Do Hamsters Need Affection ? How To Keep Your Furball Happy

When I first got my Teddy I didn’t know how much attention he’d need from me. Or if he’d need any at all. I only knew hamsters can be left by themselves in their cages and be fine, but do hammies really need your attention ?

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So do hamsters need attention from their owners ?

YES, much less than other pets but yes. Hamsters are solitary by nature, but they still enjoy human company, and can grow to be attached to their owners.

This means you need to handle and play with the hamster very often, to form this bond.

But your hammy will not be lonely if you don’t pay him too much attention. Hamsters are solitary by nature, and do not miss company necessarily. This means that they can live on their own, and not miss the owner too much.

However a hamster not handled regularly will need a lot more space and activities, to consume all of his energy. He’s basically an untamed hamster in this case.

But let’s get into detail with this, and see how and when to give your hamster attention.

It depends on your hamster’s personality

Some hamsters are more cuddly, some are more aloof. In general Syrian hamsters are easier to tame, and thus will be a bit more affectionate than other hamster types.

But this is only because the Syrians are much larger than the other hammies, and thus can be handled easier.

However there are hamsters and hamsters. For example my Teddy – adult Syrian male –  is not the cuddliest of hamsters. He’s not completely aloof, but he is always on the go, doing something, too busy to stay in my hands and relax a little.

To be honest he was not what I imagined when I said I wanted a hammy, but he’s got a whole personality of his own. He may not be cuddly, but he makes a lot of funny faces, and would be a really good circus acrobat.

Maybe your hammy is like my Teddy, or maybe he’s a very mellow hamster. A family friend of ours had a hammy, his name was Oscar, and he was the tamest thing ever. He let anyone touch him, and would come up to the cage bars if he heard you, asking for a bit of attention.

There’s hamsters and hamsters, and you won’t really know what kind of hamster you’re getting when he is a baby. But it’s important to realize that your pet is his own creature, and won’t always be what you imagined.

You can, however, do your best to try and tame your hamster. Just don’t be surprised by the outcome, and love him anyway.

Hamsters are always very curious and active

Your hamster need your attention, even if it’s not for reasons as sentimental as a puppy. True, hamsters do need attention, but they do not crave it as much as dogs.

Hamsters can’t be emotionally handicapped (since they’re loners by default) like a puppy starving for affection, but still you should give your hamster plenty of love and attention.

Still, your hamster will be curious. About everything. Including what you’ve got in that bag you’re rustling next to his cage, or 2 rooms away.

So even for something as small as this, hamsters do need your attention so they know what you’re doing, and they can investigate in peace. Just bring the bag close to the cage and let him sniff what you’ve got there. Chances are he won’t be interested.

For example my Teddy goes nuts when I’m doing something next to his cage, but the second I let him get a sniff of what I’m doing (often just heating something in the microwave) he loses all interest and walks away. Sometimes I think I have a cat.

So, sometimes your hamster’s curiosity might be mistaken for asking for affection. Hamsters aren’t aloof like fish, or spiders or reptiles, but they’re not nearly as cuddly as dogs, cats, or parrots.

How to keep your hamster friend happy

You can keep your hamster friend happy, and give him a lot of attention and love. There’s a few ways you can do that, and I’ll tell you right here.

Play with the hamster

The first and most obvious thing to do is to play with your hamster. This will create and deepen the bond between the two of you. Also, you’re giving your hamster plenty of attention by constantly handling him, and letting him get your scent.

For example my Teddy’s fave playtime is a toilet paper square, dangled in front of him and he tries to climb onto it half the time. He just loves chasing that bit of paper around his cage every time he notices it.

Even if you don’t want to take the hamster out of his cage, you can still talk to him and touch him in the cage. This helps him get closer to you, because hamsters need plenty of stimulation.

Give the hammy plenty of toys and ways to exercise

This is the next best thing after playing with your hamster. Sometimes, like when you’re sleeping and your hamster is awake, your hammy needs things to do.

So giving the hamster chew toys and a running wheel is going to give him something to do.

As said before in this article hamsters sometimes are just very curious, and sometimes that can be mistaken for asking for attention.

If your hammy has not much to do in his cage, then he’ll grow bored and want to explore the outside. And if the outside means you, making coffee next to him, then he will absolutely need to know what’s in that cup.

So a good option is getting your hamster some toys – here’s a link for some DYI and store bought toy ideas for your hamster, so he never gets bored.

And here is an article on running wheels for hamsters, so you know what to look for when you get one for your hamster. Or, if the one you’ve already got is good enough. There’s wheel size requirements, depending on your hamster’s breed.

Get your hamster the right sized everything

From food bowl to water bottle to hideout and cage, everything needs to be the right size for your hammy.

A very small cage will make your hamster nervous and anxious, and he will be all over the cage bars. It will look like he’s asking for your attention, but once you do handle him he will not be friendly or sit still. He will be happy he is out, and can explore, but you’re not letting him.

So for this reason (and many others) getting your hamster a large enough cage is one of the most important things to do to keep him comfortable and happy. Hamsters are very small, but they need quite a bit of space.

You can read more about hamster cages – size, types, and how to clean them – right here, so you can take care of your hamster friend as best you can. Remember, if you’ve got Dwarf hammies and they’re at least two, you’re going to need a bigger cage.

As for the hideout your hamster will spend most of his time in, it’s important that you get your hammy a wooden one. He will chew on everything in his cage, even the hideout, so it’s best to get him one that’s safe for his teeth. You can see more about hamster hideouts and the bedding hamsters usually need right here.

(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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Hamsters do not get lonely

You might think that hamsters can get lonely, all by themselves in those cages. Well, hamsters are okay to be left alone, after all they’re loners by nature.

In the wild hamsters live alone, and only meet other hamsters to mate. Or, the occasional trespasser in their territory who they will fight.

There are some hamster breeds that can live together. But even those hamsters need to be introduced as babies, and be of the same litter, in order to get a long. Even so, sometimes it just doesn’t work.

So if you’ve got an adult Syrian hammy, and you’re feeling bad because you feel like you’re not paying him enough attention, do not get him a friend. He will fight anyone new that you put into his cage, even a baby hamster.

Syrians and Chinese hamsters are especially territorial, and will get into an actual, legit deathmatch with another hamster in their cage.

Hamsters are not puppies, and won’t do well in a group. Some Dwarf types are okay being raised with a sibling of theirs, but even there they can get on each other’s nerves and develop stress-related illnesses.

A word from Teddy

I hope you know more about us hammies now, and know that we do in fact need your attention. Maybe not as much as other pets, and we won’t jump on you to lick your face to show affection. But we love you in our own way, and we do like your company !

So if you want to know more about us hamsters, feel free to check out the articles below. You’l find more info on what kind of food we need, how much water we can drink, and even why we play with our poop.

Related blog post
What Do Hamsters Eat ? – Food List And Exceptions
What Do Hamsters Eat ? – Food List And ExceptionsWhat do you usually feed your hamster ? What can hamsters eat ? What should they NOT eat ? I had some many of these questions when I first got my Teddy, and I can tell you what I found out. Some I found out by trial and error, some I asked vets, and some still I found out from other hamster enthusiasts. So I’ve compiled a big ol’ list here, so you can have all the info you need for your hamster’s food and diet. Table of Contents ToggleSo what can hamsters eat ?What hamsters should never eatProtein foods your hamster can eatVegetables and Legumes you can feed your hamsterHamsters can eat pasta and bread too !Nuts and seeds your hamster can eatFruits your hamster can eatPre-made food mixes for your hamsterGrain and pellet food mix for your hamsterTreats for your hamsterHow much does a hamster eat ?Dangers of overfeeding your hamsterWhat to do if your hamster is not eatingA word from Teddy So what can hamsters eat ? First off, hamsters are omnivores. That means they can and will eat anything from plant-based food, to grains, to meat and insects. This applies for every kind of hamster out there, be it Syrian, Robo, Campbell, or Chinese. If you look at a box of hamster feed, you will usually just see grains, a few seeds, and a few vitamin pellets. But if you turn the box and look at the ingredients, you will often see protein sources like chicken/fish/beef/shrimp.  You can feed the hamster an omnivore diet yourself, or get a pre-made mix that will last for several weeks, even a couple of months. I’ll get into more detail with each food group a hamster can eat, along with actual examples you probably have in your home. And I’ll give you a couple of food mixes you can buy for your hamster, along with other treats. But first, let’s see what hamsters should definitely avoid. What hamsters should never eat In general hamsters should stay away from anything acidic. Even if you give your hammy a piece of orange he will turn away from it, but that’s just because of the strong smell. Best to avoid acidic food altogether. There are other foods your hamster should avoid, mainly because his stomach is not built for such foods. Here are a few examples of foods your hamster should never eat: any type of citrus at all – lemon, orange, clementine, grapefruit, etc. any part of a tomato, it’s acidic as well, even if less than a lemon chocolate, and anything sweet – can cause diabetes fruit seeds or peels – apple, grapes, strawberry, etc onions, garlic, peppers, spices – anything extra spicy or tasty will upset his stomach high-fat content foods – like extra fat meat, or even some types of dairy anything unwashed like unwashed fruits or vegetables any part of a rhubarb(1) almonds, apricot pits can be highly toxic celery or very stringy/fibery foods like cabbage anything containing added sugar or salt raw potato or beans (any kind) These are all foods that your hamster is better off not eating, since he can’t digest them. In some cases these foods will kill the hamster, so best to avoid them completely. Alright, now let’s get into the food groups your hammy can eat, along with actual examples. Yay ! Protein foods your hamster can eat Hammies do eat protein, and it doesn’t have to be soy-based necessarily. While you can feed your little hammy something soy-based like tofu, you can also find some soy protein in his food mix as well. But I wouldn’t advise giving the hamster and actual, raw soy bean. Best to stay away from that. For example I’ve given my Teddy boiled egg white, boiled unseasoned chicken and turkey, and he loves them both. Actually, most of the time hamsters just store food in their cheeks and hide it in the house. But with the egg and chicken, Teddy dropped everything he had and ate them right there. Of course, the pieces you feed your hammy should be small, so he can eat them on the spot. If you give him too big a piece, he might want to save some of it for later and we all know how quickly meat goes bad. Mealworms are sometimes a treat for hamsters. I’ve never give my Teddy one, but I’ve met hamster owners who give them to their hammies as treats. Not all hamsters will like them, but you can try. Do not give them mealworms too often though, since they are very filling. Teddy: If your feed any kind of meat or egg to you hammy, keep it simple, unsalted, unseasoned. Never feed any raw protein tot us, like raw meat or egg. Dairy is also a good protein source, but don’t give it to your hammy often ! Hamsters are mammals just like us humans, and as such we can’t process milk-based products very well when they are in large quantities. So, keep the dairy to a minimum. Something like a peanut sized piece, once per week is alright. Vegetables and Legumes you can feed your hamster Most vegetables are safe for hamsters to eat, but some are to be avoided. Especially legumes like lentils, beans, peas, chickpeas and so on are not alright. This is mostly because of their high fiber content, which can upset your hamster’s guts. So best to stay away from legumes for your hamster. Vegetables like leafy greens and roots are mostly alright. But let’s talk about a few clear examples. Here are some vegetables your hammy can totally eat: most leafy greens, like spinach, watercress, lettuce, kale cucumber, zucchini carrots are okay, but any other hamster than a Syrian will have to eat them less frequently (higher sugar content than other vegetables, can cause diabetes for dwarf hamsters) sweet potato, cooked – same as carrots, keep a very low intake for dwarf hamsters asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower (cooked) You probably have most of these in your fridge or pantry already. So feel free to feed your hamster small pieces of these veggies as a treat, or even as a supplement to his usual food mix. Hamsters can eat pasta and bread too ! But only in small quantities. The thing with pasta, bread, rice, and so on, is that they’re all high carbohydrate foods. As such, your hamster needs them, but not as much as you’d think. The carb content of a hamster diet should not get past 20%, since they require a balanced dies of protein and veggies as well. So here are a few examples or carbs and bread your hammy can safely eat: Bread, as long as it has no added sugar and has a low salt content. That rules out toast bread, hot dog buns, and hamburger buns as well. Whole grain or multi-cereal bread is great for hamsters actually. Dry grains, of basically any kind Cooked brown rice, unseasoned Cooked wholegrain pasta, unseasoned. Regular white pasta becomes too sticky for your hamster, and will leave residues in his cheek pouches that can cause problems later on. Corn flakes, oat flakes, most muesli mixes Unsalted, unsweetened crackers and biscuits, small piece The food mix you give your hamster is usually well balanced, so don’t feed your hammy too much additional bread or other carbs. Keep them as a small treat every now and then. Nuts and seeds your hamster can eat Hamsters love to chew on a lot of things, and nuts and seeds give them just that opportunity. Most nuts and seeds are okay for hamsters to eat, but there are a few exceptions. Here’s a list of seeds and nuts your hamster can enjoy: dried sunflower and pumpkin seeds, with or without shell, unseasoned peanuts and hazelnuts, unsalted, plain; remove shell and skin walnuts chestnuts, without shell, cooked, plain sesame seeds Do keep in mind that nuts and seeds have a high fat content. So don’t feed too many or too often to your hamster. Keep them as a treat every now and then. Especially if the food mix you bought for the hamster already has a couple of seeds and nuts included. Teddy: Stay away from almonds though. They classify as a nut, but they are toxic for us hamsters ! Fruits your hamster can eat Most kinds o fruit are safe for hamsters. There are a few exceptions, and I’ll cover those too. But first, here is a list of fruits your hamster can eat: apple, pear, peeled and cored (no seeds) strawberries, no seeds banana slice, in a very small amount grape, no seeds, peeled dates and figs, dried raisins blueberries, blackberry, raspberry cherries, no seeds Again, keep the hamster away from citrus fruits. The citrus oils is toxic for hamsters, and will harm them. If you’ve ever peeled an orange and got your hand close to your hammy, you saw him pull away. (If you like this article so far, you can pin it to your Pinterest board by clicking the image below. The article continues after the image.) Pre-made food mixes for your hamster These are a convenient way to feed your hamster, and often are actually pretty well thought out. If you see the ingredient list, and think there’s something vital that’s missing (like proteins) you can look for another brand or supplement with proteins like the list above. Grain and pellet food mix for your hamster I use a pre-made mix for my Teddy, and give him fruits, veggies, and meat whenever I’m cooking. So he gets the grain and pellets mix, with an assortment of carrots and other foods I have around the house and are safe for him. As I said above, I’ll give you a few options on store bough food to give to your hamster. The first one I found is an actual food mix, with a fair amount of seeds and pellets as well. The whole bag will last you for a couple of months or more, depending on how much you feed the hamster, and what you supplement alongside (More on that below). You can check the Amazon pricing here, and other details as well. Treats for your hamster While most hamster food mixes have a balance of protein, vitamins, and carbs, you can give your hamster occasional treats. These don’t have to be often, but need to be kept as a treat every few days, or when you’re trying to teach or tame your hamster. For example I give Teddy cheese drops as a treat, and he absolutely loves them. The drops can be made of other fruits or veggies too. But Teddy seems to prefer the cheese. I found a variety pack that you can give your hamster. They’re yogurt based and suitable for all kinds of hamster, rats, gerbils, even ferrets. You can find the listing on Amazon here, and check the price as well. There are other types of treats hamsters go for, like for example simple dog treats (no flavors) or milk bones, and some granola bars(no sugar or honey). But my Teddy loves these cheese yogurt drops, and he gets them 2-3 times a week. Teddy: Whatever treat or food you choose, make sure you feed us hamsters responsibly ! Treats are treats and we don’t need them every day. Food mix is a great way to make sure we get the proper nutrition and stay healthy. How much does a hamster eat ? Alright, now that you know what kind of foods your hammy can and can not eat, and you’ve seen a few examples of pre-made food and treats, let’s talk about how often to feed the hamster. This depends mostly on the hamster himself, in that a baby hamster will need a bit less food than an adult hamster. But in general, 2 teaspoons of dry food are enough for an adult Syrian hamster. Dwarf hamsters need less, 1 teaspoon. It might sound like very little food, but look at the size of your hamster. Not only can he not eat much, but also dry food keeps him full for much longer than veggies. If you’re unsure, grab a teaspoon and put the necessary amount in your hand. I’ll attach a photo here of how much 2 teaspoons of dry food is for my Teddy. This is enough for an adult Syrian hamster. Teddy: Remember, we don’t need a lot of food, and we also hide food in our hideouts ! So if you just fed your hammy, and see no food there 5 minutes later, don’t give him more food. He just took the food into his hideout, to snack on later. Us hamsters are funny like that, and love to hoard our food ! Dangers of overfeeding your hamster The first and immediate danger is getting your hamster fat. While you might think that a chubby hamster looks cute (and he does, not gonna lie) it’s very bad for his health. Hamsters are very active creatures, and must be able to run and sprint and dart through tubes or into hideouts at any point. This is their instinct, and a large fat hamster will not be able to do any of these, or at least not properly. This will shorten the hamster’s lifespan as well. A hamster can only live for so long (2-3 years), might as well make his short life comfortable. If you want to know more about why your hamster can get so big or fat, check out my article on this exact topic. There I’ll tell you everything you need to know about why hamsters can get fat, and even how to slim yours down. Hint: it involves getting your hammy more exercise opportunities. For this a great hamster wheel is essential. You’ll also find out what a reasonable weight is for the hamster himself, so you have a guideline to follow. What to do if your hamster is not eating Some hamsters are very picky about their food. They will not eat just anything, and need more attention in that way. So play around with his food, change up the flavors a bit. Maybe he only likes chicken flavored pellets or treats. That could be a start to your hamster eating more. If your hammy is not touching dry food, try with veggies. Give him alternatives, like a piece of broccoli, one asparagus, and a small kale leaf. See which he likes, and keep giving him that. Then, continue adding new foods to his diet, from the list of foods I wrote above. Until you reach a mix of vegetables that you can give him daily, and you know he will eat them. If veggies are not an option for him, try giving the hamster meat. I’ve never seen a hamster turn down meat. Make sure the piece is cooked, but unseasoned. The extra salt is not needed in your hamster’s diet, since he needs much less than humans. If, in an exceptional case, your hamster turns down every kind of food, call the vet. Especially if you see other signs of a possible illness like sparse fur, a wet tail (very bad), dried blood on his body, or anything that looks out of the ordinary. In a worst case scenario, you might want to know how much a hamster can survive without any food and water. I wrote an article on that topic, and the point is that if your hamster is not eating, but at least has water he has a higher chance or survival. In any case, contact your vet if your hammy seems sick, along with not eating. A word from Teddy I hope you’re very clear now on what us hamster can and can not eat. I know it’s a bit of a list to remember, but it’s in your hamster’s benefit. If you’re not sure about a food, and you can’t find any info anywhere, maybe don’t feed it to your hammy. That way at least you’ll be sure he’s safe. You can find more info on the best kind of bedding for us hamsters, or why we sometimes eat our own poo, and even why we’re sometimes scared of you ! Just check out the articles below and you’ll find your answers. References: https://www.rspca.org.uk/adviceandwelfare/pets/rodents/hamsters/diet [...] Read more...
Where Hamsters Come From – Origin Story Of Your Furry Friend
Where Hamsters Come From – Origin Story Of Your Furry FriendIf you’ve ever wondered where your hamster comes from, know that I asked myself the same question. Turns out hamsters have a short history of being pets, and some really wild and rugged ancestors. It’s a whole story, really. And there’s more than just one hamster type. Today there’s 5 types of hamster available for purchase, and they’re all a bit different. But let’s start with the basics: where do they come from, where do they go ? (Cotton-eyed Joe) Table of Contents ToggleSo where do hamsters come from ?About the Syrian hamsterAbout the Roborovski DwarfAbout the Campbell DwarfAbout the Siberian/Winter white DwarfAbout the Chinese DwarfThere is a wild European hamster no one has ever tamedHow the wild hamster came to be your cuddly petPet hamsters vs wild hamsters – is there a difference ?Is a hamster a good pet for your home ?A word from Teddy So where do hamsters come from ? Hamsters, as a whole, have several ‘roots’ but they all stem from the same general region. Reaching from southern Turkey, Syria, Russia, Siberia, Mongolia, parts of China, hamsters are mostly Asian in descent.  At least the ones that we’ve been able to domesticate somewhat, and keep as pets. Each hamster type has a different story, but they have a common thread. That of being noticed in the wild by one scientist or explorer, and brought back to the Western world as pets. The modern hamster, aside from variations in coat patterns, is very much the same as the wild hamsters discovered about a century ago. Next, we’ll cover the roots of each hamster type, and how they came to be our pets, including how to care for them given their ancestry. About the Syrian hamster Originally from southern Turkey and Syria, the Syrian hamster is the largest of the pet hamsters (up to 7 inches/18 cm). They come from a very hot and dry place on this planet. They’re the most diverse-looking hamsters out there. They can be all in one color, spotted, ringed, with a dominant spot, golden, or ashen, or pretty much any color combination you can imagine. The most common is the Golden variation – also the one found in the wild – with orange on the back, and white on the belly, with a bit of grey on his ears. My Teddy is like that. The Syrian was first sighted in 1839, but didn’t become a pet until the past few decades. You see what happened was that all the way back in 1930 a zoologist named Israel Aharoni was able to find a mother hamster, with a litter of 11 babies. They were found in Syria, and brought to Jerusalem for study. Not all of the litter survived, since the mother sensed danger and started eating the babies. Unfortunately that happens, and the zoologist wasn’t aware, no one had known hamsters before. A few of the babies survived, and were raised in the laboratory in Jerusalem. Some escaped, and became the wild hamsters of Israel. In 1931 a few of them were transported to Britain, and from the on raised and passed on to various laboratories for studies, and to breeders as well. Today’s modern Syrian hammies are descended from that one mother found in Syria, since none have ever been successfully captured and bred since. So my Teddy – Golden Syrian male – is probably related to your Syrian hammy, like very very distant cousins. About the Roborovski Dwarf The Roborovski hammy, or the Robo Dwarf, was first sighted and noted by Lt. Vsevolod Roborovski, a russian expeditioner. These hammies are much, much smaller than the Syrian, and they’re actually the tiniest of all hamsters. They grow up to 2 inches/ 5 cm and that’s it. Robos live in parts of Kazakhstan, Mongolia, and China. The regions of those countries that the hamster lives in are particularly dry and sandy, with very little vegetation and water, so this hammy has learned to be great at surviving on very little water. The Robo was brought in the common household only around 1960 when they were imported into the London Zoo, in the U.K. Given their small size Roborovski hammies have become very popular as pets, and they’re among the hamster types that can live in a pair. Even if they’re the smallest and hardest pet to literally hold onto, Robos win with their cuteness. Their fur markings are more limited than the Syrian hamsters, but they live the longest – up to 4 years being the record. About the Campbell Dwarf The first ever Campbell Dwarf was found and collected in 1902 in Mongolia by Charles William Campbell (hence the name). The territory these hamsters live in is somewhere between southern Russia, northern China, Mongolia, and a part of Kazakhstan. Most hamsters, aside from the Syrian and European hamster, come from that area, actually. Of all the hamster species, the Campbell Dwarf is the most social. They’ve been found living with other hamster types in order to share tunnels, protection, and food. They also come close to human settlements to find warmth, shelter, and food. For example they can be sometimes found in mongolian yurts in the winter months. It’s unclear how these furry creatures came to the Western world since there are no definite records. Still, I’d imagine it happened like with the rest of the hammies that can be purchased now.. About the Siberian/Winter white Dwarf The most confusing hamster type out there, it’s usually confused with the Campbell Dwarf. The Siberian hammy’s name is always a mix, ranging from: Siberian (given the region it lives in) to Winter White since its fur changes to white in the winter to Russian since it inhabits parts of Russia and finally Djungarian for another region of China this hamster lives in plus the added “Dwarf”, to make it all even more confusing Now that being said, this particular hamster lives in parts of Russia, Siberia, China, and Mongolia. The appearance is a lot like the Campbell Dwarf, but with a few key differences. The Siberian Dwarf is small, with a white belly, and a browny color on its back, a dark stripe going down the back, and a dark spot on its crown.  In the winter the fur goes almost completely white. The Campbell hamster has the same look, but grey on its belly, and has a much thinner stripe down the back, with no dark fur on the crown. They can interbreed only by male Siberian and female Campbell , but the result is a sterile litter. Naming and discovery happened in 1773 by Peter Simon Pallas, who first described it as a mouse, and later renamed it Mouse Songarus. The Siberian hammy was brought to Germany (and the West in general) only in 1968, all the way from western Siberia to the Max Planck institute in Germany. About the Chinese Dwarf This hamster was also discovered by the same zoologist as the Siberian Dwarf, Peter Simon Pallas, and recorded in 1773. There is some serious confusion between the Chinese hamster, and the Striped Chinese hamster. They seem to be the same species, but it’s honestly hard to make sense of the conflicting info. Some say they’re the same, some say they’re each other subspecies, some say they’re completely different. What’s definite though is that they both have a longer tail than other domestic hamsters, and look mostly the same. As in mostly brown with a few darker hairs, and a very thin dark stripe going down the back. These hammies are larger than a Dwarf, but smaller than a Syrian. As in, the reach up to 4 inches/ 10 cm, yet they’re classified as Dwarf types, given that they’re still smaller than the Syrian. Chinese hamsters are also very territorial, and can’t be housed together. They and the Syrian hamster will fight to the death, even if introduced to their own siblings as babies. The region these hamsters live in ranges from Mongolia, China, Korea, Western Siberia, Southern Russia. There is a wild European hamster no one has ever tamed Alright, after all these hamster types that you can find in most pet shops, there is another one. A much larger, completely impossible to tame hamster. The European hamster, or black-bellied hamster, can grow to double the size of a Syrian hammy. So that puts an adult European to about 8-14 inches/20-35 cm ! Their fur is usually brown, with a black belly, chest, and neck and a few white markings on the neck and paws. Its territory ranges from Belgium and Eastern Europe, all the way to Western Russia. Aside from this, not much is known about this hamster when it comes to who named it and why it’s not suitable as a pet. I’m guessing its large size makes it harder to keep in check, and thus wouldn’t be a good pet. That’s just my guess though. How the wild hamster came to be your cuddly pet Now that you know where your hammy came from, now let’s see which kind of hamster you have. You can find a simple, clear guide to hamster breeds here, so you know which hamster type you have. And here you’ll find the main differences between the Syrian hammy, and the Dwarf type hammies out there. There’s quite a few differences. Okay, now you know which hammy you have. But how did it become your pet ? Actually, why did hamsters in general become pets ? Well, as you’ve read most of the hamster types were imported to either Britain or Germany for study. Back in the day zoologists and explorers did intense research and expeditions to find out everything you now read in your zoology and biology textbook. They did more than just that, but that’s the part where the hamsters come in. So hamsters became both laboratory animals, and zoo expositions as well. Once scientists and professors started getting valuable info about the hamsters and they became widely known, they started to become gifts. For a dignitary or diplomat, hamsters were given as pets, and were exported into toe U.S. as well in the late 1900’s. So the hamster has a history of curiosity in the wild, to laboratory animal, to zoo animal, and finally as a pet.  They became very popular as pets in 1930-40, and only grown in popularity since. (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.) Pet hamsters vs wild hamsters – is there a difference ? When it comes to temperament, the modern hamster isn’t all that different from the wild hamster. Given the fact that the selective breeding process has been going on for less than a century, your hammy at home isn’t decidedly tame or domesticated. Unlike dogs for example, who’ve been bred for thousands of years, and became domestic and tame and loving pets, hamsters have a very short history of being pets. And there is also the difference between rodents and canines, which makes rodents harder to teach. That being said, if you were to release your Syrian hammy in your back yard, it would have a low chance or survival, depending on where you live. If you’re in a warm, sandy, dry place, it would be a lot like his home and he’d scamper away to dig a burrow. If you’re like us in a cooler, more humid place, with all 4 seasons, your Syrian hammy would perish as soon as autumn kicked in. It’s not necessarily the cold that gets to them, but the humidity that goes through their fur and makes them sick very fast. When it comes to markings though, the modern hamster has many more variations than the wild one. Aside from that though, your pet hammy is mostly the same as his wild cousin. Is a hamster a good pet for your home ? A hamster is a great pet to have, but he comes with his own challenges. Hamsters are very sensitive to temperature, light, sounds, and smells. They don’t do well in crowded, loud homes, and react very badly under stress. They also get stressed very easily, to there’s that too. The ideal home for a hamster is a quiet, calm home, with not many adults, children, or pets running around the house, and of an even temperature. For this reason, and the fact that they’re mostly nocturnal and sleep during the day, hamsters are deceptive pets. They look cute and sound easy to take care of, but need constant handling in order to remain tame. A lot of patience and calmness in needed to take care of a hamster, and quite a bit of attention to detail too. Like the cage size, the spacing between bars, the kinds of food he gets, and so on. Hamsters are still wild animals, and rodents at that. So they’re excellent escape artists, and will often gnaw on everything they can. That being said, having a hamster as a pet can be rewarding on its own. It’s just very different from having a puppy or a kitten. You can find out more about what having a hamster is like. And if you want to know how to choose a good hamster for you, check out this guide on the health and personality traits to look out for in your pet hamster. A word from Teddy I hope you liked reading about us hammies, and how we came to be your pets. I know it can be a bit confusing, but we’ve had a wild ride all the way to your home. If you want to know more about us hamsters, you can read the related articles below, for steps on how to care for us and so on. [...] Read more...
Do Hamsters and Hedgehogs Get Along?
Do Hamsters and Hedgehogs Get Along?Hamsters and hedgehogs are two of the most popular small pets in the entire world as many different households take care of these tiny critters. But can you take care of both of these animals at the same time? Do hamsters and hedgehogs get along fine with each other in case you own both of these animals? While you can keep hamsters and hedgehogs as pets at the same time, it is not a good idea to make them get along and allow them to live together because of how hedgehogs can be dangerous to your hamsters. And even if that’s not the case, it might end up stressing the animals out to the point that they might fall ill. As a pet owner, it might sound like a good idea for your pets to live together in harmony. But you also have to understand that some pets just don’t naturally get along with others due to their nature and physical characteristics. This includes your hamsters and hedgehogs as we will now talk more about why these small pets don’t necessarily get along. Do hamsters and hedgehogs get along? When you own more than one pet, it sounds like a good idea for all of your animals to live in harmony with one another because you treat them all as members of your family. After all, family members should be able to get along fine with each other especially when they are living under the same roof. In most cases especially when you are talking about two different animals belonging to the same species, it is quite easy to make them get along with each other. That is why a lot of pet owners are able to keep multiple dogs, cats, and rabbits under one roof or are even able to make their dogs get along fine with their cats. In that case, can the same scenario become possible when you are talking about small pets? Can you make your hamsters and hedgehogs get along fine with one another when you are keeping them both as pets? Well, not exactly. When you are talking about hamsters, these animals may look quite cute and cuddly but don’t let their friendly looks fool you. One would think that hamsters love playing with their fellow hamsters and would prefer to live together with a friend but this should never be the case if you want your hamster to live a long and healthy life because these animals are highly territorial and would rather be left alone instead of sharing the same space with another fellow animal. While the hamster’s territorial instincts kick in more often when they live together with their fellow hamsters, it still is a bad idea to make them get along with another animal roughly of the same size because they might get too territorial to the point that they would use their sharp teeth to try to attack the other animal in an attempt to preserve its sense of territory and space. Moreover, hamsters really don’t like other species no matter how hard you try to make them get along. On the other hand, hedgehogs are growing in popularity as exotic pets but these small and cute balls of pins are also better off not interacting with other animals because of the fact that they are walking and living pin cushions. Having them get along with any other pet in your house can spell disaster for either one of them because the hedgehog may easily harm the other pet due to its sharp pins. So, while hedgehogs are not as territorial as hamsters are, they are pretty dangerous to be around other pets. If they are dangerous for humans to touch especially if we are not careful enough with them, the same is true when it comes to other pets like hamsters because the hedgehog can easily prick them and injure them beyond recovery.  All in all, while there is no consensus as to whether or not hamsters and hedgehogs can end up getting along with one another if you try your best to make them friendly with one another, the fact is that it is a bad idea in the first place. It is best to make sure that you keep them away from each other at all times without ever letting them try to get along with each other to be on the safe side of things. Still, though, there are instances where owners were able to safely introduce their hamsters and hedgehogs. In such rare cases, introductions are usually made with them holding on to their hedgehogs while allowing the two animals to meet. But the fact is that it might be better off for you to never leave them together in one place thinking that the two small animals can end up getting along fine with one another without your supervision. Can a hamster and a hedgehog live in the same cage? For a lot of different pet owners, keeping two small pets in one single cage can be a good idea so that they can save up money and space. It might also be a good way for the animals to end up getting along with each other especially considering that they are forced to share the same space throughout their entire lives. But, is it a good idea to keep your hamster and your hedgehog together in the same cage? If it isn’t a good idea for you to force your hamsters and hedgehogs to try to get along with one another, then it is never a good idea for them to live together in the same cage as well. In fact, that might be one of the worst decisions you can make in your entire life as a pet owner precisely due to the fact that hamsters and hedgehogs are better off living solitary lives in their own individual cages. In the case of a hamster, as mentioned, these animals are highly territorial and are best kept individually because of that nature of theirs. It’s not even a good idea for you to keep multiple hamsters in one cage due to how they might end up attacking one another. As such, it would be an even worse idea for you to keep a hamster in a single cage together with an entirely different species of animal such as a hedgehog. Moreover, are usually at the lower end of the food chain when it comes to other pets. That means that they are used to such a life and can be quite defensive when they are together with another animal. As such, this could end up stressing the hamster out if it keeps on thinking that, at any given moment, it could get eaten regardless of whether the hedgehog does indeed include hamsters in its regular diet. In the case of a hedgehog, it is never a good idea to keep it together with a hamster because of how dangerous it can be. A hedgehog’s quills are sharp and can easily prick a hamster to the point that the injury could possibly become fatal.  While hedgehogs are not aggressive or territorial animals, there is still always a good chance for them to accidentally prick a hamster if it is in defense mode and the hamster gets too close to it. While this instance may be rare when it comes to hamsters and hedgehogs, you do have to consider that hedgehogs can possibly end up eating the hamster if you keep them both in the same cage.  The reason is that hedgehogs eat a wide variety of different things including smaller rodents such as mice. Some owners even feed their hedgehogs baby mice. So, if your hamster is a lot smaller than your hedgehog, there might be a chance that the hedgehog will treat it as food and end up eating it. In any other case, the fact that you are keeping two different species together in the same cage is never a good idea because of how it could end up placing both or either of these animals in stressful situations. A stressed animal can fall ill and may end up dying because of that. And, on top of that, a hedgehog may actually carry bacteria that can end up harming the hamster in the long run.  That is why it should never be a good idea for you to keep these pets together in the same cage even if you think that doing so will help save you money or even allow these animals to get along well with one another. [...] Read more...
The Hamster’s Lifespan – 7 Things Affecting It
The Hamster’s Lifespan – 7 Things Affecting ItYou’re off to get yourself a hamster friend ? Great ! You’ll need to know how long hamsters live for, so you know whether to get this kind of pet or not. We’ll cover the average lifespan of a hamster, and also what you can do to help him have a great and comfortable life. I’ll give you examples with my Teddy (Syrian, male hammy) to make things clearer too. Table of Contents ToggleSo how long do hamsters live for ?What affects the hamster’s lifespanThings you can’t control about the hamster1. The hamster’s breed/type2. Genes and other inherited traitsElements you have control over, and can influence1. Diet and additional foods2. Exercise3. Cage size and cleanliness4. General care and stress5. To pair or not to pairWhen is a hamster old ?The life cycle of a hamsterWhat owning a hamster is likeA word from Teddy So how long do hamsters live for ? Usually a hamster will live for about 2-3 years at most. This is the average lifespan, and there are many examples that have outlived 3 years, or never reached a year. The average lifespan varies for each hamster breed. The longest lived hamster breed is the Roborovski Dwarf (up to 4 years), while the shortest is the Chinese Dwarf ( a little under 2 years). Of course, there are hamsters who can outlive the average, like cases of Syrian hammies living for 5-6 years in captivity. In the wild, most don’t make it to their first birthday, given how many predators they’ve got. Still, there are some very crucial factors influencing how long and even how well your hamster friend is going to live. Some of them you can control, some are out of your hands. Let’s see which they are ! What affects the hamster’s lifespan There are inherited factors, like the hamster’s predisposition for an illness, or faulty genetics, as well as controllable factors like the quality of care the hamster gets. We’re going to go through each factor, and see how you can make your hamster friend lead a long and happy life. So keep in mind that the inherited traits – like breed, genetics, illness – will outweigh the elements you can control. For example if you’ve got a Robo hamster (which can live up to 4 years) with early onset diabetes, he might only live to 2 years, even with a wonderfully precise diet. Otherwise he might have lived a much shorter life. Take solace in knowing that you can, in fact, make your hamster’s life much easier and more comfortable, even if some things you can’t change. Things you can’t control about the hamster Alright, let’s see the inherited traits that will affect your hamster’s life. There are 2 major ones, and we’ll discuss them here. 1. The hamster’s breed/type You can indeed pick your hamster’s breed. When you go to the pet store and see all the available hammies, you will probably have to choose between a Syrian and a Dwarf type. There are 5 species in total to pick from, though not all pet shops will carry all 5, and I’ve never seen all 5 present at the same time. There are: Syrian hamsters – the largest hamster, and the most common one found in pet shops. Also called Teddy-bear hamsters (hence my little Teddy’s name). Roborovski Dwarf – much smaller than the Syrian, actually the tiniest of all the Dwarf types – only 2 inches/5 cm ! Djungarian/Winter White/Siberian Dwarf Campbell’s Dwarf Chinese Dwarf There are certain differences in the genetics of all 5 breeds, but they don’t differ all that much. The breed (and the coat color and sex) is all you can pick when it comes to the hamster’s genetic makeup. 2. Genes and other inherited traits When it comes to inherited traits, that’s completely out of your control. It depends on where you’re also getting your hamster from. For example you may get a hamster from a pet shop, but where does the pet shop have them from ? Sometimes they breed them there, sometimes they get a new litter from people who have had accidental litters. Some breeders aim for a docile line of hamsters, or more variation in coat colors, or size perhaps. However all those traits may come with certain genes. We all know about the white cat’s predisposition towards hearing problems. That’s simply the gene that comes with being a white cat most of the time. There are such genes with hamsters, but they’re not well documented, aside from the breeder’s own notes on their pets. So you won’t know if a black Syrian hamster comes with a gene that gives him weak kidneys and leads to a shorter lifespan. Or a white Robo hammy that somehow manages to live to the ripe age of 7, because his coat color gene comes with a long lifespan. However what you can count on is that the Dwarf types have an inherited risk of developing diabetes much faster that the Syrians.  The Syrians on the other hand have the misfortune of getting Wet-tail much easier than the Dwarf types. Whichever genes your hamster inherited you’ll be able to give him a wonderful life is you take into account the elements I’ve listed below. Those you actually have control over, and can change whenever necessary. Elements you have control over, and can influence There are a few things that are completely up to you. Like how well the hamster is fed, his health (partly), and his stress levels. Let’s see how to maximize all these elements so you give your hamster one happy, long life with you. 1. Diet and additional foods Diet is incredibly important for your hamster friend. Actually it’s more important than exercise, and that’s true for hamsters as well as other animals. What we eat has more impact that what we do. Which is why your hamster’s feed must be a high-quality feed, and whatever else you give him as treats must be safe. So, here is a clear list of safe and unsafe hamster foods. Those are foods you’ve already got in your pantry or fridge, and can give to you hamster either as regular food, or as a treat. Hamsters in general can eat anything, with a few exceptions. You can give them fruits, vegetables, nuts and peanuts, some types of meat, and even bread sometimes ! Whatever you decide to give your hamster friend, you’ll find more info in the links provided above. Do keep in mind that Dwarf hammies should be kept away from sweet foods (fruits, some veggies, most treats) since it will raise their chances of getting Diabetes. Also if you feed your hamster a commercial food mix, remember to not overfeed your hamster. This can only lead to obesity, which will lead to less exercise, which will lead to further weight gain, and serious health problems. A healthy daily portion is about 2 teaspoons of dry food for a Syrian hamster, and one teaspoon for a Dwarf type. A Syrian is double the size of a Dwarf, and all hamsters love to hoard their food. So do not panic if you’ve just fed your hammy and half an hour later everything’s gone. It’s okay, the food is tucked away in the hammy’s food stash, and he’ll nibble on it whenever he needs it. 2. Exercise Your hamster will need plenty of exercise throughout his life. Especially as a young hamster. Young ones have a tremendous amount of energy, much like toddler humans, and will want to explore everything. All at once. And run there, see that, sniff this other thing too. So a running wheel is absolutely mandatory for a healthy hamster. This will give our hammy the opportunity to run as far and as much as his little feet can carry him, with energy to spare. You see, in the wild hamsters always have to be on the run, and they’ve got amazing reflexes. They have to, in order to stay alive. Pet hamsters still have this instinct, much like domestic cats will pounce a laser dot or a dog will howl at the moon. After all, hamsters have only been pets for the last century or so, and they’re pretty much the same as they were in the wild. Another option is to give your hamster time outside the cage. This means an exercise ball. Your hammy can use it to explore your home and cover more ground than he would in his cage. It’s also a better and more intense workout than his usual running wheel. For this same reason hiding and climbing toys are important for the hamster too. They give your hamster something to do, and keep him away from the cage bars. A hamster with no exercise option will become irritable, nippy, and obese. This is never a good combination, neither for the hamster, or for you as an owner. 3. Cage size and cleanliness There is a required minimum for a hamster’s habitat. For example a Syrian hamster needs a cage of 24 x 12 inches, and about 12 inches tall. That’s 61 x 30.5 cm, and about 30.5 cm tall. That’s the absolute minimum, and I honestly would recommend looking for a cage larger than that. If you’ve got a Dwarf hamster he can live in such a cage easily enough. Unfortunately most cages on the market or in pet shops are not larger than the minimum, most not even respecting the minimum space requirement. Do keep in mind that while hamsters do climb and use the levels of a multi-level cage, why prefer the ground floor. This gives them more security, and it’s safe for them – hamsters are horrible at calculating depth and distances, and will jump from heights. Also if you’ve got a tube system installed your hammy will go nuts over it. My Teddy has a tube connecting 2 levels and he’s in it half the time. Hammies are attracted to small, cramped spaces. Their homes in the wild are composed of many tunnels, actually. As for the cage cleanliness, most of the time it’s okay to change the hamster’s bedding once per week, and can be stretched to once every two weeks. You see, hamsters are very clean animals, and they don’t smell. The only thing about them that can get smelly is their pee corner. That’s a specific corner in the cage that the hamster will use to pee. Always the same corner, the farthest away from his hideout. Make sure you use safe bedding options, like aspen wood shavings, or soft paper bedding. For more info on safe and unsafe hamster bedding material, check out this article. It also covers the cleaning routine in much more depth than I can here. 4. General care and stress Aside from everything we’ve discussed so far, the general care your hamster receives is going to decide how comfortable he feels around you, or in your home. This means that the temperature must be at a certain range for his comfort – that’s 20-23 C/68-75 F, and kept well away from any drafts or direct sunlight. Handling your hamster will also be important. The is a too little, and a too much, and they’re both influenced by the hamster’s personality. If you want to know how to tame your hamster friend without getting your hand bitten off, you need to read this article. As for whether they like being held, they generally do, once they’re tame. But many steps need to be taken before a solitary, not very cuddly hamster will feel okay being picked up. The placement of the cage in your home is crucial to how well the hamster can rest, and how safe he feels. If you notice your hamster being scared of you, rest assured this will go away in time with efforts on your part. You can read this article to know how to ease a scared hamster. A very stressed hamster will be a nippy, irritable hamster. he will be hard to handle until you remove the stress source. Unfortunately many things can stress him out, so you should check out this article, since it will shed some light on what having a hammy is like. 5. To pair or not to pair You’ve probably seen hamsters kept together before. Or even heard of a pair of hamsters being kept together. While this isn’t unusual, it’s not the best idea. True, Dwarf hamsters can live in pairs. But they require a much larger size cage than the minimum 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 because hamsters are very territorial. While they can get along if they have no other choice, they will always prefer to live alone. Hamsters kept in pairs can become stressed, and one of them will eventually try to bully the other one. You can find out more about why hammies fight and how to separate them here. Syrian hamsters, as well as Chinese Dwarfs, will fight to the death any creature put in their cage, be it another hamster or a rabbit. So the most humane and comfortable thing to do for your hamster buddies is to keep them separated. I know this might go against many people you’ve heard say it’s fine to put them together. It’s an added stress, and it builds up in time. When is a hamster old ? When looking for answers on the general lifespan of a hamster, you’ll want to know when your hamster becomes a senior. This is part of the natural order of things, and every hamster will grow old and grey. Still, that does not mean old age in hamsters is terrible. Some may become blind, some may get an illness quicker. But most lead fairly normal lives up until their end. A hamster can be considered old when he reaches his second birthday. In the case of a Robo hammie, who can live up to 4 years this threshold can be extended to about 3 years. While for a Chinese that usually lives for two years, he can be considered old when he-s 1-1.5 years old. But 2 years is the accepted average. Your hamster might not show his true age until very late into his life. For example my teddy is a Syrian male hammy, and he was born in July 2017. That’d make him about a year and half old as I’m writing this. He doesn’t yet waddle, or lose his fur, although he’s getting close to his second birthday. But he has lost quite some energy, and sleeps much more than he used to. His fur is a bit silver around his ears, and he’s become very picky with his food. Still, he’s the same funny little furball we know. Always curious, always coming up for a treat, still panicked from time to time. (If you like this article so far, you can pin it to your Pinterest board by clicking the image below. The article continues after the image.) The life cycle of a hamster From birth to his final days, a hamster pet will always be a wonderful little thing. Right from the moment the hamster is born, he could possibly be in danger. Even in homes, baby hamsters don’t have a 100% survival rate, because of their mothers most of the time. You see hamster mothers are very skittish and nervous, and will resort to eating their babies if they feel in any way threatened. She may also do this if the baby hamster is ill or she thinks it’s too weak to survive to adulthood. So it’s best to leave a hamster mother alone for 2-3 weeks after she’s given birth and only just feed her. Absolutely no handling or cleaning or saying hi. More on that in the link above. Once the hamster has survived his first few weeks, he will be weaned. That usually happens around 3-4 weeks of age. At this stage it becomes crucial to separate the hamster babies into male and female enclosures. This is because even so young, they can start to reproduce, and no one wants surprise litters, plus the fact that the incredibly young mother has a very low chance of survival. You can find out more about how to figure out your hamster’s gender here. Once the babies have been separated, they end up at a pet shop or given away to prospective owners. This should all happen up until the hamster’s 12th weeks or life, or his 3rd month. This is when he has become an adult, and will start showing most of his fur marking and personality. He still has an immense amount of energy, needs to run, climb, hide, and generally investigate every new sound. Once the hamster has become a senior, around 2 years old, his metabolism will start to slow down. He may become blind, or develop an illness, or maybe just die peacefully in his sleep. It’s much like with human seniors, some are worn down and tired in their 50s, some are vibrant and energetic even in their 70s. What owning a hamster is like Finally, a hamster is a commitment. They may not live very long lives, like a cat or a dog. But they are still souls that need your attention and care. Sometimes you will have to schedule things around them, or not be able to leave town until you’ve found a sitter to look after them. There will be moments when you wonder why you got yourself a rodent, of all things. Then you’ll look at his cute fuzzy face when he wakes up, stretching, and know it was the best choice ever. Honestly when I got my Teddy I knew nothing about hamsters. I knew they had short lives, and were fuzzy. This whole blog is dedicated to folks like me, who had no idea about hammies and want to know everything there is. How to care for them, how to play with them, cages, toys, everything. You can check out this article to see some pros and cons of owning a hamster here. You’ll get a feel for how a hamster changes your life, and understand them better. Aside from all this, I’d only recommend a hamster as a pet to more mellow, quiet people. You see hamsters are very sensitive, and need much patience and gentle handling. A child for example would not be a good owner for a hamster. Children simply don’t have the patience and care for a hamster. A guinea pig, on the other hand, might be better suited for them. A hamster will bite when handled wrong, try to escape at the drop of a hat, and be endlessly curious. They’re not exactly low maintenance in that regard. A word from Teddy I hope you found what you were looking for here, I know us hammies can be very cute and cuddly, but we don’t live the longest lives out there. Still, you can make our stay with you as comfy as possible. If you want to know more about us hamsters, you should check out the related articles below. You’ll find more info on how to care for us and keep us happy too ! [...] Read more...
Do Hamsters Smell Bad ? Here’s How To Make Sure They Don’t
Do Hamsters Smell Bad ? Here’s How To Make Sure They Don’tA smelly hamster is no fun. But do they exist ? Do hamsters smell ? If they do, how do you take care of that ? I know I had these questions when I first got my Teddy. I found outthrough trial and error what to do when there is a funky smell coming from your hammy’s cage. But let’s talk about whether hamsters do or do not smell first. Table of Contents ToggleSo do hamsters smell ?Hamsters are very clean animalsA hamster’s hideout will have his scentWhy the hamster’s cage can get smelly – and what to do about itThe hamster’s pee corner is the main culpritA litter box for your hamsterYour hamster might be sickThe hamster might have some food hidden in his hideoutHamsters have their seasons as wellFemale hamsters can get a bit smellyHow to clean a hamster cage properlyPlace the hamster in a temporary holding placeRemove the toys and hideoutTake out all the bedding and nesting materialPlace fresh, clean bedding and nesting materialA word from Teddy So do hamsters smell ? No – hamsters themselves, the animals, do not smell. They don’t develop a stink that clings to their bodies. But their environment can get a bit smelly, in some cases. That’s what some people might confuse with the hamster itself being smelly. For example I’ve had my Teddy since August 2017. At the time of writing this he is nearly a year and a half old. In this time I’ve handled him often, and he’s never smelled bad. Or had any particular smell to him at all. I’ve spoken to other hamster owners, and their pets don’t smell either. But Teddy’s cage can sometimes get smelly, under certain circumstances. He is an adult Syrian hamster, but this applies across all hamster breeds. Hamsters are very clean animals In fact, hamsters clean themselves about as often and thorough as house cats. Half the time when you see a cat it’s cleaning itself, like it just came from the dirtiest place ever and needs a nice long shower. That’s how meticulous hamsters are with their cleaning routine too. If you pick him up, you’ll see he starts cleaning himself almost immediately after you put him back down. This is a habit and instinct that they’ve had since forever. In the wild hamsters are prey, and are hunted by basically every animal. Some of them fly, some crawl, some slither, and some run. But they will all look for the hammy’s smell. So, the hamster will obsessively clean himself at every turn, to make sure he has as little scent as possible. This way his predators  won’t find him as easily. A hamster’s hideout will have his scent While the hamster’s hideout will have his scent, it will not get smelly under normal circumstances. Hamsters actually pee outside their hideouts, so their predators will have a harder time finding them. They also have a very sensitive nose, hamsters, so that’s another reason they avoid using their nests as bathrooms. If you observe your hamster, you’ll notice he always picks a particular spot to use as his bathroom. Always the furthest from where you placed his hideout. If anything, the hamster’s pee corner will be what gets smelly. The poo doesn’t smell, since it’s dry droppings, and his food doesn’t smell either. Hamster are very clean little things, and watching them clean themselves is always cute. But as I said above, his cage can get a bit smelly sometimes. There are a few reasons for that, let’s talk about that. Why the hamster’s cage can get smelly – and what to do about it A hamster’s cage is where he will live his entire life. So of course he will eat, poo, sleep, run in this cage and these can all leave a mark, or scent. So here are the main reasons your hamster’s cage might get smelly. The hamster’s pee corner is the main culprit This is what smells most often, and what will stand out easily. You can find that corner by noticing your hamster when he wakes up to use that corner. Or, you can look for any recently wet or moist corners. It’s usually easy to find, so you won’t have much trouble seeing or smelling it. If you’re not sure which corner it is, or your hamsters uses more than 1 corner, that’s fine. Just change the bedding in every corner if you want to be extra sure. Hamsters do poo in their hideouts, you’ve probably seen this on the cleaning days. But they rarely ever pee there. I’ve never found pee stains on the nesting in my Teddy’s hideout, but I have heard of rare cases when this happened. So, make sure you change the bedding in the corners more often than the whole bedding. If you change the entire bedding once per week that’s fine. The corners might need changing every 2-3 days though, depending on your hamster and how sensitive your smell is. A litter box for your hamster It might sound like you have a cat now. The hamster cleans himself regularly and now needs a litter box. But hamsters do use a litter box, if you give them one. You can use the bottom half of a hideout, this one actually should be plastic for ease of cleaning. Then, place mineral sand in that halved hideout. Tadaa, litter box ! As long as you place it in the corner your hamster usually uses for peeing, everything will be fine. The hamster might kick some of it up and take a sandbath as well. But that’s okay, if you want you can place another sandbox for him for this reason. If you’re not crazy about the litter box idea, you can just change the bedding in the corners every 2-3 days. If you want to know which kind of bedding is safe for hamsters, and which bedding to never get, read this list here. You’ll find out about the bedding and nesting materials your hamster will need, and how to clean them properly. Your hamster might be sick Sometimes this happens to hamsters, like wet tail for example. Wet tail is an illness more common in Syrian hamsters than Dwarfs. It’s basically brought on by stress, and one of the most noticeable signs is a very very runny stool. This can be treated, but you need to call your vet as soon as you spot this. It’s not difficult to treat,but you need a vet and immediate attention. Now, when or if your hamster gets wet tail, the stool will be a bit smelly, and will wet the bedding as well. Wet bedding doesn’t smell great either, even if it’s just with water. Or, maybe your hamster has a different type of illness that can make his urine smell particularly bad. Like an infection for example. Again, contact your vet as soon as you notice this. If your hamster seems to be moving very slowly, always has his ears folded, is more hunched than usual, and sleeps a lot, call your veterinarian. The hamster might have some food hidden in his hideout Some foods can get very smelly if left out for too long. The clearest example I have is when I gave Teddy some cabbage. Well, I gave him a whole leaf, just to see how he’d react to a food 15 times larger than him. He was a funny sight, nipping at the cabbage from left to right like a typing machine. I took it out after a few minutes, since he didn’t need a whole entire leaf. But he did take a few pieces which he didn’t eat straight away. Some of them he hid in his hideout, and I only noticed the next day. There was a weird, sulphury smell around his cage. I put Teddy in his exercise ball, and looked inside his hideout. He had some cabbage pieces, and they stank. Oh boy. So, if you give your hammy a kind of food  that can get smelly fast, give him very small amounts, and not often. This applies for vegetables like cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, asparagus. They’re all related, and all get smelly. Cheese of any kind, even tofu, should be give in very small pieces that you’re sure the hamster will eat quickly. Boiled egg white is in this category as well. If you do find some food that’s very smelly in your hamster’s cage or hideout, remove it, and change the nesting material as well. Hamsters have their seasons as well By this I mean that hamsters have periods when their cage can get much smellier than usual. I’ve noticed this with my Teddy. I could never track it to a specific season – like winter or summer, or rainy or very dry, or something else. But it happened about twice a year. He’d have these periods when his cage would smell much more, and I’d have to change the bedding in his corners almost every day. I chalked that up to him just being a male, and maybe marking his territory more aggressively. As to why exactly, I’m not sure since males do not go into heat the same way females do. The period for Teddy goes away after a couple of weeks, and he never looked ill or lethargic, or out of place. Just a stinky cage, is all. Female hamsters can get a bit smelly As I’ve noticed from other hamster owners, the females can get a bit stinky in their mating periods. Females go into heat every few days. Females can actually breed immediately after giving birth, so their mating periods are short but much more often than other animals. Every 4 days to be exact. So, a female hamster might get a bit smelly when she’s in heat, to attract any male around her. However if you’re not planning on breeding your female hamster, this won’t have too much of a point for you as an owner. A female going into heat is normal, and healthy. It can get a bit smelly, but again, changing the bedding more often will help with this. (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 cage properly This depends a bit on what kind of cage you have for your hamster. But keeping a clean cage for your hamster will keep it non-smelly as long as possible. If you want to know what kind and size cage your hamster needs, check out this article. You’ll get a rundown of the most common cage types, and the pros and cons of all 3, including a care and maintenance guide for those cages. Place the hamster in a temporary holding place This can be an exercise ball, a transport cage, or anything else that can safely keep your hamster and allows him air to breathe. Pick up your hamster and place him directly where he needs to be, like the ball or transport cage. Always use a scooping and cupping method, and do not come from behind him. If the hamster is not easy to pick up, or very difficult to handle, bait him with a treat. Place the treat inside the transport cage or exercise ball, then close it once he’s in. Remove the toys and hideout Take everything out of the hamster’s cage. If they need cleaning, do so with a warm moist cloth, or hot water and a very small amount of soap, and leave out to dry very well. Food bowls and water bottles need cleaning more often than the wheel or  hideout. Take out all the bedding and nesting material Keep just a bit of it, to make things more familiar for your hamster. If he’s been sick, skip this step. Once all the bedding is removed you should be left with an empty cage or glass tank. Those can be wiped down and/or washed with hot water and a very small amount of soap. In the pee corner you might see some very dry white substances. That’s just the work of the acidity of the urine, combined with the bedding and some dust from the bedding. It can be scrubbed off, but only if you allow it enough time to soak. Use something very coarse like a metal brush will help. But unless you do this regularly every week, that corner will become white forever. This is why I recommend the litter box, since it’s easier to clean this way. Speaking of, if you’re using a litter box, you will find some dried compacted sand, mixed with the hamster’s urine. Clean everything off with hot water, and use a toothpick or the metal brush to scrub and pick away at it. Once you’re done cleaning and washing everything, make sure you dry everything completely. Use a hair dryer if you have to. Excess moisture can make the new bedding smelly, and even build up some moldy spots. Place fresh, clean bedding and nesting material Give your hamster 1-2 inches/2.5-5 cm of bedding and 2-3 torn up paper towels to use as nesting material. Place the toys and hideout back into his cage, and let the hamster back in. If you’d like to know more about how to properly care for your hamster friend, you can check out this very thorough article on exactly that. A word from Teddy I hope you found your answers here, and know that us hamsters aren’t smelly. We’re actually very clean and like to take very long ‘showers’. If your hammy’s cage is smelly, you can fix that with what you read from my owner. But if you want to know more about us hamsters, make sure to check the articles below ! You’ll find stuff like why we eat our poop, how much water we need, and why we’re sometimes scared of you. [...] Read more...
11 Creative Habitat Ideas For Your Hamster
11 Creative Habitat Ideas For Your HamsterIt is believed that the type of habitat your hamster lives in has an effect on its well-being. Researches have tested 30 hamsters to see if adding toys and bedding to their cages would change how they make decisions when faced with an uncertain choice. They found out that hamsters who had more toys and beddings were more likely to make optimistic decisions, while hamsters that had fewer things made less optimistic decisions. Scientists link optimistic judgments with positive well-being in humans, so they used the same method to study hamsters.  To keep your hamster happy, you will have to provide it with a lot of floor space where they can climb, explore, play, and exercise when they wake up during the night. You will need to place your hamster in a big enough cage with a deep base. When picking out a cage, you will want to get one with narrow wires so that your hamster can’t escape. Cages on multiple levels are the best way to make use of the space you have. Make sure you place the cage in a quiet location. Hamsters are very sensitive to ultrasounds, and they can be very stressed when they hear them. Keep your hamsters away from vacuums or running water. In the wild, hamsters love to burrow, so make sure you add a very thick layer to their cage so that they can dig and burrow as much as they want. Your hamster also needs a house where it will sleep and feel safe. The house should be big enough so that your hamster can build a nest in it, store food, and be comfortable when moving around.  You should also keep a ceramic dish filled with chinchilla sand in your hamster’s cage, which will allow it to keep its coat clean. Make sure your hamster has a lot of toys. There are many toys for hamsters to choose from, such as tunnels, ladders, bridges, climbing boxes, and many more. Hamsters also need a running wheel, and it is very important that you get one that is the right size for your hamster.  Getting all this stuff can be pretty expensive, but you don’t necessarily have to buy them to provide your hamster with the luxurious life it deserves. You can easily make all the toys, bedding, and the cage yourself, and only but the water bottle. Here is a list of 12 creative habitat ideas to make your hamster’s life better. Table of Contents Toggle1. DIY Bin Cage2. DIY Glass Hamster Cage3. DIY Mansion4. DIY Hamster chew toys DIY Chew SticksDIY Chew Ball5. DIY Hamster Toy WheelsContainer Tub Wheel6. DIY Hamster Toy HouseDIY Popsicle Hamster HousePaper Mache Hamster House7. DIY Hamster Bedding8. DIY Hamster Toy TubesToilet Roll Tubes9. DIY Toy Ladder10. DIY Hamster Playground11. DIY Hamster Toy Maze 1. DIY Bin Cage The first thing your hamster will obviously need is a cage. You can get one in the pet store, or you can make your own. When you make your own cage you save money, but you are also not limited by what you can find in the pet store.  Bin cages are the easiest and the cheapest way you can make a habitat for your hamster. When you make a bin cage, you don’t have to think about whether or not your hamster will grow out of it, because it’s so big. To make a DIY bin cage, you will need one big storage bin. It’s best that you get the clear one so that your hamster is able to see the outside. The size of the bin should be at least 20×30 inches, and you can fit one Syrian hamster or two Dwarf hamsters in it. If you have more hamsters than that, you will have to get a bigger bin. Another thing you will need is wire mesh, which is also called hardware cloth. If you plan on making only one cage, the smallest role will be enough, and the wire should be 19 or 23 gauge. Make sure you also get 16 nuts, bolts, and washers. Get 8-32×3/8 screws and size 8 washers. You will also need a foot of wire. Your hamster will also need a water bottle, you can get the 4 ounces one or 6 ounces one. Keep in mind that your hamster needs a wheel, and the bigger the better. If you have a Syrian hamster, get an 11’’ or a 12’’ wheel. If you notice that the hamster is bending its neck or back when it runs, get it a bigger wheel because it can get seriously injured. You will also need a wire cutter, a drill and drill bits, a permanent marker, and a utility knife with a new blade. Start by cutting the lid of the big. Put it in front of you, with the bottom facing up. It would be good if you cut out two windows because if you only cut one big window, it will probably lose a lot of strength. Keep in mind that you should leave about an inch and a half room on each side, and 3 or 4 inches in the middle to fit the screws. Draw the two windows with your permanent marker. When you’re sure that you have enough room for the screws, cut out the windows.  Next, you will have to cut the mesh for the windows. Make sure you have at least an inch of mesh overlapping the lid. When you’ve cut out your windows, file down the sharp edges, or cover them with duct tape. If you don’t do this, your hamster could cut itself on the sharp edges.  Then, center your mesh over the window and use the permanent marker to fill in where the drill holes will be. When you’re done drilling the first hole, get a screw and thread it through the hole, then flip the lid over, put the washer on, and tighten the bolt. Repeat the process until you’re done will all four holes. Then move on to the other window and repeat the process. When you’re completely done with your windows, you will move on to drilling holes for ventilation. You don’t have to do this if you make your windows big enough, but you never know when something can block the windows, so it’s better to have ventilation on the sides as well. If you will be drilling holes on the bottom of the bin, do it at least 3’’ from the bottom so that the bedding doesn’t cover your holes. You can also drill the holes on the top of the bin.  The next step is to attach the water bottle to the bin. You should place the spout about 1’’-1.5’’ from the bedding, which should be at least 1’’ thick when you pat it down. You will put the water bottle flat against where you plan on placing it and draw 2 dots on each side of the bottle. These dots will be drilled so that you can thread the wire which will support the bottle, and you will also need a bigger hole for the spout. This hole can be a bit bigger than the spout is so that you can easily put it in and take it out.  When you’re done setting up the water bottle, your cage will almost be done. You just have to wipe it with a washcloth, make sure there’s no plastic left inside, fill it with bedding and tap it down.  2. DIY Glass Hamster Cage You can make this cage if you want something sturdier, or if you’re worried about your hamster being in a plastic cage.  To make this cage, you will need 4 precut panels, two 31.49×15.74 inches, and two 31.49×11.81 inches. You will also need an acrylic glass sheet, box cutter, acrylic glass glue, and wood screws, and a screwdriver.  Start with the 4 panels, you will want them to be coated so that the hamster doesn’t destroy them. You will lay the panels on the floor, with 31.49×15.74 inches panels in the middle and 31.49×11.81 inches on the sides. You will screw the  31.49×11.81 inches panels to the big panel and use 2 screws or more for each side. Next, you will crew the 31.49×15.74 inches bottom panel to the three other panels and use at least 2 screws to do so. You can fill in any gaps you have with hot glue, but make sure you glue it from the back so that the hamster can’t chew on the glue.  For the acrylic glass, you will need one 31.49×15.74 inches panel and two 3.93×11.82 inches panels. They should be around 0.07 inches thick. You will have to cut them and you will need a steel liner and a box cutter to do so. You should first glue the side panels to the cage and make sure you use glue on the inside and on the outside. Then you can glue on the main panel, and glue it on the inside as well as on the outside. Let the glue dry for a while.  When your cage is completely dry, it’s time to add the bedding, and your cage is finished. 3. DIY Mansion If you have 2 or more hamsters, or you just want to give your hamster a luxurious life, then you can make it this mansion. This mansion will be made out of a dollhouse, so try to see if anyone in your family has one and they don’t use it anymore or try to find a used one.  To make this mansion you will need a dollhouse, plastic fencing, a hot glue gun, and some long glue sticks, around 20 paperclips, an electric staple gun, spray paint, and wood which is 2 inches in height, and a razor knife. Start by spray painting your fence with the color of your choice. This step is optional, so if you don’t want to spray paint the fence, you don’t have to. Next, you will need a wood base-board which will add height so the bedding can’t escape the cage.  Make sure you secure all open windows in the dollhouse with the fence so your hamster can’t escape. Glue the fence on the inside of the dollhouse with a hot glue gun.  Then, you will use the fence to completely cover the open part of the dollhouse. You can use the electric stapler for this part.  You will have to be very careful when cutting the doors through which you will be able to take care of your hamster.  Lastly, you will have to attach the water bottle and put the rest of the stuff your hamster needs in its cage. 4. DIY Hamster chew toys Hamsters love toys and you don’t have to spend a fortune to keep your furry friend entertained. Here are some chew toys you can make to keep your hamster entertained for hours while it’s relaxing in the cage. Hamsters have to chew on things to keep their teeth healthy. Hamster’s teeth constantly grow, which is why they have to chew on things all the time. DIY Chew Sticks You will need some flour and water to make non-toxic glue, wood skewers, and scissors to make chew sticks for your hamster. Start by cutting the wood skewers into 3-inch pieces. Make the non-toxic glue by mixing a 1:1 ratio of white flour and water. Then, you will dip the skewers into the glue and glue 5 pieces together. Let them dry overnight before you let your hamster play with them. DIY Chew Ball If you have toilet roll tubes, you can use them to make a chew ball for your hamster. Get the toilet roll tube and cut it into 5 equally big rings. You will only use 3 rings for each ball but cutting it into 5 pieces will give you the right size. You will take one of the rings and push it inside the other to create a sphere, and to the same thing with the third ring. This way you will create a sphere with small gaps between the toilet roll tube rings. Give it to your hamster to see if it likes it. If it doesn’t seem interested, you can fill the ball with some treats, like sunflower seeds, or mealworms. 5. DIY Hamster Toy Wheels Hamsters love running on wheels, and it’s a great exercise for them. Most wheels you find in the pet store are very noisy, so you can try making your own. Container Tub Wheel To make this container tub wheel, you will need a circular plastic container without a lid, 2 longer wooden strips, 1 shorter wooden strip, a bolt, and 2 nuts and 2 screws. Put the longer piece of wood and the longer piece of wood so that they form a T shape. This will be the base of the stand. Use one screw to secure them. It isn’t advisable to use non-toxic glue to do this because it won’t be as strong.   Get the other long piece of wood and place it so that it stands upright on the first long piece. Make sure that it’s at a 90-degree angle from the short piece. Use another screw to attach this.  Next, you will get the container and drill a hole in the middle of its bottom. This will be the place where your wheel will attach to the stand. Try to position the container on the stand to see if there will be enough room to spin it. When you’re sure that there will be enough room for it to spin, drill a hole in the upright wooden piece, the one that aligns with the hole in your container. Place the bolt in the hole in your container, and secure it with a nut on the other side, but don’t make it too tight because you want it to be able to spin. Next, you will have to push the rest of the bolt through the hole you’ve created in your stand and secure it with a nut on the back of the wood. In case your hamster’s cage is made out of wire, you can put the wheel against the wires to avoid your hamster chewing on the metal bolts.  6. DIY Hamster Toy House There are so many hamster houses you can get in the pet shop, but they are quite expensive. If you make your own toy house for your hamster, you can save some money, and even make more than just one house. DIY Popsicle Hamster House First, make some non-toxic glue. To make the glue, mix 1 part water and 1 part white flour and mix it to create a paste.  Get some popsicles and glue them together to make a house. You will need to make 4 walls, a roof, and a stable base. Keep in mind that there should be at least one doorway in the house, but preferably two so that your hamster can run in and out of the house.  Paper Mache Hamster House To make this house for your hamster, you will only need a jar, some water, and some paper. Make sure that the paper you choose to use doesn’t have any ink on it. Ink is harmful to hamsters and your hamster could chew on the house. Make the outside of the jar wet and out layers of paper in strips on the outside of the jar until you completely cover it. Let it dry overnight and remove the jar from the paper once it’s completely dry. If you’re struggling to remove it, get a popsicle and slide it down the sides to loosen the paper.  When you remove the jar from the paper you will have the shape of your house, and you can cut out windows and doors, and fill it with bedding.  You can also use a balloon instead of a jar to make your paper mache house since it’s easier to just pop a balloon than to remove a jar. Just remember that you have to use the non-toxic glue so that the paper sticks together, and make sure the house is thick enough to be stable.  7. DIY Hamster Bedding Hamsters need to walk on bedding in their cage, and you can also make your own bedding. To make sure your hamster is comfortable, you will have to make bedding that is clean, safe, absorbent, and doesn’t have a lot of dust.  You can make your own bedding using a clean, single-ply toilet or tissue paper. You will just have to tear it up and put it in your hamster’s cage and your hamster’s house. Hamsters love burrowing, which means that you will have to put a thick layer of bedding to keep them happy.  8. DIY Hamster Toy Tubes Hamsters love playing in tubes. If you make your own toy tubes, you won’t have to clean them as often as you would plastic store-bought tubes. When they start to get worn down, you can just replace them with new ones.  Toilet Roll Tubes You can make the best hamster tubes from paper towel and toilet paper rolls. They are very cheap and easy to make. Just cut holes in the tube and stick some favorite treats in it. You can also glue together multiple rolls so that your hamster has more places to run around.  9. DIY Toy Ladder If your hamster’s cage is on multiple levels, you should consider making it a toy ladder. Hamster ladders are really easy to make, and you will only need some non-toxic glue and popsicles. You will have to overlap the vertical sticks and glue them together. Next, you will place the sticks horizontally, and glue the ends to the vertical sticks in order to make steps. Repeat this process until you create a ladder that is tall enough for your hamster to use. Hamsters are known to nibble on wood so make sure you check whether the ladder is stable enough for your hamster to climb on it.  10. DIY Hamster Playground You can create a fun playground for your hamster using only wood popsicle sticks, toilet paper roll tubes, yarn, and glue. You will first have to build a box frame, out of glue and popsicles, that has a base, two sides, and a roof. Then, you will take the yarn and tie it to the roof. Thread one end of the yarn through the paper roll and tie it to the other end of your frame. This will make the tube hang in the air. Create as many of these hanging tunnels as you want, and you can even add some ladders. 11. DIY Hamster Toy Maze Hamsters love mazes, and you will have a lot of fun watching them play in its maze. If you have some legos in your home, use them to make walls that are tall enough so that your hamster can’t climb out of them. You can add some steps, slopes, and tunnels for an extra challenge. If you don’t have any legos you can use DVD boxes to make a maze.  [...] Read more...