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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Best Hamster Travel Cages, And How To Transport Your Hamster Safely
Best Hamster Travel Cages, And How To Transport Your Hamster SafelyTaking your hamster somewhere is never easy. This is why having the best travel cage ever for your hamster is going to make things much easier, both for you and your hamster. This is what I’ll be helping you out with, and my Teddy will give you a few important things to remember along the way. Travelling with your hamster need to be done with care. Table of Contents ToggleFinding the best travel cages for your hamsterThe best transport cages for hamsters I’ve foundHabitrail OVO plastic transport cage for hamstersKaytee wire transport cage for hamstersLiving World Hagen Pet Carrier (hard plastic)How to safely transport your hamsterFood and water for transporting your hamsterWaterFoodKeeping your hamster comfortable during travelTry to keep him from scaring too muchKeep the hamster in the darkAvoid transporting the hamster in extreme temperaturesKeep the hamster’s cage secureFamiliar bedding for your hamster’s comfortGive the hamster time to adjustBest toys to keep your hamster occupied during travelToys.The hamster house or nestA word from Teddy Finding the best travel cages for your hamster Let’s talk about the transport cage itself. This is the most important part of transporting your hamster, since you can’t bring the cage your hamster lives in. The main debate about transport cages in whether you should get a very secure one – like those made of plastic – or a very breathable one, with wire. It’s entirely up to you, is what I say. You don’t need a transport cage often, but when you do you’ll be very specific about it. Of course you can later use it as a place to keep the hamster while you clean and change his big cage. Now, whatever type of cage you get, it’s important that it is very well secured. It should not spring open suddenly, and you hamster can’t gnaw on the clasps to open it easily. Just as important, how breathable is the cage ? Wire cages are very breathable but are not the most secure. However the plastic cages offer more safety but only have holes in them to allow air to pass through it. The size of the cage does not really matter, in that it can be smaller than the one your hamster lives in. But make sure that he will fit easily into the transporting unit, and you can take him out just as easy. The best transport cages for hamsters I’ve found I’ll go through the best transport cages I’ve found, both for plastic and for wire cages. You pick whichever you think sounds better for you and your hamster. Habitrail OVO plastic transport cage for hamsters This is the kind of cage that will stay securely closed, and your hammy can get inside easily. The two tube endings can be attached to the main cage through, well, tubes so your hamster can use it as an extra home when not traveling. The two endings can be closed off with lids that comes with the cage. There are enough air holes on the top of the cage, to let the hamster get enough air. It also prevents drafts since the holes will not catch a lot of sideways air. You can fit a lot of bedding in the lower part of the cage, since it will reach high enough. But don’t add any sand for a sand bath, since it can escape from tiny nooks. I’ve both checked the reviews on Amazon, and looked at one in our local petshop. This kind of cage looks and feels sturdy, and the handle will definitely keep when you travel. A couple of downsides are that if you order it or buy it in a sealed package, you might have to assemble it yourself. But as far as I’ve seen the instructions are very clear and most people managed to assemble it okay. The other small downside would be that longer journeys would be a bit more difficult, since there is not much space in this cage. The air holes do provide some air, but not for 24 hours. You can find it on Amazon here, and check its price as well. Kaytee wire transport cage for hamsters Wire cages are probably your best option for ventilation. But the problem is sometimes they are easy to open by the hamster, or they don’t close properly. It’s also harder to wrap a cloth around the cage to prevent drafts since the hamster will try to chew the cloth. But, in this case this cage has more space than the plastic one I talked about earlier. There’s an added level that can give your hamster a bit more space, but I recommend taking it out so he can’t fall. Your hamster will have a lot of breathing space, which is essential if you’re going on a long trip or he needs to be in that cage more than a couple of hours. The spacing between these bars is about 1.25 cm/0.5 inches so your hammy has no chance of fitting his head through the bars. Both Syrians and smaller breeds (like Siberians or Campbells) are alright in this kind of cage for transport. I can see only a couple of downsides to this cage, one being that the bedding can get all over the car in some cases, like if your hamster kicks it around or there is a sharp turn. And second, it is very hard to protect from drafts. You can check out this exact cage on Amazon, and see its price as well. Living World Hagen Pet Carrier (hard plastic) If you’re looking for more options then maybe this pet carrier will sound better for you and your pet. People have successfully transported small birds like cockatiels and sun conures to the vet in this transport cage, and it seems to be large enough for an adult hamster. It’s large enough for an adult Syrian, and definitely large enough for an adult Dwarf as well. Just remember to get the ‘large’ size, the maroon one with a gray and transparent top, as the smaller blue one is much too small. This transport cage is hard, thick plastic, and if you offer some amount of bedding and a hideout for your hammy then he should have no problem being relaxed in this cage. The overall size is 11.8 inch length by 9 inch width by 8.3 inch height, and most hammies won’t even reach the top part of the cage very easily. Air circulation is good enough, as there are holes on the upper part of the sides of the cage, and in the transparent lid as well. The lid is large, and opens completely, meaning you will have very easy access to your hamster when taking him out. And you will also easily keep an eye on him during travel. The fact that he won’t see anything around him may prove better at not scaring him. The only downside I see to this cage is the height of the cage. Hamsters love to gnaw on everything, and if yours gets his chompers on the upper part where there are holes, he might nibble at them and make a larger hole. Still, few hamsters get that far and I doubt it can become a problem if you’re using the cage for a quick trip to the vet. You can check the listing on Amazon here, and read the reviews as well. (If you like this article so far, you can pin it to your Pinterest board by clicking the image below. The article continues after the image.) How to safely transport your hamster The very idea of moving your hamster is not safe for him, but in general it’s best to keep the cage and the toys inside the hamster cage lightweight. During travel sudden stops or sharp turns might move the cage and the things inside the cage can hurt the hamster. Also, try and keep the duration and distance as short as possible. Avoid public transport, with loud noises and people bumping into you. Go for an air conditioned car that can get you there fast.  There are more things to keep in mind than this, so Teddy and I will get into detail with all of them. But as a reminder: Teddy: Us hamsters are very easy to scare, so try not to rattle, bump, jostle, throw or shake our transport cage, and keep us well ventilated ! Food and water for transporting your hamster When you transport your little hamster, you’ll want to keep him well stocked on food and water. The problem is what kind of food and water. Water A water bottle or bowl is not good for transport. Every time your car or train or bus stops, they can leak and get the hamster wet, and possibly ill later on. What you can do instead is get a few slices of cucumber, and place them every once in a while in your hamster’s cage. Cucumbers have very high water content, and are safe for your hamster to eat. The cucumber will give your hamster enough water to last him the trip and back again, without spilling anything. Best to get several thick slices, and store them in a cool bag. Place one at a time every few hours in your hamster’s cage and he will have enough liquid. To know more about your hamster’s usual water needs, read my article here. Food As for the kind of food the hamster needs, it’s best if it is something dry like grains or a food mix from your favorite pet shop. Place a couple of his favorite treats in the cage as well, to make the trip more comfortable for him. Another type of food you should bring is a hard kind of treat for your hamster to nibble on. This is to give him something better than the cage to gnaw on, and also to relieve some of his anxiety. The best kind of dog treat for hamsters is either the plain kind – with no added flavors – or a milk bone. Milk bones are basically dog treats, but with added vitamins and minerals. They don’t necessarily contain milk, that’s just the name. Given the size of hamsters, and the size of dog treats, one treat will last your little one a long way. So basically a box of dog treats could possibly last the entire life of the hamster. Best to sprinkle the food in your hamster’s bedding, so he will forage for it during the trip and be distracted. For a clear list of what hamsters can and can not eat, read here. You’ll also find out what kind of treats you can give your hamster. Teddy: Hamsters need some simple dry food for transport, and sliced cucumber instead of a water bottle. We love cucumber ! Teddy enjoying his dry food from my hand Keeping your hamster comfortable during travel This is a topic just as important as what food you give the hamster when you transport him. Hamsters are easy to scare, they panic easily, and sometimes looking at your hamster wrong can scare him. I don’t know, all hamsters are different and some of them spook very easily. Try to keep him from scaring too much The weirdest example I have is when I was bent over my Teddy’s cage reaching for something. When I look down there’s Teddy, all shaking, on his hind paws, jaws open, trying to be big. I crouched down next to him, slowly, and spoke softly to him. It took him a minute but he was friendly after that. So unless you want your hamster to do something similar when he sees his vet after the trip, please make sure he is comfortable. That means that the cage should be shaken and moved around as little as possible. If possible, get a taxi or a friend to give you a ride to where you need to get. Do not keep your hamster on the road for more than he needs to be. It will freak him out and he will need some time to recover. Keep the hamster in the dark If possible, make sure that the cage you transport him with is not clear. Hamsters can’t see very well, but they can still see. And sudden movements will still scare them. If you can, cover the cage with something like a blanket to keep it dark. But make sure you do not cover the air holes, so that your hamster can still get enough air. However if your transport cage is an actual cage, not a plastic unit, then you need to make sure the hamster can’t reach the blanket and gnaw at it. My Teddy shoved a couple of centimeters of furry blanket in his cheeks when he first laid his paws on one, so be warned. Avoid transporting the hamster in extreme temperatures Unless you absolutely must, avoid transporting the hamster in very cold or very hot times of the year. Hamsters are very sensitive to temperature, and need a range of 20-22 Celsius/68-72 Fahrenheit to feel comfy. So make sure you can keep your hamster warm/cool, depending on the season. And also make sure that there is no draft where you keep your hamster during transport. Hamsters are very sensitive to this, and a cold for them is not as easy to shrug off as it is for humans. Keep the hamster’s cage secure When you travel by car, make sure that you have a seat belt strapped across the cage. This is to keep both you and the hammy safe. The cage needs to sit in place when traveling, and as long as you keep an eye on it, it should be fine. Try not to keep it on your lap, since it can hurt you in the case of sudden stops or turns. The same goes for keeping the cage in the trunk or at your feet in the car. If you’re travelling by train or bus, keep the cage on the seat next to you, with a hand on it or another way to make sure it stays in place. Familiar bedding for your hamster’s comfort In the end, you will need to place your hamster in a cage that is familiar to him. For this, use new bedding, mixed with bedding from his own cage. Make sure that the used bedding is not soiled or does not have too many droppings. A few droppings are okay, since it will be easier for your hamster to recognize the place as his own. But try to keep it mainly ‘clean’. The bedding you use for his home should have pieces that are from his own home as well. So if your gave your hamster ripped up paper towel to used as nesting material, grab a few pieces from his own home and place them in the transport cage. You can find out more about your hamster’s bedding here. What you can use, and what you should avoid. Give the hamster time to adjust Another thing that will help a lot is placing your hamster in the transport cage about an hour before you leave. This way you give him time to get used to his new cage, and he will not be as stressed. The best way to do this is to put the hamster in his exercise ball, and then put the exercise ball open in the transport cage. Or, place the transport cage directly into his usual cage, and let him explore it like that. For a discussion on what kind of cage is best for your hamster, check out my “best cages” article here. If your hamster is the kind that can be housed with several other hamsters, I’d recommend that you transport them in the same cage as well. Even if they don’t need a trip to the vet necessarily. This is to make the trip easier for the hamster that needs to be taken to the vet or somewhere specific. And also so that there is less hostility when you bring him back. The new smells on the transported hamster can make the ones left home get a bit aggressive. So try to avoid that by bringing them all if possible. This will not happen every time, the hamsters at home will not attack the transported hamster each occasion. But I’ve heard such stories and I think it’s better to be safe than sorry. Teddy: That was a long read, I know ! But us hamsters are easy to scare, so extra steps are needed to make us comfortable. Make sure you don’t rattle or shake the cage too much, and keep us safe and in place in our transport. Best toys to keep your hamster occupied during travel Obviously, the best toys are the ones he already loves and uses in his cage. But if they are very large and chunky toys, like blocks of wood, or hide and seek wooden tubes, these are a problem. They are heavy, and in the case of a sudden stop they can injure your tiny hamster. Toys. So make sure that the toys you bring into your hamster’s transport cage are light. Things like cardboard, for example toilet rolls, or paper towel rolls or paper egg cartons are fine. Cut a few holes in the tubes and carton and you’ve got yourself some great toys for your hamster to enjoy and keep him distracted. This way they won’t hurt the hamster if the cage moves around too much. Another helpful idea can be a walnut, with a tiny hole in it. This will keep the hamster entertained and busy, and he’ll try to chew on it. Even better would be if your can get a few walnut halves, cleaned, and string them on a piece of string. Try securing it along the edge of the cage, if possible, to make sure it stays in place. If you can’t, best to leave out the walnuts completely. The hamster house or nest The same goes for your hamster’s home or hideout. Make sure it is something lightweight that will not hurt him if it rolls over during transport. Paper or cardboard houses can be an option, but your hamster will probably chew on them so they won’t be a house anymore. Best to opt for something made of plastic, very very light weight. Teddy: It’s important to remember that the toys we need during transport are light weight, and very simple. Us hamsters are very fragile and need some extra care, even when it comes to our toys !   A word from Teddy Hi ! I hope this article managed to clear up a lot of your questions, and you can safely transport my brother or sister. I know transport cages seem tiny compared to how much space us hamsters really need, but for a few hours it’s alright. As long as you can keep us safe, healthy, and well fed and watered, we’ll survive the trip. If you want to know more about hamsters, and for example how much we can go without food, or if we need a light on, then check out these other articles ! [...] Read more...
Here’s How To Find A Lost Hamster – Find Your Furry Friend
Here’s How To Find A Lost Hamster – Find Your Furry FriendSo your hamster has gone missing. That’s okay, don’t worry, he’s not very far. I’ll tell you how to find your hamster friend, whether you lost your hamster in your home, or outside. This guide is handy even if you’ve never lost your hamster so far. After all prevention is key and it’s better to already know what to do if you ever lose your hamster, than to try and find out everything on the spot. Table of Contents ToggleWhat to keep in mind before you start looking for your hamsterFinding a lost hamster in your homeWhere the hamster might have goneWhat the hamster might have done/why he wandered offSetting the traps for your hamsterBaiting the hamster with foodHome-made trapHumane rodent trapFinding a lost hamster outsideEscape-proofing your hamster’s cageHow to keep your hamster from wanting to escape in the first placeKeep your hamster friend happy and not stressedProvide a large enough cage so your hamster has spacePlay with your hamster to form a bond with itA word from Teddy What to keep in mind before you start looking for your hamster Before you start looking for your hamster, keep in mind that he’s got some reasons for wandering off. That doesn’t necessarily mean he wanted to leave, maybe he found something interesting in a corner. Hamsters are incredibly curious, about everything, and will want to investigate thing right away. You’ve seen him glue himself to the cage bars when you do something around his cage, you know he wants to know. There are a few things to keep in mind before you start looking for your hamster, and here they are: Keep away any and all pets that can move freely (like a cat, bird, or dog), as well as small children that might scare the hamster. Close all doors, so your hamster won’t move about from one room to the other while you’re looking for him. Remember that hamsters are mostly nocturnal, so your friend will probably come out at night, when it’s dark and quiet in the house. Dim all the lights, and make as little noise as possible, so your hamster will think it’s safe to come out. Try to remember where you last saw your hamster, and start from that room. Be thorough in your search, hamsters are amazing at hiding. Look under, behind, over, between any piece of furniture you have, without moving it at first. Make a mental note of any holes or large cracks in the walls or doors that your hammy might have escaped through. Your hammy might be in odd, squishy places like between the sofa cushions, or in your sofa’s tapestry if he found a hole, so be careful where you step and sit. The search might take anywhere from a few hours to a few days, so be patient. Your hamster can survive for up to 3-4 days with no food or water. So don’t worry, your hammy is probably somewhere in the kitchen munching on some peanuts behind a cupboard. Now let’s see how to find your hamster friend first. Finding a lost hamster in your home If you’ve lost your hamster in your home, the search will be easier, in a way. There is less space for him to hide in, and he can only run away so far. So, we’ll start with this scenario since it’s the most common situation hamsters get lost in. Where the hamster might have gone This about where the hammy might go. Think about the room you last saw him in, and try and think in his shoes (or paws). If it’s cold in the house, he might go for the warmest room he can find, so you can start there. If it’s been a few days since he’s missing, and you only just noticed, he is probably looking for food so you can start with the pantry or kitchen. Was there anything interesting in the room you last saw your hamster ? Like a very smelly food, or a bag of treats, or something that made a lot of noise (like a crinkly bag) ? Are there any nook and crannies your hamster would love, close to where you last saw him ? What the hamster might have done/why he wandered off Hamsters are very curious, about everything, so there’s a large chance that he maybe just wanted to investigate something. It’s possible that your hamster was very scared, or stressed out. Like the cat pawing at his cage maybe, or the parrot bursting into song right next to his cage. Maybe the toaster went off in the other room and your hammy got scared. Still, there are quite a few reasons your hamster might have escaped, starting with curiosity and ending with just because. If there were any weak wires in your hamster’s cage, you can be sure he found them. Or, if you’ve got an aquarium for your hamster be warned that he needs a very tall edge in order to not climb over it – taller than your hamster’s total length, plus stretching. So it’s possible that he found a way to climb over the edge of the glass tank. For more info on exactly what you should be looking for when getting you hamster an escape-proof cage, you can check out these top 5 hamster cages. Setting the traps for your hamster When you’re looking for your hamster, you’ll need to set some traps. Humane ones, of course, but still you need to trap him in one particular spot. Or, at least find out the room he’s in. Baiting the hamster with food You can try a few or all of these ideas, depending on your home, how many pets or children you have, and how much time you’ve got. One idea would be to get a large treat, that your hamster likes. Like a dog biscuit, or a whole peanut(with shell, no salt), or a piece or cheese, and tie a bit of yarn around it. The rest of the yarn you can make into a long string that leads to a center piece you’re often next to. So, when your hammy will try to take away the treat you will see where he it pulling from. Place just one big treat in each room. Another extra step would be to tie a small bell onto the string of yarn. This way the treat will make some noise when the hamster picks it up. Another idea would be to place some food in a small bowl made of crinkled up aluminium foil, with large, flowy edges. Think of it looking like a small volcano, with treats where the lava would be. The crinkled aluminium would make sounds when your hamster will be inspecting the food. Or, you can sprinkle a fine, thin layer of flour all around the treats you left on the floor. Or, you can sprinkle it over the floor in front of where you think your hammy is hiding. You can even sprinkle it across the whole floor, although there will be  lots of cleanup to do afterwards. Your hammy will leave tiny foot prints where he’s going through the flour, and you can narrow your search from there. If you can’t sprinkle flour or tie in bells, you can simply put a specific number of treats in every room. Then, check the next day to see which room has less treats, so you know where the hamster is hiding. Home-made trap You can also use an actual trap made from thing you’ve got at home already. Get yourself a bucket, or a large plastic bin. Something the hamster can’t climb out of. Add a layer of bedding so your hamster can get comfortable because he will be sitting there for a few hours. Then, at the very top/edges, place either aluminium foil, or a large sheet of paper, or paper towel. Place on the paper or aluminium a few lightweight treats that your hamster will like, for example 1-2 peanuts or sunflower seeds, or a bit of biscuit. Do not fasten the paper or aluminium onto the edges. The hamster will have to be able to fall into the bucket/bin, once he steps onto the paper. Next, your hamster has to be able to get up to the edge. You can make a sort of stairway with a few books, or a piece of cardboard bent into the shape you want, or anything the hamster can climb. Finally, sprinkle a few seeds or treats for your hammy to follow as a trail up to the top of the trap. You hamster will smell the treat, come out of his hiding place, follow the trail of treats, and in the end go for the treat on top of the trap. He will end up falling into the bucket/bin, and you will find him munching on the treats. Humane rodent trap You can find these in many stores, and they’re safe for your hamster. The point of these traps is that the hamster will only be caught in the closed off space, and not killed. They will not harm you hammy, but I do recommend checking up on these about once an hour. Air holes do exist on these kind of traps, but they can only do so much. There’s also condensation forming on the inside, so you don’t want your hammy getting wet – more on that here, and what you can do about it. Place some bait your hammy loves, like maybe peanut butter, or a whole peanut, or a small bit of cooked chicken. Once your hammy walks over the trap door, the trap will spring shut and will keep him there. Your hammy might get scared at first, that’s normal. But you’ll find him soon enough, so he won’t be staying in the trap too long. You can find this kind of traps in lots of places, but you can check this one on Amazon to get an idea of it. Finding a lost hamster outside If your hammy is lost outside, this will be a bigger problem. He could’ve gone very far, but there’s still a chance he’s close by, just hiding somewhere. Placing treats and baiting your hamster like in your home won’t work. Outside there’s cats, birds, and other creatures that will take the bait. And depending on the type of terrain around your home, if it’s fenced in, if there’s a forest starting in your backyard, your search will be harder. Best to just go for the humane mouse trap I linked earlier, since that’s pretty much the only way you’re sure something larger than your hamster will not steal the bait.  In this case the bucket/bin trap won’t work either, since you might find yourself with a bird or squirrel in that trap. In a worst case scenario, if it’s been more than a week and your hammy hasn’t showed, he’s probably wandered off into the wild, or had a nasty run-in with another animal. This is also something to consider if you ever think about releasing your hamster into the wild. He might or might not make it. Life in the forest or plains or general wilderness in your are is probably too harsh for the little furball. Escape-proofing your hamster’s cage Prevention is the best way to be sure your hammy doesn’t escape. So let’s see what you can do about his cage. First, you will find here a whole list of tips and pointers on how to choose the right cage for your hamster – both in terms of size, but safety as well. In general, glass tanks/aquariums are much harder to escape than regular wire or plastic ones. Make sure it’s got tall enough sides. Giving the hamster 3-5 cm/1-2 inches of bedding will mean that you need some 25 cm/10 inch above the bedding. Hamsters can and do jump, sometimes out of their cages, so be warned. You can find out more about that here, so you know what to watch out for. Also a wire mesh cover would be a good idea for the glass tank, just to be safe. Another idea would be to get your hammy a wire cage that has 1 cm/0.4 inches or less spacing between the bars. Hamsters are actually very small, under all that fur. Like cats, if their head fits somewhere, their body will squeeze through as well. So it is entirely possible for your hamster will squeeze through the bars of his cage and away he goes. Especially if you’ve got Dwarf types, which are so incredibly tiny. You can find out more about hamster sizes and how much they grow as adults – right here. Make sure the latches on the cage doors are closed well enough. And finally, you can use some binder clips – the big, black, ones you use for lots of sheets of paper. You can use those to fasten the corners of a wire cage to make sure it stays put. (If you like this article so far, you can pin it to your Pinterest board by clicking the image below. The article continues after the image.) How to keep your hamster from wanting to escape in the first place Hamsters that escaped because they were stressed or unhappy are a sad story. But, you can make sure your hamster doesn’t get in that position in the first place. You can also check here for 15 essential steps in caring for your hamster friend. Keep your hamster friend happy and not stressed This means keeping and pets or small children away from the hamster, or very supervised. A curious cat or a playful puppy will want to move the hammy around, try to paw it, bark at it maybe. And since hamsters not only scare very easily, they are also not patient at all, this won’t go well. Always make sure that the hamster is able to run away and hide if he feels threatened or uncomfortable. This is the major reason I do not recommend hamsters as pets for small children (under 13). Children are sometimes unaware, sometimes overly curious, and sometimes just don’t know their strength. This can make handling a hamster very difficult, especially if it’s a very small hamster, and doesn’t sit still too long. Hammies will also bite and scratch their way out of a situation if they have to, so this is another reason to keep small children away from them. Conversely, the cage and room you hamster lives in must be a calm, quiet one. Pets and kids zooming around your hammy during the day (when he sleeps) won’t make him feel safe at all. If this is what your home usually sounds like, consider getting a guinea pig. Those are much more calm, and they kind of don’t care about anything. So a barking dog won’t be much of a bother, or a child picking them up while they eat. Provide a large enough cage so your hamster has space The size of the cage matters. I’ve been repeating this in most articles, and I will keep repeating it. Mostly because for a few weeks I had the wrong sized cage for my Teddy (adult Syrian male) and I only realized this too late. Here you can find a good roundup of hamster cages according to what hamster you have. So, a cage that is too small can get your hamster nervous, anxious, he will start biting the cage bars. All kinds of unwanted, unhealthy habits. Hamsters are very territorial, even if they’re so gosh darn small. They need lots of floor space to run around in, and they feel suffocated in a small cage. The minimum cage for a Syrian hamster is of 24 x 12 inches, and about 12 inches tall. That’s 61 x 30.5 cm, and about 30.5 cm tall. This I’d say should be the minimum for a Dwarf hammy as well, since hamsters will go for larger cages if given the chance. If you’ve got more than one hamster – like a pair of Dwarf hammies – you need to read this. Play with your hamster to form a bond with it Finally, playing with and handling your hamster daily will form a close bond between the two of you. This means that your hammy will have less of a reason to escape, since he will want to stick around for you. So, here’s a nifty little article on how to actually tame your hamster, and one on how to show him affection and play with him. Some hamsters can be tamed but will never like being touched too much, so you’ll find ideas for those hamsters as well. A word from Teddy I hope you found out how to find your missing hammy. I know it might seem like a hassle, but we usually don’t wander off too far. We might go missing for a couple of days, only to turn up safe and sound in your cupboard when you least expect us. If you want to know more about us hammies, you can check out the related articles below. [...] Read more...
Should You Take Your Hamster Wheel Out at Night?
Should You Take Your Hamster Wheel Out at Night?If you own a hamster, you may already know that these animals love playing by themselves and are pretty active even when they are left alone. This is due in large part to the hamster wheel, which allows the hamster to move and play all on its own whenever it wants to. But it can be pretty annoying whenever the hamster is playing with its hamster wheel at night because of all the noise it makes. So, should you take your hamster wheel out at night? Hamster wheels should not be taken out during the night because hamsters are nocturnal animals that prefer to be active whenever it’s nighttime. They can even run up to five miles every single night. Taking the hamster wheel out at night will be sort of cruel because of how you are taking away its source of fun. Because it is never really advisable for you to take your hamster’s wheel away during the night because you are taking away its only source of fun and activity whenever it is most active, there should be alternatives on your part if you feel like hamster wheels are too noisy at night. That’s what this article is here for. Table of Contents ToggleWhat happens if you take your hamster’s wheel out at night?How long can a hamster go without a wheel?How to keep your hamster quiet at night1. Change the hamster’s cage to a location far away from your bed2. Soundproof the hamster’s cage3. Lubricate the wheel4. Give your hamster a larger and enclosed place to live in5. Buy a new and quieter hamster wheelBest silent spinner hamster wheel1. Suncoast Sugar Gliders Wodent Wheel – Best Overall2. Kaytee Silent Spinner Exercise Wheel – Best for the Price What happens if you take your hamster’s wheel out at night? For those who didn’t know, hamsters are actually nocturnal animals. That means that they are mostly active during the night and are usually asleep whenever it’s the day. Being active at night also means that a lot of the physical things a hamster does to have fun is done when the sun is out. This includes using its hamster wheel. Hamster wheels are invaluable for hamsters because it is their only source of fun and activity whenever they are kept in their habitats. They mostly run on their hamster wheel at night and may even reach up to five miles at night. At one point, a hamster was able to complete 26 miles on the hamster wheel in five days while most people can’t even go five miles of running in five days. Just goes to show how important the hamster wheel is for your hamster. So, if you were to take away the hamster’s wheel at night just because you think it was making so much noise, you are basically taking away its only source of fun and activity. This can be borderline cruel on your part because you are basically going to leave your hamster without anything to do whenever it is at its most active. On top of that, your hamster may actually end up with health concerns precisely because of its inactivity. As such, it is not advisable for you to remove the hamster’s wheel at night because it is the only way for it to stay active and happy while also giving it a way to lose those extra calories. Instead, what you need to do on your part is to find alternatives that you can do so that you can sleep better at night if you find the hamster wheel noisy. How long can a hamster go without a wheel? While it is not advisable for you to take away your hamster wheel at night, there are some instances where the hamster won’t be able to use its wheel. This can happen if it outgrew its old wheel or if the wheel is broken. In such cases, it might take a while for you to replace its old wheel especially if you ordered it online or if there are no nearby stores selling hamster wheels. So, theoretically speaking, how long can a hamster go without a wheel? Well, for starters, hamsters can live and survive without a wheel but they might get bored. If it’s only a few days, your hamster will be perfectly fine without a wheel especially if you are going to eventually replace its old wheel.  However, if you keep it without a wheel for weeks, then that would be concerning because of how the hamster might end up gaining a lot of weight or even develop bad habits due to how it was inactive for quite some time.  That’s why you shouldn’t ever allow your hamster to go without a wheel for a long time. But a few days without a wheel will be fine especially if you are just waiting for the new wheel to arrive. How to keep your hamster quiet at night So, if you feel like your hamster is a bit too noisy during the night while it is playing with its hamster wheel, there are some alternatives that you can take. There will be some people who would suggest that you try to make your hamster diurnal and change its habits so that it would sleep at night but that would be tampering with its natural habit. Instead, try respecting your hamster’s nocturnal nature and use these alternatives instead: 1. Change the hamster’s cage to a location far away from your bed If you are keeping your hamster’s cage in your bedroom, try to change its location and place it in a room where you won’t be able to hear what your hamster is doing at night. For those who are living in small studio apartments, try keeping the hamster’s cage in a corner that’s far away from your bed. That way, you could sleep better at night without getting bothered by what the hamster is doing with its hamster wheel. 2. Soundproof the hamster’s cage If you can’t relocate the hamster’s cage to a room or a location that’s far away from where you are sleeping due to certain reasons, then a good alternative that you can do is to soundproof the hamster’s cage by insulating it. Insulating the cage by covering some of the open spaces will allow the sound to get trapped inside the cage so that all the noise that the hamster is doing while using its wheel won’t end up bothering you. A thick blanket would be enough to insulate the hamster’s cage but make sure that you only do so during the night when you are about to sleep and the hamster is wide awake and active. 3. Lubricate the wheel Because the hamster wheel is a spinning object with many different moving parts, the squeaking noises it is making may be due in large part to how some of the parts aren’t moving so wheel. As such, one way for you to make the hamster wheel a bit quieter is by lubricating it so that it will run smoother than before. 4. Give your hamster a larger and enclosed place to live in Most hamster cages are designed to be quite open, and that is why it is easy for the sound of the hamster wheel to escape. But if you want to keep the noise inside the hamster’s habitat, you may want to replace its old home with a newer and enclosed housing unit that only has a few openings to let air in. A good aquarium might be nice. That way, the noise gets trapped inside the hamster’s home and the noise that the wheel makes is minimized and kept inside the habitat. 5. Buy a new and quieter hamster wheel Believe it or not, there are some instances where the hamster wheel you chose was the reason why your pocket friend is making so much noise at night. In such a case, the best thing you can do is to buy a new and quieter hamster wheel that won’t make a ton of noise even when your hamster running five miles a night on it. Best silent spinner hamster wheel If you are in the market for a silent spinner hamster wheel, here are our choices. 1. Suncoast Sugar Gliders Wodent Wheel – Best Overall The Suncoast Sugar Gliders Wodent Wheel is one of the best silent hamster wheels you can get on the market and is actually our top choice for the best overall silent hamster wheel that money can buy. The reason is that it comes with a closed design that keeps the sound inside the wheel. Meanwhile, the build quality of this product is so amazing that it will surely last for a very long time. You can check out the Suncoast Sugar Gliders Wodent Wheel on Amazon here. 2. Kaytee Silent Spinner Exercise Wheel – Best for the Price Our favorite budget choice when it comes to silent hamster wheels is the Kaytee Silent Spinner Exercise Wheel, which promises to be a lot cheaper than most of the other hamster wheels the market has to offer without compromising on how silent it is. It was specifically designed to be very silent because there aren’t a lot of moving parts that would make so much noise. So, if you want to get your hands on this product, here is its page on Amazon. [...] Read more...
8 Reasons Hamsters Eat Their Babies, And How To Save Them
8 Reasons Hamsters Eat Their Babies, And How To Save ThemIt sounds like a horror story, a mother hamster eating her babies. But it can happen, and it’s never fun to watch. There’s a few ways you can save the babies, but you have to be careful.  You can’t save them every time, but you can still do your best to make sure they don’t end up horribly. There are some reasons though, why the hamster mothers do that. Those are very important to understand, in order to save the babies. Table of Contents ToggleSo why do hamsters eat their babies ?How to save the hamster babies from being eatenDo not stress the motherLeave food/protein for the mother before she gives birthGive the mother plenty of space, in a large cageDo not disturb the mother or cage for at least 2 weeks after giving birthDo not touch the babies at all until the mother weans them (3-4 weeks)Separate the father from the litter at all timesSome things you can’t change or saveHow to tell your hamster is pregnantAbout hamster fertility and breedingA word from Teddy So why do hamsters eat their babies ? Mother hamsters are not as emotional as human mothers.  There are a few reasons a hamster mother might eat her young, and here they are: She feels stressed/threatened like if you constantly check on her and the litter Her personal space in too small, the babies take up too much space in a cage that is too tiny She is very hungry after giving birth Accidentally storing them in her cheeks to carry them Biting them too hard when she carries them She thinks something’s wrong with them (diseased, or something physical they can’t survive) You or someone else have touched them (changed their scent) and she doesn’t think they’re hers Father hamsters are liable to eating their young as well  These are mostly reasons that can be avoided, or can be worked on so the mother is comfortable.  Rodent mothers are not the most careful mothers in the first place, compared to other mothers, for example cats or dogs. All animals can eat or kill their young, if they consider something is wrong with them. But rodent mothers, and hamsters are rodents, are much less attached to their babies. So let’s get into every reason the mother can eat her young, and how you can avoid this from happening, and/or possibly save the babies. How to save the hamster babies from being eaten Many times when the mother decides eating her young is an option, there’s not much you can do. But, you can save the babies 90% of the time by not putting the mother in a position where she thinks she needs to eat them. Here are the most common examples, and how you can save those babies by helping the mother. Do not stress the mother This is the major reason hamster mothers end up eating their young. The stress and effort of giving birth, especially her first litter, combined with you checking up on her constantly will annoy her.  Once you notice the mother is approaching her due date (18-22 days after mating), start giving her much more food than usual, and bedding and nesting material as well. She will find the most hidden corner, or use her hideout, to give birth, and you must leave her alone during this time. Best to even leave the room. Fortunately it will probably happen at night, when you’re sleeping. So if you know your hammy is about to give birth, be careful when approaching her in the morning. Do not poke at her or the cage, talk to her, or try to interact with the babies. Keep her warm and well fed, and make sure she has plenty of quiet and small children or other pets can’t reach her. Leave food/protein for the mother before she gives birth If you notice that your hamster has give birth overnight, bring her some protein. This is the food that will help her regain her strength immediately. Something like cooked egg white, or cooked plain chicken is good for your hamster.  You could leave her pieces of chicken every evening until she gives birth if you want, but it’s best to not give her something that will leave a tasty smell on the bedding right before she gives birth. She might get confused as to which one is chicken and which is her baby.  So only give her chicken or egg after she gave birth, only  while you can see her. Even if you don’t stay more than a few minutes, make sure she finishes the piece and not the babies.  In the mean time, continue feeding her through the bars, without placing your hand inside the cage. You can introduce a teaspoon through the bars to give her dry food, or sprinkle some on her food bowl. She will have a stash of food anyway, but right now would be a good time to give her more. For a list of safe foods you can give your hammy, check out this food list article. Give the mother plenty of space, in a large cage This is again something that will always come up. Space, lots of it, is something that hamsters need. The absolute minimum for a hamster cage is 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 it’s what I’d recommend for a dwarf hamster as well. A hamster mother giving birth to 6-12 babies at once is going to fill up a cage fast. In those times, even her large cage might seem a bit cramped for her.  So always get your hamster a large cage, larger than you’d think. Especially if it’s a female you will want to breed later. You can find out more about hamster cages here, since you’ll get a rundown of all cage types and which is best for your hammy. If you’ve got 2 or more hamsters housed in the same cage, remove the mother-to-be and put her in a different, large cage long before she gives birth. She needs to adjust and feel comfortable in her new home as soon as you put her there, so place some of her old bedding and nesting material in her new temporary cage. Do not disturb the mother or cage for at least 2 weeks after giving birth This is because the mother is very tired ans started and jumpy while her babies are still very young. So do not open her cage, or change the bedding, try to put her in an exercise ball or separate her from her babies. Hamster mothers will do their best to raise and wean every one of their young, but they can scare very easily and end up eating their babies. This includes feeding the mother as well, feed her through the bars with a teaspoon or sprinkle some dry food onto her bowl. Do not touch the babies at all until the mother weans them (3-4 weeks) Touching the babies is a big mistake, when they’re so young. A baby hamster can only be removed from his mother after 3-4 weeks, and can be given for adoption immediately after. You will notice the mother has weaned them when she pushes them away after they try to nurse from her. In this period it’s important to provide her cage with even more food, since the babies will now need ‘adult’ food, like a food mix or some safe foods from your fridge or pantry. Touching or handling the babies before they are weaned will make the mother think they’re foreign, and not hers. She will reject or even eat them, so it’s best to wait a few more weeks. Separate the father from the litter at all times If the father was in the same cage as the mother, and you didn’t know she was pregnant, remove the father from the cage. Surprises happen, especially with dwarf pairs, since their sex is difficult to tell sometimes. So you might end up with a male and female pair that will give you a surprise litter one morning. The father will try to get the mother’s attention, and might eat or hurt the babies while trying to get her attention. Hamster fathers are not nurturing, and will not tolerate the babies for long, so it’s best to remove him from the cage. If you don’t want any more litters, keep the male and female separate at all times. Hamsters can mate again, right after the mother gave birth, so keep them apart. Some things you can’t change or save Even if you do you best to keep the mother safe, warm, well fed, not stressed, and on her own in a very large cage, she still might eat at least some of her babies. This is mostly due to accidents, like her biting too hard on the baby when she tries to pick him up. Or maybe she stores the baby in her cheeks to move and forgets that’s her baby. It sounds horrible, but small animals can get clumsy like this too. If this happens, there’s not much you can do. If the baby is not weaned yet, you can not touch it because the mother will reject it and then definitely eat it. Unless you want to raise the litter on your own, since they are just a few days old. But then they will lack the important interaction they need with their mother, to learn how to ‘be’ hamsters. This is a very touchy topic, and one I’m not about to breach here. The same goes for hamster mothers who kill the babies on purpose, because they think there’s something wrong with them. Like they might be sick or have something wrong with their body, that only she can tell. She might kill them if this is the case, because she thinks they will not survive on their own. This is again something that can’t be helped, and it’s sad but it can happen. How to tell your hamster is pregnant Maybe you ended up with a pregnant hamster when you bought her from the pet store. Or maybe you notice that one of your dwarf hammies is looking a bit odd. Whatever the case, here is how the pregnancy happens and how you can tell your hamster is pregnant. First, the pregnancy lasts from 18 to 22 days, time in which the hamster’s midsection will become larger and larger. You will notice she eats much more, and doesn’t exercise as much. She is saving her strength. She will become more and more irritable as her dues date approaches, and will look for hidden, safe corners n her cage. At this time it’s best to remover her from her cage mate, and place her in a large cage on her own, with plenty of familiar old bedding and nesting material, and plenty of places to hide. If you’re not sure if your hamster is pregnant, but she seems to suddenly be a bit larger and is constantly digging and burrowing and building a large nest, best to separate her from her cage mate. If you’re wrong and she’s not pregnant, that’s okay and you can place her back. But wait for at least 3 weeks after you separate her, to see if she does give birth or not. (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.) About hamster fertility and breeding Hamsters can breed basically every month. In theory, you can have a new litter every month. This is because a hamster can get pregnant within minutes after giving birth. The problem with this that the mother will be dehydrated and malnourished, and won’t be able to care properly for her existing litter. Baby hamsters can mate as soon as their mother weaned them.  That’s around 3-4 weeks of age, so you need to separate the hamsters into male and female cages immediately after this happens. If you don’t, more hamster litters will come in a few weeks. To figure out which is male and which is female, pick the hamster up, and look at his rear end. In females the genitals are right under the anus. In males, there is a more noticeable space left between them. If you tilt a male a bit back while you told him, you might even notice his testicles around his tail. This is more difficult with the smaller breeds, so every breed except for the Syrian. And hamsters do not like to be held this much or in that position, so they will squirm a bit. But you must do this to figure out which is which, in order to separate them. Female hamsters are in heat every few days, during the night, so they can be mated at any point. There is no mating seasons for hamsters, as there is with other animals. A word from Teddy I hope you found out a lot about us hammies here. I know a momma eating her babies is terrible, but it can happen sometimes, and I’m glad you found out how to make sure it doesn’t happen. Us hamsters grow up fast, so make sure you keep us separated by sexes or we’ll make a whole clan in a few weeks. If you want to know more about us hammies, you can check the articles below. You’ll find out things like why we freeze, how much food we need, and even why we eat our poop ! [...] Read more...
Hamster Teeth Problems. What They Are, And How To Treat Them
Hamster Teeth Problems. What They Are, And How To Treat ThemIf you’ve got a hamster, then you need to know about the teeth problems your friend can develop. Hamster’s teeth are crucial to their health, so you need to know how to help him out if something happens. I’ll cover the main dental problems hamsters can get into, how to check for those problems, and how to treat them. Table of Contents ToggleWhat a normal, healthy hamster’s teeth should look likeA hamster’s teeth are always growingTeeth problems hamsters can develop, and how to spot themOvergrownInfectedMisshapen/brokenTypical symptoms to look forBad breathSudden loss of appetiteChattering teethDroolingBad temperCage bitingFiling down overgrown hamster teethThe hamster will file them down himselfChew toys and other options for your hamster friendYou can take the hammy to the vetInfections in hamster teethChecking for infections in your hamster’s teethTreating your hamster’s teeth infectionMisshapen or broken hamster teethHelping your hamster with bad teethA word from Teddy What a normal, healthy hamster’s teeth should look like A healthy hamster’s teeth are quite long, yellow-ish orange, and a bit see-through. The hamster’s teeth look very different from a human’s teeth. Hamsters, like most rodents, have 2 pairs of incisor teeth. The lower pair is the longer pair, and will look very large compared to the top pair. You will see your hamster’s teeth clearly when he bites the cage, since he often bites hard onto them. Normally, your hammy’s teeth should be aligned, and ‘meet’ properly, both pairs forming a nice close. You can also check your hamster’s teeth by holding him and gently scruffing the back of his neck. This does not hurt if done right, since you are only pulling a little at the fur on the back of his head. This will reveal the hamster’s teeth, and you can check them for yourself. Do not be surprised that your hamster’s teeth aren’t white, or very pale. Yellow teeth in hamsters is no unhealthy. However you should worry a bit if you start seeing white spots on your hamster’s teeth.  Usually they’re brittle sport in the teeth, and will crumble. Those can be serious dental problems that require a veterinarian. A hamster’s teeth are always growing A hamster’s life is defined by chewing, and gnawing, and biting some more. Hamster are rodents, and as such they have an inherent need to always be chewing on something.  This is mostly because their front teeth are always growing. So, your hamster friend need to file them down regularly in order to keep them healthy. This can be done in several ways, but it’s mostly through the tough food your hamster chews every day, and whatever he chews on aside from that, like chew toys. Teeth problems hamsters can develop, and how to spot them Your hamster can develop dental problems. That can happen to anyone, but given the small size of hamsters, and how important their teeth are, it’s more of a problem for them. There are 3 main types of problems your hammy can run into, and in the rest of this article we’ll cover how you can help your friend. Overgrown The most common problem found with hamsters, overgrown teeth lead to several problems. Those problems can be that the hamster isn’t able to eat enough, is in pain, and will possibly be grumpy. Teeth can become overgrown if the hamster isn’t filing down his teeth. This can mean that the food he’s being fed isn’t hard enough – hamsters need hard, chewable foods – so he can’t file the teeth down. Or, it could be that he has nowhere to file the teeth down onto, like chew toys or cage bars. If you’ve got a glass tank for your hammy, and he’s got nothing to chew on, that’s a problem. Infected Infections can occur if the hamster’s gums become hurt in some way (like something sharp scraping them) and the bacteria has a way into the animal’s body. Or, it could be tooth decay from possibly sugary food (depending on what you feed your hamster), which can lead to an infection. In any case, this is something to treat at the vet. Misshapen/broken Sometimes, hamsters are born with tooth problems. Like misshapen teeth, and in those cases it’s best to get the hammy to the vet so he can help the hamster. If the hammy’s teeth are healthy and straight, but end up breaking, that again means a trip to the vet. This can happen if your hamster’s got weak teeth, or if he chews on much too hard surfaces, like the metal bars in his cage, or the running wheel. Typical symptoms to look for Usually hamster dental problems can be spotted fairly quickly. There’s just a few things you should check your hamster for, so see if he’s alright. Bad breath An infection especially, will smell terrible. Your normally clean and non-smelly hammy might have terrible breath if he’s got an infection. You can notice this when you pick up the hamster and play with it. Or, by giving it something to chew onto and then you might smell the problem. The smell is caused by the pus and irritation in the hamster’s mouth, where the abscess is located. If you scruff the hammy you will probably be able to see which tooth is infected. You’ll notice the gum around the tooth is red, swollen, and might already have whitish spots where the infection is coming out. This needs to be treated immediately, otherwise your hamster is at serious risk. Sudden loss of appetite This can come along with an infection, or even just overgrown teeth. If you’ve noticed your hamster’s food bowl has been mysteryously full these past few days, you should check on the hamster. It can happen that your hamster isn’t able to feed himself properly lately, and he needs your help. Now, do keep in mind that hamsters can and do become very picky eaters. So if you’ve got a food mix, and only some parts of it are still in the food bowl the next day, your hamster is fine. For example my Teddy (Syrian adult male) favors the sunflower seeds, peanuts, and other vitamin bits he finds in his food bowl, and leaves the plain grains aside. He’s still a healthy Syrian hammy though, he just gets picky. However if you’ve noticed that your hamster is also losing a bit of weight, this is also a sign. You can check the weight by placing your hammy in a cup he can’t get out of (like a tall glass, or plastic cup) and weighing him on a kitchen scale. Make sure to account for the weight of the cup ! Chattering teeth This is another sign that something might be wrong with your hamster’s teeth. Chattering teeth are usually a sign of nervousness, and are accompanied by a short temper, and lots of cage biting. He might even bite you, he’s in no mood to play. If your hamster has chattering teeth, and also chews on the cage bars a lot, it could be a possible tooth problem indicator. Like tooth pain, or an infection. Do keep in mind that chattering teeth can show up even if your hamster is healthy. He could be just aggitated or trying to intimidate you. So make a mental note of chattering teeth, but this is not a clear sign of just tooth problems. Drooling Hamsters, like cats, do not drool normally. They do have saliva, but their mouth is usually ‘dry’. So if your hamster is suddenly drooling, it could be a sign of him not being able to close his mouth properly because of his teeth. Bad temper Hamsters, like humans, do not respond well to pain or stress. So if your hammy has a tooth ache, he might be snappy. Imagine your last tooth ache. So your usually mild and cute hamster might turn into a snappy, nippy hammy with no patience for anything. He might not even let you touch him in some cases. Now, not all ill-tempered hamsters have tooth aches. But this could be a sign of tooth problems. Especially if it’s a change that came on suddenly. Cage biting If your hammy suddenly started biting the cage bars, this too could be a sign. Hamsters always need to chew on something, but if he’s ignored the bars until now, that says something. Your hammy could be seeking some relief from the cage bars, instead of his chew toy because the bars are, well, much harder and are also cold. If your hammy’s got an infection, the gums will seem very hot to him, and he’ll want to cool off a bit. Obviously, your hammy biting the cage bars is not a good idea. And it’s not healthy for his teeth either, since he can actually break or crack his teeth on the bars. Filing down overgrown hamster teeth If your hamster’s got overgrown teeth, then he will need to file them down. This happens by repeated chewing and biting onto hard surfaces. But, those surfaces should never be as hard as the cage bars, or the glass of his glass tank. There’s two ways your can go about this. The hamster will file them down himself Most of the time, the hamster will file the teeth down himself. If he’s got proper food and chew toys, he will do that himself. Your hamster’s front teeth are always growing, so he always needs to do this. You can help him out here by giving him the right kind of toys to use for his teeth. Chew toys and other options for your hamster friend One option is chew toys. Hamsters do well with wood based chew toys. So for this reason a set of toys like this one will help your hamster not only file down his teeth, but also keep his mind occupied. This set’s got several toys, so your hammy will have lots of options to choose from. You can find the listing on Amazon here, and see the reviews for yourself. Another option is giving your hamster friend a walnut, or a chestnut so he will want to chew and gnaw on it. My teddy has a walnut in his cage and he goes absolutely insane when he sees it. He just has to break the thing open or he won’t know what he’ll do. He never did manage to open the walnut, hamsters aren’t squirrels. But he loves biting into the shell, and your hammy will probably do the same if your give him one. Other options include bendy bridges, which are made from wood, and can serve as a great chew toy for your hamster friend. You will find those on Amazon as well. And finally, hamsters will chew on absolutely everything. Including their food bowl and hideout. For this reason, and not only (more on that here) I recommend you get your hamster friend a wooden hideout. This will make it easier for your hamster to file down his teeth, since he will wake up in the middle of the night to chew a little. And he will chew on his hideout, without even getting out of his nest. I looked around for a hideout very similar to the one I have for my Teddy. My hammy already shaved fairly large chunks of the inside, in the year and the half since he’s had his hideout. Still, he loves it, and it keeps his scent. You can find the listing on Amazon for this wooden hamster house here, and read the reviews. You can take the hammy to the vet If the case is severe, and immediate attention is needed, you can also take your hamster friend to the vet. He will know what to do to file down the hammy’s teeth. There are a few guides to filing down hamster teeth at home, or even clipping them. But I honestly discourage them, since the animal isn’t comfortable, and you need a lot of training to make sure you do not hurt the hamster. Please do not file or clip your hamster’s teeth at home. Seek professional care for him. (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.) Infections in hamster teeth Sometimes the hamster’s teeth can get infected. This can happen like with humans too. Maybe the hamster ate a food that made a small cut in his gums, and that cut got infected. There could be other reasons, but the end result is the same. Checking for infections in your hamster’s teeth Red, angry, inflamed gum(s), and a bit of pus. This is dangerous for your hamster to swallow, so it must be solved quickly. You can check this by holding the hamster in your hand, and gently scruffing him. This will pull back his lips and you will see his teeth. He might not like being held like this, so expect a bit of squirming. Expect lots of squirming if the hamster does have a serious infection, since it will possibly hurt him a bit. Treating your hamster’s teeth infection If the gums or mouth looks at any point like I just described above, then your hamster might be dealing with an infection. In this case, take your hamster to the veterinarian. He will prescribe a round of antibiotics that are safe for small animals. He will tell you how to administer the medication to your hamster. Usually the veterinarians that have experience with rodents are labeled as exotic, meaning that they will also know what to do with unusual pets if the case arises. Misshapen or broken hamster teeth There are some unfortunate hamsters who are born with misshapen teeth. They are misaligned since birth, but they can sometimes be corrected. You can notice this at the pet store by looking closely at the hamster for any mouth problems. You will also be able to notice this when the hamster tries to drink a bit of water. Or, if you haven’t noticed at the pet store and brought him home, you can still check him. Just use the scruffing method and check the teeth. There should be no gaps, or odd angles or crossed teeth. If there are such problems, take your hamster to a veterinarian. Now, if your hamster’s got great teeth, and suddenly broke them, that’s an issue. Breaking teeth are a sign of malnutrition, or poor health, old age, or a possible illness. It depends on each hamster, and his own medical history. Broken teeth are particularly dangerous, since the hamster can cut himself on them. And often they’re cracked/fissured as well, which means that your hamster is in for some serious problems. Again, it’s best if you take your hamster to the veterinarian, who will know how to align or file the hamster’s teeth, and do it humanely. Helping your hamster with bad teeth For any hamster with bad teeth, the diet is important. I don’t mean putting your hamster on a weight loss diet. But the food he eats has a direct and large impact on his health. You can take care of this by giving your hamster friend a healthy food mix, to make sure he has all the basic nutrients already in his food bowl. This particular mix has all the nutrients your hamster needs, including the harder, sturdier grains hamsters need to chew on in order to file down their teeth. The whole bag will last you a couple of months or more, depending on how much you feed your hammy. You can check the listing on Amazon here, and read the reviews as well. Aside from the healthy food mix, you can give your hamster from your own pantry or fridge. A large amount of the foods we humans eat are also safe for hamsters, so you should check out this article on what foods are okay and not okay for hamsters to eat. Just remember, fruits and high-fat foods should be kept to a minimum, since they can lead to an obese hamster. And that’s a whole different set of problems, which you can read about here. And always, always, make sure your hamster has something wood-based to chew onto. A word from Teddy I hope you found out how to care for your teeth in this article. I know us hammies can get a bit overzealous with our chewing and biting, but we do have dental problems from time to time. So if you want to know more about us hammies, you can check out the articles below for valuable info on how to care for us. [...] Read more...
Hamsters Hiding Their Food – Why, When, And Where
Hamsters Hiding Their Food – Why, When, And WhereEver seen how your hammy stuffs his cheeks and then wanders off ? Did you ever wonder where all that food goes ? That’s a lot of food for such a tiny furry boy. Where does it all go ? As it happens, hammies like to hoard. Their name in Syria where the first hammy was discovered translated to Mr. Saddlebags. Apparently hamsters like to carry away their food, but what do they do with all of it ? Table of Contents ToggleDo hamsters hide their food ?Why hamsters hide their foodWhen hamsters hide their foodWhere do hamsters hide their foodCan you stop your hamster from hiding his food ?Which foods are okay for hamstersA word from Teddy Do hamsters hide their food ? Yes, hamsters hide their food. In fact your per hamster is hiding the majority of the food you’re giving him. This is not to say you’re overfeeding him. We’ll discuss that later in this article. But hamsters are hardwired to hide away most of their food, in case of a long, hard winter. Or in case it’s too dangerous to go outside to forage for food. Pet hamsters still have this instinct, since it’s what kept them alive for so long in the wild. So they’re not going to forget it anytime soon. After all, they’ve only been with us for the last century or so. Now let’s see how and why this all happens, so you can better understand your friend. Why hamsters hide their food Hammies hide their food for a number of reasons. To understand this we need to look at the wild hamster, and how it survives in the wild. A wild hamster will come out of his hiding place in the evening, and hear for predators. He he thinks the coast is clear, he’ll run around looking for food. Now, given the fact that hamsters are prey and are always hunted by one animal or another, they move fast. They also have to move fast to cover lots of ground, their territory is large because the areas hamsters come from are quite barren. Not much vegetation or fruit or veggies to be found. So hamsters take what they can get, and cover a wide area to do so. They can cover 9 km/5.5 miles in a single night ! Imagine those tiny feet scurrying across the desert or steppes to find a few grains. On top of all this, winter does come. That means less food, and the need to stockpiling. Hamsters have evolved, because of all these reasons, to have one big pantry in their nest. That pantry is organized and cleaned daily. The hammy knows what he’s got there, and he knows it will last him through the cold. For convenience, for survival, and because of scarcity. This is also why hamsters usually eat dry, hard grains since those keep the best. They’ve also evolved to have long front teeth to manage eating those grains. More on hamster teeth here. How does this translate to your pet hamster ? Well, even if he’s a pet and he is safe and gets food constantly, he still has the instinct to hoard and make sure he has enough food. It’s something pet hamsters will probably never forget. When hamsters hide their food Hammies love to hide their food. They don’t usually need a time of the year to hide it, they always hide it. Whenever they find some food, they’ll hide it in their amazingly elastic cheek pouches and carry it with them. This means they’ll also have snacks along the way, and they don’t have to drop all their food if a predator comes along. So your pet hamster will hide his food when he finds it. This means that right after you put food in his little bowl, he will sniff it and start putting it in his cheeks. He’ll stuff his cheeks with as much food you’ve given him, or as much as his cheeks can carry. Then, he’ll wander off to his hideout, and put it in his food stash. More on that later in the article. Once his stash has been added to, he might stay there and eat a few bits of the food. Or, he might come out and play, or run on his wheel. Once he knows he’s got food, he won’t worry about much. If you give him additional bits of food, after his feeding time, he will still take those. hamsters are greedy little things, regardless of how much or how little food they have in their stash. They will always take the food offered. If it’s a food that spoils immediately, like a piece of cooked chicken or egg white, he’ll eat it right then and there. If it’s a food that keeps, including cheese, he’ll store it away. Where do hamsters hide their food Alright, hammies store their food, we know why and we know when. But where exactly do hamsters store their food ? Well, maybe you’ve noticed, maybe not. Hamsters are good at hiding. But whenever you clean your hamster’s cage you’ll see he has a corner, tucked away in his hideout or nest, and it’s got plenty of food.  That’s the hammy’s storage place, or food stash. That’s where he keeps all the food you give him, and it’s convenient. Next time your think your hammy is sleeping try this. Keep your ears open for any chewing or small crunching sound. That’ll be your hammy taking a midnight snack. Hamsters keep their food close, and it will usually be in the lowest part of their nest. As in, they will build their sleeping area on top of the food, if they have no other option. In the wild hamsters only keep their food in a special, dedicated room. They have a different room for sleeping, another one for peeing, and so on. Hamsters are very organized, and in the wild their home is actually a series of tunnels on several levels, with many rooms. As a pet, they have either the hideout you provide them, or the nest they’ve built in a corner of the cage. For the sake of your hammy’s sanity, do get him a hideout. Or at the very least arrange a hidden, covered corner of the cage and you’ll see that’s where he will hide. (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.) Can you stop your hamster from hiding his food ? No. You can’t stop your hamster from hiding his food. It would be like trying to stop a dog from howling when he hears other dogs. Or a cat from surveying everything from the tallest object in your home. Or a parakeet from being… well, silly and noisy. It’s what the animal does, and it’s their instinct. A hamster will always hide his food, because this is what he knows. He knows food is scarce, and life in the desert or steppes is harsh, and he has to survive. The fact that he gets a steady, regular food supply from you is just happenstance for him. Giving him more food will only mean a larger food stash that will end up spoiling since he can’t eat it all. On the other hand, underfeeding your hamster will only give him a sense of anxiety. Having only enough food to eat in one sitting, and nothing to bring back home will make him stressed. Hamsters react very poorly to stress and can develop serious problems like fur loss, wet tail, and a series of digestive problems. So give your hamster food as usual, 2 teaspoons for a Syrian, and one teaspoon for a Dwarf type. That’s daily, and it’s for commercial mixes that have lots of dry grains and seeds and vitamins added in. He will have enough food to eat, and to hide. Do keep in mind that older hamsters become very picky, and won’t eat all of their food. Which foods are okay for hamsters This is a topic I’ve covered in a different article. Here you’ll find a whole list of safe and unsafe foods you can give your hamster. Some are already in your pantry, or fridge. However I do recommend a commercial food mix to give to your hammy, since that will have a balanced diet for him, with all the nutrients he needs. At a glance, hamsters eat mostly grains. They are omnivores, and will eat most things they find. But, not all are okay for them. Again, refer to the food list I’ve linked above. Aside from grains, hammies eat veggies, some root-type veggies, some fruits, a couple of insects, and lots of seeds and nuts. Very acidic foods like citrus or garlic or onion, and spices in general are very bad for hamsters. A word from Teddy I hope you found what you were looking for in this article. Us hammies love to hide our food, just so we know we’ve got enough to last us for several days. It;s not you, it’s just us being hamsters. If you want to know more about us hammies and how to care for us, you should read the articles below for more info. [...] Read more...