Do Hamsters Blink ? Uncovering The Mystery Of Blinking Hams

You’ve maybe wondered if your hamster ever blinks. He just seems to sit there and stare at you, endlessly. Or maybe he just stares into space. Does a hamster ever blink ? I’ve found myself watching my Teddy to see if he ever does blink.

And, as luck would have it, I found the answer to whether hamsters blink or not. It’s maybe not the key to the universe, but it can help us understand our furry friends better.

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So do hamsters blink ?

Yes, hamsters do blink. Just not exactly like us humans. Hamsters have evolved to blink with only one eye at a time, possibly because they are prey for many animals.

So they can’t really afford to even not be on guard. It’s a sort of defense mechanism like bunnies sleeping with their eyes open. Or guinea pigs only sleeping for a few minutes at a time, in patches throughout the day.

You might have wondered if hamsters blink after your hammy kept looking at you and he never seemed to blink. Truth is, in the presence of humans (bigger predators) hamsters will rarely blink.

That does not mean they blink their heart out when you’re not looking. It just means that until they come to trust you they won’t even try blinking.

Hamsters need their eyes clean, too !

Hamsters. like any other creature with eyes, need their eyes clean. Some animals, like frogs or crocodiles have 2 sets of eyelids, one to protect the eye from injury, and one to protect the eye from the muddy water.

Hamsters have just one set of eyelids – yes, hamsters have eyelids – which serve to clean their eyes when they blink, just like us humans. You might not have noticed their eyelids when looking at them, but hamsters have them.

Try peeking at them when they sleep, there you will see their eyes closed.

Another thing that helps keep the hamster’s eyes clean is their eyelashes. Generally eyelashes are soft, fuzzy, and very noticeable. But in hamster’s they’re thin and wispy, because the rest of their fur is like one big eyelash/brow.

Their fur serves the same purpose as an eyelash, to trap debris and foreign objects that might get into their eyes.

Given the hamster’s natural habitat – dry, earthy tunnels dug deep under the ground – this is a very smart adaptation. Their eyes are protected at all times.

Your hamster isn’t just staring at you

You might think your hamster is just staring at you. Especially if he keeps looking and doesn’t blink. I was weirded out by Teddy at first, I’ll say that. He used to just stare at me and not move. He still does that, just that now I know why.

It turns out hamsters look like they’re staring at you, but in fact they’re just staring into space. Add to that the fact that they will often stop to hear if there are predators around, with a very intense look on their face.

It looks like they’re staring you down, but really hamsters barely see. They don’t even really use their eyes, and they will freak out if you suddenly move. They only see what is directly in front of them, the rest is blurry.

So the next time your hammy looks at you funny, know that it’s not you. It’s him, hearing things out, or just being still.

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

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A few hamster eye problems that can happen if their eyes get dirty

Hamsters have great protection for their eyes. However problems can and do occur, and they need your help to fix most of these issues.

Even if hamsters don’t really use their eyes, these problems still can happen, like:

  • Eye infections – where they eye can be swollen, red, hot to the touch. Pus will possibly ooze from the eye as well, as as such you will need to clean/rinse the eye with a saline solution.
  • Bulging eye – the eye will appear larger than normal, like it’s about to pop from its place. This is often because if an inflammation of the tissue behind the eye itself.
  • Cataracts/blindness – unfortunately many hamsters end up with this problem in their old are. This is what happens naturally to the body when the eye starts to break down on its own.

There problems, and a few others, can all be solved at your local vet. It would be wise to look for an ”exotic” vet, since he will have experience with rodents, reptiles, and birds.

Or, possibly a small pet vet will be able to help too. Just keep in mind that sometimes small pet can mean a cat or bunny.

A word from Teddy

I hope you found what you were looking for in this article. I know us hammies look like we’re trying to stare you down, but really we’re just being hamsters. Don’t take it personally.

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

Related blog post
4 Best Hamster Wheels For Syrian And Dwarf (An Owner’s Opinion)
4 Best Hamster Wheels For Syrian And Dwarf (An Owner’s Opinion)Caring for your hamster includes giving him all the toys and exercise opportunities you can. Having a good exercise wheel for your hamster is an important way of taking care of him. But what kind of exercise wheel should you get for your hamster ? And which is the best ? We’ll look at safety hazards, general preferences, and budget as well. For now, let’s start with the principles you should guide yourself by when getting your hammy an exercise wheel. Table of Contents ToggleSo what’s the best kind of wheel for my hamster ?A comparison between 4 great hamster wheels1. Eleven inch closed wheel with heavy stand2. Nine inch silent closed wheel with heavy stand3. Eight inch metal wire wheel, like Teddy has4. Seven inch plastic flying saucer wheelSo what kind of wheel should you get for your hamster ?A word from Teddy So what’s the best kind of wheel for my hamster ? Generally you should look for a hamster wheel that’s well secured, and won’t be a health hazard for your hammy. Of course, any wheel can break, but some designs are prone to certain problems. You should look for: A good running surface, so the hamster has a good grip Tail guards, if you’ve got a Chinese hammy or a mouse or rat (or any other long-tailed pet) Low noise level, since you’ll want to be able to sleep at night Durability, so you won’t replace it every other month Good size compared to the hamster, we’ll get into more detail in this article Safety precautions, so the hammy has less chances of hurting himself Again, not all wheels will hit all those marks. Some might only be good for Dwarf hammies, some might be very poorly made and not good at all. And some might be the best option out there, year in and year out. I’ve looked around, and found the best 4 hamster exercise wheels you can order online, and I’m going to compare them in this article. They’re all good, in their own way. And you can get a good guess for which would be best for your hammy. A comparison between 4 great hamster wheels Before you choose any wheel at all, please take into account how large your hamster cage is. If You choose a wheel and once ti arrives you notice it won’t fit into the cage, that will be unpleasant. Please measure your cage, in height and width beforehand, starting with the level at which the bedding stops. So if your hamster’s cage is 30 inches high, and you’ve got 2 inches of bedding, calculate with 28 inches since that’s only as much as it will allow. After you’re done reading this table, you’ll find each wheel discussed in much more detail in the rest of this article.   11 inch plastic 9 inch plastic 8 inch wire mesh 7 inch flying saucer image material plastic, metal base plastic, metal base metal plastic size (diameter) 11 inches/ 28 cm 9 inch/ 23 cm 8 inch/ 20 cm 7 inch/18 cm good for syrian syrian, dwarf syrian dwarf durable yes yes yes will wear down in time safety 100% 100% cannot guarantee 100% good running surface/ grip yes yes yes yes silent yes yes yes, if oiled wears down in time price on Amazon check here check here check here check here   1. Eleven inch closed wheel with heavy stand This wheel’s got pretty much all the marks. It’s large, one of the largest available for small rodents. Eleven inches is more than enough for a Syrian hamster, and he should be able to spin it easily enough. It’s got a heavy bottom that’s going to keep it safe in one place, and it’s fairly heavy on its own. It’s 2 pounds/ 1 kg, so your hammy won’t be able to move it either by pushing or by use. The fact that it’s such a large size means it’s going to be a very good fit for Syrian hamsters. They can grow to be very large, up to 8 inches/ 20 cm in length, and about 2 inches/5 cm in width. Dwarf hamsters are smaller, about half the size of a Syrian. If you’re not sure which breed you’ve got, you can find out here. As you’ve noticed, hammies are kind of hunch-backed. This means their backs should remain this way, since that’s the way nature intended them to be. They can run with a straight spine, but any backwards bend for them will be very painful. So if you’ve got a Syrian hammy, you’ll need to look for big wheels, even if he’s such a tiny little guy. They grow fast, from pups to adults it takes only 3 months and they will soon need adult-sized everything in their cage. If you’ve got a Dwarf hamster, this wheel might be a bit large for him. No worries though, the next one will suit him better. As for safety, this wheel’s got a tail guard, and the axle is well covered so it’s not going to hurt the hamster. No feet getting stuck anywhere, and no tails or tufts of hair either. The inside of the wheel’s a ribbed plastic, so there is good grip. The noise level is very low, since this kind of wheel doesn’t really contain any loud parts. If you place it directly onto plain glass or plastic, then it might make a little noise as it vibrates from the running hamster. I recommend placing it over a thin layer of bedding, preferably wood shavings. Finally, in terms of durability this wheel looks like it could stand up to several years of heavy use, so I doubt replacing it would really be an issue. If you’d like, you can check the listing on Amazon and read the reviews as well. 2. Nine inch silent closed wheel with heavy stand This wheel is, again, a closed wheel. Also plastic, but smaller and a much better fit for a Dwarf hamster. It’s still a good size for Syrian hamsters if you’ve got one. This one’s a bit lighter than the 11 inch one. It’s about 1.4 lbs/0.6 kg so it’s still going to stay put. The best part is that it comes with a cage attachment, and you can lock it into one place. For the cage attachment, be warned that these can sometimes break the bars of the cage in time, if your cage is flimsy. I’m not saying you shouldn’t attach it, but you should not be completely surprised if one of the bars gives in after a while. My Teddy had a plastic wheel in his old cage that we attached like this and the bars broke after a few weeks. You might be luckier, I don’t know. Again, this has nothing to do with this particular exercise wheel, but with attaching wheels to cage bars in general. Aside from this, the plastic inside the wheel is a good grip, and your hammy will be able to run on it well enough. It’s textured and non-slip, so again there won’t be any mishaps for your furry one. In terms of silence, this one should be definitely silent, or at least more silent than other hamster exercise wheels. It’s supposed to operate on ball bearings, so it should be quiet enough that you can’t hear your hamster running around. And durable it is, same as the one before. Tail and foot guard are present, so your little one will be as safe as he can be. You can check the listing on Amazon here, and read the reviews as well. 3. Eight inch metal wire wheel, like Teddy has My Teddy’s got one of these wheels, and it can get fairly noisy, that’s true. This is one of the most basic wheels you can get for your hammy, and you’ll find it in many pet shops as well. The reason people tend to be scared of them is because they can be very noisy, and if your hammy’s a small one (like a Dwarf) he might get a foot stuck in those bars. Hence, I do no recommend this for Dwarf hamsters. My Teddy is a Syrian, and he’s had wire wheels his whole life. He’s almost two years old as I’m writing this, so he had time to complain if he wanted to. As for noise, these metal wheels can and do get squeaky if you don’t oil them regularly. But, I oil my Teddy’s wheel once a week, every week, when I clean his cage. This results in no noise at all for us, and the wheel itself does not make any other sound since it sits in a thin layer of bedding on that side of the cage. You could call this personal preference, I don’t know. But I think wire cages work almost as well as the closed, heavy, plastic ones with the tail guards. There is a bit of safety concern yes, but my Teddy’s been just fine so far. In terms of budget, this kind of wheel is much more accessible, since it’s about 1/3 of the price of the other two plastic ones. So keep that in mind as well. The way the wire is made makes sure the hamster can comfortably grip the bars and actually spin it around, so slipping is not a problem. Don’t be surprised if your hamster ends up chewing the wheel almost as much as he runs on it. Hammies do that, and while it;s not the best idea for them to chew metal, they can;t really be stopped. My Teddy chewed everything in his cage, the bars, the food bowl, the hideout, the water bottle, the wheel, the walnut, everything but the chew toys themselves. Ah well. In terms of durability this wheel’s made of metal, so I can pretty much guarantee that it’s going to last for years. Unless you somehow bend it out of shape or something terrible happens to it. As long as you remember to oil it every now and then, you should be fine. You can check the listing on Amazon for this wheel, and read the reviews as well. 4. Seven inch plastic flying saucer wheel Finally, we come to the smallest wheel on this list. This size is great for Dwarf hammies, but barely enough for Syrians. The flying saucer wheels have always been funny, at least in my opinion. Especially when they’re used by Dwarf hammies, who tend to hop onto the same wheel several at a time and just get in each other’s way. Ah well, you can always get them a couple of these wheels, since they cost even less than the wire mesh wheels we discussed above. There’s grip alright, the plastic is hard and ribbed, so it’s going to provide your hamster with a good running track. I would recommend it for a Dwarf hamster as this size is more suited for them, and maybe a tiny Syrian. Compared with other wheel designs, flying saucers don’t have the whole bent-over spine problem and I think that’s an important factor to consider. There’s barely any health hazard, since there’s nothing sticking out, or no place the hamster could catch his foot or tail. Worst that could happen is if he suddenly stopped and flew off the wheel. Which can happen with any wheel design. As for durability, keep in mind that this is hard plastic, but can still wear down a bit. Given the angle of the saucer and how the whole thing is meant to operate, you might have to replace it after a few months of heavy use. The heavier the hamster, the more the wheel will wear down since it’s going to be forced at an angle. Exactly how long that will take, I do not know. It could be that you’ve got the world’s lightest Robo and he might not break the wheel at all. And in terms of noise, this kind of wheel should be silent enough, though it might squeak a little after it starts to wear down. It’s a hit or miss with these, so you might get one that’s always going to be silent, or one that’s going to squeak after a few months. You can check the listing on Amazon for this wheel, and read the reviews as well. So what kind of wheel should you get for your hamster ? You’ve got the table to better compare these 4 wheels, and you’ve got a detailed run-down of each wheel in particular. I think the heavy-bottomed plastic ones are the safest, most silent, and generally long lasting ones. They’re a bit expensive, then again a running wheel will last the hamster’s whole life. And run is pretty much all he does. So if budget isn’t a problem, then I recommend the heavy plastic ones. The 11 inch for the Syrian owners, and the 9 inch for the Dwarf owners. If you are, in fact, on a budget, or simply don’t want to spend as much on your hammy, then the flying saucer and wire mesh wheels are good options as well. I’d advise Dwarf owners to stay away from the wire mesh wheels, since the feet of a Dwarf are just too tiny to safely use that. And the flying saucer seems the best for for Dwarf hamsters, but could also be alright for Syrians in a pinch. A word from Teddy I hope you found a lot of info here on what kind of wheel to get your hammy. I know us hamsters look so tiny and fluffy, but we need some very large toys, and the exercise wheel is one of them. I for one run all night, and would be horrified if I ever had no wheel to run on. So please don’t skimp out on your hammy’s wheel, he only needs one. If you’d like to know more about us hamsters and how to care for us properly, you can check the articles below for more info. [...] Read more...
Here’s Why You Should Never Get Your Hamster Wet
Here’s Why You Should Never Get Your Hamster WetWhen I first got my Teddy I didn’t really know he should never get wet. I saw no reason to give him a bath, but I didn’t know the main 2 reasons for not getting a hamster wet. So, here I am with what I’ve learned, to help you take the best care for your hammy. I’ll also cover what to do in case your hamster did get wet, if this ever happens. Table of Contents ToggleSo why can’t hamsters get wet ?Hamsters are very sensitive to temperature shiftsHamsters are very clean animalsHow to make sure your hamster never gets wetAlways use a water bottleBe careful what kind of bedding your get your hamsterThe hideout matters a lot, it can trap moistureNever handle the hamster far from his cageChildren or other pets should always be supervised around a hamsterHow to dry a wet hamsterMove the hamster to an overly warm roomUse lot and lots of paper towelsTry to hold him in a dry, clean cotton clothDo not use direct heat on the hamsterA word from Teddy So why can’t hamsters get wet ? The main reason hamsters should never get wet is because their bodies can’t stand the sudden shift in temperature. The thermal shock of wet fur will send your hamster right into shiver territory. This is not good since hamsters are very sensitive to temperature, and develop hypothermia easily, even if the room they got wet in is warm. The secondary reason your hammy should never get wet is because there is absolutely no need, ever, for him to be wet. Hamsters are very clean animals, and they comb through their fur several times per day, much like a cat. There’s videos going around with hammies getting a bath, and you should always look at the immense dislike rates on those videos. A hamster getting a bath isn’t healthy for him at all, and you should never get your hamster wet. If you’ve never had a hamster before, this might all seem very odd to you. But let’s go through those 2 reasons, and see in more detail why your hammy should always stay dry. Hamsters are very sensitive to temperature shifts Hammies are very sensitive creatures. They are easy to scare, and they’re always alert, and you might even scare them by just getting up. This constant alertness and sort of built-in anxiety will make the hamster have an even harder time if he gets wet. You see, a wet hamster is not used to being wet, so he will panic. Hamsters are terrible stress-managers, and can develop a series of illnesses because they get so stressed. Combine that with how easy it is for hammies to get too cold if their fur can’t insulate them – and you’ve got an emergency trip to the vet on your hands. A hamster’s fur is very wooly, and it has a lot of shorter, very very fine strands of fur that keep the hamster very warm. They are very close to the body, and if those get wet, they lose their insulation power. Worse still, they will keep the hamster wet, so he will get cold faster. If you want to know more about just how sensitive hamsters are to temperature, you need to read this ideal temperature for hamsters article. You’ll find out the right temp range for your furry friend, and what to do if he gets too cold. It’s never a good experience for a hamster to get wet, so you should do your very best to make sure he can’t ever get close to a situation like that. I’ll cover that in another part of this article. Hamsters are very clean animals Hamsters never need a bath, because they’re taking a shower about a third of their waking time. Seriously, I’ve seen my Teddy clean and preen himself almost as often as I’ve seen him eating. Now, since hamsters are awake mostly at night, when you’re usually asleep, you might not know this. Understandable, and many people don’t know that; it’s okay. But, hamsters are very clean, the only thing about them that ever smells is their pee corner – more on that here, and what you can do about it. This means that there is never a reason to wash or bathe the hamster, as you would a dog. A dog is meant to be able to wade through water, even swim. Dog fur has a lot of water repellent strands, and so it can handle being wet. But a hamster is not meant for that. Not only does a hamster not get dirty as other pets, he does not need any help cleaning himself. Another thing about hamster fur, is that it’s got natural oils that help keep the hamster clean. If you’re bathing your hamster, and especially if you’re using a washing liquid on him, your’re stripping the oils from his fur, the worst part is, those oils never come back. So your hamster’s fur will never look the same, and won’t do its job as well either. How to make sure your hamster never gets wet Keeping your hamster dry is the first step to keeping your hamster healthy, and free from stress-related issues. There’s a few things to keep in mind, and I’ll help you out here with what I’ve learned. Always use a water bottle This is mostly because your hamster can and will trip over a water bowl, and give himself an accidental bath. Hamster’s aren’t very aware of their surroundings from that point of view, and will chew and pull at everything possible. If it’s not nailed down, it’s fair game. So you can imagine what trouble a water bowl would cause in your hamster’s cage. The bedding can get wet, and can develop moldy spots, which are a serious concern for your hamster. His nose is always on the ground, so he’d be inhaling those spores constantly. For more info on how to give your hamster water, and how to care for his water bottle, check out this article. Be careful what kind of bedding your get your hamster The bedding your hamster lives on is important, since it can be a huge health concern if it’s not a good one. So, best to go here to know which bedding types are safe for your hamster friend, and which are not. A very important thing about bedding, and nesting material, is that it can trap moisture. So it’s important to change it about once a week, to keep your hammy’s cage clean and not funky-smelling. Here’s more info on how to properly change the hamster’s bedding and care for his cage. And here’s more info on what can get smelly in a hamster’s cage, so you know what to look for when you’re cleaning his cage. The hideout matters a lot, it can trap moisture The hideout your hamster lives in is going to determine a large part of his health. A plastic hideout can and will trap moisture. A few times I even found condensation in my Teddy’s hideout when he had the plastic one. His nesting material got a bit moist too, and it was not pee. A moist nest is a cold nest, so it’s best to avoid that. The best way yo make sure your hamster’s nest is always dry and clean is to get him a wooden hideout. Wood is a very breatheable kind of material, and will absorb and expel moisture. My Teddy’s hideout has a few spots in the roof where the air can get in and out, and a lot of ‘doors’ to allow a lot of air. Actually, it’s best if you read on here more about what to look for when you get your hammy a hideout, and how to care for it as well. Never handle the hamster far from his cage When you do play with your hamster friend outside of his cage, make sure you’re not far from it. If possible, try playing with his in his cage. Or play with your hammy over his cage. If he does jump out of your hands, he will land on the bedding, and in the cage safely. And if he falls he won;t have any body of water to splash into. This also means that you should keep your hamster and his cage away from any sources of water, like the tap. And not placing glasses of water, or a vase or anything that can hold water close to the hamster’s cage. Children or other pets should always be supervised around a hamster If you’ve got small children (under 12 years old), or other pets that can move around on their own, make sure they can’t harm the hamster. It’s easy for a child to see if a hamster can swim while you go to grab the mail, or for a dog to kick over a water bowl over the hamster’s cage. These things happen, and it’s a normal part of having pets and/or small children. So always make sure you supervise any interaction with the hamster, especially if it involved actually picking up the hamster. Hamsters are in fact good pets, but they’re very sensitive to a lot of things, and need a whole lot of patience. So unless you’re sure you can provide your hammy a safe home, you might do better with a different type of pet. (If you like this article so far, you can pin it to your Pinterest board by clicking the image below. The article continues after the image.) How to dry a wet hamster If your hamster did manage to get wet, one way or another, you’re going to need to be very careful drying him. There’s a few steps you should take to make sure your hamster stays safe during the drying process. Move the hamster to an overly warm room The ambient temperature will need to be much above what the hamster can handle when dry. So if your hammy needs usually around 20-23 Celsius/68-75 Fahrenheit when he is dry, he will need around 30 C/86 F in the room when he is soaking wet and needs to dry. This is to compensate for how cold it will seem for the hamster when he’s wet. If you’ve ever walked out of the shower without a towel, into a room that was nice and cozy before your shower, you’ll know what I mean. Once your hamster’s beginning to dry, lower the temperature slowly back to 20-23 C/68-75 F. Use lot and lots of paper towels Your hamster will probably be too all over the place to let you hold him. So place him in a box lined with lots and lots of paper towels, that will soak up all the water from his fur. So not use toilet paper, since that will disintegrate very fast and stick to your hammy’s wet fur. Change the paper towels as often as possible since your hammy will be rolling in the a lot, and shaking the water of like a puppy. You can also use a clean dry cotton cloth, or even a towel, but be warned that your hamster might try to put some corners in his cheeks. Hamsters are attracted to everything soft and fluffy, to try and build a nest out of it. Try to hold him in a dry, clean cotton cloth You can try holding your hamster in your hands, and giving him a gentle wipe down. You won’t be able to wipe off all the water, but you can get most of it. The point is that you’re helping your hammy out, even just a little. He might be very wriggly, and not want to stay put. That’s understandable, just wipe him down as best and as much as you can. If you notice your hammy getting too anxious, and getting ready to jump out of your hands, place him in the box I mentioned earlier. Do not use direct heat on the hamster As tempting as it may sound, so not put your hamster on the heater or use a blow dryer. They are both too hot for the hammy, and the dryer will make your hammy irritated and even more scared. Raise the ambient temperature until your hamster is nearly completely dry. Then, you can place the hamster in a box liked with lots of bedding, and a thick towel under the box to disperse heat. A word from Teddy I hope you know how to help your hammy if he gets wet now. We don’t really like being wet, we aren’t meant to swim or stay in the rain. So never give one of us a bath, and make sure you spread the word ! You can check out the articles below for more info on us hammies, and how to take care of us the right way. Like what we can eat, what kind of cage we need, and even why we’re sometimes scared of you. [...] Read more...
Training a Hamster: Everything You Need to Know
Training a Hamster: Everything You Need to KnowWho doesn’t love their furry pet and enjoy spending time with them? Hamsters have become wildly popular, as they’re sociable and don’t require too much maintenance. The latter is one of the primary reasons that they’re so popular, and that makes them a favorite for kids, as they can slowly start to learn the basic responsibilities of caring for a pet. However, pets need to be trained. Hamsters, just like any other animal, aren’t going to make good pets if they aren’t trained. Every animal is naturally defensive when interacting with a human until it’s taught to become social. The same principle applies to hamsters – they need to be taught how to interact with humans if we want them to make good pets. This is exactly what we’ll be talking about in this article. Today, we’ll be taking a look into hamster training techniques, and seeing how to make them better for human interaction. We’ll be covering an array of topics in hamster training; how to teach them not to bite, how to teach them to be held, how to teach them to use a litter box, and how to teach them to do tricks. Hamsters can make wonderful pets if they’re trained well, and that’s exactly what we’ll be teaching you today. Let’s get started! Table of Contents ToggleTraining a Hamster Not to Bite.Training a Hamster to be Held.Training a Hamster to Use a Litter Box.Training a Hamster Tricks. Training a Hamster Not to Bite. There’s a reason that hamsters are considered to be great pets for kids, but despite that, they’re sometimes known to bite. It’s very rare for a hamster to actually display aggressive behavior, and they usually bite only when they get scared. Hamster teeth are tiny and people naturally think that they won’t do too much damage, but they are going to cut you if bitten. If this has happened, make sure to disinfect the wound. The sole reason hamsters bite is because they’re afraid. Tame hamsters that are used to being around people aren’t afraid of us, and they don’t mind being held. On the other hand, there are hamsters that still aren’t used to being in human company, and they don’t enjoy being held. These hamsters are the ones that bite. It’s important to remember that they’re not biting out of spite or out of hatred, but because they’re afraid of us. After all, you’d probably be scared too is a creature that’s literally twenty times your size picked you up, and toyed around with you. Now, if you want your hamster to stop biting, you’re first going to have to be patient. It’s going to take a while before your hamster gets used to you and they can truly trust you. You’re going to need to earn that trust, which is a slow and gradual process. Don’t be discouraged if this process takes over a month, or even longer than that, but also don’t be surprised if your hamster takes quickly to your ways. If your hamster is advancing rapidly, then you can shorten the period between the steps we’re about to describe. If you’re still witnessing some hesitation from their side, it’s best to return to the previous step and repeat it until the animal is completely comfortable with you (on that level). This will take a while, but it’s definitely worth it. This process will take weeks, so we’ll be describing it week by week. Week 1: let your hamster get used to you – your hamster needs to get to know you without much physical contact. Since they’re most active in the evening and at night, it’s a good idea to sit next to your hamster in the evening and talk to them. You don’t even have to talk to them, you can talk to someone else, but let them get used to your voice and your presence. It’s also important for the hamster to get used to your scent. If you don’t know what to say, feel free to read a book, or if you’re working or studying – you can read out loud to them. Since moving to a new cage and a new home is very stressful, this will give your hamster enough time to adjust to their new surroundings. Don’t try to touch your hamster just yet. This may be a problem when you have to take the hamster out of the cage for cleaning – or returning the hamster to the cage if it’s escaped. To do this, corner them with a towel or a large glass, and then let them enter the towel or the glass. Week 2: let your hamster get used to your hand – it’s very important for any animal to get used to the scent of their owner in order for them to form a good relationship. You can gently place your hand in your hamster’s cage, and you’ll see how it will react. Not all hamsters are the same, and they’re not all equally easy to train – just like humans, all animals have distinct characteristics to their behavior, and that should be respected just like we respect it with humans. Do this very slowly, on the first day, put your hand on the cage or just inside the door of the cage. Following the same practice each day, try placing your hand a little further and a little further. Don’t yet try to touch your hamster, but if it wants to sniff your hand or explore it, let it. Week 3: offer your hamster treats – it’s common knowledge that treats are one of the best ways to train animals, as their instinct conditions them not to reject food. By now, you could have easily figured out which treats are your hamster’s favorites. These treats can be great training tools, and you should offer your hamster these goodies from the hand that’s in the cage. With time, your hamster will eat out of your hand, which will develop trust between you. Why is this so important? All animals, including humans, are vulnerable when they’re feeding. The fact that an animal is ready to eat out of your hand means that it trusts you to the point it’s ready to stick its head into your hand which could easily harm it if you wanted to. So, an animal eating from your hand means that it trusts you. If you’re still undecided on the treats for your hamsters, try with apples, raising, and sunflower seeds. Week 4: pet your hamster – once your hamster has gotten used to your scent and your presence, you can try to pet it. Do this gently, and if your hamster is okay with this, you can try to pick up your hamster (which is our next step). Week 5: pick up your hamster – so, your hamster is accepting treats and it’s letting you pet it, this means that it’s time to try to pick it up. To do this, firstly buy your way in with some treats, and gently reach for your hamster – let your hamster determine how far you can get in each session. Entice the hamster onto your hands with the treats. Then, you can try scooping it up with both hands. The best way to do this is to place each hand on either side of your hamster, and then connect them under your belly. Cup your hamster gently in your hands, that’s much better than tightly gripping over its back. Don’t hold your hamster too high above ground – in case it wants to jump out. You don’t want it facing a fall from six feet. Firstly, just hold it in its cage, and then with time, you can take it out. If you turn the hamster towards your body, it’s less likely to try and jump away. A few things you should keep on your mind when doing this: – make sure to wash your hands before you start working with your hamster, you don’t want it to smell food on you. That can be distracting. – some people will suggest wearing thick gloves to help with the biting. This can be useful, but your hamster needs to get used to your scent, and in that regard – this isn’t a good solution. – sometimes, when you pick your hamster up, they will clamp themselves onto your hand with their tiny paws. Don’t shake your hand to dislodge them – just gently put them down and let them come off. – don’t scold, yell, or hit the hamster. Smaller animals are afraid of loud and sudden noises, so much so that they can actually die from shock. – different hamsters act differently – Dwarf hamsters are very territorial, this means that they’re not going to appreciate you pushing your fingers into their cage. If this is the cage, let the hamster exit the cage (into a wider area, but still an area they can’t escape or hurt themselves in) and try to train them there. Training a Hamster to be Held. Now, when you’re buying a hamster and you want to teach it to be tame and train it, the first thing you should do is let the hamster rest. Smaller animals are very easy to frighten, so it’s best to let your hamster get used to its new surroundings before trying to teach it anything. However, if your hamster has become adjusted, you can now try to teach it to be held Before doing that, you need to teach your hamster not to bite. This is actually the first thing to teach it, as it’s synonymous with teaching your hamster that you’re its friend. When you teach your hamster not to bite (following the steps in the previous section), you can move on to teaching it to be held. Stress can make a lot of hamsters sick, so make sure that you’re not stressing your hamster out and that you’re taking it slow. Firstly, don’t try to handle your hamster when it’s sleeping. Just like humans – hamsters don’t like to be woken up, so don’t disturb your hamster when it’s sleeping. This can cause health issues and it’s more likely that your hamster will bite if you’ve just woken it up. Similar to the steps for teaching the hamster not to bite in our previous section, you’re going to need to take it slow. Use treats to gain trust with your hamster and slowly start putting your hand in the cage – let it climb into your hand. In the beginning, don’t take your hand out of the cage. Raise it, and the hamster will realize that you’re holding it. Feed it a treat and let the hamster back on the ground, repeat this process for a day. After that, you can let the hamster climb into your hand and you can take your hand out. It’s likely that this will scare the hamster, so it may want to jump out of your hand. Don’t hold your hamster too high, just in case your hamster jumps out. Also, tame them with treats, even when they’re stressed and scared. Turning your hamster towards your body makes it less likely for them to jump out. One thing owners don’t realize is that the hamster isn’t that afraid of the feeling of being carried, as much as they’re scared of all the sights and the sounds they see around them. These animals are very easily scared and it’s important to take your time with them. Reward your animals for good behavior with treats. If you feel that your hamster is becoming stressed or that they’re uncomfortable, gently place them back in their cage and try again later. Here are some tips on teaching your hamster to enjoy being handled: – keep every interaction short – hamsters have bad and short eyesight, so make sure that you’re staying low when you’re interacting with your hamster. Don’t sit on a couch or a chair (in the beginning), as your hamster will try to run away if it gets scared, and it will fall to the floor because it can’t see where the floor is. Some experts recommend starting out in the bathtub. – each pet is individual, so don’t force things upon your hamster that they don’t enjoy doing. Training a Hamster to Use a Litter Box. Many people have their doubts, but it’s actually possible to potty train a hamster. To potty train a hamster, you’re going to need a litter box and litter. Make sure to always have a litter at hand – if you can’t find hamster litter, you can buy dust-free, scent-free, clumping cat litter. Avoid litter with silica dust, and in case you can’t find any hamster litter, you can get pellet litter made of wood, paper, grain, or grass. To train your hamster to use a litter box, firstly you’ll need to figure out what corner of the cage your hamster most often uses to do their business. Put the litter box in that corner. This is very important, as hamsters don’t instinctively run to the litter box – if you don’t place it properly, it will just ignore it and proceed to take care of their business elsewhere. If the enclosure you’ve set up is still new and you haven’t a clue where to put the litter box, wait a week or two and let your hamster establish a spot. Once you’ve settled on a spot, pour in enough litter to cover the bottom of the box. Add a little soiled bedding and some droppings from your hamster. This will make the hamster follow those droppings to that spot instinctively. Once your hamster has woken up, you can pick them up and put them in the litter box for them to figure out what’s going on. After that, just let your hamster do its job on its own. Don’t force them into the potty, you don’t want to get bit or turn him away from the idea of using the litter box. Most hamsters will eventually figure out the point of the box on their own. There are, however, instances where hamsters won’t use the litter box for its intents and purposes. Hamsters will sometimes eat or sleep there, and do anything but the one thing they’re supposed to do. If this is the case, make sure to check on the areas your hamster is supposed to be using for this. For example, if your hamster is sleeping in the litter box, check their sleeping area – it’s likely that there’s something wrong with it if they’re so persistent in sleeping in the litter box. It can happen that the hamster will hide its food in the litter box – this usually means that they find the cage to be too small and they have no other place to hide their food at. There’s no other solution to this than buying a larger cage. It can also happen that the cage is too large and the hamster is using the litter box, but it’s also defecating all around the cage. In that case, place multiple litter boxes around the cage. Training a Hamster Tricks. Just like with handling and biting, you should use treats as rewards for your hamster to teach it something. Let’s cover a few tricks. Stand – a lot of animals, including hamsters, can stand on their hind feet. To teach your hamster to stand, you’re going to want to hold the treat in front of the hamster, just over its head so that the hamster can see it but not reach it. While doing this, say “Stand.” – this means nothing to the hamster right now, as they can’t understand articulated speech, but with time – they will recognize the specific sound of the word ‘stand’ as the command to stand on their hind feet. When you’re doing this, your hamster will instinctively stand up in order to get closer to the treat. When the hamster stands, give it the treat and verbal praise. Only reward the hamster if it actually stands up, don’t reward it if it doesn’t. This way, you’re teaching the hamster that it’s good for it to stand up once it hears the word ‘stand’. If your hamster doesn’t stand it might be because he or she is not hungry at that moment, or distracted by something else going on in the room. Feel free to repeat for a few times a day, and don’t stop the process until your hamster is ready to stand up after hearing your command, even when you’re not dangling a treat in front of its face. This can take a week or two. The most important thing to remember is to reward the hamster every single time it stands up. Jump – you can teach your hamster to jump, as well. You first need to teach your hamster the standing trick. To teach it this trick, get your hamster to stand, and then move your hand up and forward (while holding a treat) and say “Jump.” – it will instinctively try to jump. If the hamster tries to jump, praise him or her and give the treat. Once you’ve practiced this enough, you can add a hoop in the mix if you want to – hold a hoop between the hamster and the treat, and the hamster will jump through the hoop to get the treat. Say “Hoop.” as they’re doing it, to teach them the command of jumping through the hoop. Start by holding it low and slowly raising it up. Roll over – this is a trick that you can teach to any pet. To do this, place a seed on your hamster’s back and ask them to “Roll over.” – if they do it, reward them with a seed. After a while, they’ll be rolling over even without you placing seed on their back. Spinning in circles – after you’ve gotten your hamster used to eat treats out of your hand, you can teach them to spin in circles. Hold your hand out with the treat out and once they approach you, tell them to “Spin.” – and move your hand in a circle. The hamster will naturally follow your hand, and with time it will spin in circles just on command. Building an obstacle course – you can even build an obstacle course for your hamster to go through. Use Lego building blocks and jars, or funnels for your hamster to jump over, crawl through, etc. Make sure that nothing’s too tall, as your hamster is more likely to run around it than jump over it. Hold the treat and let it lead the hamster’s way by moving in front of it. The hamster will follow the treat anywhere. You can also make a seesaw with a simple plank and a wooden triangle, making your hamster have to balance on it. Make sure to place a wall around the obstacle course to bind it. Teaching your hamster to wear a hat or clothing – yes, this is also possible. If your hamster is used to being handled and has a good temperament, it won’t be a problem to teach it to do this. Firstly, make sure that the items fit your hamster. Keep them snug, but not tight. You can’t just cram the outfit on your hamster, so make sure that you put it on gently. Talk to them happily while you’re doing this. Give your hamster a treat as soon as you put something on. Take your hamster’s focus off the clothing and let them focus on something fun, like an apple or whatever is your hamster’s favorite treat. At first, only leave the items on for a minute, not for too long. Your hamster will learn to wear them with time and won’t have an issue with them. Let the hamster sit in your hand for the first time, as they’re probably going to be afraid. Later on, they’ll be able to wear the clothing on their own. It won’t take long before your hamster’s ready to wear clothes without you holding them.  There are many things you can teach your hamster, and it’s important to constantly keep working with them in order to build and cultivate a healthy relationship. The most important thing to remember is to have patience, some hamsters are less trusting and are slower than others. Always reward your hamster with treats for a job well done, and never forget to respect its private area. Hamsters are just as vulnerable as humans, and you should keep that in mind when working with them. [...] Read more...
15 Essential Steps To Properly Care For Your Hamster
15 Essential Steps To Properly Care For Your HamsterHave you just gotten a hamster ? Or are you planning on getting a hamster and want to know how to care for him ? I’ll tell you everything I know, and I wish I knew some of these when I first got my Teddy (Syrian male hammy) home. There are 15 essential steps to take and know, so you can be a good hamster owner. Some of these might be obvious, some might be counterintuitive. But they all help your hamster lead a healthy, happy life. As a sidenote, hamsters are actually cheap to care for, and they make good pets. It’s just that they have some very specific needs sometimes. Table of Contents Toggle1. Choose a good cage for your hamster2. Choose safe and healthy bedding for the hamster3. Choose toys and a hideout to keep the hamster entertained4. Know what foods and treats are okay, and how much water he needs5. Clean the cage and keep things sanitary6. Get the hamster plenty of exercise7. Tame the hamster and interact with him often8. Find a good veterinarian, in case something happens9. Be aware of his health problems and how to spot them10. Know the hamster’s reproduction and gestation period11. Figure out which breed of hamster you have12. Know what behavior to expect from a hamster13. Have a sitter for him when you leave town14. Know that hamsters are very sensitive animals15. Know your hamster’s lifespan and what old age looks likeA word from Teddy 1. Choose a good cage for your hamster The first and biggest problem when getting a hamster is what kind of cage to get him. Now I’ve covered this in detail in this article on how to choose the best cage, but a short version would be this. A Syrian hamster (the biggest kind of hamster you can find as a pet) needs a minimum cage of 24 x 12 inches, and about 12 inches tall. That’s 61 x 30.5 cm, and about 30.5 cm tall. This is for one Syrian hamster. They should always be kept alone. If you’re keeping Dwarf hamsters, then the same cage will fit a pair of Dwarves well enough. Always remember that while hamsters are so small and fluffy, they need a lot of space. They will always feel better in a large cage, rather than in a small one. This is because they do a lot of running around and roaming, and they get bored very easily in a small cage. Especially if it’s not almost nothing in it aside from bedding and some food. An overcrowded cage can also make the hamster irritable and nippy, so it’s best to only keep one hamster in one cage, even if he’s a Dwarf. As for examples of good cages, here is this one. It’s got a small space between the wires, so no hamster can escape. It’s also got an adjustable level which you can put wherever you like. I recommend keeping it pretty low though, since hamsters prefer the low ground. Of the commercial cages you can find available, this is the largest and safest. It provides lots of ventilation and it easy to take apart and clean. All in all a good choice for hamster owners who are both space and budget conscious. You can check the listing on Amazon here, and see the reviews as well. If you want to go for a bigger cage, you’ll need to look for an Ikea Detolf. That’s basically a big standing shelf. You put it on its side, remove the shelves, and make a wire mesh to cover the top if need be. The only problem with the Detolf is that it’s heavy, and big. So wherever you put it, that’s where it’s going to stay. Cleaning the Detolf is going to require a few more steps, but it’s doable. What is brings though is almost double the space the cage I mentioned above does. So no hamster would feel cramped in a Detolf. 2. Choose safe and healthy bedding for the hamster Another big and important step to make is to provide the hamster with bedding (or substrate). That’s what the hamster will live on, eat on, sleep on, pee on, and generally live all his life on. It needs to be a safe and healthy, and you need to be able to provide lots of it. Hamsters generally dig into their bedding, so giving your hammy at least an inch/2-3 cm of bedding is a minimum. You can find several hamster bedding options are in this article, you can pick whichever you think works best. The safest bedding you can provide your hamster is aspen wood shavings. All hamsters react well to aspen, and it’s a type of bedding readily available in most parts of the world. Another option is paper bedding, however that’s not as easy to find as aspen shavings. When you go out looking for the wood shavings, please make sure to stay away from cedar and pine shavings. Sometimes they’re sold for pets, but for small animals like hamsters those wood types are too strong. Their smell will suffocate the hamster, who has a very sensitive nose to begin with anyway. A good example is this one for aspen shavings. The bag comes in different sizes, so it can last you anywhere from a few months to a couple of years, depending on which size you get. You will only need to replace the hamster’s bedding once per week, so it also depends on how much bedding you put down into the cage. It’s a dust-free bag of wood shavings, which is important hen dealing with small animals. Respiratory problems can and do some up when the hamster has contact with dust. A dust-free bedding will keep him safe from that point of view. You can check the listing on Amazon here, and read the reviews as well. You also need to know about hamster nesting materials. Now, there’s nesting material you can buy, yes. But that’s almost always textile based. It’s a type of fluff, which does keep the hamster very warm. It’s a lot like the stuffing inside a teddy bear. But the problem is that kind of material can get tangled around the hamster and suffocate him. Or get tangled in his teeth (hamsters always pouch their nesting material) and end very gruesomely. So what can you use ?  Toiled paper, unscented. Plain tissues. Plain paper towels. Bits of cardboard. Rip them into strips and shreds, and watch you hamster decorate his home. He’ll build a big and warm nest out of all of those things and sleep like an angel. 3. Choose toys and a hideout to keep the hamster entertained The toys you choose for your hamster are important. Partly because a hamster can get bored if he’s got nothing to do in his cage. And partly because they need to be safe for the hamster and help file down his teeth. This means that hamsters will need plenty of wood or cardboard based toys. They can and will chew on absolutely everything in their cage. So for this reason wooden chews are a must, and cardboard too. Most toys can be either DYIed at home out of cardboard rolls, or bought from a store. This means the hamster can have an egg carton with holes in it an enjoy himself, using it as a hide and seek toy. You can even place a treat at one end of the carton and it’s just turned into a puzzle toy. You can also place a walnut inside the hamster’s cage. Make sure to remove any dirt off the walnut, and leave it whole in the hamster’s cage, He’ll go crazy over it and try to open it. He can’t, since he’s no squirrel. But he’ll try, and file down his teeth in the process. Hamster teeth always grow, so this is crucial. The most important thing in the hamster’s cage though, is his hideout. He will build a nest anyway, in the most hidden corner he can find. But he will feel more secure and safe in a hideout. It provides shelter, warmth, and a feeling of safety for the hamster. In the wild his nest would be in the ground, quite a few feet deep. It would be a series of tunnels, well hidden from any predators. In a cage though, he can’t do that. But a hideout is the next best thing. That hideout absolutely needs to be made of wood for two reasons: It will absorb moisture and release it outside. It’s basically breathable, and the hamster won’t have a damp nest, which means he won’t get a cold, or wet fur easily. Hamsters chew everything, even the hideout/nest. Wood is safe for them, and they even chew in their sleep. So it’s important that the hideout is of a safe material, not plastic or ceramic. A good example of a wooden hideout is this one. It’s a lot like my Teddy’s hideout actually. It’s big enough for a Syrian hamster, and it will also fit a Dwarf hammy. The wood is safe to chew on, and it has plenty of ventilation with all 3 holes available. They’ll be blocked with nesting material by the hamster, but he will still get fresh air. A hideout like this one will keep the hamster his whole life, unless he decides to use this as his one and only chew toy. Even then, it would take him quite some time to get through all that wood. You can check the listing on Amazon, and read the reviews as well. 4. Know what foods and treats are okay, and how much water he needs When it comes to food, you’ll be glad to hear hamsters can eat almost anything. But they do have a specific diet. The usually eat lots of grains, with a few vegetables and fruit thrown in for good measure. Nuts and seeds are okay too, as is a bit of protein in the form of cooked plain chicken, or even a mealworm or two. Actually most foods that are safe for hamsters are already in your fridge or pantry. The only problem is that they need a very specific diet, which you can always supplement with food from your kitchen. A good hamster mix will have his ideal diet in mind, and provide lots of vitamins and minerals as well. For example this one will last you quite a few months, because hamsters do not each very much. For a Syrian hamster two teaspoons per day are enough, and for Dwarf types just one teaspoon is enough. Hamsters will hide their food in their nest, so don’t panic if you see the food bowl is empty after a few minutes. This mix lasts long and is among the best for hamsters. You can check the listing on Amazon here, and read the reviews as well. Aside from the hamster commercial mix, you can give your hamster treats like bits of carrots, a plain peanut, a leaf of spinach and so on. He will enjoy the treat. But if your hamster is a diabetic hamster, keep fruits away from him. Carrots, corn, and sweet potatoes are off limits as well. 5. Clean the cage and keep things sanitary Cleaning the hamster’s cage is the first way to make sure the cage does not get smelly, and the hamster stays healthy. Cleaning should be done once per week, and only clean the pee corner every few days. The thing about hamsters is that they’re very clean animals. They groom themselves constantly, almost as much as a cat does. So the hamster himself does not smell. However what does smell is the corner in which the hamster usually pees. This is always the corner farthest away from the hideout, and it’s usually wet or at least damp. That corner can be scooped up every few days, and you can place new bedding in that corner. But once a week, a full cleaning is needed. That means taking the cage apart, putting the hamster in a safe place (like his travel cage), and cleaning everything. You can find a whole tutorial on cleaning the hamster’s cage here. Including how to proceed in the case of a sick hamster, and what you should be aware of before you start cleaning any hamster’s cage, sick or not. 6. Get the hamster plenty of exercise Hamsters are runners, for the most part. Some will love to climb or dig more than running. But most hamsters will enjoy running, and that’s what they will need to do to expend all that energy. Keep in mind that a hamster can run as much as 9 km/5.5 miles in a single night. That’s a whole lot of running for a creature so small. So make sure you get your hamster an outlet for all that energy. This means providing him with a big enough hamster exercise wheel, and you can choose which is best for your hammy. A wheel will allow him to run as far and as much as his little feet can take him. It’s important that the wheel is a large enough one, because a small wheel can give the hamster back problems. You see, hamsters don’t have a straight-ish spine. They look like they’re hunched over all the time, because they actually are. Their spines need to remain mostly hunched even when running. A straight spine can be odd for them, and a backward bent spine is actually painful. So this means you need to get he biggest sized wheel your hamster can comfortable run on. For example this one is a 9 inch/23 cm wide wheel, and it will fit pretty much any hamster. It’s also got not middle fixture, so the hamster has nothing to hurt his back on. It stays where you put it, and it’s a very silent kind of wheel. It won’t wake you up in the night (like Teddy did with us when he was younger). It’s got a tail and foot guard, which means your hamster friend won’t catch important appendages in the wheel when he’s running. This is especially important for the Chinese hamster. You can check the listing on Amazon here, and read the reviews as well. 7. Tame the hamster and interact with him often Taming the hamster is going to be either a breeze or a story to pass down onto your grandchildren. Some hamsters get used to their owners and warm up to them in just a few days, and some hamsters will never be okay with being picked up. It varies from hamster to hamster, and it also depends on how much patience you’ve got. Taming a hamster takes time, and consistency. It’s not hard, but it can be very slow. It’s also a bit hard to read the hamster’s reactions. If he’s not biting or running away, it’s a good sign. But noticing whether he actually likes something or not ? Your guess is as good as mine. Hamsters are easy to bribe with food though, so that’s always going to help. You’ll need to interact with the hamster constantly to gain and keep his trust. He might not always sit still so you can pet him, and he might not always like it when you pick him up. But in time he will learn to associate you and your hands with food and good things. Even if you’re not doing much, at least talk to the hammy. He’ll come up to the side of the cage to hear you out. He won’t understand a word, but at lest you’ve got his attention. 8. Find a good veterinarian, in case something happens Hamsters don’t need regular trips to the vet, and they don’t get sick often. For the most part hamsters will only stay in their cages, unless take out. This means the only moment they can get sick is if someone sick interacts with them. Or, if they become much too stressed or the cage is very dirty, and they develop wet-tail. But aside from that, hamsters aren’t sickly animals. That being said, when a hamster does get sick, it can get very serious, very fast. And you’re going to need a good vet for that. You’ll need to look for an ”exotics” vet. That’s a vet who has experience with rodents, reptiles, and birds as well. Such a vet will be able to help more than a regular cat and dog veterinarian. You can find out more about choosing a good vet for your hamster here. 9. Be aware of his health problems and how to spot them When it comes to the hamster’s usual health problems, there aren’t as many as us humans can have, but they are serious. You can find a list of the main health problems here, and how to treat them. Of all the threats to a hamster’s well-being, wet-tail is the most notorious. This is a type or diarrhea, and it can become deadly in a matter of days. Hamsters usually contract it either from an already infected hamster, from an overly dirty cage, or through high stress levels which can disrupt their normal digestive system. Tumors and lumps are not uncommon, infections are about as common as they are in humans. Infections can be treated with antibiotics, but tumors can sometimes be impossible to remove without putting the hamster at too much risk. Hammies can lose their eyesight and become blind, and this is usually a sign of old age. Blindness can come earlier than that in some cases though. While hamsters don’t really use their eyes, they are still vulnerable and can become injured or infected. There are treatments for almost all of the hamster’s health problems, and most of them are meant to be administered by a vet. (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.) 10. Know the hamster’s reproduction and gestation period Hamsters reproduce in large litters. They can fall pregnant very often – every 4 days actually – and their gestation period is short. Only 16-22 days, depending on which hamster type you’ve got. So if you brought home a pair of Dwarf hammies, and one of them seems to be too fluffy, you’ll find out in 2-3 weeks if you’ve got a pregnant female on your hands. This can happen because pet shops sometimes separate the hamsters into gender specific groups either too late, or misgender a male and put him with females. To find out more about finding your hamster’s gender, you should read here. The gender becomes important from week 4 of life, when the hamster babies are weaned by their mother. That’s when they can also start breeding, and sometimes unwanted accidents can happen. Once the hamster has reached 10 weeks, he or she may be introduced to the opposite sex, if you’re looking to breed them for a new liter. Pregnancies started past week 14 are not safe though, so keep an eye on the hamster’s age. For more info on the mating ritual and the reproduction itself, you will need to read here. And read here to make sure the babies survive until they are adults. New momma hamsters can be unpredictable. 11. Figure out which breed of hamster you have There are 5 main types of hamsters, 3 of which are Dwarf types. The 3 Dwarf types are hard to tell apart, but the Syrian is the largest and the Chinese is the only one with a noticeable tail. There are essential differences between the Syrian hamster and every other hamster out there. Including where they all came from, actually. Hamsters have only been pets for the past century or so, and they have some pretty rugged ancestors. Why does the breed matter ? In a way, it doesn’t. There aren’t severe temperament differences between hamster breeds like there are between dog breeds. Still, not all hamsters can live together. Only the Dwarf types can come to tolerate a sibling or two, as long as they were never separated since they were babies. Obviously, they need to be of the same gender, otherwise you’ll become a grandparent, not the way you’d like. Even so, I wouldn’t recommend putting any hamster in a cage with another hamster, Dwarf or not. Cohabiting is very rough, and there will be quarrels between the hamsters. To a certain degree they’re normal, as any sibling quarrels are. But, they can always degenerate into serious fights, sometimes deadly. For this reason I strongly recommend you keep each and every hamster in his own cage. 12. Know what behavior to expect from a hamster Remember that hamsters are prey animals. This means that they’re used to running away, and hiding. They won’t really stay put so you can pick them up. It’s not their nature. So expect a certain degree of fear and jumpiness from your hamster. He will freeze up from time to time, for no immediate reason. He’s actually listening for predators, and learning the various sounds that go around in your home, and outside of it. A hamster will sleep most of the day, and only wake up at dusk. He’ll come put when his instincts tell him no predators are around. And he’ll stay up most of the night, and go back into his nest once dawn comes. He might make a couple of sounds, but aside from that he’s a very quiet pet. What you might hear though, is the sound of him chewing on something to wear down his teeth. He does this often, and it’s as important to him as brushing our teeth is to us. If your hammy doesn’t warm up to you very fast, don’t be disappointed. That’s a fairly normal reaction from a small animal used to being chased through the desert by animals much larger than himself. You’re not very different from the big animals chasing his ancestors. Other than that, hamsters are a loveable bunch, prone to all kinds of weird acrobatics. My Teddy was one hell of a climber when he was young, he was all over the cage. 13. Have a sitter for him when you leave town Hamsters can’t really be left to their own devices when you leave town. Much like fish or a pet turtle, your hamster is going to need someone to come over and feed him daily. Hammies do survive for a few days with no food or water. But I don’t think you’ll want to find out just how much your hamster can last like that. Best to have someone to take care of him, even if it’s just giving him food and changing the water. 14. Know that hamsters are very sensitive animals Hamsters are sensitive to everything. The light levels, the noise levels, the temperature, the stress levels, being handled too much, being handled too little, being held wrong, and drafts. So you’re going to have a to be a very careful person if you’re going to look out for a hamster. Most of their sensitivities stem from the fact that they’re mostly nocturnal animals, so they react to light levels and sounds. The other is that they are very very bad at managing stress factors. This means that about half of their health problems come from how stressed they are. Given the fact that these creatures are almost always on high alert, they’re also high-strung all the time. So not a very good thing. It’s also very hard to not scare a hamster. Really, they’re so on edge that even getting up can trigger them. Walking past their cage. Sneezing within a few feet of them is a cataclysmic event. In truth this is because hamsters have very poor eyesight. So if you sit quietly and fairly still, he won’t even know you’re there. That means when you move he’s going to have a small heart attack. He didn’t even notice you, when did you get there ? 15. Know your hamster’s lifespan and what old age looks like Another thing to be aware of is how long your hamster will live. this will vary from hamster breed to hamster breed, but in general a hamster’s lifespan will be around 2-3 years. Hamsters are adults when they reach 3 months age, and they’re considered old when they reach their 2nd birthday. This means an old hamster will happen upon you faster than you’d think at first. Some hamsters don’t show their age, and some hamsters look very old even before their first birthday. Health problems become more common, walking becomes slow, and they slowly start to wither away. Old hamsters will need special care from you, and you can read up on this here. A word from Teddy I hope you found what you were looking for in this article. I know us hamsters look like cute and cuddle little things, but we do require a certain level of care. Hopefully this article gave you a lot of insight into what owning a hammy looks like. 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...
Ideal Temperature For Your Hamster’s Comfort
Ideal Temperature For Your Hamster’s ComfortWhen I first got Teddy I was very curious about whether he needs extra-warm temperatures or not. After all, he’s a Syrian hamster, hailing from the desert. The same way I’d think Siberian hamsters would need cold temperatures. After all, Siberia is famous for being a cold, frigid tundra. But I quickly found out I was wrong. Table of Contents ToggleSo what is the ideal temperature for your hamster ?Hamsters are very sensitive to temperature and draftsBedding ideas to keep your hamster warmThe right home for your hamsterDifference between hamster species when it comes to temperatureDangers of keeping your hamster too cold or too hotA word from Teddy So what is the ideal temperature for your hamster ? As it turns out, the ideal temperature for your hamster is basically the same for all species, with a few minor differences. But in general hamsters need around 20-22 degrees Celsius/68-72  Fahrenheit to live comfortably. They’re okay with the temperature dropping a few degrees, but once it reaches below 15 Celsius/60 Fahrenheit, they will enter a state of hibernation that can be dangerous to them. Hamsters do naturally hibernate in the wild, like bears for example. Hamsters only hibernate in case of extreme cold, so make sure you keep your hamster’s cage in a room that is  20-22 degrees Celsius/68-72  Fahrenheit. Hamsters are very sensitive to temperature and drafts Much of what is true for humans is true for hamsters as well. We are both mammals, and need warmer climates. But your hamster can’t adapt to the cold as fast as you. You can put on a sweater, but your hamster’s only got the one sweater he was born with – his fur. So, when it gets cold, your hamster will begin drawing more and more bedding into his house. If you gave him ripped paper towels for extra bedding, he will make a nest out of them and snuggle tightly to keep himself warm. When it gets too hot for the hamster – which is anything above 22 Celsius/72 Fahrenheit – you’ll see him start to push the bedding out of his house. This allows air to circulate through the house and cool him down. Hamsters can’t sweat like we do, and his fur coat will keep him warm no matter what. So higher temperatures are not good for him either. It’s very important that the room you keep your hamster in is one free from drafts. Those can create very cold and intense air that will give your hamster a cold. For them that cold can be fatal, even if for you it might be just a sniffle. Bedding ideas to keep your hamster warm Normally your hamster would run around the desert at night, to forage for food. Actually, they’re be running at dusk and dawn, when the temperature is more tolerable for them. Desert nights are colder than you’d think at first. So your hamster would stay in his burrow below the ground, when the temperature is too hot or too cold. In his little home he would have dried leaves, grass, and whatever plant material he can find that can be good insulation. What you can give your hamster is what I gave my Teddy. Lots of wood particles, or more commonly called sawdust. NOT the fine dusty kind ! And keep them unscented, since your hamster has a very very sensitive nose. The softer wood shavings that are left behind after working with wood are alright. We give Teddy a thick layer of the wood shavings for ‘ground’, which he has in his house as well. Then we also give him unscented, clean paper towels, ripped into smaller pieces that he can move easily. He usually uses those for the actual ‘bed’ inside his home. Aside from that, he also has the cardboard rolls that are left from the paper towels. He usually chews on them for fun, and he sometimes uses bits of it for his home, for extra insulation. As for just how much bedding to give, if it covers the bottom of the cage by a couple of inches (or 5 cm) then it will be enough. As for the paper towels, we usually give Teddy 2 sheets (3-ply) and he is fine with those. Never give your hamster cotton or fiber bedding. The hamster stores the bedding in his cheeks to use it in his home, and cotton keeps moisture and has fibers that can get stuck in your hammy’s teeth, which can be fatal. So stick to soft wood and paper. To find out more about the best kind of bedding you can give your hamster, check out my “best bedding” article. We’ll talk about the safest options you have, and which to avoid. The right home for your hamster The home your hamster lives in is crucial. And the material it’s made out of is very important for your hamster’s health. Ideally you want wood homes, because they ‘breathe’ and absorb moisture from the inside and let it evaporate outside. The home also needs some ventilation holes, like ‘doors’ or ‘windows’ that need to be large enough for your hamster to get through with his cheeks full. And finally, it’s okay if it’s small-ish, since your hammy will only use it to sleep and eat, and he does not take up much space. So in short, a plastic house, with just one entrance, is not okay. It will cause condensation and that can lead to your hamster catching a cold. You never want your hamster wet or staying in a humid place. I’ve seen this with Teddy when I first got him. The home that came with the cage was plastic, and whenever I’d clean it there would be beads of condensation on the ceiling of his home. I got him a wooden one, which has small cracks in the ceiling/roof to let air flow, and 3 big doors for air to flow freely. The condensation stopped, and the home never smells. Difference between hamster species when it comes to temperature There is little difference between species here, but there is one exception. While most hamsters need a 20-22 degrees Celsius/68-72  Fahrenheit  range, Winter whites need an 18-21 Celsius/65-70 Fahrenheit range to be comfortable. Even if the difference between them and other hamster species is small, it’s still something to take note of. This is because Winter white (or Siberian) hamsters come from a colder climate than the other types. (If you like this article, you can pin it to your Pinterest board by clicking the image below. The articles continues after the image.) Dangers of keeping your hamster too cold or too hot While your hamster can take on a lower temperature easier than a warmer one, neither extreme is easy for him. If it get cold, your hamster will do like my Teddy does, and gather as much bedding as he can to keep himself warm. If it gets too cold for more than 24 hours, then your hamster can enter a kind of hibernation. If left in this state for long, he can develop serious health issues. He only does this in case of emergencies, and can’t keep it for long. You can bring your hamster out of hibernation by slowly raising the temperature around him. Do no place your hamster in a very warm room, or on a very warm heater surface (like an electric blanket). Slowly bring the temperature up, degree by degree, until he wakes up. It may take a couple of hours or just a few minutes, depending on your hamster’s health and age. But if you keep you hamster at a temperature that’s too hot for him then he is in danger of heatstroke and dehydration. Never let your hamster get too warm since it’s not easy for him to cool off naturally. What you can do to help your hammy during summer is to place some ice cubes wrapped in a cloth, inside a jar, which you can place in his cage. This way there will be no condensation on the outside that can keep the bedding wet and get too cold for the hamster. Or, another thing to do is keep him away from direct sunlight. Or place the cage on a cool surface, which will slowly cool the bedding as well. Make sure the room is not at all drafty and humid, otherwise you risk your hamster’s life. I usually keep Teddy in a corner of the room that is away from the window, so not drafty. And away from sunlight, so he will not overheat. The thermostat is around 22 Celsius all year round, so he is fine overall. A word from Teddy I hope this article helped you figure out the best way to keep my kind happy when it comes to our environment. While most of us come from a desert landscape, we don’t stay out during the day because it’s too hot, not during the night because it’s too cold. But dawn and dusk are good temperature ranges for us, so remember that we need around  20-22 degrees Celsius/68-72  Fahrenheit to live comfortably. You can check out the other articles on this site as well, you’ll find great info on what we usually eat, how much water we drink, and why we eat our poop too ! [...] Read more...
Choosing An Exercise Ball For Your Hamster – Complete Guide
Choosing An Exercise Ball For Your Hamster – Complete GuideWhen I first got my Teddy, I didn’t have an exercise ball for him. I didn’t even think that would be necessary. But a friend helped me out and let me have her hammy’s old exercise ball. After a few weeks I got Teddy his own exercise ball. But that was when I learned most of the things I know about how much exercise a hamster needs, and how to help him get that exercise. That’s what I’m going to help you with here. Table of Contents ToggleSo what is the best exercise ball for hamsters ?Why hamsters need an exercise ballHow to tell if your hamster is comfortable in the exercise ballPrecautions when using the hamster exercise ballDo not leave your hamster in the exercise ball for too long.Keep an eye on your hamster when he’s in the ball.Hamsters can sometimes escape their exercise balls.Be careful what surface you place the ball on.Proof your apartment or house.My recommendation for a good hamster exercise ballHow to use a hamster exercise ballGet your hamster used to the exercise ballPlacing your hamster in the exercise ballPlacing the hamster back in his cageWhen to place the hamster in his exercise ballWhen to not place the hamster in his exercise ballA word on hamster exercise balls with standsHow to clean a hamster exercise ballWhere to keep the hamster exercise ball when not using itA word from Teddy So what is the best exercise ball for hamsters ? A great exercise ball for hamsters is one that will fit the adult hamster properly. This means that an adult Syrian hamster like my Teddy will need at least a 7 inch exercise ball, up to 9 inches. That’s 18 cm to 23 cm, in diameter. Smaller breeds of hamster like a dwarf or Campbell will do well in 5 inch exercise balls, up to 7 inches. So that’s 13 cm to 18 cm for your little hamster types. Another thing about the hamster exercise balls is that you should be careful that your hammy’s feet or tail don’t slip through the air holes. This can happen with the very large exercise balls, that are geared towards guinea pigs or ferrets. So inspect the air holes and vents carefully to see how wide they are. If it looks like your hamster’s entire foot could fit through there, then look for a size smaller. All exercise balls are made of hard plastic, so your hamster will be safe. Why hamsters need an exercise ball If your hamster is anything like my Teddy, then he’s very curious and want to be everywhere, and know everything, right now. He’s a very active hammy and I wouldn’t label him as a ”relaxed” hamster. He’s more like a border collie than anything, he’ll find something to do if I don’t give him something to do. So the exercise ball saved us both, especially in the beginning. He can roam the house as much as he likes. This is the first way an exercise ball helps your hamster. It gives him the opportunity to roam, explore, get into all the nooks and crannies he sees from his cage, and wander under your desk when you’re busy. Second, an exercise ball will help your hamster get more exercise than the running wheel. This is because the hamster has to push the weight of the ball as well, and that’s a great way to give him good exercise. He can’t run as fast as he can in the running wheel, but it’s a different type of workout. To find out more about the kind of exercise wheel your hamster needs, check out my article here. Third, it gives him something to do. He can’t really chew at that ball from the inside, it keeps him moving, and he’s easy to contain. If you’re cleaning his cage and have nowhere to put him, try the exercise ball. This is what I do with my Teddy, and he always gets excited when he sees it. And fourth, they’re just so funny when they’re in that ball. This one is more for you than the hamster, I know. But you need a laugh every now and then too. A hamster in his exercise ball bumping into every bit of furniture, and trying his best to push the ball over that powerstrip cord is the best thing ever. How to tell if your hamster is comfortable in the exercise ball Teddy has a 7 inch exercise ball, and he’s had it since his first few weeks. The first one he had was a smaller, 5 inch one. Since he was a baby, it was alright for a couple of weeks. Back then he was the size of an adult dwarf hamster. But he soon started to grow and get bigger and longer, and once I was that I went to look for a bigger exercise ball. The one I landed on was a 7 inch version, clear plastic, with removable lids on the side. The way I could tell he was much more comfortable in this new ball was that his back was finally straight. When he ran/pushed the ball, his back wasn’t as arched as it was in the smaller ball. So that’s one thing you can look for, how arched the hamster’s back is. His back isn’t meant to arch backwards, it’s built for hunching and standing straight at best. If you notice your hammy having back problems consider getting him a larger exercise ball. Other signs to look for are how easy the hamster can move the ball from the inside, and how much his tail or feet stick out at times. If the hammy can easily move the ball, that’s good. Some resistance is expected, if he’s on a carpet. The ball moves easier on hard surfaces like hardwood or tiles. But if the hammy can’t move the ball easily, it might be just too big for him, even if it looks like he has enough space. Large exercise balls equal more plastic, so more weight. You hamster can only push so much, especially if he’s a smaller breed. As for the tail and feet sticking out, they will stick out a bit anyway. His claws and tail are so small and thin it’s hard for them not to stick through the air vents. Especially when he stops to clean himself, check something and sits down. But if the hammy’s entire leg can fit through an air hole, then the ball is not good for him. He can get hurt or catch his tail and that’s never good. Precautions when using the hamster exercise ball While the ball is made to protect your hammy, and it does that quite well, there are a few things you should be careful about. Do not leave your hamster in the exercise ball for too long. Best to put him in the ball several times a day, for set amounts of time. I usually leave Teddy in the ball for about 30 minutes, but not more. This is because the air inside is not very much, even with the air holes. Also, he has no access to water or food. If you see droppings in your hammy’s exercise ball, then you can be sure he needs a break. If you can’t see them, you’ll definitely hear them jingling. Keep an eye on your hamster when he’s in the ball. If he gets stick on some carpet, or corner, or charger cord, help him out. Otherwise he will panic. If your house is on at least two levels, keep him away from the stairs. The ball will protect him, but only so much. Hamsters can sometimes escape their exercise balls. Maybe it’s not closed properly, or maybe he’s a genius, no matter. Make sure you close the exercise ball very tightly, and keep an eye on him. Be careful what surface you place the ball on. Hardwood and short haired carpet are okay. But a shaggy carpet, with long frills is not okay, since it can stick into his exercise ball. The hamster, being curious, will shove the carpet pieces in his cheeks to use as nesting later. That’s not good, ever. Watch out for dusty or unclean surfaces. Dirt and dust will find their way into your house anyway, but it’s important that you let the hamster run on a clean surface. Otherwise the dirt and dust will end up on him, and that can affect his health. Proof your apartment or house. The area your hamster will run around in needs to be safe, for him and for your furniture. So any corners the ball can fit into and actually get stuck in, should be blocked by a slipper or something like that. If there is anything fragile like a mirror, either place it somewhere else when the hamster is in the ball, or put some slippers or rolled towel in front of it. The ball bumping into furniture is incredibly noisy, so make sure you put him in a room where there is not much hard furniture, or try not to mind the noise. Teddy: In general, if you can’t hear the ball moving for more than a few seconds, you should check on your hamster friend. He’s either stuck, or up to something. My recommendation for a good hamster exercise ball I looked around and found a good exercise ball on Amazon. It’s the same size as the one I have, and it has a lot of air vents for your hamster to breathe. You can choose whichever color you like, but in the end all exercise balls end up with scratches on them after a few uses. Think of it as the polished armor on a knight. This particular ball is 7 inches/18 cm, so that’s the minimum diameter for a Syrian hamster, and the maximum for a dwarf type. So both hamster types can use this kind of ball freely. This kind of ball is easy enough to assemble, so there should be no problems there. You can check out the listing on Amazon here. Once you get your hamster an exercise ball, whether it’s the one above or a different one, you’ll need to know how to help your hammy use it. So let’s get into that, so you can watch your little friend run around. How to use a hamster exercise ball This will be very intuitive for your hamster, but he might need some time to adjust at first. I’ll give your Teddy’s example. When he first found himself in a hamster ball, he was a bit confused. I made the mistake of putting him in the ball too soon after bringing him home. Teddy got used to the ball very quickly, and learned how to steer it properly in about a week. Get your hamster used to the exercise ball Leave the ball in his cage for about half an hour, maybe a full hour. Make sure one end is open, and the hamster has easy access to the opening. Place a treat inside the ball, so your hammy has more reason to climb into the ball. Let him explore, smell, try to chew on it. He will get used to it, and will probably climb into it fairly fast. After your hammy is used to the exercise ball, it will be much easier to get him into the ball. If he starts moving his nest into the ball, remove the ball, and leave the nest parts in the cage. It’s clear he’s comfortable in it. Placing your hamster in the exercise ball Once your hammy is used tot he exercise ball, this will be easy. You can do this 3 ways, depending on your hamster’s personality, current mood, and the type of cage you have. First, you can place the ball in the cage with a treat inside. Once the hamster climbs in, scoop the ball up and close it. This works best for cages that have a top-side opening, and a large one at that. It’s also great if you’re hammy is in a very feisty or irritated mood and can not be held at the moment, but you need to clean the cage. Second, you can  place the exercise ball (with a treat inside) with the opening on the side of the cage. It only works for cages that have side clasps. Then unhook one side, and slowly raise that part until your hamster can get through. Most hamsters will be so curious about the new opening they will climb right into the ball. By keeping the opening flat against the side of the cage, you’ll make it easier to keep him in place until you put the lid on. Third, if your hammy is very tame and is easy to hold, pick him up. Place him by hand in the exercise ball, which of course has a treat inside. This way you’re sure the hamster gets into the exercise ball, which makes cleaning the cage much easier. Placing a treat inside the exercise ball will teach your hamster to always be excited when he sees the exercise ball. After a while he will climb into it even without the treat. Placing the hamster back in his cage This is a lot like the way you got him into the cage in the first place. Place a bit of food in the cage and place the open exercise ball near that food. The hamster will climb out, and will enjoy his treat. If your have a cage that can lift the sides, place the food close to the side you will use to place the hamster back. So that when you lift the side of the cage to place your hamster back, he will see the food right away and go straight to it. Never force or shake your hamster out of his exercise ball. Try coaxing him out with a treat, or just wiggling a finger where you want him to get. He’s very curious and will go to check it out. When to place the hamster in his exercise ball First off, let’s talk about how soon to place the hamster in the ball after bringing him home from the pet store. You should allow him about a week to get used to his new home, in which time he will build his nest and get a sense of  normality. After that week, make sure you get the hamster slowly used to the ball by placing it in the cage like I explained above. Aside from that, you can place the hamster in his ball at almost any point when he is awake, but there is a best time. If you see your hamster very agitated, or climbing all over the cage, that would be a good time. He has a lot of extra energy which he needs to release. When to not place the hamster in his exercise ball shortly after he woke up when he is sitting on his hideout, scoping the area and being watchful when he is eating when he has low energy, and would be sleepy when he is sick and needs a lot of rest and water A word on hamster exercise balls with stands I had one of these, actually I still do. The one I have used to have a stand for the ball, and a second set of lids so the hamster could climb into and out of the ball when he wants. It sounds like a great idea, but there are a couple of problems here. First, the stand is meant as an actual stand. Not as a support for a spinning exercise ball. This is the mistake I made with Teddy, and after a couple of weeks, I heard the noise. Plastic on plastic eventually chewed down on the stand bits, and it started making the most awful screeches when Teddy ran in it. It’s not like a metal wheel, which you can just oil and it will be fine for a couple of weeks. No, the plastic one actually gets ground down to nothing, both the stand handles and the holes they plug into. Second, the hamster can somehow, some way, move its nest in that ball. This happened with Teddy, and I’m sure there are a few other people out there who had this happen too. The little furball moved food, nesting material, and a few droppings into his exercise ball, and used that as a nest. Which wasn’t so terrible, except when he started running. The contents Teddy brought into that exercise ball flew everywhere in the ball, and a bit outside. It actually woke me up a couple of nights. So do yourself and your hammy a favor, and only use that stand outside the cage. Use it as a stand to actually keep the ball on, without the hamster inside. (If you like this article so far, you can pin it to your Pinterest board by clicking the image below. The article continues after the image.) How to clean a hamster exercise ball The exercise ball will get a bit dirty, there’s no way around that. It will grind on whatever is on the floor, it will get all kinds of scratch marks on the outside from rolling around. Aside from all that, it will pick up a bit of dust or other small debris that need to be cleaned off. Make sure you use only hot (as hot as you can handle it) water, and the smallest amount of soap to clean the ball. Take it apart, and thoroughly scrub it down with hot water and a tiny amount of soap, inside and out. You can use the rough side of a dishwashing sponge, or a cloth, whichever you prefer. Be extra careful in the inside of the ball to not use much soap. The soap has a strong scent for your hammy, and he might not want to get into the exercise ball if he can’t stand the smell. The wash will also remove most of the hammy’s scent from inside the ball, so make sure you place a treat inside the exercise ball when you reintroduce it to the hamster. As for how often to clean it, it depends on how often the hamster uses it, and how much it’s been through. If you place your hamster in the ball every day, and let him roam for a half hour, then the ball should be cleaned often. Best to do that daily, since there a lot on the floor usually. If he only ever uses the exercise ball a few times a month, and for a short amount of time, you can even clean it every week. Where to keep the hamster exercise ball when not using it Wherever you keep it, it must be a clean, dust-free place. In a cupboard, or a drawer would be alright. Place it on its stand if it has one, and keep it somewhere the dust will not settle on or in it. Do not leave it on the floor, especially if you have other pets or children. Someone might kick it by accident, or a dog might chew on it, or maybe one of your toddlers will confuse it with a bouncy ball. A word from Teddy This was all I could tell you about our exercise balls. How to pick one, how to keep it clean, and how to put one of us hamsters in an exercise ball. We love to run around and play, us hamsters are very active creatures and we get anxious when we’re cooped up too much. So let us roam free-ish, in the exercise ball, so we can explore your home ! If you’d like to know more about us hamsters, and what kind of food we can eat, or how much water we need, you can check out the articles below.   [...] Read more...