10 Common Hamster Health Problems And How To Treat Them

A hamster with a health problem is a sorry sight. But, most health issues in hamsters can be solved, especially if caught in time. Let’s see what those problems are, and how to help your hammy.

You’ll find these health issues grouped by body parts or type. Where possible I’ll link you to articles where I’ve covered that specific topic in more detail.

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1. Hamster eye problems

Hamsters rarely use their eyes, that much is known to most hamster owners. Whether you’ve got a Syrian or a Dwarf type, they both can’t really see. Still, health issues do come up with a hamster’s eyes.

The most common of them being cataracts/blindness. This comes especially with old age in hammies. Do keep in mind that a hamster without his sight will be able to live his life almost the same.

Since he doesn’t usually rely on his eyes, not seeing anymore will not be a big loss, as it could be for humans.

Other problems include infections, pink eye, bulging eye, and eyes that have stuck shut due to a possible infection.

Still, for a detailed rundown on all the possible issues that can happen with a hammy’s eyes, I recommend you check out this article. You’ll find there the issues themselves, and the treatments necessary.

Sometimes a trip to the vet is necessary, sometimes the problems can be treated at home.

2. Hamster dental problems

A hamster’s teeth are possibly the most important tool the hamster has. His teeth never stop growing, in order for him to be able to eat the hard, dry grains his diet is based on.

Sometimes though, problems come up. Teeth become overgrown, possibly due to soft food or lack of a chew toy. Or a tooth might break or crack, or it could become infected.

You can find out more about hamster dental problems here, and how to treat them. Again, some may require a vet treatment, some can be treated at home.

For example overgrown teeth can be fixed by giving the hamster a multitude of chew toys he can file his teeth on.

Most of the time though, hamster teeth problems can be corrected. Even in the case of an abscess an antibiotic treatment will help the hamster recover.

A word on hamster teeth: they are never white. If you’re looking at your hammy’s long, yellow (possibly orange) teeth and wondering if you should brush them, don’t.

When I first got my Teddy I thought I had to do something. Turns out hamster teeth are not meant to be white.

Any white spots on the teeth are a sign of the tooth breaking down and possibly breaking away.

3. Hamster ear and hearing problems

Hearing is one of the primary ways a hamster navigates his surroundings. As such, any problem related to their ears and how well they can hear becomes a serious concern.

Possible problems include:

  • Parasites like mites, than can travel deep into the hamster’s ear
  • Earwax buildup, preventing hearing and can become painful
  • Ear infection, which can spread to the brain
  • Possible tumor which can take on the whole ear

These are all treatable, however the hamster won’t be able to much on his own. Actually most of the time the hammy will need your help, with any kind of health issue.

To find out more about the health problems hamsters can have with their ears, you can check out this article. You’ll find both the issues and the treatments, and even an example of a successful tumor surgery on a Dwarf hammy.

4. Hamster nail problems

Nail problems are few, and are treatable too. A hamster’s nails are used mostly for scratching and pawing at food or bedding.

Problems come up when the nails become too long, and that’s where most of the problems stem from.

A hamster’s nails grow too long when he has nothing to wear them out on. Like plenty of wood surfaces, possibly a large flat rock, or any hard surface on his cage.

This means that a hamster living solely on soft bedding, and nothing else, will end up with overgrown nails. The nails will grow very long, and eventually curve into the hammy’s paw. In some cases they will break and fall off.

My Teddy had this happen, and ever since we’ve installed 2 more levels in his cage, which are bare plastic, and he also uses his tunnel which is made of hard plastic.

An exercise wheel, used constantly, helps a lot in this regard. It wears down the hammy’s nails and keeps them trim.

Aside from overgrown nails, hamsters can also get nail infections. If they’re small, as in they don’t reach the surface and only stay for a couple of days, they’re safe to ignore.

However if it goes on for more than 2 days, and even comes to a point, you should visit a veterinarian. He will prescribe an antibiotic for the hammy to combat the infection.

5. Hamster skin/fur conditions and parasites

Hamsters are usually very clean animals. This means that they clean themselves daily, several times a day actually, and don’t  normally attract parasites.

However they can get certain skin conditions if their cage is unclean, or has spores of fungi. 2 of the most common are:

  • Aspergillus – forms in the hamster’s pee corner. Grows white, and in time turns black. Spores can be deadly to hamsters, and very bad for humans too. If this happens, get the hamster to the vet immediately, and clean and disinfect the cage.
  • Ringworm – not an actual worm, but a fungus. It will form bald patches on the hamster, in the shape of a circle (hence the name). Dry, flaky skin is on those bald patches, and the hamster might scratch at them furiously. Treatable, but again a vet is necessary.

Aside from these two fungi, hammies can lose their fur because of old age.

Other skin problems can be mites, and fleas as well. You can find out more on fleas on hamsters here, and how to treat them.

All of these problems require a veterinarian and a deep cleaning of the hamster’s cage, and his toys and objects.

6. Hamster Digestive problems

Digestive problems are never fun for anyone. However a hamster is more in danger than other mammals, because of hos their stomach is shaped.

You see a hammy’s stomach forms a sort of U bend, which means that any gasses or bloating is very hard to release. Yes, hamsters are able to pass gas if necessary, but not as easily as us humans. And you probably won’t ever hear the hammy fart, sorry to disappoint.

Given the hamster’s stomach and gut layout and design, something like diarrhea does not go well. Or an upset stomach either.

This is why giving the hamster foods he can’t properly digest will be a big issue for him. You can find out more about hamster-safe foods here, most of them already in your fridge or pantry.

Another thing to keep in mind is that hamsters can become constipated. This is more common with old hamsters, given that their system is breaking down and doesn’t digest foods as well as it used to.

You can help a constipated hammy by giving him softer foods like carrots, steamed veggies from this hamster-safe veggie list, and getting him to a veterinarian if he does not produce and droppings in 24 hours after the soft food.

7. Wet-tail in hamsters

Wet-tail is more common in Syrian hamsters than Dwarf types. Still , that does not mean Dwarf types can’t get wet-tail at all. They’re just much less likely to get it.

Wet-tail is most frequent in young hamsters, that were just weaned (approx. 4 weeks old) and are eligible for adoption. It’s usually stress based, and everything from his mother pushing him away when he still tries to suckle, to being taken to the pet shop, and then take to your home is all very alien to him.

So a young Syrian hammy that was just brought home might develop wet tail. Treatment does exist, but it’s not a 100% survival rate.

Still, your hammy needs to see a vet right away. If you’ve noticed the symptoms within 24 hours the survival chances are pretty high.

Symptoms include:

  • a wet tail, because if a very watery diarrhea
  • possibly smelly rear-end, because of the constant soiling
  • smelly cage
  • weakness, lack of appetite or thirst
  • a matted, sweaty look about the hamster

You can find out more about wet-tail in hamsters here, including how to treat it and the steps you should take in caring for a hamster recovering from wet-tail.

8. Diabetes in hamsters

Another big problem in hamsters is diabetes. This is most common in the Dwarf types, so the Syrians have it easier here.

Diabetes can come about in a few ways, mostly because of a poor diet. That means a diet with too much sugar and carbs, and very little exercise. This is not the only reason, but one of the biggest.

Another reason is that the pancreas does not produce enough insulin, or that the body is very resistant to it. This means that the body’s blood sugar will stay very high.

It will cause weight gain, circulatory problems, difficult breathing, and other problems that stem from these.

You can find out more about diabetes in hamsters here, and also about how to treat it. Sometimes it’s not completely treatable, but at least you can do some things to make the hamster’s life comfortable even so.

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

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9. Tumors and lumps in hamsters

Sometimes hammies develop extra cells. These cells are sometimes benign, sometimes they’re harmful and become cancer.

However even benign tumors can be bad for the hamster’s health, as they can block certain body parts. For example a tumor around the ear can extend to the entire half of the face.

These usually can be removed, but not many vets are willing to perform surgery on such a small animal. The problem is that the anaesthesia is hard to do, and the patient himself is very.. well, tiny.

Still, some vets have tried and even succeeded. I’m sure in your area you’ll be able to find someone who can help. Best to look for an ‘exotics’ veterinarian. They have experience with rodents, reptiles and birds and will possibly be able to help you more than a regular vet.

Try everyone though, you never know who is going to save your friend.

10. Hamster cheek problems

Finally, the hamster’s cheeks are another problem. The thing is that hammies stuff everything in their cheeks.

Food, nesting material, a bit of bedding, droppings. Mothers even stuff their babies there when they move them.

However sometimes these cheeks can become injured, either by a sharp corner from the food, or maybe they were over stuffed.

They can sometimes come out completely, like an inside-out pocket. Other times the cheek becomes sticky with residue and whatever is in the cheek will become stuck.

All of these can be solved, and they can also be avoided. Mostly by not giving your hamster any sticky, saucy foods that he will put in his cheeks (grain-based foods end up in his cheeks usually).

You can find out much more about hamster cheek pouches here, including how to treat the various problems that come up, and how to identify each one.

About a hamster’s general health

Hamsters are fairly hardy animals. They don’t develop health issues very easily, even if they are so sensitive. However once they do happen, hammies don’t really know what to do on their own.

That is, they can’t get over most problems on their own.

A flea infestation will drag on for months, a cold can be fatal, and an infected cheek pouch can lead to death.

Still, hamsters are able to take care of themselves, mostly by how absolutely clean they are. Up until their very last days, hamsters know that cleanliness equals health.

So they tug and pull at their fur, comb through it, fluff it up, groom it some more, every few hours.

This is also done to avoid developing a strong scent that predators will use to find them.

Your help is crucial here. Your hammy depends on you, and his health becomes your responsibility. This is a reason to become fast friends with a good veterinarian (again, look for one labeled ”exotic”).

Keeping your hamster healthy

Keeping your hamster healthy revolves around a few simple things. Cleanliness is chief among them, and the hammy himself is very good at keeping himself clean.

Still, there are a few things you can do to help your hamster friend stay healthy:

  • Regularly cleaning the cage, once per week. More on safe bedding and nesting material here.
  • Giving the hamster a commercial food mix, which has all the nutrients balanced the way he needs them.
  • Only treating him to occasional treats, and in moderation to avoid weight gain and joint problems. More on hamster-safe foods here.
  • Making sure that the floor or other surfaces you let him roam in the exercise ball are clean, and dust free. More about hamster exercise balls here.
  • Keeping the hammy in a room that’s at a constant temperature. The optimal range is 20-23 C/68-75 F, and the cage should be kept away from drafts or direct sunlight.
  • Having an exercise wheel for your hamster friend, so he can run to his little heart’s content. More on hamster exercise wheels here.

Aside from all these, remember that your pet hamster needs a calm and gentle person handling him. So a child or other pet should be kept away from the hamster. Any interaction should be supervised. Hamsters are very bad with stress, and will bite back if handled wrong.

A word from Teddy

I hope you found what you were looking for here. Us hammies do get sick every now and then, and we need your help with getting healthy. So this article was supposed to give you an overview of what kind of problems we can have.

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

Related blog post
Best Hamster Travel Cages, And How To Transport Your Hamster Safely
Best Hamster Travel Cages, And How To Transport Your Hamster SafelyTaking your hamster somewhere is never easy. This is why having the best travel cage ever for your hamster is going to make things much easier, both for you and your hamster. This is what I’ll be helping you out with, and my Teddy will give you a few important things to remember along the way. Travelling with your hamster need to be done with care. Table of Contents ToggleFinding the best travel cages for your hamsterThe best transport cages for hamsters I’ve foundHabitrail OVO plastic transport cage for hamstersKaytee wire transport cage for hamstersLiving World Hagen Pet Carrier (hard plastic)How to safely transport your hamsterFood and water for transporting your hamsterWaterFoodKeeping your hamster comfortable during travelTry to keep him from scaring too muchKeep the hamster in the darkAvoid transporting the hamster in extreme temperaturesKeep the hamster’s cage secureFamiliar bedding for your hamster’s comfortGive the hamster time to adjustBest toys to keep your hamster occupied during travelToys.The hamster house or nestA word from Teddy Finding the best travel cages for your hamster Let’s talk about the transport cage itself. This is the most important part of transporting your hamster, since you can’t bring the cage your hamster lives in. The main debate about transport cages in whether you should get a very secure one – like those made of plastic – or a very breathable one, with wire. It’s entirely up to you, is what I say. You don’t need a transport cage often, but when you do you’ll be very specific about it. Of course you can later use it as a place to keep the hamster while you clean and change his big cage. Now, whatever type of cage you get, it’s important that it is very well secured. It should not spring open suddenly, and you hamster can’t gnaw on the clasps to open it easily. Just as important, how breathable is the cage ? Wire cages are very breathable but are not the most secure. However the plastic cages offer more safety but only have holes in them to allow air to pass through it. The size of the cage does not really matter, in that it can be smaller than the one your hamster lives in. But make sure that he will fit easily into the transporting unit, and you can take him out just as easy. The best transport cages for hamsters I’ve found I’ll go through the best transport cages I’ve found, both for plastic and for wire cages. You pick whichever you think sounds better for you and your hamster. Habitrail OVO plastic transport cage for hamsters This is the kind of cage that will stay securely closed, and your hammy can get inside easily. The two tube endings can be attached to the main cage through, well, tubes so your hamster can use it as an extra home when not traveling. The two endings can be closed off with lids that comes with the cage. There are enough air holes on the top of the cage, to let the hamster get enough air. It also prevents drafts since the holes will not catch a lot of sideways air. You can fit a lot of bedding in the lower part of the cage, since it will reach high enough. But don’t add any sand for a sand bath, since it can escape from tiny nooks. I’ve both checked the reviews on Amazon, and looked at one in our local petshop. This kind of cage looks and feels sturdy, and the handle will definitely keep when you travel. A couple of downsides are that if you order it or buy it in a sealed package, you might have to assemble it yourself. But as far as I’ve seen the instructions are very clear and most people managed to assemble it okay. The other small downside would be that longer journeys would be a bit more difficult, since there is not much space in this cage. The air holes do provide some air, but not for 24 hours. You can find it on Amazon here, and check its price as well. Kaytee wire transport cage for hamsters Wire cages are probably your best option for ventilation. But the problem is sometimes they are easy to open by the hamster, or they don’t close properly. It’s also harder to wrap a cloth around the cage to prevent drafts since the hamster will try to chew the cloth. But, in this case this cage has more space than the plastic one I talked about earlier. There’s an added level that can give your hamster a bit more space, but I recommend taking it out so he can’t fall. Your hamster will have a lot of breathing space, which is essential if you’re going on a long trip or he needs to be in that cage more than a couple of hours. The spacing between these bars is about 1.25 cm/0.5 inches so your hammy has no chance of fitting his head through the bars. Both Syrians and smaller breeds (like Siberians or Campbells) are alright in this kind of cage for transport. I can see only a couple of downsides to this cage, one being that the bedding can get all over the car in some cases, like if your hamster kicks it around or there is a sharp turn. And second, it is very hard to protect from drafts. You can check out this exact cage on Amazon, and see its price as well. Living World Hagen Pet Carrier (hard plastic) If you’re looking for more options then maybe this pet carrier will sound better for you and your pet. People have successfully transported small birds like cockatiels and sun conures to the vet in this transport cage, and it seems to be large enough for an adult hamster. It’s large enough for an adult Syrian, and definitely large enough for an adult Dwarf as well. Just remember to get the ‘large’ size, the maroon one with a gray and transparent top, as the smaller blue one is much too small. This transport cage is hard, thick plastic, and if you offer some amount of bedding and a hideout for your hammy then he should have no problem being relaxed in this cage. The overall size is 11.8 inch length by 9 inch width by 8.3 inch height, and most hammies won’t even reach the top part of the cage very easily. Air circulation is good enough, as there are holes on the upper part of the sides of the cage, and in the transparent lid as well. The lid is large, and opens completely, meaning you will have very easy access to your hamster when taking him out. And you will also easily keep an eye on him during travel. The fact that he won’t see anything around him may prove better at not scaring him. The only downside I see to this cage is the height of the cage. Hamsters love to gnaw on everything, and if yours gets his chompers on the upper part where there are holes, he might nibble at them and make a larger hole. Still, few hamsters get that far and I doubt it can become a problem if you’re using the cage for a quick trip to the vet. You can check the listing on Amazon here, and read the reviews as well. (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 to safely transport your hamster The very idea of moving your hamster is not safe for him, but in general it’s best to keep the cage and the toys inside the hamster cage lightweight. During travel sudden stops or sharp turns might move the cage and the things inside the cage can hurt the hamster. Also, try and keep the duration and distance as short as possible. Avoid public transport, with loud noises and people bumping into you. Go for an air conditioned car that can get you there fast.  There are more things to keep in mind than this, so Teddy and I will get into detail with all of them. But as a reminder: Teddy: Us hamsters are very easy to scare, so try not to rattle, bump, jostle, throw or shake our transport cage, and keep us well ventilated ! Food and water for transporting your hamster When you transport your little hamster, you’ll want to keep him well stocked on food and water. The problem is what kind of food and water. Water A water bottle or bowl is not good for transport. Every time your car or train or bus stops, they can leak and get the hamster wet, and possibly ill later on. What you can do instead is get a few slices of cucumber, and place them every once in a while in your hamster’s cage. Cucumbers have very high water content, and are safe for your hamster to eat. The cucumber will give your hamster enough water to last him the trip and back again, without spilling anything. Best to get several thick slices, and store them in a cool bag. Place one at a time every few hours in your hamster’s cage and he will have enough liquid. To know more about your hamster’s usual water needs, read my article here. Food As for the kind of food the hamster needs, it’s best if it is something dry like grains or a food mix from your favorite pet shop. Place a couple of his favorite treats in the cage as well, to make the trip more comfortable for him. Another type of food you should bring is a hard kind of treat for your hamster to nibble on. This is to give him something better than the cage to gnaw on, and also to relieve some of his anxiety. The best kind of dog treat for hamsters is either the plain kind – with no added flavors – or a milk bone. Milk bones are basically dog treats, but with added vitamins and minerals. They don’t necessarily contain milk, that’s just the name. Given the size of hamsters, and the size of dog treats, one treat will last your little one a long way. So basically a box of dog treats could possibly last the entire life of the hamster. Best to sprinkle the food in your hamster’s bedding, so he will forage for it during the trip and be distracted. For a clear list of what hamsters can and can not eat, read here. You’ll also find out what kind of treats you can give your hamster. Teddy: Hamsters need some simple dry food for transport, and sliced cucumber instead of a water bottle. We love cucumber ! Teddy enjoying his dry food from my hand Keeping your hamster comfortable during travel This is a topic just as important as what food you give the hamster when you transport him. Hamsters are easy to scare, they panic easily, and sometimes looking at your hamster wrong can scare him. I don’t know, all hamsters are different and some of them spook very easily. Try to keep him from scaring too much The weirdest example I have is when I was bent over my Teddy’s cage reaching for something. When I look down there’s Teddy, all shaking, on his hind paws, jaws open, trying to be big. I crouched down next to him, slowly, and spoke softly to him. It took him a minute but he was friendly after that. So unless you want your hamster to do something similar when he sees his vet after the trip, please make sure he is comfortable. That means that the cage should be shaken and moved around as little as possible. If possible, get a taxi or a friend to give you a ride to where you need to get. Do not keep your hamster on the road for more than he needs to be. It will freak him out and he will need some time to recover. Keep the hamster in the dark If possible, make sure that the cage you transport him with is not clear. Hamsters can’t see very well, but they can still see. And sudden movements will still scare them. If you can, cover the cage with something like a blanket to keep it dark. But make sure you do not cover the air holes, so that your hamster can still get enough air. However if your transport cage is an actual cage, not a plastic unit, then you need to make sure the hamster can’t reach the blanket and gnaw at it. My Teddy shoved a couple of centimeters of furry blanket in his cheeks when he first laid his paws on one, so be warned. Avoid transporting the hamster in extreme temperatures Unless you absolutely must, avoid transporting the hamster in very cold or very hot times of the year. Hamsters are very sensitive to temperature, and need a range of 20-22 Celsius/68-72 Fahrenheit to feel comfy. So make sure you can keep your hamster warm/cool, depending on the season. And also make sure that there is no draft where you keep your hamster during transport. Hamsters are very sensitive to this, and a cold for them is not as easy to shrug off as it is for humans. Keep the hamster’s cage secure When you travel by car, make sure that you have a seat belt strapped across the cage. This is to keep both you and the hammy safe. The cage needs to sit in place when traveling, and as long as you keep an eye on it, it should be fine. Try not to keep it on your lap, since it can hurt you in the case of sudden stops or turns. The same goes for keeping the cage in the trunk or at your feet in the car. If you’re travelling by train or bus, keep the cage on the seat next to you, with a hand on it or another way to make sure it stays in place. Familiar bedding for your hamster’s comfort In the end, you will need to place your hamster in a cage that is familiar to him. For this, use new bedding, mixed with bedding from his own cage. Make sure that the used bedding is not soiled or does not have too many droppings. A few droppings are okay, since it will be easier for your hamster to recognize the place as his own. But try to keep it mainly ‘clean’. The bedding you use for his home should have pieces that are from his own home as well. So if your gave your hamster ripped up paper towel to used as nesting material, grab a few pieces from his own home and place them in the transport cage. You can find out more about your hamster’s bedding here. What you can use, and what you should avoid. Give the hamster time to adjust Another thing that will help a lot is placing your hamster in the transport cage about an hour before you leave. This way you give him time to get used to his new cage, and he will not be as stressed. The best way to do this is to put the hamster in his exercise ball, and then put the exercise ball open in the transport cage. Or, place the transport cage directly into his usual cage, and let him explore it like that. For a discussion on what kind of cage is best for your hamster, check out my “best cages” article here. If your hamster is the kind that can be housed with several other hamsters, I’d recommend that you transport them in the same cage as well. Even if they don’t need a trip to the vet necessarily. This is to make the trip easier for the hamster that needs to be taken to the vet or somewhere specific. And also so that there is less hostility when you bring him back. The new smells on the transported hamster can make the ones left home get a bit aggressive. So try to avoid that by bringing them all if possible. This will not happen every time, the hamsters at home will not attack the transported hamster each occasion. But I’ve heard such stories and I think it’s better to be safe than sorry. Teddy: That was a long read, I know ! But us hamsters are easy to scare, so extra steps are needed to make us comfortable. Make sure you don’t rattle or shake the cage too much, and keep us safe and in place in our transport. Best toys to keep your hamster occupied during travel Obviously, the best toys are the ones he already loves and uses in his cage. But if they are very large and chunky toys, like blocks of wood, or hide and seek wooden tubes, these are a problem. They are heavy, and in the case of a sudden stop they can injure your tiny hamster. Toys. So make sure that the toys you bring into your hamster’s transport cage are light. Things like cardboard, for example toilet rolls, or paper towel rolls or paper egg cartons are fine. Cut a few holes in the tubes and carton and you’ve got yourself some great toys for your hamster to enjoy and keep him distracted. This way they won’t hurt the hamster if the cage moves around too much. Another helpful idea can be a walnut, with a tiny hole in it. This will keep the hamster entertained and busy, and he’ll try to chew on it. Even better would be if your can get a few walnut halves, cleaned, and string them on a piece of string. Try securing it along the edge of the cage, if possible, to make sure it stays in place. If you can’t, best to leave out the walnuts completely. The hamster house or nest The same goes for your hamster’s home or hideout. Make sure it is something lightweight that will not hurt him if it rolls over during transport. Paper or cardboard houses can be an option, but your hamster will probably chew on them so they won’t be a house anymore. Best to opt for something made of plastic, very very light weight. Teddy: It’s important to remember that the toys we need during transport are light weight, and very simple. Us hamsters are very fragile and need some extra care, even when it comes to our toys !   A word from Teddy Hi ! I hope this article managed to clear up a lot of your questions, and you can safely transport my brother or sister. I know transport cages seem tiny compared to how much space us hamsters really need, but for a few hours it’s alright. As long as you can keep us safe, healthy, and well fed and watered, we’ll survive the trip. If you want to know more about hamsters, and for example how much we can go without food, or if we need a light on, then check out these other articles ! [...] Read more...
Understanding Syrian Hamster Behavior – An Owner’s Guide
Understanding Syrian Hamster Behavior – An Owner’s GuideIt can be great fun and very rewarding to own and look after a Syrian hamster, but in terms of treatment and cost, it can be a major burden and a long-term commitment. Syrian hamsters are small animals with a great deal of character. Their needs are very complicated and they can be easily injured. Hamsters are nocturnal animals, meaning they sleep most of the day and become active at night and in the evening. This implies that for people who may be out during the day and at home during the evening, they can make good pets. Table of Contents ToggleMale Syrian hamster behaviorAggressive behaviorParental behavior Social behavior of a hamster  Male Syrian hamster behavior Among the most common options for small pets is the Syrian hamster, also known as the golden hamster. Generally speaking, it is easy to tame, enjoyable to watch, and reasonably low-maintenance, making it a good beginner’s pet. These hamsters come from northern Syria and southern Turkey’s arid areas. Just as we do, hamsters use body language. They can show several feelings that include being happy, scared, threatened, curious, terrified, angry, and many other feelings. When conversing with others, they also use sign language to a limited degree. That doesn’t say, with all that said, that they won’t use an auditory method of communication as well. To call their mothers, babies use ultrasonic sounds, females have mating calls to attract a mate, and a hamster will squeak when it feels threatened or aggressive. Many of these sounds are brief and often unrecognizable to the human ear. Learning all the behaviors of your Syrian hamster means that you will be able to understand it better, thus taking better of him. If you notice your hamster is upset, mad, or ill, you can change the way you care for it. Sometimes, when you put your hands in the cage, you may just need to create more confidence with your pet so that it doesn’t act aggressively or get afraid. If the hamster is burrowing or digging its bedding it just means that the hamster is happy. The hamster is just playing around and by digging it is searching for snacks he buried earlier. Hamsters in the wild are extremely good diggers and will develop deep underground burrows. Make sure that your hamster has a dense layer of bedding so it can dig and burrow endlessly. If he is standing erect on its legs and watching you, it means that he is curious and is watching his surroundings, but still being calm. But when they’re standing with their dukes up on their hind legs, the hamster tells you it feels threatened and if you don’t back off, he might get aggressive. They are looking for reassurance while it is grooming and feel very happy with all that’s going on. They feel comfortable and relaxed about their present condition as they are stretching their limbs. It’s a sign of fright if his ears are forward with his cheek pouches puffed up and his mouth open. Try to minimize the stress factors that brought on this action. It means that a hamster is insecure about the current situation and is likely to run and hide when it empties its cheek pouches quickly. Another indication of insecurity and uncertainty is that as you approach it gets startled. In this case, he fells unaware of what’s going on at the moment. Also, if he is lying on his back with incisors showing, it’s a sign of a threatened hamster and he is scared. If you just got the hamster and you see him walking slowly and creeping around the cage, it just means that he is insecure around his surroundings. He is not yet comfortable with the cage and needs time to adjust to it. Try burying some snacks in the bedding to keep him active and get used to the habitat. Also, if the hamster is new to the cage, when you approach him, he will freeze in place. When the hamster is afraid, he will most likely play dead by standing still or lying down. He will most likely shy away and hide from you. This means that he is stressed out with the new environment and will need to adjust to, for example, loud noises. If the hamster continues to be unresponsive, you need to make some extra measures. If a hamster has a repeated routine and is doing the same things from day to day, it means that he is mentally ill. You can fix this by giving him toys to play and exercise, or giving him a larger cage. The most indecisive sign of a hamster is its squeak. He might be squeaking for no reason at all. But it can also squeak as a mating call, if he feels uncomfortable, or if he’s scared. This situation is the most difficult to figure out. Most of the behaviors displayed by hamsters does not mean he is ill. Hamsters are very active when they are awake and always find things to entertain them. If you feel the hamster is not acting normally, you can always enrich their time with toys and exercise. Make sure your hamster has plenty of training room and has suitable things to play with, such as tiny boxes, tubes, and mazes. For exercise, a good quality running wheel may provide additional activities. Once you can handle them with trust, you should enable your hamster to spend time out of their cage, but never leave your hamster unattended or overnight out of the cage. As long as the hamster is properly maintained, he will not be bothered and his behavior will remain natural. If you notice something strange, don’t jump to the conclusion that he is unwell. Try interacting and exercising with him. If his behavior is seriously worrying you, consult with the local vet. Aggressive behavior Since they are solitary by nature, Syrian hamsters can never be housed together. If you bring two Syrians together, they’re going to fight eventually. It’s only fine to house them together when they’re either breastfeeding babies or when you’re planning on mating them. Sometimes, almost without reason, hamsters may display worrying or aggressive behaviors. Acting this way is also not an indicator of the nature of the hamster – there is generally a very good explanation of why the animal behaves this way. If two grown male Syrian hamsters are kept together, they will show aggressive behavior. When one violent hamster attempts to bite the underbelly of the other, encounters will intensify into a wrestling match. To drive the hostile hamster down, the subordinate hamster will rise up, open its mouth, puff up its cheeks and stretch its arms out. When the hamster doesn’t want any trouble, its paw may be held out, its tail flicked, and does not maintain eye contact with the dominant hamster. This action can be interpreted as a retreat. However, a wrestling match can break out if one hamster does not initially back down. The wrestling match starts when one hamster stands up on his hind legs and attempts to bite the underbelly by lunging at the other. The two hamsters start rolling around in unison, trying to get the advantage. When one of the hamsters admits defeat, it will give up by lying on its back and freezing in this position. The wrestling match is generally over when this happens, but often, no hamster wants to give up that quickly. This is when they can intensify the wrestling into a fight. A fight looks a lot like a wrestling match but takes on a more violent and physical tone. Biting can become even more extreme and can lead to severe injuries. More pronounced squeaking may also be present. In the end, a hamster will give up and escape from the fight. When the subordinate hamster runs away through a hamster tunnel and hides in another habitat compartment, the battle always ends. If the hamster cage is not big enough for the hamster to run and hide, by chasing after it, the winning hamster can continue to fight. When it comes to this, it’s probably best to physically remove one of them to separate the hamsters. Hamsters can and do bite in certain cases. However, it is uncommon for a hamster to actually be aggressive, and they generally only bite when they get frightened. The most important thing to remember when you are dealing with these hamsters is that they’re biting because they’re scared, not because they’re aggressive. Tame hamsters are those who have been handled daily, so they’re used to people and are not easily frightened. Hamsters who have not been approached often, on the other hand, are typically not quite friendly, and if you attempt to pick them up, they sometimes bite. It can bite out of fear if you grab your hamster without allowing it time to readjust to your presence. If you do not physically hold them correctly, hamsters can even nibble you, which can be very painful for them. Hamsters are nocturnal, and if you wake them up during the day, they will be quite disoriented and very agitated. If they are scared and afraid, when you try to pick them up, they are likely to bite you. When it’s awake in the early evening and night, it’s going to be a lot more active and will potentially be more comfortable playing with you. Hamsters have very bad eyesight, and when they’re uncertain whether anything is edible or not, they are likely to experiment. If you stick food through the cage bars, then when you do the same with your finger, it will also believe it is a tasty treat and will bite you. When it comes to biting hamsters, it’s important to be patient. You will need to gain the trust of your pet and do so gradually. Don’t be brought down by the fact that it may take a month or a few months to fully succeed in this. Gaining a hamster’s trust can vary from week to week. Spend time sitting near the cage and talk to your hamster. Remember, moving to a new cage and new environment is very stressful, so this period is also habituation to a new home. After a week, try putting your hand on the cage. Place your hand next to the door or top of the cage, then extend it a little further each following day. Don’t try to touch the hamster, but if he becomes curious, let him explore your hand. When the hamster explores your hand, use that trust to slip him some treats and let it eat them from your hand. When your hamster starts eating treats relaxed, you can try to gently pet it. If your pet accepts treats and allows you to cuddle him, try lifting it. First, try to direct it so that it climbs into your arm, by placing the treats in it.  Parental behavior The Syrian female hamster has anatomical characteristics that are different from other species. They mature from 8-10 weeks of age and have an estrous period of 4 days. She frequently prefers to mate with an alpha male who, more often than any subordinate males present, will flank the mark (a scent-marking activity associated with aggression and competition). Male offspring are at greater risk of permanent effects from maternal social stress than female offspring. It is always recommended to separate the male hamster from the mother and the babies. There are many cases in which the father eats the babies, but it sometimes happens with the mother as well. In expectation of their babies’ birth, female hamsters will begin to build a nest. A female hamster is pregnant for only around three weeks and up to 20 babies will evidently appear in a hamster’s nest overnight. If by nesting and consuming a little more food than average, a hamster has prepared for a regular birth, then it may be particularly shocking to see a hamster kill and eat its own offspring. But while the reason this happens could be a shortage of food, there are a few other explanations that a hamster will eat its babies. For anyone, even a hamster, getting pregnant, giving birth, breastfeeding, and caring for multiple babies is really exhausting. If a hamster is too stressed, its babies will be eaten. She may feel that caring for her young is more than she can do. The same goes for when the hamster is scared. This is especially true with young hamsters. This can be caused by the fear of other pets, loud noises, and many other things that will intimidate the hamster. A hamster mother spends a lot of time grooming and caring for her youngsters. The fragrance left on each infant helps the mother to identify the babies. The mother could become confused and not know her own babies if a new smell, such as the scent of a human, is detected on the babies. The shortage of food is the most apparent explanation of why a hamster eats its own babies. Every animal that is pregnant or breastfeeding needs more energy than it can normally need. Therefore, there is so much more food required. From the lack of food, the hamster may be starving and fear being unable to provide for its baby. To prevent the mother from eating her babies, provide a quiet place for them. This can include keeping kids and other pets out of the space where your hamster lives, keeping the noise down in your house so that your hamster is not bothered, and maybe even covering the cage so that no potential threats or tension can be noticed. The most obvious precaution to take is to provide the hamster with plenty of food, during and after pregnancy. Make sure that you offer a high-quality hamster diet with plenty of protein as soon as you know that your hamster is pregnant. Also, make sure it always has clean water. You may want to split the hamsters if your pregnant hamster lives with another. This would make the babies safer and prevent any adult battle. If you find that you have a male and a female hamster living together, this will probably eliminate any pregnancy in the future. But, if both male and female hamsters are cared for properly, both of them will show high parental behavior. The male hamster will also contribute to building a nest, caring, grooming the young. Male hamsters will even pick up and carry the babies more often than the female. Even though the female hamster is more likely to eat the babies, male hamsters will injure them more. When trying to lie down, the male will accidentally lay down on the babies, almost suffocating them.  Social behavior of a hamster  Hamsters are normally solitary creatures and may be aggressive to other animals, often leading to significant injury or even death. In particular, Syrian hamsters are not inherently sociable and they are best kept on their own. The Syrian Hamster lives alone in the wild and is intensely territorial, threatening any intruders or other hamsters that it might face while traveling. In separate burrows, Syrian hamsters live a distance away from some other burrow of another hamster. Hamsters create unique odors that they use to communicate, so avoid housing unknown hamsters and hamster cages next to each other, as they can find this disturbing and can start fighting. In the house, they can also find the presence and scent of other animals stressful, especially animals such as cats and dogs that would usually eat small animals such as hamsters. Never let other pets rest on or interact with the hamster’s cage. By using their body language to exhibit emotion, you should observe your hamsters communicating and engaging with each other. As a pet hamster owner, understanding when all is well in the cage or when you may need to resolve a dispute is crucial. These hamsters are one of the most solitary species in the wild. As pets, they should always be alone in a cage. Young hamsters often tolerate cage companions for a little while. But there’s a fair chance they’ll become violent when they age, even battling to the death. Hamsters will stick their noses up to each other’s muzzles when they face each other head-to-head. Through smelling their scented gland that is located in that region of their face, they would be able to tell who the other is. Several things may then take place once their identity is established. If one hamster recognizes the other like a dominant hamster, he will point its ears up, lean backward in fear, turn, and leave. The female could do a walk where she arches her back and then goes into the lordosis position, if the encounter is between a male and a female, showing she is ready to mate. For two hamsters, circling is another way to find out who each other is. To scent its glands, one hamster will put its head up under the other hamster’s belly, then another will take its turn to smell the other. This hamster action may often look a little aggressive if there is an over-eager hamster involved. Often, it can escalate into wrestling in this case. Syrian hamsters are generally friendly, and many owners say that they are a good choice of pet since they can develop a very close bond with their owners. They are the biggest and one of the most common pet hamsters, partially because their size makes it easier to handle them. These hamsters are slower than any of their smaller counterparts. Another factor adding to their popularity is that this hamster breed should be kept on its own, as for fun and excitement, it focuses more heavily on its owner. Because they do not have a hamster friend to play with, during the hours you are both awake, it will be more open to forming relationships with the owners. Hamsters may not interact with a variety of people like many other pets do. Instead, hamsters are most happy sharing time with one, often two, owners. A hamster will learn to recognize the owner’s smell and might be scared of anyone he doesn’t know. Hamsters are reasonably independent and can amuse themselves for long periods, provided that their housing is sufficiently enriched with toys, bedding, burrowing, and climbing opportunities. Also, the hamster should undergo regular handling and contact to be comfortable and well-adjusted. Some hamsters are cuddlier, while others are more independent. Syrian hamsters are usually easier to tame, so they will be a little more affectionate than other types of hamsters. But this is only because the Syrians are much bigger than the other hamsters, which makes it easier to treat them. You should pet your hamster’s body or their head very softly to express your affection when they’re either in their cage or in your hands. Hamsters often seem to prefer to sleep on their owners once the trust point has been achieved. When they’re active, you can also speak to them with a quiet and soft voice (the talking approach also works when you’re trying to develop trust in your hamster). So, it’s important to be around them and connect with them daily to create a deeper relationship between you and your hamster. Even though hamsters show affection to their owners, they will not be so affectionate and lovable to other hamsters. One shouldn’t be too affectionate with the hamster. Remember that in the wild, hamsters live alone. It’s their natural instinct to play, explore, and eat on their own. They should have plenty of time by themselves, and they will find any kind of entertainment. Some owners tend to think that hamsters get lonely and want to touch them all the time. When you’re developing a relationship with a hamster, you should maintain a routine that your hamster will follow. Don’t pick it out of the cage anytime you wish. The hamster will not appreciate it if you pick him up constantly and it can become aggressive if he is not left alone. Especially during the daytime, when it is sleeping. Set up a routine so your hamster knows when he will play with you and it will not get stressed out. [...] Read more...
What Do Hamsters Eat ? – Food List And Exceptions
What Do Hamsters Eat ? – Food List And ExceptionsWhat do you usually feed your hamster ? What can hamsters eat ? What should they NOT eat ? I had some many of these questions when I first got my Teddy, and I can tell you what I found out. Some I found out by trial and error, some I asked vets, and some still I found out from other hamster enthusiasts. So I’ve compiled a big ol’ list here, so you can have all the info you need for your hamster’s food and diet. Table of Contents ToggleSo what can hamsters eat ?What hamsters should never eatProtein foods your hamster can eatVegetables and Legumes you can feed your hamsterHamsters can eat pasta and bread too !Nuts and seeds your hamster can eatFruits your hamster can eatPre-made food mixes for your hamsterGrain and pellet food mix for your hamsterTreats for your hamsterHow much does a hamster eat ?Dangers of overfeeding your hamsterWhat to do if your hamster is not eatingA word from Teddy So what can hamsters eat ? First off, hamsters are omnivores. That means they can and will eat anything from plant-based food, to grains, to meat and insects. This applies for every kind of hamster out there, be it Syrian, Robo, Campbell, or Chinese. If you look at a box of hamster feed, you will usually just see grains, a few seeds, and a few vitamin pellets. But if you turn the box and look at the ingredients, you will often see protein sources like chicken/fish/beef/shrimp.  You can feed the hamster an omnivore diet yourself, or get a pre-made mix that will last for several weeks, even a couple of months. I’ll get into more detail with each food group a hamster can eat, along with actual examples you probably have in your home. And I’ll give you a couple of food mixes you can buy for your hamster, along with other treats. But first, let’s see what hamsters should definitely avoid. What hamsters should never eat In general hamsters should stay away from anything acidic. Even if you give your hammy a piece of orange he will turn away from it, but that’s just because of the strong smell. Best to avoid acidic food altogether. There are other foods your hamster should avoid, mainly because his stomach is not built for such foods. Here are a few examples of foods your hamster should never eat: any type of citrus at all – lemon, orange, clementine, grapefruit, etc. any part of a tomato, it’s acidic as well, even if less than a lemon chocolate, and anything sweet – can cause diabetes fruit seeds or peels – apple, grapes, strawberry, etc onions, garlic, peppers, spices – anything extra spicy or tasty will upset his stomach high-fat content foods – like extra fat meat, or even some types of dairy anything unwashed like unwashed fruits or vegetables any part of a rhubarb(1) almonds, apricot pits can be highly toxic celery or very stringy/fibery foods like cabbage anything containing added sugar or salt raw potato or beans (any kind) These are all foods that your hamster is better off not eating, since he can’t digest them. In some cases these foods will kill the hamster, so best to avoid them completely. Alright, now let’s get into the food groups your hammy can eat, along with actual examples. Yay ! Protein foods your hamster can eat Hammies do eat protein, and it doesn’t have to be soy-based necessarily. While you can feed your little hammy something soy-based like tofu, you can also find some soy protein in his food mix as well. But I wouldn’t advise giving the hamster and actual, raw soy bean. Best to stay away from that. For example I’ve given my Teddy boiled egg white, boiled unseasoned chicken and turkey, and he loves them both. Actually, most of the time hamsters just store food in their cheeks and hide it in the house. But with the egg and chicken, Teddy dropped everything he had and ate them right there. Of course, the pieces you feed your hammy should be small, so he can eat them on the spot. If you give him too big a piece, he might want to save some of it for later and we all know how quickly meat goes bad. Mealworms are sometimes a treat for hamsters. I’ve never give my Teddy one, but I’ve met hamster owners who give them to their hammies as treats. Not all hamsters will like them, but you can try. Do not give them mealworms too often though, since they are very filling. Teddy: If your feed any kind of meat or egg to you hammy, keep it simple, unsalted, unseasoned. Never feed any raw protein tot us, like raw meat or egg. Dairy is also a good protein source, but don’t give it to your hammy often ! Hamsters are mammals just like us humans, and as such we can’t process milk-based products very well when they are in large quantities. So, keep the dairy to a minimum. Something like a peanut sized piece, once per week is alright. Vegetables and Legumes you can feed your hamster Most vegetables are safe for hamsters to eat, but some are to be avoided. Especially legumes like lentils, beans, peas, chickpeas and so on are not alright. This is mostly because of their high fiber content, which can upset your hamster’s guts. So best to stay away from legumes for your hamster. Vegetables like leafy greens and roots are mostly alright. But let’s talk about a few clear examples. Here are some vegetables your hammy can totally eat: most leafy greens, like spinach, watercress, lettuce, kale cucumber, zucchini carrots are okay, but any other hamster than a Syrian will have to eat them less frequently (higher sugar content than other vegetables, can cause diabetes for dwarf hamsters) sweet potato, cooked – same as carrots, keep a very low intake for dwarf hamsters asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower (cooked) You probably have most of these in your fridge or pantry already. So feel free to feed your hamster small pieces of these veggies as a treat, or even as a supplement to his usual food mix. Hamsters can eat pasta and bread too ! But only in small quantities. The thing with pasta, bread, rice, and so on, is that they’re all high carbohydrate foods. As such, your hamster needs them, but not as much as you’d think. The carb content of a hamster diet should not get past 20%, since they require a balanced dies of protein and veggies as well. So here are a few examples or carbs and bread your hammy can safely eat: Bread, as long as it has no added sugar and has a low salt content. That rules out toast bread, hot dog buns, and hamburger buns as well. Whole grain or multi-cereal bread is great for hamsters actually. Dry grains, of basically any kind Cooked brown rice, unseasoned Cooked wholegrain pasta, unseasoned. Regular white pasta becomes too sticky for your hamster, and will leave residues in his cheek pouches that can cause problems later on. Corn flakes, oat flakes, most muesli mixes Unsalted, unsweetened crackers and biscuits, small piece The food mix you give your hamster is usually well balanced, so don’t feed your hammy too much additional bread or other carbs. Keep them as a small treat every now and then. Nuts and seeds your hamster can eat Hamsters love to chew on a lot of things, and nuts and seeds give them just that opportunity. Most nuts and seeds are okay for hamsters to eat, but there are a few exceptions. Here’s a list of seeds and nuts your hamster can enjoy: dried sunflower and pumpkin seeds, with or without shell, unseasoned peanuts and hazelnuts, unsalted, plain; remove shell and skin walnuts chestnuts, without shell, cooked, plain sesame seeds Do keep in mind that nuts and seeds have a high fat content. So don’t feed too many or too often to your hamster. Keep them as a treat every now and then. Especially if the food mix you bought for the hamster already has a couple of seeds and nuts included. Teddy: Stay away from almonds though. They classify as a nut, but they are toxic for us hamsters ! Fruits your hamster can eat Most kinds o fruit are safe for hamsters. There are a few exceptions, and I’ll cover those too. But first, here is a list of fruits your hamster can eat: apple, pear, peeled and cored (no seeds) strawberries, no seeds banana slice, in a very small amount grape, no seeds, peeled dates and figs, dried raisins blueberries, blackberry, raspberry cherries, no seeds Again, keep the hamster away from citrus fruits. The citrus oils is toxic for hamsters, and will harm them. If you’ve ever peeled an orange and got your hand close to your hammy, you saw him pull away. (If you like this article so far, you can pin it to your Pinterest board by clicking the image below. The article continues after the image.) Pre-made food mixes for your hamster These are a convenient way to feed your hamster, and often are actually pretty well thought out. If you see the ingredient list, and think there’s something vital that’s missing (like proteins) you can look for another brand or supplement with proteins like the list above. Grain and pellet food mix for your hamster I use a pre-made mix for my Teddy, and give him fruits, veggies, and meat whenever I’m cooking. So he gets the grain and pellets mix, with an assortment of carrots and other foods I have around the house and are safe for him. As I said above, I’ll give you a few options on store bough food to give to your hamster. The first one I found is an actual food mix, with a fair amount of seeds and pellets as well. The whole bag will last you for a couple of months or more, depending on how much you feed the hamster, and what you supplement alongside (More on that below). You can check the Amazon pricing here, and other details as well. Treats for your hamster While most hamster food mixes have a balance of protein, vitamins, and carbs, you can give your hamster occasional treats. These don’t have to be often, but need to be kept as a treat every few days, or when you’re trying to teach or tame your hamster. For example I give Teddy cheese drops as a treat, and he absolutely loves them. The drops can be made of other fruits or veggies too. But Teddy seems to prefer the cheese. I found a variety pack that you can give your hamster. They’re yogurt based and suitable for all kinds of hamster, rats, gerbils, even ferrets. You can find the listing on Amazon here, and check the price as well. There are other types of treats hamsters go for, like for example simple dog treats (no flavors) or milk bones, and some granola bars(no sugar or honey). But my Teddy loves these cheese yogurt drops, and he gets them 2-3 times a week. Teddy: Whatever treat or food you choose, make sure you feed us hamsters responsibly ! Treats are treats and we don’t need them every day. Food mix is a great way to make sure we get the proper nutrition and stay healthy. How much does a hamster eat ? Alright, now that you know what kind of foods your hammy can and can not eat, and you’ve seen a few examples of pre-made food and treats, let’s talk about how often to feed the hamster. This depends mostly on the hamster himself, in that a baby hamster will need a bit less food than an adult hamster. But in general, 2 teaspoons of dry food are enough for an adult Syrian hamster. Dwarf hamsters need less, 1 teaspoon. It might sound like very little food, but look at the size of your hamster. Not only can he not eat much, but also dry food keeps him full for much longer than veggies. If you’re unsure, grab a teaspoon and put the necessary amount in your hand. I’ll attach a photo here of how much 2 teaspoons of dry food is for my Teddy. This is enough for an adult Syrian hamster. Teddy: Remember, we don’t need a lot of food, and we also hide food in our hideouts ! So if you just fed your hammy, and see no food there 5 minutes later, don’t give him more food. He just took the food into his hideout, to snack on later. Us hamsters are funny like that, and love to hoard our food ! Dangers of overfeeding your hamster The first and immediate danger is getting your hamster fat. While you might think that a chubby hamster looks cute (and he does, not gonna lie) it’s very bad for his health. Hamsters are very active creatures, and must be able to run and sprint and dart through tubes or into hideouts at any point. This is their instinct, and a large fat hamster will not be able to do any of these, or at least not properly. This will shorten the hamster’s lifespan as well. A hamster can only live for so long (2-3 years), might as well make his short life comfortable. If you want to know more about why your hamster can get so big or fat, check out my article on this exact topic. There I’ll tell you everything you need to know about why hamsters can get fat, and even how to slim yours down. Hint: it involves getting your hammy more exercise opportunities. For this a great hamster wheel is essential. You’ll also find out what a reasonable weight is for the hamster himself, so you have a guideline to follow. What to do if your hamster is not eating Some hamsters are very picky about their food. They will not eat just anything, and need more attention in that way. So play around with his food, change up the flavors a bit. Maybe he only likes chicken flavored pellets or treats. That could be a start to your hamster eating more. If your hammy is not touching dry food, try with veggies. Give him alternatives, like a piece of broccoli, one asparagus, and a small kale leaf. See which he likes, and keep giving him that. Then, continue adding new foods to his diet, from the list of foods I wrote above. Until you reach a mix of vegetables that you can give him daily, and you know he will eat them. If veggies are not an option for him, try giving the hamster meat. I’ve never seen a hamster turn down meat. Make sure the piece is cooked, but unseasoned. The extra salt is not needed in your hamster’s diet, since he needs much less than humans. If, in an exceptional case, your hamster turns down every kind of food, call the vet. Especially if you see other signs of a possible illness like sparse fur, a wet tail (very bad), dried blood on his body, or anything that looks out of the ordinary. In a worst case scenario, you might want to know how much a hamster can survive without any food and water. I wrote an article on that topic, and the point is that if your hamster is not eating, but at least has water he has a higher chance or survival. In any case, contact your vet if your hammy seems sick, along with not eating. A word from Teddy I hope you’re very clear now on what us hamster can and can not eat. I know it’s a bit of a list to remember, but it’s in your hamster’s benefit. If you’re not sure about a food, and you can’t find any info anywhere, maybe don’t feed it to your hammy. That way at least you’ll be sure he’s safe. You can find more info on the best kind of bedding for us hamsters, or why we sometimes eat our own poo, and even why we’re sometimes scared of you ! Just check out the articles below and you’ll find your answers. References: https://www.rspca.org.uk/adviceandwelfare/pets/rodents/hamsters/diet [...] Read more...
Are Hamsters Nocturnal ? – All About Your Hamster’s Routine
Are Hamsters Nocturnal ? – All About Your Hamster’s RoutineWhen you first got your hamster you probably asked yourself why it doesn’t come out during the day. Is it sick ? Is it afraid ? Is there anything you can do ? I know I was a bit worried when I first got my Teddy – he is my first ever hamster. I did not know until him what hamsters do during the day, or at night. But after talking to some hamster owner friends of mine, and watching my own hamster, I got my answers. Table of Contents ToggleSo are hamsters nocturnal or not ?How being crepuscular helps wild hamsters surviveSome hamsters are nocturnal, or even diurnalHamsters wake up for a few minutes in daytime as wellHamsters make weird sounds during the day tooYour hamster’s routine – what he usually doesHow to gently wake up your hamsterCaring for a nocturnal or crepuscular hamsterDoes your hamster need the light on at night ?A word from Teddy So are hamsters nocturnal or not ? Pet hamsters are nocturnal. Hamsters sleep during the day and wake up at night, so they can avoid predators. This means that most of the time you will only see your hamster before you go to bed. The reason pet hamsters are nocturnal is because there’s more activity near their habitat all day, to they adjust their schedule accordingly. Keep in mind that hamsters are solitary creatures and prefer to be left alone. They feel most comfortable when it’s quiet outside, and for most pet hamsters that means the night, when everyone at home is asleep. Of course, some pet hamsters may prefer the daytime and that’s fine. In short, hamsters end up being or seeming to be nocturnal because most folks only see hamsters who are pets, not wild ones. So, since pet hamsters tend to only come out at night, they end up being nocturnal. Wild hamsters have a more flexible schedule, and are actually crepuscular creatures. That means they come out at sunrise and sunset, when the light is easier on their sensitive eyes, and the temperature much more bearable. How being crepuscular helps wild hamsters survive Hamsters are prey, and they evolved to come out mostly at dawn and dusk because their main predators will hunt them during the day or the night. Those predators aren’t very active at dawn or dusk. Another reason is that, while most hamsters come from desert areas, they can’t stand high heat. Nor do they tolerate very low temperatures. Hamsters are most comfortable in a 20-22 degrees Celsius/68-72 Fahrenheit temperature range. And that is usually found during sunset and at sunrise. So being crepuscular is mostly an evolutionary advantage. Some hamsters are nocturnal, or even diurnal This can happen, because hamsters have their own personalities. It’s not something that you’ll see straight away at the pet shop. But your hammy could be a night hamster, and only come out late at night. For example my Teddy comes out around 8-9 PM, and I see him up even in the middle of the night if I walk past his cage. He seems to get some rest once I wake up, which is around 5 AM. Then comes out again around 7 AM for about half an hour, and then retires for the rest of the day. There are hamsters out there who are only awake during daytime. This is very rare but it can happen. It depends entirely on your hamster’s personality, but there are a few factors involved, like: If it’s too cold he won’t come out, and might even hibernate. If it’s too hot, again he will not come out. If he feels the coast is clear and feels that he is safe, he might come out to see what you’re doing during the day. Your hamster’s routine helps him keep a sort of internal clock. Since in your home there is no natural difference in temperature or light for your hamster to use as a guideline, his waking hours might shift over time. Hamsters wake up for a few minutes in daytime as well You can sometimes see your hamster during the day for a few minutes. Maybe he got up  for a sip of water, or maybe he did not leave the house but you hear him munching on some food in his house. Or, maybe he woke up because you moved his cage. Hamsters are very sensitive and will wake up easily, even if they do no leave their home. Something as simple as picking up and moving his cage can wake him up. This is the case with my Teddy. After work I usually need a nap, but Teddy sometimes chooses that moment to have a snack, which will wake me up. So I always move his cage to the other room, and I always see him come out a bit, all sleepy, to see what happened. Hamsters make weird sounds during the day too Even if you can’t see him, your hamster is sometimes awake in his little home, doing he knows what. And sometimes, weird noises come from that home. You’ll have a hard time seeing inside his home to figure out the reason. His home is usually packed with bedding and you can’t see through it. But he might sometimes ‘bark’ – I have no better way to explain this. It’s like a cross between a tiny bark and a hiccup, and it can last for 2 minutes sometimes. It can be completely random, and not seem to have an obvious reason. Other times your hammy might be chewing on a piece of cardboard, or eating something from his stash (hamsters keep a food stash in their homes). So you might hear chattering and tiny biting sounds from his home. Your hamster’s routine – what he usually does If you’ve observed your hamster when he is awake, you’ll know that what he does is both incredibly funny and boring at the same time. He can run and run and run in his wheel and look like he’s about to be swooped by an eagle. The he’ll suddenly stop and dart around his cage like he’s avoiding some other predator. The best parts are when he suddenly stops. Not when he freezes to hear something or check what that sound means. I mean when he just stops moving at all and even when you come to talk to him he’ll just stare at you. This can last for a few minutes. The weirdest moment like this was one where Teddy was sitting upright, holding a cage wire with one paw. More like resting his paw on it. And he was just looking at me. He did not change his position when I came close and moved around his cage, he just turned his head towards me and kept staring. After a couple of minutes he went to drink some water and that was it. Aside from things like these, hamsters don’t seem to do much. When they’re awake you can play with them, feed them treats with your hand, put them in an exercise ball, and even train them to stay on your hand. If you want to give your hamster a way to get a lot of exercise, here’s what to look for in a hamster exercise wheel. Or, you can look for a hamster exercise ball and watch him be funny in that. Don’t leave him more than 30 minutes in the ball though ! (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 to gently wake up your hamster If, for whatever reason, you need your hamster awake right now, you can try this. Get a treat or kind of food he likes a lot, a small piece. And gently tap on the side of his cage and talk to him, coaxing him out. You’ll hear the rustle of bedding in his home as he wakes up and turns towards you. At first you’ll just see his nose, sniffing to ‘see’ what’s going on. That’s when it’s best to have the treat close enough to his home that he can detect it easily. Then you’ll see him slowly come out, with sleepy small eyes, and his ears tucked back. He’ll reach towards the treat and you can pick him up. If you want to know what kind of treats are okay for your hamster, here’s a list of foods and treats he can have and which he should avoid. Hamsters are like humans when they wake up. Groggy, and a bit confused. So for a few minutes your hamster will be extra-tame when you handle him. But I do not recommend abusing this method, since waking up your hamster too many times when he sleeps will get him frustrated. He will not be able to rest enough, and you’ll end up with a jittery, angry hamster biting the cage and possibly you. Caring for a nocturnal or crepuscular hamster Your hamster being awake in the latter part of the day, or at night, has some considerations. First, the playtime is shorter and you’ll need to work every day to train your hamster to be relaxed around you. Syrian hamsters remember interactions for up to a week, while the smaller breeds like the Chinese or Siberian need daily interaction. Second, it’s best to leave food for your hamster before he ‘starts his day’ so he has fresh food to nibble on. I usually leave Teddy 2 teaspoons of grains and pellets, enough for an adult Syrian hamster. Since you will probably be sleeping the night away, your hamster eating will not be something you’ll witness often. But he will eat, don’t worry. Third, it’s best to leave the thermostat on a temperature that’s suitable for your hamster for the night. That’s around 20-22 degrees Celsius/68-72 Fahrenheit. Make sure the room you keep your hamster in is not drafty or exposed to harsh light. Actually, it might be best if you check out my article on the right temperature for your hamster, and how to make him as comfortable as possible. Does your hamster need the light on at night ? Your hamster is nocturnal, or crepuscular, and you’re sleeping when he’s up. Would he need a night light ? Or the actual light in the room on ? Well, hamsters don’t really use their eyes, actually. Their vision is very poor. Hamsters use their sense of smell and hearing to navigate their environment. So leaving a light on is not necessary. In some cases, in might be a bad idea since their eyes are very sensitive and very bright, harsh light can hurt them. For example direct sunlight is not very good for your hamster’s eyes. My Teddy has a night light, but it’s not for him. It’s for me so I don’t bump into something at night when I go get a glass of water. He’s had the night light, and he’s had complete darkness as well. He was fine every morning, so a night light will not make much difference. A word from Teddy If you’re reading this then you’re probably wondering about your hamster. If he’s anything like me, he probably sleeps during the day and then runs all night. We hamsters have a different schedule than humans, so it might be a bit weird at first. But you’ll get used to it really fast. The face neighbors and friends make when you tell them we’re awake at night and sleep during the day is priceless though. “Don’t they get tired ??” they ask. Then they realize what they just asked and move along. If you want to know more about us hamsters, you can check out the articles below. You’ll find great info on the best kind of food for us, how much water we need, and how much exercise we need as well. [...] Read more...
Can Hamsters Eat Acorns? Is It A Good Chew Toy?
Can Hamsters Eat Acorns? Is It A Good Chew Toy?We see squirrels eating acorns all the time, and since they are rodents like our pet hamster, it is quite normal to believe that a hamster can eat acorns. But do they? Can your little hamster eat acorns? This is what I will discuss in this article since acorns as hamster treats are a bit more dangerous than they might look. Stick around till the end to see some cool homemade toy ideas that you can make for your hamster to chew on or play with. I will talk about this because many people use acorns as a toy for their hamsters to chew on rather than food. Table of Contents ToggleCan hamsters eat acorns?Can a hamster open an acorn?Can hamsters eat acorn squash or pumpkin?What nuts and seeds can a hamster eat?Seeds and nuts that a hamster should avoid.Homemade toy ideas for a hamster to chew or play withConclusion Can hamsters eat acorns? Hamsters should not eat acorns because they can have a lot of bacteria, parasites, harmful germs, and even fungal infections. There are actually two main reasons why you should not feed your hamster acorns: The first one is the one we talked about, acorns can be bad for your hamster’s health because they are not healthy for its digestive system. Even if we wash the acorns, we might not get rid of all those problems. I’ve heard there are some people that wash and bake the acorns before giving them to the hamster. This might get rid of most of the bacteria, parasites, and so on, but you still have one more problem. Acorns are quite sharp and can hurt your hamster’s intestines or cheek pouches if they store them. Hamsters tend to keep food in their cheek pouches and keeping a sharp object is dangerous since their cheek pouches are sensitive. Here you can read more about how cheek pouches work and common problems. So, while a hamster’s diet, especially a pet one, contains mostly seeds and nuts, it is important to know that acorns are still dangerous. Can a hamster open an acorn? Yes, hamsters can open acorns and get to the seed, it can take a while, but they will eventually succeed and eating the seed can be dangerous for them. If you plan on giving your hamster a natural chew toy, you can give him a walnut rather than a acorn since the walnuts are safe to eat for your hamster and it is a better option even as a toy. You give him a chewing toy, they can chew on walnuts for way longer than they would chew on an acorn, so it is not worth the risk, and there is no reward in giving him an acorn instead. Squirrels open walnuts pretty fast, have you ever seen one doing it?  They are much stronger than a little hamster, and their digestive system is also different from the hamster one, and that’s why they can eat acorns much easier. Can hamsters eat acorn squash or pumpkin? Yes, hamsters can eat acorn squash or pumpkin and also their seeds. However, you should not give a big amount of acorn squash to your hamster even if it is a good source of vitamins and minerals, they don’t need much, and it’s very easy to overestimate how much they can eat. You can give them a small piece of pumpkin, 1 inch cube should be enough. If you plan to give the seeds of an acorn squash or pumpkin to your hamster, you should rinse them and dry roast the seeds before giving them to your hamster to make sure they are safe. If you want to know more about what a hamster can eat, I have an entire article where I included a food list that touches on all the important things you need to know when you feed your hamster. Check it out here. Also, if you want to give your hamster a healthy pre-made food mix, here is one that I found on Amazon. The whole bag will last you for a couple of months or more, depending on how much you feed the hamster, and what you supplement alongside. It’s usually much safer to feed your hamster a pre-made mix than trying to come up with a homemade diet for a hamster since it’s quite hard to include all the nutrients they need and also, it’s much cheaper and less time-consuming this way. What nuts and seeds can a hamster eat? I don’t want to scare you with this article and make you believe that hamsters are more fragile than they actually are; hamsters can actually eat many nuts and seeds. When it comes to nuts, they can safely eat unsalted peanuts, walnuts, hazelnuts, cashews, pine nuts, macadamia nuts and pistachios (roasted but unsalted). I hope there is not something I forget here, but you get the idea. Here is what seeds they can safely eat: Sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, flax, sesame seeds, wheat, corn kernels, and so on. Sunflower seeds are found in almost all pre-made food mixes for a hamster since they are a great source of fats and vitamins that a hamster needs.  Observation: when you feed your hamster seeds and nuts, make sure they are unsalted or unspiced since they can be dangerous for our little hamster pets. Hamsters can also eat popcorn if it is plain, so when you buy popcorn, make sure it is not salty, sweet, or spicy. Also, it should not be microwaved since it can be dangerous for hamsters, so it is better to avoid it if you are not sure how that popcorn was made. Even when you decide to feed your hamster popcorn, make sure there are just a few pieces as a treat rather than the actual food. Seeds and nuts that a hamster should avoid. Here is a list of dangerous seeds and nuts for hamsters: -Almonds. They are considered nuts like the other ones, but bitter almonds contain a cyanide compound that can be poisonous for your hamster. When it comes to toxic seeds for your hamster, the list is a bit bigger:  -Apple seeds -Pear seeds -Strawberry seeds -Cherry pit Some of those contain cyanogenic acids that can be lethal for a hamster. Homemade toy ideas for a hamster to chew or play with It is very important to keep your hamster as active as possible, and chewing toys or homemade puzzles can be a great option. The main reason why hamster needs to chew on something continuously is that, like many other rodents, their teeth are growing continuously. If they don’t wear down their teeth, it can become dangerous for their health, so chewing toys are not just for fun, they have an actual purpose. As I said, many people want to give acorns to hamsters to give them something to chew on, but since we’ve established that it can be dangerous, I will give you some other great ideas. -The first one and the most obvious one is to give a walnut to your hamster. Usually, they tend to chew more if you give them a walnut compared to a store-bought chew toy because they can smell that it is actual food inside that walnut shell, so they have a reason to chew on that other than wear down their continuously growing teeth. -Cardboard boxes with food inside. Closed cardboard boxes with food inside are a great way to make your hamster exercise for its food. If you are worrying about your hamster eating cardboard, I have an entire article about that. -Toilet paper roll puzzle. Cut some strips of a regular toilet roll that are about an inch or 2.5 cm long; these will form large frills at either end of the roll. Fold one end of the roll to secure any food or treats you put inside, then fold the other end to further ensure nothing spills out. To make the puzzle more difficult for your hamster, you can make the frills longer and twist them together. Your hamster will hear and smell the food, motivating him to try to figure out how to open it. There are also store-bought ones but you need to make sure they are safe for your hamster since some of them are made from pine or cedar wood which can be dangerous for your hamster. Conclusion Unfortunately, it is not safe for hamsters to eat acorns, even if you would love to see the little hammy chewing on an acorn like a cute little squirrel. We can always swap the acorn with walnut. I can promise your hamster will have a lot of work cracking a walnut. Mine chewed for a few weeks on it, and it didn’t crack. So even if it’s not a good food source because they don’t get to eat the walnut, it is a great chew toy. I hope this article helped you, and now you know what seeds and nuts to give to your hamster and which ones you should avoid. [...] Read more...
Do Hamsters and Hedgehogs Get Along?
Do Hamsters and Hedgehogs Get Along?Hamsters and hedgehogs are two of the most popular small pets in the entire world as many different households take care of these tiny critters. But can you take care of both of these animals at the same time? Do hamsters and hedgehogs get along fine with each other in case you own both of these animals? While you can keep hamsters and hedgehogs as pets at the same time, it is not a good idea to make them get along and allow them to live together because of how hedgehogs can be dangerous to your hamsters. And even if that’s not the case, it might end up stressing the animals out to the point that they might fall ill. As a pet owner, it might sound like a good idea for your pets to live together in harmony. But you also have to understand that some pets just don’t naturally get along with others due to their nature and physical characteristics. This includes your hamsters and hedgehogs as we will now talk more about why these small pets don’t necessarily get along. Do hamsters and hedgehogs get along? When you own more than one pet, it sounds like a good idea for all of your animals to live in harmony with one another because you treat them all as members of your family. After all, family members should be able to get along fine with each other especially when they are living under the same roof. In most cases especially when you are talking about two different animals belonging to the same species, it is quite easy to make them get along with each other. That is why a lot of pet owners are able to keep multiple dogs, cats, and rabbits under one roof or are even able to make their dogs get along fine with their cats. In that case, can the same scenario become possible when you are talking about small pets? Can you make your hamsters and hedgehogs get along fine with one another when you are keeping them both as pets? Well, not exactly. When you are talking about hamsters, these animals may look quite cute and cuddly but don’t let their friendly looks fool you. One would think that hamsters love playing with their fellow hamsters and would prefer to live together with a friend but this should never be the case if you want your hamster to live a long and healthy life because these animals are highly territorial and would rather be left alone instead of sharing the same space with another fellow animal. While the hamster’s territorial instincts kick in more often when they live together with their fellow hamsters, it still is a bad idea to make them get along with another animal roughly of the same size because they might get too territorial to the point that they would use their sharp teeth to try to attack the other animal in an attempt to preserve its sense of territory and space. Moreover, hamsters really don’t like other species no matter how hard you try to make them get along. On the other hand, hedgehogs are growing in popularity as exotic pets but these small and cute balls of pins are also better off not interacting with other animals because of the fact that they are walking and living pin cushions. Having them get along with any other pet in your house can spell disaster for either one of them because the hedgehog may easily harm the other pet due to its sharp pins. So, while hedgehogs are not as territorial as hamsters are, they are pretty dangerous to be around other pets. If they are dangerous for humans to touch especially if we are not careful enough with them, the same is true when it comes to other pets like hamsters because the hedgehog can easily prick them and injure them beyond recovery.  All in all, while there is no consensus as to whether or not hamsters and hedgehogs can end up getting along with one another if you try your best to make them friendly with one another, the fact is that it is a bad idea in the first place. It is best to make sure that you keep them away from each other at all times without ever letting them try to get along with each other to be on the safe side of things. Still, though, there are instances where owners were able to safely introduce their hamsters and hedgehogs. In such rare cases, introductions are usually made with them holding on to their hedgehogs while allowing the two animals to meet. But the fact is that it might be better off for you to never leave them together in one place thinking that the two small animals can end up getting along fine with one another without your supervision. Can a hamster and a hedgehog live in the same cage? For a lot of different pet owners, keeping two small pets in one single cage can be a good idea so that they can save up money and space. It might also be a good way for the animals to end up getting along with each other especially considering that they are forced to share the same space throughout their entire lives. But, is it a good idea to keep your hamster and your hedgehog together in the same cage? If it isn’t a good idea for you to force your hamsters and hedgehogs to try to get along with one another, then it is never a good idea for them to live together in the same cage as well. In fact, that might be one of the worst decisions you can make in your entire life as a pet owner precisely due to the fact that hamsters and hedgehogs are better off living solitary lives in their own individual cages. In the case of a hamster, as mentioned, these animals are highly territorial and are best kept individually because of that nature of theirs. It’s not even a good idea for you to keep multiple hamsters in one cage due to how they might end up attacking one another. As such, it would be an even worse idea for you to keep a hamster in a single cage together with an entirely different species of animal such as a hedgehog. Moreover, are usually at the lower end of the food chain when it comes to other pets. That means that they are used to such a life and can be quite defensive when they are together with another animal. As such, this could end up stressing the hamster out if it keeps on thinking that, at any given moment, it could get eaten regardless of whether the hedgehog does indeed include hamsters in its regular diet. In the case of a hedgehog, it is never a good idea to keep it together with a hamster because of how dangerous it can be. A hedgehog’s quills are sharp and can easily prick a hamster to the point that the injury could possibly become fatal.  While hedgehogs are not aggressive or territorial animals, there is still always a good chance for them to accidentally prick a hamster if it is in defense mode and the hamster gets too close to it. While this instance may be rare when it comes to hamsters and hedgehogs, you do have to consider that hedgehogs can possibly end up eating the hamster if you keep them both in the same cage.  The reason is that hedgehogs eat a wide variety of different things including smaller rodents such as mice. Some owners even feed their hedgehogs baby mice. So, if your hamster is a lot smaller than your hedgehog, there might be a chance that the hedgehog will treat it as food and end up eating it. In any other case, the fact that you are keeping two different species together in the same cage is never a good idea because of how it could end up placing both or either of these animals in stressful situations. A stressed animal can fall ill and may end up dying because of that. And, on top of that, a hedgehog may actually carry bacteria that can end up harming the hamster in the long run.  That is why it should never be a good idea for you to keep these pets together in the same cage even if you think that doing so will help save you money or even allow these animals to get along well with one another. [...] Read more...