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.)

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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.

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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.

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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. 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Are Hamsters Rodents ? About Your Furry Hamster Friend
Are Hamsters Rodents ? About Your Furry Hamster FriendWondering if a hamster is a rodent ? You’re not alone. A lot of our friends have asked us the same question, when they heard we’d got a hamster.  So, let’s settle this and get to the bottom of the issue. We’ll cover how your hamster’s  going to behave as a rodent pet, and the differences between hamsters and other pet rodents as well. Table of Contents ToggleSo are hamsters rodents ?A hamster’s behavior as a pet, given that he’s a rodentWhat hamsters eat, as rodentsDo hamsters need to chew a lot ?Difference between hamsters and other rodent petsHamster vs mouseHamster vs ratHamster vs guinea pigHamster vs rabbitHamster vs ferretHamster vs squirrelA word on keeping a rodent as a petA word from Teddy So are hamsters rodents ? Yes, hamsters are rodents. Hamsters are rodents, like rabbits, mice, rats, guinea pigs, squirrels, ferrets. There are many more rodents out there than that, but those are the most common ones kept as pets. They belong to a very large family, with several sub-families and classes, into which I won’t get right now. You can read much more about the exact scientific classification of hamsters right here. A hamster’s behavior as a pet, given that he’s a rodent A hamster, as a rodent, will behave in a certain way. Rodents in general are prey animals, so they all have a reflex to run and hide. That reflex kicks in very fast, and they’ll often jump out of your hands before you can react. So expect your hamster to be jumpy, not sit still, and look panicked half the time. They’re also incredibly easy to scare, since they’re on high alert most of the time. Who knows when a owl might swoop into your living room and take them away ? Jokes aside, that run and hide reflex is what saves hamsters from extinction in the wild. As a pet though, they can be hard to handle, especially the smaller breeds like the Dwarf types. Very small and wriggly, the Dwarf hammies are all over the place and you should not handle them away from their cage. Another thing about hamsters being rodents, is that they will have this instinct of burrowing. If you give them enough bedding to dig into, you will lose sight of your hamster very fast. You can find out more about bedding for hamsters and how to pick a safe one right here. Finally, as rodents hamsters have a different need for affection that other pets. They’re not keen on snuggling, like a dog or cat for example. But they do enjoy your company, and can let you handle them. Even if it’s just for a short few minutes at a time, hamsters can be handled. If you want to know more about how to successfully tame your hamster friend, you should check out this guide right here. It’s got addendums for Syrian and Dwarf types as well. What hamsters eat, as rodents As rodents hammies will eat mostly grains and veg, with a couple of insects or worms here and there. In the wild hamsters rely on grains, seeds, and some edible roots. But kept as pets, hamsters have a much wider variety of foods available for them. You can find here a good list of safe and unsafe foods you can give to your hamster. Some of them are already in your pantry or fridge. Or, if you want to be specific about it, you can check out each food group in particular. You can find out more about what kind of meat/protein your hamster can eat here. Another article about what kinds of dairy hamsters can eat is right here. You’ll find out about the kinds of vegetables your hamster can eat here, and about the fruits he can eat right here. Finally, more about hamsters and bread can be found right here. Another option is feeding your hamster commercial food mixes, which already have a healthy mix of all the nutrients your hamster needs for a good, long life. And you can add some safe foods you’ve already got around the house to that food mix, if you want to. But in general, hamsters will enjoy most of the things us humans can eat too. Do keep in ming that they love to chew and gnaw on things a lot. Do hamsters need to chew a lot ? Yes, hamsters have front teeth that keep growing. They never stop growing. This is why your hamster need a lot of chew toys – more on that here, and how to DYI some or buy them. Otherwise, your hammy will end up chewing whatever he can find, like the cage bars. My Teddy used to do that sometimes, and you can find out more about hamsters biting their cage here, and how to stop them. Or, at least make it happen mess frequently. Hamsters need to chew a lot, to keep their front teeth from overgrowing. They can develop a whole host of dental problems if their teeth aren’t kept healthy. So always make sure your hamster has something safe to chew on, like chew toys. And remember that he will chew on everything, including his own hideout, the food bowl, and whatever else is in his cage. (If you like this article so far, you can pin it to your Pinterest board by clicking the image below. The article continues after the image.) Difference between hamsters and other rodent pets Hamsters aren’t the only rodents people keep as pets. As such, there are a few differences between hamsters and other pet rodents. So let’s get into those differences, so you can see if a hamster is a good pet for you or not. Hamster vs mouse Mice are much smaller than hamsters. They can be kept in small packs as far as I know, and they do have similar life spans to hamsters (2-3 years) However if a hamster is hard to hold onto, a mouse is much harder. A mouse is much smaller, and will definitely not sit still. Also mice smell much more than hamsters. That’s not to say they stink, but a hamster only smells if he’s sick. The female hammies come into heat every few days, and can develop a smell. But as a whole, hamsters are clean and not smelly at all. Mice have the bonus of being much more curious and eager to try new things than a hamster.  A hammy si more of a creature of habit than anything. Hamster vs rat The rat wins in terms of intelligence here. However few people like keeping rats because of how large and non-cuddly they can look, compared to hamsters. That being said, rats are able to solve simple puzzles, and are calmer, more level-headed than hamsters. That also means they can get bored, and once that happens they will entertain themselves with the cage bars, or moving the things in their cage. Of all the mouse-type rodents, rats are the best escape artist. They will find a way. Rats can sometimes develop tumors, which can shorten their lifespan (3-4 years). The housing situation for a hamster and rat is much different, since a rat need a very large space to run around in, and they’re damn good climbers. Hamster vs guinea pig Here it really depends on what you like more. Hamsters tend to be cuter and fluffier than guinea pigs. But guinea pigs are much easier to handle and tame. Well, a guinea pig is pretty much already tame from the get-go. Both are rodents, but guinea pigs are very very mellow and will generally sit and stay wherever you left them. They also actually need company, even if it’s another guinea buddy to much a lettuce leaf with and stare at a wall. Whereas most hamsters should be kept my themselves, and can only live together under certain conditions. A guinea pig however can get smelly, since they pee a lot. So they require much more cleaning and maintenance than a hamster. Hamster vs rabbit Aside from the obvious size difference, hamsters can sometimes lose to the rabbit in terms of cuteness. Depends on whom you ask. While a rabbit can make do with a small enclosure, he needs to be let out often, and in a very large space. So your entire apartment will become his playground. If you decide to let your rabbit play outside, he’ll start burrowing fast and you have a higher chance of losing him. Once a rabbit decides to sprint, he’s gone. And we all know how hard it is to catch a rabbit running left and right. Of all the rodent types, rabbits are the best at avoiding being caught. Smell-wise, rabbits can get stinky fast if you don’t clean their cage every day. Hamster vs ferret Ferrets are much, much larger than a hamster. They are much faster, and agile, and need plenty of exercise. While your hamster can make do with his running wheel, a ferret will not. A ferret will need at least one cage mate, while hamsters need to mostly kept alone. Conversely, a ferret loose in your home is not alright with other animals. It will possibly attach smaller animals like the hamster, or a rat. And larger pets like a cat or dog can hurt the ferret with sharp teeth and a much larger size. Both ferrets are hamsters love to try and escape, however ferrets will be trying the sturdiness of their cage and your home at every possible turn. Hamsters are a bit … slower, if you will, and are easily distracted. Hamster vs squirrel A squirrel for a pet is nothing to laugh at. I mean they’re funny and have an amazing amount of energy, but compared to a hamster they are much harder to keep. While a hamster’s claws do very little damage to the human skin, a squirrel has actual talons. Natural, when you think that they’re meant to help the creature shimmy up and down a tree, all day long. But. this makes a squirrel much harder to hold and play with than a hamster. The space requirement for a squirrel is much larger than a hamster. It needs your entire apartment, and your backyard too if you’ve got a house. Still being rodents, squirrels will flee very fast, and will hide food stashes wherever they can. You’ve seen the video of a squirrel trying to hide an acorn in a dog’s fur. That’s the level of madness (and cuteness) that is trying to keep a squirrel as a pet. A word on keeping a rodent as a pet When it comes to pets, you have to accept that not all pets are the same. If you’re looking for a pet that will cuddle with you, play fetch, and patiently wait for your return home, a rodent is probably not the best idea. Rodent type pets can bond with their owner, and do like human company. However they’re not as domesticated as cats and dogs, and not suited for families or small children/other pets in general. That being said, rodent-types are funny, energetic, and make the oddest faces. They’ll always amaze your with their acrobatics, even hamsters. You haven’t lived until you’ve seen a hamster trying to jump from a small ledge, and still fail. Some rodents are quiet, and calmer, like a hamster, a mouse, a guinea pig. While others are all over the place and will need your entire attention. It depends on what kind of pets you’re looking for. All in all, owning a hamster as a rodent can be rewarding in its own way – more on that here, and how to care for him in general. They’re not conventional pets, and will require different level of care from you. But they’re cute and funny in their own way. A word from Teddy I hope you found what you were looking for here. I know us hamsters can be a bit confusing sometimes, but we’re definitely rodents. If you want to know more about us hammies, you can check out the articles below. [...] Read more...
How To Know What Hamster Breed You Have – Complete Guide
How To Know What Hamster Breed You Have – Complete GuideWhen I first got my Teddy I didn’t know he was a Syrian hamster. I only knew I wanted an orange and white hammy, and I looked around until I found him. But there are 5 distinct hamster breeds, and they can be a bit confusing. I’m here to help you figure out what kind of hamster you’ve got, so you have all the info you possibly can to take care of your hammy. Table of Contents ToggleSo how do you know what hamster breed/type you have ?All about the Syrian hamsterAll about the Chinese Dwarf hamsterAll about the Roborovski Dwarf hamsterAll about the Campbell Dwarf hamsterAll about the Siberian/ Winter white Dwarf hamsterWhich hamster breeds can be kept togetherThe main differences between the hamster breedsWhich hamster type makes the best petA word from Teddy So how do you know what hamster breed/type you have ? The main things to look for when determining your hamster’s breed or type is the size of the hamster, and the color/markings. There are very distinct differences between the hamsters available for purchase. We’ll get into the different size and color options for all the hamster types in the rest of this article. There are 5 types or breeds or hamster available, and they are: Syrian – the largest, most common hamster Chinese Dwarf – not really a Dwarf type, but still often called that; the only one with a longer tail Roborovski Dwarf – the tiniest, fastest hamster, almost impossible to hold Campbell Dwarf – a bit larger than the Roborovski, often confused with the next breed Siberian/Winter white/Djungarian Dwarf – the only one that changes its coat color according to temperature Now these 5 types are the ones you will usually find in a pet shop, and they might come under different names or nicknames. It’s important that you know each type so you don’t get fooled at the shop for an overpriced hammy just because it’s called “fancy hamster”. Yes, some people have found hamsters labeled that in a pet shop. Now let’s find out more about each hamster type, and how to differentiate between them. All about the Syrian hamster The Syrian hamster is the most common hamster you will find in a pet shop. It’s also the kind of hamster I have. They’re the largest and most diverse-looking hamster breed out there. An adult Syrian hammy is somewhere between 5-8 inches in length, which is 13-20 cm. Some can grow a bit larger, but not by much. The size is what you will notice first. A baby Syrian hamster is about the size of an adult Dwarf type (Robo, Campbell, or Siberian). Even as babies, the males have very large testicles, that will make their rear-ends bulge noticeably. As for the color options and fur markings, there are plenty. Honestly Syrian hamsters are about as colorful as cats and dogs, except they never have stripes like a cat. Aside from that, they can be a single color, black and white mixes, spotted, ringed, just one spot on the eye, sooty, and so many more colors. The fur itself can be short/normal, longhaired, or curlyhaired. These as well can have any of the color options you can imagine. When I got my Teddy I knew next to nothing about hamsters. So I thought an orange hammy with a bit of white on the belly is going to be so unique, and rare. Well, it turns out that is the most common color you can get a Syrian hammy. Those are called Golden hamster and they’re the classic coloration, the one they have in the wild. This hammy comes from Syria, and southern Turkey in the wild. At some point, a few managed to populate and thrive in parts of Israel. All about the Chinese Dwarf hamster The Chinese hammy is not really a Dwarf type, although most everyone calls him that. Actually all hamster types except Syrian are called Dwarf, by comparison. But the Chinese is not a Dwarf, he is somewhere in between. As an adult he can reach up to 3-5 inches/8-13 cm, plus the longer tails. Chinese hamsters have a much longer tail compared to any other hamster types, which can grow to be about an inch long/2-3 cm. Aside from that, the body if a Chinese hammy is longer than the Dwarf types, and more slender than the Syrian hammy. So that, plus the long tail can make the Chinese look more like a mouse than anything else. There are few color types you can find for the Chinese. The most common one is the wild variety, with a sort of brown down the back, and a dark stripe running down the spine, plus a white belly. You can find a few specks of grey and black here and there on the hammy’s backside. The other two options are mostly white, with the dark stripe down the back, and very rarely can be all white with a dark spot. This hammy comes all the way from China and Mongolia. All about the Roborovski Dwarf hamster Can also be found under the nickname Robo – short for Roborovski, the scientist who discovered the species. This hamster is the smallest kind of hamster you can ever find. As an adult he won’t grow past 2 inches/5 cm, which makes him incredibly easy to lose, drop, or just barely handle. This hamster, like the other Dwarf types (except the Chinese) is stout-bodied, and looks like it has no neck. The truth is that the neck is very short, and the ears are the only point you can figure out where the body stops and the head of the hamster starts. A Robo hammy is usually soft brown on its back, with no stripe down its back. It does still have the white belly like the Chinese, but its feet are furrier. He will usually have a large white spot right above his eyes, where an eyebrow would be. Much like the eyebrow spot of a Rottweiler or Doberman. You can find all-white Robos, or white with a bit of grey mask, even a nice color combination between white and cream on the back. The breeding process over time gave us a lot of coat options, so you can’t use coat alone to figure out the breed. Still, the Robo is the absolute smallest of the Dwarf hammies. You can tell a baby white Robo from a Siberian (also often white) by the size. Upon birth Robos are barely an inch/2 cm, white the Siberians are larger. The Roborovski hamster comes from parts of Russia, and you can sometimes find him as Russian Dwarf. Although all Dwarf types are russian, so there’s that. All about the Campbell Dwarf hamster This hamster is larger than the Robo, and reaches about 3-4 inches/ 8-11 cm. He is very easy to confuse with the Siberian Dwarf, but I’m going to help you distinguish between them. The Campbell hamster is colored much like the Chinese and the Robo, as in he has the brownish coat on his back, and does have a dark, very narrow stripe running down his back. The belly however is grey, not white, and he has tufts of fur on his feet as well. There are not many color options or variations for the Campbell hamster. However the cheek pouches of the Campbell reach all the way to his hind legs, and are part of his mouth, not separate. His coat does not change color from winter to summer, and he is again common throughout Russia, China, Mongolia, and Kazakhstan. All about the Siberian/ Winter white Dwarf hamster Just as large as the Campbell hamster, these two can and often are confused. The Siberian has many names, like the Winter White – turning white in winter, in the wild. Or the Djungarian hamster, because of the region in China it usually lives in. As for size, the Siberian is about 3-4 inches/ 8-11 cm, which makes it again very similar to the Campbell hammy. However the color is more grayish on its back, with a dark stripe on its back and a darker spot on its head. This hammy has a white belly, and has more color variations than the Campbell. A Siberian can also be found in all white, or white with a faint grey line down the back, or all grey with darker fur on the back, and all the way to the wild coloring I mentioned above. (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.) Which hamster breeds can be kept together Of all these many kinds of hamsters, not all can be kept together. It’s always a bad idea to mix hamster types, since they have different temperaments. So it’s the Dwarf types that can be kept together, only under certain circumstances. The Syrian and Chinese hammies will fight everything and everyone you out in their cage, so it’s best to leave them alone. If you really would like to know which if your hammies can live together, and how to introduce two hamsters to live together – you should read this article on why hamsters fight. You’ll find out more about the social lives of hamsters in general, and what to do if your hamsters start fighting. The main differences between the hamster breeds Aside from what I just talked about before, there are a few other differences. There’s temperament, and ease of handling as well. There are also some feeding exceptions to be sure of, so it’s best to read this list of foods you can safely give to your hamster. The biggest differences are between the types of hamster – the large Syrian, and the smaller Dwarf types. You can find an in-depth article on the differences between a Syrian and Dwarf type right here, so you can find out which would be the best hammy for you. There is also the matter of cage sizes. The Syrian, being the largest, requires the most space in his cage. For a Syrian the minimum is a cage of 24 x 12 inches, and about 12 inches tall. That’s 61 x 30.5 cm, and about 30.5 cm tall. A dwarf type can live in half that space, but since they are often housed in pairs will require a cage just as large as a Syrian. If you want to know more about housing hamsters, and what to look for in a cage, you should check out this article. You’ll find the pros and cons of the 3 most common cage types, and how to care for your hamster’s cage. Which hamster type makes the best pet When it comes to which hamster is the best pet, this one is really up to you. All I can give you is the info on these 5 hamster types, and you can decide for yourself which you’d like best. All hamsters can make good pets – if you like a quiet pet, and have a certain amount of patience to tame them. They’re not expensive, aside from the initial purchases like cage, wheel, ball, and so on. But it really depends on you. All these 5 types of hamster are nocturnal, so if you got o bed early you will miss them. The Syrian is a bit easier to handle and tame, given his size. The Roborovski shouldn’t even be handled in the first place, since he is so small it’s easy for him to slip through your fingers. They’re best kept to look at, and they do a lot of tricks when they have a cage mate. So do the other Dwarf types, but they’re larger and can be handled a bit easier. It’s not a good idea to give a hamster to any child. Hamsters need a lot of care and a quick hand to catch them, which kids don’t really have. And hamsters in general need a quiet, calm space to live in. So a very lively home, with small children, and a few other pets that can roam the house freely, is not a good home for a quiet creature like a hamster. A word from Teddy I hope you found out a lot about each of us hammies, I know we can be a bit confusing at times. I’m easy to spot, since I’m a big orange hammy running around the house, but my friends are so much smaller. Whichever kind of hamser you get, remember that all of us can be tamed and like your attention. And if you want to know more about us hammies, you can read he articles below for useful information. [...] 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...
A Hamster’s Running Routine – How Much, And How Fast
A Hamster’s Running Routine – How Much, And How FastIf you’ve got a hamster and you’ve seen him running, you know he’s fast and relentless. For example my Teddy can run for a straight half hour and I can barely see his tiny paws, he’s so fast. But how fast do hamsters run ? And how much ? This is what I’ll be covering today, and I’ll tell you why hamsters need this much exercise in the first place. Table of Contents ToggleSo how fast do hamsters run ?Why hamsters run in the first placePredatorsTerritoryEnergy levelSo how much does a hamster run in a night ?Give your hamster enough exerciseHamster exercise wheelHamster exercise ballPlaying with your hamsterDangers of not exercising your hamsterObesityAnxiety/stressBar chewingA word from Teddy So how fast do hamsters run ? Hamsters run at about 3-6 mph/5-9.6 km per hour. That’s for Dwarf and Syrian hamsters as well, with the Syrian being the fastest. The speed can vary from hamster to hamster, from breed to breed, but this is about the speed the can reach. A Syrian hamster has larger limbs than a Dwarf hamster, and can cover more ground. The Dwarf is more agile than the Syrian and takes more frequent breaks while running. Hamsters are built more for dodging, hiding, evading, so they’re more agile than they are fast. They’re amazing climbers and have a strong grip. Now let’s take a look at why hamsters run in the first place, to figure out why the reach such speeds. Why hamsters run in the first place Hamsters have 2 main reasons they run, and it’s often a combination of both. It is both instinct and pure energy that makes the cover a lot of ground in a single night. When I first got my Teddy I was amazed at how much he ran and kept running. Sometimes his wheel would wake me up in the middle of the night, so I know he runs pretty much all night. My Teddy is a Syrian hamster, adult, so if yours is the same kind you probably know what I’m walking about. Predators This is the main reasons hamsters run, and it’s become an instinct. Hamsters are prey, so that means they have a very quick reflex of running away. They run, and they have to be fast, but they have to be agile first of all. So a hamster running in the wild will take frequent breaks to listen for predators, and figure out where to run if he hears one. Hamsters need to be able to outsmart everything from wild cats, wild dogs, foxes, owls, snakes, and everything in between. So not only do hamsters need to able to run fast, they also need to be great at dodging an attack, changing their direction, and sprinting at the drop of a feather. If you’ve ever tried to catch your hammy you know he can be incredibly agile and quick to dodge your hand. This is a reflex even pet hamsters have, since they’ve not forgotten where they come from. Territory Hamsters need to cover a lot of ground, in order to find all the food they need. They also need to find a mate, and they need to keep their territory in check. A wild dwarf hamster needs about 3.5 square km, which is about 1.35 square miles. A Syrian will need double that, so you can imagine there’s a lot of ground to cover for such a small creature. The food a hamster eats needs to be gathered, so the hamster will have to run around looking for food every night. There is a stash that hamsters keep in their borrows, but they still need to find fresh food every night, or else. So, all around very busy little things. They need to be quick about it if they want to do all of that in one night, and make it home alive. Energy level Hamsters have an incredible amount of energy, and it needs to be expended. this is why hamsters can be found spending most of their time in the running wheel, when they’re not sleeping. This means that hamsters need a lot of exercise, and there are certain behaviors that will come up if the hamster doesn’t get enough exercise. You can notice a hamster’s immense energy even when he’s just walking about his cage. He’s not just walking, he’s scurrying. Everything he does is fast, focused, and in a bit of a frenzy. So how much does a hamster run in a night ? The average hamster runs about 9 km/5.5 miles in a night, according to Wikipedia. Hamsters can cover more than that distance, or much less, but this is the average. This is for the pet hamster, running in a hamster wheel. Wild hamsters haven’t been recorded, as far as I know. However this distance isn’t covered continuously. A hamster takes many short breaks when he is running, and will often check for predators or food around him. He will take  breaks to drink some water, get back on the wheel, and then eat some more. All of this, couples with how fast a hamster usually runs, means that your hammy needs more exercise than you’d think for such a small creature. So getting your hamster plenty of exercise is crucial for his happiness, health, and proper development. Give your hamster enough exercise You’ve see your hamster race around his cage often, and you’ve seen how fast he can run and how much distance he can cover in a night. Now let’s see how you can help your hammy get all the exercise he needs. Hamster exercise wheel An exercise wheel is what most hamster will get, and it’s what they love most, aside from eating. Getting your hamster a proper exercise wheel will mean you should keep some things in mind. There is a certain size your hamster will need for his exercise wheel. Generally, a Syrian hamster will need a minimum of 7 inches/18 cm in diameter for his exercise wheel. A dwarf hamster can do with less, like a 5 inch/13 cm. However studies have shows that hamsters and rodents will go for larger wheel, if they are available. So even if your dwarf can do with a 5 inch/13 cm wheel, if you place a a 10 inch/25 cm one in his cage he will choose that one as his new favorite. The minimum diameters are only set in regard to how comfortable the hamster’s back is, not his preference. So always go for a large wheel. If you want to know more about hamster wheels, and how to get a good one for your hamster friend, you need to read this article on hamster wheels. You’ll find all the info you need on how to get your hamster the best wheel, along with an actual example. Hamster exercise ball This is the second way your hamster can get some exercise, but outside of his cage. There are a few advantages to an exercise ball, and I’ll walk you through them. First, your hamster will be able to explore your home. You know he always wants to know everything that’s going on. He’s always on the bars, looking for whatever you’re doing. Second, if he ever starts to get restless and chew the cage bars, this is a good way to quiet him. It will give him something else to do, and a way to expend his energy. Third, your hamster gets even more exercise, since he also has to push the ball itself in order to move it around. It’s fun, actually, for everyone involved. Never leave your hamster more than 30 minutes in his exercise ball, since he can get dehydrated, and will start looking for food as well. You’ll know it’s time to put him back in his cage when you start hearing his dropping rattling around his exercise ball. If you want to know more about exercise balls for hamsters, and how to use one for your hamster the right way, you can check this article right here. You’ll also find out what kind of exercise ball your hamster needs, and how to place him in one in the first place. Playing with your hamster Another way to give your hamster some exercise is to actually play with him. You probably won’t be able to tire him as much as his exercise wheel or ball, but it’s still an exercise for him. You can try playing with him in your hands, but he will not stay for long there, no more than a couple of minutes at a time. And you can also use a toilet paper square, dangle it in front of him, and he’ll try to pull it from you, or climb onto it. There are many ways you can play with your hamster, and  they all improve the bond between you and your hamster. This is very important when you’re trying to tame your hamster. So play with him as much and as often as you can, since he will not be around for very long. Hamsters live only for 2-4 years, so you should take advantage of the time you have together. (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.) Dangers of not exercising your hamster There are dangers to not giving your hamster enough exercise. This means that the hamster either has no running wheel, or he only has the small one that comes with his cage. You know, the small plastic wheel that aren’t good even for dwarf hamsters. You should know what will happen to your hamster if he doesn’t get enough exercise. Obesity A very common problem for hamsters. This can happen to any hamster, since all that pent up energy has to go somewhere. So if you feed your hamster as usual, and he has no way to exercise, he will get fat. Which is a serious health problem, for every creature but especially hamsters. An obese hamster will have heart problems much faster, which is not funny since his little heart stops very easily anyway. Hamsters die of heart attacks very often, mostly because their heart can’t withstand shocks like scaring them. An obese hamster will also have joint and hip problems much faster and much worse. Please feed and exercise your hamster responsibly. You can find out more about why hamsters can get fat here, along with how to slim him down to save his health. And you can find here a helpful list of the foods your hamster can eat, as well as what he should never eat for his own good. Anxiety/stress A hamster is a very anxious and stressed creature anyway. That means a lot of negative energy that needs to be released. So if your hamster has no way to exercise, all that energy will feed upon itself and lead to a very anxious, possibly irritable hamster. He can develop stress based problems, like wet tail or a series or skin problems. A stressed hamster will scale the cage walls, will click his teeth, and will possibly jump at you. He will be much harder to handle, and won’t really be your cuddly friend. Pent up stress and anxiety can devolve into fights between cage mates, which is not something to laugh at since these usually take place at night, when you’re sleeping and can’t break them up. So do you hamster a favor, and give him plenty of exercise options. Aside from the exercise wheel and ball, you can get your hamster an entire host of toys. Or you can DYI them, you choice. You can find out more about hamster toys here, like what types to get or make for your hamster, and pick your favorites from there. Bar chewing This must be one of the most hated habits of hamster everywhere. Every hamster owner I know deals with this, and fortunately it’s only for a few minutes every day, and then the hamster stops. But a hamster with no way to release his energy will find other ways, like chewing the cage bars, or trying to bite on the glass tank. This is of the most annoying and hardest to beat habits that a hamster can develop, and it only comes about in certain times. When he is bored, or when he is angry or stressed. The hamster will chew and chew and bite some more at the cars of his cage, and not stop, possibly even for 15 minutes straight. You can hear his teeth chattering whenever he stops, and nothing will persuade him to leave those bars alone for more than a couple of minutes. This can also be accompanied by scaling the cage, running around the cage, moving his hideout and any large pieces of his ‘furniture’. A word from Teddy I hope your found out how much us hammies can run, and how far we can get. We love to run and run and run some more, so please make sure you get your hamster a good running wheel or exercise ball. If you want to know more about why us hamsters need such a large cage, and how much we eat and what to feed us, you should check out he articles below. [...] Read more...
These Are The Best Ways to Exercise a Hamster
These Are The Best Ways to Exercise a HamsterHamsters are incredibly active animals. Often reminiscent of squirrels, for whom people often say are completely restless, hamsters need a lot of activity to feel comfortable. People may think that hamsters running on wheels is a gimmick, but it’s actually a form of exercise to them. Moreover, it’s a form of exercise that’s crucial – without exercise, hamsters feel dull and stressed out, they need an activity to function well. This is because they’re constantly moving around in the wilderness, and this instinct doesn’t go away just because they’re kept as a pet. If you want your hamster to stay healthy, and just as important as that, if you want it to be calm enough to have a healthy relationship with you – the owner, you’re going to have to provide a way for the hamster to exercise. This can be done in many ways, and we’ll be discussing all of the ways your hamster can exercise today. In this article, we’ll be covering all forms of exercise for hamsters, and what should you allow your hamster to do. There are many things you can do for your hamster to let them exercise and you should always try to keep them as active as possible. Today, we’ll be taking a look at those exercises. Without further ado, let’s get started! Table of Contents Toggle1. Exercise Wheel2. Exercise Ball/Hamster Ball3. A Secure Playing Area4. Tunnels5. Climbing6. Obstacle Courses 1. Exercise Wheel This is without a doubt the most popular form of exercise for hamsters. It’s the wheel you’ve seen in every film or TV-show that showed a hamster. This shouldn’t be considered an optional accessory – this is a must-have for every hamster. These wheels provide entertainment and physical activity for the hamster. This wheel turns about when the hamster steps inside and cause the hamster to run as he continues to turn it around – it’s basically a treadmill for hamsters. This wheel will help your hamster burn off boredom and extra pounds (a form of expression, hamsters don’t weigh that much). There are many cages that come with the exercise wheel attached to them, but if you don’t have a wheel (or it’s broken), you’re going to need to buy a wheel. You need to make sure that the wheel is solid. Hamsters will instinctively chew everything, and some of them will stop biting metal once they realize that there’s no actual use to it – but if your hamster is that stubborn, then it’d be best to buy a metal running wheel, as they’re most likely to chew through a plastic model. Buying mesh or barred wheels is dangerous, as the hamster can get its feet stuck between the slats or bars. Also, different species of hamsters need different kinds of wheels. Syrian hamsters need wheels that are at least 8 inches in diameter, although if you buy a 10-inch wheel, you’re good for the rest of their life. Dwarf hamsters need a wheel that’s at least 6.5 inches in diameter. You don’t want to buy a wheel that’s too small, as that can cause major back problems for the animal. If you buy a wheel that’s too small, the hamster will stop using it after a while and it will get bored. If your hamster is a female and she’s a nursing mother, then take the wheel out. The hamster will lose interest in her young and won’t get off the wheel. There’s also the option of the young running on the wheel together, which creates the potential for injury. 2. Exercise Ball/Hamster Ball This ball is a great way for your pet to both have fun and explore its surroundings, getting better acquainted with your home. Hamster balls are plastic balls your hamster can enter and run around. This is great because your hamster is protected and can’t hurt itself (as long as you establish an area where it can move, if it falls down the stairs in the ball, then it’s definitely hurting itself). All you have to do is let the hamster enter the ball and then close the lid to the ball safely. The only dangers to this toy are drop off points, like the aforementioned stairs. Your hamster will power the ball with its feet, just like with the wheel, but unlike the wheel (which just spins in circles), this ball will actually take your hamster places. Your hamster will be able to explore your home and get more comfortable in the environment. The sizes for the exercise balls follow the same rules as with exercise wheels, so you can take a look at that section if you’re interested in sizes. Make sure to be present when your hamster is using the ball outside the cage – other pets may want to play with the ball and that’s just a barrel of dynamite waiting to be lit. It’s best to let the hamster run around a flat ground (like a single floor of the house) with all the doors closed. One of the greatest advantages of this toy, in comparison to letting your hamster freely roam your home, is the fact that it can’t get stuck under any furniture. However, you have to make sure that the ball you’re choosing has ventilation holes small enough. If they’re too large, your hamster might get their feet stuck in those holes, or even their heads (they tend to push their heads in literally every open hole). Since hamsters have such poor vision, it’s best to buy a ball that’s made from clear plastic. Tinted plastic is also an option, but why only make matters even worse. Another thing that you should keep in mind is the lid/flap of the ball, which you open and close from the outside. It would be smart to put a sliver of scotch tape over it, just to make sure that it doesn’t accidentally open while your hamster’s running all over the place. Children, just like pets, are sort of a hazard to this way of playing, as they may be tempted to kick the ball. You should also keep in mind that a ball that’s too large will cause your hamster to be thrown around it once they reach enough speed, because of inertia. Also, if the ball is properly sized and they still manage to reach enough speed, the same effect may be achieved. You shouldn’t let your hamster run around for longer than 20 minutes – they’ll tire and get dizzy, so it’s time for snacks, dehydration, and rest after 20 minutes. 3. A Secure Playing Area You should make an enclosure outside the cage, where your hamster can roam freely. Take four planks, each three feet long, and make a frame. Set that frame down on the ground and let your hamster play in that area. Make sure that the planks are tall enough, as hamsters are very good at climbing and they might climb out of the frame – if your hamster gets loose you’re going to spend hours chasing it. Your hamster should be able to move freely. Even if you haven’t purchased any toys for your hamster, it will still run around and enjoy the free space. However, you should definitely buy toys. They’re cheap and they keep your hamster entertained. Play is exercise and toys are the tools of play that lead to exercise. There are many toys you can purchase at the pet store, but we’ll list a few of them. You can even use some of these inside the cage. A piece of rope – you can hang this piece of rope from the top of the cage – this is great for climbing. Twigs – you can simply take twigs from any tree and let your hamster play with those. It will bite them and chew on them, which will exercise their jaws, and it will also provide your hamster with the materials they can carry around and build stuff with. You can also make toys out of everyday household items, like toilet paper rolls. Hamsters will roll these rollers around and have fun with them. This is actually very similar to the movement provided by the hamster ball, as they have to push with their forward feet. It will provide fun for a long time, at least until they realize that they can chew that up, as well. You can also use a tin can (once you’re removed and smoothened all the sharp edges), which makes an even heavier exercise tool. The next level to this can be a glass jar, but take the lid off and let the hamster explore the inside. Small pebbles and stones. These will act as weights for your hamster, it will pick them up and carry them around, roll them, and build things with them. You can also cut multiple entrances and exits to cardboard or a wooden box and let your hamster play around with it. This is actually great because it will resemble its natural environment (as hamsters live in complex burrows with many entrances and exits in the wilderness), and the hamster will naturally enjoy it. 4. Tunnels We’ve already explained that hamsters live in tunnels when they’re in the wild, so making a tunnel labyrinth is going to be a great form of exercise for your hamster. You can do this in two ways, collect used toilet paper rolls, or you can buy hamster tubes. Using toilet paper rolls is the cheaper option, as the hamster is definitely going to figure out that it can simply chew through those. Buying hamster tubes is the better option. These tubes are connectable, which allows you to create any shape you want and any sort of maze you want to. They’re also more stable than used toilet paper rolls, so you don’t have to worry about your hamster breaking them or disassembling them from the inside out. This gives the hamster a lot of places to climb and plenty of tubes to run around through. You can actually use this in the cage, but also let your hamster leave the cage to a playing area via these tubes – this is great because your hamster can get to its playing area whenever it wants to. And if you’ve made the walls tall enough, then it won’t be able to escape from the playing area, and the hamster’s exercising will be completely independent. You can also create a tunnel that lets your hamster leave the cage, with the other end of the tunnel returning to the cage, which ensures that it won’t run away. You can create tunnels that are incredibly complex, but still have only one or two entrance and exit points. You also have cages that have tubes installed in them, or you can purchase two cages and connect them, making an interesting habitat. You can also cover the whole wall with tubes and watch your hamster crawl on the wall. There are so many options with this, and since hamsters love tunnels, they will enjoy it too. The only thing you should keep an eye out for is the size of the tubes in diameter. You don’t want to buy a tube system that’s too tight for your hamster – they will get stuck and you’ll have to get them out. 5. Climbing Hamsters are natural climbers, so allowing them to climb is a great way of exercising them. If you have a metal mesh cage, you’re most likely going to notice that your hamster is climbing on the walls. This is completely normal, and if anything, you should encourage it! If you’ve developed a healthy relationship with your hamster, it’s most likely going to try and climb on you. You should allow this as well if you don’t have any problems with it on the hygienic front, and hamsters won’t scratch you or hurt you in any way. Aside from that, you can attach ropes, twigs, etc. in their cage to create a climbing environment. The only downside to this is that having a metal cage is definitely great, especially for ventilation, but there is a problem that you might be overseeing – and that’s their droppings. To resolve this, place a sheet of newspapers on the bottom of the cage and take it out when you gauge that it’s time to change it. If you have a Roborovski hamster, then you should be careful with metal cages and consider buying a mouse cage. These hamsters are great at crawling through small spaces and they will use this to escape. 6. Obstacle Courses You can also create obstacle courses for your hamster – include toys, branches, twigs, rope, and all sorts of things that your hamster has to crawl through, jump over, climb over, etc. This is a great way for them to exercise their muscles and have fun at the same time, just make sure that you’re using an enclosed area for these courses, as they’re likely to escape if you don’t. There are things you should keep in mind when exercising your hamster. Safety should always come first, that’s why you shouldn’t let other pets near the area where your hamster’s playing. Cats and dogs are 100% guaranteed to chase, and most likely catch your hamster, so it’s best to isolate them while your hamster’s playing. Another thing that you should always keep in mind are other hazardous things, like electricity – hamsters will maybe try to chew through electric cords, touch sockets, etc. If contact is ever achieved, it will most definitely kill the hamster, so make sure that your hamster can’t reach any of this. Another hazard that’s very dangerous for hamsters is sudden drops. This means: staircases, shelves, couches, tables, etc. – hamsters can’t see well, and when they’re on the couch or on a table, they will run around and possibly fall off, or even jump off the table or couch because they can’t see that it’s ending. And even if they see that the table is actually ending, they can’t gauge how tall it is and how high of a fall that is, so it’s best to enclose an environment for them when they’re playing like this. It’s also important to keep your water supply ready and full. Hamsters can get very tired and very dehydrated when they’re exercising, so it’s important that they can go back to their cage and rehydrate whenever they need to. It’s also important to have treats ready for them once they’re done. You shouldn’t let your hamster exercise for longer than 20 minutes at a time, and make sure that they rehydrate whenever they’re done. [...] Read more...