If you’re thinking about getting a hamster, you need to read this. I had only a vague idea before I got my Teddy. I knew I wanted a cute and cuddly orange hamster, and I knew nothing about hamsters. Then I found out through trial and error how to properly care for a hamster, and how having a hamster changes your life.
This is what I’ll be talking about here. How much a hamster costs, how much it costs to get him food and bedding, cages costs, everything.
So how much does a hamster cost, buying and monthly expenses ?
To be fair, the hamster itself is incredibly cheap. A Syrian hamster will run about 5-10 dollars, while a Dwarf (whether Roborowski, Campbell, Siberian, or Chinese) will be slightly cheaper.
As for the monthly expenses, those include only bedding and food/treats, which can vary depending on what you get your hamster. An estimate would be around $10 per month for food and bedding.
There are initial expenses, like the cage, wheel, exercise ball, toys, and so on. An absolute minimum, considering the cage size, and wheel and ball size, would be $225, of which the cage is he most expensive.
You can find an exhaustive hamster supply list here, complete with everything you’ll need once you decide to get yourself a hamster.
Aside from those, which I’ll cover in detail in the article, there’s the impact the hamster has on your life. Owning a hamster is, after all, a responsibility and you need to think about it before you get a hamster.
Now let’s get into the details of how much a hamster costs. All expenses in this article are in U.S. dollars, to stay coherent throughout the article.
How much for the hamster
Hamsters are actually very cheap. In that, most of the time you’ll find them along with fish in terms of cost. For example my Teddy was 4.90 USD. That’s incredible for owning a pet that will be by my side for the next 2-3 years.
Now, Teddy is a Syrian hamster. A dwarf type will cost less, but how much less depends on the pet shop you pick him up from. But on average, hamsters will go between $5-10, with the dwarf kind on the cheaper end.
You can also get hamsters from a private breeder. But in those cases you must make sure that those breeders treat their hamsters humanely, and have medical checks run on the parents frequently.
A private breeder will not cost more than the pet shop, and getting a baby hamster from a friend will be basically free. But you must be sure that the hamster parents are healthy before you get your baby hamster.
Visit your friends who have hamsters a few times to check up on the female, to see how her litter is coming along and pick out the one you like.
So in short, an actual hamster can be anything between $5-10, even free if you know someone who had a recent litter.
What a hamster’s cage will cost
This depends on what kind of cage you want to get your hamster. Normally the minimum cage size for hamsters is 24 x 12 inches, and about 12 inches tall. That’s 61 x 30.5 cm, and about 30.5 cm tall.
This the minimum for a Syrian hamster, but this will work for dwarf hamsters as well. When it comes to cage size, it’s best to go for bigger cages. This is because the hamsters need more space than the absolute minimum.
Of course, it depends on your home as well. Can you fit a large glass tank somewhere ? Do you need to move the cage often ? How much space to spare do you have in the room you want to keep the hamster ? What is your budget ?
A large enough cage will be somewhere around $120-150, plus handling and shipping if you’re ordering online. Picking it up from a petshop will spare you those taxes, but might be more expensive overall.
Generally there’s 3 kinds of cage types:
- Plastic – the most common after metal, can easily fit tube accessories. Not the most breatheable, be careful which kind you get. I’ll leave you an Amazon link to the one I have, you can check it out there as well as the pricing.
- Metal/wire – very breatheable, but you need to be sure the spacing between wires is less than half an inch so the hamster can’t escape. Here’s an Amazon link to a good, large wire cage, which also has a movable level.
- Glass tanks – can get these in larger sizes than plastic or metal cages, but they need to stay put. You need a lot of space and a wire mesh for the top of the tank. I looked around and found a fairly good one on Amazon, you can check it out here.
A word on glass tanks. They’re great for hamsters but ordering online is a bit tricky, with the transport. Sometimes glass comes whole and the tank is fine, sometimes it comes broken. Honestly it’s best to pick up a glass tank from a pet shop or somewhere you can inspect it yourself, and bring it home yourself.
If you want a much more detailed breakdown on each hamster cage, and which type you’d like for your hamster, you need to read this best cages article. You will find the same Amazon links as above, but discussed in more detail, along with pictures. It’s got all 3 types of hamster cages, their pros and cons, and how to clean and care for the cages too.
A hamster cage might seem expensive at first, and at a first glance it might be. But you only need one, and your hamster will use it his entire life. This is not something you buy again and again every few months.
Do not make the mistake I did, and skimp out on the cage. I ended up changing 3 cages just because I didn’t want to spend a little extra on the first purchase. The first 2 I got Teddy were too small for an adult Syrian hamster.
How much the hamster’s bedding will cost
Hamsters need a lot of bedding, and the most readily available is wood chips. The best kind of bedding you can get your hamster would be aspen wood chips, if they’re available in your area. If not, another option would be paper bedding.
Bedding is something that lasts you for several weeks, even months, depending on how much you give your hamster, and how often you change it.
If you want much more info on how often to change the hamster’s bedding, which kind is safe, and how to pick the right one for him, I suggest you read this article. It’s got the bedding types available, along with a list of unsafe beddings you need to avoid.
For example my Teddy’s bedding is about $12 and 3.2 kg/7 lbs, and it’s good for about 3 whole months. I change his whole bedding every week, and his corners a bit more often.
So that’s $15 every 3 months, 4 times a year. $5 a month for something that will help keep the hamster warm is not that much, really.
A good option for aspen bedding is this one by Kaytee. It’s twice the size I get my Teddy so it can seriously last your hamster for half a year, if not more. Aspen bedding is one of the safest types you can get for a hamster. You can check the listing on Amazon here, and read the reviews as well.
You can also get paper bedding for your hamster, if aspen isn’t available where you are. Here’s an Amazon link for a paper bedding, which will last your hamster about 3 months. Paper beddings are a bit more expensive than wood shavings.
It’s up to you which you think would be best for your hammy. I use wood shavings since they’re easy to find in my area.
As for the nesting material the hamster needs to put in his nest, a couple of ripped up paper towels will be enough. Or, unscented, plain toilet paper squares. Teddy shoves the paper in his cheek pouches, and then starts taking them out in his home, decorating the place.
How much the hamster’s hideout will cost
As for the hideout for the hamster, his hideout is where he will spend the majority of his time. Hamsters need just a bit of space to build their nest, and a good hideout will protect them
A good hideout is one made of wood. It keeps the hamster warmer, absorbs moisture and prevents condensation, and is safe to chew. Hamsters chew absolutely everything, including their hideout, so get your hammy a wood one.
If you want to know more about the kind of hideout a hamster needs in general, you can check out this article. In the second half of the article you’ll find out how your hammy will use his hideout, and how to clean it properly.
I got my Teddy a plastic one at first, and I kept it for a while until I noticed it kept the moisture inside, which kept Teddy’s nest wet in some places. So I got him a slightly larger, sturdier wood one.
I’ll leave you an Amazon link for a wood hideout that looks a lot like the one I have for my Teddy. The thing about hideouts and toys for hamsters, most of the time they are too small for Syrian hamsters.
Most of them are geared towards dwarf hamsters. But I’m showing you one that’s large enough for a Syrian hamster to fit in, and feel comfortable.
So the hideout would be somewhere around $10, which is again something you buy only once. Even if your hammy will chew and chew and chew on it, that hideout will still be in place for years.
Hamster toys, bought and DYI
The hamster’s toys will need to be made of wood as well. This is because hamster, again, chew on everything. If the hamster doesn’t chew on his toys, he will chew on the cage bars, or his hideout, or his water bottle, anything.
A hamster’s teeth never stop growing, so he needs to always file them down. And wood is he best material for their teeth, since it will file them down without hurting the hamster.
There are a whole array of toys you can get your hamster, some you can buy, some are best if you make at home. For example cardboard tubes left from paper towels (the ones you have in your kitchen, maybe) are great for hamsters.
Cut a few holes in them and you’ve got a hide-and-seek toy that can fit an adult Syrian hamster. Again, the Syrian hamsters need much more space than a dwarf so be careful when you choose toys for your hammy.
I’ll link you to an article on the best toys you can both buy and DYI for your hamster friend. You’ll find some links for Amazon listings for the toys which are best if you don’t invent them (like a wheel) and some ideas on what you can make at home.
Everything I link in this article is also suitable for a Syrian hamster, since this was what I was looking for when I got toys for my Teddy.
As for the cost, it depends on what you end up getting your hamster. These are again things you buy for your hamster only once, and he will use his entire life.
So it could be anywhere from nothing (like the paper towel tubes) to $22 for a digging tower. It’s up to you, but remember that your hammy will need a few toys, even if you make all of them at home.
How much a hamster wheel can cost
Hamsters need a lot of exercise, and fortunately an exercise wheel and ball are things you only buy once. Actually everything except the food and bedding will keep the hamster forever.
Again, don’t make the mistake I made when I got my Teddy. I skimped out on the cage, but the wheel as well. At first I left him that small plastic wheel that came with the cage, too small by even a baby Syrian.
The I bought him a bigger, metal wheel, a 7 inch/18 cm one. Which was fine, but only for a while. One he grew to his full size, he needed a larger one. Again. So I went a bought the biggest I could find, a 9 inch/23 cm one, which fits hit much better.
When you get your hamster an exercise wheel, you need to account for how large he will get as an adult. An adult Syrian hamster will need a minimum of 7 inches/18 cm to be able to run freely. A dwarf hamster can do with just inches/13 cm but that’s the minimum.
If you want to know much more about choosing the right exercise wheel for your hamster, you definitely need to read this. You’ll also find out how much exercise a hamster needs, and how much he can run in a night as well !
A large enough wheel for a Syrian hamster can run around $30, which will last him his entire life.
How much an exercise ball for your hamster will cost
As with the exercise wheel, and exercise ball is a good way to give your hamster an opportunity to leave his cage safely.
You can place the hamster in his exercise ball, and let him roam the house. Or, you can use it as a temporary place to keep him while you clean his cage.
If you want to know more about how to care for your hamster when he is n his exercise ball, you can read this article. You’ll find out how to properly introduce him to his exercise ball, how to make sure he is comfortable, and how to keep the ball clean.
Exercise balls for hamsters run around $8 plus shipping and handling, if you order online. If you get it from a petshop it might have less taxes, but be a bit more expensive overall.
Again, this is an item you only buy once, like the wheel and cage and hideout. For example my Teddy has his ball since he was young, and I just figured out that I should get him a large enough ball to fit him as an adult.
All exercise balls for hamsters are made of hard, durable plastic, so you won’t need to replace it under normal circumstances. Unless someone steps on the ball, or a large pet or child plays with it, it should stay intact even if it bangs against the furniture.
How much the hamster’s food costs
The food is the cheapest thing on this list, I think. This is partly because you can feed the hamster the food you eat as well, or you can get him a pre-made food mix.
If you decide to feed your hamster whole foods from your home, then this food list article will help you figure out what kind of foods are safe and unsafe for a hamster to eat.
Overall, I’d advise getting your hamster a pre-made food mix. Those usually have dry food that keeps for long, and is more suitable for a hamster’s usual diet and what he’d normally find in the wild.
If you feed your hamster exclusively from your fridge or pantry, then his food will cost basically nothing. But you’re in danger of not meeting his dietary requirements, or overfeeding him.
If you’re using a pre-made mix, it can get to $10, both online and in a pet shop. I get Teddy a 1 kg/2 lbs food mix with grains and pellets and a few seeds. It lasts him about as much as the bedding, so 3 months.
So that’s $10 every 3 months, which I also supplement with a bit of veggies or cooked chicken whenever we’re cooking.
Hamster health and vet visits
Hamster’s can’t really be described as sickly animals by nature. They stay healthy for along time, but once they get sick they need immediate attention.
Those I can’t give you an estimate for, since it can vary wildly according to the hamster’s illness. The most common problems a hamster can run into are wet tail, diabetes, hypothermia, dehydration, starvation, and colds.
Of course, there are a lot of other problems that can come up, but these are the most common. And most of these are easily fixable, if noticed in time. Bringing the hamster to a vet within 24 hours of developing a disease, or getting injured, is going to save him in most cases.
But I can tell you that if you keep your hamster in the right conditions, feed him properly, give him plenty of room and exercise, he will be fine. So a trip to the vet will be basically free. Just watch out for the temperature in the room you keep him in – more on that here.
Transport cage for the hamster
Your hammy will probably never have to leave you home. But there might be moments when he’ll have to go to the vet, or you’re moving house and can’t move him in his entire cage.
A transport cage can be an old, smaller cage that your hammy had when he was a baby, or you can get one that’s made specifically for temporary keeping.
As with everything else for the hamster, this is something you only buy once. And a transport cage can be anything from $10 to $30, and some types can be used as a permanent fixture to your hammy’s habitat.
If you want to know more about traveling with your hamster, and how to make sure he is comfortable during travel, you should check this out. You’ll get a few hamster travel cage ideas, and find out how to keep him safe during travel too.
Consider this before getting a hamster
When I first got my Teddy I had no real info on hamsters. I’d seen one or two before, I knew they were small and fluffy, and needed a cage, and didn’t live more than a couple of years.
My girlfriend fell in love with the idea of Teddy in an exercise ball running around the house, so we went looking for an orange Syrian hamster.
When we got him, we spend an entire evening looking at him, at how cute he is, and how much energy he has. We wouldn’t trade him for anything, even if he’s a bit over the top sometimes, like waking us up in the middle of the night with a squeaky wheel.
We had no idea what to expect, and there were some odd surprises. But I think that there definitely are some things you should think log and hard about before you get a hamster.
Can you offer the hamster the right conditions ?
By this I mean that hamsters need some specific conditions to live in. There’s temperature, spacing, bedding and food, and toys to take into account.
Unless you can keep the hamster at a 20-23 C/65-75 F temperature, with a cage 24 x 12 inches, and about 12 inches tall (that’s 61 x 30.5 cm, and about 30.5 cm tall), you shouldn’t get one.
Hamsters need proper conditions, along with the right amount of bedding and food to stay healthy and happy.
Do you have the time to play with your hamster ?
Hamsters are in fact a mix between nocturnal and crepuscular. That means that some will come out during the night, and some will only come out at dusk and dawn. Their waking hours can change over time, but this is how they usually work.
If you’re working a very early shift, with a very early bedtime, you might miss your hamster waking up. Or you might only catch about an hour or half an hour of playtime with him before you must sleep.
I’d recommend a hamster to those people who do not work an early shift, and can stay up later than 10 pm without worrying about how tired they’ll be tomorrow.
To tame your hamster you need a lot of interaction with him, and if you’re sleeping when he’s up, that will be harder to do.
Is there someone who can watch your hamster when you’re gone ?
There’s no good reason to bring the hamster out of his habitat or your home, aside from a vet visit or something major like moving house.
Travel can stress the hamster too much, so it’s best to leave him in one place. But when you have to leave town for a few days, do you have someone who can come over and feed him ?
A friend or a family member, or even a neighbor who have the time and disposition to come over every evening and feed the hamster, see if he’s alright, check up on him.
Do you have a calm, quiet place for your hamster to stay ?
Even if you’ve got an especially rowdy home, with 4 small kids, 2 dogs and a parrot, you must have some sort of quiet place.
Hamsters need a quiet place where they won’t be disturbed while they sleep, which is much of the day. So keeping him in the living room with barking dogs and people running around won’t be healthy or comfy for your hamster at all.
If you can keep the hamster in a quiet room, where nothing can disturb him, then that’s great. The attic or a cupboard or basement are not good places for your hamster, even if they’re quiet.
(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.)
A hamster’s average life expectancy
Hamsters are fairly short-lived. Both Syrians and Dwarf hamsters live up to 2-4 years, under the right circumstances as pets.
They can die young, around 4 weeks of age, if they develop wet-tail and aren’t give treatment fast, or they can develop diabetes when they’re older, aside form a host of other problems.
But in general, your furry friend will stay with you from 2 to 4 years, Dwarf hamsters being the most long-lived of all.
So if you do decide to get a hamster, take into account that random bits of wood shavings, a furry face, and evenings playing with a walnut or toilet paper roll will be in your life for the next 2-4 years.
How a hamster will change your life
Owning a hamster is not that difficult, all things considered. When I first got Teddy, I didn’t know hat to expect, but I’m glad I got him.
He’s taught me that some things must be done his way( like leaving a lot of room on the kitchen counter for him at night). And many things that would annoy me in the day would just disappear when I play with him.
A hamster, or a pet in general, will put a smile on your face, with everything this ball of fur does.
Once you get a hamster, you will be more aware of how warm or clean your home is (like bedding strewn everywhere), and even the noise level.
You will become a very responsible person when you know you can’t really take him with your everywhere, like a cat or dog, to set up someone to take care of him. And you will see a piece of cardboard and know exactly what he’d do with it.
A word from Teddy
I hope you found everything you were looking for here. I know us hamsters can seem like forgettable pets compared to larger ones, like cats or dogs. But we are a whole other type of pet, with lots of love and funny tricks to offer.
So make sure you think about it well enough before you get one of us hammies to live with you. We need some accommodation, but if you can make some room for us in your life, we’ll put a smile on your face every day.
If you want to know more about us hamsters, you can check out the articles below ! You’ll find out why we need so much exercise, and how to feed us properly, and much more.
- Why Does Your Hamster Have Diarrhea? Here Are the FactsCaring for your hamster requires you to know the different aspects of its health such as the possible illnesses and conditions it might end up suffering. Diarrhea is merely one of the several health conditions that hamsters may end up suffering. But why does your hamster have diarrhea and what are the possible causes of its diarrhea? Your hamster could have diarrhea due to a different number of factors namely wet tail, influenza, salmonella, and dietary changes. Among all of the reasons for hamster diarrhea, the wet tail is one of the most dangerous causes of a hamster’s diarrhea as it requires immediate treatment and attention from a veterinarian. Hamsters are just like any other animal in the sense that they can be quite prone to a lot of different illnesses such as diarrhea. And in most cases, the causes of their diarrhea tends to be similar to the cause of diarrhea in most other animals. That is why you have to know how to properly care for your hamster so that you can prevent any kind of potentially dangerous disease or health condition stemming from diarrhea from developing. Table of Contents How do you know if your hamster has diarrhea?Why does your hamster have diarrhea?Can hamsters die from diarrhea?How to treat hamster diarrhea? How do you know if your hamster has diarrhea? Diarrhea has always been one of the most common health conditions suffered by humans and different animals. This is when the stool becomes wet due to a lot of different conditions but diarrhea is often caused by problems in the bowel movement as a result of viral infections or any other similar causes. Of course, hamsters also suffer from diarrhea just like most other animals do. When we are talking about hamster diarrhea, one of the most common ways for you to know that your hamster has diarrhea is when its tail is wet. The reason for its wet tail is, of course, due to the fact that its stool is also wet. Hence, that’s why diarrhea in hamsters is often called the wet tail, which isn’t always the generic term of hamster diarrhea but is actually an operative term for a more serious kind of hamster diarrhea. You can also inspect the hamster’s stool to detect whether or not it is suffering from diarrhea. Hamsters with diarrhea will have stools that are light in color, can be soft, and does not necessarily have to be watery and wet. It is usually in the more severe cases when the feces of a hamster will become very watery and wet. Loss of appetite can also be a good indication of hamster diarrhea but not all hamsters suffering from diarrhea will appear sick. It is only when the cause of diarrhea is a virus that you will notice your hamster looking sick, lethargic, and very tired. Hamsters that are suffering from diarrhea will eventually lose a lot of weight and may even become anorexic. Why does your hamster have diarrhea? Now that you noticed that your hamster is showing some of the more common signs and symptoms of diarrhea, it is now time for you to know what could have possibly caused your hamster’s diarrhea. So, why does your hamster have diarrhea? Well, there are plenty of different reasons why your hamster has diarrhea, and those different reasons can vary from simple causes to more serious illnesses that can possibly become too dangerous for your hamster. There will be cases where the hamster’s diarrhea is caused by changes in its diet because of how it is not used to eating a different type of food after spending most of its life eating the same meals over and over again. In most cases, when you feed your hamster with fruits and vegetables that contain a lot of water, it’s stool will naturally become watery as well. This includes fruits and veggies such as tomato, cucumber, and orange. Even though fruits and vegetables are generally healthy for your hamster, it is best to control the amount you feed to your little pocket friend. Two other possible causes of diarrhea in your hamster are diseases and infections. The common flu and salmonella are quite common diseases and infections that your hamster can possibly suffer from. It is quite easy for hamsters to contract the flu from humans, which can possibly lead to not only diarrhea but also to sneezing and a runny and watery nose. Weight loss, lethargy, and loss of appetite may also become possible symptoms of flu other than diarrhea. Meanwhile, salmonella might not be very common in hamsters as they rarely infect them. However, if ever they do indeed get infected by salmonella, expect the hamster to suffer from diarrhea on top of lethargy, loss of appetite, and even vomiting. The most serious cause of diarrhea in hamsters is the common condition called the wet tail. Stress is the biggest culprit for wet tail in hamsters due to how some of the younger hamsters may end up suffering from a lot of stress as a result of the constant movement and adjustments they have to undergo on a regular basis especially when they move from pet store to pet store and eventually to your home. Due to the stress, the gut flora or the Campylobacter bacteria tends to overpopulate and will eventually develop into diarrhea. Wet tail is extremely contagious in hamsters and can easily spread from one hamster to another. That’s why, when you are choosing a pet hamster that’s also kept with other hamsters in a large cage, always choose the one that is most active so that the chances of it suffering from wet tail are slim. Can hamsters die from diarrhea? Normally, diarrhea caused by simple reasons such as dietary changes or the flu probably isn’t fatal unless the hamster is left untreated or uncared for during the time when it is suffering from diarrhea. However, a wet tail is actually a very serious condition that requires immediate attention and treatment from a veterinarian. The reason is that hamsters can easily decline in health when they are suffering from wet tail due to a combination of a lot of different factors but mainly because it won’t be eating a lot and it’s going to end up suffering from dehydration due to diarrhea. So yes, diarrhea in hamsters can be fatal especially when you don’t treat your hamster right away. While some forms of diarrhea are not as serious as the others and may end up subsiding over time, other causes of diarrhea such as wet tail should always be taken seriously enough that you need to get your little pal to the vet as quickly as possible. How to treat hamster diarrhea? Treatment for common diarrhea can vary depending on the cause of diarrhea. When your hamster is suffering from diarrhea as a result of a change in its diet, simply reverting back to its old diet while managing the symptoms such as providing enough water for your hamster may be able to help treat diarrhea. For diarrhea caused by flu, managing the symptoms of flu while making sure that your hamster is drinking enough water may be able to help alleviate the illness. But if the symptoms get worse, that should prompt you to take the hamster to a vet. In the case of the wet tail, immediate veterinary attention, and treatment is the only way for you to treat the hamster’s diarrhea. The vet will know what to do to help treat your hamster’s wet tail but the usual treatment involves using antibiotics that will kill and eliminate the bacteria that is causing diarrhea. Vets will also use a syringe or a dropper to feed your hamster, especially whenever it isn’t eating its food or drinking water at all. Wet tail is extremely serious to the point that it can even kill your hamster in a matter of hours when the signs of this illness become apparent. That’s why it is important that you take your hamster straight to the vet when it is showing symptoms of wet tail. Do not try to delay the illness on your own at home because the only way for you to get your hamster treated and cared for is through the professional expertise of a vet. Always keep it in your head that there are no natural home remedies that you can use to treat wet tail, and such an illness will not go away on its own when you allow the hamster to recover naturally. Even a special diet will not help treat wet tail. Again, the only way for you to have your hamster’s wet tail treated is to take it to the vet.... Read more...
- Do Hamsters Get Cold ? Keep Your Hamster Warm And HappyA hamster is a very sensitive creature, and temperatures can affect his as well as us humans. Let’s see if a hamster can get too cold, and if he can even get the sniffles too. Table of Contents So do hamsters get cold ?How to tell if your hamster’s too coldDangers of keeping your hamster in a room that’s too coldHow to tell if your hammy has a coldTreating and caring for a hammy with a coldA word from Teddy So do hamsters get cold ? Yes, hamsters can and do get cold. This happens when the room you keep the hamster in falls far below 20 C/68 F, for a long period of time. Even a few hours is too much for the hamster. This is because the ideal temperature to keep your hammy is between 20-23 C/68-75 F, with no drafts or direct sunlight. If your hamster lives in a room that consistently falls below the those temperatures, he might just get cold. A hamster left in a cold room for too long can develop several health problems. But let’s see some signs that our hamster is too cold. How to tell if your hamster’s too cold One way to tell if your hammy is cold is if he draws lots of his bedding towards his hideout. Hamsters will do this naturally, even if they have lots of nesting material in their hideout. But a hamster that feels his habitat is too cold will pile up the bedding like it’s nobody’s business. When this happens with my Teddy he scrapes and moves all of the bedding to the side where his hideout is. Regardless of how many squares of toilet paper, cardboard, or paper towels I give him. Another sign is if you friend becomes lethargic, and even loses his appetite. He might be trying to conserve body heat and energy by sleeping much more, and so you might see him less often. In extreme cases of cold, your hamster might actually shiver and shake ! If this happens take your hamster to a warm room immediately. Dangers of keeping your hamster in a room that’s too cold One of the main dangers is what people call hibernation. Hamster can hibernate, yes, but they only need to do so on the wild. Wild hamsters get many warnings from the weather that the cold season is coming, and have time to prepare and survive. A pet hamster put in a very cold room has no time or warnings. He will have to act quick, and fall into a sort of slumber that not only can’t keep him alive for long, but will dehydrate him as well. In extreme cases, that slumber is actually hypothermic shock, and can be fatal. You need to check this article on how to save your hamster from such a situation, and how to make sure it does not happen. Another problem that can come up is that the hamster can in fact catch a cold. Like us humans, and most mammals, hamsters can catch colds. They will sneeze and have runny noses and feel like they need to sleep for much longer. How to tell if your hammy has a cold Does your buddy have a cold ? There’s a few ways you can tell. You should look for: Runny or wet nose. Hamster noses run, like ours do, but they do no have the luxury of tissues Sneezing Possibly sticky eyes, or discharge from the eyes Matted, ruffled fur Low energy, loss of appetite Sleeping for much longer Thirstier than usual Hot to the touch when you pick him up If a few or all of these are checked you can be pretty sure your hamster’s got a cold. You will need to get your little friend to a veterinarian, who will prescribe a treatment. It could be a round of antibiotics, or something else. Depending on how severe the cold is, and what your vet thinks is best for the hamster. (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.) Treating and caring for a hammy with a cold If your hamster friend’s got a cold, do not worry, Hamsters usually survive a cold, but they need help. The treatment you will get from the vet will work. But do remember that colds go away on their own in about a week, whether treated or not. You can only alleviate the symptoms. To help your hamster go through this cold easier, you can change his bedding once, and then leave him alone to build a new, warm nest. Give the hammy a lot of nesting material. More than you think he needs. He will use all of it and build himself a big, tangly mess to keep himself warm and hide away in for a few days. Keep the hamster’s room in the temp range mentioned above. That’s 20-23 C/68-75 F. Do no go over that range, since a room too warm will make the hamster too warm and make it difficult for him to breathe. Make sure the room is well ventilated, but not drafty. In that respect, you can also make sure that his cage is not near a window or door, or on an external wall. Finally, make sure to separate the sick hamster from his mates if you’ve got several hamsters. You might even have to take the sick hammy to another room. If all goes well your friend should be fine in about a week, and able to return to normal. A word from Teddy I hope you found what you were looking for here. I know us hammies look so cute and fluffy, but we can get cold too. And if we catch a cold it’s not easy on our noses either. At least you have nose drops. If you want to know more about us hamsters you can check out the articles below. You’ll find more info on how to care for us properly, and keep us happy.... Read more...
- Can Hamsters Eat Meat – Here’s What Your Furry Friend LikesWhen I first got my Teddy I wondered if he can eat meat, and what I should feed him. As it turns out, hamsters can eat many different things. Some of them are actually in your pantry or fridge ! In this article I’ll be talking about whether hammies can have meat, and if so what kind, any why, and how much, and so on. Table of Contents So can hamsters eat meat ?Hamsters can only eat light meatHammies can have:Hamsters can’t have:How hamsters find their protein in the wildCommercial food gives hamsters vegetable proteinYou can supplement your hamster’s diet, yes.A word from Teddy So can hamsters eat meat ? Yes, hamsters can definitely eat meat ! Not much though, since in the wild their diet consists of grains, seeds, veggies, and meat. So, they’re not particularly carnivores, like cats, or dogs. It might seem a bit strange, since hamsters are this cute ball of fluff and they have the cutest beady eyes, but hammies do eat meat. And hamsters can in fact live out their entire life without ever eating meat of any kind, and be fine. However they will not turn it down if you offer them some. However even in the wild hammies do find some sources of animal protein, so they definitely can eat meat. Just, they need it in small amounts, in order to process it properly. And they can’t have just any kind of meat. Hamsters can only eat light meat While hamsters can in fact eat meat, they can’t eat just every kind there is. For example very exotic meats like snake or aligator meat, aren’t good for hamsters. But even your day to day options might seem a bit much for your hamster friend. Let’s go through a short list of what kind of meat your hamster can eat: Hammies can have: Chicken, fish, shrimp. This is light meat, and it’s okay for hamsters. Always make sure that the meat you give your hamster is completely bland. So that means unsalted, unspiced meat. It needs to be either boiled, or baked. No added oils, or fried meat, or even lunchmeat or coldcuts, even if they’re made of the meats I just mentioned. Hammies can have chicken, any meaty part of it. The fish should be a very light fish, that was only baked, and they don’t need garlic or lemon to go with it. Be very careful to remove any small bones your hammy might choke on ! As for the shrimp, hammies can have a bit of shrimp as well, since it’s not a very smelly kind of seafood (hamsters have very sensitive noses). Other kinds of seafood like surimi, crab meat, octopus, and calamari rings are probably not a good idea. This is mainly because no one has tried it before, so there’s no info that can be trusted, only assumptions. Still, best to just stick with what you know is completely safe for your hamster friend, and just give him a small bit of chicken or fish or shrimp. By small I mean no larger than the nail of your thumb, think about your hamster’s minuscule size. Hamsters can’t have: Any kind of red meat, or venison, or large bird kind of meat. So that means that beef, pork, turkey, goose, deer, duck, pretty much anything aside from what I mentioned earlier, is not good for your hamster. This is because a hammy’s stomach can’t process this kind of meat very well. From this point of view, the hamster’s digestive tract is different than ours. Your hammy might want to nibble on that kind of meat if he smells you cooking with it. But make sure you give him none of that, since it’s much better for his health. How hamsters find their protein in the wild Hammies do eat protein in the wild. They don’t hunt down wild chicken or go fishing, though. But they do catch the occasional cricket, or grasshopper. Sometimes, if they’re feeling sneaky hamsters might pounce on a mealworm too. Now, this doesn’t happen often. Not because hamsters feel guilty, but because protein sources tend to move around and hide from their predators. So pouncing a mealworm or catching a cricket is much more work than foraging for some seeds/grains. If given the chance, hamsters will snatch up the insect or worm, just like any other small rodent – for example a field mouse. (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.) Commercial food gives hamsters vegetable protein Your hamster does get his protein from his usual food mix too. The commercial food mixes are made up of protein, veggies, fibers, and minerals as well. However the protein sources those food mixes usually use are vegetable based. So your hamster is getting soy, or beans, as a protein source. Which is fine, as long as he does get his protein. Whey or beef-based protein mixes don’t keep as long as vegetable ones, and are more expensive. However they’re more efficient at getting protein into your hamster’s diet than soy or beans. This pre-made food mix covers all the basics your hammy will need. And it’s in a large enough bag that you can keep your hamster well fed for a couple of months, depending on how much you give him daily. More on that here. I give my Teddy pre-made food mixes as well, and give him some extra veggies or chicken when we’re cooking. You can check out the listing on Amazon for this food mix, so you know what to expect, and read the reviews. You can supplement your hamster’s diet, yes. You can give your hammy some chicken, fish, or shrimp to eat along with his usual mix. You can even add in a bit of boiled egg white, or a small piece of tofu. Just make sure that when you do give your hamster protein separately, you give him a small amount. This is because he needs to be able to eat all of it in one sitting. Otherwise the leftovers will go bad, and start to smell, which will cause a hose of problems. For more info on what you can feed your hammy, you should check out this list of safe and unsafe foods. You’ll find there a lot of foods you’ve already got in your pantry, and see which you can give your hammy. A word from Teddy I hope you know now what kind of meat us hammies can have. I for one am in love with chicken bits, and will drop anything I have in my paws if I find some chicken. Your hammy will probably enjoy some chicken or boiled egg white too, try it out ! If your want to know more about us hammies, you can check out the articles below. You’ll find out things like why we get scared of you sometimes, and how much water we need on a daily basis.... Read more...
- Hamster Grooming, And The Importance Of A Proper Sand BathYou’ve probably seen your hamster friend groom himself. Pulling his fur, combing through it, behind his ears, the works. But do hamsters need sand baths ? Does it help their grooming process ? This is something I’ve asked myself too, seeing as I did give Teddy (male, Syrian hamster) a bowl with sand for him to play in. But we should first know everything about a hamster’s grooming routine. Then, we can figure out if the sand bath helps. Table of Contents About the hamster’s grooming routineWhy a hamster needs to be cleanA sick hamster won’t take care of himself very wellHealth problems that come up because of poor grooming/hygieneA clean habitat keeps the hamster clean tooHow a sand bath helps a hamster groom himselfWhat kind of sand bath you should get for your hamsterHow to give your hamster a proper sand bathA word from Teddy About the hamster’s grooming routine All hamsters, everywhere, groom themselves. That’s a very well known fact. Actually hamster are pretty much on par with cats in terms of cleanliness. If you’ve ever noticed your hamster when he’s cleaning himself, you probably know he does that often. Much more often than most animals. This is one reason hamsters never need a water bath, with shampoo or other cleaning supplies. They’re simply too good at cleaning themselves, they don’t need it. And getting a hamster wet can be fatal in some cases, in most cases it leads to colds and hypothermia. For example my Teddy grooms himself when I put him in his exercise ball, when I take him out of it, when he wakes up, before he goes to bed, after he pees, after he runs for 10 minutes, after he eats and after he poops. Usually hamsters will pull at their fur, scratch part of their fur, com and comb again through their fur to get everything out and spread the oils on their fur. They’re especially funny when they start pulling on their ears and collecting whatever dirt was behind them, and especially their cheeks. As if anything had a chance to appear in the 2 hours since their last grooming session. That’s a lot of cleaning. But why do hamsters do that ? Why a hamster needs to be clean Hamsters need to be clean in order to keep their predators at bay. That’s the main reason, since hamsters are prey for many animals. This means that their scent will draw predators like wild cats, snakes, owls, and so on to hunt for them in the wild. So, hamsters have evolved this cleaning routine to keep themselves ‘invisible’, kind of. They’re very strict about it, and it’s what kept them alive all this time. Hamsters will want to clean themselves after every little interaction with something that can leave a smell on them. This includes other creatures, like other hamsters, or humans, and even food. Another reason hamsters clean themselves is because of their habitat. Hamsters in the wild live inside burrows, with series of tunnels and nests deep underground. This can make lots of debris like dirt and twigs get stuck in the hamster’s fur. The hamster cleans himself to function properly, and not have his fur matted with dirt. You can tell there is something wrong with the hamster if he stops cleaning himself, or he still looks bad after a grooming session. A sick hamster won’t take care of himself very well Hamsters not grooming themselves anymore have only two explanations. First, it could be that the hamster has become very old. So old, in fact, the he is very close to the end. His brain has started disintegrating and can’t help him do normal hamster things, like clean himself, not pee in his nest, and in extreme cases even eat. It’s a sad thing to watch, but there is nothing you can do to make your friend any better. It’s much like with human seniors. Once they start losing control of bodily functions, things can’t get better. The second reason hamsters stop grooming themselves is because they have become very, very sick. It could be an infection that weakened their body to the point of exhaustion. They’re simply too tired to clean themselves, and this will make the infection even worse. Or it could be a physical problem, as in a broken or sprained paw that restricts their movement, or a form or arthritis. In short, if your hamster isn’t cleaning himself, that is very bad news. Most of the time the vet will be able to help you treat the hamster’s illness. For this you need to look for an ”exotics” vet, who has experience with rodents, reptiles, and also birds. Health problems that come up because of poor grooming/hygiene Some of the health problems that can rear their ugly heads when the hamster isn’t clean can be very serious. I’ll give you a brief rundown of these health problems. Infections – can become serious business, in any part of the body. Especially bad if the hamster ends up swallowing part of the pus, like with cheek infections, or tooth infections. Eye infections can be rinsed with a saline solution, until the vet can receive your hamster and give him proper treatment. Even a small, seemingly benign cut (if the hamster is scratching himself, for example) can be dangerous if the hamster’s skin isn’t clean, or the claw he’s scratched himself with is dirty. As with humans, infections need antibiotic treatment, which can take a toll on the body. Given that the hamster is such a small little thing, his food will need to be supplemented during his treatment. Mites and parasites – these are never fun to treat, and please do not get your hamster treatments for such problems without talking to your vet. Most over the counter treatments are much too harsh for the hamster’s skin and can cause death, so please be careful. The vet will be able to recommend a treatment that will be fairly easy on your hamster. The problem with mites and other parasites (like fleas for example) is that the hamster will scratch himself much too hard and eventually hurt himself. This can lead to bald patches, and other health problems like infections or warts. Fungus – the cage needs to be clean, to prevent the spores from fungus to develop. There are two main culprits when it comes to fungal infections in hamsters (ringworm and Aspergillus) and both can be very dangerous. Ringworm is easier on the hamster, but Aspergillus can be deadly. Wet-tail – can come about if the hamster is kept in miserable conditions, or is highly stressed and his immune system can’t fight off the infection. The result is a weak hamster with constant diarrhea, and very little chances of survival. Thankfully wet-tail has a certain age when the hamster is likely to develop it. A bit like childhood illnesses. Wet-tail is more common on young (4-10 weeks) hamsters, who have been separated from the mother and brought to their new owner. All of these can be treated, so do not worry. If you notice your hamster having health problems, call your veterinarian. A clean habitat keeps the hamster clean too A clean cage will mean a clean hamster. For example the fungus problem I mentioned earlier. The Aspergillus spores will grow from the hamster’s pee corner. It will first look like a white growth, then turn black. But if the pee corner is cleaned often, the spores don’t really have a chance to develop. This only happens if the cage isn’t cleaned for a very long time (like a few weeks), or if the home/room has a fungal infection and the spores are already in the home. But what is a clean cage ? Hamsters will kick around bedding, bits of cardboard, fling their poo across the cage, and sleep on top of a pile of food. Well, that’s all normal, actually. Hammies keep themselves very clean, and their nest as well. As in, the area immediately around where they sleep. Aside from that, not their business. So cleaning the cage once per week is pretty much mandatory. If you’ve got more than one hamster living in the same cage, then you will have to clean the whole cage more often than that. This is because the pee corner starts to smell, and the bedding becomes very very messy. There will be bits of food lying somewhere, and torn up cardboard in the food bowl. It’s a lot like a small child’s room. To clean the hamster’s cage, you’re going to have to remove the hamster from the cage in the first place. Put him in his travel cage or exercise ball until you’re done cleaning. Take out all the bedding and objects, wipe the cage down with a wet, clean towel, then pat it dry. Add fresh bedding back, but make sure to sprinkle in a bit of the old bedding so the hamster recognizes things easier. Place everything back the way it was before, and finally add the hamster back in. (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 a sand bath helps a hamster groom himself You’re wondering, after all this talk of hamsters cleaning themselves and how to keep their habitat clean, how does a sand bath help ? Well, at first glance it might seem like it’s pointless. It can be, from a certain point of view. But let’s see both sides for a moment. The main reason hamsters would need a sand bath is to absorb the excess oil in their fur. You see, hamster fur has a layer of oils (like our human hair does, the sebum) which helps keep the hair healthy and the skin clean. However too much of that sebum will make the hamster’s fur look bad, and feel bad too. This is where the sand comes in, to help keep the hamster’s fur nice and clean. Now, the hamster does comb through his fur often. So often that he moves the oils from the skin all the way to the tips of the hairs. So you could argue that their fur never gets too oily. While that is true, what is also true is that hamsters simply seem to go nuts when they feel sand. They immediately jump into the sand bowl and start spazzing, like cats on catnip. They not only rub themselves in the sand, they rub the sand into their fur. Somehow, they know something we humans do not know. And it looks like a sand bath is something they enjoy. My Teddy for example has his sand bowl close to his nest, and he takes occasional baths in it. He also loves to dig in that sand bath, which kicks up soooo much sand. Luckily it never gets out of the cage. What kind of sand bath you should get for your hamster As for what kind of sand to get your hamster, I unfortunately can’t give you a brand to look for. I mean, the sand I use for my Teddy can be used for chinchilla sand. So that’s a good starting point, chinchilla sand. But not all petshops have chinchilla sand, and looking for it online only gave me unhappy customers. It seems like the sand that was once okay (there were a couple of brands) is now not okay. They’ve changed their formulation and their sand is rather dusty, more like flour. Given how sensitive hamsters are, inhaling all that dust just isn’t alright for them. It isn’t alright for humans either, but hamsters are much more sensitive than us. So when you go and look for sand for your hamster buddy, make sure you look for granulated sand, dust-free. It shouldn’t be very coarse, it should be like… well, sand that’s been sifted. The one I have for Teddy is made of ground up sea shells and minerals. Some brands use this kind of formulation as well, and you can find it in either very light grey/white, or a sort of brown. It really depends on the brand and the formulation they’re using right now. I’ll attach a photo of the sand I have for my Teddy. If you can find this one, it’s probably still got the right texture for hamsters. How to give your hamster a proper sand bath Alright, we’ve talked about why hammies need a sand bath, and what kind of sand to look for. But how do you give a hamster a sand bath ? Well, hamsters are great at doing that themselves, so you won’t really have to do anything other than just provide the sand. What you need to be careful for is the fact that the sand will get everywhere. If you’ve ever been to the beach, you know what I mean. You have to be careful with it. So this means giving your hamster an appropriate place/object for that bath. You might think a shallow bowl would be enough. And it would, if it had something overhead. For example my teddy has half of a plastic hideout filled with sand, and it’s places under the first level of his cage. So that sand never gets outside the cage, and is well contained. But what if you don’t have another level in your cage ? Or not enough room under that level to fit a bowl ? Then you’ll need to look around for some options. For example this one is large enough to fit a Syrian hamster, and is easy to take apart and clean. It’s got a clear side, so you’ll be able to see your hamster when he uses this sand bath. It’s small enough so it will fit in most cages, so unless you’ve got an especially crowded cage, this one will fit right in. It’s even got a small scoop to get the hamster’s droppings out, if he ever decides to use the sand bath as a toilet too. Don’t be surprised if he does. You can check the listing on Amazon here. All you have to do is add the sand into the sand bath, and leave it in your hamster’s cage. I change my Teddy’s sand once per week, when I clean the whole cage. A word from Teddy I hope your found what you were looking for in this article. Us hamsters are very good at cleaning ourselves, we don’t really need any help. But we do appreciate a nice sand bath, to keep our fur nice and groomed. If you want to know more about us hamsters you should check out the related articles below. You’ll learn how to keep us safe and happy, and what we need for a good life.... Read more...
- Are European Hamsters Endangered? What About The Other Ones?Wondering if your pet’s wild siblings are endangered ? Hamsters in the wild lead a difficult life, and not all of them survive. Let’s see whether each hamster species is endangered or not, starting with the largest one, the European hamster. If you’ve never heard of European hamsters before, don’t worry this is because they are not domesticated, but we will discuss this in more detail in this article. I want to discuss in this article about all hamster species out there since some of them might be considered endangered but they are too common as pets to disappear. Table of Contents Are European hamsters endangered ?Are Syrian hamsters endangered ?Are Dwarf hamsters endangered ?Are Chinese hamsters endangered ?Do hamsters reproduce fast ?Conclusion Are European hamsters endangered ? European hamsters are classified as Critically Endangered by the IUCN. Their natural habitat is seriously threatened by expanding agriculture, systematic hunting by farmers (hamsters are considered a crop pest), and also hunted for their fur. These are fairly large hamsters – as large as an adult guinea pig – so they are easy to spot when out and about. Normally European hamsters hide in their burrows during the daytime, but they make occasional trips for food. The European hamster’s natural habitat ranges from Central and Eastern Europe to Russia to Central Asia. They live in mostly grassy areas, the occasional meadow, and generally wherever there is fertile soil that will grow the seeds and grains these hamsters rely on. The expansion of farmland, and farmers trying to protect their crops, has led to a sharp decline in hamster numbers in the wild. Wondering if you could find one in a pet shop ? Unfortunately, this isn’t possible. European hamsters have been known for over a century, and attempts to tame them have been made. There are captive European hamsters, in laboratories for various studies, but none of these hamsters have shown less aggression or a more docile disposition, even a few generations into their captivity. So in short, these hamsters cannot be tamed, and won’t be present in a pet shop. Are Syrian hamsters endangered ? Wild Syrian hamsters are also a threatened species, classified as Endangered by IUCN. Their natural habitat is far smaller than the European hamster’s; it ranges from southern Turkey to northern Syria. Agriculture, farmers and the violence in northern Syria have led to dwindling numbers of Syrian hamsters. Despite this, captive (i.e. pet) Syrian hamsters are not endangered. These are the most common and popular hamsters you will find in pet shops, and their numbers are no cause for concern. This is a very interesting turn of fate, and here’s why. The vast, vast majority of Syrian hamsters you see today, either already in homes or in pet shops, are the descendants of a single female and her litter of pups. She and her pups were captured back in 1930 in Aleppo, Syria, in the hops of studying them. The hamsters adapted well to captivity, bred, and several pairs of these hamsters were then sent all over the world to be on exhibition at zoos, and studied in other labs. In 1937 the hamsters eventually would up with private breeders, and that is when they started to become very popular as pets. As time went on and selective breeding was applied, the Syrian hamsters became more docile, showed different coat patterns, and became less aggressive. A wild Syrian hamster is not nearly as tame as one you get from a pet shop or breeder. My very first hamster was a Syrian hamster, his name was Teddy. He had a golden coat, was very active, liked to jump but didn’t really like digging, and was always munching on something. He died of old age at nearly 2 years old. I then had another Syrian hamster, this one named Eggwhite since he was all-white. He was far tamer than Teddy, and had more patience with being picked up. He still wriggled out of my hands after 2-3 minutes, but that’s far longer than Teddy ever managed. Eggwhite died of old age as well when he was almost two. Are Dwarf hamsters endangered ? Dwarf hamsters are classified as Least Concern by IUCN, as their habitat is not endangered. These Dwarf hamsters are actually three species: the Roborovski, the Campbell’s, and the winter white (or Siberian). All three hamsters are also found in pet shops are extremely easy to confuse for one another. I’ve made an entire article on how to tell them apart. The habitat of all three hamster species overlaps for the most part, taking up Central Asia, Mongolia, Southeastern Russia. Despite this, these hamsters do not generally cross paths. Their habitat is less populated by humans, since it’s not a very hospitable area so there is very little threat to the hamsters (aside from their natural predators). My third hamster, after Teddy and Eggwhite, is currently alive and well. Her name is Rocket and she is a Siberian hamster, with light grey fur on her back, white fluffy paws, and a thin dark stripe on her back too. She’s very fast, never sits still, and doesn’t like being picked up at all. She climbs all over her cage and her toys, runs a lot in her wheel, and loves to dig in her substrate. Are Chinese hamsters endangered ? The Chinese hamster is not evaluated by the IUCN, so there is no information on whether this hamster is threatened or not. But my personal guess is that since its habitat is mostly in the desert without much fertile land (Mongolia and northern China) it’s in the same situation as the dwarf hamsters – doing very well. Chinese hamsters are rarely kept as pets outside of Asia, since both males and females are very aggressive when kept in any sort of captivity. Females are a little tamer, but even so, they are not common pets. If you want to learn more about Chinese hamsters you can read my article about what a Chinese hamster is and breed info+care tips. Do hamsters reproduce fast ? Hamsters mature very quickly and are able to sexually reproduce by 4 weeks of age. The usual gestation period is 18-22 days, and the litter can be as large as 10 pups, with some hamsters birthing up to 18. Females can fall pregnant in the same day as giving birth, so, in theory you could get hamsters to reproduce several times a year and their numbers would quickly multiply. This is not safe for the mother, nor the pups, but it is possible. Despite this potential for such large numbers, wild hamsters are fairly easy prey for their natural predators, many pups die when still young, and food is scarce. This ensures that their numbers don’t grow too large, but their habitat is also getting smaller. Where farms are set up, the hamsters will find plenty of food. But they will also be hunted by farmers trying to protect their crops, and their cats patrolling the area. In short, hamsters do reproduce very fast (can be 6 litters per year) but this does not guarantee their survival in the wild. It’s just the way things are. Also, the mother is guided by instinct, If they feel they don’t have enough resources or space to raise the babies properly, they might even kill their own babies. I know it’s sad but this behavior is common for many animals, not only for hamsters. Here is an entire article I wrote on this topic. A hamster mother will even attack the father if they come close to their babies, so a female hamster has quite a difficult and lonely life when it comes to raising their little babies. Conclusion Sometimes you might be thinking we shouldn’t keep hamsters as pets, but the truth is for some of them a pet life is better than wildlife, at least for the endangered ones. I know I sometimes looked at Eggwhite, my tamest Syrian hamster, and tried to imagine him foraging for food then an owl swooping in to try and grab him. If you want to learn more about hamsters’ life in the wild, I have an article about what hamsters eat in the wild and how their diet differs from the ones that we have as pets. This is something that happens regularly in the wild, but at home ? I was so glad he was safe, had plenty of food, and a nice cage and toys to keep himself entertained. I hope this article helped you understand the actual situation with the hamsters in the wild and your hamster friend is doing well at home.... Read more...
- 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 Can 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...
- How To Know When Your Hamster’s Fully Grown – All BreedsWhen I first got my Teddy I knew he would grow up to be a big hamster – he’s a Syrian male. But I didn’t know exactly how big, and when he’d stop growing. So I’m helping you figure out how big your hamster can get, based on its breed. And this will help you know how large a cage he will need, and what to expect from your hamster friend. Table of Contents So when is a hamster fully grown ?When is a Syrian hamster fully grown ?When is a Roborovski Dwarf fully grown ?When is a Campbell Dwarf fully grown ?When is a Chinese Dwarf fully grown ?When is a Siberian/Winter white fully grown ?When to separate baby hamstersThe right cage for a fully grown hamsterA word from Teddy So when is a hamster fully grown ? Generally a hamster is fully grown around 3 months of age. This means that the hamster is both sexually mature, and also has reached, or is very close to, its full length. Of all hamster types, Syrian hamsters grow the largest, and you will notice severe size differences between the baby hamster you brought from the pet shop, and the adult hamster in your cage. The Dwarf types do grow, but the difference between them as babes and as adults is not nearly as big. For reference, a baby Syrian around 4 weeks old – when he can be adopted – is about as large as an adult Siberian or Campbell. But let’s see the differences between each hamster type, since they can grow to different sizes and become mature at slightly different ages. When is a Syrian hamster fully grown ? A Syrian hamster is fully grown when he is around 12 weeks of age (3 months). Both males and females are capable of breeding around 4 weeks, so they must be separated to prevent any more litters from producing. As for size, a Syrian hamster grows to its full size around the 3 month mark. That is when the Syrians become adults, and can reach their full size. They can reach between 5-8 inches in length, which is 13-20 cm. Some hamsters may grow even larger than that, by a couple of inches/cm, but those cases are rare. A few traits of adult Syrian hamsters: Their markings become clear just before they reach maturity. If they’ve got any darker fur, it will start to show around that time The males’ rear ends will become very large, bulging almost. That is where their testicles are, and you will see them often. The females will come into regular heat – about every 4 days. You’ll notice them smelling a bit muskier, and they will squeak and hiss if they sense a male hamster. The average lifespan of a Syrian hamster is 2-3 years, in captivity. They are close to old age when they reach their second birthday, and will start to become slower and have trouble eating and moving around as they reach that age. When is a Roborovski Dwarf fully grown ? A Roborovski hamster is a Russian Type, and he will be fully grown around the 3 month mark as well. The Robos can breed as early as 4-5 weeks old, so again they must be separated very early in male and female groups. Roborovski hamsters reach their full size at around the 3 month mark, reaching up to 2 inches/5 cm. They are the tiniest of the Dwarf types, and are very hard to handle. since they are so hast and agile. Their fur coloration becomes clear as they reach the 3 month mark. They don’t develop a stripe down their backs, like the Chinese or Campbell for example. The average lifespan of a Roborovski hamster is about 3-4 years in captivity, but rarely lives past 2 in the wild. When is a Campbell Dwarf fully grown ? A Campbell Dwarf is fully grown around the 3 month mark, as the other hamsters. They can breed early, around the time they’re weaned – which is bout 4 weeks old. Their sizes are about 3-4 inches/ 8-11 cm, and are again hard to handle given their small size and agility. They usually live around 2 years in captivity, but can live a few months past 2 years in the right conditions. A Campbell’s Dwarf can be recognized by the white belly, and grey-brown fur on their backs, with a much darker stripe going down their backs. When is a Chinese Dwarf fully grown ? Chinese hamsters, while not truly Dwarf types, are still much smaller than the Syrian type. A Chinese hamster will become fully grown when he is about 2-3 months old. The hamster can breed before he reaches that point, though. As for size, the Chinese is larger than most Dwarf types, but smaller than the Syrian. So a fully grown Chinese hamster will be around 3-5 inches/8-13 cm, plus their longer tails. Chinese hamsters have a much longer tail compared to any other hamster types, which can grow to be about an inch long/2-3 cm. The long tail, and the more slender, long-ish figure of the hamster can make it look a lot like mouse to many people. Given their natural coloring – a sort of brown with a dark stripe down their back – this can be forgiven. Average lifespan for the Chinese hamster is around 2 years in captivity, but it’s not very well documented in the wild. When is a Siberian/Winter white fully grown ? A Siberian, or Winter White, is a type of hamster that does belong to the Dwarf type. They are fully grown at about 3 months of age, and can breed about 4-5 weeks of age. The Siberian hamster can grow up to 3-4 inches/8-11 cm, and are actually among the easiest to tame hamsters. Their fur can change, depending on temperature and season. A Winter white is called such because in the wild, its color changes to mostly white. During the summer or warmer season, the color can be a very dark grey, with a stripe going down the hamster’s back. (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.) When to separate baby hamsters Separating your hamsters when they’re babies will spare you a lot of troubles, starting with surprise litters and ending with vicious fights between siblings. So generally, the best time to separate the hamsters into all male and all female groups is when their mother finishes weaning them. This is usually around 4 weeks after the babies are born, and you’ll notice the mother starting to push the babies away if they want to nurse. You can find much more info now how to properly separate the baby hamsters into gender-specific groups here, as well as how to handle them. Do take care when the mother has just given birth, since she is easy to startle. A startled, or scared, or stressed out mother can abandon or even eat her babies. Here’s how to make sure your baby hamsters survive, as well as how to make sure the mother is safe and calm during the birth and raising the babies. The right cage for a fully grown hamster Your hamster might see so very small when you first get him. That’s the small size they will not keep, as you’ve just found out. Baby hamsters need adult-sized cages. This is partly because they grow very quickly, and once they do grow they will feel cramped in a cage that is too small for them. These 5 hamster cages are great picks, depending on what kind of hamster you have. A cage that is too small for your hamster can lead him to a lot of stress, and feeling irritable most of the time. This can lead to a lot of unwanted behaviors, like chewing the bar cages, and even fighting with their cage mates. The minimum cage size for an adult Syrian hamster is 24 x 12 inches, and about 12 inches tall. That’s 61 x 30.5 cm, and about 30.5 cm tall. I’d recommend this to be the size cage you get for your Dwarf type as well, since all hamsters will feel better in a bigger cage, if they have one available. Always get your hamster a bigger cage, even if they look so small they need a large amount of floor space. Best to read this article on what to know before getting a cage for your hamster, and how to properly care for it. For the Dwarf types I recommend a glass tank, since they can easily escape through the bars of a wire cage. You’ll find info on the glass tank as well in that article. A word from Teddy I hope you found what you were looking for here, and can figure out when your hammy is fully grown. For example when I was a baby I was orange all over, with a bit of faded white on my belly. When I got older I started showing my darker grey markings, and my owners thought I was dirty at first ! So if you want to know more about your hammy, you can read the articles below. You can find out how much water we need, and why we’re sometimes scared of you, and even what food is safe for us.... Read more...
- Why You Should Trim Your Hamster’s Nails, And How To Do ItIf you’ve got a hamster then you’ve probably met his sharp claws, or at least seen them. If he’s even climbed on you, you’ve also felt them. But some hamsters do get overgrown nails, and it’s necessary to keep them trimmed to avoid injury to you or to the hamster. Table of Contents So do hamsters need their nails trimmed ?When do hamsters need their nails trimmed ?Why you should care about your hamster’s nailsHow to trim overgrown hamster nailsTrimming them at homeInspect the hamster’s nails before trimmingSeeing a vet for professional helpPreventing overgrown hamster nailsHome exercise for your hamster’s nailsA word from Teddy So do hamsters need their nails trimmed ? Yes, but ONLY in cases of overgrown nails. This is not something you should do regularly, like with your own human nails. Hamsters usually trim their nails by climbing, grooming, digging, foraging. 9 of out 10 hamsters don’t need help with their nails. But some hammies do, especially very old hamsters or the hamsters that don’t have a few rugged surfaces to blunt their nails on. This is where you, as a responsible hamster owner, will come in and help the hamster take care of himself. I’ll help you with how to trim the hamster’s nails, and how to prevent overgrown nails in the first place. This article is ONLY for cutting your hamster’s overgrown nails. Leave healthy nails alone. They should have a bit of length to them, because the hamster uses them for climbing and getting a grip. When do hamsters need their nails trimmed ? Only when the hamster’s nails have become overgrown. You’ll notice they’re much too long, and they’re starting to curve in on themselves. They might break at some point, and they can and do fall off. I saw a couple of Teddy’s nails come off when they were too long and I didn’t notice in time to cut them down. The overgrown nails will turn a nasty yellow color, and if you look very closely you’ll see lighter/whitish spots or lines where they’re cracked or broken. Hamsters usually wear down their nails by the usual things they do. Digging a tunnel into the earth, making their nest, foraging for food, running around, grooming themselves, climbing on op of rocks, and so on. A pet hamster doesn’t do all of that, because he’s not in his usual habitat. The ones he does do, are on softer material like wood shavings and paper bedding. This means that sometimes, some hamsters get overgrown nails. That can be fixed. Why you should care about your hamster’s nails You might ask why you should consider trimming your hamster’s nails. After all, no one trims them in the wild. That’s true, no one does that for wild hamsters. But wild hamsters don’t get overgrown nails, because they have a lot of hard surfaces to wear them down on. This means that your pet hamster will need your help for several reasons. First an overgrown nail will curve in on itself and become painful for the hamster. In some extreme cases the nail can start growing into the hamster’s paw, curving back towards his paw. This will lead to pain, infection, and the hamster’s feet won’t be able to do their job. Second, nails too long will make grooming painful for the hamster. When he grooms, he also grabs onto his fur and hold it in place to clean it. With nails too long, that starts to hurt, and even walking becomes a hassle since he can’t step normally. Third, overgrown nails, if left unattended will fall off. But this is never a pleasant ans simple process. They fall off because the motion of the hamster’s paws when he goes about his business weakens the nails near the quick. So they end up bending over backwards, for lack of a better term. The nail will not simply fall off, it will hang in there for a couple of days, until the new nail grows back. This is both painful and awkward for the hamster, because using his paws won’t be easy at all. These are all things that can be avoided. Not all hamsters get overgrown nails. How to trim overgrown hamster nails Trimming your hamster’s nails will not be easy, at all. Hamsters are notorious for not staying put, and squirming. A hammy kept in one place so you can clip his nails definitely won’t cooperate easily. Trimming them at home Arm yourself with patience, and don’t expect to finish everything in one day. Your hamster should first of all be comfortable with being held. If he’s not, read this guide on taming your hamster and work on getting him comfy with you. Once he’s okay with being held, try and find a position for him that’s okay for both of you. Some hamsters will be okay with being on their backs, some will not. One position would be holding the hamster’s back against your stomach or chest, and holding one of his paws with your finger. Another could be the hamster just being on all 4 and you holding one of his paws. If you think you need help, ask a friend to hole the hamster while you trim the nails. Do expect fidgeting, and do expect squirming, maybe even a few protesting sounds. No hamster likes being held for this. Also be aware that even if your hamster might get relaxed enough to let you hold him, the sound of the nail being clipped can spook him. So be prepared for anything. Inspect the hamster’s nails before trimming When you do cut the hamster’s nail, look for the quick. You’ll need very good lighting for this, or even some sunlight. Make sure the hamster’s eyes aren’t in the bright light, or the sunlight, as they’re very sensitive to that. You’ll notice the hamster’s nails are kind of transparent. Not completely, they will have a whitish/yellowish tint to them and their very edges might be lighter in color. But look at where the nail starts, from the finger. You’ll notice a pinkish, cloudy area. Its very small, and very short, about the size of a couple of grains of sand. While very small, that little pink cloudy part is crucial. Do not cut into it. It has lots of blood vessels, and cutting into it is like cutting into the neat right under your nail. Actually, they’re the exact same area, just that our nails have a different shape from hamster nails. So when you cut your hamster’s nails, make sure you give the quick (pink part) a wide berth. When you cut the nail part, the translucent part of the nail, make sure you leave at least as much nail as the pink part. That means if there are 2 grains of sand of quick, then you should leave 2 grains of sand of transparent nail on your hamster. It might be hard to do, if your hamster isn’t used to this kind of operation. And he probably isn’t so don’t be surprised if you can’t manage to get all of his nails clipped in one day. Giving your hamster a treat after each nail successfully clipped is going to help him learn that everything’s okay, he’s safe, and you’re not hurting him. Seeing a vet for professional help Getting your hamster to a veterinarian to help trim his nails is probably the best decision. I say this only because finding the quick, and keeping the hamster still so you don’t cut into the quick are 2 hard things to do. A vet will have more experience with clipping a pet’s nails, and he will notice the quick very easily. Also, in the case of a bleeding accident, he will have a solution to stop the bleeding and disinfect everything. (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.) Preventing overgrown hamster nails Preventing is always much easier than treating. This is true for everything, and it’s also true for keeping your hamster’s nails filed down. But for this we need to look at why hamster nails can become overgrown in the first place. A hamster’s nails always grow, much like our human nails. Usually hamsters wear them down with their day-to-day activities in the wild. But in their warm, safe cages this doesn’t happen as much. Pet hamsters have fairly soft beddings, and they don’t get to dig into the earth a complex series of tunnels. This means the hamster’s nails have not very much to hit against. Wood shavings or paper bedding are much too soft for hamster nails, and they’re loose and move around. The objects around the cage will help wear the nails down, like the hideout or a couple of toys, but that’s it. So you will need to provide your hamster with a few hard, rugged surfaces to walk over or climb onto. For example a few flat stones from your garden (rinsed and dried, of course) arranged around his cage are going to help. each time he steps over those stones, his nails will wear down a little bit. And if you place the stones in many places, he will step on them often. For example placing them right around the food bowl will make sure your hamster walks over them to get to his food. Home exercise for your hamster’s nails Another idea, aside from the flat rocks is an emery board. That’s the kind of material used for filing nails, and even in jewelry making. Make sure your get the smallest sized grit, so you do not hurt your hamster’s paws. Get a board big and wide enough so the hamster has room on it. You can also find emery paper and tape it to a small board. Place one of your hamster’s favorite treats at one end and put the hamster on the other end. Slowly start tilting the board, keeping it at an angle, with the treat on top. The hamster will dig his nails into the board to get more stability and a better grip. This will file down his nails, and in the end you’ll level the board again so he can get his treat. Or, you can keep the board perfectly horizontal, and only have a treat tied to a string or on the end of a stick. This is teasing, yes, but the hamster does get the treat in the end. Simply make him walk over the board a few times, and let him have his treat. Always check to see if his paws are okay. If you get grit small enough, he should be fine. You can try this exercise every 2-3 weeks, to make sure your hamster keeps his nails short. A word from Teddy I hope you found what you were looking for in this article. Us hammies usually take good care of our bodies, so our nails are usually pretty trim. It’s just that some of us need a little help from time to time. If you want to know more about us hamsters you should check out the related articles below. You’ll learn how to keep us safe and happy, and what we need for a good life.... Read more...
- Do Hamsters Change Color ? (And Other Fur Facts)Hamsters come in so many furs and colors and patterns it’s hard to remember which is which sometimes. And other times, they turn around and surprise you and change their fur ! Nothing as dramatic as going from blonde to redhead, but sometimes some hamsters might change their color. Table of Contents Do hamsters change color ?Very young hamsters will change their fur as they become adultsSome hamsters change their fur in winterVery old hamsters lose fur and go a bit grayOther hamster fur factsThere are versions of Syrian hamsters with long furLong fur can get very mattedHamster fur can grow back in most casesHamster fur should never get wet, don’t bathe your hamster ! Do hamsters change color ? Some hamsters can change color, either because they are very young and coming into their adult fur, or because they are getting very old and turning a bit gray, or because they’re a type of hamster that turns white when the cold season hits. Aside from the Winter White hamsters, no color change is dramatic but it’s a fun thing to observe in your hamster. Hamsters come in so many fur colors, to begin with, it’s interesting to see how their fur can change as they age or the seasons change. Let’s start with the most common reason their fur can change. Very young hamsters will change their fur as they become adults When hamsters are born, they are hairless. Then they get their initial fur growth, and it’s usually something very light, very fluffy, and very close to what their adult color will be. But as they reach maturity (about 3 months) their fur color will develop more. Some colors will be brighter, and some extra hairs will grow in, especially agouti hairs (with black at the end of each hair). For example when I first got my Teddy, he was maybe a little over a month old. So tiny ! He was a golden Syrian hamster, so he already had a light orange/gold on his back, with grey ears, and white markings on his face and feet. But as he grew a little more, I noticed he had a bit of a spot on his forehead, like a gray smudge. At first, I thought he got dirty somewhere, somehow. But nope, turns out he actually had some agouti hairs growing all over him, and a very pale grey mark on his forehead. So as an adult my teddy was orange, with agouti hairs, mostly on his back, and a grey mark on his forehead. He was might lighter looking as a tiny little 1 month old boy. Some hamsters change their fur in winter Some hamsters can change their fur when winter comes. This change is triggered by a shift in temperatures, but especially by a shift in daylight. The only hamsters to do this are the Winter White dwarf hamster, otherwise known as Siberian dwarf, or Djungarian dwarf. In the wild this happens all the time. But when we’re talking about pet Winer Whites, this rarely happens, because of artificial lighting, and the even temperature inside our homes. You can induce this change, but it means only subjecting your hamster to natural daylight and nothing more. I imagine this is easier to do in the countryside due to much less light pollution. Very old hamsters lose fur and go a bit gray Another reason for hamsters to change their fur is when they get very, very old. Like humans, old hamsters get slower, and turn gray, and start to lose their fur. Well not exactly the same, but they get silver spots. The most common places for silver or white fur in an old hamster are around the ears and neck, as far as I’ve seen. These changes seem to be more noticeable in Syrian hamsters than dwarfs. Most hamsters have a short lifespan, around 2-3 years. The hamsters I’ve had, 2 died of old age and one is still around but also growing old. When Teddy died, he was almost 2 years old. His fur was thinning on his neck and back, and his ears were drooping a little, and he suddenly had these white tufts around his ears. He started looking alike a grumpy old man, balding but with a lot of hair around his ears. When Eggwhite died, he was also almost 2 years old, but he was a creamy white so I couldn’t notice a change in color. But I did notice his fur getting thinner, his eyelids drooping a little, and he also developed some tufts around his ears like Teddy did before he passed away. Both Teddy and Eggwhite were Syrian hamsters. My third hamster is a Winter White, called Rocket, but she’s never changed her fur in the 2 years we’ve had her. She can (theoretically) live up to 4 years, and so far we haven’t seen any signs of old age on her, such as white hairs, droopy ears or eyes, or even getting slower. The fur on her paws is a little thinner, but that’s the only thing. Other hamster fur facts Here are some other interesting hamster fur facts, since these little guys are far more fun than they appear. Their fur comes in many colors and patterns, but that’s not where it stops. There are versions of Syrian hamsters with long fur When scientists captured Syrian hamsters for their labs, they also bred them to be more docile and this also led to them expressing different fur patterns. In time the hamsters wound up with breeders, who tried to see if there could be long haired hamsters. And eventually they succeeded, long-haired Syrian hamsters are here and they look absolutely funny. The long hair can sometimes be long and flowy, other times it can be a mix of long and short with just a few tufts sticking out, and in some cases it’s long fur all over the hamster. These long-haired hamsters sound fun, and they may seem a bit more cuddly than the others, but their temperament is the same. They don’t really enjoy being picked up, but you can try. Their fur requires a lot of extra care though, since it can easily get matted. Hamsters are very clean creatures, and they clean themselves several times a day. But they weren’t ‘programmed’ for long fur, so they can’t clean it as well as short fur. Sometimes they need help, which brings us to the next point. Long fur can get very matted This is mostly the case for long-haired Syrian hamsters, but in theory it could happen to any hamster. When the fur becomes too long, the hamster has trouble keeping it clean and detangled. In these cases you can either help the hamster by brushing out the mats, or cutting the knots out. Both are quite difficult, and your hamster’s temperament will dictate how to handle this. So let’s start with the first one, trying to brush out the matted fur. If you’ve ever had knots in your own hair you know how difficult they can be, and how painful it is to comb them out. You have to start at the ends, and very slowly work your way up. Your hamster will obviously not want to sit still for half an hour until you get all the knots. This will be slow, and you will have to let the furball sit as he wants to keep him calm. Try to grab his attention with a small treat, and attempt to comb out some knots at his backside, starting from the edges. He might flinch, or he might not care; not all hamsters are the same. This won’t last long, and you may only have a couple of minutes to work on his fur. That’s okay, let him be and try again in an hour or two. Don’t try to do this all in one day. It’s really not easy. The second option, perhaps easier, is to simply cut off the knots you can’t brush out. Your hamster will get some uneven fur but this takes less time. Again, do this on the hammy’s own terms. If he wants to go away let him go away. If he squirms, put him down and try again later. Always use something to distract him. You need a pair of very sharp hair cutting scissors. Hopefully the knots are towards the end of the fur. If there are any knots close to the body or directly against the skin leave them alone. The risk of hurting your hamster by accident is too high. Like combing out knots, this can take a while too. Maybe your hamster doesn’t mind the sound of scissors, maybe he gets frightened. There is no safe way to keep him in place, without injury or extreme distress for both of you. Best to just go very slow, and use a good pair of scissors. Hamster fur can grow back in most cases Sometimes a hamster will lose some of its fur, and sometimes that fur can grow back. Not always, such as very old hamsters who lose their fur due to old age. Or hamsters with a genetic condition that prevents them from growing fur in the first place. The fur on these hamsters sadly won’t ever grow. But if your hammy lost a patch of fur because of a skin condition, an irritation, ringworm, or just because he scratched himself too much, there is good news ! The fur can grow back, as soon as the skin condition is treated and healed ! In case of excessing scratching, it’s usually due to an irritant, like a rash, or the hammy got bit by something and it’s now itching. Once that is gone and the hamster doesn’t have a reason to keep scratching, the fur will grow back. Hamster fur should never get wet, don’t bathe your hamster ! Hamsters have very delicate fur, especially the fluff right next to the skin. It’s meant to insulate the hamster and keep it both warm and cool, depending on the weather. Hammies are exceptionally good at keeping themselves clean, they lick and nibble at their fur constantly so it is always clean. Kind of like a cat cleans itself, except this one isn’t meowing. There is no real reason to give a hamster a bath to clean it, unless it somehow got something on it that the hamster can’t or shouldn’t clean by itself, like car grease or ketchup. If you do get your hamster’s fur wet, know that washing it with any sort of soap will disturb the natural oils on its skin. Not only that but these animals are so frail, they need to be dried immediately after getting wet since they can’t easily handle it. Where hamsters come from water (rain) is rare, so they haven’t adapted their fur to be water-proof. So, it’s best to never put your hamster in a situation where it could get its fur wet. And never handle your hamster with dirty hands. The hammy will clean itself after you play with it even if you’ve just washed your hands, imagine how icky it’d feel if you picked it up with Cheetos dust on your fingers. ... Read more...
- 4 Differences Between Syrian And European HamsterAre you looking for the perfect hamster pet ? Then perhaps you’ve heard there are several species, and two of the best known are European and Syrian hamster. While they do look similar, one of them is completely unsuited to be a pet, even if it is a cute furball like the other one. I’ve decided to write this article because there are a lot of people confusing those two when they see images of hamsters, which is understandable since they look so similar. Let’s take a look at their key differences and why they matter. Table of Contents What are Syrian hamsters ?What are European Hamsters ?1. European hamsters are much larger than Syrian hamsters2. Syrian hamsters can be tamed, European hamsters cannot3. European hamsters tend to be dark brown, Syrians golden-orange4. Both European hamsters and Syrian hamsters are very territorial, they will fight any hamsterCan you keep a European hamster as a pet ?Is a Syrian hamster a good pet ?Conclusion What are Syrian hamsters ? Syrian hamsters are a type of rodent (family Cricetidae, species Mesocricetus auratus), that is native to northern Syria and southern Turkey. Its habitat in the wild is greatly reduced and it is now classed as an endangered species (in the wild). In captivity however, these are by far the most popular hamster pets and are not endangered at all (as pets). The captive Syrian hamsters you see (such as in pet shops) are the result of hundreds of generations of selective breeding, which brought about better traits (more docile, less aggressive) and a high variety of fur colors and markings. If you were to pick up a random wild Syrian hamster, it’d be very different from a pet. I’ve had three hamsters so far, one Syrian (Teddy, he’s mentioned often on this site), and then Eggwhite (a white Syrian) after Teddy died of old age, and now Rocket after Eggwhite died of old age as well. Rocket is a dwarf hamster, specifically a Siberian hamster (light grey with white, fluffy paws and a dark stripe down her back). I can attest that Eggwhite and Teddy were both very tame compared to Rocket, with Eggwhite the tamest of the bunch. What are European Hamsters ? European hamsters are similar to Syrian hamsters, in that they’re also a rodent in the family Cricetidae, species Cricetus Cricetus. These hamsters are native to a wide habitat ranging from Central and East Europe to Russia and Central Asia. For reference, Syrian hamsters typically live far below where European hamsters live. European hamsters are considered a critically endangered species, partly due to losing their habitat to agriculture, and partly because they are viewed as pests by farmers. I’ve seen a European hamster personally once. It was in a local park in my city, and I saw it going in and out of its burrow at the root of a big tree. I took a few photos but they are very zoomed in because once I got close the hamster scampered into its home. Not let’s do a more thorough comparison of European and Syrian hamsters. 1. European hamsters are much larger than Syrian hamsters The first and biggest difference between European and Syrian hamsters is their size. European hamsters are very large, for a hamster. They’re the size of an adult guinea pig, while adult Syrian hamsters are a bit smaller than your computer mouse. This difference in size should be your biggest tip-off of what you’re looking at. A young European hamster will be the size of an adult Syrian hamster, and it’s very unlikely you’ll ever find one in a pet shop. And because of this difference, if you were to try and keep a European hamster as a pet you’d need a far larger cage with very strong wires. More than you’d need if you had a Syrian hamster, who also needs a large cage to begin with. See here about how big or small their cage needs to be. 2. Syrian hamsters can be tamed, European hamsters cannot Both Syrian hamsters and European hamsters have been kept in laboratories to be studied, and also be used for various studies. One thing scientists have noted: European hamsters do not get more docile or tame, even on their second or third generation in captivity. This is opposed to Syrian hamsters, who tend to be the most docile and less aggressive of any hamster species. It is true that the vast majority of Syrian hamsters you find for sale are all descended from a single female and her offspring, back in 1930. It’s possible that the one female had a gene that made her more docile, and her offspring inherited that gene as well, allowing for more and more docile hamsters as time went on. Even so, it’s clear that European hamsters would make a very aggressive pet, and definitely not something suitable for children or possibly even adults. 3. European hamsters tend to be dark brown, Syrians golden-orange There is a big difference in color when it comes to European and Syrian hamsters. European hamsters share a similar template with the Syrian’s classic look: white feet and hands, and white spots on the cheeks and mouth. But where Syrian hamsters are a golden orange color, European hamsters are a dark brown-reddish color. Syrian hamsters have been bred for so many generations that their potential for different coats has been discovered. You can get Syrians in any color you can think of, with or without spots, without white feet or hands, and even with varying lengths of fur. The original gold and white fur were the best ones for blending into their surroundings, but it wasn’t the only one they were capable of. European hamsters come in just one style, the one most suited to their environment. If they were to be bred for several generations you’d probably see a change in their color patterns as well. 4. Both European hamsters and Syrian hamsters are very territorial, they will fight any hamster If there’s one thing European and Syrian hamsters absolutely share, it’s their dislike of other hamsters. All hamsters are territorial and should never be kept in the same pen as another hamster. Syrian and European hamsters can and will attack their siblings in an attempt to claim a territory for their own. The result is often deadly so I recommend you don’t put two hamsters in the same cage ever, regardless of their species. Not even if they grew up together. Can you keep a European hamster as a pet ? No, European hamsters cannot be kept as pets. They are very difficult to spot in the wild, let alone capture. Few were captured and any attempts at taming them (and their offspring) have failed. Their much larger size (about as big as an adult guinea pig) makes any potential bite or scratch much more dangerous than one from a Syrian hamster (much smaller). That’s very unfortunate since they are super cute furballs and they might be as funny as a Syrian hamster, but just bigger. You would need a huge cage for them since even regular hamsters require quite big cages to be able to do all their workout routine, they are super active and need space. Is a Syrian hamster a good pet ? Syrian hamsters make good pets only for those who have the patience to get to know their pet, understand and respect their habits, and are gentle enough when handling them. They are mostly active at night but will occasionally come out during the day too. They tend to be shy, and you can’t play with them as you would with a puppy. You can hold a Syrian hamster, but not for very long. They have a bit of patience, the most out of all hamster species, but they will not sit in one place for more than a few seconds. If it’s in your hands it will want to wiggle out and keep moving. If they get frustrated they can bite in an attempt to escape your hands. However, even if you are unlucky and you get one hamster that is not calm or willing to play, one extra benefit of pet hamsters are that they are incredibly funny and cute, so you will not get bored even if you don’t get to touch the little furball too much. Here is one of my articles where I listed 12 reasons why hamsters can be super cute and funny. No hamster is a good pet for a young child (under 9 years old), not even a Syrian hamster. If you’re looking for a companion, something to cuddle, take on walks, and even play with, a hamster is not the answer. Conclusion Syrian and European hamsters are similar enough to confuse them sometimes, but they have quite different personalities. Despite this, neither of them likes sharing their space with another individual, so they should be kept separate. I hope this article helped you understand the differences between a Syrian and a European hamster, for an untrained eye they are not as noticeable so it’s easy to confuse them, however you will never get to see a European hamster at your pet shop, so if you think of buying a hamster you will have to get a Syrian hamster, which is the best choice anyway. If you plan to buy a hamster, here is an article that will help you understand the real cost of owning a hamster, the cage is the most expensive thing you will ever buy for the hamster but the hamster itself should not cost too much.... Read more...