Hamster Cheek Pouches – How They Work, And Common Problems

A hamster is the cutest thing, and everyone loves a hammy’s full cheek pouches. But how do they work ? What do hamster cheek pouches do ? Are there problems your hamster can develop with his cheeks ?

I’ll be covering this topic alongside Teddy, my Syrian male hammy, and give his examples wherever necessary.

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How the hamster’s cheek pouches work

A hamster’s cheek pouches are two bag-like structures, that run alongside the mouth, all the way to the back of his shoulders.

It’s basically a pair of really big cheeks, that can get and stay stuffed for however long the hamster needs them to.

The hamster can eat and run with his cheeks full, with no problem. This is because the cheeks themselves stay in place along the hamster’s shoulders, and are very elastic.

In the wild the hamster actually travels large distances with his cheeks full, so he can cover more ground without returning to his nest often to attract predators.

This also means that the hammy can sprint at the drop of a hat with his groceries in tow, if he has to.

Imagine a hammy running in slo-mo through the dessert, at night, chased by an owl. All while pushing a shopping cart with all his might.

Sometimes, parts of whatever the hamster puts in his cheeks end up in his mouth. Normally this isn’t a problem, for example if he’s got food in there.

But when it comes to non-food items, it’s important to be careful what you allow into your hamster’s cage.

For example the paper towels or toilet paper squares your hammy hides in his cheeks can have small bits that end up swallowed. Even if he uses them for nesting purposes, it still happens.

If you want a more scientific take on hamster cheek pouches, and want to know more in-depth about them, you should definitely check out this study by ScienceDirect.

Hammies store food and nesting material in their cheeks

Most of the time hamsters store food in their cheeks. This is what you’ll find there most of the time, and it’s very convenient for them.

This means that if you fill your hammy’s food bowl, he will literally stuff his face, and then bring it to his nest. He might run around for a couple of minutes though, since the food can stay there for a few hours if it has to.

Be careful what you feed your hammy though, since very sharp or crumbly foods can give him a cut and cause serious problems in his cheeks.

So, even if your hammy could technically eat a plain Pringle (no salt, though), he’d get shards everywhere and it’s not a good idea.

Actually, you can get a better idea of what to feed your hammy here, with a list of safe and unsafe foods to feed your hamster. You’ll find the veggies, fruits, meat, dairy, breads, and nuts he can safely eat.

Hamsters also store nesting material in their cheeks, like dried leaves, twigs, and grass. Or, paper towels and bits of toilet paper or cardboard, if he’s a pet.

The cheeks are emptied when the hamsters reach their nest

In the wild, hamsters travel far and wide to get their food. A wild hamster can cover up to 9 km/5.5 miles in a night. One night !

That’s a lot of running around. Once he does get home he can empty his accumulated stash, and enjoy a quiet dinner by himself, no predators around.

He can stop at any point during his run and just grab a snack from one if his cheeks, and then keep running. But for the most part, the cheeks are unloaded once the hamster reaches a safe place.

What about your domestic, cuddly friend ? If he’s anything like my Teddy, he’ll shove food mix in his cheeks til they nearly burst, then go and hide it all away in his hideout.

Hamsters do have stashes, both in the wild and in the comfort of your home. It’s their instinct, to hoard. Remember the shopping cart/grocery part from before ? Imagine your hamster having an entire organize pantry, with all the foods.

Hamsters actually routinely sort through their stashes, and throw out moldy or wilted food. In his cage he doesn’t really do that, since most of his feed is probably dry food that keeps for very long. But in the wild he will have an assortment of whatever he can find, and sometimes he can’t find the best.

Why hamsters have cheek pouches at all

Well, hamsters have cheek pouches for 2 major reasons: to hoard food, and to be able to run away if they have to.

The hamster’s cheeks can hold a lot of food, up to the equivalent of 4 shelled peanuts (Syrian hamsters, Dwarf types keep less since they’re so small).

Hamsters evolved to have this trait actually, since they’re prey animals. This means that they’re always hunted, by almost anything larger than them. Given their small size, many animals are larger than them.

So hamsters had to be able to take off at a moment’s notice if a predator was around. They don’t have to drop their food anymore.

The other reason hamsters evolved to have a cheek pouch is that the terrain hamsters live on is not very rich. In that, not may things grow in the regions hamsters come from. That means from Southern Turkey, to Syria, to Russia, Mongolia, and parts of China.

The wild parts, where the hamsters live, are not very easy to live in. So hamsters have to make do with dry grains, a few seeds, a stray veggie here and there. They might find a worm or cricket and eat that too.

In short, hamsters have to travel far and wide in order to find enough food. This is why they have their cheeks, to keep the food they’ve already found, and take it with them on the rest of their excursion.

And in the end, when they come home, they will add it to their stash.

Common problems with hamster cheek pouches

Unfortunately the hamster’s cheeks can develop several problems. Some can be because of the foods they’ve stored in the cheeks, like very sticky foods, or very sharp foods.

But let’s take a look at what can happen to your hamster friend’s cheek pouches. In all of these cases the hamster should be taken immediately to the veterinarian, who will be able to give him medical care.

In general, the vets that can handle a hamster are called “exotic vets”, and will be able to help you.

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

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Impacted cheek pouch

This happens when the hamster can’t empty his cheeks completely. Sometimes bits of food or nesting material get stuck, for various reasons. The hamster can try to get all of it out, but sometimes it just literally gets stuck.

Those food and nesting material particles can rot and develop into an abscess if left uncheckes, which is not safe for the hamster. So, this is a case that can be mostly avoided by being careful what foods you give your hammy.

Never give him anything sticky or moist. For example a sticky noodle will be identified by the hammy as a grain, an stored for later. Protein (like meat or egg) is eaten immediately, grains not so much.

So a sticky noodle or pasta will get shoved into the cheek, where it will leave residue for the next food item to stick to and so on.

Hamsters can’t stick their tongue into their cheeks to clean them out, like us humans. So it’s important that you as an owner are careful to identify if your hamster has a problem.

Abscess in the pouch

An abscess can form for several reasons, but the end result is the same. A small bag of pus forms, and not only is it painful for the hamster, it is also toxic.

Once the pus breaks and spreads into the cheek, the hamster might swallow it and develop another disease known as sepsis. Best to avoid that completely.

You can make sure your hamster has a very small chance of forming an abscess by never giving him something sharp to eat. For example something very extremely dry, like the crust on some bread types.

Do keep in mind that it can happen with seeds too, in a case where your hamster’s cheeks are already full and he tries to put a seed in there (which often has a sharp end) and cuts himself.

He could hurt himself on something in the cage, or develop a tooth problem that needs fixing – more on hamster dental issues here.

An abscess is not easy to spot, so you must be careful to look for a constantly swollen cheek. Or, a possible bad smell coming from your hamster’s mouth since the pus will have a smell.

Tumors

Hamsters, like rats, can develop tumors in the head area. Hamsters tend to get them in their pouches, which will impact how well they can eat and store food.

A tumor in a hamster’s cheek is not usually benign, and unfortunately the treatments are hard. They are available, but removing the tumor without harming the hamster or incapacitating him in some way is very hard.

The operations involves part of the hamster’s mouth, so he won’t really be able to eat well afterwards.

That being said, there is no known, clear way to avoid your hamster getting a cancerous tumor.

Everted (inside-out) cheek pouches

These can happen sometimes, and no one knows very well why it happens. I’m not sure if it’s painful for the hamster, although I guess it would be.

The hamster’s cheek pouch just comes inside out, like your pant pockets when you’re getting dressed in a hurry. They’re very noticeable, since it’s the actual flesh, hanging outside the hamster’s mouth.

Those are, fortunately, easy to treat. Your vet will be able to put the pouch back in its place, and make sure it stays in place afterwards.

How to make sure your hamster’s cheeks are safe and healthy

A few steps can be taken to make sure your hamster stays safe, and keeps his cheeks intact. Now, granted, some things you can’t avoid, like the hammy overstuffing his cheeks. Yes, he can totally do that.

But here’s what you can do to keep your hamster’s cheeks safe and healthy:

  • Do not give the hamster sharp foods, or very crumbly dry ones he can scratch or cut his cheeks on.
  • Keep an eye on him every day, and notice how his cheeks look when stuffed
  • Notice if there is an odd smell coming from the hamster’s mouth
  • Keep very sticky or saucy foods away from the hamster, even if he tries to eat them
  • Make sure his cage is safe, and he has nothing to cut himself on, like  sharp pieces or dried paint, or bits of plastic
  • Hamsters rarely ever need a veterinarian, but make sure you have one on call if necessary

Those are the basics, and there isn’t much you can do aside from that. Unfortunately cheek problems are not easy to treat at home, and when they do happen they’re mostly severe.

All you can do is keep your hamster healthy and safe by giving him good, safe food, safe bedding and nesting material, and keeping him as stress-free as possible.

Hamsters make great pets, but they are very sensitive. As such, I would only recommend them to people who have the time and patience to work with them. They’re harder to tame than cats and dogs, and can forget their owners after a while if left unchecked.

A word from Teddy

I hope you found what you were looking for in this article. I know us hammies look cute with out cheeks full. But we do have cheek pouch problems, you know. We rely on you to keep us safe and healthy.

If you want to know more about us hammies, and how to care for us better, then check the articles below for more details.

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All About A Hamster’s Ears – Common Problems And Hearing
All About A Hamster’s Ears – Common Problems And HearingHamster ears are some of the cutest ears. My Teddy has his folded when he wakes up, and he’s always listening for some thing or another. But we need to know everything about our hamsters’ ears, hearing, and ear problems if we want to give them a happy life. So read on here to find out more, starting with the basics. Table of Contents ToggleDo hamsters have good hearing ?How wild hamsters use their hearing to surviveYour hammy will learn every sound in the houseYour hamster’s ears can change colors as they ageFolded hamster earsHamsters can develop several ear problemsEar infectionEar tumorEar mitesEar wax and/or dischargeLoss of fur around earsA word from Teddy Do hamsters have good hearing ? Yes, hamsters have very good hearing. Hearing is actually one of the main ways hamsters navigate their habitat, and avoid predators. 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He’ll literally stop to check every few minutes, to make sure there’s nothing chasing him, or to smell for another food source. Hearing is the hamster’s first line of defense, since he can hear before he can smell a predator. Even a very quiet and sneaky cat won’t be able to fool a hamster too easily. This trait has been passed down to your pet hamster too. He’ll be very curious about sounds and will have the instinct to listen for absolutely anything odd. Your hammy will learn every sound in the house A pet hamster is still very much like a wild hamster. Aside from variations in the colors, pet hamsters have largely the same personalities they had as wild hamsters. Granted, hammies haven’t been pets for more than a century now. You can find out more about how hammies came to be pets, and where they (all) come from, right here. For example my Teddy (a Syrian male, golden) used to stop and listen for everything when he was young. Seriously, he’d stop every few minutes and learn each new sound. We have an air freshener that goes off on auto, that was mind-blowing for him. Or when it rained the first few times, and he had to figure out if it’s water dropping from the sky or something terrifying. Over time he calmed down and learned every sound in the house, and those usually around the house as well. Our neighbors, a door closing somewhere, someone speaking outside, a dog barking, and so on. As they age, hamsters become more accustomed to all the sounds and smells of their home. This makes them more comfortable, but it depends on your hamster’s personality just how soon he’ll stop panicking. My Teddy took almost a year to relax, and not stare at me when I open the fridge. Your hamster’s ears can change colors as they age Depending on which type of hamster you have, your hammy’s ears might change colors a bit. The ears, but the fur as well. First off, here’s how to find out which kind of hamster you have. Then, if you’ve got a Syrian hamster know that the ears might turn a dark grey as the hamster turns into an adult. For example my Teddy is a golden Syrian hamster, the soft/blended variety. So no stark lines or patches of color. When he was a baby he was all cream, and had a bit of white on his belly and paws. Once he started coming close to the 3 month mark (when hamsters become adults) he started getting all of his markings. Which included darker, grey ears, and a few grey markings on his forehead, and shoulders. And the tips of most of the hairs turned dark grey, like he’s a bit smoky. So it could be that your Syrian might develop grey ears too, or a darker color all over his fur if he’s got the gene. This can apply to all hamster breeds, since they only become adults around the 3 month mark. This is where they reach their ‘final form’, so to speak, and won’t change very much. Only when they become old, will there be any other changes. For example my Teddy is a year and a half at the time I’m writing this article. His snout’s got a bit whiter, and the fluff around his ears got whiter as well. He’s not very old yet, but he’s getting there. Hamster’s don’t live long, Syrians can reach a maximum of 3 years, the same way us humans reach past 100 years. Folded hamster ears Ears are an important part of your hamster’s body language. Knowing what your hamster’s ears are saying is about as important as knowing what a dog’s ears are saying. So for example hammies can have their ears folded, in several situations. If he just woke up, his ears will be folded, and you will notice he moves slowly, eyes half open, fur a bit ruffled. No one looks great in the morning. It could be that your hamster’s folded ears mean fear, when he’s also shying away from you or another hamster, and making himself appear to be very small (curling in on himself). This fear can be dangerous, depending on the hamster. Some hamsters flee, some fight. Those who fight get their folded ears mistaken for a sign of aggression. Your hammy could also suddenly perk his ears up, even stand up, to better figure out what’s happening. If there’s an odd sound, he’ll listen for it. He can get the most intense face when he’s focused, I swear. Generally a hamster’s ears are up, but relaxed. They don’t move as much as a dog or cat’s ears, but they’re still very much mobile and can pick up a lot of sound. (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.) Hamsters can develop several ear problems Since hearing is an important part of a hamster’s defense, his ears are usually clean. The hammy is a very clean animal, in fact, and he can clean his own ears just fine. He has to, in order to be able to use them properly. But sometimes, infections happen, or a parasite, or even an injury. Make sure you isolate the sick hamster from the other hamsters, since most of these conditions are contagious. Whatever the case, sometimes you will have to help your little friend. Here’s why and how. Ear infection An ear infection can come about in many ways, even if the cage is clean. You can tell your hamster has an infected ear by the fact that it’s possibly become red, swollen, hot to the touch, and your hamster might be scratching at it. He might carry his head to the side/tilted, and you might actually see some discharge. If you think this is the case, don’t panic. An ear infection is bad, but treatable. It does require you to reach a veterinarian, though. The best vet to ask for help is an ”exotic” vet, since they have experience with rodents. The vet will prescribe a round of antibiotics for your hammy. He might keep your friend for a couple of days, or he might give you the medicine to administer at home. It depends on the vet and how bad the infection is. Ear tumor Ear tumors can grow in older hamsters, and will require surgery. The tumors usually grow very fast, and will send you to the vet a few times in the same week. If you think your hamster’s got a suspicious growth, keep an eye on it for the next 48 hours. Take pictures of it every few hours, to compare the growth. Know that tumors can be both under and on the skin, so you might have to pick up the hammy and feel him. I’ve heard of hamsters getting tumors removed and survived, but this isn’t something that happens every day. Still, I found at least one example of a Dwarf type that needed a surgery for an ear tumor, and survived. I’ll link you to the vet’s site, and be warned that there’s a few pictures from before and after the surgery. No worries, the hamster is safe and he made a full recovery. Many thanks to the veterinarian for showing us that it’s possible to help the hamster. Ear mites This can be tricky to tell with black hamsters, or those with very dark ears. Ear mites are a type of tiny parasites That settle in the hamster’s ears, and they’re black. They look like tiny black dots moving in and around your hamster’s ears. Your hamster is probably scratching himself furiously. The mites can extend to the hamster’s face and paws, even some parts of his fur. Bring the hamster to the vet immediately, so he can give your friend the proper treatment. The treatment can extend over a few weeks, but your hamster will be fine. Ear wax and/or discharge Excessive ear wax can be caused by a possible infection, or can lead to one. Hamsters usually don’t have a lot of ear wax, so if your friend suddenly has a build-up, it should be checked. A discharge from the ears can also be a sign of an infection, one that’s actually ruptured. This is a case you should bring your hamster to the veterinarian for a treatment. Loss of fur around ears Fur loss can be caused by excessive scratching, and if your hamster’s got an infection or mites, his ear will itch. Excessive scratching can lead to more than just ear loss, it can develop an even worse problem. So make sure you speak to your vet, to possibly get a treatment for your hamster. Another reason for fur loss, but not necessarily around the ear, can be ringworm. Which is a fungal infection that gives the hamster bald spots, with dry itchy skin. This too can be treats by a veterinarian. A word from Teddy I hope you found out how to take care of our ears here. I know us hammies look like the most adorable creatures, but we do get sick sometimes, and we need your help. If you want to know more about us hamsters, be sure to check the articles below, so you get all the info you need to help us have a great life with you. [...] Read more...
Hamster Fur Loss: 4 Causes and Treatments
Hamster Fur Loss: 4 Causes and TreatmentsWe all love our pets and enjoy spending time with them, but it’s our duty to take care of them and keep them healthy. Many animals develop dermatological problems with age, shedding fur to the point where they’ve completely lost it, and hamsters are no different. It’s terrible to see your hamster lose its fur, as that’s the animal’s equivalent of humans being left without clothes on. Whenever we can, we should try to help our pet. That’s exactly what we’ll be discussing in this article: hamster fur loss. We’ll be taking a look at the reasons for your hamster’s fur loss and how to treat it. As these causes can vary from stress to old age, and the fur loss can appear at different places, keep in mind that there’s a lot to this topic, and you should visit a vet if this article can’t help you. Today, we’ll be covering hamster fur loss on their backs and behind their ears, and we’ll also be taking a look at flaky skin and fur loss due to old age, as well. Let’s get started! Table of Contents Toggle1. Hamster Fur Loss on Back.2. Hamster Fur Loss – Old Age.3. Hamster Fur Loss and Flaky Skin.4. Hamster Fur Loss Behind Ears. 1. Hamster Fur Loss on Back. There are many reasons why your hamster may be losing its fur. Friction is one of the most common reasons for this. If you’ve noticed your hamster losing fur after they’ve spent a lot of time burrowing or rubbing against the cage or toys, then friction is likely the reason for them losing fur. This is actually natural for hamsters, and you shouldn’t be worried. When they’re in the wild, they spend a lot of time digging and burrowing, so this is a normal process for them. Hamsters can also develop face sores from rubbing their face against the bars of the wire cage, or by water dripping down their face when they’re drinking. If it’s the latter, then you have to buy a better water bottle. If it’s the former, it may be a sign that the cage is too small, so you should get a larger cage for your hamster (preferably not a wire one). Even though many people find hamsters running on wheels amusing, overuse can lead to the hamster losing fur on its legs. Remove the wheel until the hamster’s fur grows back. Secondly, your hamster may be suffering from nutritional deficiencies. This is, clearly, a lot more serious than simple friction, and it’s just as common. If your hamster’s diet is low in vitamin B, then that could be the reason for its fur loss. Another thing that can also have an effect on fur loss is the lack of protein. If you think that this is the problem, you’re going to have to start supplementing your hamster’s meals with certain foods. Add unsweetened cereal, cheese, cooked eggs, whole-wheat pasta, and fresh fruits and veggies. Make sure to talk to your vet, as well, and if they recommend it, you can add water-soluble vitamins to their diet. Another unfortunate cause for fur loss can be found in parasites – ticks, fleas, ringworm, and mites are all capable of affecting your pet’s hair. If you notice that your hamster’s constantly itchy and it’s scratching itself – that may be because of ectoparasites. This excessive scratching is what’s causing the fur loss, and you should definitely contact your vet for assistance. Hamsters rarely get ticks, because ticks are mostly found outdoors, and hamsters rarely venture outdoors. Most ticks lay dormant during the winter, aside from a few species, and the only way for your hamster to contract a tick is for you or someone else to bring it in the house. If your hamster has contracted a tick, they’ll be scratching that area a lot – this is because they feel the bite from the tick and it causes an itch. When we’re talking about fleas, they’re also very rare for hamsters. However, when a hamster does contract fleas, they can shed all of their furs away. It’s easy to determine whether your hamster actually has fleas since they’re visible to the naked eye. You can also see their droppings, which look like small black dots on your hamster’s skin, easily. If your hamster does have fleas, all you have to do is buy one of the products made for clearing fleas off. There are many products for all furry animals, but try to find a product specifically for hamsters. It’s much more likely that you’ll find mites on your hamster than fleas or ticks. These are invisible to the naked eye, so it’s almost impossible for you to identify them on your own. They won’t cause any problems if they’re small in numbers, but if your hamster has a weakened immune system, irregular grooming patterns, or is stressed, the mites will increase their numbers. Signs that mites are present in this situation: reddened skin, rough dry patches, and fur loss. The best way to deal with this is by taking your hamster to the vet and let them take skin samples and take a look at it under the microscope. Mites are treated with topical sprays for hamsters, so make sure to buy that and use it the way it’s instructed on the packaging. Also clean your hamster’s cage, taking everything out and disinfecting it. A ringworm infection is also possible. All animals can get ringworm, and that includes hamsters. These fungal infections will appear as a distinctive ring of hair loss with flaky, yellowed skin. You have to be careful if you’re handling a hamster with ringworm, because you’re vulnerable to it, as well. Make sure that you’re always wearing gloves, that’s the best way to deal with that. Ringworm develops in environments that are too humid, so you’re going to want to keep your hamster’s cage properly ventilated. The way to treat ringworm is to wash your hamster with a topical shampoo for ringworm. Most of these contain miconazole, povidone-iodine, or keratolytic, and either of them should do the trick. If your hamster’s hair is already long, you may want to shorten it to ensure that the shampoo gets to all areas and washes everything. Shedding is another reason for fur loss, but this isn’t a reason you should worry about. Most furry animals shed, most often during spring and fall – it is normal to see periods of thin fur at this time, and keep in mind that Syrian and Russian hamsters tend to shed more than the Chinese and Roborovski types do. Hot spots are another cause for hamsters losing fur. Hot spots are, however, pretty rare when it comes to hamsters. These spots are actually open wounds, caused by a fungal infection that causes the hamster to scratch and chew their own fur and skin. To deal with this, take your hamster to the vet. Another thing that may cause your hamster’s fur loss is allergies. Hamsters can often become allergic to substances in their cages, usually their bedding – this can cause them to develop a rash and lose some fur. Don’t use cedarwood shavings for your hamster’s bedding, this is because oils within the wood are too strong for the hamster’s sensitive skin. Another thing that may cause this is dyed paper bedding, as well as dyed food. This is easy to fix – just find better bedding and provide a better diet to your pet. There are other possible causes for your hamster’s recent fur loss, but they’re less common and it’s unlikely that either of those things is happening. However, we’ll list them just in case: your hamster may be suffering from kidney inflammations, or T-cell lymphoma – cancer that attacks the skin, hormonal imbalances may be an issue, as well. However, these causes are all very rare and you should exhaust your options with the list of the most common reasons before you even think about any of these serious things. When discussing the loss of hair specifically on a hamster’s back, you have to understand that the most likely cause for that is one of the causes we’ve already discussed. There are perhaps a few things that cause hamsters to suffer from fur loss in specific areas, but their backs can be affected by any of the things we’ve mentioned. If you’ve noticed that your hamster’s losing hair on its back – it’s most likely because of one of the things we’ve already talked about. However, another reason why your hamster may be losing fur is because of its age, as older hamsters tend to lose fur, which is exactly what we’ll be talking about in our next section. 2. Hamster Fur Loss – Old Age.   One of the clearest signs of your hamster starting to age is their fur looking sparse and matted. A hamster’s fur is usually bright, clean, possibly shiny, and always put together – this is one of the reasons that makes them so appealing to the eye. However, once they start aging, they start losing their fur, and here’s why. The fur is mostly defined by genetics – most hamsters are born blind, and they’re also mostly born bald. Unfortunately, some hamsters end up like that in their older days, as well. Once your hamster ages (hamsters live from 2 to 4 years, depending on the species), you will probably start noticing patches of skin where fur simply doesn’t grow – this is because your hamster’s old. Even if your hamster is not balding, you may notice that their hair isn’t as soft and shiny as it was before, but it’s rather sparse. It can become matte and coarse, which is something that’s deemed odd for hamsters, who are usually shiny. The fur may also start to change color, just like with humans. Your hamster may actually start having their first grey hairs. Unfortunately, there’s no cure for aging, so you can’t exactly fix this. However, as they age, hamsters are more prone to diseases (just like humans are, as well). So, the reason for your hamster’s hair loss may not be hidden in numbers, but rather in a disease. Hamsters are also very well-groomed creatures, similar to cats (although those species aren’t exactly the best of friends in real life). They’re usually grooming themselves whenever they’re not eating, sleeping, or playing on the wheel. Their cleanliness is very important to them, as it keeps their scent to a minimum, which is a great defense against predators. So, if you’ve noticed that your hamster’s hair is less shiny and well-groomed, and is now becoming dustier and more reminiscent of a certain German scientist’s hair – it’s because your hamster’s getting old. Older hamsters can’t clean themselves as well as younger hamsters because of their many physical restrictions, they are also careless. The most effort usually goes towards cleaning the tops of their little heads and cleaning their flanks, they need to bend around like crazy to reach these spots. These spots are the first you’ll notice are becoming less groomed, because they’re usually the most well-maintained spots. The result of this is your hamster getting a bit more smelly, which is especially applicable to your hamster’s rear end. You might find his rear soiled from time to time, without there being an infection or wet tail. This actually also refers to the cage, as the hamster will clean their cageless when they’re in their older days. Older hamsters can also lose their hair due to a lack of protein (less than 16%) or iron in their diet. As we’ve already said, there isn’t really a way for you to affect this. We all get old and you can’t stop your hamster from getting old. Help your pet during this time and ensure that their final days are happy and enjoyable. 3. Hamster Fur Loss and Flaky Skin. We’ve already mentioned a few reasons for flaky skin or skin cabs when we were discussing fur loss, but let’s go into detail with them. One of the most common skin diseases that causes both fur loss and flaky skin are mites. Mites are one of the most common skin diseases in hamsters. If you’re suspecting mites, you won’t be able to identify them on your own in any way, as they’re invisible to the naked eye. You need to take your hamster to the vet. The vet will take a sample of the hamster’s skin and take a look at it under the microscope. Your vet may also brush your hamster while holding a white piece of paper to catch the mites, and then take a look at them using a magnifying glass. If your vet has diagnosed your hamster with mites, the first thing you need to do is isolate it from all other hamsters, as you don’t want them to get infected, as well. You should also wash your hamsters, and return them to their cages after washing and disinfecting the cages, as well. Mites are contagious, so your healthy hamsters are very likely to catch them if you don’t isolate the ill hamster. If multiple hamsters have already caught mites, then treat them all as prescribed. After that, you need to treat your hamster as your vet has prescribed. The most common and the most popular treatment with vets is medicated shampoo. However, hamsters don’t really like showers and baths, so they may resist and not let you apply the shampoo and wash them. The alternative to this is medicated ointment that you’ll apply to the affected area. There are different options when it comes to this: oral ivermectin, which kills parasites, is a treatment option. To apply this, place the prescribed number of drops of this solution in your hamster’s mouth. There are also anti-mite sprays available. However, they’re mostly an over-the-counter treatment, and you need to discuss this with your vet before you decide to apply it to your pet. Severe mite infestations are most often treated with a full-body dip. This dip is basically just a medicated bath containing ivermectin. Your vet will explain how to perform this, but know that your hamster could resist because they don’t really like baths. You may need to repeat this process numerous times, as many hamsters (especially older hamsters or hamsters with lower immunity) need to be treated for mites more than once. Make sure that you discuss this with your vet before you repeat the process. We’ve already mentioned that it’s important to clean your hamster’s cage before you put them back in. When doing this, wash all of the accessories in the cage; all the toys, water bottles, food bowls, etc. – do this with hot, soapy water. Use a hamster-safe cage disinfectant, as some other disinfectants may harm the pet. Make sure that everything has dried before you put it all back. Another disease that may cause skin scabs is ringworm infection. We’ve already discussed this and said that humans can catch ringworm, as well, so make sure that you’re always wearing gloves when dealing with this. To treat this, you’ll first need to visit the vet, as they need to diagnose the ringworm for you to treat it. You should suspect a ringworm infection is at play if you notice patches of hair loss where the skin looks crusty, flaky, and red. Your vet will take a look at this and take a look at the fur with a microscope – the affected area looks like rings. It’s especially possible if your hamster is older, as older animals have a weaker immunity. To treat this, follow your vet’s treatment instructions. Firstly, always wear gloves and make sure you’re not making any contact with your hamster or its cage without wearing gloves – humans can also catch ringworms. One option of treatment is medicated shampoo, containing either povidone-iodine (antibacterial) or antifungal medication. You should cut your hamster’s hair before you go through with the treatment, as it’s very important that they’re completely cleaned. This way, the shampooing will be very effective. Once again, just like with mites, isolate this hamster from other hamsters and place it in a separated cage (and make sure that all cages are properly cleaned). Another treatment option is topical treatment with griseofulvin, an antifungal medication. This is an ointment, so if your vet prescribes this, they’ll shave the affected area and you’ll have to apply the ointment. Know that treatment for ringworm usually lasts between 18 and 21 days, so this isn’t going to be finished very soon. Make sure that you’re keeping your hamster’s cage ventilated, as it can become damp inside if you don’t. Damp areas are ideal for fungal growth and they’re an increased risk for all kinds of infections, including ringworm. Wire cages usually have great ventilation, so you should consider buying one if you don’t already own one. Lastly, the most common reason for your hamster’s skin scabs are actually wounds. We’re not talking about wounds caused by diseases or infections, but by your hamster fighting (female hamsters are more likely to bite than male hamsters because they’re more territorial) with its cage mate or getting scratched by sharp bedding. This wound can become infected and it can cause a pocket of infection to form and leak abscess. Your vet will take a sample of the abscess and will have to surgically remove it and close the wound. After that, you’ll have to apply an ointment on the wounded area for some time. During this time, until your hamster’s wound has completely healed, you’ll need to remove the cause of the wound. This means that you have to isolate that hamster from all the other hamsters, as a fight or biting could reopen the wound and cause even more damage. If the wound was caused by sharp bedding, replace the bedding with something soft. Here are some other, more simple reasons for your hamster’s flaky skin: – if you have an older hamster, their skin is naturally weaker and their scabs may be caused by them scratching their belly on their bedding or any other hard surface. Your hamster’s skin will become sensitive when it gets old, so it doesn’t matter if this bedding didn’t cause any problems before. – you could notice your hamster’s scent gland having sores, this is usually caused by excessive grooming and licking. 4. Hamster Fur Loss Behind Ears. If your hamster’s getting older, then it’s completely normal for them to lose fur anywhere, including right behind the ears. If this is the case (you should primarily gauge that by its age), you won’t really be able to do anything about that. However, this doesn’t have to be the only reason. If you’ve also noticed redness or swelling around that same area, it may be because your hamster’s scratching itself too much. This can be caused by a number of reasons – firstly, just like humans, animals sometimes have to scratch themselves for no good reason. Secondly, it may be mites or fleas – this will cause the hamster to scratch themselves to the point of losing fur. You can cancel this out if you’ve recently cleaned their cage and they’ve only started scratching themselves recently – this means that the cause is most likely not mites or fleas. Thirdly, your hamster may be having an allergic reaction to something. Take a look at their diet and see if anything has changed. Maybe you’ve got a new pet? A dog or a cat and they’re having a reaction to them. Also, although it’s rare amongst animals, it may be psychosomatic. Maybe your hamster is under a lot of stress for some reason and that’s causing them to scratch their fur out. If you can’t find a reason for this article, we’d suggest visiting your local vet and let them find out what’s going on. Hamsters are without a doubt some of the most popular pets in the world. If you have a hamster and you’ve recently noticed that it’s started to lose fur, it’s most likely because of old age. However, if your hamster is not that old and that shouldn’t be happening, then it can be a number of reasons, ranging from dietary restrictions to infections. Make sure to clean your hamster’s cage regularly, even if they’re not having problems with their fur at the moment, as that’s the best way for you to ensure that they don’t start suffering from any issues in the future. If you’re having any further trouble, make sure to call your vet. [...] Read more...
10+ Best Ways to Keep Hamsters Warm
10+ Best Ways to Keep Hamsters WarmMuch like humans, the hamster’s immune system is suppressed if they get too cold. This makes them more vulnerable to virus or bacterial infections, and you might put them at risk of having hypothermia if you have a very young or old hamster. Sometimes, hamster owners allow themselves to be tricked by the fur coat of their hamsters into believing that they can warm themselves. But this is far from the fact as these animals are not even that effective at abrupt decreases in temperature adjustment. Table of Contents Toggle1. Keeping hamsters warm in the winter2. Improve hamsters diet3. Provide extra bedding and substrates4. Don’t open doors frequently5. Exercise with your hamster 6. Keeping hamsters warm in a cold room7. Choose a perfect spot for the cage8. Use a space heater9. Heating pads for cages10. Prevent hibernation11. Keeping hamster cage warm12. Provide your hamster with a hiding home13. Take care of the water bottle14. Water bags and covers for warmth15. Monitor hamsters behavior  1. Keeping hamsters warm in the winter For starters, it is very important to know that most hamsters usually hibernate to spend the winter better. Hibernation is a condition characterized by drowsiness, marked decrease in body temperature, metabolic rate, and at the same time reduces the intensity of vital signs. You should try to keep the ambient temperature of your home above 60 degrees Fahrenheit in moments of winter. Besides, you need to feed the hamster the appropriate daily doses to stay strong and healthy. But in cold weather, it will not be enough to maintain low temperatures without risk. If you notice that its body begins to stiffen from the cold and even trembling, it is advisable to start caressing it gently to warm it up and wake it from that state of drowsiness in which it will enter. 2. Improve hamsters diet Try to give very tasty food with a high percentage of fat and protein, because in these times it is necessary to gradually warm-up. You should make him drink, add a little sugar to the water and give him a drink. Your hamster’s diet is the most important thing that you can do to avoid hibernation. The diet plays a critical role in the life and health of your hamster. If you do not supply it with enough nutrients, it will hibernate. Add fattening food to its diet. Feed it with avocado, sunflower seeds, and peanuts. This diet in your pet will accumulate more fats and keep it healthy. Hamsters come from dusty, arid, temperate areas like Syria and Greece, so they are used to being warm and relaxed. If the temperature falls below 60 degrees Fahrenheit, your hamster can become lethargic. And, if the temperature begins to drop below 50 degrees Fahrenheit, your hamster might be dead and collapse into hibernation mode. 3. Provide extra bedding and substrates During the winter, use extra bedding to keep your hamster warm. Many hamsters like to pull the material of bedding to create a nest. The only safe wood-based bedding for hamsters is Aspen. For odor control as well, Aspen is a great, affordable choice. Aspen, however, appears to cling to the fur of some hamster species, especially long-haired Syrian hamsters, but it does not harm them in any way. Make sure you have plenty of substrates laid down for them to burrow and make nests in. This is one of their favorite things to do and a natural way for them to cover themselves from the cold. A dense four-to-five-inch coating is going to be very beneficial for them. If he pulls lots of his bedding into his hideout, it’s one way to know that your hammy is cold. Even if they have plenty of nesting material in their hideout, hamsters can do this normally. Usually, people bring warm fabric in the bedding to make it easier for the hamster to get snug and comfortable. But you can also use other materials, such as chips made of hemp wood. The positive thing about using hemp wood is that it doesn’t have any dust and still looks fine. Hemp wood is also known to provide hamsters with a more natural environment. 4. Don’t open doors frequently It is common in the winter for your hamster to become more lethargic. This is because, to stay warm, they conserve their energy levels, opting to remain in bed for longer. However, if, due to intense coldness, your hamster falls unconscious or goes into hibernation mode, then this is life-threatening and you should urgently seek veterinary assistance. You should keep the doors of your home from opening and closing regularly. Often, strive to stop having the cage of your Hamster next to your house’s main entrance. Constant door opening and closing will lead to cold air coming into your home. This will trigger a sudden decrease in the temperature inside your house. Also, keep the windows closed of the space in which your hamster is situated. Particularly at night, when the temperature is much lower. 5. Exercise with your hamster  Hamsters need to work out to keep themselves fit and safe, even on cold days. It is recommended that their floor time on these days is increased. Let them out with closed drafts and ventilation in an open and spacious room. Do this for at least 60 minutes per day, if possible. In hamsters, lack of exercise will lead to different health problems. It may leave the hamster obese as well. Another symptom is when your hamster gets lethargic and also loses his appetite. By sleeping even more, he might be trying to save body heat and energy, so you may see him less frequently. Your hamster could physically shiver and shake in intense cold. 6. Keeping hamsters warm in a cold room You need to keep the cage away from the window and ventilation sources to prevent the hamster from getting cold. Your hamster can feel the temperature even though the windows are closed and sense it lowering bit by bit. The window areas are colder than any other place in the room. 7. Choose a perfect spot for the cage It’ll be safer if you pick a cozy corner of your room or some corner of the house when you decide the location where you can put the cage. This will make sure that the hamster does not feel very cold and will not hide inside the bedding. You can think about having thicker curtains for the window areas to fix the window issue. This will keep the area insulated, and inside the room, the curtains will retain the heat. In addition to this, you can also put rolled-up towels on the window sills, as cold air can enter through those sills. The best source of heat is the sunshine. Everybody requires sunshine in winter. For all living beings to keep themselves safe, sunlight is an excellent source. It is a perfect source of vitamin D, and it also has many health advantages. 8. Use a space heater Also, you could think about buying a space heater. It would shield the hamsters from the cold and keep the room heated all day by setting up a space heater. But make sure that the room doesn’t overheat, or you will harm the hamster. Also, don’t place the heater right next to the cage, especially if you own a metal cage. If you can’t afford to use a space heater, think about borrowing or renting one. If you can’t do that either, try to program your heating system to turn on more frequently than usual. This will keep the temperature of the room comfortable for the hamster. 9. Heating pads for cages Heat pads are a smart option for keeping your hamster safe as well. Various forms of heat pads can be found online and in pet shops as well. They come in different types and shapes, and for a long time, they can keep your hamster safe. The heat pads can be warmed up in a microwave and you can then position them under the cage. But note to use the heat pad sparingly, or the hamster’s normal immune system will suffer. Move the hamster’s cage away from drafty walls, doors, and spaces. Your hamster’s home is instantly on its way to heating up by getting cool air out of the equation. Simply pushing his cage away from a drafty window won’t make a huge difference if you keep him in the same room where the cool air is circulating. Move the hamster to a room that has better insulation and warmer air circulation, instead. 10. Prevent hibernation The biggest threat of keeping a hamster in a cold room is hibernation. There is no time or warning for a pet hamster located in a very cold room. He’s going to have to act fast to slip into a kind of slumber that can’t only keep him safe for a long time, but it’s going to dehydrate him as well. That slumber is a potentially hypothermic shock in serious situations, which can be fatal. There are a few steps you can do if you notice that the hamster is slipping into hibernation. Try to use body heat. Take the hamster and place it in your hands. Pat and rub the hamster to warm it up. Hold it for at least 30 minutes and make sure it changes behavior or looks more alert. If that doesn’t work, heat it with a bottle of hot water. Wrap the hamster in a towel with a bottle filled with hot water. The hamster should not be in direct contact with the bottle and should not overheat. This will help warm his body and get him out of hibernation. Give warm milk to the hamster. As soon as the hamster starts to be more alert, even a little, try giving him warm milk with a dropper. Heat the milk on the stove or in the microwave, but test first to make sure it’s not too hot. If you want, give clean water, water with sugar, or a drink with electrolytes, like the one’s athletes use to rehydrate, using a dropper. Anything you can do to make him drink water is a good idea. Rehydration helps the hamster to come out of hibernation. 11. Keeping hamster cage warm Layer the underside of your hamster’s cage with a thick blanket. Not only would the blanket be protecting the bottom of the enclosure, but it will also trap heat inside it. However, if your room is hovering about 60 degrees Fahrenheit, an insulating blanket will not fix the dilemma, so the amount of cold will only be minimized. But, if the hamster requires only a little more warmth, it is an acceptable low-cost and low-maintenance approach. You will need to keep the cage relatively close to the artificial heat source inside your home. In the coldest moments, you should touch it often to make sure it has not entered hibernation. If you feel his body cold and breathing slowly, he may be preparing for hibernation. 12. Provide your hamster with a hiding home Hamsters enjoy hiding places, as it allows them to control their body temperature and stay warm. Only by taking the appropriate precautions, you can plan hideouts at your home for your hamsters. To make an opening, carve a narrow opening out of a cardboard box. Be sure you do not leave any rough edges, or you could injure the hamsters. Your hamster will take advantage of this spot to relax. Keep some hay in the box (preferably timothy hay) so that there is plenty for the hamsters to chew on. Consider buying a hiding home for a hamster to put in the cage. This tiny home will provide an extra layer of protection for the hamster. They are usually made of wood, which is the best-known insulator in the world. To hold the cold out, you might even think about buying an igloo for hamsters. The hamster will hide and snug for as long as they want in the closed space. A well-insulated nest box made of wood, ceramic, or thick plastic provides a protected place for your hamster to sleep. Make sure the nest box is put in a stable position where it will not be overturned by your hamster to have it collapse on them. Every hamster cage has a water bottle attached to it. You need to take care of the water bottle as well. If the hamster has a hiding spot in the cage, where it snuggles up, you might want to move the bottle near that spot. If the hamster is too cold, it might not get up to hydrate. 13. Take care of the water bottle Also, water bottles sometimes freeze on cold days. It will leave your hamster dehydrated if not taken care of. To keep it from freezing, you can cover the water bottle with a towel or a small cover. The water bottle tip can get frozen as the mercury level decreases, reducing the water flow. You should check the tip of the bottle if the temperature is too cold by tapping it every few hours. It is also recommended that both the water bottle and the water bowl be used on cold days. If you want to extremely ensure the hamster’s warmth during winter, opt for a glass cage. In cold weather, glass cages are better insulators than metal and wired cages. A glass cage does not require extra covers or heating pads, putting enough bedding will be enough. 14. Water bags and covers for warmth You can keep hamsters’ cage warm by putting a warm water bag on top of their cage. You can even put the water bag inside, choosing one corner of the enclosure. Before using it, cover the water bag with a thick cloth or towel. Do not use it without a towel or cloth and make sure the water bag is not leaking. If your hamster doesn’t have a wheel in its cage, make sure that he is supplied with one during winter. Running on the wheel is the hamster’s favorite activity. During cold days, physical activity will generate heat and keep it warm. Put warm covers on the cage. The cover will help insulate the temperature and protect the hamster from the cold. See if your pet has enough coverage to prevent hibernation. If it starts to get cold fast, put more covers on to prevent this from happening, but make sure to leave openings, so the fresh air can still circulate through the cage. 15. Monitor hamsters behavior  Finally, the hamster’s behavior in winter should be carefully monitored. Pay more attention to the hamster’s behavior and whether he is warm during the colder months. You can put more coverage in his cage or give him food that is richer in fat than is normal. Take care of your pet to be safe and alert during the cold season. Hamsters can, like people, catch a cold. They will have a runny nose and will probably sneeze. You will notice the change in its fur as well. It will become matted and ruffled. If he is hot to touch, it means that his body temperature is high and he will usually have low energy, and loss of appetite.    [...] Read more...
Hamsters Living With Rabbits ? Shedding Some Light On This
Hamsters Living With Rabbits ? Shedding Some Light On ThisA hamster and a rabbit living together might sound odd, but it’s a question we stumble upon often. Can hamsters live with rabbits ? Would they get along ? Sounds like a reasonable, if a bit misguided,  question from an owner who would like to introduce his two pets. While rabbits are fairly even tempered and seem kind of relaxed, hamsters are another story. Let’s see if they would get along, though. For a more detailed comparison between hamsters or rabbits, you should read this article here. Table of Contents ToggleSo should hamsters be living with rabbits ?A little about the hamster’s personalityAbout the rabbit’s personalitySize and cage differences between the twoFood and diet difference between a hamster and a rabbitA word from Teddy So should hamsters be living with rabbits ? No, hamsters and rabbits should not and can not live together. There are a few reasons for this. First, the hamster is very territorial, will fight anything that tries to trespass, and is very jumpy and easy to frighten. Second, a rabbit is a very social animal, who will want to cuddle and also establish a hierarchy of sorts. Bunnies have a lot of personality, and they also have the advantage of being ridiculously larger than hamsters. In short, a hamster-rabbit combo can’t go well, at all. The bunny will demand cuddles, grooming, run around, and generally own the place. This leaves the hamster in a subordinate position, which he does not take well to, and will bite, hide, and be stressed out of his mind. In some extreme cases the hamster may end up dead, since a kick or bite from the a bunny can be fatal for it. And given how tiny a hammy is, an accident isn’t that unheard of. But let’s get into the personalities of each animal, and see why they are they way they are. A little about the hamster’s personality A hamster is a very territorial, solitary animal. Even the hamster breeds that can live together in pairs – more on that here – can end up fighting to the death. This is the reason I’d recommend keeping all hamsters separate, not just the Syrians or Chinese. Hamsters like having their own space, their own food, and keeping away from other animals. A hamster will mark things as his own with his scent glands. He will try to be the dominant one in any setting, and hamsters housed together can end up bullying one another. You might argue that your two Dwarf hammies get along just great. They might, but because they were introduced as babies, and grew up together. They grew up of the same size, species, and scent profile. They have the same type of reactions, and will know how to read one another properly. A hamster will be jumpy and scared most of his youth, while he learns the new sights, smells, and sounds in your home. He’ll even get scared of you walking past his cage when he’s in his first few weeks. A scared hamster is unpredictable, and is very likely to nip. There’s a lot more to hamsters than just what I said here. You should check out this article, on what it’s like to own a hamster and why they can be good pets (also a few cons of owning a hammy). And this article here, to understand the difference between the two main types of hamsters, and thus the general disposition of hamsters. About the rabbit’s personality A rabbit is very different from a hamster. I’m not even going to cover the size difference, since that’s one major but obvious reason to never house them with a hamster. A quick word for those who assume rabbits are rodents – like I did until I got my own hamster and learned the differences: Rabbis are not related to hamsters, they are not rodents. Yes they bite and chew and burrow, but rabbits are lagomorphs. They share a very distant ancestor with the hamster – about as distant as the dinosaur extinction – but that’s about it. That being said, rabbits are very social animals, and in the wild they live in colonies. They love being groomed, and they actually have a hierarchy. If you’ve ever been to the pet store and seen 78 rabbits piled on top of each other, maybe you thought it was cute (like I did). But it’s their way of establishing dominance. The top rabbit is the one getting all the attention, food, grooming and so on. This doesn’t sit well with other species, like the hamster. Rabbits will actually come up to each other and ask for (or demand) attention, cuddling, and general social chit chat. They will mark their territory with large pellets (aside from their regular droppings), or spraying pee, or rubbing their chins (scent glands) on things they’ll consider their own. Rabbits aren’t aggressive by nature, but they won’t think twice about kicking or biting back if they feel threatened. They do give out warnings though, but unless you’re a rabbit, or a human with a keen eye, you won’t know what’s coming. Actually if you’ve got a rabbit, or are thinking of getting one, I really think you should check out this site. It’s got a clear explanation of most bunny behaviors, and you’ll get a good glimpse into what having a bunny is like. As far as I’ve read it’s a bit like having a cat, except the meowing and shedding. (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.) Size and cage differences between the two There’s a few differences when it comes to habitats, between hammies are rabbits. A hamster can live in a cage that’s 24 x 12 inches, and about 12 inches tall. That’s 61 x 30.5 cm, and about 30.5 cm tall. That’s the minimum for a Syrian hamster, and they prefer larger cages anyway. A rabbit will need much more than that. It needs both a living space, and an exercise space. The minimum for the living space would be 90 x 60 cm, and 90 cm high/ 35.4 x 23.6 inches, and 35.4 inches high. The exercise space should be a minimum of 2.43 x 1.21 m/ 8 x 4 feet, with height allowance. Rabbits can sometimes jump very high, and like to jump on top of things. Finally, for rabbits the living and exercise areas should be linked together, for easy access. If you want to know more about picking out a good rabbit habitat, you need to check out this site. It’s also where I did part of my research for this article, and they’re pretty good with rabbits. Alright, you might say that hamsters love a big cage anyway, and would do well in a habitat as large as the rabbit needs. Fair point, but let’s consider how these two animals keep their space. A hamster will sleep the day away, much like the rabbit, and will make regular rounds of his space. A rabbit will do the same, and they are both very territorial. No matter how large their territory is, these two can’t live together. They’re both too attached to ‘their’ things to share them with anyone else. Well, rabbits do share their ‘home’ but only with those they consider to be family (never a hamster). And they do see some areas as theirs, some as public areas, and some as ”do not enter”. They’ll try to enter those anyway when you’re not looking, entitled little fluffballs these guys. Hamsters on the other hand only know ”their” space. All of it. So finding bunny scent on the outside of their hideout will be a source of stress and lots of fighting. Food and diet difference between a hamster and a rabbit Alright, now that we’ve settled territory and living spaces and personalities, let’s talk about their food. Since they’re not even related, their foods will be very, very different. As with any other combination between hamsters and another animal, keeping their food separate won’t be feasible. One will poke into the other’s food bowl, and that’s not a good idea. Not only because of tensions coming up between the two. But also because the rabbit won’t find anything worthwhile in the hamster’s food, and the hamster will steal the good bits from the rabbit’s food. A hamster will have an omnivore diet. That means they can eat any type of food, with some exceptions – more on that here. However they will need grains and hard dry food to keep their teeth in check. A rabbit on the other hand will need a different diet. First off, hay, lot and lots of hay since they much on it pretty much all day. This can be a problem, since the hamster will try to use this as his nesting material. Another thing rabbits need is fresh veggies and some fruits, which again can be attractive for the hamster. Finally, pellets are considered to be the best kind of feed for rabbits. This way they won’t be able to pick and choose their favorites. A pellet is like a large kibble, with all the nutrients the rabbit needs, and all pellets in the bag are the same. A word from Teddy I hope you found out what you were looking for here. Us hammies don’t really like to share anything, and a big bunny can be very intimidating for us. Best to keep us separate. If you want to know more about us hamsters, then your should check out the related articles below. You’ll find info on how to keep us happy and safe. [...] Read more...
Training a Hamster: Everything You Need to Know
Training a Hamster: Everything You Need to KnowWho doesn’t love their furry pet and enjoy spending time with them? Hamsters have become wildly popular, as they’re sociable and don’t require too much maintenance. The latter is one of the primary reasons that they’re so popular, and that makes them a favorite for kids, as they can slowly start to learn the basic responsibilities of caring for a pet. However, pets need to be trained. Hamsters, just like any other animal, aren’t going to make good pets if they aren’t trained. Every animal is naturally defensive when interacting with a human until it’s taught to become social. The same principle applies to hamsters – they need to be taught how to interact with humans if we want them to make good pets. This is exactly what we’ll be talking about in this article. Today, we’ll be taking a look into hamster training techniques, and seeing how to make them better for human interaction. We’ll be covering an array of topics in hamster training; how to teach them not to bite, how to teach them to be held, how to teach them to use a litter box, and how to teach them to do tricks. Hamsters can make wonderful pets if they’re trained well, and that’s exactly what we’ll be teaching you today. Let’s get started! Table of Contents ToggleTraining a Hamster Not to Bite.Training a Hamster to be Held.Training a Hamster to Use a Litter Box.Training a Hamster Tricks. Training a Hamster Not to Bite. There’s a reason that hamsters are considered to be great pets for kids, but despite that, they’re sometimes known to bite. It’s very rare for a hamster to actually display aggressive behavior, and they usually bite only when they get scared. Hamster teeth are tiny and people naturally think that they won’t do too much damage, but they are going to cut you if bitten. If this has happened, make sure to disinfect the wound. The sole reason hamsters bite is because they’re afraid. Tame hamsters that are used to being around people aren’t afraid of us, and they don’t mind being held. On the other hand, there are hamsters that still aren’t used to being in human company, and they don’t enjoy being held. These hamsters are the ones that bite. It’s important to remember that they’re not biting out of spite or out of hatred, but because they’re afraid of us. After all, you’d probably be scared too is a creature that’s literally twenty times your size picked you up, and toyed around with you. Now, if you want your hamster to stop biting, you’re first going to have to be patient. It’s going to take a while before your hamster gets used to you and they can truly trust you. You’re going to need to earn that trust, which is a slow and gradual process. Don’t be discouraged if this process takes over a month, or even longer than that, but also don’t be surprised if your hamster takes quickly to your ways. If your hamster is advancing rapidly, then you can shorten the period between the steps we’re about to describe. If you’re still witnessing some hesitation from their side, it’s best to return to the previous step and repeat it until the animal is completely comfortable with you (on that level). This will take a while, but it’s definitely worth it. This process will take weeks, so we’ll be describing it week by week. Week 1: let your hamster get used to you – your hamster needs to get to know you without much physical contact. Since they’re most active in the evening and at night, it’s a good idea to sit next to your hamster in the evening and talk to them. You don’t even have to talk to them, you can talk to someone else, but let them get used to your voice and your presence. It’s also important for the hamster to get used to your scent. If you don’t know what to say, feel free to read a book, or if you’re working or studying – you can read out loud to them. Since moving to a new cage and a new home is very stressful, this will give your hamster enough time to adjust to their new surroundings. Don’t try to touch your hamster just yet. This may be a problem when you have to take the hamster out of the cage for cleaning – or returning the hamster to the cage if it’s escaped. To do this, corner them with a towel or a large glass, and then let them enter the towel or the glass. Week 2: let your hamster get used to your hand – it’s very important for any animal to get used to the scent of their owner in order for them to form a good relationship. You can gently place your hand in your hamster’s cage, and you’ll see how it will react. Not all hamsters are the same, and they’re not all equally easy to train – just like humans, all animals have distinct characteristics to their behavior, and that should be respected just like we respect it with humans. Do this very slowly, on the first day, put your hand on the cage or just inside the door of the cage. Following the same practice each day, try placing your hand a little further and a little further. Don’t yet try to touch your hamster, but if it wants to sniff your hand or explore it, let it. Week 3: offer your hamster treats – it’s common knowledge that treats are one of the best ways to train animals, as their instinct conditions them not to reject food. By now, you could have easily figured out which treats are your hamster’s favorites. These treats can be great training tools, and you should offer your hamster these goodies from the hand that’s in the cage. With time, your hamster will eat out of your hand, which will develop trust between you. Why is this so important? All animals, including humans, are vulnerable when they’re feeding. The fact that an animal is ready to eat out of your hand means that it trusts you to the point it’s ready to stick its head into your hand which could easily harm it if you wanted to. So, an animal eating from your hand means that it trusts you. If you’re still undecided on the treats for your hamsters, try with apples, raising, and sunflower seeds. Week 4: pet your hamster – once your hamster has gotten used to your scent and your presence, you can try to pet it. Do this gently, and if your hamster is okay with this, you can try to pick up your hamster (which is our next step). Week 5: pick up your hamster – so, your hamster is accepting treats and it’s letting you pet it, this means that it’s time to try to pick it up. To do this, firstly buy your way in with some treats, and gently reach for your hamster – let your hamster determine how far you can get in each session. Entice the hamster onto your hands with the treats. Then, you can try scooping it up with both hands. The best way to do this is to place each hand on either side of your hamster, and then connect them under your belly. Cup your hamster gently in your hands, that’s much better than tightly gripping over its back. Don’t hold your hamster too high above ground – in case it wants to jump out. You don’t want it facing a fall from six feet. Firstly, just hold it in its cage, and then with time, you can take it out. If you turn the hamster towards your body, it’s less likely to try and jump away. A few things you should keep on your mind when doing this: – make sure to wash your hands before you start working with your hamster, you don’t want it to smell food on you. That can be distracting. – some people will suggest wearing thick gloves to help with the biting. This can be useful, but your hamster needs to get used to your scent, and in that regard – this isn’t a good solution. – sometimes, when you pick your hamster up, they will clamp themselves onto your hand with their tiny paws. Don’t shake your hand to dislodge them – just gently put them down and let them come off. – don’t scold, yell, or hit the hamster. Smaller animals are afraid of loud and sudden noises, so much so that they can actually die from shock. – different hamsters act differently – Dwarf hamsters are very territorial, this means that they’re not going to appreciate you pushing your fingers into their cage. If this is the cage, let the hamster exit the cage (into a wider area, but still an area they can’t escape or hurt themselves in) and try to train them there. Training a Hamster to be Held. Now, when you’re buying a hamster and you want to teach it to be tame and train it, the first thing you should do is let the hamster rest. Smaller animals are very easy to frighten, so it’s best to let your hamster get used to its new surroundings before trying to teach it anything. However, if your hamster has become adjusted, you can now try to teach it to be held Before doing that, you need to teach your hamster not to bite. This is actually the first thing to teach it, as it’s synonymous with teaching your hamster that you’re its friend. When you teach your hamster not to bite (following the steps in the previous section), you can move on to teaching it to be held. Stress can make a lot of hamsters sick, so make sure that you’re not stressing your hamster out and that you’re taking it slow. Firstly, don’t try to handle your hamster when it’s sleeping. Just like humans – hamsters don’t like to be woken up, so don’t disturb your hamster when it’s sleeping. This can cause health issues and it’s more likely that your hamster will bite if you’ve just woken it up. Similar to the steps for teaching the hamster not to bite in our previous section, you’re going to need to take it slow. Use treats to gain trust with your hamster and slowly start putting your hand in the cage – let it climb into your hand. In the beginning, don’t take your hand out of the cage. Raise it, and the hamster will realize that you’re holding it. Feed it a treat and let the hamster back on the ground, repeat this process for a day. After that, you can let the hamster climb into your hand and you can take your hand out. It’s likely that this will scare the hamster, so it may want to jump out of your hand. Don’t hold your hamster too high, just in case your hamster jumps out. Also, tame them with treats, even when they’re stressed and scared. Turning your hamster towards your body makes it less likely for them to jump out. One thing owners don’t realize is that the hamster isn’t that afraid of the feeling of being carried, as much as they’re scared of all the sights and the sounds they see around them. These animals are very easily scared and it’s important to take your time with them. Reward your animals for good behavior with treats. If you feel that your hamster is becoming stressed or that they’re uncomfortable, gently place them back in their cage and try again later. Here are some tips on teaching your hamster to enjoy being handled: – keep every interaction short – hamsters have bad and short eyesight, so make sure that you’re staying low when you’re interacting with your hamster. Don’t sit on a couch or a chair (in the beginning), as your hamster will try to run away if it gets scared, and it will fall to the floor because it can’t see where the floor is. Some experts recommend starting out in the bathtub. – each pet is individual, so don’t force things upon your hamster that they don’t enjoy doing. Training a Hamster to Use a Litter Box. Many people have their doubts, but it’s actually possible to potty train a hamster. To potty train a hamster, you’re going to need a litter box and litter. Make sure to always have a litter at hand – if you can’t find hamster litter, you can buy dust-free, scent-free, clumping cat litter. Avoid litter with silica dust, and in case you can’t find any hamster litter, you can get pellet litter made of wood, paper, grain, or grass. To train your hamster to use a litter box, firstly you’ll need to figure out what corner of the cage your hamster most often uses to do their business. Put the litter box in that corner. This is very important, as hamsters don’t instinctively run to the litter box – if you don’t place it properly, it will just ignore it and proceed to take care of their business elsewhere. If the enclosure you’ve set up is still new and you haven’t a clue where to put the litter box, wait a week or two and let your hamster establish a spot. Once you’ve settled on a spot, pour in enough litter to cover the bottom of the box. Add a little soiled bedding and some droppings from your hamster. This will make the hamster follow those droppings to that spot instinctively. Once your hamster has woken up, you can pick them up and put them in the litter box for them to figure out what’s going on. After that, just let your hamster do its job on its own. Don’t force them into the potty, you don’t want to get bit or turn him away from the idea of using the litter box. Most hamsters will eventually figure out the point of the box on their own. There are, however, instances where hamsters won’t use the litter box for its intents and purposes. Hamsters will sometimes eat or sleep there, and do anything but the one thing they’re supposed to do. If this is the case, make sure to check on the areas your hamster is supposed to be using for this. For example, if your hamster is sleeping in the litter box, check their sleeping area – it’s likely that there’s something wrong with it if they’re so persistent in sleeping in the litter box. It can happen that the hamster will hide its food in the litter box – this usually means that they find the cage to be too small and they have no other place to hide their food at. There’s no other solution to this than buying a larger cage. It can also happen that the cage is too large and the hamster is using the litter box, but it’s also defecating all around the cage. In that case, place multiple litter boxes around the cage. Training a Hamster Tricks. Just like with handling and biting, you should use treats as rewards for your hamster to teach it something. Let’s cover a few tricks. Stand – a lot of animals, including hamsters, can stand on their hind feet. To teach your hamster to stand, you’re going to want to hold the treat in front of the hamster, just over its head so that the hamster can see it but not reach it. While doing this, say “Stand.” – this means nothing to the hamster right now, as they can’t understand articulated speech, but with time – they will recognize the specific sound of the word ‘stand’ as the command to stand on their hind feet. When you’re doing this, your hamster will instinctively stand up in order to get closer to the treat. When the hamster stands, give it the treat and verbal praise. Only reward the hamster if it actually stands up, don’t reward it if it doesn’t. This way, you’re teaching the hamster that it’s good for it to stand up once it hears the word ‘stand’. If your hamster doesn’t stand it might be because he or she is not hungry at that moment, or distracted by something else going on in the room. Feel free to repeat for a few times a day, and don’t stop the process until your hamster is ready to stand up after hearing your command, even when you’re not dangling a treat in front of its face. This can take a week or two. The most important thing to remember is to reward the hamster every single time it stands up. Jump – you can teach your hamster to jump, as well. You first need to teach your hamster the standing trick. To teach it this trick, get your hamster to stand, and then move your hand up and forward (while holding a treat) and say “Jump.” – it will instinctively try to jump. If the hamster tries to jump, praise him or her and give the treat. Once you’ve practiced this enough, you can add a hoop in the mix if you want to – hold a hoop between the hamster and the treat, and the hamster will jump through the hoop to get the treat. Say “Hoop.” as they’re doing it, to teach them the command of jumping through the hoop. Start by holding it low and slowly raising it up. Roll over – this is a trick that you can teach to any pet. To do this, place a seed on your hamster’s back and ask them to “Roll over.” – if they do it, reward them with a seed. After a while, they’ll be rolling over even without you placing seed on their back. Spinning in circles – after you’ve gotten your hamster used to eat treats out of your hand, you can teach them to spin in circles. Hold your hand out with the treat out and once they approach you, tell them to “Spin.” – and move your hand in a circle. The hamster will naturally follow your hand, and with time it will spin in circles just on command. Building an obstacle course – you can even build an obstacle course for your hamster to go through. Use Lego building blocks and jars, or funnels for your hamster to jump over, crawl through, etc. Make sure that nothing’s too tall, as your hamster is more likely to run around it than jump over it. Hold the treat and let it lead the hamster’s way by moving in front of it. The hamster will follow the treat anywhere. You can also make a seesaw with a simple plank and a wooden triangle, making your hamster have to balance on it. Make sure to place a wall around the obstacle course to bind it. Teaching your hamster to wear a hat or clothing – yes, this is also possible. If your hamster is used to being handled and has a good temperament, it won’t be a problem to teach it to do this. Firstly, make sure that the items fit your hamster. Keep them snug, but not tight. You can’t just cram the outfit on your hamster, so make sure that you put it on gently. Talk to them happily while you’re doing this. Give your hamster a treat as soon as you put something on. Take your hamster’s focus off the clothing and let them focus on something fun, like an apple or whatever is your hamster’s favorite treat. At first, only leave the items on for a minute, not for too long. Your hamster will learn to wear them with time and won’t have an issue with them. Let the hamster sit in your hand for the first time, as they’re probably going to be afraid. Later on, they’ll be able to wear the clothing on their own. It won’t take long before your hamster’s ready to wear clothes without you holding them.  There are many things you can teach your hamster, and it’s important to constantly keep working with them in order to build and cultivate a healthy relationship. The most important thing to remember is to have patience, some hamsters are less trusting and are slower than others. Always reward your hamster with treats for a job well done, and never forget to respect its private area. Hamsters are just as vulnerable as humans, and you should keep that in mind when working with them. [...] Read more...
Do Hamsters Need Affection ? How To Keep Your Furball Happy
Do Hamsters Need Affection ? How To Keep Your Furball HappyWhen I first got my Teddy I didn’t know how much attention he’d need from me. Or if he’d need any at all. I only knew hamsters can be left by themselves in their cages and be fine, but do hammies really need your attention ? Table of Contents ToggleSo do hamsters need attention from their owners ?It depends on your hamster’s personalityHamsters are always very curious and activeHow to keep your hamster friend happyPlay with the hamsterGive the hammy plenty of toys and ways to exerciseGet your hamster the right sized everythingHamsters do not get lonelyA word from Teddy So do hamsters need attention from their owners ? YES, much less than other pets but yes. Hamsters are solitary by nature, but they still enjoy human company, and can grow to be attached to their owners. This means you need to handle and play with the hamster very often, to form this bond. But your hammy will not be lonely if you don’t pay him too much attention. Hamsters are solitary by nature, and do not miss company necessarily. This means that they can live on their own, and not miss the owner too much. However a hamster not handled regularly will need a lot more space and activities, to consume all of his energy. He’s basically an untamed hamster in this case. But let’s get into detail with this, and see how and when to give your hamster attention. It depends on your hamster’s personality Some hamsters are more cuddly, some are more aloof. In general Syrian hamsters are easier to tame, and thus will be a bit more affectionate than other hamster types. But this is only because the Syrians are much larger than the other hammies, and thus can be handled easier. However there are hamsters and hamsters. For example my Teddy – adult Syrian male –  is not the cuddliest of hamsters. He’s not completely aloof, but he is always on the go, doing something, too busy to stay in my hands and relax a little. To be honest he was not what I imagined when I said I wanted a hammy, but he’s got a whole personality of his own. He may not be cuddly, but he makes a lot of funny faces, and would be a really good circus acrobat. Maybe your hammy is like my Teddy, or maybe he’s a very mellow hamster. A family friend of ours had a hammy, his name was Oscar, and he was the tamest thing ever. He let anyone touch him, and would come up to the cage bars if he heard you, asking for a bit of attention. There’s hamsters and hamsters, and you won’t really know what kind of hamster you’re getting when he is a baby. But it’s important to realize that your pet is his own creature, and won’t always be what you imagined. You can, however, do your best to try and tame your hamster. Just don’t be surprised by the outcome, and love him anyway. Hamsters are always very curious and active Your hamster need your attention, even if it’s not for reasons as sentimental as a puppy. True, hamsters do need attention, but they do not crave it as much as dogs. Hamsters can’t be emotionally handicapped (since they’re loners by default) like a puppy starving for affection, but still you should give your hamster plenty of love and attention. Still, your hamster will be curious. About everything. Including what you’ve got in that bag you’re rustling next to his cage, or 2 rooms away. So even for something as small as this, hamsters do need your attention so they know what you’re doing, and they can investigate in peace. Just bring the bag close to the cage and let him sniff what you’ve got there. Chances are he won’t be interested. For example my Teddy goes nuts when I’m doing something next to his cage, but the second I let him get a sniff of what I’m doing (often just heating something in the microwave) he loses all interest and walks away. Sometimes I think I have a cat. So, sometimes your hamster’s curiosity might be mistaken for asking for affection. Hamsters aren’t aloof like fish, or spiders or reptiles, but they’re not nearly as cuddly as dogs, cats, or parrots. How to keep your hamster friend happy You can keep your hamster friend happy, and give him a lot of attention and love. There’s a few ways you can do that, and I’ll tell you right here. Play with the hamster The first and most obvious thing to do is to play with your hamster. This will create and deepen the bond between the two of you. Also, you’re giving your hamster plenty of attention by constantly handling him, and letting him get your scent. For example my Teddy’s fave playtime is a toilet paper square, dangled in front of him and he tries to climb onto it half the time. He just loves chasing that bit of paper around his cage every time he notices it. Even if you don’t want to take the hamster out of his cage, you can still talk to him and touch him in the cage. This helps him get closer to you, because hamsters need plenty of stimulation. Give the hammy plenty of toys and ways to exercise This is the next best thing after playing with your hamster. Sometimes, like when you’re sleeping and your hamster is awake, your hammy needs things to do. So giving the hamster chew toys and a running wheel is going to give him something to do. As said before in this article hamsters sometimes are just very curious, and sometimes that can be mistaken for asking for attention. If your hammy has not much to do in his cage, then he’ll grow bored and want to explore the outside. And if the outside means you, making coffee next to him, then he will absolutely need to know what’s in that cup. So a good option is getting your hamster some toys – here’s a link for some DYI and store bought toy ideas for your hamster, so he never gets bored. And here is an article on running wheels for hamsters, so you know what to look for when you get one for your hamster. Or, if the one you’ve already got is good enough. There’s wheel size requirements, depending on your hamster’s breed. Get your hamster the right sized everything From food bowl to water bottle to hideout and cage, everything needs to be the right size for your hammy. A very small cage will make your hamster nervous and anxious, and he will be all over the cage bars. It will look like he’s asking for your attention, but once you do handle him he will not be friendly or sit still. He will be happy he is out, and can explore, but you’re not letting him. So for this reason (and many others) getting your hamster a large enough cage is one of the most important things to do to keep him comfortable and happy. Hamsters are very small, but they need quite a bit of space. You can read more about hamster cages – size, types, and how to clean them – right here, so you can take care of your hamster friend as best you can. Remember, if you’ve got Dwarf hammies and they’re at least two, you’re going to need a bigger cage. As for the hideout your hamster will spend most of his time in, it’s important that you get your hammy a wooden one. He will chew on everything in his cage, even the hideout, so it’s best to get him one that’s safe for his teeth. You can see more about hamster hideouts and the bedding hamsters usually need right here. (If you like this article so far, you can pin it to your Pinterest board by clicking the image below. The article continues after the image.) Hamsters do not get lonely You might think that hamsters can get lonely, all by themselves in those cages. Well, hamsters are okay to be left alone, after all they’re loners by nature. In the wild hamsters live alone, and only meet other hamsters to mate. Or, the occasional trespasser in their territory who they will fight. There are some hamster breeds that can live together. But even those hamsters need to be introduced as babies, and be of the same litter, in order to get a long. Even so, sometimes it just doesn’t work. So if you’ve got an adult Syrian hammy, and you’re feeling bad because you feel like you’re not paying him enough attention, do not get him a friend. He will fight anyone new that you put into his cage, even a baby hamster. Syrians and Chinese hamsters are especially territorial, and will get into an actual, legit deathmatch with another hamster in their cage. Hamsters are not puppies, and won’t do well in a group. Some Dwarf types are okay being raised with a sibling of theirs, but even there they can get on each other’s nerves and develop stress-related illnesses. A word from Teddy I hope you know more about us hammies now, and know that we do in fact need your attention. Maybe not as much as other pets, and we won’t jump on you to lick your face to show affection. But we love you in our own way, and we do like your company ! So if you want to know more about us hamsters, feel free to check out the articles below. You’l find more info on what kind of food we need, how much water we can drink, and even why we play with our poop. [...] Read more...