process. Table of Contents ToggleSo do hamsters get periods ?How you can tell your hamster is in heatWhen/what age to let the female hamster mateSigns your female hamster is pregnantPregnancy and birth of the hamster litterDo hamsters bleed during their period ?Genital problems in female hamstersA word from Teddy So do hamsters get periods ? No, not the same way other female mammals do. The female hamster does produce eggs that need to be fertilized by the male, but there is no bloody discharge if the eggs haven’t been fertilized. There can be one single drop of blood, occasionally, but that’s it. Instead there will be a whitish substance that the female will release at the end of her ‘period’. This repeats every 4 days, and the window in which the female is available for breeding is only 12 hours long, at night.  On that night, she gives off a strong smell, to attract the male hamster. This is the hamster version of being ‘in heat’. This starts once the hamster becomes sexually mature (around 8 weeks) and lasts until she either dies, or becomes too old. How you can tell your hamster is in heat Aside from the strong smell the female gives off, there are other signs. For example on the day when the female is available (day 2 of her cycle), she will secrete a whitish substance that also contributes to the general smell around her. By the end of her cycle (day 3 and 4) the substance secreted from the genital opening becomes drier, more waxy. You will notice the hamster is more agitated, and if you stroke her back she will flatten her body and splay her legs. This means she’s ready to receive the male, and if you’re looking to breed hamsters, this is the right time. Then everything starts again, with the thinner secretions on the first day. Female hamsters have regular whitish secretions, much like human females. This is partly a cleaning mechanism, and a part of the mucus that is meant to receive the male’s sperm. This will continue until the hamster becomes pregnant, and them resume after she gives birth. And this will continue until she falls pregnant again, or become too old (a sort of menopause). When/what age to let the female hamster mate There are best and worst moments to let the female hamster breed. This is because pregnancies when the hamster is too young is taxing since she is still growing and it’s not an easy pregnancy. Pregnancies in hamsters older than 15 weeks is not recommended, since it often has many complications. Anything between 10 to 15 weeks is fine. As for how early you can start breeding the hamsters, the male is said to be in peak between week 10 and 14, while the female can start as soon as she 10 weeks. When you do introduce the female to the male to let them mate, you should take a few precautions. Even though the female is willing to mate, she will not always accept the male. This can vary from hamster to hamster, but the mating ritual is a bit violent. There will be tussling and a bit of fighting. She will test the male to see if he’s worth her eggs, and most of the time he is. There are times when the male is either weak, or the female is too violent. This means that male needs to be removed and a different male introduced, possibly one who can stand against her. This needs to be done in the evening, when the female wakes up, and her secretion is whitish and fairly thin. She should be on her second day, right in the middle of the cycle. It only lasts for 12 hours, and the male only has that one night to impregnate her. Signs your female hamster is pregnant If the breeding is successful, you will notice something that’s called a copulatory plug. This is kind of an actual plug, made of the male sperm, and the female excretions. It’s hardened and white, and will remain there for the first 5 days of the pregnancy. This is the most obvious and definitive sign that the male has successfully impregnated the female. Another sign, in case you missed the plug, is the fact that the hamster will still secrete a whitish substance but this will be consistent, creamy, and whitish. There will be no thin secretion, only the thick one for the following 5 days. After that night, the pair needs to be separated. The female will be aggressive towards the male, and it’s best to keep a gestating female hamster undisturbed, on her own. The gestation period varies from hamster breed to breed, but generally is between 16 to 22 days. Dwarf hamsters have the longest pregnancy (20-22) while the Syrian hamsters have the shortest pregnancy. You’ll notice the female is pregnant about 10 days after the mating, her belly will swell and she will be more and more irritable. At this time it’s best to give her more and more food, especially protein like cooked plain chicken or egg white. Also, more nesting material is required, since she will start building this big, warm, sprawling nest for her and the babies. So make sure you’ve for tissues, toilet paper and paper towels at hand, and give her more than you think she needs. She will use all of 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.) Pregnancy and birth of the hamster litter The female needs to be kept alone, away from her cage mates, so nothing can disturb her. This is because any stress or annoyance can spook her, and she has a high chance of eating her young once they’re born. This is especially true if it’s her first litter, and has no previous experience with young hamsters. Once her due date approaches she will become restless, she will eat more, and she will stop using her wheel. She might be sleeping or just resting more. You might see a drop of blood or two just before the birth. On the day of birth, you need to make sure she has a good stock of food and water on hand. She will stand up, and deliver one baby hamster. She will clean him, sever the umbilical cord, tidy around the nest or take a short nap, and a few minutes later deliver the second baby, and so on until all babies have been born and cleaned. Once she is done, she will be very tired, and irritable. Be sure to leave her alone completely, and only bring food and give it through the cage bars. Do not try to peek at the babies or poke at her. So not clean her cage, neither spot-clean nor completely clean. This will be the norm for about 2 weeks after she has given birth. The babies are born hairless and blind, and will suckle from her until they reach 4 weeks of age. That is when she will wean them, and you will need to separate them into same-sex groups to avoid surprise litters. Do hamsters bleed during their period ? No, not usually. There might  be a drop of blood every now and again for some hamsters. But a hamster period does not include a heavy, bloody flow like in human females. This means that if your hamster is a female, and she bleeds during each of her periods, you should have her checked out. Even if it’s just a drop of blood, if it’s consistent and always happens (every 4 days) you need to be sure everything is okay. Genital problems in female hamsters A heavy flow of blood during the hamster’s period can indicate a serious health issue. It could be the a urinary tract infection that went very far. Or it could be an internal injury, especially if the bleeding is fairly constant (over a few hours). Another problem is pyometra. It’s an infection in the uterus, which will produce a yellowish discharge from the hamster’s genital opening. It will be noticeable, and especially smelly since for the most part it will be pus. The hamster’s belly will also be swollen if she has pyometra. This is more common in older hamsters, rather than young ones, so take that into account. It’s treatable, and you’ll need a good vet for that. A word from Teddy I hope you found what you were looking for in this article. I know us hammies can be confusing at times, but we’re quite a bit different from you. 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...