Cleaning A Hamster Cage – How Often, And How To Do It Right

Every hamster owner’s got this question, and I know I had it too when I first got my Teddy. How often should I clean the hamster’s cage ? How do I clean it right ? Do I need to spot-clean every few days ? 

In time, and with a bit of help from other hamster owners, I figured out how often to clean Teddy’s cage. And I learned how to do it without disturbing him too much, so he’s not shocked to find a completely different cage when I let him back in.

hamsters cage cleaning (1)

So how often should I clean the hamster’s cage ?

Ideally the hamster’s cage should be cleaned once a week. In some cases it can be once ever two weeks. This is for a single hamster, if you’ve got two or more living in the same cage, you won’t be able to leave it for 2 weeks.

This is because several hamsters pee, poop, and leave bits of food in more numbers than just one hamster. And these are the activities that make a cage messy. So more hamsters in a cage equal more frequent cleaning.

Still, there are some shortcuts you can take without hurting the hamster, and I’ll tell you in this article. But first, let’s see in detail what makes a hamster’s cage messy.

Why a hamster’s cage can get smelly in the first place

Usually a hamster will spend the majority of his time in his cage. Unless you’re putting him in an exercise ball, or transport cage to go somewhere.

That means there will be lots of poop, food, and pee in the bedding. For the most part, it’s the pee that smells. This is easy to clean, since hamsters always choose one corner of the cage to pee in. Pooping can be done anywhere though.

The hamster’s pee corner is always the same, unless he decides to change/move his nests’ location. The pee corner will be the one farthest away from the nest. So simply removing the bedding from that corner will be enough to remove the smell.

There will be a white, dry spot under the bedding, which will not come off easy. We’ll deal with that later.

If you’ve got more than one hamster, then there will possibly be more than one pee corner. It depends on whether your hamsters share a nest, or just the cage. It varies from hamster to hamster. Finding the pee corner is easy enough, though.

Aside from that, droppings will be absolutely everywhere. In the nest, in the food bowl, under the water bottle, sometimes sticking to their fur (rarely, but I saw that on Teddy a could of times and he took it off real quick).

Droppings do not smell, and they’re very dry. But they do look bad, and some people spot-clean them just to make the cage look better.

As for the food, there will always be a food stash hidden in the hamster’s nest. He never eats all of the food at once, but he makes this huge stash of food, just to be sure h always has enough. Giving him more food won’t stop this from happening, it’s simply the hamster’s instinct.

Depending on what you’ve give the hamsters to eat, you might find bits of fruit or veg in his food stash. They might start to smell, so taking them out fast would be a good idea.

So those are the main culprits for why a hamster’s can develop a smell. Unless the hamster is seriously ill and needs a vet immediately, it won’t be him that’s smelling bad. He’s actually a very clean and non-smelly creature, and keeps his scent down to a minimum.

 

Cleaning the hamster’s cage, the right way

Now that we know what can get the hamster’s cage dirty, let’s see how we can clean it – the right way.

I say this because there are some people who do it wrong, even if they have the best intentions. Those are all honest mistakes, and can be easily corrected. I’ve made a few of them myself. Let’s see what we should be careful with:

  • Scent – no strong chemicals used to clean the hamster’s cage, or scented soap. There are hamster-safe disinfectants available at your vet’s office, ask him for a recommendation.
  • Leave the hamster a piece of his old bedding and nest. It will be easier for him to recognize his home, even if it is the same cage he’s known his whole life.
  • Do not rearrange the cage unless absolutely necessary. Hamsters rely on smell and memory to navigate their cage, and are not keen on changes. They become nervous/stressed when they don’t recognize or find their nest.
  • Provide enough bedding, but keep it reasonable. The hamster needs to be able to move about his cage. This varies from hamster to hamster. Digging hamsters need more bedding than runners, for example.

Hamsters are very sensitive creatures. Removing him from his cage and putting him in a new habitat is stressful for him, especially if he does not have his scent there to know it’s a familiar place.

This means that cleaning his cage isn’t something he likes, but it must be done to keep your home clean. So we need to be very careful with some things when we clean the hamster’s cage.

Chief among them being scent and cage layout. Hamsters do not really use their eyes, they can’t see well. But they have a great sense of smell, and they rely on it heavily. Leaving them a handful of their old bedding, even with a few droppings, will make the place seem familiar.

The nest should have as much of his old nest as possible, without being too dirty. Giving him a completely new set of paper towel strips to use as a nest, without some of his old nest, is going to be hard on him.

hamsters cage cleaning (3)
this is Teddy’s cage. you can see him in his tube, and his hideout stuffed full of paper towels.

Also, changing the location of his hideout(where he builds his nest) is not okay. I did this with Teddy and he spent the entire night with his cheeks full because he didn’t recognize his hideout all the way on the other side of his cage.

Moving the general location of the food bowl or water bottle, and other objects he uses often isn’t recommended either.

This is especially true if you own a blind hamster. He will rely on his memory alone to figure out his cage, and will be very grumpy after you’ve moved his furniture around.

Now let’s start with the cleaning process.

Put the hamster in his transport cage/exercise ball

You’ll want the hamster out of his cage for this. This is a stressful operation for him, and it’s best of he’s not there. You can use  his exercise ball (this is what I do with Teddy) and let him roam the house for a while, until you’re done cleaning.

This is only recommended if you finish cleaning his cage in under half an hour. Leaving the hamster in a closed space like the exercise ball is not safe, as he’ll need water and fresh air.

If you’re taking longer than 30 minutes, or don’t have an exercise ball, you can also use the hammy’s travel cage. It should have a bit of bedding in it as well, a hideout and a few objects to keep him distracted.

Whichever method you use, you’ll need to pick you hamster up and place him in the cage or ball. Baiting him with a bit of food in your hand works best.

Take out everything already inside the hamster’s cage

Once the hamster is safe and out of the way, you can start with his cage. Take out everything that’s in his cage, his wheel, hideout, food bowl, water bottle, toys, everything.

Set them aside and check which need to be scrubbed, if any of them do. Most of the time they’re okay and do not need a rinse.

You’ll notice your hamster’s nest, and that he’s got a food stash to survive the Apocalypse. Take everything out, but save some of the food and nest to put back into the cage when you’re done.

About the bedding, changing the whole thing once per week seems to be the best bet. There will be bits of poo, but not too many, and the cage will start to smell a little, but not bad enough to be noticed from across the room.

We use a litter scoop to dig out the bedding and keep things sanitary.

For example this one. It’s fairly large, yes but changing the bedding by tipping the whole cage over isn’t the best idea. For a while we did it like that, and got bedding all over the floor, even when we tried to be careful.

A scoop will just make life easier.

You can check out the listing on Amazon here, and read the reviews as well.

Once you’re done with removing all of the bedding, you’re left with an empty, dusty cage. Sometimes it will need a complete rinse, sometimes it will be decent. However I recommend rinsing the cage in the shower with hot water if the size isn’t too large.

Or, you can use a moist, clean towel to wipe down the cage and remove most of the dust. When you’re done with the cleaning process, pat the cage dry and make sure there are no wet spots.

Deep-cleaning in case of illness or too many stains

Sometimes you need to deep-clean the cage. For example if the hamster is very ill, lives in a temporary quarantine in a different cage, and this one needs cleaning. Or if there’s too many pee stains on the cage bottom.

You will need a hamster-safe disinfectant from your local vet. Make sure it does not smell strong, or doesn’t leave an odor behind. Use it as the bottle says, and make sure you scrub the affected ares very well.

If you’ve got no disinfectant on hand, a mixture of 1:1 water and vinegar will work well.

Whichever you use, make sure to rinse everything very very well. If you can still smell it, it will be way too much for the hamster. If it needs a scrub with unscented soap, do that too.

The pee stains (the white, crusty stains) will need extra scrubbing and won’t come off easy. The disinfectant might remove a good part of it, however most of it will only be removed after you’ve left it to soak overnight.

After you’re done with everything, pat the cage dry and make sure it has no wet spots. The bedding will stick to those parts and mold will have an easier time forming.

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hamsters cage cleaning (2)

Rinse/scrub especially dirty objects or parts of the cage

Sometimes the objects inside the cage will need some extra cleaning. For example if you’ve got a plastic hideout for your hamster, it will form condensation and will need to be rinsed in hot water and patted dry every time you clean the cage.

Wooden objects can be cleaned too, if they’ve been stained (with blood for example, in case the hamster nicked himself on something, or two hammies had a fight) with hot water and a bit of non-scented soap. Food stains will come out too.

However they need to be very well dried before you put the back into the hamster’s cage. Which means that if you’ve got a spare (like a spare food bowl or hideout) you will need to use that one for the next week.

There are some objects that become much too dirty and need to be completely replaced. For example a textile-based hamster toy can be washed, yes, but some stains or smells possibly won’t some out. In such cases you’ll need to throw out the object and get a new one.

Put the bedding and objects back into the hamster’s cage

Once everything is cleaned, dried, and ready to be assembled, we can start putting it all back together.

Starting with the bedding, place about an inch/2-3 cm of bedding evenly across the surface of the cage. Place a bit more in the corner the hamster uses as a hideout/nest. Make sure to sprinkle bits of his old bedding all over the cage.

If you hamster is a runner like my Teddy, this is enough bedding. If he’s a digger however, he will need at least double this amount of bedding so he can burrow into it.

Place every object the way it was before you cleaned the cage. The hideout, the food bowl, the water, toys, everything. The new nesting material should be left right outside the hamster’s hideout, along with bits of his old nest.

Putting them directly into his hideout won’t help, as you’ll never be able to arrange them the way he likes it. Best to let him redecorate his home the way he always does.

Make sure his food bowl is full, and his water bottle full as well.

Once you’re sure you’ve put everything back into place, you can place the hamster back inside.

Place the hamster back into his home

Putting the hamster back into his cage will be fairly easy. If he’s in an exercise ball, you can open it inside the cage, near the food bowl. He’ll definitely come out then, and start pouching everything.

If he’s in his travel cage, baiting him with a bit of food in your hands will work well too.

Baiting hamsters with food always works, since they’re hoarders and will jump at every opportunity to eat.

Once the hamster is safely in his cleaned cage, everything is done.

Should you spot-clean the hamster’s cage every few days ?

Yes, if you think the cage gets a bit too smelly from time to time you can do this. It’s usually the pee corners that smell, so that’s what you’ll need to change.

I said I have a trick I can tell you about, and I will right not. See, hamsters will always pee in the same corner. So placing a bowl or half of a plastic hideout in that corner, filled with chinchilla sand is going to act like a litter box. The sand will clump up and you can remove the clumps when necessary. Or, you can throw out the sand altogether and replace it every few days.

There’s something very important here though. Sand is great for hamsters, and they’ll even take a bath in it. But it needs to be sand, not dust. Many chinchilla bath sands (even if they say hamster sand or small rodent sand) are great for hamsters, but there is a problem.

As far as I could find online, none of the formulations are sandy, they are dusty, more like flour. If you were to press the sand with the back of a spoon, it would keep its shape. This is not alright, since hamsters are very sensitive and inhaling that much dust can be lethal for them.

So whichever brand of sand you use, make sure it is sand, and not dust. It can be more on the granulated side, it will work well. Most of them are made of dried up sea shells and minerals, which is alright. They’re usually whitish grey, but don’t be surprised if you find brown sand too.

A word from Teddy

I hope you found what you were looking for in this article. Us hamsters are fairly easy to take care of, but we do need regular cleaning and we need your help with that.

If you want to know more about us hamsters, you can check out the related articles below. You’ll find more info on how to keep us happy and safe.

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What Is Wet Tail, And How To Save Your Hamster’s Life
What Is Wet Tail, And How To Save Your Hamster’s LifeIf you’ve got a hamster, and you think he’s got wet tail, I can help. Even if your hammy is healthy so far, you need to know what wet tail is, since it can be fatal and you need to know how to save him. This is a disease that can affect any hamster of any age, although some are more prone to it. I’ll cover what wet tail is, what you can do about it, and how to make sure your hamster friend never suffers through it. Table of Contents ToggleSo what is wet tail ?Is your hammy at risk ?Symptoms of wet tail in hamstersHow to treat wet tailTaking your hamster to the vetCaring for a wet-tail sick hammy at homeChances of survivalHow hamsters develop wet tail in the first placeStress in hamstersDirty hamster cageOther medicationsMake sure your hamster stays healthyKeep your hamster away from stressful environmentsKeep the hammy at a comfortable temperatureAlways clean your hands before handling the hammyDo not feed the hamster overly watery foodsMake sure the water you give your hamster is safeA word from Teddy So what is wet tail ? Wet tail is a serious, contagious disease that can affect any and all hamsters. It’s noticeable by the wet, matted aspect of your hamster’s tail (hence the name). There are other symptoms, which we’ll cover soon. That is because wet tail is a type of diarrhea, brought on by bacteria inside the hamster’s gut. While diarrhea for humans is not very hard to treat, hamsters have an incredibly small chance of survival. Wet tail is mostly brought on by severe stress, which triggers unwanted changes in the hamster’s intestinal flora. It is mostly found in baby hamsters who were just weaned, but there have been cases of adult or elder hamsters as well. Something to remember: wet tail is often used as a sort of blanket term, to describe any kind of diarrhea in hamsters. Actual wet tail is hard to diagnose, since the symptoms are many and it could not be just wet tail. More on that later in the article. Is your hammy at risk ? Any hamster is at risk. Not to sound doomsday-ish, but this is the truth. However there are a few specific hamsters out there that are most susceptible. Syrian hamsters, of all the hamsters, have the highest chance of developing wet tail. Seeing as they’re the most common type of hamster pet, this doesn’t sound great. Dwarf types can still get wet tail, but in a much smaller degree and it’s kind of rare for them. Baby Syrian hamsters, who were just weaned by their mothers – around 4 weeks of age. They are very sensitive, and the stress of weaning, and being handled to be separated into same sex groups, then transported to the pet shop, and then to your home, can be very stressful. Older Syrian hamsters can be at risk as well, though not as much as babies. Senior hammies can’t move very well, and can’t clean themselves as well as they used to. This increases the risk of an infection, which can trigger wet tail. That being said, wet tail can develop in adult, healthy Syrian hamsters, if certain conditions are met. That doesn’t mean that any and all Syrian hamsters will develop wet tail. But they are the ones you should keep an eye on the most. Symptoms of wet tail in hamsters The symptoms for wet tail are quite a few, and they can also be found in the description of other health issues for hamsters. This is one reason it’s a bit hard to diagnose wet tail in the first place. Here are the symptoms for wet tail: Wet, matted tail – very runny stool, matted to the hamster’s tail and hind end. It can extend to the hammy’s abdomen. Strong smell – wet tail smells, and it’s hard to miss. Your hammy is usually very clean and only smells like fur if you smell him. But with wet tail, he might have a strong poo smell. Hunched back, brought on by intestinal discomfort. Slow, sluggish movements Half-closed eyes, very sunken, the hamster looks tired all the time Loss of appetite, possibly not drinking water either Continuously bad temper – if he never bit before, he will bite now and he’s very irritated Folded ears, all the time, possibly shaking Hides in a corner, or worse barely moves at all. Possible weight loss, with dull, ruffled fur Wet tail is also contagious. So if you spotted your hammy with these symptoms, separate him from his cage mate immediately. Once you do separate them, make sure that anything the sick hammy touched is thoroughly cleaned (hot water and soap), and if necessary provide with new cage accessories. Wood accessories are not easy to disinfect, unfortunately. The bedding must be thrown away as well. How to treat wet tail Treating wet tail is not exactly complicated, but the small size of the hamster makes it so. Normally you’d have two options, to treat it at home, or take the hammy to a vet. I very strongly recommend calling your dedicated vet, this is not something to waste time with. Taking your hamster to the vet Get your small friend into his transport cage, and get a car ride to the vet. More on how to safely transport your hamster in this article, and how to keep your hammy comfortable during the ride right here. Once you’re there, the vet will examine the hammy, to see the condition he’s in. The veterinarian might administer extra fluids to the hammy. He might even recommend to keep the hammy overnight, to be able to administer the fluids regularly and keep a close eye on him. If this is the case, best to trust your vet with your hamster. Depending on how severe the case is, your veterinarian might administer some antibiotics himself. Or, he might give you some medication to give to the hamster at home. In any case, your hammy has more of a chance or surviving if you bring him to the vet. Wet tail can be treated, if spotted in its first phase (first 24 hours). After that, the chances of the hamster surviving are lower. He might still survive, but harder. Whatever instructions your veterinarian gives you, be sure to follow them completely. Possibly schedule another check-up after a few days. Caring for a wet-tail sick hammy at home There are some cases when the vet is not available. Or, maybe you can’t afford a vet at the moment. This will not cure the hamster, but it will make his life much easier. A veterinarian is definitely needed for a treatment. In this case you need to do the following: Remove any fruit and veg from your hamster’s diet. ‘Wet’ food like these can worsen the diarrhea, mostly because it doesn’t provide just water. Only give the hammy very dry food. This includes his usual food mix, dry oats, a very small piece of dry bread. Another option if a few grains of steamed brown rice. The dry food will settle your hamster’s insides a bit more. The water your hamster gets from his bottle should not be very cold. And it should be plain, unflavored water. If he has a vitamin mix in his water, remove it for the time being. If your hammy isn’t drinking – try giving him one drop of water every half hour. Hold him by the scruff of the neck (it will not hurt) and with an eye dropper place a drop of water on his lips. The hammy will then lick it, and have at least a bit of water. More than a drop at a time can drown the hammy. If your hamster isn’t eating, try unflavored baby food. No onion, garlic, sugar, or any spices at all. He will need very small amounts of food, only what he can lick off the very tip of a teaspoon. Scruffing the hammy will work here as well. Aside from all of this, make sure your keep the hamster in a comfortable temperature range. Hamsters are okay with a 20-23 C/68-75 F range. More than that and he is in danger of overheating, which he probably already is given his infection. And lower than that can bring on a cold for the hammy. Keep the room your sick hamster’s in very quiet and stress free. Any amount of stress or excess handling an make his condition worse. So any and all pets, small children, loud noises, should be kept away from the hamster’s room. Do not place the hamster in direct sunlight, instead keep him in a shielded, darker corner. At all times, wash your hands thoroughly with antibacterial soap before, but especially after handling your sick hammy. Chances of survival Wet tail can be fairly hard to survive for hamsters. This is mostly because it has an incubation period (7 days), in which it’s not immediately obvious that the hamster is sick. Once the signs of illness start to show, it becomes progressively harder to successfully treat. There were cases where the hammy unfortunately passed away, even after being cured. This was because of the stress brought on by the illness itself, and hamsters are terrible stress managers. However, if you spot your hamster’s problem within 24 hours of it surfacing, his survival chances are higher. This means that you should be watching your hamster closely, and handling it every few hours. For older hammies, the chances are lower than for babies, This is because their immune system is already breaking down, as opposed to forming (like in babies). So, if your elder hammy is stricken with wet tail, do your best to treat him. But if worse comes to worst, be prepared for his passing. (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.) How hamsters develop wet tail in the first place The way wet tail develops is thought to be because of stress. This is the biggest culprit known so far, although there are other we’ll cover here as well. Stress brings a host of psychosomatic reactions from the hamster, including severe changes to the bacteria in his gut. That can trigger wet-tail. In some other cases, a very stressed hamster  will develop a very weak immune system, which won’t be able to battle the infection brought on by a stray bacteria. Which in turn may lead to wet tail. Stress in hamsters A stressed hamster will show any signs of illness. Hamsters are very sensitive creatures, and can be stressed easily. A few factors for hamster stress include: Overcrowded cage – the size of the cage matters so much (more on that here), and keeping hamsters together in an appropriate sized cage. The right sized cage is 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. That’s for a Syrian hammy, and the minimum for keeping 2 Dwarf types. Not all hamsters can live together though, and some will fight to the death. Crucial info on that can be found here. Improper handling – hamsters don’t react well to being woken up, constantly being handled, being held wrong, meeting too many strangers at a time, unsafe play time and so on. Especially the babies, under 12 weeks of age. Be very careful when handling your hamster, and never let a child or pet interact unsupervised. A very curious cat, or a grabby toddler won’t bode well for your hamster. Hamsters require so much attention and gentleness, they are not well suited to families with small children or lots of pets. You can find out more on how to show your hamster affection the right way, without annoying him in this article. And you can find out more about how to tame your hamster without stressing him out here. Dirty hamster cage That doesn’t mean a stray poo will freak the hamster out, but a cage that hasn’t been cleaned for more than 2 weeks is turning into a serious threat to his health. More on how often to clean a hammy’s home here, and what kind of bedding to provide to make sure he is safe. This is because infections can occur when the hamster’s cage has stray bacteria, that can develop from an unclean cage. And also, an unclean cage can become moldy in some places. Especially the bedding, if it’s been moist in some places, like where the water bottle drips for example. Imagine your tiny hamster, breathing in those mold spores, wreaking havoc in his immune system. An infection will be the last thing your hammy needs, but it might just happen. Other medications Like in humans, hamster medications can sometimes interfere. Or, they can make it easier for some problems to appear. If your hamster is already on a certain treatment, be sure to ask your veterinarian if he’s at risk of developing other diseases. It can happen, rarely, but it can still happen. It’s best to know beforehand and be prepared. Make sure your hamster stays healthy You can make sure your hamster survives by not getting wet tail in the first place. That means your need to follow a few steps in the first place. Keep your hamster away from stressful environments Hamsters are very susceptible to stress-related illnesses. So naturally, they must be kept away from stress factors. Here’s how to make sure your hamster has a minimal-to-none stress. Do not house your hamster with another. I’d recommend even Dwarf types to be housed alone, since a hamster is very territorial by nature. Even if your give both hammies a cage that’s large enough for 5 hamsters, there can still be problems. One hamster will always be more dominant, and might start bullying the submissive one. It can be hard to make out the difference between playfighting, and actual serious fighting between hamsters. Roborovski, Campbell, and Siberian/Winter whites can be traditionally housed together, while Chinese and Syrians will try to kill other hamsters. Conversely keep pets, small children, loud noises, and general ruckus away from the hamster’s cage or room. Hamsters are mostly nocturnal, so a rowdy house during the day will be incredibly stressful for the hamster. Do not introduce lots of new people to your hamster at the same time. Your hammy will be overwhelmed, and needed a few days to trust you in the first place. He will freak out and hide when faced with many new people he does not know. Try not to wake up or annoy the hamster, since it will not rest properly and he will be very irritable. This will make him even harder to handle or tame, which is completely against what you’re trying. Let the creature rest peacefully. Keep the hammy at a comfortable temperature hamsters need a certain temp to feel comfortable. That range is about 20-23 C/68-75 F, and your hammies will be fine. A hamster exposed to very cold temperatures will enter a state that can be confused with hibernation. But in truth, it’s actually a case of hypothermia. It can be fatal because the hamster hasn’t had time to fatten up and build a big and warm enough nest. More on hamster hibernation and the risk of keeping them in too cold a room. Always clean your hands before handling the hammy Hamsters are very sensitive creatures, and as such your hands need to be clean before handling them. Before you touch your hamster, make sure your hands are clean. Use an antibacterial soap, and try to find one with little to no scent. A strong scent could make your hamster either think you’ve really got coconut on your hands and try to taste it, or scare him away. This also applies for the toys the hammy’s got in his cage as well. They too need to be disinfected and cleaned before you first place them in the cage. The shipping, the handling, and where the toys were stored can all be health risks. Even if it’s just a bit of dust, best to be safe and clean them. Do not feed the hamster overly watery foods Watery foods, like cucumber, watermelon, zucchini, grapes (more about safe foods here) can trigger diarrhea in your hammy. You might ask if water doesn’t trigger diarrhea too. Well, the water your hamster can decide how much to drink. I mean the water from the water bottle. But the water content in the fruit or veg is not up to him, and he can be overly hydrated. Conversely, do not give your hammy milk. The lactose content in milk is the highest (compared to cheese or yogurt), and that can trigger a bout of diarrhea too. Make sure the water you give your hamster is safe The water your hamster drink must be safe and clean. If your tap water isn’t safe for you, it’s not safe for him either. So, you can either boil the water beforehand, to rid it of bacteria. Let it cool down and pour it into the hamster’s water bottle. Or, you can use a bottled water that is labeled as safe for newborn humans, which is safe for hamsters as well. You can find out here how much water a hamster needs, and how to clean his water bottle. A word from Teddy I hope you found out how to save us if we ever get wet tail. I am a Syrian hammy, and I’ve been healthy so far. I hope your hamster friend is alright too. If you want to know more about us hammies, you should check out the articles below for more info how to care for us and feed us right. [...] Read more...
Eye Infections In Hamsters (And Other Eye Problems)
Eye Infections In Hamsters (And Other Eye Problems)Eye problems can be common in hamsters, like in most animals. Since hamsters are so small, it’s important to know how to help your furry friend. Not only with an infection, but with any other eye problems as well. Read on to find out how to help your hamster when and if he develops eye problems. My Teddy (Syrian male) had a sticky eye a couple of times, but he survived just fine. Now let’s get into the various eye problems hammies can develop. Table of Contents ToggleTreating your hamster’s eye infectionHere’s how to make a batch of saline solution for your hamster:Hamster’s eye is closed shut (sticky eye)Your hammy’s eye is red (pinkeye)Odd white spots on your hamster’s eyesBulging eye/ one eye looks biggerHamster eyes are sensitive to light and temperatureKeeping your hamster’s eyes safe and healthyWhat if your hammy becomes blind, or loses an eye ?A word from Teddy Treating your hamster’s eye infection A hamster can develop an eye infection fairly easy. It can be from dirty bedding, which can be avoided by cleaning the hamster’s cage one per week. It can also happen because of a stray bacteria on the hamster’s food, for example on a piece of apple or broccoli. Or it could be from many other reasons. The point is that your hamster has an infection and needs your help. For the most part, an infection can be noticed if the eye is red, puffy, hot to the touch. If there is oozing and pus, you can be sure it’s infected. The best thing to do is to bring your hamster to the vet as soon as possible, so he can prescribe a round of antibiotics. The treatment can last up to 2 weeks in some cases, and your hammy might be required to stay at the vet for a couple of days. For future reference, the veterinarian you should look for is an exotics vet. This is the kind of vet that can help with your hamster, guinea pig, snake, and parakeet as well. If you’ve got a Dwarf hammy and you’re keeping him with other hammies, make sure to separate the sick hamster. The infection can be contagious, and hard to deal with if all hamsters have it. Until you reach your veterinarian, you can try using a saline solution to clean your hamster’s eyes. Saline solution is basically just distilled, salted water. It’s got almost the same structure as tears, and can be used to clean wounds. Here’s how to make a batch of saline solution for your hamster: 250 ml/8.45 fl oz distilled water 2.5 g/0.008 oz table salt 2.5 g/0.008 oz baking soda very clean pot, washed with very hot water and soap beforehand sterile glass jar or cup to keep the saline solution in a set of clean cotton pads or cotton buds You can use distilled water, or tap water. If you use tap water, be sure to boil it very, very well and them let it cool to room temperature. After that it can be considered sterile, and go on with the steps I’m describing. Heat the water (either distilled, or sterilized tap water), and dissolve the salt and baking soda Let cool to room temperature Store in the clean glass jar or cup Get a clean cotton pad or cotton bud, and dip it in the liquid. It needs to be wet, but not soaked so you get the hamster wet. A wet hamster is a very easy to get sick and doesn’t dry quickly. Clean and wipe the hamster’s eye until you can not see the pus. You’re going to have to scruff the hamster’s neck to keep him still. Use a clean pad or bud for each wipe ! You must keep the saline solution clean. The solution is good for 24 hours, tops. If anything gets into it, or it looks odd or cloudy or dirty, throw it out and make a new one. In the meantime, make sure you’ve got your vet on call if you need any extra info or guidance. Do not use antibiotics you’ve got around the house ! Hamsters are different than humans, and not only require different doses but they also process medicine differently than us. Hamster’s eye is closed shut (sticky eye) A case of sticky eye can happen to anyone. This doesn’t necessarily mean your hamster’s got an infection. It could be that, but it’s likely something else. The crusty part you see on your hamster’s eye is what develops on your eye as well when you sleep. Most of the time your eyes (and the hamster’s) don’t get stuck shut, But, sometimes it happens, and it can be painful. Not only that, but it can get very frustrating for the hamster. He might try to paw at his eye and cause further damage. In this case the solution is a lot like with the infection. Make a batch of saline solution, and keep it at room temp. Use clean cotton buds or pads to wipe at the hammy’s eye. The difference is that the crust will have to soften. You will have to hold the pad soaked in saline solution for a few seconds on the hamster’s eye until it gives. Again, scruffing the hamster will help keep him still while you wipe his eye. My Teddy had this a couple of times, and I didn’t know about the saline solution at first. I used one of those sterilized baby wipes you can get at the pharmacy. Not baby wipes from the supermarket ! Sterilized baby wipes will work too, just that you’ll have to keep switching the corner with which you’re wiping. And they dry out fairly quickly, so they’re not the best bet, but will do in a pinch. Your hammy’s eye is red (pinkeye) Conjunctivitis can be a problem in hamsters, as well as humans. It can be less dangerous than the infection we talked about earlier. It can come about as an irritation because of dust in the bedding, a scratch, a small injury, an overgrown tooth. Anything, really, since conjunctivitis is just the inflammation of the tissue surrounding the eye. You can tell your hammy’s got pink eye by the redness and swelling around the hamster’s eye – his eyelids, to be exact. In extreme cases the entire half of the face could be swollen. Pink eye does not usually have any discharge, but don’t be surprised if you find some. Most of the time the discharge is clear in conjunctivitis. This is a case to be treated by your veterinarian, and he’ll be able to give your hamster a good treatment. The saline solution works here too, you just have to keep cleaning the hamster’s eye. Whatever was bothering the hammy’s eye will be flushed out this way, but it might not be enough, which is why a vet will be necessary. This is another case where you should separate the sick hamster from the other hamsters. (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.) Odd white spots on your hamster’s eyes Hamsters can get cataracts, which can cause problems when you’re hamster’s trying to see. The upside, if you will, is that hamsters barely use their eyes anyway. They use their sense of smell, and their sharp hearing to navigate and live a happy life. However a cataract, as far as I know, is not treatable. My Teddy never had one, so in this particular case it’s best to check with your veterinarian. Get your hammy in his transport cage, and get him to a check-up so the vet can see if there’s other symptoms that might point to another problem. You can tell your hamster’s got a possible cataract by the white spot developing on his eye. It could be both eyes, it could be just one, and it could be a larger spot, or just cloudy, blurred eyes. In most cases, cataracts forms as the hamster ages. Bulging eye/ one eye looks bigger There are cases when one eye might look bigger, like it’s about to pop from the hamster’s head. I looks bad, and there’s an explanation for it. The eyeballs have tissue surrounding them, and especially behind them. This can become inflamed, and push out the eye a bit. It can be painful for the hamster, but is treatable. Your veterinarian will be able to give the hamster a treatment for this problem, but until then there is not much you can do for your friend. The vet will need to be able to look behind the hamster’s eye to figure out what the problem is. In some cases it could be a tumor growing behind the eye, since hamsters can develop tumors as well. Not all bulging eye cases mean a tumor, do no worry. It could just be a severe case of conjunctivitis. You can track the progress of the eye with photos every few hours, to show to your vet once you get to him. Hamster eyes are sensitive to light and temperature When it comes to your hamster’s eyes, you should keep them away from harsh sunlight. Even daylight filtered through the curtains, if placed directly on the hamster’s eyes, can become painful. Hamster eyes are not meant to be able to see in bright conditions, since they must survive in a dawn/dusk habitat. So make sure you don’t turn on bright lights in your hamster’s room. And he does not need a nightlight, since he’s got his cage memorized and know where everything is. Even by smell and touch, he can still know where everything is. Another benefit of keeping your hamster away from any bright sunlight is that cataracts and blindness will come much later. You can delay them by keeping your hamster’s eyes away from UV light. That being said, make sure you do not keep your hamster in too cold a temperature. Even the Dwarf hammies that come from the cold parts of Russia, Siberia, Mongolia, and so on, will still need a certain temperature. For hammies a good temperature is a range between 20-23 C/ 68-78 F, all year round. Make sure you keep your hamster in a room that keep this temperature, otherwise he can develop either sticky eye, or a form of conjunctivitis from a cold. In some extreme cases, the hamster can get a case of hypothermia, and needs your immediate attention to survive. Please keep your hamster warm, but not too warm. Keeping your hamster’s eyes safe and healthy Aside from the light and temperature warnings, there are a few general precautions you should take. Your hamster’s eyes, while kind of useless for his navigation and daily life, are still capable of injury and infection. Hammies are very sensitive animals. They don’t get sick often, but when they do, it’s terrible. Here’s how to keep your hammy’s eyes safe, healthy and clean. Keep the bedding clean, and change it once per week. You can find out more about the safe kinds of bedding you can get for your hamster here. And also how and when to clean his cage. Hamsters are very sensitive to dust, so bedding or toys that are dusty should be cleaned. Even if you let your hamster just roam the house in his exercise ball, make sure the floor is clean. Any debris or dust can get stuck inside the exercise ball, and get in your hammy’s ears, nose, or eyes. Keep any toys or objects inside the hamster’s cage smooth. Especially if you’ve got wood objects in the hamster’s cage, they can get some rough edges that weren’t sanded down properly. Make sure you sand them down if need be. What if your hammy becomes blind, or loses an eye ? Hamsters can lose their sight with old age. The cataracts settle in, and they become completely blind. Or, maybe your hamster was born without eyes, or maybe he lost an eye in a terrible happening. Whatever the case, your hamster can’t see anymore. You’re probably worrying if he’ll be alright, if he’ll manage to navigate his cage and lead a happy life. Rest assured, hamsters can live their entire life without their eyesight. In a way, they already do – hamsters barely use their eyes, they use their noses and ears much more. But if a hamster that used to see suddenly can’t see, there will be some changes: Always keep his cage the same way, since the hammy will memorize the layout of the cage. Any changes will make him stressed. Whenever you clean his cage add back in a bit of his old bedding, and his nesting too so he knows it’s his. Remove objects that need him to see. Like see-saws, or bridges, or climbing toys. Talk to your hamster much more often, before you get near him so he knows you’re coming Let him smell your hand before picking him up, and get in it himself. Otherwise he might panic at being suddenly picked up, even if he was okay before. Know that your hamster friend might be a bit grumpy, now that he can’t see anymore. He might bit a bit, but no major changes should happen in his personality. That being said, a blind hamster will not be very handicapped. He was already nearly blind from birth, so being completely blind doesn’t take away much from him. A word from Teddy I hope you found what you were looking for here, and know how to help your hammy friend if he ever gets an eye problem. I know us hammies can look like cute, cuddly creatures, but we do have our troubles. We count on you to help us out. If you want to know more about us hamsters, you can check out the articles below for more info on how to properly care for us and keep us happy. [...] Read more...
How To Potty Train A Hamster? 4 Easy Steps
How To Potty Train A Hamster? 4 Easy StepsPotty training a hamster is just as important as it is for the other common pets we keep at home. since it will help you have a cleaner cage and a nicer smell in your home However, a hamster is not a dog or a cat; potty training your little furball can be quite challenging, so that’s why I decided to make a step-by-step guide. Before getting into this topic, it is important to know that hamsters are quite clean, and their cage doesn’t smell as bad as other small animals/rodents like rabbits or guinea pigs. Generally the smell doesn’t come from their poo or pee, but from marking their territory.  Table of Contents ToggleCan you potty train a hamster?How to potty train a hamster?4 Steps to potty train a hamster1. Check the behaviors2. Get a litter box or something that can serve as a litter box3. Choose the best litter4. Get your hamster used to the litter boxWhy should you potty train a hamster?How often to change the litter?Conclusion Can you potty train a hamster? Yes, you can potty train a hamster, but depending on your hamster’s personality, you might have more or fewer chances to succeed. I know most guides and videos talk about this topic like it is a walk in the park, but considering that hamsters are quite stubborn and, truth to be told, not the most intelligent rodents, it might be quite challenging to change their habits. If you want to increase your chances of succeeding when potty training a hamster, you have to do this as soon as possible. Training your hamster once it has already developed its habits will be way harder. That being said, let’s get to the actual topic. How to potty train a hamster? There are 4 easy steps that you should follow to make sure you do your best when you potty train a hamster. It is important that you are patient with your small pet, it can take a while to properly potty train your hamster. Also, an important thing to know is that you hamster might change their routine all of a sudden, especially when you clean its cage.  So you might succeed in potty training it for now, but this can change and vice versa, you might not succeed immediately, but in time, they will get to use the litter properly on their own. 4 Steps to potty train a hamster Here are 4 easy steps you can follow to properly potty train your hamster: 1. Check the behaviors The first step is to observe your hamster’s habits. Hamsters usually have a favorite spot to pee in, as I discussed in the article about why hamsters pee in their wheel.  They might not have a favorite spot when it comes to pooping, but that is not as important when potty training a hamster since their poop doesn’t smell that bad and it is solid, so it will not make a mess in the cage if they poop all over the place (which they will most probably do). They might be more poop in one place, but they rarely have only one or two favorite spots to poop. So, this is the first step you have to do, observe where they usually pee to know where to place the litter box. 2. Get a litter box or something that can serve as a litter box Now that you know where to place the litter box, buy a good plastic litter box or use any other plastic bowl or casserole you have. Hamsters usually pee in the corner of the cage, that’s why the most useful litter will be in kind of a triangle shape so you can cover the corner. If you don’t cover the spot they use as a litter with the litter box, your hamster might get around that and pee where they are used to. Buying a litter box that is specially made for this purpose will be easier. Here is a good triangle one that you can find on Amazon, if you hamster is used to peeing in a corner.    However, if your hamster is peeing in the middle of a side of the cage, an oval or rectangle one might be more useful. Here you can find an oval-ish litter box   If you want to save some money, you can use a plastic casserole. Clean it very well but without using too much soap since the hamsters are very sensitive to strong smells. The plastic container has to be heavy enough your hamster won’t move it or turn it over. You probably have to make some adjustments to the casserole to make it a good litter box. So you have to cut an entrance on a side, big enough for your hamster to fit, and make sure you make the surface smooth without any places where your hamster might get hurt. I saw some people recommend cardboard litter boxes, but hamsters can eat cardboard or chew very fast on it, so it might be a waste of time to keep changing it. They can chew on the plastic as well, but they will go through it way slower than they will go through cardboard. 3. Choose the best litter Choosing a good litter is as important, if not more as choosing a good litter box. There are many options out there, but not all of them are safe. Providing hamsters with safe litter that does not contain dust and is made from materials such as paper, chopped straw, wood pulp, or dried plant material is important. These materials are non-toxic and provide an ideal safe environment for your pet hamster. Some companies even sell cotton-based bedding and litter. It might look nice since it can be in fun colors, but it is important to know that hamsters should not be exposed to cotton litter or bedding as it can lead to choking, intestinal blockage, constipation, or limb entanglement. Here is a potty litter I found on Amazon that should be safe for your hamster:    Some people use sand as litter, but your hamster might use that for taking a bath instead of using it as a litter. That being said, this doesn’t mean it can’t work, if you want, you can give it a try. If you buy proper sand for your hamster, it should be safe. 4. Get your hamster used to the litter box Now, once you have everything set up, you have to do the following. Place the litter box in the corner or the spot your hamster uses as a litter and a bit of soiled bedding and some of their droppings in the litter box and wait. If you are lucky, your hamster might get to use the litter box right away. If not, you might have to put it in the litter so they get to know the place. If your hamster is not a friendly one, and you can’t move it to the litter box too easily, you might have to place some treats inside the litter box to lure them in. If you don’t succeed at first, don’t get the litter box out of its cage, it might get to use it later, so don’t give up. Why should you potty train a hamster? Potty training a hamster is important in order to have a cleaner cage. As I said before, hamsters are quite clean, they don’t smell bad, but cleaning a hamster cage might be challenging if they pee too much in one place since that pee will combine with the bedding and get stuck to the corner of the cage. And having in mind that you can’t use too much soap when you clean a hamster cage, it might be hard to clean a cage after a while. Having a litter box will make it much easier. You just get the box out, throw out what is in it, clean it a bit with hot water, dry it, and put it back with new litter. Observation: Your hamster doesn’t know that the new object you add to the cage is a litter box, and what that is.  They might use it as a new home where to sleep, as a sandbox to bath in, or just to sit in there and do nothing. This is not in your control, so don’t feel bad if it happens. How often to change the litter? Several things factor into how often a hamster’s litter needs to be changed, such as the type of bedding, the size of their cage, and the number of hamsters living in it(in the case of dwarf hamsters).  It is generally recommended to spot-clean the cage every couple of days, get rid of any poo and dirty bedding, and change the bedding entirely at least once a month. However, some of the original bedding should always be left in the cage to maintain your hamster’s scent. Conclusion Potty training a hamster is possible, and it is a good idea to at least try to potty train your hamster since it will make your job of cleaning the cage easier, and there will be a better smell overall in the cage. However, I wanted to be realistic and explain the steps you have to do but also the challenges you can face since a hamster is unpredictable and quite hard to train. Here is an article about taming your hamster while we are on the training topic, which is also challenging for some hamsters. I hope this article was helpful and now you know what to do in order to potty train your hamster properly, if you don’t succeed, don’t feel bad, not all hamsters will do that. [...] Read more...
Does a hamster fart ? Does the fart smell bad ? Fun facts
Does a hamster fart ? Does the fart smell bad ? Fun factsDid your ever hear your hamster fart ? Did you ever wonder if he does ? I never did, until someone asked us if Teddy can pass gas and I honestly had no idea at first. So I went around, looking for answers and marveling at the fact that no one really answered this with a clear yes or no. Well, here I am to solve this haunting mystery. Table of Contents ToggleSo do hamsters fart ?The little evidence I could find that hamsters can pass gasDoes a hamster’s fart smell ?Hamsters can’t burp, thoughAbout the hamster’s digestive systemA word from Teddy So do hamsters fart ? Yes. Yes they do. Hamsters fart. They’ve rarely been heard by anyone to actually pass gas, but after some research, I’ve concluded that they do. If you want a veterinarian’s opinion on the matter, you should check out this article. Lewis (author) is a vet who majors in exotic animals, and hamsters happen to fall into that category. The little evidence I could find that hamsters can pass gas If you got here then you probably googled whether hamsters fart or not. And I think you’ve seen the amount and quality of results Google can offer. Mostly I’ve found forums where no one was very decided on the matter, and some videos on Youtube of people scaring hamsters and adding fake fart sounds. Aside from Lewis’ blog (linked a few rows above), there’s no other clear evidence I’ve found that hammies can pass gas. There are some foods that might cause gas, like broccoli, or cauliflower, and you can try with those to see if your hamster ends up breaking wind. But honestly hamsters are so tiny you might not even hear it. I have no idea where this search came from, and how it got to be. But it shows us that we’ve still got a long way to go before we can say we truly know hamsters. Here’s the real question though: If your hamster farted, but you weren’t there to hear him… did he really fart ? Does a hamster’s fart smell ? Well, again, there isn’t much evidence pointing yes or no. But I will give my two cents here. Farts smell because they’re the product of bacteria from the stomach breaking down the food particles. As such, they release methane gas. Which, on its own does not smell, but it’s always combined with carbon dioxide and sulphur. However when it comes to hamsters, their farts are so… small, I’d say, that I think you’d have a hard time registering it. Unless you’ve fed the hamster something with a high protein content, like chicken, boiled egg white, and maybe even a peanut. Then maybe you can smell them faintly. If you want a more detailed and coherent list of safe and unsafe foods for your hamster – check out this article right here. It’s the protein that breaks down in the gut that gives farts the terrible smell. So to sum it up: A hamster’s fart can smell, but it’s so small that you probably won’t be able to smell 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.) Hamsters can’t burp, though The way a hamster’s stomach is made makes it impossible for them to burp. You see, a hamster’s stomach is split into two sections. That split makes it physically impossible for the hamster to release gas upwards. As far as I know, rodents in general have no gag reflex. They also can’t vomit, since their stomach are a bit different than ours. This also means that for most rodents, a poison or food that produces a significant amount of gastro-intestinal gas can possibly be lethal. Mostly because while most mammals can fart, burping is also a mechanism to release trapped gas. So if they can’t burp to release the gas, they will have less chance of survival. About the hamster’s digestive system In that their stomach can process almost the same kinds of foods as us humans. They’re alright with meat, but only some kinds. Hamsters can eat cheese and a couple of other dairy products, but with much more caution than us. Hammies can even eat fruits, although some should be avoided. And they can also eat some kinds of vegetables as well. However their stomach is a bit different than ours. It’s structured into 2 different parts, that do different things. The first stomach, or the first part of the stomach, is meant as a primary digestion. But it can’t get all of the nutrients out, in one go. So, there came the need for the second part of the stomach. Which, in itself can extract more nutrients, and also produce them – like some certain vitamins. But those vitamins, while very important and crucial to your hammy’s health, can only be ingested in the first part of the stomach. This is how your hamster ends up eating its poo sometimes, since it needs those nutrients. A word from Teddy I hope you found what you were looking for here. I know us hammies look like the cuddliest, fluffiest creatures. But we do fart sometimes. It’s just that we’re shy and we’d rather you didn’t know about it. If you want to know more of our secrets, like why we sometimes get scared of you, or why we need to run so much, check out the articles below. [...] Read more...