When 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.
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.
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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.
- Are Hamsters Rodents ? About Your Furry Hamster FriendWondering if a hamster is a rodent ? You’re not alone. A lot of our friends have asked us the same question, when they heard we’d got a hamster. So, let’s settle this and get to the bottom of the issue. We’ll cover how your hamster’s going to behave as a rodent pet, and the differences between hamsters and other pet rodents as well. Table of Contents So are hamsters rodents ?A hamster’s behavior as a pet, given that he’s a rodentWhat hamsters eat, as rodentsDo hamsters need to chew a lot ?Difference between hamsters and other rodent petsHamster vs mouseHamster vs ratHamster vs guinea pigHamster vs rabbitHamster vs ferretHamster vs squirrelA word on keeping a rodent as a petA word from Teddy So are hamsters rodents ? Yes, hamsters are rodents. Hamsters are rodents, like rabbits, mice, rats, guinea pigs, squirrels, ferrets. There are many more rodents out there than that, but those are the most common ones kept as pets. They belong to a very large family, with several sub-families and classes, into which I won’t get right now. You can read much more about the exact scientific classification of hamsters right here. A hamster’s behavior as a pet, given that he’s a rodent A hamster, as a rodent, will behave in a certain way. Rodents in general are prey animals, so they all have a reflex to run and hide. That reflex kicks in very fast, and they’ll often jump out of your hands before you can react. So expect your hamster to be jumpy, not sit still, and look panicked half the time. They’re also incredibly easy to scare, since they’re on high alert most of the time. Who knows when a owl might swoop into your living room and take them away ? Jokes aside, that run and hide reflex is what saves hamsters from extinction in the wild. As a pet though, they can be hard to handle, especially the smaller breeds like the Dwarf types. Very small and wriggly, the Dwarf hammies are all over the place and you should not handle them away from their cage. Another thing about hamsters being rodents, is that they will have this instinct of burrowing. If you give them enough bedding to dig into, you will lose sight of your hamster very fast. You can find out more about bedding for hamsters and how to pick a safe one right here. Finally, as rodents hamsters have a different need for affection that other pets. They’re not keen on snuggling, like a dog or cat for example. But they do enjoy your company, and can let you handle them. Even if it’s just for a short few minutes at a time, hamsters can be handled. If you want to know more about how to successfully tame your hamster friend, you should check out this guide right here. It’s got addendums for Syrian and Dwarf types as well. What hamsters eat, as rodents As rodents hammies will eat mostly grains and veg, with a couple of insects or worms here and there. In the wild hamsters rely on grains, seeds, and some edible roots. But kept as pets, hamsters have a much wider variety of foods available for them. You can find here a good list of safe and unsafe foods you can give to your hamster. Some of them are already in your pantry or fridge. Or, if you want to be specific about it, you can check out each food group in particular. You can find out more about what kind of meat/protein your hamster can eat here. Another article about what kinds of dairy hamsters can eat is right here. You’ll find out about the kinds of vegetables your hamster can eat here, and about the fruits he can eat right here. Finally, more about hamsters and bread can be found right here. Another option is feeding your hamster commercial food mixes, which already have a healthy mix of all the nutrients your hamster needs for a good, long life. And you can add some safe foods you’ve already got around the house to that food mix, if you want to. But in general, hamsters will enjoy most of the things us humans can eat too. Do keep in ming that they love to chew and gnaw on things a lot. Do hamsters need to chew a lot ? Yes, hamsters have front teeth that keep growing. They never stop growing. This is why your hamster need a lot of chew toys – more on that here, and how to DYI some or buy them. Otherwise, your hammy will end up chewing whatever he can find, like the cage bars. My Teddy used to do that sometimes, and you can find out more about hamsters biting their cage here, and how to stop them. Or, at least make it happen mess frequently. Hamsters need to chew a lot, to keep their front teeth from overgrowing. They can develop a whole host of dental problems if their teeth aren’t kept healthy. So always make sure your hamster has something safe to chew on, like chew toys. And remember that he will chew on everything, including his own hideout, the food bowl, and whatever else is in his cage. (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.) Difference between hamsters and other rodent pets Hamsters aren’t the only rodents people keep as pets. As such, there are a few differences between hamsters and other pet rodents. So let’s get into those differences, so you can see if a hamster is a good pet for you or not. Hamster vs mouse Mice are much smaller than hamsters. They can be kept in small packs as far as I know, and they do have similar life spans to hamsters (2-3 years) However if a hamster is hard to hold onto, a mouse is much harder. A mouse is much smaller, and will definitely not sit still. Also mice smell much more than hamsters. That’s not to say they stink, but a hamster only smells if he’s sick. The female hammies come into heat every few days, and can develop a smell. But as a whole, hamsters are clean and not smelly at all. Mice have the bonus of being much more curious and eager to try new things than a hamster. A hammy si more of a creature of habit than anything. Hamster vs rat The rat wins in terms of intelligence here. However few people like keeping rats because of how large and non-cuddly they can look, compared to hamsters. That being said, rats are able to solve simple puzzles, and are calmer, more level-headed than hamsters. That also means they can get bored, and once that happens they will entertain themselves with the cage bars, or moving the things in their cage. Of all the mouse-type rodents, rats are the best escape artist. They will find a way. Rats can sometimes develop tumors, which can shorten their lifespan (3-4 years). The housing situation for a hamster and rat is much different, since a rat need a very large space to run around in, and they’re damn good climbers. Hamster vs guinea pig Here it really depends on what you like more. Hamsters tend to be cuter and fluffier than guinea pigs. But guinea pigs are much easier to handle and tame. Well, a guinea pig is pretty much already tame from the get-go. Both are rodents, but guinea pigs are very very mellow and will generally sit and stay wherever you left them. They also actually need company, even if it’s another guinea buddy to much a lettuce leaf with and stare at a wall. Whereas most hamsters should be kept my themselves, and can only live together under certain conditions. A guinea pig however can get smelly, since they pee a lot. So they require much more cleaning and maintenance than a hamster. Hamster vs rabbit Aside from the obvious size difference, hamsters can sometimes lose to the rabbit in terms of cuteness. Depends on whom you ask. While a rabbit can make do with a small enclosure, he needs to be let out often, and in a very large space. So your entire apartment will become his playground. If you decide to let your rabbit play outside, he’ll start burrowing fast and you have a higher chance of losing him. Once a rabbit decides to sprint, he’s gone. And we all know how hard it is to catch a rabbit running left and right. Of all the rodent types, rabbits are the best at avoiding being caught. Smell-wise, rabbits can get stinky fast if you don’t clean their cage every day. Hamster vs ferret Ferrets are much, much larger than a hamster. They are much faster, and agile, and need plenty of exercise. While your hamster can make do with his running wheel, a ferret will not. A ferret will need at least one cage mate, while hamsters need to mostly kept alone. Conversely, a ferret loose in your home is not alright with other animals. It will possibly attach smaller animals like the hamster, or a rat. And larger pets like a cat or dog can hurt the ferret with sharp teeth and a much larger size. Both ferrets are hamsters love to try and escape, however ferrets will be trying the sturdiness of their cage and your home at every possible turn. Hamsters are a bit … slower, if you will, and are easily distracted. Hamster vs squirrel A squirrel for a pet is nothing to laugh at. I mean they’re funny and have an amazing amount of energy, but compared to a hamster they are much harder to keep. While a hamster’s claws do very little damage to the human skin, a squirrel has actual talons. Natural, when you think that they’re meant to help the creature shimmy up and down a tree, all day long. But. this makes a squirrel much harder to hold and play with than a hamster. The space requirement for a squirrel is much larger than a hamster. It needs your entire apartment, and your backyard too if you’ve got a house. Still being rodents, squirrels will flee very fast, and will hide food stashes wherever they can. You’ve seen the video of a squirrel trying to hide an acorn in a dog’s fur. That’s the level of madness (and cuteness) that is trying to keep a squirrel as a pet. A word on keeping a rodent as a pet When it comes to pets, you have to accept that not all pets are the same. If you’re looking for a pet that will cuddle with you, play fetch, and patiently wait for your return home, a rodent is probably not the best idea. Rodent type pets can bond with their owner, and do like human company. However they’re not as domesticated as cats and dogs, and not suited for families or small children/other pets in general. That being said, rodent-types are funny, energetic, and make the oddest faces. They’ll always amaze your with their acrobatics, even hamsters. You haven’t lived until you’ve seen a hamster trying to jump from a small ledge, and still fail. Some rodents are quiet, and calmer, like a hamster, a mouse, a guinea pig. While others are all over the place and will need your entire attention. It depends on what kind of pets you’re looking for. All in all, owning a hamster as a rodent can be rewarding in its own way – more on that here, and how to care for him in general. They’re not conventional pets, and will require different level of care from you. But they’re cute and funny in their own way. A word from Teddy I hope you found what you were looking for here. I know us hamsters can be a bit confusing sometimes, but we’re definitely rodents. If you want to know more about us hammies, you can check out the articles below.... Read more...
- Best Hamster Travel Cages, And How To Transport Your Hamster SafelyTaking your hamster somewhere is never easy. This is why having the best travel cage ever for your hamster is going to make things much easier, both for you and your hamster. This is what I’ll be helping you out with, and my Teddy will give you a few important things to remember along the way. Travelling with your hamster need to be done with care. Table of Contents Finding the best travel cages for your hamsterThe best transport cages for hamsters I’ve foundHabitrail OVO plastic transport cage for hamstersKaytee wire transport cage for hamstersLiving World Hagen Pet Carrier (hard plastic)How to safely transport your hamsterFood and water for transporting your hamsterWaterFoodKeeping your hamster comfortable during travelTry to keep him from scaring too muchKeep the hamster in the darkAvoid transporting the hamster in extreme temperaturesKeep the hamster’s cage secureFamiliar bedding for your hamster’s comfortGive the hamster time to adjustBest toys to keep your hamster occupied during travelToys.The hamster house or nestA word from Teddy Finding the best travel cages for your hamster Let’s talk about the transport cage itself. This is the most important part of transporting your hamster, since you can’t bring the cage your hamster lives in. The main debate about transport cages in whether you should get a very secure one – like those made of plastic – or a very breathable one, with wire. It’s entirely up to you, is what I say. You don’t need a transport cage often, but when you do you’ll be very specific about it. Of course you can later use it as a place to keep the hamster while you clean and change his big cage. Now, whatever type of cage you get, it’s important that it is very well secured. It should not spring open suddenly, and you hamster can’t gnaw on the clasps to open it easily. Just as important, how breathable is the cage ? Wire cages are very breathable but are not the most secure. However the plastic cages offer more safety but only have holes in them to allow air to pass through it. The size of the cage does not really matter, in that it can be smaller than the one your hamster lives in. But make sure that he will fit easily into the transporting unit, and you can take him out just as easy. The best transport cages for hamsters I’ve found I’ll go through the best transport cages I’ve found, both for plastic and for wire cages. You pick whichever you think sounds better for you and your hamster. Habitrail OVO plastic transport cage for hamsters This is the kind of cage that will stay securely closed, and your hammy can get inside easily. The two tube endings can be attached to the main cage through, well, tubes so your hamster can use it as an extra home when not traveling. The two endings can be closed off with lids that comes with the cage. There are enough air holes on the top of the cage, to let the hamster get enough air. It also prevents drafts since the holes will not catch a lot of sideways air. You can fit a lot of bedding in the lower part of the cage, since it will reach high enough. But don’t add any sand for a sand bath, since it can escape from tiny nooks. I’ve both checked the reviews on Amazon, and looked at one in our local petshop. This kind of cage looks and feels sturdy, and the handle will definitely keep when you travel. A couple of downsides are that if you order it or buy it in a sealed package, you might have to assemble it yourself. But as far as I’ve seen the instructions are very clear and most people managed to assemble it okay. The other small downside would be that longer journeys would be a bit more difficult, since there is not much space in this cage. The air holes do provide some air, but not for 24 hours. You can find it on Amazon here, and check its price as well. Kaytee wire transport cage for hamsters Wire cages are probably your best option for ventilation. But the problem is sometimes they are easy to open by the hamster, or they don’t close properly. It’s also harder to wrap a cloth around the cage to prevent drafts since the hamster will try to chew the cloth. But, in this case this cage has more space than the plastic one I talked about earlier. There’s an added level that can give your hamster a bit more space, but I recommend taking it out so he can’t fall. Your hamster will have a lot of breathing space, which is essential if you’re going on a long trip or he needs to be in that cage more than a couple of hours. The spacing between these bars is about 1.25 cm/0.5 inches so your hammy has no chance of fitting his head through the bars. Both Syrians and smaller breeds (like Siberians or Campbells) are alright in this kind of cage for transport. I can see only a couple of downsides to this cage, one being that the bedding can get all over the car in some cases, like if your hamster kicks it around or there is a sharp turn. And second, it is very hard to protect from drafts. You can check out this exact cage on Amazon, and see its price as well. Living World Hagen Pet Carrier (hard plastic) If you’re looking for more options then maybe this pet carrier will sound better for you and your pet. People have successfully transported small birds like cockatiels and sun conures to the vet in this transport cage, and it seems to be large enough for an adult hamster. It’s large enough for an adult Syrian, and definitely large enough for an adult Dwarf as well. Just remember to get the ‘large’ size, the maroon one with a gray and transparent top, as the smaller blue one is much too small. This transport cage is hard, thick plastic, and if you offer some amount of bedding and a hideout for your hammy then he should have no problem being relaxed in this cage. The overall size is 11.8 inch length by 9 inch width by 8.3 inch height, and most hammies won’t even reach the top part of the cage very easily. Air circulation is good enough, as there are holes on the upper part of the sides of the cage, and in the transparent lid as well. The lid is large, and opens completely, meaning you will have very easy access to your hamster when taking him out. And you will also easily keep an eye on him during travel. The fact that he won’t see anything around him may prove better at not scaring him. The only downside I see to this cage is the height of the cage. Hamsters love to gnaw on everything, and if yours gets his chompers on the upper part where there are holes, he might nibble at them and make a larger hole. Still, few hamsters get that far and I doubt it can become a problem if you’re using the cage for a quick trip to the vet. You can check the listing on Amazon here, and read the reviews as well. (If you like this article so far, you can pin it to your Pinterest board by clicking the image below. The article continues after the image.) How to safely transport your hamster The very idea of moving your hamster is not safe for him, but in general it’s best to keep the cage and the toys inside the hamster cage lightweight. During travel sudden stops or sharp turns might move the cage and the things inside the cage can hurt the hamster. Also, try and keep the duration and distance as short as possible. Avoid public transport, with loud noises and people bumping into you. Go for an air conditioned car that can get you there fast. There are more things to keep in mind than this, so Teddy and I will get into detail with all of them. But as a reminder: Teddy: Us hamsters are very easy to scare, so try not to rattle, bump, jostle, throw or shake our transport cage, and keep us well ventilated ! Food and water for transporting your hamster When you transport your little hamster, you’ll want to keep him well stocked on food and water. The problem is what kind of food and water. Water A water bottle or bowl is not good for transport. Every time your car or train or bus stops, they can leak and get the hamster wet, and possibly ill later on. What you can do instead is get a few slices of cucumber, and place them every once in a while in your hamster’s cage. Cucumbers have very high water content, and are safe for your hamster to eat. The cucumber will give your hamster enough water to last him the trip and back again, without spilling anything. Best to get several thick slices, and store them in a cool bag. Place one at a time every few hours in your hamster’s cage and he will have enough liquid. To know more about your hamster’s usual water needs, read my article here. Food As for the kind of food the hamster needs, it’s best if it is something dry like grains or a food mix from your favorite pet shop. Place a couple of his favorite treats in the cage as well, to make the trip more comfortable for him. Another type of food you should bring is a hard kind of treat for your hamster to nibble on. This is to give him something better than the cage to gnaw on, and also to relieve some of his anxiety. The best kind of dog treat for hamsters is either the plain kind – with no added flavors – or a milk bone. Milk bones are basically dog treats, but with added vitamins and minerals. They don’t necessarily contain milk, that’s just the name. Given the size of hamsters, and the size of dog treats, one treat will last your little one a long way. So basically a box of dog treats could possibly last the entire life of the hamster. Best to sprinkle the food in your hamster’s bedding, so he will forage for it during the trip and be distracted. For a clear list of what hamsters can and can not eat, read here. You’ll also find out what kind of treats you can give your hamster. Teddy: Hamsters need some simple dry food for transport, and sliced cucumber instead of a water bottle. We love cucumber ! Teddy enjoying his dry food from my hand Keeping your hamster comfortable during travel This is a topic just as important as what food you give the hamster when you transport him. Hamsters are easy to scare, they panic easily, and sometimes looking at your hamster wrong can scare him. I don’t know, all hamsters are different and some of them spook very easily. Try to keep him from scaring too much The weirdest example I have is when I was bent over my Teddy’s cage reaching for something. When I look down there’s Teddy, all shaking, on his hind paws, jaws open, trying to be big. I crouched down next to him, slowly, and spoke softly to him. It took him a minute but he was friendly after that. So unless you want your hamster to do something similar when he sees his vet after the trip, please make sure he is comfortable. That means that the cage should be shaken and moved around as little as possible. If possible, get a taxi or a friend to give you a ride to where you need to get. Do not keep your hamster on the road for more than he needs to be. It will freak him out and he will need some time to recover. Keep the hamster in the dark If possible, make sure that the cage you transport him with is not clear. Hamsters can’t see very well, but they can still see. And sudden movements will still scare them. If you can, cover the cage with something like a blanket to keep it dark. But make sure you do not cover the air holes, so that your hamster can still get enough air. However if your transport cage is an actual cage, not a plastic unit, then you need to make sure the hamster can’t reach the blanket and gnaw at it. My Teddy shoved a couple of centimeters of furry blanket in his cheeks when he first laid his paws on one, so be warned. Avoid transporting the hamster in extreme temperatures Unless you absolutely must, avoid transporting the hamster in very cold or very hot times of the year. Hamsters are very sensitive to temperature, and need a range of 20-22 Celsius/68-72 Fahrenheit to feel comfy. So make sure you can keep your hamster warm/cool, depending on the season. And also make sure that there is no draft where you keep your hamster during transport. Hamsters are very sensitive to this, and a cold for them is not as easy to shrug off as it is for humans. Keep the hamster’s cage secure When you travel by car, make sure that you have a seat belt strapped across the cage. This is to keep both you and the hammy safe. The cage needs to sit in place when traveling, and as long as you keep an eye on it, it should be fine. Try not to keep it on your lap, since it can hurt you in the case of sudden stops or turns. The same goes for keeping the cage in the trunk or at your feet in the car. If you’re travelling by train or bus, keep the cage on the seat next to you, with a hand on it or another way to make sure it stays in place. Familiar bedding for your hamster’s comfort In the end, you will need to place your hamster in a cage that is familiar to him. For this, use new bedding, mixed with bedding from his own cage. Make sure that the used bedding is not soiled or does not have too many droppings. A few droppings are okay, since it will be easier for your hamster to recognize the place as his own. But try to keep it mainly ‘clean’. The bedding you use for his home should have pieces that are from his own home as well. So if your gave your hamster ripped up paper towel to used as nesting material, grab a few pieces from his own home and place them in the transport cage. You can find out more about your hamster’s bedding here. What you can use, and what you should avoid. Give the hamster time to adjust Another thing that will help a lot is placing your hamster in the transport cage about an hour before you leave. This way you give him time to get used to his new cage, and he will not be as stressed. The best way to do this is to put the hamster in his exercise ball, and then put the exercise ball open in the transport cage. Or, place the transport cage directly into his usual cage, and let him explore it like that. For a discussion on what kind of cage is best for your hamster, check out my “best cages” article here. If your hamster is the kind that can be housed with several other hamsters, I’d recommend that you transport them in the same cage as well. Even if they don’t need a trip to the vet necessarily. This is to make the trip easier for the hamster that needs to be taken to the vet or somewhere specific. And also so that there is less hostility when you bring him back. The new smells on the transported hamster can make the ones left home get a bit aggressive. So try to avoid that by bringing them all if possible. This will not happen every time, the hamsters at home will not attack the transported hamster each occasion. But I’ve heard such stories and I think it’s better to be safe than sorry. Teddy: That was a long read, I know ! But us hamsters are easy to scare, so extra steps are needed to make us comfortable. Make sure you don’t rattle or shake the cage too much, and keep us safe and in place in our transport. Best toys to keep your hamster occupied during travel Obviously, the best toys are the ones he already loves and uses in his cage. But if they are very large and chunky toys, like blocks of wood, or hide and seek wooden tubes, these are a problem. They are heavy, and in the case of a sudden stop they can injure your tiny hamster. Toys. So make sure that the toys you bring into your hamster’s transport cage are light. Things like cardboard, for example toilet rolls, or paper towel rolls or paper egg cartons are fine. Cut a few holes in the tubes and carton and you’ve got yourself some great toys for your hamster to enjoy and keep him distracted. This way they won’t hurt the hamster if the cage moves around too much. Another helpful idea can be a walnut, with a tiny hole in it. This will keep the hamster entertained and busy, and he’ll try to chew on it. Even better would be if your can get a few walnut halves, cleaned, and string them on a piece of string. Try securing it along the edge of the cage, if possible, to make sure it stays in place. If you can’t, best to leave out the walnuts completely. The hamster house or nest The same goes for your hamster’s home or hideout. Make sure it is something lightweight that will not hurt him if it rolls over during transport. Paper or cardboard houses can be an option, but your hamster will probably chew on them so they won’t be a house anymore. Best to opt for something made of plastic, very very light weight. Teddy: It’s important to remember that the toys we need during transport are light weight, and very simple. Us hamsters are very fragile and need some extra care, even when it comes to our toys ! A word from Teddy Hi ! I hope this article managed to clear up a lot of your questions, and you can safely transport my brother or sister. I know transport cages seem tiny compared to how much space us hamsters really need, but for a few hours it’s alright. As long as you can keep us safe, healthy, and well fed and watered, we’ll survive the trip. If you want to know more about hamsters, and for example how much we can go without food, or if we need a light on, then check out these other articles !... Read more...
- Can Hamsters Eat Cheese ? Are The Cartoons Right ?When I first got my Teddy I wondered if he can eat cheese like I saw in Tom & Jerry. As it turns out, hamsters can eat many different things. Some of them are actually in your pantry or fridge ! Table of Contents So can my hamster eat dairy ?Hamsters can eat cheeseHamsters can eat a tiny bit of yogurtHammies should avoid milkCommercial hamster food has enough mineral contentA word from Teddy So can my hamster eat dairy ? The short answer – yes, hamsters can eat some types of dairy. But in a small amounts, and only certain kinds. Some dairy products are safe for hamsters, some can cause digestive problems. Lactose content plays a major role in how well mammals respond to dairy, and hamsters fall into the mammal category. Not all milk-based products are okay for hammies. This is due to the small size of hamsters, and their different gut than humans. Hamsters can tolerate some kinds of dairy, and I’ll cover the main kinds in the rest of the article. Hamsters can eat cheese Cheese is safe for hamsters, both regular cheese and white/cottage cheese, including feta. This is mostly because the fermenting process ends in a product that is safe to consume for most creatures. The lactose content in cheese is much smaller than in regular milk. The gut has an easier time processing cheese than any other dairy product, since there’s less lactose in it. You’ve seen Jerry in the cartoons go nuts over a bit of cheese. Well, hamsters love cheese just as much as mice do, since they’re not so distantly related after all. Also, the strong smell makes hammies want to go for it instantly. You can see my Teddy in the first photo of this article, happily munching on a bit of Gouda. The first time he even smelled it, he was all over it. So yes, hamsters can eat cheese, and their stomach is okay with it. Be sure to give your hamsters mild cheese that is not very aged. Overly smelly (pungent) cheese may sit badly with them, such as Parmesan or Pecorino Romano. Soft cheeses like brie, or washed rind cheeses have a mold or bacteria culture that may be unsafe for hamsters, so try and avoid giving them to hamsters. Hamsters can eat a tiny bit of yogurt Yogurt is another story here. The probiotics are a welcome bonus, and it will help with digestive problems. However with hamsters it’s the bacteria culture that can cause trouble. You see, hammies have a different kind of stool than humans. The only reason hammies ever have a wet stool is if they’re very very ill and this is not something okay for them. So I’m not saying giving your hamster yogurt will give him a runny stool. But I am saying that yogurt may cause bloating and digestive problems for your hamster. Which is why I recommend that you don’t give your hamster yogurt often, or in large amounts. Something like half a teaspoon is enough, and it should not be given more than once per week. Hammies will eat many things that are not okay for them. They can’t really know the difference between the foods unless they try it, so they rely on you to keep them safe. You will find yogurt listed as an ingredient for some treats for hamsters. That’s usually alright, since it’s in a small amount, and mostly there’s powdered milk where it says yogurt. Actual, natural yogurt does not keep and can’t be used in most treats. Hammies should avoid milk When it comes to milk, I recommend you avoid it completely for your hamster. The amount of lactose is the highest in milk, and it’s the one most likely to give your hamster a bad tummy. Hamsters only suckle from their mothers until they’re 3-4 weeks old. After they’re weaned, like most mammals, they can’t process lactose and will have trouble digesting it. Most everyone has a degree of lactose intolerance, some more extreme, some more manageable. Younger mammals, like baby hamsters or humans can process it well enough. Adult humans or hamsters can’t stomach milk and will have trouble with it. (If you like this article so far, you can pin it to your Pinterest board by clicking the image below. The article continues after the image.) Commercial hamster food has enough mineral content You can feed your hamster with things you’ve already got around the house. Like meat, and veggies, and some cheese. You can find a list of safe foods for your hamster right here. But it’s both easier and more nutrition-conscious of you to feed your hammy a pre-made food mix, that will give your hamster enough to cover the basics. Commercial food mixes do have a high enough mineral content, which is something you might think you’re helping your hamster get with extra cheese or yogurt. A good food mix like this one is going to help your hamster cover all his bases. You’ve got protein, veggies, vitamins, fibers, and minerals. And the selection in this bag is very wide, so your hamster can choose whatever he like. Be warned though, that hamsters can become very picky with their food, and they might ignore bits of the mix sometimes. That’s okay, you can add a peanut here, a walnut there, and make sure your hammy gets all the nutrition he needs. You’ll find the Amazon listing for this food mix here, and you can check out the reviews as well. You can supplement your hammy’s food with whatever you have on hand as is okay for him to eat. For example I give my Teddy a small bit of cooked chicken, or cooked egg white whenever we’re cooking, er even a bit of carrot. A word from Teddy I hope you found what you were looking for in this article. I know us hammies might want to eat everything, but only some kinds of dairy are okay. For example I love Gouda, and Maasdam cheese, but maybe your hammy likes Cheddar better ? If you want to know more about us hamster you should check out the articles below. You’ll find out things like how large a cage we need, and why we sometimes freeze when you walk by us.... Read more...
- 12 Reasons That Hamsters Squeak-Understanding Your PetAlmost all animals have a distinct sound. We know that dogs bark for many reasons, cry when they want something, and growl when they are aggressive, but not many people know what sounds hamsters make. The most common noises that hamsters make are squeals, screams, and squeaks, but they can also hiss and grind their teeth. It is hard to say exactly why your hamster is making any of these noises, which is why you’ll have to examine what it’s doing to understand why it’s making that noise. However, we do have a general idea of what might be going on with your hamster when it makes certain sounds. If your hamster is grinding its teeth, it means that your hamster is probably irritated and wants you to leave it alone. If you notice that it is baring its teeth, it is giving you a visual warning that it’s planning to attack you. Similar to a car, your hamster can hiss if it’s aggressive and does it to give off warning signs before it attacks. It might hiss if you won’t leave it alone after it ran away from you, and if you don’t stop trying to take it even after it hissed at you, it will probably bite you. You won’t hear your hamster screaming very often. They usually scream because they are afraid of something, and the scream is loud and distressing. The most common sound all hamsters make is squeaking. Squeaking can mean so many things which is why it’s very hard to determine why your hamster is squeaking without examining the situation. Here are 12 reasons why your hamster might be squeaking, which will help you understand your hamster better. Table of Contents 1. Your hamster is happy2. Your hamster is afraid3. Your hamster needs something4. Your hamster is talking to other hamsters5. Your hamster doesn’t like being picked up6. Your hamster recognizes something7. Your hamster is aggressive8. Your hamster is trying to be dominant9. Your hamster is trapped or in danger10. Your hamster wants to breed11. Your hamster is giving birth12. Your hamster is injured 1. Your hamster is happy Hamsters sometimes squeak when they are happy. For example, hamsters are known to squeak when they get a treat, or when you pet them. If you have more than just one hamster, your hamsters could squeak because they are happy to see each other, or just because they are playing. You can tell that your hamster is squeaking because it is happy if you see it stretch or yawn while squeaking. 2. Your hamster is afraid When your hamster squeaks continually, it’s telling someone to back off. The hamster can be saying this to other hamsters if you have more than just one, or to you, if it’s new to your home and still afraid of you. If your hamster is new, socialization will make it calm down. When you get a hamster for the first time, it might be hard to figure out on your own how to tame it. The first thing you should do when you bring a hamster home is to let it adjust. Try giving it a week before you handle it. Keep it in a big enough cage, and make sure it always has water and food, so it’s not stressed out. It would be best if you placed the cage somewhere where it is surrounded by people, but where it won’t be disturbed by the noise, distractions, or other pets. It’s important to remember that hamsters sleep during the day, so they will need to be placed somewhere peaceful and quiet during this week, but where they can still see people. A good place would be a study if you work from home or a bedroom. Try not to get annoyed with the taming process, as it doesn’t happen overnight. The goal of the taming process is to convince your hamster to trust you, and that there’s no reason for it to be afraid of it. You will have to take the time to get to know your hamster and learn how it communicates. You will notice that your hamster has become more comfortable once it leaves its cage on its own. Do not handle your hamster before it leaves the cage on its own, you will just make it more afraid of you. The hamster will let you know that it is comfortable with you when it eats, drinks, or plays when you’re around. You should talk to your hamster, but not too loudly, so it gets used to your voice. You might feel awkward talking to your hamster, so try reading it a book, or if you have kids, read them a goodnight story with the hamster present in the room. They say that love goes through the stomach, and that’s true for hamsters as well. You can convince your hamster to trust you by offering it a lot of treats. Start by offering them through the bars or at the edge of the cage. Wait for the hamster to come and explore your hand, but don’t try to touch it. After a while, you will be able to place your hand inside the cage and put the treat on your hand. Again, it is very important that you don’t touch the hamster or try to force it into your hand. Instead, let it get interested and explore your hand. The first time you do this, the hamster will probably only place one paw on your hand. The more you do it, the more your hamster will trust you, and eventually, it will climb into your hand to get the treat. When your hamster trusts your enough to get to your hand, you can try to take it into your hand. If you notice that your hamster wants to get away, let it go. Your hamster will probably do this the first few times, but after a while, it will realize that your hands are safe. How long it will take for your hamster to let you pick it up depends on its personality and age. Some hamsters might let you pick them up as soon as they come into your home, while others need a month or longer to fully relax and trust you. Make sure you pick it up safely. The best way to do so is to cup your hand and put the hamster in it and place the other hand on its back so that it feels safe. The first few times you pick up your hamster, make sure there is a soft surface beneath you in case it jumps out of your hand. As time passes, the hamster will become more comfortable with you and trust you more, and it will walk over your hands and arms. 3. Your hamster needs something Hamsters squeak when they want something. They can’t talk, so squeaking is their way of communicating that they need something. They might want to get out of the cage, want your attention, or their food and water bowl is empty. If your hamster squeaks for a long time and it doesn’t stop squeaking after you give it food and attention, check whether it’s injured. 4. Your hamster is talking to other hamsters The only way young hamsters can talk to other hamsters is by squeaking. They squeak to let others know how they feel. When they squeak loudly, they are telling the other hamsters that they are afraid, or that they don’t like what they’re doing. If you notice that your hamster is squeaking softly when around other hamsters, it means that it’s enjoying their company, or that it wants attention from another hamster. This depends on the type of hamster. Dwarf hamsters are smaller and they can’t produce soft sounds, so they squeak, but if you have a Teddy Bear hamster, it will most likely softly murmur to communicate because it has longer vocal cords. 5. Your hamster doesn’t like being picked up Depending on the type of your hamster, it might never learn not to be afraid of heights. Dwarf hamsters are miniature and they will probably squeak when you pick them up, not because they are afraid of you, but because they are afraid of the height. Hamsters also get scared when they don’t know where they are. Bigger types of hamsters will soon learn that they are safe when you pick them up, as they aren’t as afraid of heights as the Dwarf hamsters. 6. Your hamster recognizes something Dwarf hamsters are known to learn what it sounds and looks like when you’re about to feed them. If you notice that your hamster squeaks when you open its bag of food, or open its cage to give it some treats, it means that your hamster has recognized what’s about to happen. If you tame your hamster and it bonds with you, it can learn what you look and sound like, and it can squeak because it recognizes you. Most types of hamsters squeak when they recognize something, but the owners have noticed that Dwarf hamsters are often louder than other types of hamsters. 7. Your hamster is aggressive If your hamster is tamed, and it squeaks when you try to touch it, it’s probably aggressive. This doesn’t necessarily mean that it is going to bite you. It is likely that your hamster doesn’t feel like hanging out with you because it is tired, or just in a bad mood. 8. Your hamster is trying to be dominant If you have more than just one hamster, it is likely that they will get into a fight every once in a while. While it is natural to get concerned and think that your hamsters are getting hurt when they squeak during the fight, they can actually be doing it for a whole other reason. Most hamsters will squeak when fighting because they will try to be dominant. However, this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t break up the fight. 9. Your hamster is trapped or in danger Your hamster might squeak when it finds itself trapped, or in a dangerous situation, and it is trying to signal that it needs help. This squeak is usually quite loud and continuous, and it might seem as if it is screaming. 10. Your hamster wants to breed If you have hamsters of both gender, they will likely squeak when to make a mating call. The mating call is very loud and persistent. You might notice that your male hamster sits upright when it hears your female hamster squeaking when in heat. You can choose whether or not you want to breed them at this point. If you choose to breed them, you should put the female hamster into the male hamster’s cage every night for four days during the estrus, which is the 12-hour long period during which the female hamster will mate with the male hamster. Make sure that your female hamster wants to breed because otherwise, it could become aggressive and attack the male. You will notice that it wants to breed once you place it into the male hamster’s cage and it settles down soon. You will know that your female hamster is pregnant because it will be fatter about 2 weeks after mating, and it will move around less. It will also become more and more aggressive as it gets closer to its due date. Female hamsters are usually pregnant for about 18 to 22 days. Most commonly, it gives birth to 4 to 6 hamsters. However, depending on the type of your hamster, there can also be less than 3 or more than 12. Be careful because sometimes female hamsters eat their babies. 11. Your hamster is giving birth If you’ve decided to breed your hamsters or didn’t keep them apart during mating time, your female hamster will get pregnant. If you know that your hamster is pregnant and you hear it squeaking, it could mean that it is getting into labor. You might feel bad for it and the pain it’s going through, but it’s very important that you leave it alone. Female hamsters want to give birth alone so that they can focus. It will give birth to the hamsters in 10 to 30-minute intervals and cut off the umbilical cord on its own. It tends to clean the area after the birth of each hamster. Make sure you give your female hamster enough food and water. Don’t try to look at the hamsters or open the cage for the first two weeks. It can think that they are in danger and eat their babies. 12. Your hamster is injured If you notice that your hamster is squeaking, it might be in pain or injured. Sick or injured hamsters tend to hide, so if you notice your hamster hiding, make sure you check for any injuries. If you can’t see any injury but your hamster is still squeaking, make sure you take it to the vet, there might be something going on inside your hamster. The most common injuries in hamsters are cuts and scrapes. If you notice that your hamster is squeaking because it has a cut, there’s no need to panic. Try to figure out what it got cut on so you can remove it and reduce the chances of your hamster cutting itself on it again. Your hamster will probably squeak as soon as it cuts itself, so it should be easy to see what it has cut itself on. To clean the cut, you can use some lukewarm water and a cotton pad. Don’t use anything humans use to treat cuts, such as antiseptics, creams, or band-aids. If you notice that the wound is big or it doesn’t seem to stop bleeding, take your hamster to the vet. If you notice that your hamster is squeaking when you’re touching it, it might have developed an infection that caused an abscess to formed on its skin. It could also have abscesses in the mouth. Regardless of where they are located, they are very painful for your hamster, and they will have to be drained by a vet.... Read more...
- Why Do Hamsters Pee In Their Wheel? 4 Main ReasonsHamsters peeing in their wheel is annoying for the owners since you have to clean the wheel more often, but is this a real problem for your hamster, or is it just a mild inconvenience for you? Hamsters do pee in their wheel, not all of them do this, but I have a hamster that has been doing this for quite a while. It stopped lately, so this behavior can change. The other two hamsters I had haven’t done this at all so I don’t know how often this happens, but I saw some people complaining about this little problem. In this article, I want to discuss all the reasons for this weird behavior, what you can do, and when and how to clean its wheel in this situation. Table of Contents Why Do Hamsters Pee On Their Wheel?1. Marking their territory2. Fear3. Preferred spot4. Busy runningWhat about hamsters’ poop in their wheel?Can you stop your hamster from peeing in his wheel?Do hamsters use the sand bath as litter?How to clean a hamster wheel?What wheel to buy for a hamster that is peeing in the wheel?Conclusion Why Do Hamsters Pee On Their Wheel? Here are the main five reasons why your hamster is peeing in the wheel: 1. Marking their territory This reason is the most frequent one, hamsters tend to mark their territory using their scent, they have a scent gland that is used for this, but they also can pee to mark the territory as a dog will do. You can see the glands on a Syrian hamster on their sides, which is a small spot(usually hairless) I know this because I was afraid that my hamster had a problem the first time I saw this. Dwarf hamsters have their scent gland on their belly, so it’s not as visible. So if you are not seeing your hamster actually peeing on its wheel, it might only be the secretion from its scent gland, which is yellowish and greasy. This might happen, especially if you clean their wheel too often, since it will lose the odor they use to mark their territory. We will discuss later how often you should clean a hamster’s wheel in this situation. 2. Fear Hamsters are prey animals in the wild, and they are easily scared, so they will have these instincts even if they are pets. They can pee when they are scared, and when they are running, they might suddenly be scared for no reason. Or when they run too fast, and go head over heels in their wheel, that might be a moment when they release urine. It might also be a sound or a movement they feel around them while they are running. 3. Preferred spot All my hamsters had a preferred spot where they would pee, those might be 2 or 3 spots, but they don’t pee randomly all over the cage. If your hamster decides that the wheel is the perfect spot, you can’t change that too easily since it appears that they don’t have a very good reason for choosing the spots other than the fact that they feel comfortable there. I had a hamster that used a plastic tunnel as a preferred pee spot, I had to remove that tunnel in the time since the tunnel was going outside the cage, and his pee got on the furniture multiple times. From a safety point of view, the tunnel wasn’t the safest if you think about it since it was outside his cage, but I guess the closed space made him feel safe and comfortable there. 4. Busy running Hamsters are not as aware as humans of what they are doing, they don’t consider the wheel as a treadmill used for cardio exercises. They are running to get somewhere else, but surprise, surprise, they are not getting too far away. When you think about this, peeing in the wheel is for your hamster, like a quick stop to pee at a gas station for you when you are on a road trip. So, it is not like peeing on the treadmill when exercising. What about hamsters’ poop in their wheel? Hamster pooping in their wheel is more common than hamsters peeing in their wheel. Hamsters don’t have a preferred spot for pooping as they have for peeing, so they can randomly poop all over the cage, including their wheel. It might also be the fact that they are scared or frightened, as many other animals, hamsters tend to poop when they are scared, so this might be the same as we talked about above about peeing when they are scared. The difference is that a hamster poops more often when scared rather than peeing. So you should not worry too much about hamster poop that you find in the wheel. They might also spit it there, yes you heard me right. I have an entire article about why hamsters eat their own poop, and in that article, I touched a bit on why hamster spit (fling) their poop outside the cage, but it can also be inside the cage or in their wheel. Can you stop your hamster from peeing in his wheel? You can try a few things to make your hamster stop peeing in their wheel. But they are just that, things that you can try, no one can guarantee success since hamsters have different personalities and behaviors. The first thing you can do is to remove the wheel for a few days, this might be a bit difficult for your hamster since it will get your hamster agitated without a place to exercise, but it will force it to find another place to pee. Then you can place the clean wheel back and hope for the best. Also, you can attempt to potty train a hamster. Keep in mind that the videos and articles you can find suggest that this is easy, but it can be quite difficult if you have a stubborn hamster. I will not get into all the details here, but check out this article to make sure you follow the right steps when potty training your hamster. Do hamsters use the sand bath as litter? A sand bath is not the same thing as a litter box, hamsters use sand baths for cleaning themselves, while a litter box should be used for the hamster to pee and poop in. So you should not add sand in the litter box but rather bedding and other materials that will absorb the pee. However, as with other animals, they might not think as you do and use their sand baths as litter and not for cleaning themselves, which can be annoying, but it is what it is, and you can’t change that easily. Here is an article I wrote about proper grooming and the importance of sand baths for hamsters. How to clean a hamster wheel? In order to clean a hamster wheel, you have to get it out of the cage and clean it thoroughly with hot water and a bit of soap, just a bit, don’t use much soap since the hamsters are very sensitive to strong smells. Also, make sure you rinse and dry the wheel very well before putting it back into the hamster cage. A hamster wheel can be cleaned when you clean the entire cage or even less often than that if the hamster is not peeing in the wheel. But if your hamster is peeing in the wheel or you find a greasy yellow secretion from its scent glands all over the wheel, you might have to clean it more often. Even in this case it is important to not clean the wheel way too often, so let’s say once a month is enough, because if you clean it once a week or so, you only encourage your hamster to mark it back when you add the clean wheel to the cage again. I know it can be weird to leave the wheel as it is in the cage but this is the better option, otherwise, you will stress your hamster more than necessary, and the end result will be the same. What wheel to buy for a hamster that is peeing in the wheel? You might be tempted to buy a metal wheel, but is usually not the best idea, especially if it’s a metal wheel with a lot of space between bars it can be dangerous for your hamster. I had a metal wheel, but it almost had no space between the bars and the bars were in very small x shapes, so not straight bars, which is a bit safer for the hamster. But I’ve also changed that wheel with a plastic one that is much safer and bigger. I’ve had the metal one since the first cage I had for my hamster wasn’t tall enough for the big plastic wheel I have now. Here is a good plastic wheel you can find one amazon: An important thing when you buy a wheel is to be silent and this one has silent in the name but also, people that bought it are pretty happy with what they’ve got. Unfortunately, it is not available in my country, so I couldn’t get it, but I saw many people recommending this wheel on forums and in communities after they bought it. Conclusion So marking territory, fear, preferred spot, and busy running are the main four reasons a hamster can pee in the wheel. When we talk about poo in the wheel, being scared is the main reason, but it is also the fact that they don’t care where they poo. I hope this article helped you know what to do when your hamster is peeing in the wheel and also realize that it might not be such a big problem. You can try the tips I give you above to make your hamster stop peeing in the wheel, but they are not guaranteed to work.... Read more...
- 10 Things To Get For Your Hamster (Essential Supply List)So you’re off to get yourself a hamster ! Great, I wish you two all the luck. Let’s see what the essentials are, when you get your hamster all of his supplies. When I first got my Teddy (Syrian male hammy) I didn’t know how many things I’d need for him, so I went back the next day and got several other items. Best if you get most of these things at once, at lest the ones that go inside the cage. Table of Contents 1. Cage for your hamster friend2. Bedding and nesting material for the hamster3. Hideout so the hamster has somewhere to sleep4. Food bowl and water bottle for the hamster5. Food mix and treats the hamster will love6. Toys and tubes, so the hamster has plenty of fun7. Exercise/running wheel for the restless hamster8. Exercise ball for time outside the cage9. Travel/transport cage for vet visits10. The hamster himselfKeeping a hamster as a pet – know what you’re getting yourself intoA word from Teddy 1. Cage for your hamster friend A hamster’s cage is basically the most important thing you’ll need to buy. There are minimum sizes, but don’t let the pet shops fool you. The minimum for a Syrian hamster is 24 x 12 inches, and about 12 inches tall. That’s 61 x 30.5 cm, and about 30.5 cm tall. I’d recommend that for a pair of Dwarf hamsters as a minimum too. The cages sold as ‘starter homes’ are much too small. They’re the square, brightly colored cages, barely enough for one Dwarf hamster. They look a lot like budgie cages. Unfortunately, those aren’t okay. I learned that the hard way with my Teddy. When I got him, I got one of those cages. The moment I saw him try to use the much too small wheel I knew I made a mistake. He was a baby Syrian, he’d grow to be 5-7 inches long and fairly fluffy. He needed a new cage ASAP. So I did get him a new cage, the next day, and it’s got several levels. Actually I’ll show you the cage I have for him right here. It’s this one, and Teddy seems to enjoy it. He uses both levels, although the top level isn’t his favorite. The tubes is something I’m very glad the cage has, since Teddy’s in them all night. It’s fairly easy to clean and take apart, and it’s got a nice combo of wire cage and plastic cage advantages (air flow, and containment and safety) You can check the listing on Amazon here. My Teddy loves that cage, although it’s not the only model that would work well for hamsters. There’s also this one, which admittedly you’d need a bit more room for. The thing about this one is that it provides half a level extra, while still being fairly large on its own. The level is adjustable, and can be put why way you want it. The spacing between the bars is small enough to keep a dwarf hamster inside too. Most toys and wheels would fit inside this cage fairly well. You can check the listing on Amazon here. If you want to know more about picking out the best cage for your hamster, you’ll need this article. The thing is, hamsters are very small, yes, but they don’t stay babies all their life. They grow incredibly fast. Actually a hamster is an adult when he reaches 3 months. Most hamsters get adopted before that age though, so that means your hamster will grow. Best to get him a cage you won’t have to change, and that will fit him as an adult. Hamsters are after all wild animals, and they do a whole lot of running around. They need to explore things and they need a much larger cage that you’d first think. Yes, budget can be an issue but the cage, the exercise wheel, and the hideout are what the hamster will use literally his entire life, until he passes away. No point in skimping on his essentials, since he only needs one of each. 2. Bedding and nesting material for the hamster Bedding is something that will need to be repurchased every few months or so. There are many options you can use for your hamster’s bedding, some safe, some not so safe. Your best bet is aspen shavings, since those are fairly easy to find, and are hamster-safe. Other types of wood like cedar or pine are unsafe, since their scent is not only too strong, but also dangerous for hamsters. The phenols released by those wood types are too much for the hamster. So that leaves you with aspen, you can find an example right here. I use aspen for my Teddy, I have since I first got him and he is a big strong boy now (currently 1 year and a half as I’m typing this). A bag like this one can last you for months on end, since you only need to clean the cage and change the bedding once per week. If you’ve got other small animals you can give them aspen bedding as well. You can check the listing on Amazon here. Another option is paper-based bedding, which controls odor a bit better than aspen. Just be advised that paper beddings tend to be a bit noisier in comparison to wood shavings. We have paper bedding for our guinea pigs and I can hear them moving about their cage. Then again, I’m especially sensitive to sound so keep that in mind. Maybe for you paper bedding wouldn’t be a problem. Once you’ve got your hamster’s bedding, you’ll need nesting material too. You can find a much more in-depth article about this right here. But in short, do not use anything but paper towels or toilet paper, unscented. Stay away from fabric-based nesting material, some petshops have those too. 3. Hideout so the hamster has somewhere to sleep Another essential is the hamster’s hideout. Hamsters love to hide, it’s what they’re amazing at. In the wild that’s what kept the alive all this time, actually. So in order for him to feel safe, he needs a place (or several) to hide. This means a hideout in which to build his nest. Now, keep in mind that hamsters chew on everything, including their nest and hideout. So you’ve got to get him a wooden hideout, for a few reasons. First, the hamster will chew on it. Even when he’s sleeping, he’s going to wake up for a midnight snack, pee, and chew on his hideout a bit. This is because a hamster’s teeth never stop growing. Ever. So he has to always file them down with something. Second, anything other than wood won’t let the hamster’s nest breathe. This means condensation forming on the walls, which will keep things humid, which will keep the hamster cold. And a cold, wet hamster is never a good idea. And third, plastic hideouts don’t keep the hamster’s scent all that well. They do keep some of it, but wood is better at that. And a hamster will freak out is he doesn’t immediately recognize his home. Smell is the first thing hamsters use to ”see” their habitat. This hideout, for example, is very much like the one I have for my Teddy. It’s going to be stuffed to the brim with paper towels and toiler paper when you hamster’s done building his nest, but you’ll know he’s a happy little guy. Hamsters will love the wood and will chew on it whenever they need to file down their teeth. All in all the best kind of hideout to keep a hamster happy. You can find the listing on Amazon here. Your hamster will hide in everything he can. This means that aside from his hideout, he will use cardboard tubes to crawl into and spend some time thinking about cheese. Or maybe bury himself in the bedding, to look for hidden treasures, hamsters are hamsters, and they love to hide. If you don’t immediately spot him, don’t freak out. He’s in there somewhere. A sparse cage is no fun for a hamster, he’ll feel like he’s exposed. So he will look for places to hide or crawl under. 4. Food bowl and water bottle for the hamster Usually food bowls and water bottles come with the cage you buy. Not always, but sometimes they do. If your cage came with a food bowl, it’s most likely alright. You see, hamsters are foragers, and you can even scatter their food all over the cage to encourage them to look for it. They will appreciate the comfort of finding all their food in one place. Still, the main thing to look for in a food bowl is for the hamster to not easily tip it over. This means that the sides should not be up, like a regular human bowl, but rather pointing down (much like a doggy bowl). If your cage came with a food bowl like that, great. If not, you can look at options like this one for example. It’s got a fairly cute design with a watermelon motif too. It’s ceramic, to your hamster’s gonna have a hard time tipping this one over or moving it around. It’s pretty much going to stay where you put it. Just be advised that ceramic, like glass, can be fragile during shipping. You can check the listing on Amazon here. As for the water bottle, the ones that come with the cage are usually alright too. They’re big enough and are fairly well made. But if you’re unhappy with the one you got, you can look a other options too. For example this one on Amazon can hold 12 ounces of water for your hamster. That’s 325 ml of water ! As for how much water your hamster needs, usually 10 ml/100 gr of hamster is enough, daily. That’s 0.33 fl oz/3.52 oz of hamster, daily. Most water bottles go way bigger than that, so your hamster should be safe for 7-10 days. 5. Food mix and treats the hamster will love Food is something the hamster will need, and you will have to repurchase every few months. For example my Teddy eats 2 teaspoons of dry commercial food mix per day. A dwarf hamster on the other hand will need just one teaspoon per day. Keep in mind that hamsters will hide their food. So if you’ve just fed your hamster, and half an hour later there is no more food in his bowl, don’t worry. That’s okay. Hamsters put all the food in their cheeks, and then hide it all away in their nest. This isn’t something you can stop, and giving him more food will only result in him hiding more food. That’s just the way hamsters are. That being said, hamsters eat mostly grains, with a few veg and fruit here and there. They love nuts, and if you give them plain cooked chicken they will go crazy over it. However they need those hard dry grains to keep their teeth in check. This means that their main source of food needs to be their food mix. A good one like this one will bring all the nutrients your hamster needs, in a controlled, safe diet. It’s got a fair amount of seeds mixed in with the pellets, and will last your hamster for a couple of months or more, depending on how much you give him. You can find the listing on Amazon here. Aside from the hamster’s food mix, you’ll want to look into a few treats for him as well. Those can be sunflower seeds, a peanut, a slice or carrot for example. You can also find pre-made hamster treats, for example yogurt based drops. These are Teddy’s favorite drops, and he loves cheese as well. They’re fairly colored, but that’s okay since the coloring is safe for humans and hamsters as well. You can find the listing on Amazon here. Remember that hamsters will eat anything you give them, not matter how much you give them. So be responsible and do not overfeed your hamster, else it can lead to obesity and possible joint and diabetes problems. You can always supplement your hamster’s food with some safe foods you have around the house. But only keep those as occasional treats. 6. Toys and tubes, so the hamster has plenty of fun Hamsters love to play and explore things, so they need toys. And tubes. Some toys you can make at home, with cardboard. For example something like an empty egg carton with a few holes cut in it can be a great hide-and-seek toy, and safe for hamsters. Or the cardboard rolls that are left from toilet paper rolls or paper towels, those are great toys too. Fold them shut at both ends, with a bit of food inside the roll, and you’ve got yourself a hamster puzzle toy. For more DYI toy ideas, you can check out this article right here. As for the store-bought toys, the best ones are, yes, made of wood. The hamster will chew on them all day, every day. For example this set of chew toys will not only help your hamster file down his teeth, but also keep him interested in what’s inside them. They’re all wood based, so safe to chew, and fairly durable. You can hide something like a peanut in one of them, or just leave the bell inside to keep your hamster guessing what’s inside. You can check the listing on Amazon here. Another little thing hamsters love is tubes. Getting your hamster a set of tubes for exploring outside his cage is going to mimic his normal nest. Think of tubes/tunnels like the world’s most amazing view-sites… for hamsters. You can find lots of versions online and in pet shops, and most of them will be like this one. You can build any kind of tube maze for your hamster with these items, and your hamster will love spending time outside his cage in these things. You should check if your cage allows for tube entrances though, not all cages to. In the photo there’s just one shape of tube, but you’ll find the rest of the shapes (like tees, corners, towers, etc) in the link. You can find the listing on Amazon here. 7. Exercise/running wheel for the restless hamster One of the most important things hamsters ever do is run. Hamsters run and run and run as much as their little feet will allow them. This means that they can run up to 9 km/5.5 miles in a single night ! Imagine all that energy spent on not running in his cage. He’d be all over the cage, climbing it, chewing on the bars moving his toys around. An exercise wheel is as much for the hamster as it is for your own good. A bored and irritated hamster is not only grumpy but also hard to tame, and will try to escape. So a good exercise wheel like this one will help your hamster burn off all his energy and run as far as his little feet will take him. Wheel are notorious for being loud, so this one is made especially to be silent. It’s got a guard for your hamster’s feet and tail, and will stay in place (heavy bottom). You can check the listing on Amazon here. Your hamster will end up on his wheel most of the night. So this is one of those things that your hamster definitely needs, all his life. You can find out more about hamsters and running wheels here. 8. Exercise ball for time outside the cage An exercise ball is not mandatory, but it’s a welcome toy. It will allow you to take the hamster out of his cage, and let him roam the house as he pleases – as long as he’s safe. Now, even if you don’t let him stray too far, he still needs a secondary place to be when you clean out his cage. He can’t be inside the cage, otherwise he would have a panic attack and try to bite everything. Best to keep him out of your hair while you clean the cage. A good exercise ball should be big enough so that the hamster’s back should not be arched. He will arch it a bit when he pushes into the ball to move forward, but that’s about it. He should fit comfortably. Most balls are clear plastic, and have air holes for your hamster to get some fresh air. Even so, they don’t provide as much air as a wire cage, for example. This means that the amount of time you let the hamster inside the ball should not be more than 30 minutes at a time. You can find a good example of an exercise ball here, since it’s big enough to fit a Syrian hamster inside easily. A dwarf hammy will be able to enjoy himself too in such a ball. It’s got enough air holes so the hamster can breathe easily, and you can pick whichever color you like. You can find the listing on Amazon here. 9. Travel/transport cage for vet visits Another cage for the hamster ? Well, yes, because carrying the hamster’s big cage with you to the vet isn’t very easy or comfortable. So a travel cage will be needed. Luckily the hamster isn’t a very sickly animal, so vet visits aren’t on the agenda often. They do have their own health problems, but for the most part they’re healthy. The travel cage can also be used to keep the hamster safe while you clean his cage (in place of the exercise ball). Some travel cages can be attached to the permanent cage, as a sort of extended home. The travel cage doesn’t need to be large or fancy, but it does need to keep the hamster inside. Since these cages are so small, this means the hamster will become restless after a few hours. So limit his time in the travel cage to under 2 hours to avoid any stress on your hamster. A good example of a travel cage could be this one, and it would fit a Syrian hamster well enough. It’s got a lid that closes shut and a handle for easy carrying. As all travel cages, this one is large enough to keep the hamster comfortable for a couple of hours but do not keep him inside for more than that. You can check the listing on Amazon here. 10. The hamster himself Finally, you’ll need the hamster himself. He is the last on this list because everything else needs to be in place before you get your furry friend. This is because hamsters are bad at handling stress, and as such when you first bring a hamster home you’ll need to leave him alone for the next 2-3 days. Feed him and talk to him, but do not open the cage or poke at him. Hamsters brought home for the first time are in danger of developing wet-tail, so be careful to keep him in a safe and calm room. As for how to pick out your hamster, I recommend you check this article. It’s got every nook and cranny covered, and the story of how i got my Teddy too. He’s a Syrian male hamster, and he’s the funniest, grumpiest little cheese ball I’ve ever met. (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.) Keeping a hamster as a pet – know what you’re getting yourself into Alright, we’ve got one last thing to cover. Well, maybe it should’ve been the first thing we covered. But you need to know what life with a hamster is like. Hamsters aren’t expensive to keep, actually they’re fairly cheap. But keeping a hamster as a pet changes you. You learn that not everything is about you, and sometimes there are some things that won’t go your way. Maybe your hammy won’t like being petted, maybe he’s crazy about peanuts. Still, you need to learn his personality and adjust yourself to it. Your hamster will learn yours too and be accommodating … kinda. Hamsters need a calm, quiet home with not many unforeseen things going on. They react poorly to stress and loud noises, being picked up wrong, being handled too much, and they get scared easily. If you’ve got a rowdy home with a few pets and small children, a hamster is definitely a bad idea. The children will need constant supervision with the hamster and the hamster won’t be very happy. In that respect, a puppy would be better since he can match the energy of a small child. But, if staying up late is your thing, and you like quiet nights with only your hamster’s feet padding on the wheel, while you read a book and sip some tea, hamsters could be okay for you. They’re more observational pets, and they’re funny to watch when they make every face ever. If you need a few more thoughts on whether you should get a hamster or not, you can read this article to settle it once and for all. A word from Teddy I hope you found everything you were looking for in this article. Us hammies have a fairly long supply list, but we’re grateful for anything you can manage to get. 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...
- How To Know When Your Hamster’s Fully Grown – All BreedsWhen I first got my Teddy I knew he would grow up to be a big hamster – he’s a Syrian male. But I didn’t know exactly how big, and when he’d stop growing. So I’m helping you figure out how big your hamster can get, based on its breed. And this will help you know how large a cage he will need, and what to expect from your hamster friend. Table of Contents So when is a hamster fully grown ?When is a Syrian hamster fully grown ?When is a Roborovski Dwarf fully grown ?When is a Campbell Dwarf fully grown ?When is a Chinese Dwarf fully grown ?When is a Siberian/Winter white fully grown ?When to separate baby hamstersThe right cage for a fully grown hamsterA word from Teddy So when is a hamster fully grown ? Generally a hamster is fully grown around 3 months of age. This means that the hamster is both sexually mature, and also has reached, or is very close to, its full length. Of all hamster types, Syrian hamsters grow the largest, and you will notice severe size differences between the baby hamster you brought from the pet shop, and the adult hamster in your cage. The Dwarf types do grow, but the difference between them as babes and as adults is not nearly as big. For reference, a baby Syrian around 4 weeks old – when he can be adopted – is about as large as an adult Siberian or Campbell. But let’s see the differences between each hamster type, since they can grow to different sizes and become mature at slightly different ages. When is a Syrian hamster fully grown ? A Syrian hamster is fully grown when he is around 12 weeks of age (3 months). Both males and females are capable of breeding around 4 weeks, so they must be separated to prevent any more litters from producing. As for size, a Syrian hamster grows to its full size around the 3 month mark. That is when the Syrians become adults, and can reach their full size. They can reach between 5-8 inches in length, which is 13-20 cm. Some hamsters may grow even larger than that, by a couple of inches/cm, but those cases are rare. A few traits of adult Syrian hamsters: Their markings become clear just before they reach maturity. If they’ve got any darker fur, it will start to show around that time The males’ rear ends will become very large, bulging almost. That is where their testicles are, and you will see them often. The females will come into regular heat – about every 4 days. You’ll notice them smelling a bit muskier, and they will squeak and hiss if they sense a male hamster. The average lifespan of a Syrian hamster is 2-3 years, in captivity. They are close to old age when they reach their second birthday, and will start to become slower and have trouble eating and moving around as they reach that age. When is a Roborovski Dwarf fully grown ? A Roborovski hamster is a Russian Type, and he will be fully grown around the 3 month mark as well. The Robos can breed as early as 4-5 weeks old, so again they must be separated very early in male and female groups. Roborovski hamsters reach their full size at around the 3 month mark, reaching up to 2 inches/5 cm. They are the tiniest of the Dwarf types, and are very hard to handle. since they are so hast and agile. Their fur coloration becomes clear as they reach the 3 month mark. They don’t develop a stripe down their backs, like the Chinese or Campbell for example. The average lifespan of a Roborovski hamster is about 3-4 years in captivity, but rarely lives past 2 in the wild. When is a Campbell Dwarf fully grown ? A Campbell Dwarf is fully grown around the 3 month mark, as the other hamsters. They can breed early, around the time they’re weaned – which is bout 4 weeks old. Their sizes are about 3-4 inches/ 8-11 cm, and are again hard to handle given their small size and agility. They usually live around 2 years in captivity, but can live a few months past 2 years in the right conditions. A Campbell’s Dwarf can be recognized by the white belly, and grey-brown fur on their backs, with a much darker stripe going down their backs. When is a Chinese Dwarf fully grown ? Chinese hamsters, while not truly Dwarf types, are still much smaller than the Syrian type. A Chinese hamster will become fully grown when he is about 2-3 months old. The hamster can breed before he reaches that point, though. As for size, the Chinese is larger than most Dwarf types, but smaller than the Syrian. So a fully grown Chinese hamster will be around 3-5 inches/8-13 cm, plus their longer tails. Chinese hamsters have a much longer tail compared to any other hamster types, which can grow to be about an inch long/2-3 cm. The long tail, and the more slender, long-ish figure of the hamster can make it look a lot like mouse to many people. Given their natural coloring – a sort of brown with a dark stripe down their back – this can be forgiven. Average lifespan for the Chinese hamster is around 2 years in captivity, but it’s not very well documented in the wild. When is a Siberian/Winter white fully grown ? A Siberian, or Winter White, is a type of hamster that does belong to the Dwarf type. They are fully grown at about 3 months of age, and can breed about 4-5 weeks of age. The Siberian hamster can grow up to 3-4 inches/8-11 cm, and are actually among the easiest to tame hamsters. Their fur can change, depending on temperature and season. A Winter white is called such because in the wild, its color changes to mostly white. During the summer or warmer season, the color can be a very dark grey, with a stripe going down the hamster’s back. (If you like this article so far, you can pin it to your Pinterest board by clicking the image below. The article continues after the image.) When to separate baby hamsters Separating your hamsters when they’re babies will spare you a lot of troubles, starting with surprise litters and ending with vicious fights between siblings. So generally, the best time to separate the hamsters into all male and all female groups is when their mother finishes weaning them. This is usually around 4 weeks after the babies are born, and you’ll notice the mother starting to push the babies away if they want to nurse. You can find much more info now how to properly separate the baby hamsters into gender-specific groups here, as well as how to handle them. Do take care when the mother has just given birth, since she is easy to startle. A startled, or scared, or stressed out mother can abandon or even eat her babies. Here’s how to make sure your baby hamsters survive, as well as how to make sure the mother is safe and calm during the birth and raising the babies. The right cage for a fully grown hamster Your hamster might see so very small when you first get him. That’s the small size they will not keep, as you’ve just found out. Baby hamsters need adult-sized cages. This is partly because they grow very quickly, and once they do grow they will feel cramped in a cage that is too small for them. These 5 hamster cages are great picks, depending on what kind of hamster you have. A cage that is too small for your hamster can lead him to a lot of stress, and feeling irritable most of the time. This can lead to a lot of unwanted behaviors, like chewing the bar cages, and even fighting with their cage mates. The minimum cage size for an adult Syrian hamster is 24 x 12 inches, and about 12 inches tall. That’s 61 x 30.5 cm, and about 30.5 cm tall. I’d recommend this to be the size cage you get for your Dwarf type as well, since all hamsters will feel better in a bigger cage, if they have one available. Always get your hamster a bigger cage, even if they look so small they need a large amount of floor space. Best to read this article on what to know before getting a cage for your hamster, and how to properly care for it. For the Dwarf types I recommend a glass tank, since they can easily escape through the bars of a wire cage. You’ll find info on the glass tank as well in that article. A word from Teddy I hope you found what you were looking for here, and can figure out when your hammy is fully grown. For example when I was a baby I was orange all over, with a bit of faded white on my belly. When I got older I started showing my darker grey markings, and my owners thought I was dirty at first ! So if you want to know more about your hammy, you can read the articles below. You can find out how much water we need, and why we’re sometimes scared of you, and even what food is safe for us.... Read more...
- Understanding Syrian Hamster Behavior – An Owner’s GuideIt can be great fun and very rewarding to own and look after a Syrian hamster, but in terms of treatment and cost, it can be a major burden and a long-term commitment. Syrian hamsters are small animals with a great deal of character. Their needs are very complicated and they can be easily injured. Hamsters are nocturnal animals, meaning they sleep most of the day and become active at night and in the evening. This implies that for people who may be out during the day and at home during the evening, they can make good pets. Table of Contents Male Syrian hamster behaviorAggressive behaviorParental behavior Social behavior of a hamster Male Syrian hamster behavior Among the most common options for small pets is the Syrian hamster, also known as the golden hamster. Generally speaking, it is easy to tame, enjoyable to watch, and reasonably low-maintenance, making it a good beginner’s pet. These hamsters come from northern Syria and southern Turkey’s arid areas. Just as we do, hamsters use body language. They can show several feelings that include being happy, scared, threatened, curious, terrified, angry, and many other feelings. When conversing with others, they also use sign language to a limited degree. That doesn’t say, with all that said, that they won’t use an auditory method of communication as well. To call their mothers, babies use ultrasonic sounds, females have mating calls to attract a mate, and a hamster will squeak when it feels threatened or aggressive. Many of these sounds are brief and often unrecognizable to the human ear. Learning all the behaviors of your Syrian hamster means that you will be able to understand it better, thus taking better of him. If you notice your hamster is upset, mad, or ill, you can change the way you care for it. Sometimes, when you put your hands in the cage, you may just need to create more confidence with your pet so that it doesn’t act aggressively or get afraid. If the hamster is burrowing or digging its bedding it just means that the hamster is happy. The hamster is just playing around and by digging it is searching for snacks he buried earlier. Hamsters in the wild are extremely good diggers and will develop deep underground burrows. Make sure that your hamster has a dense layer of bedding so it can dig and burrow endlessly. If he is standing erect on its legs and watching you, it means that he is curious and is watching his surroundings, but still being calm. But when they’re standing with their dukes up on their hind legs, the hamster tells you it feels threatened and if you don’t back off, he might get aggressive. They are looking for reassurance while it is grooming and feel very happy with all that’s going on. They feel comfortable and relaxed about their present condition as they are stretching their limbs. It’s a sign of fright if his ears are forward with his cheek pouches puffed up and his mouth open. Try to minimize the stress factors that brought on this action. It means that a hamster is insecure about the current situation and is likely to run and hide when it empties its cheek pouches quickly. Another indication of insecurity and uncertainty is that as you approach it gets startled. In this case, he fells unaware of what’s going on at the moment. Also, if he is lying on his back with incisors showing, it’s a sign of a threatened hamster and he is scared. If you just got the hamster and you see him walking slowly and creeping around the cage, it just means that he is insecure around his surroundings. He is not yet comfortable with the cage and needs time to adjust to it. Try burying some snacks in the bedding to keep him active and get used to the habitat. Also, if the hamster is new to the cage, when you approach him, he will freeze in place. When the hamster is afraid, he will most likely play dead by standing still or lying down. He will most likely shy away and hide from you. This means that he is stressed out with the new environment and will need to adjust to, for example, loud noises. If the hamster continues to be unresponsive, you need to make some extra measures. If a hamster has a repeated routine and is doing the same things from day to day, it means that he is mentally ill. You can fix this by giving him toys to play and exercise, or giving him a larger cage. The most indecisive sign of a hamster is its squeak. He might be squeaking for no reason at all. But it can also squeak as a mating call, if he feels uncomfortable, or if he’s scared. This situation is the most difficult to figure out. Most of the behaviors displayed by hamsters does not mean he is ill. Hamsters are very active when they are awake and always find things to entertain them. If you feel the hamster is not acting normally, you can always enrich their time with toys and exercise. Make sure your hamster has plenty of training room and has suitable things to play with, such as tiny boxes, tubes, and mazes. For exercise, a good quality running wheel may provide additional activities. Once you can handle them with trust, you should enable your hamster to spend time out of their cage, but never leave your hamster unattended or overnight out of the cage. As long as the hamster is properly maintained, he will not be bothered and his behavior will remain natural. If you notice something strange, don’t jump to the conclusion that he is unwell. Try interacting and exercising with him. If his behavior is seriously worrying you, consult with the local vet. Aggressive behavior Since they are solitary by nature, Syrian hamsters can never be housed together. If you bring two Syrians together, they’re going to fight eventually. It’s only fine to house them together when they’re either breastfeeding babies or when you’re planning on mating them. Sometimes, almost without reason, hamsters may display worrying or aggressive behaviors. Acting this way is also not an indicator of the nature of the hamster – there is generally a very good explanation of why the animal behaves this way. If two grown male Syrian hamsters are kept together, they will show aggressive behavior. When one violent hamster attempts to bite the underbelly of the other, encounters will intensify into a wrestling match. To drive the hostile hamster down, the subordinate hamster will rise up, open its mouth, puff up its cheeks and stretch its arms out. When the hamster doesn’t want any trouble, its paw may be held out, its tail flicked, and does not maintain eye contact with the dominant hamster. This action can be interpreted as a retreat. However, a wrestling match can break out if one hamster does not initially back down. The wrestling match starts when one hamster stands up on his hind legs and attempts to bite the underbelly by lunging at the other. The two hamsters start rolling around in unison, trying to get the advantage. When one of the hamsters admits defeat, it will give up by lying on its back and freezing in this position. The wrestling match is generally over when this happens, but often, no hamster wants to give up that quickly. This is when they can intensify the wrestling into a fight. A fight looks a lot like a wrestling match but takes on a more violent and physical tone. Biting can become even more extreme and can lead to severe injuries. More pronounced squeaking may also be present. In the end, a hamster will give up and escape from the fight. When the subordinate hamster runs away through a hamster tunnel and hides in another habitat compartment, the battle always ends. If the hamster cage is not big enough for the hamster to run and hide, by chasing after it, the winning hamster can continue to fight. When it comes to this, it’s probably best to physically remove one of them to separate the hamsters. Hamsters can and do bite in certain cases. However, it is uncommon for a hamster to actually be aggressive, and they generally only bite when they get frightened. The most important thing to remember when you are dealing with these hamsters is that they’re biting because they’re scared, not because they’re aggressive. Tame hamsters are those who have been handled daily, so they’re used to people and are not easily frightened. Hamsters who have not been approached often, on the other hand, are typically not quite friendly, and if you attempt to pick them up, they sometimes bite. It can bite out of fear if you grab your hamster without allowing it time to readjust to your presence. If you do not physically hold them correctly, hamsters can even nibble you, which can be very painful for them. Hamsters are nocturnal, and if you wake them up during the day, they will be quite disoriented and very agitated. If they are scared and afraid, when you try to pick them up, they are likely to bite you. When it’s awake in the early evening and night, it’s going to be a lot more active and will potentially be more comfortable playing with you. Hamsters have very bad eyesight, and when they’re uncertain whether anything is edible or not, they are likely to experiment. If you stick food through the cage bars, then when you do the same with your finger, it will also believe it is a tasty treat and will bite you. When it comes to biting hamsters, it’s important to be patient. You will need to gain the trust of your pet and do so gradually. Don’t be brought down by the fact that it may take a month or a few months to fully succeed in this. Gaining a hamster’s trust can vary from week to week. Spend time sitting near the cage and talk to your hamster. Remember, moving to a new cage and new environment is very stressful, so this period is also habituation to a new home. After a week, try putting your hand on the cage. Place your hand next to the door or top of the cage, then extend it a little further each following day. Don’t try to touch the hamster, but if he becomes curious, let him explore your hand. When the hamster explores your hand, use that trust to slip him some treats and let it eat them from your hand. When your hamster starts eating treats relaxed, you can try to gently pet it. If your pet accepts treats and allows you to cuddle him, try lifting it. First, try to direct it so that it climbs into your arm, by placing the treats in it. Parental behavior The Syrian female hamster has anatomical characteristics that are different from other species. They mature from 8-10 weeks of age and have an estrous period of 4 days. She frequently prefers to mate with an alpha male who, more often than any subordinate males present, will flank the mark (a scent-marking activity associated with aggression and competition). Male offspring are at greater risk of permanent effects from maternal social stress than female offspring. It is always recommended to separate the male hamster from the mother and the babies. There are many cases in which the father eats the babies, but it sometimes happens with the mother as well. In expectation of their babies’ birth, female hamsters will begin to build a nest. A female hamster is pregnant for only around three weeks and up to 20 babies will evidently appear in a hamster’s nest overnight. If by nesting and consuming a little more food than average, a hamster has prepared for a regular birth, then it may be particularly shocking to see a hamster kill and eat its own offspring. But while the reason this happens could be a shortage of food, there are a few other explanations that a hamster will eat its babies. For anyone, even a hamster, getting pregnant, giving birth, breastfeeding, and caring for multiple babies is really exhausting. If a hamster is too stressed, its babies will be eaten. She may feel that caring for her young is more than she can do. The same goes for when the hamster is scared. This is especially true with young hamsters. This can be caused by the fear of other pets, loud noises, and many other things that will intimidate the hamster. A hamster mother spends a lot of time grooming and caring for her youngsters. The fragrance left on each infant helps the mother to identify the babies. The mother could become confused and not know her own babies if a new smell, such as the scent of a human, is detected on the babies. The shortage of food is the most apparent explanation of why a hamster eats its own babies. Every animal that is pregnant or breastfeeding needs more energy than it can normally need. Therefore, there is so much more food required. From the lack of food, the hamster may be starving and fear being unable to provide for its baby. To prevent the mother from eating her babies, provide a quiet place for them. This can include keeping kids and other pets out of the space where your hamster lives, keeping the noise down in your house so that your hamster is not bothered, and maybe even covering the cage so that no potential threats or tension can be noticed. The most obvious precaution to take is to provide the hamster with plenty of food, during and after pregnancy. Make sure that you offer a high-quality hamster diet with plenty of protein as soon as you know that your hamster is pregnant. Also, make sure it always has clean water. You may want to split the hamsters if your pregnant hamster lives with another. This would make the babies safer and prevent any adult battle. If you find that you have a male and a female hamster living together, this will probably eliminate any pregnancy in the future. But, if both male and female hamsters are cared for properly, both of them will show high parental behavior. The male hamster will also contribute to building a nest, caring, grooming the young. Male hamsters will even pick up and carry the babies more often than the female. Even though the female hamster is more likely to eat the babies, male hamsters will injure them more. When trying to lie down, the male will accidentally lay down on the babies, almost suffocating them. Social behavior of a hamster Hamsters are normally solitary creatures and may be aggressive to other animals, often leading to significant injury or even death. In particular, Syrian hamsters are not inherently sociable and they are best kept on their own. The Syrian Hamster lives alone in the wild and is intensely territorial, threatening any intruders or other hamsters that it might face while traveling. In separate burrows, Syrian hamsters live a distance away from some other burrow of another hamster. Hamsters create unique odors that they use to communicate, so avoid housing unknown hamsters and hamster cages next to each other, as they can find this disturbing and can start fighting. In the house, they can also find the presence and scent of other animals stressful, especially animals such as cats and dogs that would usually eat small animals such as hamsters. Never let other pets rest on or interact with the hamster’s cage. By using their body language to exhibit emotion, you should observe your hamsters communicating and engaging with each other. As a pet hamster owner, understanding when all is well in the cage or when you may need to resolve a dispute is crucial. These hamsters are one of the most solitary species in the wild. As pets, they should always be alone in a cage. Young hamsters often tolerate cage companions for a little while. But there’s a fair chance they’ll become violent when they age, even battling to the death. Hamsters will stick their noses up to each other’s muzzles when they face each other head-to-head. Through smelling their scented gland that is located in that region of their face, they would be able to tell who the other is. Several things may then take place once their identity is established. If one hamster recognizes the other like a dominant hamster, he will point its ears up, lean backward in fear, turn, and leave. The female could do a walk where she arches her back and then goes into the lordosis position, if the encounter is between a male and a female, showing she is ready to mate. For two hamsters, circling is another way to find out who each other is. To scent its glands, one hamster will put its head up under the other hamster’s belly, then another will take its turn to smell the other. This hamster action may often look a little aggressive if there is an over-eager hamster involved. Often, it can escalate into wrestling in this case. Syrian hamsters are generally friendly, and many owners say that they are a good choice of pet since they can develop a very close bond with their owners. They are the biggest and one of the most common pet hamsters, partially because their size makes it easier to handle them. These hamsters are slower than any of their smaller counterparts. Another factor adding to their popularity is that this hamster breed should be kept on its own, as for fun and excitement, it focuses more heavily on its owner. Because they do not have a hamster friend to play with, during the hours you are both awake, it will be more open to forming relationships with the owners. Hamsters may not interact with a variety of people like many other pets do. Instead, hamsters are most happy sharing time with one, often two, owners. A hamster will learn to recognize the owner’s smell and might be scared of anyone he doesn’t know. Hamsters are reasonably independent and can amuse themselves for long periods, provided that their housing is sufficiently enriched with toys, bedding, burrowing, and climbing opportunities. Also, the hamster should undergo regular handling and contact to be comfortable and well-adjusted. Some hamsters are cuddlier, while others are more independent. Syrian hamsters are usually easier to tame, so they will be a little more affectionate than other types of hamsters. But this is only because the Syrians are much bigger than the other hamsters, which makes it easier to treat them. You should pet your hamster’s body or their head very softly to express your affection when they’re either in their cage or in your hands. Hamsters often seem to prefer to sleep on their owners once the trust point has been achieved. When they’re active, you can also speak to them with a quiet and soft voice (the talking approach also works when you’re trying to develop trust in your hamster). So, it’s important to be around them and connect with them daily to create a deeper relationship between you and your hamster. Even though hamsters show affection to their owners, they will not be so affectionate and lovable to other hamsters. One shouldn’t be too affectionate with the hamster. Remember that in the wild, hamsters live alone. It’s their natural instinct to play, explore, and eat on their own. They should have plenty of time by themselves, and they will find any kind of entertainment. Some owners tend to think that hamsters get lonely and want to touch them all the time. When you’re developing a relationship with a hamster, you should maintain a routine that your hamster will follow. Don’t pick it out of the cage anytime you wish. The hamster will not appreciate it if you pick him up constantly and it can become aggressive if he is not left alone. Especially during the daytime, when it is sleeping. Set up a routine so your hamster knows when he will play with you and it will not get stressed out.... Read more...
- All About Hamster Diabetes – Symptoms, Prevention, And CareAny hamster owner is worried their hammy might get sick. The two main worries are diabetes, and wet tail, and today we’re discussing diabetes in hamsters. How to know if your hammy has diabetes, how to care for a diabetic hamster, symptoms to look out for, and which hamsters are most vulnerable. Let’s get into it. Table of Contents What is diabetes in hamsters ?Preventing your hamster from developing diabetesGenetic predisposition – some hamster breeds are vulnerableYour hamster’s diet and exercise can make things worseA word on sugar and carb in your hammy’s dietSigns of diabetes in your little hamsterFrequent urinationDehydrationIncreased thirstShould your give a dehydrated diabetic hamster Pedialyte ?Change in appetiteDramatic weight gain or lossYellow, thick nailsTesting your hamster for diabetesTreatment and care for a diabetic hamsterA word from Teddy What is diabetes in hamsters ? Diabetes (in a simplified version) is an illness that keeps the blood sugar very high. Usually the pancreas deals with this, and it must produce insulin. Insulin is needed to regulate how well the body manages its sugar levels. Sometimes the body becomes immune to insulin, or it produces too little insulin. This is where insulin shots come in. In very broad terms, and simplified, this is what diabetes is. When it comes to hamsters, this is a dangerous illness to have since they are so very small, and caring for them isn’t as easy as with a human. They might require insulin shots too, and will need regular testing in order to monitor their levels. Please remember: Your best option is to seek out a veterinarian who will be able to diagnose your hamster properly. Do not diagnose or treat your hamster’s condition without consulting with a medical professional beforehand. Now let’s talk a bit about what your can do to prevent diabetes in your little friend, and which hammies are at risk. Preventing your hamster from developing diabetes No hamster is born directly diabetic. True, a hammy can have the genetic makeup that makes diabetes easier to happen. But born diabetic, no. This means diabetes can be prevented, for the most part. A hamster can still get this illness even if you do prevent it as best you can, if it’s one of the breeds at risk. Still, you can rest assured that by trying to prevent it you’ve delayed the onset. Now let’s see which hammies are at risk, and why that is. Genetic predisposition – some hamster breeds are vulnerable If you’ve got a Dwarf hammy, then it’s very possible you’re going to have a diabetic hamster later on. Not all Dwarf hamsters will develop diabetes. But all Dwarf hamsters can develop it, they have the genetic makeup that makes it easier. As for Syrians, they don’t have this predisposition. They can develop diabetes too, but not as easily as the Dwarf types. For Syrians there needs to be a very high carb, high fat diet and very little exercise for diabetes to set in. Syrians have the misfortune of getting wet-tail easier, so if you’ve got a Syrian like me, you should check out this article on wet-tail and how to help your hammy. If you’re not very sure which hamster breed you’ve got, here’s a guide on figuring that out. Your hamster’s diet and exercise can make things worse Aside from the breed, which makes your hamster prone to either diabetes of wet-tail, there is also the influence of food and exercise. Exercise will help your diabetic hamster burn off the excess fat that likely developed, and use up the blood sugar. This will make the impact of diabetes on your hamster’s live lower, and his life easier. Regular, simple exercise like a running wheel can be enough. If your hamster’s gotten lazy, or just isn’t a running hamster, you can place him in an exercise ball. Never keep him there more than 30 minutes at a time, though, since he will need water and a bathroom break. If your hamster’s already diabetic, he will pee every 15-20 minutes, so keep him in the ball much less. Alright, now onto the food. This is a major player in your hamster’s condition. A diabetic (or diabetes-prone) hamster eating high carb, high fat foods will have a terrible time. This means most fruits are of limits for diabetic hamsters, and even the Dwarf types that aren’t diabetic yet. You can find out more about the fruits that are safe for hamsters to eat here. Of that list, berries/forest fruits, apples, pears, are the safest bet for a Dwarf. Always in very small pieces (half an inch/ 1 cm), and only rarely (once per week or less often). A word on sugar and carb in your hammy’s diet Do not remove sugar completely from the hamster’s diet. That will send your hammy into a hypoglycemic shock, and be another problem of its own. Instead, only allow a small amount of sugars. This means that you need to check out the label on your hamster’s food mix. If it’s got any kind of sugars – cane sugar, maple syrup, corn syrup, agave, honey, fructose, dextrose, those pieces need to be picked out of your hammy’s feed. The problem is not with just sugar. Yes, sugar and overly sweet foods will make your hamster’s diabetes worse. But, the problem is bigger than this. You see, when the hamster eats, his body breaks down all the food into sugars. Sugary foods produce more sugars, and high-carb foods produce more sugars as well. This is by comparison with protein meats, or veggies. So keeping chocolate away from your hamster is good, but giving him a slice of italian bread is just as bad. A bit exaggerated, but you get the idea. High-carb foods like bread, pasta, rice, maize, corn, are all foods that should be kept away from your hamster since they will produce almost the same effect as giving your hamster a slice of sweet, sticky banana. It might sound like your hamster’s got nothing left to eat, but he does. Check out this handy guide on what is safe and unsafe for hamsters to eat, and you’ll see the foods that are still on the list, even for diabetic hamsters. Signs of diabetes in your little hamster Alright, now that you know what you can do to prevent your hamster from getting diabetes, let’s see the symptoms of diabetes in hamsters. There are several signs, and please remember that you can’t take into account just one sign or another. Diagnosis is really more complex than this, and some symptoms may not even show up, even if the hamster is diabetic. Again, the best bet is to get your hamster friend to a veterinarian who will diagnose him correctly. A vet that can help you is going to be an ”exotics” vet. They have experience with rodents, reptiles, and birds in general. Onto the symptoms of diabetes in hamsters: Frequent urination A hamster with diabetes will urinate much more often than a hamster without diabetes. This means as often as every 15 minutes, for example. You’ll notice your hamster is peeing more often if you actually see him. He usually goes in his corner – he has just one corner – rolls back his little tail, and just wees. He will be immobile, and look like he’s staring into space for a couple of seconds. Another sign, if you’ve never caught your hamster peeing, is that his corner will be wet much more often. Pretty much always wet, and smelling fairly sweet and pungent. Think nail polish remover. (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.) Dehydration The easiest and clearest way to find out if your hamster is dehydrated, is to scruff the hamster by the back of the neck. It won’t hurt the hamster if done properly. Hold the hamster gently, but with a good enough grip that he won’t jump away. Then, right on the back of the hamster’s neck, you can use your fingers to pinch/pull at the skin a bit. Let go of the skin immediately, and you should see it sliding back into place. If it takes more than a second to spring back, your hamster is dehydrated. The hammy’s skin has lost it’s collagen and doesn’t arrange itself back into position as fast. You might even notice the skin is slightly raised where you picked it. The longer the skin takes to get back in place the more severe the dehydration. Increased thirst Along with dehydration comes increased thirst. Ironic, but the problem is not the water intake. But the regulation of how the electrolytes are being used by the hamster’s body. This can be noticed by your hamster drinking water much faster and often than usual. A healthy hamster consumes about 10 ml water/100 gr hamster per day. That’s 0.33 fl oz per 3.5 ounces of hamster. You can find out more about hamsters and their water requirements here, and how to give your hamster water the right way. That being said, a diabetic hamster will consume much more water than that, getting to even 3-4 times the amount of water. However he will be dehydrated still, since his body isn’t functioning properly. Should your give a dehydrated diabetic hamster Pedialyte ? This is something I’ve heard about, and did some googling to find people who have experience with this. As it happens, I did find the answer for this on thepipsqueakery.org. You can read their full blog post here. They also have experience with giving hamsters insulin shots, so you might want to check their article for that too. About the Pedialyte, the clear answer is no, you should no give it to a dehydrated diabetic hamster. This is because Pedialyte is a mix of water, sugar, and salt. The sugar will not help the diabetes, even if it does bring back some electrolytes. It may seem like it’s helping, but it’s actually make things worse. Change in appetite Another symptom is a sudden change in your hamster’s appetite. It may be that your hamster will eat much more, or much less. It varies from hamster to hamster. But there is a clear difference between a diabetic hamster, and a healthy one. 2 teaspoons of dry food are enough for an adult Syrian hamster. Dwarf hamsters need less, 1 teaspoon. So if your hamster is going through his food, and his food stash as well, quicker than you can feed him in a day, this is something to worry about. Dramatic weight gain or loss As a result of a sudden change of appetite, and also dehydration, your hamster will have a very different weight. He might gain weight, or drop a lot of weight. You can use a kitchen scale that measure in exact grams or ounces and track your hamster’s daily progress. Place the hamster in a cup he can’t climb out of, and use that do weight him on the kitchen scale. Of course, take the weight of the cup into account. Yellow, thick nails Not all thick yellow nails mean your hamster’s got diabetes. But it can be a sign, and is worth noting. Testing your hamster for diabetes Of course, you can test your hamster’s sugar levels at home too. You can test your hamster’s glucose and ketone levels with ketone test trips. Your veterinarian will do the same in his lab, with urine samples from your diabetic hamster. But, if you want to monitor your hamster’s progress and see how his treatment is coming along, then you can also use these strips at home. This particular box will last for several months, since you do not need to check the hamster’s urine daily. Do keep in mind that these test strips are not meant just for diabetics, but can also be used by them to monitor their health. Remember that the glucose levels aren’t always normal. They can sometimes be off, due to an infection for example. So it’s important that you consult with your veterinarian as well the first few times you use these strips, to know how to best read them. There are manufacturer’s indications yes, but your vet is the best person to ask about this. Treatment and care for a diabetic hamster Part of caring for the diabetic hamster includes changing the diet and exercise routine like we’ve discussed before. Another part is the treatment. There are treatments that can be successful, but it depends on how well the hamster responds to them, and what the veterinarian will recommend. Treatment with fenugreek is a common way of helping hamsters with diabetes, but the dosage is harder to be exact with. Fenugreek has been used as a healing plant for centuries, and often in diabetes treatment. It’s not a definite cure, but might be an option. Another option your vet might present you with is Glipidize tablets to mix into the hamster’s food or drink. It’s basically going to make the hamster’s pancreas produce more insulin. So shots are out of the question here. And finally, insulin shots for a diabetic hamster are what your mind probably first wandered to. Honestly, they were my first guess too, given how humans are usually treated. The thing about insulin shots is that they need to constantly be adjusted to how well the hamster’s responding to other treatments, the new diet, the urine needs frequent measurements and so on. So it’s not a great idea to do this without a vet’s help, or if you’re not a vet at all. A trained professional will know how to dose the amount according to the hamster’s size and resistance to insulin. A word from Teddy I hope you found what you were looking for in this article. Us hammies can get sick sometimes, and we rely on you for help. Diabetic hammies can lead normal lives, but we need some treatment. If you want to know more about us hammies, you should check out the related articles below. You’ll find out more about how to keep up happy and safe.... Read more...
- Do Hamsters Change Color ? (And Other Fur Facts)Hamsters come in so many furs and colors and patterns it’s hard to remember which is which sometimes. And other times, they turn around and surprise you and change their fur ! Nothing as dramatic as going from blonde to redhead, but sometimes some hamsters might change their color. Table of Contents Do hamsters change color ?Very young hamsters will change their fur as they become adultsSome hamsters change their fur in winterVery old hamsters lose fur and go a bit grayOther hamster fur factsThere are versions of Syrian hamsters with long furLong fur can get very mattedHamster fur can grow back in most casesHamster fur should never get wet, don’t bathe your hamster ! Do hamsters change color ? Some hamsters can change color, either because they are very young and coming into their adult fur, or because they are getting very old and turning a bit gray, or because they’re a type of hamster that turns white when the cold season hits. Aside from the Winter White hamsters, no color change is dramatic but it’s a fun thing to observe in your hamster. Hamsters come in so many fur colors, to begin with, it’s interesting to see how their fur can change as they age or the seasons change. Let’s start with the most common reason their fur can change. Very young hamsters will change their fur as they become adults When hamsters are born, they are hairless. Then they get their initial fur growth, and it’s usually something very light, very fluffy, and very close to what their adult color will be. But as they reach maturity (about 3 months) their fur color will develop more. Some colors will be brighter, and some extra hairs will grow in, especially agouti hairs (with black at the end of each hair). For example when I first got my Teddy, he was maybe a little over a month old. So tiny ! He was a golden Syrian hamster, so he already had a light orange/gold on his back, with grey ears, and white markings on his face and feet. But as he grew a little more, I noticed he had a bit of a spot on his forehead, like a gray smudge. At first, I thought he got dirty somewhere, somehow. But nope, turns out he actually had some agouti hairs growing all over him, and a very pale grey mark on his forehead. So as an adult my teddy was orange, with agouti hairs, mostly on his back, and a grey mark on his forehead. He was might lighter looking as a tiny little 1 month old boy. Some hamsters change their fur in winter Some hamsters can change their fur when winter comes. This change is triggered by a shift in temperatures, but especially by a shift in daylight. The only hamsters to do this are the Winter White dwarf hamster, otherwise known as Siberian dwarf, or Djungarian dwarf. In the wild this happens all the time. But when we’re talking about pet Winer Whites, this rarely happens, because of artificial lighting, and the even temperature inside our homes. You can induce this change, but it means only subjecting your hamster to natural daylight and nothing more. I imagine this is easier to do in the countryside due to much less light pollution. Very old hamsters lose fur and go a bit gray Another reason for hamsters to change their fur is when they get very, very old. Like humans, old hamsters get slower, and turn gray, and start to lose their fur. Well not exactly the same, but they get silver spots. The most common places for silver or white fur in an old hamster are around the ears and neck, as far as I’ve seen. These changes seem to be more noticeable in Syrian hamsters than dwarfs. Most hamsters have a short lifespan, around 2-3 years. The hamsters I’ve had, 2 died of old age and one is still around but also growing old. When Teddy died, he was almost 2 years old. His fur was thinning on his neck and back, and his ears were drooping a little, and he suddenly had these white tufts around his ears. He started looking alike a grumpy old man, balding but with a lot of hair around his ears. When Eggwhite died, he was also almost 2 years old, but he was a creamy white so I couldn’t notice a change in color. But I did notice his fur getting thinner, his eyelids drooping a little, and he also developed some tufts around his ears like Teddy did before he passed away. Both Teddy and Eggwhite were Syrian hamsters. My third hamster is a Winter White, called Rocket, but she’s never changed her fur in the 2 years we’ve had her. She can (theoretically) live up to 4 years, and so far we haven’t seen any signs of old age on her, such as white hairs, droopy ears or eyes, or even getting slower. The fur on her paws is a little thinner, but that’s the only thing. Other hamster fur facts Here are some other interesting hamster fur facts, since these little guys are far more fun than they appear. Their fur comes in many colors and patterns, but that’s not where it stops. There are versions of Syrian hamsters with long fur When scientists captured Syrian hamsters for their labs, they also bred them to be more docile and this also led to them expressing different fur patterns. In time the hamsters wound up with breeders, who tried to see if there could be long haired hamsters. And eventually they succeeded, long-haired Syrian hamsters are here and they look absolutely funny. The long hair can sometimes be long and flowy, other times it can be a mix of long and short with just a few tufts sticking out, and in some cases it’s long fur all over the hamster. These long-haired hamsters sound fun, and they may seem a bit more cuddly than the others, but their temperament is the same. They don’t really enjoy being picked up, but you can try. Their fur requires a lot of extra care though, since it can easily get matted. Hamsters are very clean creatures, and they clean themselves several times a day. But they weren’t ‘programmed’ for long fur, so they can’t clean it as well as short fur. Sometimes they need help, which brings us to the next point. Long fur can get very matted This is mostly the case for long-haired Syrian hamsters, but in theory it could happen to any hamster. When the fur becomes too long, the hamster has trouble keeping it clean and detangled. In these cases you can either help the hamster by brushing out the mats, or cutting the knots out. Both are quite difficult, and your hamster’s temperament will dictate how to handle this. So let’s start with the first one, trying to brush out the matted fur. If you’ve ever had knots in your own hair you know how difficult they can be, and how painful it is to comb them out. You have to start at the ends, and very slowly work your way up. Your hamster will obviously not want to sit still for half an hour until you get all the knots. This will be slow, and you will have to let the furball sit as he wants to keep him calm. Try to grab his attention with a small treat, and attempt to comb out some knots at his backside, starting from the edges. He might flinch, or he might not care; not all hamsters are the same. This won’t last long, and you may only have a couple of minutes to work on his fur. That’s okay, let him be and try again in an hour or two. Don’t try to do this all in one day. It’s really not easy. The second option, perhaps easier, is to simply cut off the knots you can’t brush out. Your hamster will get some uneven fur but this takes less time. Again, do this on the hammy’s own terms. If he wants to go away let him go away. If he squirms, put him down and try again later. Always use something to distract him. You need a pair of very sharp hair cutting scissors. Hopefully the knots are towards the end of the fur. If there are any knots close to the body or directly against the skin leave them alone. The risk of hurting your hamster by accident is too high. Like combing out knots, this can take a while too. Maybe your hamster doesn’t mind the sound of scissors, maybe he gets frightened. There is no safe way to keep him in place, without injury or extreme distress for both of you. Best to just go very slow, and use a good pair of scissors. Hamster fur can grow back in most cases Sometimes a hamster will lose some of its fur, and sometimes that fur can grow back. Not always, such as very old hamsters who lose their fur due to old age. Or hamsters with a genetic condition that prevents them from growing fur in the first place. The fur on these hamsters sadly won’t ever grow. But if your hammy lost a patch of fur because of a skin condition, an irritation, ringworm, or just because he scratched himself too much, there is good news ! The fur can grow back, as soon as the skin condition is treated and healed ! In case of excessing scratching, it’s usually due to an irritant, like a rash, or the hammy got bit by something and it’s now itching. Once that is gone and the hamster doesn’t have a reason to keep scratching, the fur will grow back. Hamster fur should never get wet, don’t bathe your hamster ! Hamsters have very delicate fur, especially the fluff right next to the skin. It’s meant to insulate the hamster and keep it both warm and cool, depending on the weather. Hammies are exceptionally good at keeping themselves clean, they lick and nibble at their fur constantly so it is always clean. Kind of like a cat cleans itself, except this one isn’t meowing. There is no real reason to give a hamster a bath to clean it, unless it somehow got something on it that the hamster can’t or shouldn’t clean by itself, like car grease or ketchup. If you do get your hamster’s fur wet, know that washing it with any sort of soap will disturb the natural oils on its skin. Not only that but these animals are so frail, they need to be dried immediately after getting wet since they can’t easily handle it. Where hamsters come from water (rain) is rare, so they haven’t adapted their fur to be water-proof. So, it’s best to never put your hamster in a situation where it could get its fur wet. And never handle your hamster with dirty hands. The hammy will clean itself after you play with it even if you’ve just washed your hands, imagine how icky it’d feel if you picked it up with Cheetos dust on your fingers. ... Read more...