Hamster Grooming, And The Importance Of A Proper Sand Bath

You’ve probably seen your hamster friend groom himself. Pulling his fur, combing through it, behind his ears, the works. But do hamsters need sand baths ? Does it help their grooming process ?

This is something I’ve asked myself too, seeing as I did give Teddy (male, Syrian hamster) a bowl with sand for him to play in. But we should first know everything about a hamster’s grooming routine. Then, we can figure out if the sand bath helps.

hamster grooming and sand bath (3)

About the hamster’s grooming routine

All hamsters, everywhere, groom themselves. That’s a very well known fact. Actually hamster are pretty much on par with cats in terms of cleanliness.

If you’ve ever noticed your hamster when he’s cleaning himself, you probably know he does that often. Much more often than most animals.

This is one reason hamsters never need a water bath, with shampoo or other cleaning supplies. They’re simply too good at cleaning themselves, they don’t need it. And getting a hamster wet can be fatal in some cases, in most cases it leads to colds and hypothermia.

For example my Teddy grooms himself when I put him in his exercise ball, when I take him out of it, when he wakes up, before he goes to bed, after he pees, after he runs for 10 minutes, after he eats and after he poops.

Usually hamsters will pull at their fur, scratch part of their fur, com and comb again through their fur to get everything out and spread the oils on their fur.

They’re especially funny when they start pulling on their ears and collecting whatever dirt was behind them, and especially their cheeks. As if anything had a chance to appear in the 2 hours since their last grooming session.

That’s a lot of cleaning. But why do hamsters do that ?

Why a hamster needs to be clean

Hamsters need to be clean in order to keep their predators at bay. That’s the main reason, since hamsters are prey for many animals. This means that their scent will draw predators like wild cats, snakes, owls, and so on to hunt for them in the wild.

So, hamsters have evolved this cleaning routine to keep themselves ‘invisible’, kind of. They’re very strict about it, and it’s what kept them alive all this time.

Hamsters will want to clean themselves after every little interaction with something that can leave a smell on them. This includes other creatures, like other hamsters, or humans, and even food.

Another reason hamsters clean themselves is because of their habitat. Hamsters in the wild live inside burrows, with series of tunnels and nests deep underground. This can make lots of debris like dirt and twigs get stuck in the hamster’s fur.

The hamster cleans himself to function properly, and not have his fur matted with dirt. You can tell there is something wrong with the hamster if he stops cleaning himself, or he still looks bad after a grooming session.

A sick hamster won’t take care of himself very well

Hamsters not grooming themselves anymore have only two explanations.

First, it could be that the hamster has become very old. So old, in fact, the he is very close to the end. His brain has started disintegrating and can’t help him do normal hamster things, like clean himself, not pee in his nest, and in extreme cases even eat.

It’s a sad thing to watch, but there is nothing you can do to make your friend any better. It’s much like with human seniors. Once they start losing control of bodily functions, things can’t get better.

The second reason hamsters stop grooming themselves is because they have become very, very sick. It could be an infection that weakened their body to the point of exhaustion. They’re simply too tired to clean themselves, and this will make the infection even worse.

Or it could be a physical problem, as in a broken or sprained paw that restricts their movement, or a form or arthritis.

In short, if your hamster isn’t cleaning himself, that is very bad news. Most of the time the vet will be able to help you treat the hamster’s illness.

For this you need to look for an ”exotics” vet, who has experience with rodents, reptiles, and also birds.

Health problems that come up because of poor grooming/hygiene

Some of the health problems that can rear their ugly heads when the hamster isn’t clean can be very serious. I’ll give you a brief rundown of these health problems.

Infections – can become serious business, in any part of the body. Especially bad if the hamster ends up swallowing part of the pus, like with cheek infections, or tooth infections.

Eye infections can be rinsed with a saline solution, until the vet can receive your hamster and give him proper treatment.

Even a small, seemingly benign cut (if the hamster is scratching himself, for example) can be dangerous if the hamster’s skin isn’t clean, or the claw he’s scratched himself with is dirty.

As with humans, infections need antibiotic treatment, which can take a toll on the body. Given that the hamster is such a small little thing, his food will need to be supplemented during his treatment.

Mites and parasites – these are never fun to treat, and please do not get your hamster treatments for such problems without talking to your vet. Most over the counter treatments are much too harsh for the hamster’s skin and can cause death, so please be careful.

The vet will be able to recommend a treatment that will be fairly easy on your hamster. The problem with mites and other parasites (like fleas for example) is that the hamster will scratch himself much too hard and eventually hurt himself. This can lead to bald patches, and other health problems like infections or warts.

Fungus – the cage needs to be clean, to prevent the spores from fungus to develop. There are two main culprits when it comes to fungal infections in hamsters (ringworm and Aspergillus) and both can be very dangerous. Ringworm is easier on the hamster, but Aspergillus can be deadly.

Wet-tail – can come about if the hamster is kept in miserable conditions, or is highly stressed and his immune system can’t fight off the infection. The result is a weak hamster with constant diarrhea, and very little chances of survival.

Thankfully wet-tail has a certain age when the hamster is likely to develop it. A bit like childhood illnesses. Wet-tail is more common on young (4-10 weeks) hamsters, who have been separated from the mother and brought to their new owner.

All of these can be treated, so do not worry. If you notice your hamster having health problems, call your veterinarian.

A clean habitat keeps the hamster clean too

A clean cage will mean a clean hamster. For example the fungus problem I mentioned earlier. The Aspergillus spores will grow from the hamster’s pee corner. It will first look like a white growth, then turn black.

But if the pee corner is cleaned often, the spores don’t really have a chance to develop. This only happens if the cage isn’t cleaned for a very long time (like a few weeks), or if the home/room has a fungal infection and the spores are already in the home.

But what is a clean cage ? Hamsters will kick around bedding, bits of cardboard, fling their poo across the cage, and sleep on top of a pile of food. Well, that’s all normal, actually.

Hammies keep themselves very clean, and their nest as well. As in, the area immediately around where they sleep. Aside from that, not their business.

So cleaning the cage once per week is pretty much mandatory. If you’ve got more than one hamster living in the same cage, then you will have to clean the whole cage more often than that.

This is because the pee corner starts to smell, and the bedding becomes very very messy. There will be bits of food lying somewhere, and torn up cardboard in the food bowl. It’s a lot like a small child’s room.

To clean the hamster’s cage, you’re going to have to remove the hamster from the cage in the first place. Put him in his travel cage or exercise ball until you’re done cleaning.

Take out all the bedding and objects, wipe the cage down with a wet, clean towel, then pat it dry. Add fresh bedding back, but make sure to sprinkle in a bit of the old bedding so the hamster recognizes things easier.

Place everything back the way it was before, and finally add the hamster back in.

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

hamster grooming and sand bath (2)

How a sand bath helps a hamster groom himself

You’re wondering, after all this talk of hamsters cleaning themselves and how to keep their habitat clean, how does a sand bath help ? Well, at first glance it might seem like it’s pointless. It can be, from a certain point of view. But let’s see both sides for a moment.

The main reason hamsters would need a sand bath is to absorb the excess oil in their fur. You see, hamster fur has a layer of oils (like our human hair does, the sebum) which helps keep the hair healthy and the skin clean.

However too much of that sebum will make the hamster’s fur look bad, and feel bad too. This is where the sand comes in, to help keep the hamster’s fur nice and clean.

Now, the hamster does comb through his fur often. So often that he moves the oils from the skin all the way to the tips of the hairs. So you could argue that their fur never gets too oily.

While that is true, what is also true is that hamsters simply seem to go nuts when they feel sand. They immediately jump into the sand bowl and start spazzing, like cats on catnip.

They not only rub themselves in the sand, they rub the sand into their fur. Somehow, they know something we humans do not know. And it looks like a sand bath is something they enjoy.

My Teddy for example has his sand bowl close to his nest, and he takes occasional baths in it. He also loves to dig in that sand bath, which kicks up soooo much sand. Luckily it never gets out of the cage.

What kind of sand bath you should get for your hamster

As for what kind of sand to get your hamster, I unfortunately can’t give you a brand to look for.

I mean, the sand I use for my Teddy can be used for chinchilla sand. So that’s a good starting point, chinchilla sand.

But not all petshops have chinchilla sand, and looking for it online only gave me unhappy customers. It seems like the sand that was once okay (there were a couple of brands) is now not okay. They’ve changed their formulation and their sand is rather dusty, more like flour.

Given how sensitive hamsters are, inhaling all that dust just isn’t alright for them. It isn’t alright for humans either, but hamsters are much more sensitive than us.

So when you go and look for sand for your hamster buddy, make sure you look for granulated sand, dust-free. It shouldn’t be very coarse, it should be like… well, sand that’s been sifted.

The one I have for Teddy is made of ground up sea shells and minerals. Some brands use this kind of formulation as well, and you can find it in either very light grey/white, or a sort of brown. It really depends on the brand and the formulation they’re using right now.

I’ll attach a photo of the sand I have for my Teddy. If you can find this one, it’s probably still got the right texture for hamsters.

hamster grooming and sand bath (1)

How to give your hamster a proper sand bath

Alright, we’ve talked about why hammies need a sand bath, and what kind of sand to look for. But how do you give a hamster a sand bath ?

Well, hamsters are great at doing that themselves, so you won’t really have to do anything other than just provide the sand.

What you need to be careful for is the fact that the sand will get everywhere. If you’ve ever been to the beach, you know what I mean. You have to be careful with it. So this means giving your hamster an appropriate place/object for that bath.

You might think a shallow bowl would be enough. And it would, if it had something overhead. For example my teddy has half of a plastic hideout filled with sand, and it’s places under the first level of his cage. So that sand never gets outside the cage, and is well contained.

But what if you don’t have another level in your cage ? Or not enough room under that level to fit a bowl ?

Then you’ll need to look around for some options. For example this one is large enough to fit a Syrian hamster, and is easy to take apart and clean.

It’s got a clear side, so you’ll be able to see your hamster when he uses this sand bath. It’s small enough so it will fit in most cages, so unless you’ve got an especially crowded cage, this one will fit right in.

It’s even got a small scoop to get the hamster’s droppings out, if he ever decides to use the sand bath as a toilet too. Don’t be surprised if he does.

You can check the listing on Amazon here.

All you have to do is add the sand into the sand bath, and leave it in your hamster’s cage. I change my Teddy’s sand once per week, when I clean the whole cage.

A word from Teddy

I hope your found what you were looking for in this article. Us hamsters are very good at cleaning ourselves, we don’t really need any help. But we do appreciate a nice sand bath, to keep our fur nice and groomed.

If you want to know more about us hamsters you should check out the related articles below. You’ll learn how to keep us safe and happy, and what we need for a good life.

Related blog post
4 Reasons Your Hamster Is Scared Of You – Try To Avoid These
4 Reasons Your Hamster Is Scared Of You – Try To Avoid TheseHamsters are very skittish creatures, and they scare easily. For example when I first got my Teddy he was scared of me and didn’t like being out of his hut. In time we grew closer and he is fine with me now, but he still has some random moments when he suddenly darts into his home. If your hammy is anything like mine, then you’re probably wondering why he’s so scared of you. Sometimes you can’t help it – no matter how much you weigh, you’ll always be a giant for your hamster, and that can be scary for him. Table of Contents ToggleSo why is your hamster so scared of you ?Why hamsters are easy to scare in the first placeYour hamster doesn’t trust you yetYour hamster is scared of sudden movementsYour hamster is still in shock and needs to adapt to his new homeSome hamsters are very easy to scareA word from Teddy So why is your hamster so scared of you ? Generally hamsters are scared of everything, including you, until they get to know you better. Often it’s not necessarily your fault, since hamsters have an instinct to hide from everything. It could be how large you are in comparison to him, he maybe heard something spooky outside, maybe the cat keeps pawing at his cage every day ? So in short, your hamster could be scared because: he doesn’t trust you yet you did something very suddenly and scared him he’s currently in shock (like when you first bring him home) he’s a very shy hamster – some hamsters just are too easy to scare, no matter what. Alright, but aside from the personality, these can all be avoided. Or, at least made to be less scary for your hamster. Let’s get into detail with all of these, and see what you can do to help your hamster be more at ease. Why hamsters are easy to scare in the first place Imagine being so tiny, like your hamster. You barely weigh anything, and if the wind blows too hard you’ll roll over for a few minutes. Then, you’re somehow hunted day and night by anything from owls, to snakes, to wild cats and dogs, and sometimes even humans (in some parts of the world). You have to always be on the run, and nowhere you hide is safe. You dig underground, but the predators can hear you breathing or moving about. You run but they keep up. So you learn to have very quick reflexes, and run faster than your predators. You learn to dodge, suddenly stop, run the other way, and every other evasion tactic ever. You have to always be on high alert. Your best senses are hearing and smell, because the eyes don’t always tell the truth. This is usually what hamsters live like, and it’s a natural part of …well, nature. So your tiny furball is born to run and hide as fast and far as those tiny feet can get him. So whenever your notice that you scared your hamster by just walking by him, know that it’s 90% just his instinct. A few other reasons your hamster might be suddenly freezing can be found in this article. Now let’s see what can be done about the different reasons your hamster can get scared of you. Your hamster doesn’t trust you yet This is the main reason hamsters are scared of humans. We are so much larger than them, and we go to grab them with our big hands. The hamster’s first instinct is to shy away. So, what is best is to slowly let your hamster get to know you. As with dogs, hamsters have very fine smell, so let your hamster get used to your smell by placing your hand in the cage with a treat on it. Let the hamster get close, and take the treat from you. He will probably not eat from your hand at first but he will know your smell. Slowly progress over time to keeping more food in your hand so that your hamster gets to touch you more often. You can try gently petting him with a finger, and then later lifting the hand with the hamster on it, still in the cage, and slowly putting it back down. It takes time and repeated tries for your hammy to trust you, but it will probably happen. It might take a few days, or a few weeks. In some cases, it might not happen at all. Some hamsters are just very hard to tame, and it’s an achievement if they don’t bite at all. Your hamster is scared of sudden movements Since your hamster can’t see very well (but can hear and smell very well) sudden movements will make him jump. Literally jump. My Teddy did backflips when he was young if I somehow scared him, then he’d run into his hideout. So what I learned to do was not move too suddenly when I am around him, and talk to him as well. This way he knows where I am and can guess where I am going. Imagine some very large creature that you don’t understand, suddenly moving around you very fast. You’d probably hide too. Sudden sounds don’t really scare hamsters. Actually they will hear things you don’t, or would usually ignore. For example if it’s raining outside, you’ll notice your hamster stand still and listen for the water dripping outside. This is only until he learns to recognize the sound, then he will ignore it too. Your hamster is still in shock and needs to adapt to his new home If your hamster is young, and you just brought him from the pet shop, leave him a couple of days to adjust. When you get your hamster, the employee who will catch him in the cardboard box needs to be gentle but determined to actually get him inside. Most hamster babies will run away when you reach for them to put them in the box, but picking them up with the box with a treat inside is much easier. Then, after you’ve picked up the hamster make it a short trip home. He will panic and start to pace his tiny box, scared. My Teddy started to chew around the air holes in his box when I got him, and we got an Uber home to get him in his cage fast. When you do get home and prepare his cage, place the box with the hamster inside the cage. Set a couple of treats outside his box, and open it. Then step away and let your hammy explore his new home. He will be shy at first, but the food will draw him out. Make sure that you’ve set up the bedding, hideout, food bowl and water tube and a few toys for him. You will need to give him about 2 full days to adjust to the cage and his hideout. In this time he will scare easily, and probably climb everywhere on the cage. For a good idea on what kind of hideout to get your furry buddy, check out this article. You’ll get some tips and pointers, along with clear examples. My Teddy made me wonder if I accidentally got a spider instead of a hamster. He was on the cage walls and ceiling more often than he was on the ground. Actually the first night I had him, I made myself some tea and just sat there watching him. He is my first hamster so I had no idea what he would be doing. Everything he did was funny, including that fuzzy face when he stares into the distance. In those first couple of days, do not reach into your hamster’s cage, to let him make the cage his. Then, after he calms down a bit, you can start talking to him, feed him a treat between the cage bars. Then, you can start building your relationship with him by doing what I suggested above, in the hamster trust part. But remember to give him time, it might take a few days or even a few weeks ! (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.) Some hamsters are very easy to scare This you cannot change, but you can improve it. Give the hamster time to get used to you, and go very slow with the taming process. Let him back in his cage if he looks like he’s restless. Most hamsters look like that but you can tell when your hamster want to jump out of your hand. It might be that he will never get used to being touched or held, and that’s not something you can change. Not all hamsters are like this, but a few can be very scared. With these hamsters, be extra cautious, move slowly, and talk to them. For example my Teddy is not the friendliest – he doesn’t let new people touch him. And sometimes not even me, depending on his mood. He’s more like a cat sometimes. Never disturb the hamster when he doesn’t need to be awake. You can read more about the daily routine of your hammy here, and why it’s a bad idea to wake him up too many times. A word from Teddy I hope you know now that us hamsters are easy to scare. So be gentle and slow, and we’ll learn to trust you. We can become very good friends if you give us enough time. If you want to know more about hammies, feel free to check the articles below. You’ll find more info on how much space we need, and how to feed us properly, along with other general care things. [...] Read more...
A Word On Keeping Hamsters With Rats, Or Hamsters With Mice
A Word On Keeping Hamsters With Rats, Or Hamsters With MiceA hamster isn’t all that different from a mouse, or a rat, since all 3 are rodents. You might argue they can all live together, or at least get along during playtime. As it happens, these 3 animals are in fact very similar. But it’s the key differences between them that mean they’re not as good a match. If you want a more detailed comparison between rats, mice, and hamsters, you should read this article here. Table of Contents ToggleSo can hamsters live with rats ?Can hamsters live with mice ?About the hamster’s personalityAbout the rat’s personalityAbout the mouse’s personalityDifferences in food for hamsters, rats, and miceCage size differences between the 3 rodent typesPlaytime and other habits that might conflictA word from Teddy So can hamsters live with rats ? No, hamsters can’t live with rats. A hamster is territorial, solitary, and will try to attack anything that crosses his path.  A rat is much larger, calmer, and very social, loves to live in groups. However it will bite back if the hamster attacks, and it won’t stop until the hammy is dead. While both the rat and the hamster are good pets, hamsters simply can’t share their space with another. They only seek another soul when they’re ready to mate. Any other time would be a deathmatch. We’ll cover the main characteristics of hamsters and rats in the rest of the article, so you will get a more thorough answer to your question. But if rats being larger are a problem, what about mice ? Good question, let’s look into that.   Can hamsters live with mice ? No, hamsters can’t live with mice either. The hamster is territorial, solitary, and likes to keep his food to himself. A mouse is smaller than a Syrian hamster, but much faster, and agile, and will end up stealing the hamster’s food. If you keep just one mouse and just one hamster, the hamster will end up killing the mouse. The size helps there. However if you’ve got at least two mice and a hamster, they will gang up on the hamster, turning the fight in favor of the mice. It’s really not a good idea to combine hamsters with any other animal. At all. Even another hamster is a bad idea half the time, let alone a different animal. Let’s see why hamster and mice can’t really get along, even if they’re closer in size than rats and hamsters. 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 rat’s personality A rat is a very opportunistic animal, and a smart one at that. Of the 3 rodents we’re discussing today, the rat is the smartest. They’ve often been compared to dogs in terms of affection and comprehension of human intent. That being said, rats make for good pets, it’s just that they need lots of handling or a buddy. They’re highly social animals, and they like playtime. Actually rats bond with their owners much more than hamster or mice, and actually like it when their owners hold them. When it comes to food, rats will eat almost anything. This means they will eat about equal proportions of meat, grains, veggies, and fresh fruit. They will steal the hamster’s food if they think it’s tastier, or it’s something they like. Very important to note, rats tend to attack and view as food anything smaller than them. That includes the hamster, and the mouse too actually. Back to the rat’s intelligence, they’re able to learn tricks and they get bored easily if not given enough stimulation. So they’ve got a big advantage over hamsters, and would be able to rick them if they wanted. A bored rat next to a skittish hamster does not sound good. About the mouse’s personality The mice are a bit harder to tame than the rat, since they’re so small and all over the place. They too are social animals, but they need to be in same-sex pairs, female if possible. Male mice can get along, but it’s like with the Dwarf hammies. Only if they were kept together as babies, need a very big cage, and they still might fight. Aside from that, mice have much of the same diet as rats. As in, they can and will eat nearly anything, and will steal bits of food whenever they can. Mice are fairy skittish, and need a lot of patience from their owners when being handled. They don’t jump out of your hands as often as the hamster. But they still can. (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.) Differences in food for hamsters, rats, and mice Food is something these 3 would argue over, and here’s why. While mice, rats, and hamsters are omnivores, hamsters still tend to eat mostly grains and veggies. So giving them the same feed will leave the dietary needs of the other ones unmet. And there will be food thefts, which can become a major problem. A rat stealing from a hamster can make do, although the hamster might fight back. However a hamster can’t really steal from the rat’s food, since it’s made up of slightly different nutrients. So that leaves the hamster at a disadvantage. Also the fact that the rat will protect his food and bite the hamster is another concern. You can’t keep separate food bowls for hamsters, mice, or rats. They won’t know which is which, and will pick out what they like from whichever bowl they find. Hamsters hoard food in their nest, as do rats and mice. However if the hamster feels unsafe in his hideout – and he will, with another rodent – he’ll keep the food in his cheek pouches. This leads to a host of health problems, since those pouches are not meant as permanent storage. Cage size differences between the 3 rodent types Hamsters need a minimum of of 24 x 12 inches, and about 12 inches tall. That’s 61 x 30.5 cm, and about 30.5 cm tall. This is the minimum for a lone, Syrian hamster. A single, male mouse will need a cage of 10 x 12 inches/25 x 30 cm. The same size will work for a trio of female mice. Males need more space of their own, but the larger the space, the more territorial they become. Rats, on the other hand, need a cage about 25 x 12.5 inches/ 63 x 31 cm for one single male rat. The more rodents your have the bigger the space you’ll need, if you want to combine the hamster with either one of them. However I do not recommend putting hamsters in with any other rodent, even if your got them both as babies. They’re very different animals, even if they’re kind of related. Playtime and other habits that might conflict While some things might annoy your hamster, like cleaning his cage, they might be okay for your rat or mouse. Cage cleaning can be postponed for up to two weeks for hamsters, since they won’t smell at all, they only have the one pee corner. Rats and mice habitats become smellier faster, and need regular cleaning once per week at the latest. Playtime is another problem that might come up. Hamsters don’t like being handled all that much, while mice and rats are more comfortable with their owners. Hamsters, mice, and rats alike need lots of exercise to keep themselves occupied. However hamsters are much jumpier than the other two, and will become defensive very fast. So to sum everything up, and give you a very clear answer: Hamsters should be kept alone, not even with another hamster. Keeping a hamster with a rat, or with a mouse might sound like a good idea since they might be similar. But the differences between them will lead to very uncomfortable pets. A word from Teddy I hope you found what you were looking for here. I know us hammies might look related to mice and rats, but we don’t really get along. Rats are too big, and mice too small. And they’re both very social, while us hamsters like to be on our own. Nothing personal, it’s just us being hamsters, that’s all. If you want to know more about us hammies, you can check the articles below to find out how to care for us properly. [...] Read more...
About Hamsters Eating Dog Food (Or Any Other Animal Food)
About Hamsters Eating Dog Food (Or Any Other Animal Food)If you’ve got a hammy you’ve probably heard discussions on whether hamsters can eat dog food or not. Or why dog treats are okay for hamsters, but dog food isn’t.  Well, I’m going to help you figure that out, since this is something I had to learn about for my Teddy (Syrian male hammy) as well. Let’s get down to the first question. Table of Contents ToggleCan hamsters eat dog food ?Why hamsters can have dog treats, but not dog foodCan hamsters eat other animal foods ?The typical hamster dietA word from Teddy Can hamsters eat dog food ? No. Hamsters can’t eat dog food. This is the same whether it’s a high or low quality dog feed. Dogs are carnivorous animals, they live off of meat, so protein and fats. They don’t need much in terms of grains or vegetables to live a healthy life. They do need them, but in a very small amount. Hamsters are the opposite of that. Hamsters are omnivores, who maybe sometimes eat protein if the get the chance. Aside from that, hammies need grains and veggies and a whole lot of minerals and vitamins that dogs don’t need the same. We’ll cover this in more detail through the article, but the short of it is: No, hammies can’t have dog food, neither wet nor dry because they have a different digestive system (and dietary needs) than dogs. Why hamsters can have dog treats, but not dog food There is also the way dog feed is thought out. It’s meant as a way to bring not only protein but also vitamins a mineral to your dog. Those amounts are thought to be safe for a dog, and as such are tailored for small dogs, large dogs, senior dogs, young puppies, and so on. So, your hamster can’t have dog food also because of the mineral/vitamin content. You might ask if there’s a thing like taking too many vitamins or minerals. Yes, there is, and giving your hammy dog food instead of his usual meals will eventually lead to a vitamin OD. What about dog treats ? Why are those safe for hamsters ? Well, dog treats are meant as treats. That means they’re supposed to be given sparingly, and in small amounts. This is because while they’re tasty, they’re not exactly the most nutritious for a dog, often being based on grains and a bit of soy protein. This makes them safe for the hamster since they’re very close to what a hamster’s diet would look like. What a hamster would need to eat to be healthy. It also depends on the dog treats you give your hamster. Milkbones for example are a good choice for occasional treats for your hamster. The fact that they’re so hard makes them great actually to wear down the hamster’s teeth. However a hamster will take days to go through just one of these treats. Don’t feed them often, since the box will last you a long time, and for several hamsters at a time. Do not replace the hamster’s usual meals with dog treats. But they can be added in as an occasional supplement. You can check the listing on Amazon here, and read the reviews as well. Can hamsters eat other animal foods ? Your safest bet – no, don’t feed your hammy any other food than hamster food. Doesn’t matter if it’s dry food (kibbles) or wet food. That being said, there are some small, rodent animals that eat mostly the same as hamsters. Gerbils, for example, are very similar to hamsters and may even share the exact kind of feed mix. However other rodents often have slightly different needs. For example guinea pigs need an external source of Vitamin C, and their pellets are infused with the vitamin. Hamsters don’t need extra vit. C, so you risk poisoning your hammy by mistake. You might argue that it’s possible to feed your hammy pellets or kibbles from other animals, grain-based, and supplement with fresh fruit and veg and meat from your own pantry. I honestly discourage that, since you can get the hamster’s diet wrong (the ratios and proportions of different elements) and it’s a whole level of effort that’s east to skip by letting the hamster have his own, specialized food. Best to just opt for a commercial food mix designed for hamsters. You can find out much more about a hamster’s healthy, safe diet right here. There you’ll find the list of safe and unsafe foods you can feed your hammy from your pantry or fridge, if you want to give him a little bit extra. (If you like this article so far, you can pin it to your Pinterest board by clicking the image below. The article continues after the image.) The typical hamster diet  A hamster usually eats grains. That’s the vast majority of what your hammy needs to eat, whether he’s a Syrian or Dwarf type – more on each breed type here. You see in the wild hamsters have to forage for food, in ares that are mostly barren. There are some stray veggies, but mostly they’ll find grains and seeds from different plants. Fruits are not uncommon, but they’re not found often and are a very small portion of their daily food. And finally, hamsters do in fact eat meat and protein (bugs or worms), they just don’t find them often. And their digestive system is not meant for a meat-only kind of diet. A hamster’s teeth will tell you a lot about what they’re meant to eat. Hammies have very large front teeth, with two pairs (upper and lower). The lower pair is longer, and stronger, since hamsters are meant to bite into and chew on their food, which is hard. That means grains, since they’re the ones that can stand up to the bite of a hamster. A hamster’s teeth are always growing, so if he were to eat soft food like meat, or bread, his teeth would become too large. A word from Teddy I hop you know now why us hammies can’teat dog food. Even if we can eat dog treats, sometimes, we don’t have the same digestion as a doggy. So please give us proper, hamster food made for our guts and teeth. If your want to find out more about us hammies, you can read the articles below. You’ll find out more info on how to take care of us, and what we need to be happy. [...] Read more...
10+ Reasons You Should Not Get a Hamster
10+ Reasons You Should Not Get a HamsterHamsters definitely belong on the list of the most popular pets in the world. Everyone wanted one as a kid, and many people still keep them as adults. They’re easy to take care of, and if you have two they’ll socialize between themselves, so they won’t be lonely when you’re away. However, not all is as it seems on the surface. As it is with every topic, keeping hamsters as pets have both its pros and cons. And today – we will be focusing on the cons. There are many things that may attract you to hamsters. They’re small, cute, their fur is shiny, and they basically look like small fluff toys, only they’re alive. However, there are many things about hamsters that you should know before you decide to adopt one. In today’s article, we’ll be taking a look at that side of these fluffy creatures – reasons why you shouldn’t get a hamster. Without any further ado, let’s get started! Table of Contents Toggle1. Biting2. Nocturnal Behavior and Early Rising3. Hereditary Diseases4. Training and Taming5. Hamsters Aren’t Very Affectionate6. Hamsters Are Very Sensitive7. Breeding8. Escaping9. Cages Need Constant Cleaning10. Infection11. Lifespan12. Hamsters Require Adult Supervision13. Hamsters Aren’t Good Pets for Children 1. Biting Hamsters actually tend to bite more than other pet rodents. This is mostly fueled by their poor eyesight – they rely on smell and taste to tell what’s in front of them, and if you stick your finger or your hand into their cage – they’re likely to bite it in order to find out if it’s food. These bites hurt and they will bleed, as their teeth are very sharp, despite not being that large. Their general lack of good eyesight most definitely has an effect on their behavior, as it makes them generally nervous – hamsters can be frightened quite easily, and when they’re frightened – they bite. It’s important to understand that they will bite you for only two reasons: fear (you would probably be willing to bite too if you were handled by a creature twenty or thirty times your size), and curiosity (if they mistake your hands for food or something else that’s interesting). For this reason, make sure to always wash your hands before handling hamsters – they’re more likely to bite you if your hands smell like food. Hamsters can also hurt themselves – as they’re a very frightened species, they’re ready to jump out of your hands when you’re carrying them. Let’s just say that jumping from such a height isn’t the smartest idea if you’re a hamster. Hamsters’ bites shouldn’t be underestimated, as they can be quite painful and draw a lot of blood. As an adult, you can probably handle this, but children can often be put off from this and not only lose interest in the hamster but start to dislike it altogether. There have been numerous occasions where a child has grown fearful of their hamster, and who can blame them? Probably anyone would if they had a pet who kept biting them. Gerbils, for example, are much better pets for children. They can be held and petted at will, and they rarely bite or scratch. 2. Nocturnal Behavior and Early Rising These animals actually spend the majority of the day curled up and sleeping. They don’t like to be disturbed when they’re resting (just like us), and they’ll defend themselves if you disturb them. However, once everything at your home goes silent, hamsters wake up. At that point, hamsters get crazily active, which can actually wake up the whole house – especially if the hamster decides to start running on the wheel. They also get up very early, as they’re most active at dusk and dawn. 3. Hereditary Diseases Unfortunately, hamsters are prone to inheriting hereditary diseases. Because of overbreeding, they’re prone to congestive heart failure at an early age (as early as 6 months old). There’s no cure for this condition, and the treatment can be very expensive. They’re also prone to an incurable kidney disease called amyloidosis, which means that you’re going to have to be looking out on multiple fronts for the sake of their health. They are susceptible to many dangerous bacteria, ultimately leading to diarrhea and dehydration. Some of these bacteria, predominantly ringworm, can also infect humans. It’s very important to focus on two specific bacteria that can easily infect children. We’re talking about salmonella bacteria and lymphocytic choriomeningitis and hantavirus. These can be transmitted from animals to humans, and salmonella can cause stomach cramps, diarrhea, and fever. 4. Training and Taming Hamsters are very difficult to tame, much more difficult than other animals, and the main reason for this is the fact that they’re so scared of everything. They’re not trusting as dogs, they’re not even trusting as cats. Cats are actually more likely to approach you than hamsters. Their evolution has given them the ability to run and hide from any threat, and that’s what they will do if they see you coming. On top of that, hamsters have a lot of energy, meaning that they’re jumpy, active, and want to play – all the time. A pet that’s energetic but runs from anyone that pays it any attention is very difficult to train. 5. Hamsters Aren’t Very Affectionate Hamsters don’t enjoy being picked up and held, cuddled, and kissed like many dogs would. They will certainly put up with it for a while, but after a while, they’ll get tired of it and jump away. Keep this in mind if you’re looking for a pet with which you’ll be able to strike a real connection – they’re not the cuddliest, and will not stay long in your hand anyway. They will somewhat bond with their owner and come closer when they hear their owner’s voice, but that’s about it. Hamsters are not as loving and as playful as dogs. 6. Hamsters Are Very Sensitive Hamsters are sensitive to many things. Firstly, their diet isn’t exactly something you should take lightly, as not correcting it when you need to can cause many dietary issues like diarrhea, dehydration, fur loss, etc. Secondly, they’re so easily frightened and they are so weak that they can literally die from too much stress. Hamsters are known to die from a dog barking at them or something else scaring them. You, personally, can scare your hamster in many ways – the hamster may not trust you yet and even feeding it will scare it (nothing you can do about that aside from trying to be as gentle as possible), if you do something very sudden it will scare it and that can be difficult for you as an owner to adjust to, your hamster may be in permanent shock (from moving to a new cage, for example) and during this period it will be easily agitated, and some hamsters are also naturally shy and difficult to handle. Also, hamsters’ immunity is terrible. They can easily contract any disease and unless you recognize it and take them to the vet immediately, they have almost no chances of survival. On top of this, they’re also very sensitive to temperatures. They can die from hypothermia very easily, and they can overheat easily. Your hamster’s cage is also going to have a massive effect on it, as hamsters get agitated easily in smaller cages. They’ll also get stressed easily if they don’t exercise enough, so it’s best to let them have a wheel. Transporting them is also not good, as that causes major stress. Now that we’re taking a look at all this in retrospect, evolution hasn’t really been beneficial to hamsters. 7. Breeding In case you didn’t know that all rodents breed extremely fast. Hamsters can breed three to four weeks after being born, and when they breed, they breed like crazy. You could make the massive mistake of buying a pair of hamsters and having almost twenty of them after a while. This problem is usually solved by pet shops where you purchase your hamsters, as the workers can separate the hamsters and divide them by gender. However, if a mistake is made and a single male hamster is put amongst female hamsters…well, we’re sure that you know what kind of a mess that is. 8. Escaping Hamsters can truly be defined as escape artists. They have the ability to flatten their body and they can fit through very small holes and crevices. An even larger issue is the fact that they love doing this and they’re likely to use every opportunity to escape. It’s their instinct telling them that they should escape and return to the wild. They’re also very good at hiding, so you won’t be finding them easily. This can actually lead to them being injured or killed while on the loose, as they’re very vulnerable. 9. Cages Need Constant Cleaning Hamsters themselves are very clean, similar to cats. They groom themselves all the time and this way they minimize their scent, which keeps them almost undetectable in the wilderness. Their cages, on the other hand, aren’t as nearly as clean. Exactly the opposite, actually. Hamsters are known for their inexplicable inability to keep their quarters clean. If you place a hamster in a perfectly clean cage, it’s going to take it less than three days to cover it in droppings and pee. Their droppings can smell very foul and many people can’t stand it. These dirty cages also tend to attract bugs, and they’re more prone to developing infections and your hamster will get sick more easily in such an environment. Now, you may be thinking “Fine, I’ll just teach it to use a litter box.” – that’s fine, only we’ve already mentioned that training is terribly difficult with hamsters and you’re not teaching them anything easily. There are hamsters that openly and seemingly without reason refuse to use the litter box. Cleaning the enclosure always means that you have to take the hamster out of the enclosure. This means that you have to grab it without it biting you. If it bites you, you have to disinfect the wound and put a bandaid over it. Repeat the process until you manage to take the hamster without it biting you, and now put it somewhere where it can’t escape from. However, your hamster has still escaped while you were scrubbing its cage because they’re great at that, and now you have to find a hamster before putting it back into the cage. See why it’s difficult? 10. Infection Even though it may seem like a good idea to have your child clean the hamster’s cage to teach them responsibility, it’s sort of an unsafe idea – these cages can be salmonella heaven, and children can be especially vulnerable to that. Children don’t exactly understand the dangers of illnesses and they may not wash their hands properly, which could, unfortunately, lead to them contracting salmonella. 11. Lifespan Hamsters don’t really live for too long. Most hamsters live from two to four years, with a two-year-old hamster already being considered old. If you’re looking for a short-term pet, that’s great. But very few people are looking for that sort of a companion, and most people want a pet that’s going to spend time with them for years to come (like dogs, who can spend up to a fifth of a lifetime with their human companions). Changing pets every few years may not be in your interest. Secondly, if you’re thinking about purchasing a hamster for your child, we’re advising you now that you shouldn’t. Children get attached to everything very easily and having to watch the hamster grow up only to die quicker than they can graduate from the elementary can and will break your child’s heart. 12. Hamsters Require Adult Supervision Even though the maintenance they require is low in frequency, if you’re purchasing a hamster for your child, know that the maintenance your child is going to have to keep up with is complicated. They may not have to do it often, but when they do it, you’re going to have to be there. The same goes for training the hamster – since hamsters are so frightened and are easy to agitate and have them bite their trainer, it’d be best if you were there when your child was training the hamster. 13. Hamsters Aren’t Good Pets for Children Despite the general opinion being the exact opposite, hamsters aren’t really good pets for children. At least not the youngest children under the age of eight or nine. They can prove to be aggressive which will only scare the children away, they can also be very difficult to train which won’t encourage your child to keep trying around them. Having to clean their cages and feed them may be a great way to instill some sense of responsibility in your child early on, but it’s quickly going to become a chore to them and they’re going to start avoiding it. Hamsters can also transmit a disease to your child. Ringworm infection, for example, can easily be transmitted to your child or yourself despite you being careful and wearing gloves. Salmonella, what we’ve already mentioned, is also a threat for children and shouldn’t be taken lightly. Because of their sensitivity, and because of children’s general lack thereof, your child could accidentally harm the hamster. And their constant escaping isn’t going to help either, just like the hamster’s short lifespan won’t be helping. Hamsters also stay awake at night and they’re very active, which may keep your child from sleeping well. All in all, if you’re looking for a pet for your child, you should think twice before purchasing a hamster for your child.   Hamsters often seem like an ideal pet for anyone, but that’s far from the truth. There are many things that have to be taken into account when discussing these animals, as they’re not as nearly as perfect as they seem to be. You should keep in mind that no animal is inherently evil or aggressive, only defensive. Hamsters are just like that, and the fact that they’re so scared of everything and everyone makes it fairly difficult to interact with them. Teaching your hamster not to bite you will take weeks, and if you’re interested in potty training or teaching them tricks, that’s going to take even longer. They’re quick to turn against their owner, even if you mean them no harm, because they’re scared, and maybe it would be best to let this one go, and buy a different pet. There are many pets on the market that may be more suited to your needs. If you’re ever looking for any advice, feel free to consult your local veterinarian. [...] Read more...
This Is Why Your Hamster Is Freezing And What It Means
This Is Why Your Hamster Is Freezing And What It MeansEvery hamster owner ever has asked themselves this question. Why is my hamster freezing, and what does it mean ? Well, my Teddy (fully grown Syrian hamster) does this regularly, and we’re here to let you know your hamster is probably fine. There are a few reasons he can suddenly freeze, and we’ll cover them right now. Table of Contents ToggleSo why does your hamster randomly freeze ?What to do when your hamster is frozenHamsters have very sensitive hearing and smellShould you worry about your hamster freezing ?Other hamster behaviors that might seem strangeA word from Teddy So why does your hamster randomly freeze ? Generally a hamster will freeze because he’s listening for something, or focusing intently to hear if there are predators around. Even if he’s lived his entire life with you safely, his instincts will kick in every now and then. Other possible reasons could be that you’ve surprised your hamster by suddenly moving, or you’ve scared him. Hamsters scare easily and are very skittish, so they will do this even if you do your best to not startle them. So for example if you wake up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom and walk past your hamster’s cage, you’ll notice him staring at you blankly. Not moving at all, until you come close to him and try to interact. I’ve seen Teddy do this often, and I’ve always wondered if there’s something wrong with him. Turns out he’s alright, he’s just being a hamster. So your hamster could be listening for something, or he could be surprised, or scared. Or a combination of any and all of those 3. This happens less often over time, as your hamster learns every new sound that comes along. As long as your hamster is not frozen most of the time when you see him, he’s fine. What to do when your hamster is frozen It’s important to let your hamster listen for a few seconds for what just happened. They learn and get used to new sounds as time goes on. If he’s not coming out of it soon, you can try talking to your hammy. Keep in mind that he has sensitive hearing, so keep your voice low and soothing. You can bring him a small treat as well, to distract your hamster. I’ve done this with Teddy, and while at first he doesn’t react, after a few seconds he comes closer to hear me out. If you want to know what other foods you can give your hammy, check out my article about what do hamsters eat. I’ll also tell you about some other treat options that are safe for hamsters, and your hammy might love them ! Hamsters have very sensitive hearing and smell So it could be that your hamster froze for no reason. But he heard something you didn’t. It might not be anything, it could be leaves falling or a clock ticking. To your hamster it might sound interesting or scary or important. This is something hamsters do regularly, so do not worry. Your hamster is fine, he’s just listening for something. For example Teddy will run and run and run in his wheel and then suddenly stop, get on his hind feet, and just stand there for a full minute. He’s done this when eating, or drinking water, cleaning himself as well. Basically anytime. The main reason behind this behavior is that hamsters are prey, and they’re used to running away from everything. In time their instincts have evolved to get them to check for predators at all times. Even if your hamster grew up in your home, safe and sound, he will still do this. It’s normal, and part of a hamster’s life. Your hamster has very good hearing, to listen for any possible threat. But he also has very sensitive smell, so he will react to that as well. If your hamster is used to you and your smell, and you go to pick him up after handling something he might not like (like citrus) he will scurry away from you long before your hand gets close to it. When you do wash your hands, make sure it’s not with very floral or strongly scented soap. Otherwise your hamster will not want to get close to your hands. Also be careful when handling food and then your hamster. It might mistake the smell of chicken wings on your fingers for actual food, and bite. They don’t have very good eyesight, especially when compared to their hearing and smell. They’re very active at dawn and dusk, so crepuscular light is best for them. Should you worry about your hamster freezing ? Your hamster is alright, even if it might seem strange that it freezes suddenly. He’s simply listening for something, and just following his own instincts. Unless your hamster freezes often and for long periods of time, there is no reason to worry. However if you’re still worried, best to bring him to the vet, for a general checkup. One reason your hamster seems to freeze often could be that he’s very scared of you. This is fairly normal when your hamster is young or new to the house. For this it’s best to get your hamster slowly used to your presence, and feed him treats whenever you see him so he learns to trust you and get used to you. Limit those treats though, since an overweight hamster is not healthy and will develop serious health problems over time. (If you like this article so far, you can pin it to your Pinterest board by clicking the image below. The article continues after this image.) Other hamster behaviors that might seem strange These are things I’ve seen Teddy do, and seen other hamsters in videos do. Some of them have an explanation, and some of them are just… random. Backflips. Hamsters react very suddenly when startled, so if you scare them and you’re very sudden, they might just do a backflip or jump to the side. Or just jump. Hamsters are kind of acrobats, and I’ve seen Teddy backflip and land safely. This does not mean you should make your hamster do a backflip, ever. But they can do this, and although it looks funny for humans, it’s a sign of fear. Sprints. Hamsters will sometimes suddenly sprint into their hideouts, or just through their cage. They can do this when they’re startled, or just because. I’ve seen Teddy do this for no apparent reason. Climbing and falling off the cage. This is something I’ve never managed to understand, and I’ve found no relevant answers online either. Teddy will sometimes scale the cage walls, and get a serious ab and back workout out of it. And then suddenly let go. He just falls. He lands on the bedding, and there’s lots of it, so he’s safe. But no one I’ve spoke to about this knows an answer. I’ve seen Teddy do this with the top of the cage as well. It happened more often when he was younger, and had more energy. For moments like these it’s important you get your hamster a very good cage, that’s also safe and large enough so he can run around. Hamsters scaling the cage walls are a sign of extra energy and you can provide your hamster with an exercise wheel, as they need to run to burn that energy. Here is an in-depth look at the best hamster wheels, according to hamster breeds and budget. I’ve taken care of that and provided him with a large cage and wheel anyway. But I still don’t know why my hamster suddenly falls off the cage walls. You can make sure your hamster doesn’t hurt himself by giving him lots of bedding. To find out how much bedding a hamster needs, check out my article here. And here you’ll find a roundup of the best hamster bedding options available. Laying down slowly. It looks a lot like they’re melting or getting ready to sleep. As far as I’ve seen with Teddy, he slowly lays down near a corner of the cage, not in his house. He closes his eyes and drifts off. It’s like he forgot he has a house to sleep in. It never lasts more than a few minutes, and he does react if I speak to him or tap the cage. But he will put his head back down and lay flat. Other hamster owners I’ve spoken to said it might just be a form of dozing off. A word from Teddy I hope this article was helpful to you, and you know why we can sometimes freeze. I used to do that a lot when I was a ‘kid’, until I learned most of the sounds in the house. Now I just freeze if someone walks by me at night when I know I’m alone. If your hammy is doing the same, don’t worry. He’s probably curious about what’s happening and is focusing on figuring it out. Talk to him and he’ll come closer to listen to you instead. Feel free to look around the blog, you might find more useful articles on hamsters. Like how to feed us, what kind of cage we need, and how much water we need. [...] Read more...
Here’s How To Find A Hamster’s Gender (All Breeds And Ages)
Here’s How To Find A Hamster’s Gender (All Breeds And Ages)Knowing your hamster’s gender will save you from a world of trouble. Pairing a male with a female by mistake will get you a new litter faster than you’d like. When I got my Teddy I didn’t care about the gender, I just wanted him to be orange. It turned out he was the only orange hamster they had at the pet shop, so there we go. But today I’ll be talking about how to find the gender for your hamster, since this is very important. Especially if you’ve got Dwarf pairs. Table of Contents ToggleSo how do you find a hamster’s gender ?Here’s how to find a hamster’s gender – step by stepGive the hamster attention beforehandPrepare your surroundingsOnly try it when the hamster is relaxedHold the hamster properlyLook at the underside of the hamsterAlternative ways to find out a hamster’s genderUsing a transparent containerLooking for size and shape difference between gendersWhen to separate hamster babiesA word from Teddy So how do you find a hamster’s gender ? The shortest and clearest answer is to check the hamster’s genitals. There are some very clear differences between males and females, and you will notice them in your hamster. Females – You’ll notice on the underside of the hamster a sort of bald spot where the rear end is. Those are the anal and vaginal openings for the female hamster. They are very close together, and will possibly look like the same organ. There is very little, to no hair at all in that area. Also, you will notice the nipples on her abdomen running on both sides of her belly. They might be covered by fur, but they will be there. Males – have a larger patch of fur between the genital and anal opening. Some breeds will have a third point on their belly, a scent gland higher up on the abdomen. Males have no nipples in hamsters, so you should find none. And in the end, the testicles will make the male hamster’s rear end look larger, and more elongated than the female. Alright, but how do you actually go about finding the hamster’s sex ? Hamsters spend most of their time on all fours, so they won’t really roll over and show you. Let’s see how to go about that. Here’s how to find a hamster’s gender – step by step I’ll give you a step by step guide here, but remember that this works mostly for tame hamsters. Untamed hamsters, that do no like to be handled at all, will need a different strategy. I’ll provide you with that as well, just scroll down a bit. Give the hamster attention beforehand Before you try to tell the hamster’s sex, you need to make sure the hamster is calm and relaxed. A treat and some playing and handling will help a lot with this. If you can actually incorporate this into the playtime it would be easier for your hamster. You will be holding your hamster tilted on his back, and he won’t really like that. So play with your hamster a bit, stroke him, talk to him softly, do as you would normally. Give him a treat, maybe a big one to distract him. For example a large piece of carrot that he can’t immediately show into his cheeks would be great. If not, a simple dog treat will suffice. If you’re unsure what to feed the hamster, you can check the list of safe foods here. You’ll find foods and treats as well. Prepare your surroundings Your hamster might squirm, even if he is tame. No hamster likes to be held on their backs, and you can’t really hold them above your face since this will be too high for them. So, it would be best to do this low on the ground, with a box lined with bedding under your hamster. This way if the hamster manages to wriggle out of your hands, he will only fall on the soft bedding. And he won’t really get very far, since the box will keep him contained. If you’ve got a glass tank, you can do this over the hamster’s tank, to stress him even less. Again, try to incorporate this into the play routine you have with your hamster. Make it feel like it’s another game, and he will be a bit more relaxed. Only try it when the hamster is relaxed This should go without saying, but do not try to handle the hamster when he’s irritated, or is sleeping. If he just woke up for good, and just started walking about his cage, this can be a good time. But if he was just chewing on the cage bars a second ago, and his teeth are chattering, stay away. Your hamster is not in a friendly mood, and will definitely bite you if you try to hold him now. An eating hamster will not like being held or handled either. So a good moment would be when he’s out and about as usual, or when he just woke up. Hold the hamster properly When you do hold your hamster in order to find its gender, make sure you’ve got your thumb across the hamster’s chest. The hamster should be cupped in your hand, and you will need to use both hands. Your hamster will probably squirm and try to escape, which is understandable. Do not hold him up very high, instead do this over his glass tank close to the bedding if you can. Or over a box lined with bedding, so he will fall somewhere safe and soft. If you’ve dropped your hamster and didn’t manage to figure out his gender, that’s okay. Keep playing with him, and give him a couple of bits of food for his trouble. You can try again in a few minutes. This is something that you might need to have patience with. Look at the underside of the hamster Hold the hamster a bit tilted on his back, so you can see his underside. He will probably squirm, but that’s reasonable. Use your other hand to try and feel on his abdomen for the nipples. If you find none, it’s a male. If you do find nipples, it’s a female. Take a look at the hammy’s rear end too. If you see the vaginal and anal opening close together, like they’re the same opening, it’s a female. If the openings are farther apart, and there is a patch of fur between them, then it is a male. You might also see a swelling near the tail, those are the testicles of the male. These will all look the same, whether you have a Syrian or Robo or Campbell or any other kind of hamster. Some breeds might have another point on the male’s abdomen, a scent gland. (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.) Alternative ways to find out a hamster’s gender If you’ve got an especially stubborn hamster, who does not like being handled at all, then you’ll need to find another way. Or, if you’re looking at a hamster at the pet shop, and can’t pick it up but you want to know which gender you’re picking. Using a transparent container You can use a transparent container to find your hamster’s gender as well. This means that you will need something clear, like a jar, or a plastic box. You need to be able to see clearly through it. Place the container on its side in your hammy’s cage, with a treat inside. Wait for your hamster to wander into it and take the treat, then pick up the container. This might take a few minutes, but it will happen. Once the hamster is in the container, make sure he can’t get out. This means that the sides must be high, or there must be a lid on, which the hamster has to be able to breathe through. Lift the container above your head, and look up. It might take some trying and your hamster might not flatten itself onto the floor of the container at first. But you should eventually be able to notice the hamster’s underside clearly. Look for the anal and vaginal openings, and for the nipple markings as well. This is easier on the hamster, but takes much more time. Looking for size and shape difference between genders There are a few difference between males and females, even if they’re not immediately obvious. First, a male will be a bit larger than a female. If you’ve got a Syrian, and he’s alone in his cage as he should be, this won’t be easy to tell. But if you’ve got a Dwarf pair, it will be much easier to compare a specific hamster against another. Then, another difference between male and female hamsters is the rear end. A male’s rear will be larger, and slightly elongated, pointier. This is because his testicles are there, and take up quite some space. Of all the breeds the Syrian is the most obvious one, with very large testicles. The females have a more rounder, kind of shorter end. So if you look there, you might find some tell tale signs. When to separate hamster babies Baby hamsters are weaned by their mother when they’re about 3-4 weeks of age. Whats more important here is that they can breed about as soon as they’re weaned. They still have a bit of growing up to do to become full adults, but they are capable of breeding even at 3-4 weeks. So this would be the time to separate the litter into male and female cages. Doing this too late can bring you surprise litters, so you should keep an eye on the mother. Once she starts weaning them, the babies will be pushed away by their mother. They can drink water and eat commercial food now. If there was a very large litter, and not all babies managed to grow and develop properly, you can leave those with the mother for another week. When you separate the babies into male and female groups, run another check a week later, to be sure that they are all male or female. Just to be sure and not have 20 more hamsters overnight. A word from Teddy I hope you found out what you were looking for here, and know whether you have a boy or a girl hammy. I’m a Syrian boy, and I was pretty obvious from the get go. But my Dwarf cousins might be harder to figure out, so try to be patient. If you want to know more about us hammies, like how how expensive or cheap it is to keep one of us at home, or what we like to eat, you can check the articles below. [...] Read more...