Choosing An Exercise Ball For Your Hamster – Complete Guide

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.

hamster exercise ball 2

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.

hamster exercise ball 1
Teddy looking for his treat

Most hamsters will be so curious about the new opening they will climb right into the ball. By keeping the opening flat against the side of the cage, you’ll make it easier to keep him in place until you put the lid on.

Third, if your hammy is very tame and is easy to hold, pick him up. Place him by hand in the exercise ball, which of course has a treat inside. This way you’re sure the hamster gets into the exercise ball, which makes cleaning the cage much easier.

Placing a treat inside the exercise ball will teach your hamster to always be excited when he sees the exercise ball. After a while he will climb into it even without the treat.

Placing the hamster back in his cage

This is a lot like the way you got him into the cage in the first place. Place a bit of food in the cage and place the open exercise ball near that food. The hamster will climb out, and will enjoy his treat.

If your have a cage that can lift the sides, place the food close to the side you will use to place the hamster back. So that when you lift the side of the cage to place your hamster back, he will see the food right away and go straight to it.

Never force or shake your hamster out of his exercise ball. Try coaxing him out with a treat, or just wiggling a finger where you want him to get. He’s very curious and will go to check it out.

When to place the hamster in his exercise ball

First off, let’s talk about how soon to place the hamster in the ball after bringing him home from the pet store. You should allow him about a week to get used to his new home, in which time he will build his nest and get a sense of  normality.

After that week, make sure you get the hamster slowly used to the ball by placing it in the cage like I explained above.

Aside from that, you can place the hamster in his ball at almost any point when he is awake, but there is a best time. If you see your hamster very agitated, or climbing all over the cage, that would be a good time. He has a lot of extra energy which he needs to release.

When to not place the hamster in his exercise ball

  • shortly after he woke up
  • when he is sitting on his hideout, scoping the area and being watchful
  • when he is eating
  • when he has low energy, and would be sleepy
  • when he is sick and needs a lot of rest and water

A word on hamster exercise balls with stands

I had one of these, actually I still do. The one I have used to have a stand for the ball, and a second set of lids so the hamster could climb into and out of the ball when he wants. It sounds like a great idea, but there are a couple of problems here.

First, the stand is meant as an actual stand. Not as a support for a spinning exercise ball. This is the mistake I made with Teddy, and after a couple of weeks, I heard the noise. Plastic on plastic eventually chewed down on the stand bits, and it started making the most awful screeches when Teddy ran in it.

It’s not like a metal wheel, which you can just oil and it will be fine for a couple of weeks. No, the plastic one actually gets ground down to nothing, both the stand handles and the holes they plug into.

Second, the hamster can somehow, some way, move its nest in that ball. This happened with Teddy, and I’m sure there are a few other people out there who had this happen too.

The little furball moved food, nesting material, and a few droppings into his exercise ball, and used that as a nest. Which wasn’t so terrible, except when he started running.

The contents Teddy brought into that exercise ball flew everywhere in the ball, and a bit outside. It actually woke me up a couple of nights.

So do yourself and your hammy a favor, and only use that stand outside the cage. Use it as a stand to actually keep the ball on, without the hamster inside.

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

hamster exercise ball 3

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.

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This depends on several factors, and I’ll list them here. Then, we’ll get into detail for each and every one of them, so you have the most information. So, you have to be mindful of: The cage size – different needs for different hamster species The cage type – plastic vs wire vs glass tank Escape-proof rating of the cage Multiple levels or a simple ground level Air flow – some cage types aren’t the most breatheable Whichever kind of cage you get, be careful to check every nook and cranny before you buy it. Or, when it ships to you. Your hamster will check it anyway, so if there’s anything wrong with the cage, best to know before you put your friend in it. Teddy: Us hamsters are very curious creatures, and we’ll get our little faces into EVERY part of the cage. So make sure it’s safe for us before you let us in ! The best cage size for your hamster It will vary from species to species, but I’ll cover both types. In general hamsters need more space than you’d think, since they’re very active creatures and love to run around. Even if you see your friend as the smallest ball of fur, he will still need plenty of room to roam and explore. Cage size for Syrian hamsters The best size cage for your Syrian hamster would be a minimum of 24 x 12 inches, and about 12 inches tall. That’s 61 x 30.5 cm, and about 30.5 cm tall. The height of the cage is not very important, because hamsters need more actual floor space than levels. Of course, you can get your hammy a cage with a few levels, aside from the ground floor. This is actually what my Teddy has. He has a combination of plastic and wire cage, with 2 attachable levels. I left the highest level out of the cage, so I can fit his 8.5 inch/23 cm wheel. Syrian hamsters are always housed alone. They are very territorial and will not share anything with another hamster, even a litter mate. Cage size for Dwarf hamsters The best size for a dwarf hamster is 18 x 10 inches, and a 12 inch height. That’s 46 cm x 25.4 cm, with a 30.5 cm height. That is for one dwarf hamster. You can house dwarf hamsters together, but not too many. 2 or 3 are enough, but for each hamster your add, you will need a bigger cage. So for example if you’ve got 2 dwarf hamsters, then they will need more space than I said above. They will need at least a Syrian cage, so that’s 24 inches by 12 inches (61 x 30.5 cm) for 2 dwarf hamsters. If you’ve got 3 dwarf hamsters, then you’ll need a much bigger cage. You’d be better off looking for a glass tank. We’ll cover that soon. The best cage type for your hamster There’s 3 main types of cages you can pick, and I’ll go through all of them. You can find combination cages (like plastic and wire cages), but not very often. Wire cages for hamsters The most common kind of hamster cage, and the one you will find in a pet shop most of the time. They have their own advantages and disadvantages, and I’ll go through them here. This kind of cage is made up of a plastic bottom, usually about the height of your palm. The attachable wire walls, which are actually most of the cage itself. Although, the most important part is the bottom bit. That is where your hamster will live, walk, eat, sleep, and poo. The wire of the cage is just how far he can go. But the floor space is the most relevant part of your cage, to be honest. Good points for a wire cage: breathable, lots of air flow for your hamster easy to clean, just a wipe down with a warm, moist cloth easy to take apart and reassemble generally sturdy, will last a long time Bad points for a wire cage: can sometimes have metal wiring on the floor, and your hamster can get stuck there is the hamster’s favorite chew toy bedding can easily fly out of it wire spacing is often too large for hamsters, they can squeeze their heads through When it comes to the space between the wire of your cage, the smaller then better. The thing is, hamsters are very curious, and will stick their faces everywhere and will try chewing everything. If your hamster’s head can fit between the wires, then his body can fit as well and he can escape. So, for Syrian hamsters a maximum wire space should be 0.6 inches/1.5 cm. And for dwarf hamsters, a maximum of 0.4 inches/ 1 cm. The problems is that most of the cages your will find in a pet shop have the wiring too far apart. If they’re large enough for a Syrian, then the wiring is too far apart. If the wiring is good, they’re almost always just large enough for a parakeet, not a hamster of any kind. A good wire cage for your hamster A good wire cage is one that has a sensible wire spacing, This one’s got less than half an inch, so it will keep even dwarf hamsters inside. It’s easy enough to work with and you an fit any kind of hideout or toy inside, and a tall wheel will fit as well. It has the added benefit of an extra level, which hamsters will love. My Teddy loves to hide under the home level, and yours is probably no different. This one’s level is adjustable, so you can place it whichever way you want. You can check out the listing on Amazon here. Plastic cages for hamsters These can be plastic bins that you can drill some holes in, and put a wire mesh in place of a lid. Or you can even find plastic cages at a pet shop, designed for your hamster. These are see-through, and are the second most common type of hamster cages. They’re usually a bit more pricey than wire cages, but they have the added benefit that they can be customized. Good points for plastic hamster cages: less bedding thrown outside the cage, contains poo and wood shavings better easier to customize, you can often find them with holes made for attaching tunnels and tubes less of a chew hazard, the hamster rarely chews on them since he can’t get his teeth on anything usually has a very large topside latch, so you can fit both hands inside the cage you can provide deeper bedding, since there is a higher plastic guard Bad points for plastic hamster cages: less airflow than wire cages or glass tanks, since the air holes are smaller more condensation or trapped air need more cleaning, since there is more surface to clean less sturdier than wire cages, careful when moving the plastic cages The plastic cages sound like a good option, and they can totally be a good option for your hamster. If you’ve got a hamster who loves to dig around and burrow, this might be for him. You can give your friend a lot of digging space and a whole bunch of bedding to roam around in. Just make sure that you get a version that’s well ventilated, so your hamster can breathe easily. As for the actual bins some people use in place of a hamster cage, I wouldn’t recommend that. The plastic is usually too soft and blurry, even if it can be drilled to get some air holes for your hamster. When it comes to basic, important hamster accessories like the cage or the wheel or exercise ball, or even the water bottle, I suggest you get a professional one. Those are made with the hamster’s comfort in mind. A good plastic hamster cage recommendation This is actually the cage I have for my Teddy. It has 2 levels, and they provide a lot of room for your hamster. My Teddy is a solitary adult Syrian hamster, But this would be alright for 2 dwarf hamsters as well. The best thing about this cage is that it comes with the tube attachments, which can actually fit an adult Syrian hamster inside easily. This is an easy to clean and assemble cage, with a great combo between plastic and metal cage advantages. There’s air, and there’s safety and containment as well. I removed the highest level so I can fit  9 inch wheel inside. The wheel that come with it, as well as the hideout I wouldn’t recommend, since they are plastic and small. You can check out the listing on Amazon here. Glass tanks for hamsters A third and final option would be to keep your hammy in a glass tank. This is a great option if you have a lot of space in your home, and can place la large glass tank somewhere. There are some special precautions, though. Glass keeps cold for longer, so make sure you keep the tank in a definitely warm room. Hamsters need an temperature of 20-23 Celsius/68-75 Fahrenheit to feel comfortable. A glass tank might keep them colder if not properly maintained. Good points for a glass tank: you can get them in a very large size, and will definitely fit any kind of hamster you have can be split down the middle with a large bendy bridge if the hamsters become rowdy you can see your hammy, but he can’t kick out any bedding can be found quite easily, it can even be a glass shelf with the shelves removed Bad points for a glass tank: cleaning and changing the bedding will need serious planning and will take more time more sensitive to temperature shifts you can’t move it around like a normal cage; the room you keep it in is its final room The glass tank is a seriously good option if you’ve got a room to keep the hamster in, and it won’t bother you during the night, and you can keep it an even temperature. Glass tanks don’t have to be aquariums. They can be that, but you can also use a glass shelf/display rack. When cleaning day comes, you’ll probably need a bit of help from a friend with this. But if you’re a dedicated hamster owner, you probably won’t mind the extra trouble to give your hammy the best home ever. The best thing to do is to find a wire mesh that you can use as a lid, on the top of your hamster’s glass tank. This is just a precaution. Most glass tanks are too tall for hamsters to climb, but you never know until they’re out. A recommendation on glass tanks for hamsters You can find a good glass tank here. It’s a 20 gallon tank, and that’s about the minimum for a hamster’s glass tank. The best part about it is that it’s tall enough the hamster can’t escape, and you probably won’t need a wire mesh to cover the top. Best to get one, just to be sure, though. The cleaning and washing and drying will be a longer process than the other cage types, but you can see your hamster clearly. When it comes to glass anything, it’s best to go there personally and buy it. Glass breaks very easily so don’t be surprised if that happens during transport. You can check out the listing on Amazon for this glass tank here. Safety and escape-proof rating of the hamster cage Another important aspect when you choose the hamster’s cage is how safe it is for your hamster, and how well it can keep him contained. Hamster’s safety in his cage Your hamster’s cage is his home. This is where he will eat, sleep, poop, run around, and just live out his entire life. It needs to be a safe place for your hamster. So let’s look at a few precautions to take: check for any sharp edges your hammy could hurt himself on, like some stray wires or sides no chipped edges if you’re using a glass tank the seams/corners are safe and can’t be chewed on, and have no visible glue that the hamster can gnaw on if you’ve got a multi level cage, make sure the levels aren’t too high so he can’t fall too far give your hammy lots and lots of bedding to shield him from  any odd edges make sure the cage fastenings don’t come open easily, and keep the cage top well secured If you’ve checked all of the above, and you’re sure your hammy can’t hurt himself on anything, then great ! Remember to keep the room temperature between 20-23 Celsius/68-75 Fahrenheit and he will be fine. Is the hamster’s cage escape proof ? Hamsters are escape artists. Not because they reaaaaally want to escape, but because they’re curious and want to know everything, If there’s something that smells like food, they’ll be all over the cage to try to get to it. If they see you they’ll be clawing at the cage to come and smell you. Hamsters are busy things, people to see, things to do. So they will try their teeth on everything, including the cage. If you’re not careful, he might chew through a cage fastening (depending on the material) and hurt himself and/or manage to escape. So let’s talk about what you can do to make sure your hamster can’t escape. if you’ve got a glass tank, use a wire mesh with metal clamps to fit it on top of the cage make sure the cage wiring and the wire mesh holes don’t have more than 1.5 cm/0.6 inch opening for Syrian hamsters for dwarf hamsters, make sure the opening between wires is no more than 1 cm/0.4 inches; Syrian hamster babies need smaller openings, like this one make sure that the cage fastenings keep the cage well closed and can’t be opened easily check the cage for any weakness that the hamster night chew on, like ripped plastic bottom or a small hole somewhere How to clean a hamster’s cage This depends a bit on what type of cage you own, but I’ll go through each type. Whichever kind you have, you must first place the hamster(s) somewhere else. So use an exercise ball, or transport cage, to keep the hamster while you clean he cage. How to place a hamster in a temporary holding If you can hold your hamster, then scoop him up and place him in his exercise ball or transport cage. If the hamster can’t be handled, then coax him into the exercise ball or transport cage with a bit of food he loves. He only has to stay there until you clean his cage. If you’ve put him in an exercise ball, make sure you keep an eye on him as well. Remove any and all toys and home and food bowls from the cage, until you only have the bedding. The cages are very simple, open the latches on the cage (usually on the side) and remove the top. Then, after you’ve removed everything but the bedding, look for soiled parts. If the bedding looks relatively clean and doesn’t smell, remove only the dirty parts. Use a rubber glove, and throw away the parts that need to be thrown away. Keep a bit of the old bedding and nesting material, for your hamster to feel more familiar. If you’re using a sand bath for your hamster, make sure you change and clean that as well. How to clean wire or plastic cages for hamsters As for the cage itself, it will need only hot water and a bit of soap. Small quantities of soap, since hamsters are very sensitive to smell. You can scrub the sides of the cage, or wipe them down, your choice. You can also bring the cage parts into the shower and give them a good cleaning there, just make sure your pat them dry with paper towels and especially the lower part. The bedding can get wet if you don’t, and will become moldy. Once you’ve washed and dried the cage, place the parts of the old bedding back onto the lower part of the cage. Put new bedding if you need to, until you reach a depth of about 1-2 inches/2.5-5 cm. Then, place back every toy and food bowl or accessory in the hamster’s cage. In his hideout, place the bits of the old nesting material, and some new nesting material in the cage. Do not place new nesting material directly in the hamster’s hideout. He will take it out anyway, and bring it back in as he thinks fit. My Teddy got quite annoyed when he found his hideout full of ripped up paper towel not the way he left it. Cleaning a glass tank for hamsters The bedding and toys need to be removed the same way as the wire or plastic cages. But the last bits of bedding will require something like a vacuum cleaner, to make sure you get absolutely everything out. The cleaning and washing part is done with hot water and a small amount of soap, but will need more rinsing with a moist clean cloth. You can’t bring the glass tank to the shower, but you can rinse it thoroughly with lots and lots or moist cloth. When you’re done washing it, dry very well with paper towels. If you want to be extra sure there are no hidden water droplets in the corner, use a blow dryer. Keep it a safe distance from the glass, at least 40 cm/16 inches and use a warm setting. After you’re done washing and drying the glass tank, place back the bedding and nesting material, with bits of old bedding and nesting material as well. Place the toys and hideout and everything back, and use this as an excuse to maybe redecorate the hammy’s place. Even if the glass tank is a glass one, do now use window washing liquid on it. The alcohol and strong smell will be harmful for the hamster, just stick to hot water. Multiple levels or one ground level ? This is entirely up to you, and the hamster will enjoy both. The thing is that hamsters need a lot of leg room, because they run and climb and explore new places. If you’re looking for a hamster cage that will give your hamster a lot of space, look for a low cage, with lots of space in width and length. This will take up a lot of actual floor space in your home. So, it depends on your home as well. If you choose a multi-level cage, you do give your hamster more room, and he will use the higher levels as well. He will hangout mostly around his hideout, so make sure you put that somewhere he will not fall far from. For example my Teddy has a multiple level cage. I took out the last level so I can fit his wheel inside, but Teddy uses all the space he has. When I gave him the extra level, he used that one too. A word of caution though. Hamsters can’t judge heights very well, so they will jump or fall from a high ground if they think it’s a shortcut. My Teddy is also plain silly and just forgets he has a nice ramp set up from his upper level to the ground level. He sometimes just jumps from the upper level (like 15 cm/6 inches) to the ground floor. He often just climbs up instead of using that ramp. That’s okay, he’s working out quite well. So if you get your hamster a multi-level cage, make sure your give the levels lots of bedding. And also, make sure the levels overlap a little, so he can’t jump too far down. This is because hamsters will use the actual floor of the levels as much as they can, so there is no point if giving them a ‘high ceiling’ type of cage. Hamsters spend most of their time on all 4 feet, and don’t need a lot of vertical space to stand. Just make sure that a large exercise wheel (9 inches/23 cm and upwards) will fit into the type of cage you have. (If you like this article so far, you can pin it to your Pinterest board by clicking the image below. The article continues after the image.) The airflow of the cage is important for your hamster As with every living being, air is important. Stale air will give your hamster a lot of health issues, including lung problems, possible colds, and suffocation in extreme cases. To make sure your hamster gets lots of air, a wire cage is best. But to make sure the hamster won’t chew the bars, you need a plastic cage or glass tank. But with the plastic cage the air quality is often a problem. However a glass tank is often expensive. So what should you do ? Take a look at your budget, see which kind of cage you can provide your hamster and still be okay. Then, do the following: If you get a wire cage – keep it in a corner, away from drafts and in an even temp of 20-23 Celsius/68-75 Fahrenheit If you get a plastic cage – place the hamster in his exercise ball more often, and use that time to air out the plastic cage If you’ve got a glass tank, the air will be sufficient but again keep it from drafts, and when the hamster is outside the cage remove the wire mesh to allow for more air If you hamster’s cage isn’t properly aired, the condensation and air quality will give him health problems, and we want to avoid that. This is especially important with the ammonia fumes from the hamster’s pee. Protect your hamster’s cage from drafts and any especially cold air. Placing toys and hideouts in the hamster’s cage The hideout is where your hamster will spend most of his time. Place that in a corner, hidden from sight or at least under a bendy bridge or something similar. Hamsters will choose a very hidden and safe spot to build their nest, so put their hideout there. For example my Teddy often uses the most hidden corner of his cage to eat, under the upper level and blocked by paper tubes and bedding. To find out more about what kind of hideout is best for your hamster, as well as which kind of bedding is safe for him, check out my article. You’ll also find out what nesting material is okay, and how to take care if your hamster’s hideout. As for the toys and wheel, make sure you keep any tall toys away from the glass tank’s edge otherwise the hamster might climb out. The wheel can be anywhere in the cage, but make sure it fits into your cage. If it’s a mounted wheel, it will have to be attached to the side of the cage. A standing wheel can be placed anywhere. You can find my article on what kind of exercise wheel your hamster needs, according to his size as well. You’ll also find out how to clean and acre for the exercise wheel, and how to acclimate him to one. The toys, whether they’re food bowls or chew toys or bendy bridges can be put anywhere. Anywhere in the cage is fine, as long as they’re not in the pee corner. Hamsters usually choose a corner to pee in, usually the farthest away from their hideout. So, in that particular corner I put Teddy a sand bath. It acts as a litter box, and it keeps smell down to a minimum. You can use an old hideout, with a removable lid, or even special sand containers. Your choice, as long as you put something there to contain the sand. Other toys, like the chew toys and climb toys you can find out more about here. You’ll learn about the kind of toys your hamster needs, and what to look for to figure out which he likes the most. And you’ll get some DYI ideas for some of them as well ! Where to keep the hamster’s cage in your home This is something you’ll have to think about for a few minutes, see where the best option is. Best not to move the hamster’s cage often. Hamsters are sensitive, and do notice and wake up when you move their cage. It won’t shock or scar them for life, but they do notice. That being said, I do move my Teddy’s cage every day, because of my apartment’s layout. During the day when he sleeps he is in our bedroom, and I never move him. But at night, before I go to bed, I move him to the kitchen where my girlfriend can’t hear him rummaging through his cage. Hamsters rarely make noise, and they’re very quiet by nature, but she’s a light sleeper. In the morning, we take him back to the bedroom and don’t disturb him for the rest of the day. Now, if you’ve got an apartment with a better setup than I do, figure out a place to keep him at all times. It’s best if it’s a room where he can’t be bothered by other pets or curious children when he sleeps. If you have a room for the hamster alone, then you can probably get him a glass tank (not taking the budget into account) since it will stay in one place. The room you keep your hamster in needs to be free of drafts, with an even temperature. Do not place the cage in direct sunlight, or near a heat source. How to safely move and handle a hamster’s cage The cage should not be moved often, but there will be times when you must do this. When this does happen, make sure you do not grab the cage by the top part, at all. Even if it has a nice handle to hold, do not trust it. Most of those are poorly build and will not hold that weight. Do not hold the wiring, since your fingers can become stuck, and the hamster will possibly chew them as well. If you’ve got a long sleeve shirt, keep the sleeves or any shirt part away from the wire cage wall. If possible, try not to bump the cage into the wall or drop it. Avoid taking it up and down the stairs, since you won’t see very well. Even more important, if the hamster is still inside the cage. In these situations use a transport cage for the hamster, and empty the large cage to hold it in an way you can see in front of you. When picking up the cage, pick it up by the lowest part of the bottom. Make sure your thumbs don’t stick into the cage or the hamster might nibble and you might drop him. When placing the hamster’s cage down on the floor, do not bend over, but kneel. This is easier on your back, and safe for the hamster as well. A word from Teddy I hope you have a clear idea of what kind of home us hamsters need now. There are difference between hammies like me (Syrian hamsters) and dwarf hamsters, but we’re more alike than different. Us Syrian hamsters need larger cages, and dwarf hamsters can do with smaller ones, but always add more space for each new hamster. For example my dwarf brothers and sisters can be housed together, in same sex pairs. But I need to be alone, I don’t like sharing my space or toys or… well, anything. If you want to know more about hamsters in general, you can check out the articles below. You’ll find out more about why we eat our poop, and how much water we need as well ! [...] Read more...
Do Hamsters Have Bones? Interesting Facts
Do Hamsters Have Bones? Interesting FactsHamsters are so small, fast, and flexible that sometimes they make you question whether they have bones or not. Even when you handle a hamster, you don’t feel its bones and all you feel is a small fluff ball with its fluffy paws touching your hand. In this article I will talk more about the hamster’s anatomy, what you should do when they are injured, how to handle them when you prepare your little hamster to get to the vet, and other interesting facts about this incredible pet. Table of Contents ToggleDo hamsters have bones?Are hamsters’ bones fragile?Can a vet help a hamster with a broken bone?Do they need more minerals in those situations?How to avoid this kind of accidentsFacts about hamster teethConclusion Do hamsters have bones? Yes, hamsters have bones and a skeletal structure that includes a spine. A hamster has about 124 bones in their body, it is not the same number for all the species, but there are not many studies available. You get the idea, they have bones; they actually have a lot of bones. Even the hamster’s tail is a small bone, I had a friend that asked me if hamsters have a tail and I found that very funny at first until I realized that the tail is so small and they usually keep it under themselves that you can’t clearly see it. I have an entire article about hamster tails and what you should know about them Are hamsters’ bones fragile? Hamsters’ bones are quite flexible, which helps them do all the acrobatic tricks and also makes them a bit harder to break. Since the bones are so small and thin, they would break easily if they were a bit more rigid than they actually are. That doesn’t mean that a hamster can’t break his bones, it is possible so you have to make sure you handle him gently and that the cage is safe, more on this later. Can a vet help a hamster with a broken bone? If you hamster broke a bone in an accident, you clearly see it that is in pain and does not move properly, you have to get it to a specialized vet as soon as possible. But you have to do it carefully since your hamster is in pain it will have the tendency to bite anything in its way. So here are a few things to pay attention to when transporting your hamster to the vet. Don’t try to pick it up with your hand, if you can make it go into a transport cage straight from its bigger cage, it would be best. Or you can use a small container and then place it into a transport cage. Place some treats inside the container or the transport cage and also enough bedding to make sure the surface is soft. Use a thick rubber glove when you want to touch it since it will most probably try to bite you. Ensure food and water on the way and a chew toy if possible to distract it. Hamsters don’t like being moved around, so that will be a stressful process anyway, but you can make it more bearable. When you get to the vet, they should know what they have to do and protect themselves and the hamster properly. The thing is that not all vets handle hamsters, so you better call first or check their website before getting there. It is also important to know that any anesthetic or painkiller the vet may use can pose a significant risk to your hamster’s health. This is why not many vets want to work with such small animals, the risks are too big in some situations and it is hard for a pet owner to accept that it wasn’t necessarily the vet’s fault for what happened. Do they need more minerals in those situations? Yes, hamsters might use some extra minerals during the recovery to help the bones fix faster. I usually don’t recommend mineral chews but in this situation they might be helpful, the calcium and the other minerals can help as they do for humans as well in this specific circumstance. Hamsters get enough minerals in normal circumstances from their pre-made mix that you can find in most pet shops. How to avoid this kind of accidents Well, in order to avoid ending up with a hamster that broke a bone, you have to pay attention to two things. 1. How do you handle your hamster It is important to know that hamsters are very light and fluffy, you almost don’t feel them when they are in your hand, especially if you have a dwarf hamster. A Syrian hamster is a bit heavier, but still, they weigh about 100-150 grams which is not much. You need to make sure that you don’t squeeze your hamster when you hold it in your hand, so keep your fingers around your hamster if you don’t want it to escape but don’t apply any pressure. If you take your hamster out of the cage, make sure you pay close attention to it all the time since they can run and jump from heights without realizing. They are quite bad at estimating the distance from where they are to the ground. If you want to know more about how to tame and handle your hamster check my guide, there are 13 steps to tame your hamster. One more thing before getting to the cage, hamsters are not good pets for kids. It might seem like it, but a hamster is way more delicate and hard to handle properly than a cat or a dog. A kid will not control their strength when they handle the hamster as well as an adult, and that makes it dangerous for the hamster. 2. How safe is the cage Having a cage that doesn’t allow your hamster to jump from heights is super important. I learned this with my first hamster, the cage I had for it was a two level cage. Luckily for my hamster it wasn’t a very tall cage, and the bedding was more than enough to attenuate the fall. I saw my hamster going up to the second level, getting to the edge and simply jumping  from there in the bedding, and that was the moment when I realized that they really have bad eyesight. So it is better to have a bigger cage that doesn’t have any levels. My hamster was safe, but seeing that behavior made me get rid of the second level since he could have moved the bedding around the cage and fallen onto a hard surface the next time. Another thing to pay attention to, make sure the cage does not have narrow places where your hamster might get their arms or legs stuck, especially if they are not movable objects.  Facts about hamster teeth Maybe the most important bones in a hamster’s body are the teeth since those little animals are rodents, they use their teeth a lot. They need to chew on harder things all the time since their teeth are continuously growing and not having where to sharpen them can be dangerous for the hamster’s health. So make sure you give your hamster chewing toys, made of safe wood for the hamster. Hamsters have a total of 16 teeth, even if you don’t see all of them except when they are yawning. Talking about yawning, have you ever seen a little hamster yawning? If not, look for videos online, those little furballs transform into aliens when they are yawning, it’s scary. Hamsters don’t have milk teeth and adult teeth like humans, they have only one set of teeth for their entire life. Hamsters can also break their teeth, it is not often since their teeth are quite strong but if it happens, you should get it to a vet as fast as possible since this is a more dangerous problem for a hamster than for a human. Conclusion While a fun topic, hamsters having bones is actually a good question, and there are some important things you should know about their bones in order to keep them safe. Make sure your hamster has little to no chance of breaking any bones in their body since treating them can be dangerous, and it is for sure not a pleasant process. I really hope this article answered your question and was helpful for you and your little hamster pet. [...] Read more...
Why You Should Trim Your Hamster’s Nails, And How To Do It
Why You Should Trim Your Hamster’s Nails, And How To Do ItIf you’ve got a hamster then you’ve probably met his sharp claws, or at least seen them. If he’s even climbed on you, you’ve also felt them. But some hamsters do get overgrown nails,  and it’s necessary to keep them trimmed to avoid injury to you or to the hamster. Table of Contents ToggleSo do hamsters need their nails trimmed ?When do hamsters need their nails trimmed ?Why you should care about your hamster’s nailsHow to trim overgrown hamster nailsTrimming them at homeInspect the hamster’s nails before trimmingSeeing a vet for professional helpPreventing overgrown hamster nailsHome exercise for your hamster’s nailsA word from Teddy So do hamsters need their nails trimmed ? Yes, but ONLY in cases of overgrown nails. This is not something you should do regularly, like with your own human nails.  Hamsters usually trim their nails by climbing, grooming, digging, foraging. 9 of out 10 hamsters don’t need help with their nails. But some hammies do, especially very old hamsters or the hamsters that don’t have a few rugged surfaces to blunt their nails on. This is where you, as a responsible hamster owner, will come in and help the hamster take care of himself. I’ll help you with how to trim the hamster’s nails, and how to prevent overgrown nails in the first place. This article is ONLY for cutting your hamster’s overgrown nails. Leave healthy nails alone. They should have a bit of length to them, because the hamster uses them for climbing and getting a grip. When do hamsters need their nails trimmed ? Only when the hamster’s nails have become overgrown. You’ll notice they’re much too long, and they’re starting to curve in on themselves. They might break at some point, and they can and do fall off. I saw a couple of Teddy’s nails come off when they were too long and I didn’t notice in time to cut them down. The overgrown nails will turn a nasty yellow color, and if you look very closely you’ll see lighter/whitish spots or lines where they’re cracked or broken. Hamsters usually wear down their nails by the usual things they do. Digging a tunnel into the earth, making their nest, foraging for food, running around, grooming themselves, climbing on op of rocks, and so on. A pet hamster doesn’t do all of that, because he’s not in his usual habitat. The ones he does do, are on softer material like wood shavings and paper bedding. This means that sometimes, some hamsters get overgrown nails. That can be fixed. Why you should care about your hamster’s nails You might ask why you should consider trimming your hamster’s nails. After all, no one trims them in the wild. That’s true, no one does that for wild hamsters. But wild hamsters don’t get overgrown nails, because they have a lot of hard surfaces to wear them down on. This means that your pet hamster will need your help for several reasons. First an overgrown nail will curve in on itself and become painful for the hamster. In some extreme cases the nail can start growing into the hamster’s paw, curving back towards his paw. This will lead to pain, infection, and the hamster’s feet won’t be able to do their job. Second, nails too long will make grooming painful for the hamster. When he grooms, he also grabs onto his fur and hold it in place to clean it. With nails too long, that starts to hurt, and even walking becomes a hassle since he can’t step normally. Third, overgrown nails, if left unattended will fall off. But this is never a pleasant ans simple process. They fall off because the motion of the hamster’s paws when he goes about his business weakens the nails near the quick. So they end up bending over backwards, for lack of a better term. The nail will not simply fall off, it will hang in there for a couple of days, until the new nail grows back. This is both painful and awkward for the hamster, because using his paws won’t be easy at all. These are all things that can be avoided. Not all hamsters get overgrown nails. How to trim overgrown hamster nails Trimming your hamster’s nails will not be easy, at all. Hamsters are notorious for not staying put, and squirming. A hammy kept in one place so you can clip his nails definitely won’t cooperate easily. Trimming them at home Arm yourself with patience, and don’t expect to finish everything in one day. Your hamster should first of all be comfortable with being held. If he’s not, read this guide on taming your hamster and work on getting him comfy with you. Once he’s okay with being held, try and find a position for him that’s okay for both of you. Some hamsters will be okay with being on their backs, some will not. One position would be holding the hamster’s back against your stomach or chest, and holding one of his paws with your finger. Another could be the hamster just being on all 4 and you holding one of his paws. If you think you need help, ask a friend to hole the hamster while you trim the nails. Do expect fidgeting, and do expect squirming, maybe even a few protesting sounds. No hamster likes being held for this. Also be aware that even if your hamster might get relaxed enough to let you hold him, the sound of the nail being clipped can spook him. So be prepared for anything. Inspect the hamster’s nails before trimming When you do cut the hamster’s nail, look for the quick. You’ll need very good lighting for this, or even some sunlight. Make sure the hamster’s eyes aren’t in the bright light, or the sunlight, as they’re very sensitive to that. You’ll notice the hamster’s nails are kind of transparent. Not completely, they will have a whitish/yellowish tint to them and their very edges might be lighter in color. But look at where the nail starts, from the finger. You’ll notice a pinkish, cloudy area. Its very small, and very short, about the size of a couple of grains of sand. While very small, that little pink cloudy part is crucial. Do not cut into it. It has lots of blood vessels, and cutting into it is like cutting into the neat right under your nail. Actually, they’re the exact same area, just that our nails have a different shape from hamster nails. So when you cut your hamster’s nails, make sure you give the quick (pink part) a wide berth. When you cut the nail part, the translucent part of the nail, make sure you leave at least as much nail as the pink part. That means if there are 2 grains of sand of quick, then you should leave 2 grains of sand of transparent nail on your hamster. It might be hard to do, if your hamster isn’t used to this kind of operation. And he probably isn’t so don’t be surprised if you can’t manage to get all of his nails clipped in one day. Giving your hamster a treat after each nail successfully clipped is going to help him learn that everything’s okay, he’s safe, and you’re not hurting him. Seeing a vet for professional help Getting your hamster to a veterinarian to help trim his nails is probably the best decision. I say this only because finding the quick, and keeping the hamster still so you don’t cut into the quick are 2 hard things to do. A vet will have more experience with clipping a pet’s nails, and he will notice the quick very easily. Also, in the case of a bleeding accident, he will have a solution to stop the bleeding and disinfect everything. (If you like this article so far, you can pin it to your Pinterest board by clicking the image below. The article continues after the image.) Preventing overgrown hamster nails Preventing is always much easier than treating. This is true for everything, and it’s also true for keeping your hamster’s nails filed down. But for this we need to look at why hamster nails can become overgrown in the first place. A hamster’s nails always grow, much like our human nails. Usually hamsters wear them down with their day-to-day activities in the wild. But in their warm, safe cages this doesn’t happen as much. Pet hamsters have fairly soft beddings, and they don’t get to dig into the earth a complex series of tunnels. This means the hamster’s nails have not very much to hit against. Wood shavings or paper bedding are much too soft for hamster nails, and they’re loose and move around. The objects around the cage will help wear the nails down, like the hideout or a couple of toys, but that’s it. So you will need to provide your hamster with a few hard, rugged surfaces to walk over or climb onto. For example a few flat stones from your garden (rinsed and dried, of course) arranged around his cage are going to help. each time he steps over those stones, his nails will wear down a little bit. And if you place the stones in many places, he will step on them often. For example placing them right around the food bowl will make sure your hamster  walks over them to get to his food. Home exercise for your hamster’s nails Another idea, aside from the flat rocks is an emery board. That’s the kind of material used for filing nails, and even in jewelry making. Make sure your get the smallest sized grit, so you do not hurt your hamster’s paws. Get a board big and wide enough so the hamster has room on it. You can also find emery paper and tape it to a small board. Place one of your hamster’s favorite treats at one end and put the hamster on the other end. Slowly start tilting the board, keeping it at an angle, with the treat on top. The hamster will dig his nails into the board to get more stability and a better grip. This will file down his nails, and in the end you’ll level the board again so he can get his treat. Or, you can keep the board perfectly horizontal, and only have a treat tied to a string or on the end of a stick. This is teasing, yes, but the hamster does get the treat in the end. Simply make him walk over the board a few times, and let him have his treat. Always check to see if his paws are okay. If you get grit small enough, he should be fine. You can try this exercise every 2-3 weeks, to make sure your hamster keeps his nails short. A word from Teddy I hope you found what you were looking for in this article. Us hammies usually take good care of our bodies, so our nails are usually pretty trim. It’s just that some of us need a little help from time to time. If you want to know more about us hamsters you should check out the related articles below. You’ll learn how to keep us safe and happy, and what we need for a good life. [...] Read more...
What Do Hamsters Eat ? – Food List And Exceptions
What Do Hamsters Eat ? – Food List And ExceptionsWhat do you usually feed your hamster ? What can hamsters eat ? What should they NOT eat ? I had some many of these questions when I first got my Teddy, and I can tell you what I found out. Some I found out by trial and error, some I asked vets, and some still I found out from other hamster enthusiasts. So I’ve compiled a big ol’ list here, so you can have all the info you need for your hamster’s food and diet. Table of Contents ToggleSo what can hamsters eat ?What hamsters should never eatProtein foods your hamster can eatVegetables and Legumes you can feed your hamsterHamsters can eat pasta and bread too !Nuts and seeds your hamster can eatFruits your hamster can eatPre-made food mixes for your hamsterGrain and pellet food mix for your hamsterTreats for your hamsterHow much does a hamster eat ?Dangers of overfeeding your hamsterWhat to do if your hamster is not eatingA word from Teddy So what can hamsters eat ? First off, hamsters are omnivores. That means they can and will eat anything from plant-based food, to grains, to meat and insects. This applies for every kind of hamster out there, be it Syrian, Robo, Campbell, or Chinese. If you look at a box of hamster feed, you will usually just see grains, a few seeds, and a few vitamin pellets. But if you turn the box and look at the ingredients, you will often see protein sources like chicken/fish/beef/shrimp.  You can feed the hamster an omnivore diet yourself, or get a pre-made mix that will last for several weeks, even a couple of months. I’ll get into more detail with each food group a hamster can eat, along with actual examples you probably have in your home. And I’ll give you a couple of food mixes you can buy for your hamster, along with other treats. But first, let’s see what hamsters should definitely avoid. What hamsters should never eat In general hamsters should stay away from anything acidic. Even if you give your hammy a piece of orange he will turn away from it, but that’s just because of the strong smell. Best to avoid acidic food altogether. There are other foods your hamster should avoid, mainly because his stomach is not built for such foods. Here are a few examples of foods your hamster should never eat: any type of citrus at all – lemon, orange, clementine, grapefruit, etc. any part of a tomato, it’s acidic as well, even if less than a lemon chocolate, and anything sweet – can cause diabetes fruit seeds or peels – apple, grapes, strawberry, etc onions, garlic, peppers, spices – anything extra spicy or tasty will upset his stomach high-fat content foods – like extra fat meat, or even some types of dairy anything unwashed like unwashed fruits or vegetables any part of a rhubarb(1) almonds, apricot pits can be highly toxic celery or very stringy/fibery foods like cabbage anything containing added sugar or salt raw potato or beans (any kind) These are all foods that your hamster is better off not eating, since he can’t digest them. In some cases these foods will kill the hamster, so best to avoid them completely. Alright, now let’s get into the food groups your hammy can eat, along with actual examples. Yay ! Protein foods your hamster can eat Hammies do eat protein, and it doesn’t have to be soy-based necessarily. While you can feed your little hammy something soy-based like tofu, you can also find some soy protein in his food mix as well. But I wouldn’t advise giving the hamster and actual, raw soy bean. Best to stay away from that. For example I’ve given my Teddy boiled egg white, boiled unseasoned chicken and turkey, and he loves them both. Actually, most of the time hamsters just store food in their cheeks and hide it in the house. But with the egg and chicken, Teddy dropped everything he had and ate them right there. Of course, the pieces you feed your hammy should be small, so he can eat them on the spot. If you give him too big a piece, he might want to save some of it for later and we all know how quickly meat goes bad. Mealworms are sometimes a treat for hamsters. I’ve never give my Teddy one, but I’ve met hamster owners who give them to their hammies as treats. Not all hamsters will like them, but you can try. Do not give them mealworms too often though, since they are very filling. Teddy: If your feed any kind of meat or egg to you hammy, keep it simple, unsalted, unseasoned. Never feed any raw protein tot us, like raw meat or egg. Dairy is also a good protein source, but don’t give it to your hammy often ! Hamsters are mammals just like us humans, and as such we can’t process milk-based products very well when they are in large quantities. So, keep the dairy to a minimum. Something like a peanut sized piece, once per week is alright. Vegetables and Legumes you can feed your hamster Most vegetables are safe for hamsters to eat, but some are to be avoided. Especially legumes like lentils, beans, peas, chickpeas and so on are not alright. This is mostly because of their high fiber content, which can upset your hamster’s guts. So best to stay away from legumes for your hamster. Vegetables like leafy greens and roots are mostly alright. But let’s talk about a few clear examples. Here are some vegetables your hammy can totally eat: most leafy greens, like spinach, watercress, lettuce, kale cucumber, zucchini carrots are okay, but any other hamster than a Syrian will have to eat them less frequently (higher sugar content than other vegetables, can cause diabetes for dwarf hamsters) sweet potato, cooked – same as carrots, keep a very low intake for dwarf hamsters asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower (cooked) You probably have most of these in your fridge or pantry already. So feel free to feed your hamster small pieces of these veggies as a treat, or even as a supplement to his usual food mix. Hamsters can eat pasta and bread too ! But only in small quantities. The thing with pasta, bread, rice, and so on, is that they’re all high carbohydrate foods. As such, your hamster needs them, but not as much as you’d think. The carb content of a hamster diet should not get past 20%, since they require a balanced dies of protein and veggies as well. So here are a few examples or carbs and bread your hammy can safely eat: Bread, as long as it has no added sugar and has a low salt content. That rules out toast bread, hot dog buns, and hamburger buns as well. Whole grain or multi-cereal bread is great for hamsters actually. Dry grains, of basically any kind Cooked brown rice, unseasoned Cooked wholegrain pasta, unseasoned. Regular white pasta becomes too sticky for your hamster, and will leave residues in his cheek pouches that can cause problems later on. Corn flakes, oat flakes, most muesli mixes Unsalted, unsweetened crackers and biscuits, small piece The food mix you give your hamster is usually well balanced, so don’t feed your hammy too much additional bread or other carbs. Keep them as a small treat every now and then. Nuts and seeds your hamster can eat Hamsters love to chew on a lot of things, and nuts and seeds give them just that opportunity. Most nuts and seeds are okay for hamsters to eat, but there are a few exceptions. Here’s a list of seeds and nuts your hamster can enjoy: dried sunflower and pumpkin seeds, with or without shell, unseasoned peanuts and hazelnuts, unsalted, plain; remove shell and skin walnuts chestnuts, without shell, cooked, plain sesame seeds Do keep in mind that nuts and seeds have a high fat content. So don’t feed too many or too often to your hamster. Keep them as a treat every now and then. Especially if the food mix you bought for the hamster already has a couple of seeds and nuts included. Teddy: Stay away from almonds though. They classify as a nut, but they are toxic for us hamsters ! Fruits your hamster can eat Most kinds o fruit are safe for hamsters. There are a few exceptions, and I’ll cover those too. But first, here is a list of fruits your hamster can eat: apple, pear, peeled and cored (no seeds) strawberries, no seeds banana slice, in a very small amount grape, no seeds, peeled dates and figs, dried raisins blueberries, blackberry, raspberry cherries, no seeds Again, keep the hamster away from citrus fruits. The citrus oils is toxic for hamsters, and will harm them. If you’ve ever peeled an orange and got your hand close to your hammy, you saw him pull away. (If you like this article so far, you can pin it to your Pinterest board by clicking the image below. The article continues after the image.) Pre-made food mixes for your hamster These are a convenient way to feed your hamster, and often are actually pretty well thought out. If you see the ingredient list, and think there’s something vital that’s missing (like proteins) you can look for another brand or supplement with proteins like the list above. Grain and pellet food mix for your hamster I use a pre-made mix for my Teddy, and give him fruits, veggies, and meat whenever I’m cooking. So he gets the grain and pellets mix, with an assortment of carrots and other foods I have around the house and are safe for him. As I said above, I’ll give you a few options on store bough food to give to your hamster. The first one I found is an actual food mix, with a fair amount of seeds and pellets as well. The whole bag will last you for a couple of months or more, depending on how much you feed the hamster, and what you supplement alongside (More on that below). You can check the Amazon pricing here, and other details as well. Treats for your hamster While most hamster food mixes have a balance of protein, vitamins, and carbs, you can give your hamster occasional treats. These don’t have to be often, but need to be kept as a treat every few days, or when you’re trying to teach or tame your hamster. For example I give Teddy cheese drops as a treat, and he absolutely loves them. The drops can be made of other fruits or veggies too. But Teddy seems to prefer the cheese. I found a variety pack that you can give your hamster. They’re yogurt based and suitable for all kinds of hamster, rats, gerbils, even ferrets. You can find the listing on Amazon here, and check the price as well. There are other types of treats hamsters go for, like for example simple dog treats (no flavors) or milk bones, and some granola bars(no sugar or honey). But my Teddy loves these cheese yogurt drops, and he gets them 2-3 times a week. Teddy: Whatever treat or food you choose, make sure you feed us hamsters responsibly ! Treats are treats and we don’t need them every day. Food mix is a great way to make sure we get the proper nutrition and stay healthy. How much does a hamster eat ? Alright, now that you know what kind of foods your hammy can and can not eat, and you’ve seen a few examples of pre-made food and treats, let’s talk about how often to feed the hamster. This depends mostly on the hamster himself, in that a baby hamster will need a bit less food than an adult hamster. But in general, 2 teaspoons of dry food are enough for an adult Syrian hamster. Dwarf hamsters need less, 1 teaspoon. It might sound like very little food, but look at the size of your hamster. Not only can he not eat much, but also dry food keeps him full for much longer than veggies. If you’re unsure, grab a teaspoon and put the necessary amount in your hand. I’ll attach a photo here of how much 2 teaspoons of dry food is for my Teddy. This is enough for an adult Syrian hamster. Teddy: Remember, we don’t need a lot of food, and we also hide food in our hideouts ! So if you just fed your hammy, and see no food there 5 minutes later, don’t give him more food. He just took the food into his hideout, to snack on later. Us hamsters are funny like that, and love to hoard our food ! Dangers of overfeeding your hamster The first and immediate danger is getting your hamster fat. While you might think that a chubby hamster looks cute (and he does, not gonna lie) it’s very bad for his health. Hamsters are very active creatures, and must be able to run and sprint and dart through tubes or into hideouts at any point. This is their instinct, and a large fat hamster will not be able to do any of these, or at least not properly. This will shorten the hamster’s lifespan as well. A hamster can only live for so long (2-3 years), might as well make his short life comfortable. If you want to know more about why your hamster can get so big or fat, check out my article on this exact topic. There I’ll tell you everything you need to know about why hamsters can get fat, and even how to slim yours down. Hint: it involves getting your hammy more exercise opportunities. For this a great hamster wheel is essential. You’ll also find out what a reasonable weight is for the hamster himself, so you have a guideline to follow. What to do if your hamster is not eating Some hamsters are very picky about their food. They will not eat just anything, and need more attention in that way. So play around with his food, change up the flavors a bit. Maybe he only likes chicken flavored pellets or treats. That could be a start to your hamster eating more. If your hammy is not touching dry food, try with veggies. Give him alternatives, like a piece of broccoli, one asparagus, and a small kale leaf. See which he likes, and keep giving him that. Then, continue adding new foods to his diet, from the list of foods I wrote above. Until you reach a mix of vegetables that you can give him daily, and you know he will eat them. If veggies are not an option for him, try giving the hamster meat. I’ve never seen a hamster turn down meat. Make sure the piece is cooked, but unseasoned. The extra salt is not needed in your hamster’s diet, since he needs much less than humans. If, in an exceptional case, your hamster turns down every kind of food, call the vet. Especially if you see other signs of a possible illness like sparse fur, a wet tail (very bad), dried blood on his body, or anything that looks out of the ordinary. In a worst case scenario, you might want to know how much a hamster can survive without any food and water. I wrote an article on that topic, and the point is that if your hamster is not eating, but at least has water he has a higher chance or survival. In any case, contact your vet if your hammy seems sick, along with not eating. A word from Teddy I hope you’re very clear now on what us hamster can and can not eat. I know it’s a bit of a list to remember, but it’s in your hamster’s benefit. If you’re not sure about a food, and you can’t find any info anywhere, maybe don’t feed it to your hammy. That way at least you’ll be sure he’s safe. You can find more info on the best kind of bedding for us hamsters, or why we sometimes eat our own poo, and even why we’re sometimes scared of you ! Just check out the articles below and you’ll find your answers. References: https://www.rspca.org.uk/adviceandwelfare/pets/rodents/hamsters/diet [...] Read more...