The Surprising Reason Your Hamster Is Eating His Own Poop

Poop eating is never comfortable to imagine, let alone witness. But maybe you’ve seen your ball of fur do that. Maybe you were confused and grossed out like I was.

After catching my Teddy do this a few times, talking to other hamster owners, and doing some research, I found out why this happens.

Turns out, there is no reason to panic, and there’s actually a very good reason this happens.

Hamster eating his poop

So why is your hamster eating his poop ?

The short answer is that there are 2 types of poop. The regular, dry droppings that you find in his cage, and then softer droppings that occur mostly at night.

When your hamster is eating his poop, he is eating the night poop. These are called caecotrophia and they are necessary for your hammy. His night poop contains a lot of vitamin B12 and it’s basically the only way for him to obtain that vitamin.

Also, since some nutrients are not absorbed by their bodies properly on the first go, by eating their night poop they get more nutrients.

The B12 vitamin is only produced by the hamster’s small intestine, but it can only be absorbed into the body by the stomach. So that means your hammy has to bring the poop back to the stomach by eating it.

That’s the short version, and it sounds kind of icky. But that’s what it is, and it is normal for your hamster. Actually a lot of rodents do this, including the guinea pig, mice, and even rabbits.

Changing your hamster’s diet to stop poop eating

It will not work. This is something that your hamster will do anyway, since that is simply his programming from mother nature. He needs to digest and redigest some foods in order to get all the benefits.

Even if you bring more nutritional food for your hamster, he will still need to eat his poop sometimes, because his body is made that way. He needs to digest twice in order to get all the nutrients.

I understand that seeing your cute friend eat his poop might look and sound icky, but this is normal for him.

So let your hamster eat his night droppings, since it is a normal and healthy thing for him to do.

If you want to know what to feed your hamster in general, read my  food list article here. I’ll also cover what to not give your hamster to eat, and what treats he can have.

The nutritional value of night poop

Your hamster needs his night poop for one very good reason. Once he eats something, it passes through his stomach and gut, and he gets a part of the nutrition he needs.

Once that food forms into droppings and comes out, your hamster will eat it, to bring it back to his stomach so he can get more nutrition from it.

This is something your hamster does when he is a baby as well. When the baby hamsters are born, their gut does not contain the necessary bacteria to break down their food. Also, they do not immediately know what is food and what is not.

So, they will eat their mother’s night poop, to get the bacteria they need for their own gut. And also to learn what can be food.

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

Hamster eating his poop Pin

The dry poop you’re used to seeing

That’s the poop we all know our hamsters have, and the ones you see in their cage when you clean the cage.

Those droppings are dry and hard, and sometimes your hamster might leave them in weird places. I’ve seen Teddy poop in his food bowl, hoard poop in his house, and store it in his cheeks sometimes.

The oddest part was when we’d just cleaned his cage, and we knew there was no poop inside. After we put him back into the cage, we saw 5 new droppings. He didn’t have time to poop, but he’d kept them in his cheeks along with a bit of food.

I’ve seen him sometimes throw the dry poop across his ‘room’, or even spit it out of his cage. It’s never funny to step on a dry poop and only realize it after a few minutes when you feel something weird on your sock.

But it happens, and it’s part of owning a hamster.

Your hamster will not eat the dry poop, since it has no nutritional value.

Your hamster could be pooping in his food

It’s strange, but you’ll find the poop everywhere. Everywhere. In your hamster’s food bowl. In his home. In his sand bath.

You have to understand that animals, especially rodents, don’t care about their droppings as much as humans do.

With rodents, and including your hamster as well as mine, the poop happens everywhere they live. You’ll find a large amount in his nest, since that’s where he spends most of his time.

If your hamster’s cage smells, it’s not the poop. For humans the dry poop the hamster makes is nearly odorless. What smells is where the hamster pees, which will usually be in a corner. If you’re not careful, repeatedly using the same corner for his needs will make that corner very hard to clean.

So I’d recommend getting some mineral sand for your hamster, and placing a few tablespoons in the corners, for easier cleaning. And to  trap odor as well.

Place the hamster cage to avoid a mess

This is something I’ve learned the hard way. I’ve always kept Teddy’s cage just on the carpet, and found out soon enough that the dry poop can cling to the carpet. Even if it’s dry, it’s a bit sticky.

And depending on the color of your carpet, you might not know it’s there until you squished it into the fibers.

So what I’d recommend is what I did, which is keep the cage on a piece of cardboard, or cloth that can easily be cleaned or even just shaken clean.

Your hamster will probably spit out some dry poop around his cage, along with some stray bedding. And while poop is easier to get rid of, bedding is like glitter. 4 months later you still have bedding around the house, and you’ll find it in your pants as well.

So make sure you place the cage on something that can be removed easily, and is easy to clean.

As for the cage itself, check out my article on the best cages for hamsters. You’ll see the pros and cons of each cage type, and which have the most bedding spill-over.

For more info on how to properly care for your little hamster friend, you can check out these 15 essential steps. You’ll get everything from what kind of food to what temperature he needs, and how to figure out what kind of hamster you’ve got.

A word from Teddy

I know this is not a topic you want to think about very much, but this is normal for us.

We need the night poop to get all the nutrients we can from our food. This does not mean you’re not feeding us right ! It’s just that we have to do this, because of the way we’re made.

I hope you’ll still see us as the cute ball of fluff you’re used to, and let us do our thing in peace.

If you want to know more about us hamsters, and what the bet cage would be, or why we need a certain temperature in the room, and even why we’re night creatures, you can check the articles below. You’ll find more quality content on hamster care and facts.

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As much as possible, don’t spend a lot of time cleaning the habitat, or else the hamster would end up getting stressed due to how it needed to adjust to an entirely new environment. [...] Read more...
Do Hamsters Get Periods And Bleed ? A Word On Hamster Mating
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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 ? 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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...
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4 Differences Between Syrian And European HamsterAre you looking for the perfect hamster pet ? Then perhaps you’ve heard there are several species, and two of the best known are European and Syrian hamster. While they do look similar, one of them is completely unsuited to be a pet, even if it is a cute furball like the other one. I’ve decided to write this article because there are a lot of people confusing those two when they see images of hamsters, which is understandable since they look so similar. Let’s take a look at their key differences and why they matter.  Table of Contents ToggleWhat are Syrian hamsters ?What are European Hamsters ?1. European hamsters are much larger than Syrian hamsters2. Syrian hamsters can be tamed, European hamsters cannot3. European hamsters tend to be dark brown, Syrians golden-orange4. Both European hamsters and Syrian hamsters are very territorial, they will fight any hamsterCan you keep a European hamster as a pet ?Is a Syrian hamster a good pet ?Conclusion What are Syrian hamsters ? Syrian hamsters are a type of rodent (family Cricetidae, species Mesocricetus auratus), that is native to northern Syria and southern Turkey. Its habitat in the wild is greatly reduced and it is now classed as an endangered species (in the wild). In captivity however, these are by far the most popular hamster pets and are not endangered at all (as pets).  The captive Syrian hamsters you see (such as in pet shops) are the result of hundreds of generations of selective breeding, which brought about better traits (more docile, less aggressive) and a high variety of fur colors and markings. If you were to pick up a random wild Syrian hamster, it’d be very different from a pet.  I’ve had three hamsters so far, one Syrian (Teddy, he’s mentioned often on this site), and then Eggwhite (a white Syrian) after Teddy died of old age, and now Rocket after Eggwhite died of old age as well. Rocket is a dwarf hamster, specifically a Siberian hamster (light grey with white, fluffy paws and a dark stripe down her back).  I can attest that Eggwhite and Teddy were both very tame compared to Rocket, with Eggwhite the tamest of the bunch.  What are European Hamsters ? European hamsters are similar to Syrian hamsters, in that they’re also a rodent in the family Cricetidae, species Cricetus Cricetus. These hamsters are native to a wide habitat ranging from Central and East Europe to Russia and Central Asia. For reference, Syrian hamsters typically live far below where European hamsters live.  European hamsters are considered a critically endangered species, partly due to losing their habitat to agriculture, and partly because they are viewed as pests by farmers.  I’ve seen a European hamster personally once. It was in a local park in my city, and I saw it going in and out of its burrow at the root of a big tree. I took a few photos but they are very zoomed in because once I got close the hamster scampered into its home.  Not let’s do a more thorough comparison of European and Syrian hamsters.  1. European hamsters are much larger than Syrian hamsters The first and biggest difference between European and Syrian hamsters is their size. European hamsters are very large, for a hamster. They’re the size of an adult guinea pig, while adult Syrian hamsters are a bit smaller than your computer mouse.  This difference in size should be your biggest tip-off of what you’re looking at. A young European hamster will be the size of an adult Syrian hamster, and it’s very unlikely you’ll ever find one in a pet shop.  And because of this difference, if you were to try and keep a European hamster as a pet you’d need a far larger cage with very strong wires. More than you’d need if you had a Syrian hamster, who also needs a large cage to begin with. See here about how big or small their cage needs to be.  2. Syrian hamsters can be tamed, European hamsters cannot Both Syrian hamsters and European hamsters have been kept in laboratories to be studied, and also be used for various studies. One thing scientists have noted: European hamsters do not get more docile or tame, even on their second or third generation in captivity. This is opposed to Syrian hamsters, who tend to be the most docile and less aggressive of any hamster species. It is true that the vast majority of Syrian hamsters you find for sale are all descended from a single female and her offspring, back in 1930. It’s possible that the one female had a gene that made her more docile, and her offspring inherited that gene as well, allowing for more and more docile hamsters as time went on.  Even so, it’s clear that European hamsters would make a very aggressive pet, and definitely not something suitable for children or possibly even adults. 3. European hamsters tend to be dark brown, Syrians golden-orange There is a big difference in color when it comes to European and Syrian hamsters. European hamsters share a similar template with the Syrian’s classic look: white feet and hands, and white spots on the cheeks and mouth. But where Syrian hamsters are a golden orange color, European hamsters are a dark brown-reddish color.  Syrian hamsters have been bred for so many generations that their potential for different coats has been discovered. You can get Syrians in any color you can think of, with or without spots, without white feet or hands, and even with varying lengths of fur. The original gold and white fur were the best ones for blending into their surroundings, but it wasn’t the only one they were capable of.  European hamsters come in just one style, the one most suited to their environment. If they were to be bred for several generations you’d probably see a change in their color patterns as well. 4. Both European hamsters and Syrian hamsters are very territorial, they will fight any hamster If there’s one thing European and Syrian hamsters absolutely share, it’s their dislike of other hamsters. All hamsters are territorial and should never be kept in the same pen as another hamster. Syrian and European hamsters can and will attack their siblings in an attempt to claim a territory for their own. The result is often deadly so I recommend you don’t put two hamsters in the same cage ever, regardless of their species. Not even if they grew up together.  Can you keep a European hamster as a pet ? No, European hamsters cannot be kept as pets. They are very difficult to spot in the wild, let alone capture. Few were captured and any attempts at taming them (and their offspring) have failed.  Their much larger size (about as big as an adult guinea pig) makes any potential bite or scratch much more dangerous than one from a Syrian hamster (much smaller). That’s very unfortunate since they are super cute furballs and they might be as funny as a Syrian hamster, but just bigger. You would need a huge cage for them since even regular hamsters require quite big cages to be able to do all their workout routine, they are super active and need space. Is a Syrian hamster a good pet ? Syrian hamsters make good pets only for those who have the patience to get to know their pet, understand and respect their habits, and are gentle enough when handling them. They are mostly active at night but will occasionally come out during the day too. They tend to be shy, and you can’t play with them as you would with a puppy. You can hold a Syrian hamster, but not for very long. They have a bit of patience, the most out of all hamster species, but they will not sit in one place for more than a few seconds. If it’s in your hands it will want to wiggle out and keep moving. If they get frustrated they can bite in an attempt to escape your hands.  However, even if you are unlucky and you get one hamster that is not calm or willing to play, one extra benefit of pet hamsters are that they are incredibly funny and cute, so you will not get bored even if you don’t get to touch the little furball too much. Here is one of my articles where I listed 12 reasons why hamsters can be super cute and funny. No hamster is a good pet for a young child (under 9 years old), not even a Syrian hamster. If you’re looking for a companion, something to cuddle, take on walks, and even play with, a hamster is not the answer. Conclusion Syrian and European hamsters are similar enough to confuse them sometimes, but they have quite different personalities. Despite this, neither of them likes sharing their space with another individual, so they should be kept separate. I hope this article helped you understand the differences between a Syrian and a European hamster, for an untrained eye they are not as noticeable so it’s easy to confuse them, however you will never get to see a European hamster at your pet shop, so if you think of buying a hamster you will have to get a Syrian hamster, which is the best choice anyway. If you plan to buy a hamster, here is an article that will help you understand the real cost of owning a hamster, the cage is the most expensive thing you will ever buy for the hamster but the hamster itself should not cost too much. [...] Read more...
How To Choose Your First Hamster – Health And Temperament
How To Choose Your First Hamster – Health And TemperamentIf you’re looking to get a hamster, you’ll want to know how to choose your first hamster. Getting a hammy for the first time is exciting, and a big responsibility, even if he’s so small. Even if you’re not headed out the door to find your furry friend right now, there’s a few things you should know before you get a 2-3 year commitment. I wish I knew some of these when I first got my Teddy (Syrian male hammy). Table of Contents ToggleHow to choose your first hamsterThe hamster’s healthThe hamster’s eyesNo missing teethClean earsNo odd lumpsBald spots, and how the fur looksDischarge in the eyes or nose or earsWet tail, or soiled bottomSlender hamsterNo weird smellsThe hamster’s personalityBaby hamsters are hard to readMale or female hamsterWhich hamster breed to getBringing your new hamster friend homeIs a hamster really the pet for you ?A word from Teddy How to choose your first hamster The best way to choose a hamster is to look both for a healthy one, but also a even-tempered hamster. Hamsters are skittish and jumpy by nature, but they should be relatively easy to tame, and not very afraid of you. It’s easier to find a healthy hamster than a calmer, cooperative hamster. Most of the health checks are obvious and immediately noticeable, like scabs, missing teeth, bald spots, leaky nose, etc. The temperament however is a bit trickier, and won’t show completely until the hamster becomes an adult – around 3 months old. Until then, you’ll have to look for some specific signs. Let’s start with the health checklist, to see if your future hammy is healthy. The hamster’s health A healthy hamster  is easy enough to find, although some signs of illness won’t be immediately obvious. Some depend on the sex and breed of hamster you’re looking for as well. The hamster’s eyes A hammy’s eyes are supposed to be bright, and clear. Now hamsters usually have black eyes, but they can also be dark red, red, or even pink, and some look like a very deep dark blue. However the color should be clear, with no milky or whitish spots. They should not be hazy. Bright, sparkly, bulging eyes are a trait that hammies are known for. No missing teeth It should be obvious, but a hamster should have all of its teeth. That means 2 pair of front incisors, that you should be able to see clearly. They are very long, especially the bottom pair. Hamster teeth are yellow, sometimes even orange. That’s okay. You should only worry if you see white teeth, or whitish teeth, since those are signs of an illness or deficiency. Broken, cracked, crossed, or even missing teeth are a bad sign. They can come about from poor handling by the caretakers, or it could be a hereditary problem. Teeth are crucial to a hamster’s health, so they should be something you look at. You can find out more about hamster dental issues here, and what to look out for. Clean ears A hammy’s ears are the first thing he will use to make sense of his surroundings. Hamsters don’t see very well, so they rely a lot on smell and hearing. A pair of clean, thin ears is ideal, with no bite marks or missing bits. Do take note that many hammies have harder ears than the rest of their body. So you’ll need to get a bit of a closer look into the hamster’s ear for an infection or any other issues. No odd lumps Hamsters are this small ball of fur. But they should have no lumps, since that usually means an odd growth, or tumor, or a possible impacted cheek or abscess. None of those are good news. You might see your preferred hammy with a cheek full, or maybe both. That’s usually just food stored in his cheeks, though it’s not a common sight in pet stores. A note to be mindful of Syrian hammies. I wish I knew this about Teddy, because I was afraid he was sick when I first saw this. Syrian hamsters have two black mole-like spots on their hips, with barely any fur around them. Those are normal, and they are the scent glands. You will probably only notice them of the hamster is licking that spot. Bald spots, and how the fur looks The fur of a hamster should be fluffy, and clean looking. It should not be particularly shiny, unless the hamster was bred for that purpose. That being said, no bald spots (aside from the scent gland or genital area) should be present on the hamster. Any bald spot could be an indication of a skin disease, some of which could be contagious. However some bald spots can simply mean that he hamster somehow hurt himself, and managed to rip some fur off of himself. Be sure to check the habitat the hamster is in for other clues. Are there other hamsters with bald spots ? Are they actually scars from fighting ? Is there a part of the habitat the hamster could have cut himself on ? Discharge in the eyes or nose or ears A healthy, happy hamster should be completely dry. No discharge or liquids from the ears, nose, tail area, or mouth. Discharge can be a sign of infection, and it’s most probably contagious as well. SO it could be that your chosen hamster is sick, or is in the incubation phase. Any sign of infection however should be immediately treated by the staff at the pet store, since that isn’t a humane way to keep hamsters. Wet tail, or soiled bottom Wet tail is noticeable if the tail is, well, wet or soiled. It’s a type or diarrhea and can be extremely dangerous for your hamster’s health. You can find out more about wet tail here, and the chances your hamster has of getting it and surviving. If one hamster does have wet tail, or any other disease, it’s very possible that the other hamsters in the habitat have got it too, or they’re in the incubation phase. You’ll also notice signs of wet tail on the bedding, as it might be soiled and very smelly. Slender hamster A baby hamster – between 4 and 12 weeks old – should be neither skinny nor fat. This is actually how you should keep him as an adult, as well. An obese baby hamster will have a much shorter life span, and have several health issues, including and not stopping at diabetes and joint problems. An underfed hamster will be noticeable if you hold the hamster and feel its spine and leg bones very clearly. Since hamsters are so fluffy, it can be difficult to tell if they’re skinny or fat. The fur will cheat you there, but you should be able to tell if you look at the head and eyes, and how plump the skin is there. You can find out more about how big a hamster can get, depending on his breed. And find out here what you can do if you hamster’s already overweight. No weird smells An odd smell coming from your hamster is not a good sign. Hamsters are actually incredibly clean animals, and they clean themselves regularly, several times a day, very thoroughly. They have no scent that a human can detect, aside from female hamsters in heat. So if your hamster smells odd, you should check it for any signs of infection as well. It could be that the hamster has an abscess in his mouth (possibly because if a bad tooth) and that could be the source. Or a possible ear infection that isn’t obvious right away. The hamster’s personality Your hammy’s personality is probably something you won’t think of immediately, but you’ll notice it’s more important than anything. This is what I wish I knew before I got Teddy. You see, I wanted an orange hammy, and that was it. I had no idea about hamster breeds, temperaments, calmness, and so on. In time I saw that my Teddy is a bit of a despot, if you will. He must know, he must see, he will have his way, and he always has something to object. A bit annoying, but still a lovable ball of fur. Just not what I had in mind when I decided I want a hamster. I wanted a cuddly, friendly hammy, who will sleep on my shoulder and want to play all the time. Basically the world’s tiniest puppy. Again, I knew absolutely nothing about hamsters. Baby hamsters are hard to read When selecting your hamster, keep in mind that babies don’t have their personalities completely formed. You can’t look at a baby Syrian and know it’ll be friendly straight away, as you would a Lab puppy for example. Still, you can look at a few things when selecting your new hamster: Is he afraid or just cautious ? He should want to come closer if you reach for him, but not too confidently. Does the hamster run away as soon as it sees anyone ? Hamsters are shy, yes, but an extra shy hamster who bolts into his hideout all the time is very hard to tame. Does he look mostly calm and curious ? Hamsters are notoriously hyper, and older hammies are calmer than babies. Syrians are calmer than Dwarf types. Depends on what kind of hammy you want. Does the hammy look like it’s angry or snappy ? Might be best to stay away from that one, he will be harder to tame. Is the hamster trying to attack you ? It might sound silly, but if your hamster of choice starts making himself look bigger and tries to intimidate you, you’ve got a difficult one. Best to leave him be and find a different one. Keep in mind that previously owned hamsters might be a better choice, since they’ve been handled before and are most probably already tamed. They can be traumatised, however, so be gentle with them. If you’re selecting a baby hamster, make sure it is curious, and can hold its attention for several seconds. Hamsters are always on the move and are curious about a million things at a time, but still, if you put your hand on the cage, he should notice it and try to come closer. Your petshop should be able to let you handle the hammy before you walk out with him. Make sure you handle him beforehand, otherwise you’ll end up with not exactly what you were looking for. I didn’t ask to handle Teddy when I got him, and I’m not sure that pet store lets you do that. But handling him would’ve shown us that he wasn’t the calmest hamster in the cage. Male or female hamster This is up to you, and your preference. Males are generally a bit calmer, and easier to handle than females. That being said, if you’re getting a Dwarf type hammy, both genders are hyper and won’t sit still. Females come into heat every few days, about once a week. They become very irritable and a bit smelly in that period. You can recognize male hammies by the genital openings. In males the genital and anal opening are far apart, and do have fur between the two spots. Some hamster types may have a scent gland on the abdomen, so it will look like a third opening. Female hamsters have the obligatory and noticeable rows on nipples, and the genital and anal openings very close together. It will look like a bit of a bald spot with two pink dots. When picking a pair of hamsters, you’ll want to get them in same-sex pairs. This means no surprise, unplanned litters. Also, if you select a female hamster keep in mind that they can become pregnant as soon as they’re weaned – aprox . 4 weeks old. This means that if the caretakers didn’t separate the hamsters into same sex groups early enough, you might just bring home a pregnant female hamster without knowing. If your hammy is a pregnant female and you only just found out, congratulations on your new litter ! And here’s how to make sure they survive. Which hamster breed to get When it comes to the hamster breed, this is again up to you and your preference. There are two main types of hamsters available – Syrian and Dwarf hamsters. The Syrian is the most common one, it’s the largest, and easiest to tame. The Dwarf types (4 of them) are much smaller, and faster and agile and, can be a bit harder to tame since they just won’t sit still. No hamster ever sits in one place for more than a few seconds, but Dwarves are terrible at it. I have a Syrian male, and I sometimes have trouble keeping up with him. You can imagine how well I’d do with a Dwarf. Actually, Dwarf types are harder to handle, and as such are best left as observational pets. A bit like fish, but cuddly and much faster. Here’s how to identify each hamster type, and pick out the one you think you’d like the most. (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.) Bringing your new hamster friend home Alright, you’ve picked out your new friend, he’s in his nice cardboard box and ready to go home. I’ll urge you to bring your pet as fast as you can to his new home, so he can accommodate. Hamsters don’t like change too much, so they won’t like being taken away. Make sure you get home and have his cage set up beforehand. You can read here about the recommended cage sizes for each hamster type, and how to pick one out for your hamster. An in-depth look at the best hamster cages available will be helpful before you actually go and buy your hammy’s cage. The bedding and hideout should be picked out beforehand too, so they’re already laid out in the cage and ready for your hamster friend. You can find here a good roundup of safe hamster bedding/substrate options, and pick your favorite. Toys and food bowl, should be available and already in place when your hammy comes home for the first time. As well as a running wheel for your hamster, and browsing a nice selection according to hamster breed will be useful to pick out a good exercise wheel. And finally, a bit of food and a treat in his cage will help your hamster settle in easier. This means that the hamster himself will be the last thing you buy when you decide to get this cuddly pet. This is because the moment you bring your hammy home and settle him in his new home, you won’t disturb him at all for at least a couple of days, if not 3-4. The transition from being with his siblings, and then being put in a box, and then put in another box is very disorienting and stressful, and hamsters are very very bad at handling stress. So when you get home, place the cardboard box in the hamster’s cage, with the hamster still in the box. Open a side of the box, and from then on leave the hammy alone. Talk to him when you walk past his cage, and dedicate some minutes every day to just let him smell you. Do not touch or try to handle him at all for a couple of days. Once he’s settled in, you can begin taming him, and you’ll become friends fairly quickly. Is a hamster really the pet for you ? This is a question you should ask yourself very seriously. I’ve seen a lot of people get a hamster without knowing what they’re getting themselves into. Me included. A hamster is not a puppy, and won’t always be there as you want him to be. In this respect, a hamster is more like a cat, if you will. He has a lot of personality, for being so incredibly small. And he can be aloof and hard to read sometimes. Hamsters don’t wag their tails, or purr to show affection or happiness. They do have their own special charm, but they’re a different pet than the norm. And they are definitely not suited for small children, no matter what else you hear. Hamsters don’t take well to being handled wrong, or too much, or loud noises, or sudden movements. These are all things a 6 year old can and will do, since they’re children. A guinea pig would be more suited for a small child, since they’re incredibly calm and serene (compared to a hamster). If you want to get a more in-depth view on what owning a hamster is like, and some pros and cons, you need to check this article. You’ll get much more info, and see if a hammy is really the one for you. And if you’d like to know more about how to properly care for your hamster, you can check out these essential steps. A word from Teddy I hope you found what you were looking for here, and know how to pick out the best hammy. I know us hamsters can be the cutest things ever, but we have our own personalities. So, make sure you check out the health and personality of your new friend before bringing him home. If you want to know more about us hammies, you should check out the related articles below for more info. [...] Read more...
Tumors And Lumps In Hamsters – Symptoms, Treatment, And Care
Tumors And Lumps In Hamsters – Symptoms, Treatment, And CareYou might have noticed an odd lump on your hamster recently. Is it cancerous ? Is it benign ? Can hamsters survive surgery to remove a tumor ?  We’ll cover tumor and odd lumps in this article, including the options you would have when treating your hamster. This is a situation where you will have to see your hammy’s vet often. Table of Contents ToggleSo can hamsters develop a tumor ?Why tumors appear in hamstersMalignant vs benign tumors in your hamsterSigns and symptoms your hamster has a tumorTreating your hamster’s tumorCommon treatments for the hamster’s tumorCaring for the hamster after surgeryA word from Teddy So can hamsters develop a tumor ? Yes, hamsters can develop tumors. Whether they’re called, lumps, or tumors, the end result is the same. A growth of extra cells, which does not serve a particular purpose and could potentially be fatal. It can affect any part of the hamster’s body, and can come about at any age. There is an increased chance that older hamsters will develop tumors, compared to young hamsters. Tumors are treatable  most of the time, especially if noticed early on. It also depends on the location of the tumor. For example a growth on the outside of the leg is easy to remove, but one on the hamster’s ovary is not. Let’s see how and why tumors come about, so we know what to expect. Why tumors appear in hamsters Tumors appear in hamsters pretty much the same way as they appear in humans. Studies haven’t really pin-pointed the main reason tumors appear in humans, so knowing why they appear in hamsters is just as confusing. However we do know how the tumor forms (this is a very simplistic and sketched-out explanation). Usually the hamster’s cells have a certain programming. They renew every few days, but their programming can go awry sometimes. As such, old cells can forget to die, but new cells still appear. This leads to an overgrowth, which is not exactly healthy. It’s not like the hamster is getting a larger lung which will help him. He is growing part of the lung that does not serve a purpose, and will mess with his other internal organs. Take up room, blood, energy, and keep on expanding. The tumor can become infected sometimes, and this makes the treatment fairly difficult. These cells don’t respond as normal cells would. Malignant vs benign tumors in your hamster There are 2 types of tumors. One is benign, meaning not dangerous nor spreading, while the other is malignant meaning it is spreading to other tissues and can be life-threatening. A benign tumor is just an overgrowth of the cells, but it does not ‘move’ to another part of the body. For example a lump on the leg that just grow to a certain size and then stops, without triggering other growths somewhere else, is benign. A malignant tumor is one that spreads to other ares on or in the body, because the very cells themselves become contagious, in a way. This means that a growth on the leg can produce a growth on the belly and tail as well. The best person to decide whether your hamster’s tumor is dangerous or not is the veterinarian. He will examine the hamster, possibly run him through an ultra-sound to see if there are any odd growth on the inside too. He might also collect a small sample of the tumor, to study it under a microscope. He will come back to you shortly with a diagnosis and a treatment option. Signs and symptoms your hamster has a tumor There are very few clear, external signs of your hamster having a tumor. Aside from the tumor itself, if it is on the skin, or right under the skin and becoming a very large bulge/lump. A noticeable lump will be fleshy, but mostly hard. It will not yield like skin and muscle, and instead feel much like hardened tissue. It does not hurt, but it can press down on certain nerves or blood vessels and thus hurt your hamster. If the lump is on the skin, you will see it straight away. If it is under the skin, it will not be very clear unless you handle your hamster often, and all over. You need to get a feel for all of his little body, so you will notice where there is an extra lump. Do keep in mind that female hamsters have teats along their bellies, and the male Syrians have very large testicles hanging around their tail. Aside from all of this, there are more subtle signs your hamster has a tumor. They don’t necessarily mean there is a tumor present, since they can also indicate other health issues. But here are the most common ones: Low appetite Abnormal droppings – no droppings, bloody droppings, diarrhea (but not necessarily wet tail) Increased thirst (especially for adrenal gland tumors) Lethargy, low energy Huddling in a corner, hiding more often and not coming out too fast Possibly falling over, poor direction (if tumor is affecting inner ear) Weight gain or loss, despite feeding the hamster the same amount (also adrenal gland tumor) Abnormal grooming – much less grooming because the hamster is depleted of energy, or much more grooming since the hamster is licking at the tumor (skin-level) Irritated, grumpy disposition Fur loss, usually in patches If you see these signs, make sure to tell your veterinarian about this. It’s important for him to know everything that has changed with your hamster friend. Treating your hamster’s tumor The first step is to set up an appointment with your veterinarian. You’ll want to look for an vet who has experience with small animals, or even better a vet labeled as ”exotic”. These vets have experience with rodents, reptiles and birds and will have more knowledge on hamsters than a regular veterinarian. Once you’ve reached your vet’s office, he will look at your hamster and turn him over to see any lumps. There might be an ultra-sound exam too, to see if there are tumors on the inside. If the vet does find a tumor, and it’s easy to access, he will inspect it closely. He might take a sample of the tumor, which means an actual piece (very tiny) of the skin there. This will show him the structure of the cells, and whether they’re malignant or benign. According to what the vet will find out about the hamster, and also the location of the tumor, he will set a diagnostic. Once you know that, you can decide together on a treatment for your hamster. This can take anywhere between a few minutes to a few days, depending on the situation. Common treatments for the hamster’s tumor Usually the treatment for a tumor is to remove it. If the tumor is on the outside, like a growth on the hamster’s leg or back, it will be easy to remove. The vet himself might perform the surgery, or he might enlist a surgeon’s help. However if the tumor is inside the hamster, for example on his kidneys, it is much harder to treat. It can still be removed, but there are a few considerations to take. The first is whether the hamster, small as he is, will survive the anaesthesia and the ensuing surgery, with all the blood loss. The second is that the risks associated with surgery on a very small animal usually are very high, which might mean the hamster would have to be put down. This is only if the tumor is hindering the hamster’s life quality. Deciding to put down the hammy is not easy, and should be thought about very well. You need to take into account whether the hamster can live the rest of his normal life with this tumor. If it’s the kind of tumor that will spread and grow, then it will slowly eat the poor creature from the inside out. This is a case where putting the hamster to sleep would be the most compassionate and human treatment. However if the tumor is fairly small, does not grow in time, but is on the inside and can’t be removed without putting the hammy at risk, this is probably a case where the vet would advise letting the hamster live his life. There is a third option, which involves chemo therapy. As you know from humans that went through such a treatment, chemo is very rough. Many humans do not survive this. Imagine a small, weakened hamster going through it. You could try, however, and see how the hammy responds. Make sure you talk to your vet about all the options you’ve got, and see which you think is best. (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.) Caring for the hamster after surgery If the tumor can be safely removed, them this means your hamster will go through surgery. After he wakes up from his anaesthesia the vet will probably keep him for a day or two, for further observations. Once you can pick up your hamster, you will also get a set of guidelines from your vet. He will let you know exactly how to care for the hamster, as well as many post-op medications he needs to take. Do keep in mind that a hamster out of surgery will have the scar still a bit red and swollen in the first few days. That’s normal until the wound heals. However make sure to check the scar daily, to see if there is an infection. Sometimes, depending on the conditions the hamster is in after the surgery, an infection might occur. This will be noticeable by continued swelling, and pus. The wound will not close properly and will ooze a white-yellow liquid, and might smell bad as well. If this is the case, rush your hamster friend to the vet immediately. Also keep in mind that a hamster who was just under surgery will probably not want to be handled for a few days. He is tired, and sore, and he will possibly try to reach the scar to lick at it and clean it. So resist the temptation to pick up your hamster the first few days after the surgery. As always, the room he lives in must be warm enough, not drafty, and he must be separated from cage mates during his recovery. A word from Teddy I hope you found what you were looking for here. I know us hammies don’t normally get sick, but when we do we need your help. A tumor is definitely something we can’t figure out on our own. If you want to know more about us hamsters, you can check out the related articles below. You’ll find more info on how to keep us happy and safe. [...] Read more...

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