Do Hamsters Have A Good Sense Of Smell ? A Few Hammy Facts

If you’ve got a hamster you know he’s a cutie pie, and he’s always sniffing out some thing or another. Does that mean he’s got a great sense of smell, or is he just curious ?

Well, let’s see just how well hammies can sniff things out, and if they’ve got super-smell or not.

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So do hamsters have a good sense of smell ?

Yes, hamsters do have a very good sense of smell. In fact, smell is your hamster’s first sense he uses when navigating his cage, and figuring things out about you.

Hamsters have very poor eyesight, so they have to compensate with their other senses. The sense of smell will tell your hamster if there are predators around, if there is food, and if there’s another hammy nearby.

Us humans don’t have the greatest nose, true. But hamsters have a very sharp sense of smell, and as such are actually sensitive to smells we like.

Hamsters particularly hate citrus scents, since the smell is overwhelming for them. My Teddy scrunches up his face and wanders off whenever I peel an orange or cut a lemon.

Hamsters can smell anything on you

As it happens with pets that have keep sense of smell, hamsters can tell what you did. What you ate. Who you just hugged, and where those shoes have been.

This is a reason to be careful about how strongly you smell when handling your hamster. I don’t mean body odor, hamsters tolerate a faint, intensely human smell.

For example a perfume, even a gentle one, can be too much for your hamster. Any essential oils you may have rubbed on you fall into that category as well. Deodorant too, and in some cases fabric softener.

Basically hamsters are the most sensitive things ever, especially since they are so small. So if you’ve got a strong smell on yourself or your clothes, they will feel it and shy away from it.

Make sure your hands are clean when handling your hamster

When picking up your hamster make sure you’ve got clean hands. I’m saying this as a warning, since hammies are easy to trick with smells.

For example my girlfriend touched a few pieces of cooked chicken one day, we’d just eaten. She just wiped her hands on a kitchen towel, and went to pet the hamster.

Teddy, thinking she really did have chicken fingers, bit into her finger like it was food. She’s never touched Teddy since, even if she knows why it happened.

Now I’d have for you to end up in the same situation as my girlfriend, so please make sure your hands are clean. Before handling your hamster, make sure you wash your hands very well with soap. It should be antibacterial soap, and unscented.

A very strong scented soap will either make your hamster pull away, like citrus for example. Or it’ll make him think you’ve really got mango and coconut on your hands and try to eat some. This happens with especially fruity soaps.

If you want to know which fruits hammies can eat, so you know which soaps aren’t smart to use with him, try this list here.

Hamsters are very sensitive to artificial smells

Hammies have a very sensitive nose, yes. The will learn the smell of the house and know it as their habitat. However artificial smells are often used in homes, like air fresheners for example.

We have one too, and it’s always on, except at night. At night, given the way our apartment is laid out, Teddy’s cage sits right under the air freshener shelf.

So we turn the freshener off (it’s on auto) so Teddy’s nose doesn’t have to be bombarded with lilac and vanilla.

So if you’ve got anything very strong smelling or scented, make sure it is as far away from you hamster’s cage as possible.

The same goes for food. If you’ve got great, delicious food laid out somewhere, make sure it’s not near your hamster’s cage. He will smell the food, and try very very hard to get to it, chewing on the cage bars in the process.

Once he gets into the habit of biting the bars, it’s nearly impossible to get him off of them.

Syrians can’t really stay close to each other

I’m taking a separate note on Syrians here because most other hamsters – the Dwarf types – can live together. Syrians however will fight to the death and will not share one measly wood shaving with anyone.

So if you’ve got two Syrian hammies, and they’re hopefully in different cages, they need to be far apart. Even if they’ve both got their own, private cage, they will know the other hamster’s there.

You see hamsters communicate with each other through pheromones. That means that your hammy will literally smell other hamsters’ feelings and emotions.

All hammies emit pheromones, as do we humans. Fear smells a certain way, heat a certain way, playfulness a certain way, and so on. Hamsters use that to communicate with eachother.

However since Syrians are solitary animals, smelling another hamster will make them continuously irritated and territorial.

A Syrian hamster will mark his territory through the scent glands on his hips(big black dots under his fur), and this will annoy the other hammy.

He will see that as a sort of threat, and mark his territory, which will annoy the other hammy who will mark his and so on.

Case in point, don’t keep solitary hamsters close together, even if they’re in different cages.

(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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Keeping the hamster’s nose healthy

Hammies can develop different illnesses and diseases, like us humans. When it comes to noses both us and hammies need  them to breathe, but they rely on their noses to ‘see’ the world too.

While a cold can just annoy a human, for a hamster that blocks a lot of signals he gets from his habitat.

So you can do the following to make sure your hamster friend not only doesn’t get a cold, but keeps his nose safe and clean.

Keep the temperature in the room between 20-23 C/ 68-78 F

Hamsters are very sensitive to temperature, and can catch colds quite easily. So, you should keep the hamster’s room at an even temperature like described above.

A temperature lower than that can weaken the hamster’s immune system and welcome in a cold, which will impair his sense of smell.

A much much lower temperature that that will set in a hypothermic shock, which can be lethal to the hamster.

Do not leave anything sharp or rough in the cage

Hammies can’t see very well, but they can distinguish what’s directly in front of them. Still, they can be a bit clumsy, and it’s your job as a responsible pet owner so make sure your hammy is safe in his cage.

This means that pieces of toys or the hideout or the wheel that might stick out and be extra sharp, should be removed. The same goes for wooden objects, which maybe have certain very rough corners.

Make sure those wooden objects are sanded down properly, so your hammy doesn’t have tiny razors to nick himself on.

That being said, be sure to check everything, since I found a bit of dried pain in my Teddy’s wheel that I had to chip off, or it would’ve been like a nail for him to step on.

Clean your hands before handling the hamster

Another reason to clean your hands before handling your hamster, aside from the scent, is possible bacteria. Hamsters do have an immune system, but they’re very small creatures. They can’t withstand most infections and a stray bacteria or virus can be lethal to them.

Best to make sure your hands are as clean as possible before you touch your hamster, or handle his food, or do anything with his habitat.

Keep dust away from your hamster

Hammies have very sensitive noses, and as such can develop lung problems easier than us humans. This means keeping your hamster away from any dust or dusty surfaces is mandatory.

For example if you’ve got an exercise ball for your hamster, make sure the floor you let him roam on is clean, and has no debris or dust. The dust and debris will end up in the hamster’s ball, where he will breather them in. Never a good thing.

The same goes for toys and a new cage, or anything really. A quick wipedown or cleaning will do the trick, even if it’s a bit of a hassle.

The cage Teddy currently has was absolutely dirty and dusty when we got it, given how it was stored in the back of the shop. We gave it a thorough  cleaning in the shower, dried it down, and it was great for use

Only use safe bedding for the hamster

The bedding you give your hamster is like the drapes and carpet in your room. If they smell funny, you won’t feel alright, and they probably need changing.

Wood shavings are what hammies usually get as bedding, and it’s a very good idea. Just make sure they’re not dusty, since wood shavings are made in the same place as sawdust.

So, the bags can sometimes have a bit of dust in them, make sure you check for that.

Also make sure you do not give your hamster pine wood shavings. Pine wood has phenols that are harmful for your hamster in large quantities. When it’s spread all over the cage as a bedding the hamster will have no option but to breathe them in.

A word from Teddy

I hope you found out more about us hammies’ sense of smell. We’re pretty good at it, and we can figure out lots of things with our tiny noses. In the wild we use our noses to find out food over vast territories !

If you want to know more about us hamsters you can check out the articles below, so you know how to best care for us and keep us safe.

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Hamster Hibernation: 9 Signs to Look Out For
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The hamster will become stiff9. It should feel cold to the touch 1. Binge-eating This is probably the most common sign of hibernation in any kind of animal. It is quite normal for hibernating animals to start binge-eating before they go into hibernation because they would need all that food during the winter when they will enter a long state of suspension. During that state of hibernation, they won’t be able to eat anything. So, in your hamster’s case, if you notice that it is eating far more than it does on a regular basis, it may actually be storing food for energy in time for winter when it is about to hibernate. After all, it needs the excess fat to keep its body well-nourished during its state of hibernation.  This will happen when the temperatures start dropping. As such, the best thing to do in your case is to keep the temperatures higher than 20 degrees Celsius so that the pet hamster won’t end up having to binge eat in time for winter. 2. 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The Real Cost Of Buying And Owning A Hamster
The Real Cost Of Buying And Owning A HamsterIf you’re thinking about getting a hamster, you need to read this. I had only a vague idea before I got my Teddy. I knew I wanted a cute and cuddly orange hamster, and I knew nothing about hamsters. Then I found out through trial and error how to properly care for a hamster, and how having a hamster changes your life. This is what I’ll be talking about here. How much a hamster costs, how much it costs to get him food and bedding, cages costs, everything. Table of Contents ToggleSo how much does a hamster cost, buying and monthly expenses ?How much for the hamsterWhat a hamster’s cage will costGenerally there’s 3 kinds of cage types:How much the hamster’s bedding will costHow much the hamster’s hideout will costHamster toys, bought and DYIHow much a hamster wheel can costHow much an exercise ball for your hamster will costHow much the hamster’s food costsHamster health and vet visitsTransport cage for the hamsterConsider this before getting a hamsterCan you offer the hamster the right conditions ?Do you have the time to play with your hamster ?Is there someone who can watch your hamster when you’re gone ?Do you have a calm, quiet place for your hamster to stay ?A hamster’s average life expectancyHow a hamster will change your lifeA word from Teddy So how much does a hamster cost, buying and monthly expenses ? To be fair, the hamster itself is incredibly cheap. A Syrian hamster will run about 5-10 dollars, while a Dwarf (whether Roborowski, Campbell, Siberian, or Chinese) will be slightly cheaper. As for the monthly expenses, those include only bedding and food/treats, which can vary depending on what you get your hamster. An estimate would be around $10 per month for food and bedding. There are initial expenses, like the cage, wheel, exercise ball, toys, and so on. An absolute minimum, considering the  cage size, and wheel and ball size, would be $225, of which the cage is he most expensive. You can find an exhaustive hamster supply list here, complete with everything you’ll need once you decide to get yourself a hamster. Aside from those, which I’ll cover in detail in the article, there’s the impact the hamster has on your life. Owning a hamster is, after all, a responsibility and you need to think about it before you get a hamster. Now let’s get into the details of how much a hamster costs. All expenses in this article are in U.S. dollars, to stay coherent throughout the article. How much for the hamster Hamsters are actually very cheap. In that, most of the time you’ll find them along with fish in terms of cost. For example my Teddy was 4.90 USD. That’s incredible for owning a pet that will be by my side for the next 2-3 years. Now, Teddy is a Syrian hamster. A dwarf type will cost less, but how much less depends on the pet shop you pick him up from. But on average, hamsters will go between $5-10, with the dwarf kind on the cheaper end. You can also get hamsters from a private breeder. But in those cases you must make sure that those breeders treat their hamsters humanely, and have medical checks run on the parents frequently. A private breeder will not cost more than the pet shop, and getting a baby hamster from a friend will be basically free. But you must be sure that the hamster parents are healthy before you get your baby hamster. Visit your friends who have hamsters a few times to check up on the female, to see how her litter is coming along and pick out the one you like. So in short, an actual hamster can be anything between $5-10, even free if you know someone who had a recent litter. What a hamster’s cage will cost This depends on what kind of cage you want to get your hamster. Normally the minimum cage size for hamsters is 24 x 12 inches, and about 12 inches tall. That’s 61 x 30.5 cm, and about 30.5 cm tall. This the minimum for a Syrian hamster, but this will work for dwarf hamsters as well. When it comes to cage size, it’s best to go for bigger cages. This is because the hamsters need more space than the absolute minimum. Of course, it depends on your home as well. Can you fit a large glass tank somewhere ? Do you need to move the cage often ? How much space to spare do you have in the room you want to keep the hamster ? What is your budget ? A large enough cage will be somewhere around $120-150, plus handling and shipping if you’re ordering online. Picking it up from a petshop will spare you those taxes, but might be more expensive overall. Generally there’s 3 kinds of cage types: Plastic – the most common after metal, can easily fit tube accessories. Not the most breatheable, be careful which kind you get. I’ll leave you an Amazon link to the one I have, you can check it out there as well as the pricing. Metal/wire – very breatheable, but you need to be sure the spacing between wires is less than half an inch so the hamster can’t escape. Here’s an Amazon link to a good, large wire cage, which also has a movable level. Glass tanks – can get these in larger sizes than plastic or metal cages, but they need to stay put. You need a lot of space and a wire mesh for the top of the tank. I looked around and found a fairly good one on Amazon, you can check it out here. A word on glass tanks. They’re great for hamsters but ordering online is a bit tricky, with the transport. Sometimes glass comes whole and the tank is fine, sometimes it comes broken. Honestly it’s best to pick up a glass tank from a pet shop or somewhere you can inspect it yourself, and bring it home yourself. If you want a much more detailed breakdown on each hamster cage, and which type you’d like for your hamster, you need to read this best cages article. You will find the same Amazon links as above, but discussed in more detail, along with pictures. It’s got all 3 types of hamster cages, their pros and cons, and how to clean and care for the cages too. A hamster cage might seem expensive at first, and at a first glance it might be. But you only need one, and your hamster will use it his entire life. This is not something you buy again and again every few months. Do not make the mistake I did, and skimp out on the cage. I ended up changing 3 cages just because I didn’t want to spend a little extra on the first purchase. The first 2 I got Teddy were too small for an adult Syrian hamster. How much the hamster’s bedding will cost Hamsters need a lot of bedding, and the most readily available is wood chips. The best kind of bedding you can get your hamster would be aspen wood chips, if they’re available in your area. If not, another option would be paper bedding. Bedding is something that lasts you for several weeks, even months, depending on how much you give your hamster, and how often you change it. If you want much more info on how often to change the hamster’s bedding, which kind is safe, and how to pick the right one for him, I suggest you read this article. It’s got the bedding types available, along with a list of unsafe beddings you need to avoid. For example my Teddy’s bedding is about $12 and 3.2 kg/7 lbs, and it’s good for about 3 whole months. I change his whole bedding every week, and his corners a bit more often. So that’s $15 every 3 months, 4 times a year. $5 a month for something that will help keep the hamster warm is not that much, really. A good option for aspen bedding is this one by Kaytee. It’s twice the size I get my Teddy so it can seriously last your hamster for half a year, if not more. Aspen bedding is one of the safest types you can get for a hamster. You can check the listing on Amazon here, and read the reviews as well. You can also get paper bedding for your hamster, if aspen isn’t available where you are. Here’s an Amazon link for a paper bedding, which will last your hamster about 3 months. Paper beddings are a bit more expensive than wood shavings. It’s up to you which you think would be best for your hammy. I use wood shavings since they’re easy to find in my area. As for the nesting material the hamster needs to put in his nest, a couple of ripped up paper towels will be enough. Or, unscented, plain toilet paper squares. Teddy shoves the paper in his cheek pouches, and then starts taking them out in his home, decorating the place. How much the hamster’s hideout will cost As for the hideout for the hamster, his hideout is where he will spend the majority of his time. Hamsters need just a bit of space to build their nest, and a good hideout will protect them A good hideout is one made of wood. It keeps the hamster warmer, absorbs moisture and prevents condensation, and is safe to chew. Hamsters chew absolutely everything, including their hideout, so get your hammy a wood one. If you want to know more about the kind of hideout a hamster needs in general, you can check out this article. In the second half of the article you’ll find out how your hammy will use his hideout, and how to clean it properly. I got my Teddy a plastic one at first, and I kept it for a while until I noticed it kept the moisture inside, which kept Teddy’s nest wet in some places. So I got him a slightly larger, sturdier wood one. I’ll leave you an Amazon link for a wood hideout that looks a lot like the one I have for my Teddy. The thing about hideouts and toys for hamsters, most of the time they are too small for Syrian hamsters. Most of them are geared towards dwarf hamsters. But I’m showing you one that’s large enough for a Syrian hamster to fit in, and feel comfortable. So the hideout would be somewhere around $10, which is again something you buy only once. Even if your hammy will chew and chew and chew on it, that hideout will still be in place for years. Hamster toys, bought and DYI The hamster’s toys will need to be made of wood as well. This is because hamster, again, chew on everything. If the hamster doesn’t chew on his toys, he will chew on the cage bars, or his hideout, or his water bottle, anything. A hamster’s teeth never stop growing, so he needs to always file them down. And wood is he best material for their teeth, since it will file them down without hurting the hamster. There are a whole array of toys you can get your hamster, some you can buy, some are best if you make at home. For example cardboard tubes left from paper towels (the ones you have in your kitchen, maybe) are great for hamsters. Cut a few holes in them and you’ve got a hide-and-seek toy that can fit an adult Syrian hamster. Again, the Syrian hamsters need much more space than a dwarf so be careful when you choose toys for your hammy. I’ll link you to an article on the best toys you can both buy and DYI for your hamster friend. You’ll find some links for Amazon listings for the toys which are best if you don’t invent them (like a wheel) and some ideas on what you can make at home. Everything I link in this article is also suitable for a Syrian hamster, since this was what I was looking for when I got toys for my Teddy. As for the cost, it depends on what you end up getting your hamster. These are again things you buy for your hamster only once, and he will use his entire life. So it could be anywhere from nothing (like the paper towel tubes) to $22 for a digging tower. It’s up to you, but remember that your hammy will need a few toys, even if you make all of them at home. How much a hamster wheel can cost Hamsters need a lot of exercise, and fortunately an exercise wheel and ball are things you only buy once. Actually everything except the food and bedding will keep the hamster forever. Again, don’t make the mistake I made when I got my Teddy. I skimped out on the cage, but the wheel as well. At first I left him that small plastic wheel that came with the cage, too small by even a baby Syrian. The I bought him a bigger, metal wheel, a 7 inch/18 cm one. Which was fine, but only for a while. One he grew to his full size, he needed a larger one. Again. So I went a bought the biggest I could find, a 9 inch/23 cm one, which fits hit much better. When you get your hamster an exercise wheel, you need to account for how large he will get as an adult. An adult Syrian hamster will need a minimum of 7 inches/18 cm to be able to run freely. A dwarf hamster can do with just inches/13 cm but that’s the minimum. If you want to know much more about choosing the right exercise wheel for your hamster, you definitely need to read this. You’ll also find out how much exercise a hamster needs, and how much he can run in a night as well ! A large enough wheel for a Syrian hamster can run around $30, which will last him his entire life. How much an exercise ball for your hamster will cost As with the exercise wheel, and exercise ball is a good way to give your hamster an opportunity to leave his cage safely. You can place the hamster in his exercise ball, and let him roam the house. Or, you can use it as a temporary place to keep him while you clean his cage. If you want to know more about how to care for your hamster when he is n his exercise ball, you can read this article. You’ll find out how to properly introduce him to his exercise ball, how to make sure he is comfortable, and how to keep the ball clean. Exercise balls for hamsters run around $8 plus shipping and handling, if you order online. If you get it from a petshop it might have less taxes, but be a bit more expensive overall. Again, this is an item you only buy once, like the wheel and cage and hideout. For example my Teddy has his ball since he was young, and I just figured out that I should get him a large enough ball to fit him as an adult. All exercise balls for hamsters are made of hard, durable plastic, so you won’t need to replace it under normal circumstances. Unless someone steps on the ball, or a large pet or child plays with it, it should stay intact even if it bangs against the furniture. How much the hamster’s food costs The food is the cheapest thing on this list, I think. This is partly because you can feed the hamster the food you eat as well, or you can get him a pre-made food mix. If you decide to feed your hamster whole foods from your home, then this food list article will help you figure out what kind of foods are safe and unsafe for a hamster to eat. Overall, I’d advise getting your hamster a pre-made food mix. Those usually have dry food that keeps for long, and is more suitable for a hamster’s usual diet and what he’d normally find in the wild. If you feed your hamster exclusively from your fridge or pantry, then his food will cost basically nothing. But you’re in danger of not meeting his dietary requirements, or overfeeding him. If you’re using a pre-made mix, it can get to $10, both online and in a pet shop. I get Teddy a 1 kg/2 lbs food mix with grains and pellets and a few seeds. It lasts him about as much as the bedding, so 3 months. So that’s $10 every 3 months, which I also supplement with a bit of veggies or cooked chicken whenever we’re cooking. Hamster health and vet visits Hamster’s can’t really be described as sickly animals by nature. They stay healthy for along time, but once they get sick they need immediate attention. Those I can’t give you an estimate for, since it can vary wildly according to the hamster’s illness. The most common problems a hamster can run into are wet tail, diabetes, hypothermia, dehydration, starvation, and colds. Of course, there are a lot of other problems that can come up, but these are the most common. And most of these are easily fixable, if noticed in time. Bringing the hamster to a vet within 24 hours of developing a disease, or getting injured, is going to save him in most cases. But I can tell you that if you keep your hamster in the right conditions, feed him properly, give him plenty of room and exercise, he will be fine. So a trip to the vet will be basically free. Just watch out for the temperature in the room you keep him in – more on that here. Transport cage for the hamster Your hammy will probably never have to leave you home. But there might be moments when he’ll have to go to the vet, or you’re moving house and can’t move him in his entire cage. A transport cage can be an old, smaller cage that your hammy had when he was a baby, or you can get one that’s made specifically for temporary keeping. As with everything else for the hamster, this is something you only buy once. And a transport cage can be anything from $10 to $30, and some types can be used as a permanent fixture to your hammy’s habitat. If you want to know more about traveling with your hamster, and how to make sure he is comfortable during travel, you should check this out. You’ll get a few hamster travel cage ideas, and find out how to keep him safe during travel too. Consider this before getting a hamster When I first got my Teddy I had no real info on hamsters. I’d seen one or two before, I knew they were small and fluffy, and needed a cage, and didn’t live more than a couple of years. My girlfriend fell in love with the idea of Teddy in an exercise ball running around the house, so we went looking for an orange Syrian hamster. When we got him, we spend an entire evening looking at him, at how cute he is, and how much energy he has. We wouldn’t trade him for anything, even if he’s a bit over the top sometimes, like waking us up in the middle of the night with a squeaky wheel. We had no idea what to expect, and there were some odd surprises. But I think that there definitely are some things you should think log and hard about before you get a hamster. Can you offer the hamster the right conditions ? By this I mean that hamsters need some specific conditions to live in. There’s temperature, spacing, bedding and food, and toys to take into account. Unless you can keep the hamster at a 20-23 C/65-75 F temperature, with a cage 24 x 12 inches, and about 12 inches tall (that’s 61 x 30.5 cm, and about 30.5 cm tall), you shouldn’t get one. Hamsters need proper conditions, along with the right amount of bedding and food to stay healthy and happy. Do you have the time to play with your hamster ? Hamsters are in fact a mix between nocturnal and crepuscular. That means that some will come out during the night, and some will only come out at dusk and dawn. Their waking hours can change over time, but this is how they usually work. If you’re working a very early shift, with a very early bedtime, you might miss your hamster waking up. Or you might only catch about an hour or half an hour of playtime with him before you must sleep. I’d recommend a hamster to those people who do not work an early shift, and can stay up later than 10 pm without worrying about how tired they’ll be tomorrow. To tame your hamster you need a lot of interaction with him, and if you’re sleeping when he’s up, that will be harder to do. Is there someone who can watch your hamster when you’re gone ? There’s no good reason to bring the hamster out of his habitat or your home, aside from a vet visit or something major like moving house. Travel can stress the hamster too much, so it’s best to leave him in one place. But when you have to leave town for a few days, do you have someone who can come over and feed him ? A friend or a family member, or even a neighbor who have the time and disposition to come over every evening and feed the hamster, see if he’s alright, check up on him. Do you have a calm, quiet place for your hamster to stay ? Even if you’ve got an especially rowdy home, with 4 small kids, 2 dogs and a parrot, you must have some sort of quiet place. Hamsters need a quiet place where they won’t be disturbed while they sleep, which is much of the day. So keeping him in the living room with barking dogs and people running around won’t be healthy or comfy for your hamster at all. If you can keep the hamster in a quiet room, where nothing can disturb him, then that’s great. The attic or a cupboard or basement are not good places for your hamster, even if they’re quiet. (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.) A hamster’s average life expectancy Hamsters are fairly short-lived. Both Syrians and Dwarf hamsters live up to 2-4 years, under the right circumstances as pets. They can die young, around 4 weeks of age, if they develop wet-tail and aren’t give treatment fast, or they can develop diabetes when they’re older, aside form a host of other problems. But in general, your furry friend will stay with you from 2 to 4 years, Dwarf hamsters being the most long-lived of all. So if you do decide to get a hamster, take into account that random bits of wood shavings, a furry face, and evenings playing with a walnut or toilet paper roll will be in your life for the next 2-4 years. How a hamster will change your life Owning a hamster is not that difficult, all things considered. When I first got Teddy, I didn’t know hat to expect, but I’m glad I got him. He’s taught me that some things must be done his way( like leaving a lot of room on the kitchen counter for him at night). And many things that would annoy me in the day would just disappear when I play with him. A hamster, or a pet in general, will put a smile on your face, with everything this ball of fur does. Once you get a hamster, you will be more aware of how warm or clean your home is (like bedding strewn everywhere), and even the noise level. You will become a very responsible person when you know you can’t really take him with your everywhere, like a cat or dog, to set up someone to take care of him. And you will see a piece of cardboard and know exactly what he’d do with it. A word from Teddy I hope you found everything you were looking for here. I know us hamsters can seem like forgettable pets compared to larger ones, like cats or dogs. But we are a whole other type of pet, with lots of love and funny tricks to offer. So make sure you think about it well enough before you get one of us hammies to live with you. We need some accommodation, but if you can make some room for us in your life, we’ll put a smile on your face every day. If you want to know more about us hamsters, you can check out the articles below ! You’ll find out why we need so much exercise, and how to feed us properly, and much more. [...] Read more...
Do Hamsters Change Color ? (And Other Fur Facts)
Do Hamsters Change Color ? (And Other Fur Facts)Hamsters come in so many furs and colors and patterns it’s hard to remember which is which sometimes. And other times, they turn around and surprise you and change their fur ! Nothing as dramatic as going from blonde to redhead, but sometimes some hamsters might change their color. Table of Contents ToggleDo hamsters change color ?Very young hamsters will change their fur as they become adultsSome hamsters change their fur in winterVery old hamsters lose fur and go a bit grayOther hamster fur factsThere are versions of Syrian hamsters with long furLong fur can get very mattedHamster fur can grow back in most casesHamster fur should never get wet, don’t bathe your hamster ! Do hamsters change color ? Some hamsters can change color, either because they are very young and coming into their adult fur, or because they are getting very old and turning a bit gray, or because they’re a type of hamster that turns white when the cold season hits. Aside from the Winter White hamsters, no color change is dramatic but it’s a fun thing to observe in your hamster.  Hamsters come in so many fur colors, to begin with, it’s interesting to see how their fur can change as they age or the seasons change. Let’s start with the most common reason their fur can change.  Very young hamsters will change their fur as they become adults When hamsters are born, they are hairless. Then they get their initial fur growth, and it’s usually something very light, very fluffy, and very close to what their adult color will be. But as they reach maturity (about 3 months) their fur color will develop more. Some colors will be brighter, and some extra hairs will grow in, especially agouti hairs (with black at the end of each hair). For example when I first got my Teddy, he was maybe a little over a month old. So tiny ! He was a golden Syrian hamster, so he already had a light orange/gold on his back, with grey ears, and white markings on his face and feet. But as he grew a little more, I noticed he had a bit of a spot on his forehead, like a gray smudge. At first, I thought he got dirty somewhere, somehow.  But nope, turns out he actually had some agouti hairs growing all over him, and a very pale grey mark on his forehead. So as an adult my teddy was orange, with agouti hairs, mostly on his back, and a grey mark on his forehead. He was might lighter looking as a tiny little 1 month old boy.  Some hamsters change their fur in winter Some hamsters can change their fur when winter comes. This change is triggered by a shift in temperatures, but especially by a shift in daylight. The only hamsters to do this are the Winter White dwarf hamster, otherwise known as Siberian dwarf, or Djungarian dwarf.  In the wild this happens all the time. But when we’re talking about pet Winer Whites, this rarely happens, because of artificial lighting, and the even temperature inside our homes. You can induce this change, but it means only subjecting your hamster to natural daylight and nothing more. I imagine this is easier to do in the countryside due to much less light pollution.   Very old hamsters lose fur and go a bit gray Another reason for hamsters to change their fur is when they get very, very old. Like humans, old hamsters get slower, and turn gray, and start to lose their fur. Well not exactly the same, but they get silver spots. The most common places for silver or white fur in an old hamster are around the ears and neck, as far as I’ve seen. These changes seem to be more noticeable in Syrian hamsters than dwarfs. Most hamsters have a short lifespan, around 2-3 years. The hamsters I’ve had, 2 died of old age and one is still around but also growing old. When Teddy died, he was almost 2 years old. His fur was thinning on his neck and back, and his ears were drooping a little, and he suddenly had these white tufts around his ears. He started looking alike a grumpy old man, balding but with a lot of hair around his ears.  When Eggwhite died, he was also almost 2 years old, but he was a creamy white so I couldn’t notice a change in color. But I did notice his fur getting thinner, his eyelids drooping a little, and he also developed some tufts around his ears like Teddy did before he passed away.  Both Teddy and Eggwhite were Syrian hamsters. My third hamster is a Winter White, called Rocket, but she’s never changed her fur in the 2 years we’ve had her. She can (theoretically) live up to 4 years, and so far we haven’t seen any signs of old age on her, such as white hairs, droopy ears or eyes, or even getting slower. The fur on her paws is a little thinner, but that’s the only thing.  Other hamster fur facts Here are some other interesting hamster fur facts, since these little guys are far more fun than they appear. Their fur comes in many colors and patterns, but that’s not where it stops.  There are versions of Syrian hamsters with long fur When scientists captured Syrian hamsters for their labs, they also bred them to be more docile and this also led to them expressing different fur patterns. In time the hamsters wound up with breeders, who tried to see if there could be long haired hamsters. And eventually they succeeded, long-haired Syrian hamsters are here and they look absolutely funny. The long hair can sometimes be long and flowy, other times it can be a mix of long and short with just a few tufts sticking out, and in some cases it’s long fur all over the hamster.  These long-haired hamsters sound fun, and they may seem a bit more cuddly than the others, but their temperament is the same. They don’t really enjoy being picked up, but you can try. Their fur requires a lot of extra care though, since it can easily get matted. Hamsters are very clean creatures, and they clean themselves several times a day. But they weren’t ‘programmed’ for long fur, so they can’t clean it as well as short fur. Sometimes they need help, which brings us to the next point.  Long fur can get very matted This is mostly the case for long-haired Syrian hamsters, but in theory it could happen to any hamster. When the fur becomes too long, the hamster has trouble keeping it clean and detangled. In these cases you can either help the hamster by brushing out the mats, or cutting the knots out. Both are quite difficult, and your hamster’s temperament will dictate how to handle this.  So let’s start with the first one, trying to brush out the matted fur. If you’ve ever had knots in your own hair you know how difficult they can be, and how painful it is to comb them out. You have to start at the ends, and very slowly work your way up. Your hamster will obviously not want to sit still for half an hour until you get all the knots.  This will be slow, and you will have to let the furball sit as he wants to keep him calm. Try to grab his attention with a small treat, and attempt to comb out some knots at his backside, starting from the edges. He might flinch, or he might not care; not all hamsters are the same. This won’t last long, and you may only have a couple of minutes to work on his fur.  That’s okay, let him be and try again in an hour or two. Don’t try to do this all in one day. It’s really not easy.  The second option, perhaps easier, is to simply cut off the knots you can’t brush out. Your hamster will get some uneven fur but this takes less time. Again, do this on the hammy’s own terms. If he wants to go away let him go away. If he squirms, put him down and try again later. Always use something to distract him.  You need a pair of very sharp hair cutting scissors. Hopefully the knots are towards the end of the fur. If there are any knots close to the body or directly against the skin leave them alone. The risk of hurting your hamster by accident is too high.  Like combing out knots, this can take a while too. Maybe your hamster doesn’t mind the sound of scissors, maybe he gets frightened. There is no safe way to keep him in place, without injury or extreme distress for both of you. Best to just go very slow, and use a good pair of scissors. Hamster fur can grow back in most cases Sometimes a hamster will lose some of its fur, and sometimes that fur can grow back. Not always, such as very old hamsters who lose their fur due to old age. Or hamsters with a genetic condition that prevents them from growing fur in the first place. The fur on these hamsters sadly won’t ever grow.  But if your hammy lost a patch of fur because of a skin condition, an irritation, ringworm, or just because he scratched himself too much, there is good news ! The fur can grow back, as soon as the skin condition is treated and healed ! In case of excessing scratching, it’s usually due to an irritant, like a rash, or the hammy got bit by something and it’s now itching. Once that is gone and the hamster doesn’t have a reason to keep scratching, the fur will grow back.  Hamster fur should never get wet, don’t bathe your hamster ! Hamsters have very delicate fur, especially the fluff right next to the skin. It’s meant to insulate the hamster and keep it both warm and cool, depending on the weather. Hammies are exceptionally good at keeping themselves clean, they lick and nibble at their fur constantly so it is always clean. Kind of like a cat cleans itself, except this one isn’t meowing.  There is no real reason to give a hamster a bath to clean it, unless it somehow got something on it that the hamster can’t or shouldn’t clean by itself, like car grease or ketchup.  If you do get your hamster’s fur wet, know that washing it with any sort of soap will disturb the natural oils on its skin. Not only that but these animals are so frail, they need to be dried immediately after getting wet since they can’t easily handle it. Where hamsters come from water (rain) is rare, so they haven’t adapted their fur to be water-proof.  So, it’s best to never put your hamster in a situation where it could get its fur wet. And never handle your hamster with dirty hands. The hammy will clean itself after you play with it even if you’ve just washed your hands, imagine how icky it’d feel if you picked it up with Cheetos dust on your fingers.  [...] Read more...
Do Hamsters Smell Bad ? Here’s How To Make Sure They Don’t
Do Hamsters Smell Bad ? Here’s How To Make Sure They Don’tA smelly hamster is no fun. But do they exist ? Do hamsters smell ? If they do, how do you take care of that ? I know I had these questions when I first got my Teddy. I found outthrough trial and error what to do when there is a funky smell coming from your hammy’s cage. But let’s talk about whether hamsters do or do not smell first. Table of Contents ToggleSo do hamsters smell ?Hamsters are very clean animalsA hamster’s hideout will have his scentWhy the hamster’s cage can get smelly – and what to do about itThe hamster’s pee corner is the main culpritA litter box for your hamsterYour hamster might be sickThe hamster might have some food hidden in his hideoutHamsters have their seasons as wellFemale hamsters can get a bit smellyHow to clean a hamster cage properlyPlace the hamster in a temporary holding placeRemove the toys and hideoutTake out all the bedding and nesting materialPlace fresh, clean bedding and nesting materialA word from Teddy So do hamsters smell ? No – hamsters themselves, the animals, do not smell. They don’t develop a stink that clings to their bodies. But their environment can get a bit smelly, in some cases. That’s what some people might confuse with the hamster itself being smelly. For example I’ve had my Teddy since August 2017. At the time of writing this he is nearly a year and a half old. In this time I’ve handled him often, and he’s never smelled bad. Or had any particular smell to him at all. I’ve spoken to other hamster owners, and their pets don’t smell either. But Teddy’s cage can sometimes get smelly, under certain circumstances. He is an adult Syrian hamster, but this applies across all hamster breeds. Hamsters are very clean animals In fact, hamsters clean themselves about as often and thorough as house cats. Half the time when you see a cat it’s cleaning itself, like it just came from the dirtiest place ever and needs a nice long shower. That’s how meticulous hamsters are with their cleaning routine too. If you pick him up, you’ll see he starts cleaning himself almost immediately after you put him back down. This is a habit and instinct that they’ve had since forever. In the wild hamsters are prey, and are hunted by basically every animal. Some of them fly, some crawl, some slither, and some run. But they will all look for the hammy’s smell. So, the hamster will obsessively clean himself at every turn, to make sure he has as little scent as possible. This way his predators  won’t find him as easily. A hamster’s hideout will have his scent While the hamster’s hideout will have his scent, it will not get smelly under normal circumstances. Hamsters actually pee outside their hideouts, so their predators will have a harder time finding them. They also have a very sensitive nose, hamsters, so that’s another reason they avoid using their nests as bathrooms. If you observe your hamster, you’ll notice he always picks a particular spot to use as his bathroom. Always the furthest from where you placed his hideout. If anything, the hamster’s pee corner will be what gets smelly. The poo doesn’t smell, since it’s dry droppings, and his food doesn’t smell either. Hamster are very clean little things, and watching them clean themselves is always cute. But as I said above, his cage can get a bit smelly sometimes. There are a few reasons for that, let’s talk about that. Why the hamster’s cage can get smelly – and what to do about it A hamster’s cage is where he will live his entire life. So of course he will eat, poo, sleep, run in this cage and these can all leave a mark, or scent. So here are the main reasons your hamster’s cage might get smelly. The hamster’s pee corner is the main culprit This is what smells most often, and what will stand out easily. You can find that corner by noticing your hamster when he wakes up to use that corner. Or, you can look for any recently wet or moist corners. It’s usually easy to find, so you won’t have much trouble seeing or smelling it. If you’re not sure which corner it is, or your hamsters uses more than 1 corner, that’s fine. Just change the bedding in every corner if you want to be extra sure. Hamsters do poo in their hideouts, you’ve probably seen this on the cleaning days. But they rarely ever pee there. I’ve never found pee stains on the nesting in my Teddy’s hideout, but I have heard of rare cases when this happened. So, make sure you change the bedding in the corners more often than the whole bedding. If you change the entire bedding once per week that’s fine. The corners might need changing every 2-3 days though, depending on your hamster and how sensitive your smell is. A litter box for your hamster It might sound like you have a cat now. The hamster cleans himself regularly and now needs a litter box. But hamsters do use a litter box, if you give them one. You can use the bottom half of a hideout, this one actually should be plastic for ease of cleaning. Then, place mineral sand in that halved hideout. Tadaa, litter box ! As long as you place it in the corner your hamster usually uses for peeing, everything will be fine. The hamster might kick some of it up and take a sandbath as well. But that’s okay, if you want you can place another sandbox for him for this reason. If you’re not crazy about the litter box idea, you can just change the bedding in the corners every 2-3 days. If you want to know which kind of bedding is safe for hamsters, and which bedding to never get, read this list here. You’ll find out about the bedding and nesting materials your hamster will need, and how to clean them properly. Your hamster might be sick Sometimes this happens to hamsters, like wet tail for example. Wet tail is an illness more common in Syrian hamsters than Dwarfs. It’s basically brought on by stress, and one of the most noticeable signs is a very very runny stool. This can be treated, but you need to call your vet as soon as you spot this. It’s not difficult to treat,but you need a vet and immediate attention. Now, when or if your hamster gets wet tail, the stool will be a bit smelly, and will wet the bedding as well. Wet bedding doesn’t smell great either, even if it’s just with water. Or, maybe your hamster has a different type of illness that can make his urine smell particularly bad. Like an infection for example. Again, contact your vet as soon as you notice this. If your hamster seems to be moving very slowly, always has his ears folded, is more hunched than usual, and sleeps a lot, call your veterinarian. The hamster might have some food hidden in his hideout Some foods can get very smelly if left out for too long. The clearest example I have is when I gave Teddy some cabbage. Well, I gave him a whole leaf, just to see how he’d react to a food 15 times larger than him. He was a funny sight, nipping at the cabbage from left to right like a typing machine. I took it out after a few minutes, since he didn’t need a whole entire leaf. But he did take a few pieces which he didn’t eat straight away. Some of them he hid in his hideout, and I only noticed the next day. There was a weird, sulphury smell around his cage. I put Teddy in his exercise ball, and looked inside his hideout. He had some cabbage pieces, and they stank. Oh boy. So, if you give your hammy a kind of food  that can get smelly fast, give him very small amounts, and not often. This applies for vegetables like cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, asparagus. They’re all related, and all get smelly. Cheese of any kind, even tofu, should be give in very small pieces that you’re sure the hamster will eat quickly. Boiled egg white is in this category as well. If you do find some food that’s very smelly in your hamster’s cage or hideout, remove it, and change the nesting material as well. Hamsters have their seasons as well By this I mean that hamsters have periods when their cage can get much smellier than usual. I’ve noticed this with my Teddy. I could never track it to a specific season – like winter or summer, or rainy or very dry, or something else. But it happened about twice a year. He’d have these periods when his cage would smell much more, and I’d have to change the bedding in his corners almost every day. I chalked that up to him just being a male, and maybe marking his territory more aggressively. As to why exactly, I’m not sure since males do not go into heat the same way females do. The period for Teddy goes away after a couple of weeks, and he never looked ill or lethargic, or out of place. Just a stinky cage, is all. Female hamsters can get a bit smelly As I’ve noticed from other hamster owners, the females can get a bit stinky in their mating periods. Females go into heat every few days. Females can actually breed immediately after giving birth, so their mating periods are short but much more often than other animals. Every 4 days to be exact. So, a female hamster might get a bit smelly when she’s in heat, to attract any male around her. However if you’re not planning on breeding your female hamster, this won’t have too much of a point for you as an owner. A female going into heat is normal, and healthy. It can get a bit smelly, but again, changing the bedding more often will help with this. (If you like this article so far, you can pin it to your Pinterest board by clicking the image below. The article continues after the image.) How to clean a hamster cage properly This depends a bit on what kind of cage you have for your hamster. But keeping a clean cage for your hamster will keep it non-smelly as long as possible. If you want to know what kind and size cage your hamster needs, check out this article. You’ll get a rundown of the most common cage types, and the pros and cons of all 3, including a care and maintenance guide for those cages. Place the hamster in a temporary holding place This can be an exercise ball, a transport cage, or anything else that can safely keep your hamster and allows him air to breathe. Pick up your hamster and place him directly where he needs to be, like the ball or transport cage. Always use a scooping and cupping method, and do not come from behind him. If the hamster is not easy to pick up, or very difficult to handle, bait him with a treat. Place the treat inside the transport cage or exercise ball, then close it once he’s in. Remove the toys and hideout Take everything out of the hamster’s cage. If they need cleaning, do so with a warm moist cloth, or hot water and a very small amount of soap, and leave out to dry very well. Food bowls and water bottles need cleaning more often than the wheel or  hideout. Take out all the bedding and nesting material Keep just a bit of it, to make things more familiar for your hamster. If he’s been sick, skip this step. Once all the bedding is removed you should be left with an empty cage or glass tank. Those can be wiped down and/or washed with hot water and a very small amount of soap. In the pee corner you might see some very dry white substances. That’s just the work of the acidity of the urine, combined with the bedding and some dust from the bedding. It can be scrubbed off, but only if you allow it enough time to soak. Use something very coarse like a metal brush will help. But unless you do this regularly every week, that corner will become white forever. This is why I recommend the litter box, since it’s easier to clean this way. Speaking of, if you’re using a litter box, you will find some dried compacted sand, mixed with the hamster’s urine. Clean everything off with hot water, and use a toothpick or the metal brush to scrub and pick away at it. Once you’re done cleaning and washing everything, make sure you dry everything completely. Use a hair dryer if you have to. Excess moisture can make the new bedding smelly, and even build up some moldy spots. Place fresh, clean bedding and nesting material Give your hamster 1-2 inches/2.5-5 cm of bedding and 2-3 torn up paper towels to use as nesting material. Place the toys and hideout back into his cage, and let the hamster back in. If you’d like to know more about how to properly care for your hamster friend, you can check out this very thorough article on exactly that. A word from Teddy I hope you found your answers here, and know that us hamsters aren’t smelly. We’re actually very clean and like to take very long ‘showers’. If your hammy’s cage is smelly, you can fix that with what you read from my owner. But if you want to know more about us hamsters, make sure to check the articles below ! You’ll find stuff like why we eat our poop, how much water we need, and why we’re sometimes scared of you. [...] Read more...
All About Hamster Diabetes – Symptoms, Prevention, And Care
All About Hamster Diabetes – Symptoms, Prevention, And CareAny hamster owner is worried their hammy might get sick. The two main worries are diabetes, and wet tail, and today we’re discussing diabetes in hamsters. How to know if your hammy has diabetes, how to care for a diabetic hamster, symptoms to look out for, and which hamsters are most vulnerable. Let’s get into it. Table of Contents ToggleWhat is diabetes in hamsters ?Preventing your hamster from developing diabetesGenetic predisposition – some hamster breeds are vulnerableYour hamster’s diet and exercise can make things worseA word on sugar and carb in your hammy’s dietSigns of diabetes in your little hamsterFrequent urinationDehydrationIncreased thirstShould your give a dehydrated diabetic hamster Pedialyte ?Change in appetiteDramatic weight gain or lossYellow, thick nailsTesting your hamster for diabetesTreatment and care for a diabetic hamsterA word from Teddy What is diabetes in hamsters ? Diabetes (in a simplified version) is an illness that keeps the blood sugar very high. Usually the pancreas deals with this, and it must produce insulin. Insulin is needed to regulate how well the body manages its sugar levels. Sometimes the body becomes immune to insulin, or it produces too little insulin. This is where insulin shots come in. In very broad terms, and simplified, this is what diabetes is. When it comes to hamsters, this is a dangerous illness to have since they are so very small, and caring for them isn’t as easy as with a human. They might require insulin shots too, and will need regular testing in order to monitor their levels. Please remember: Your best option is to seek out a veterinarian who will be able to diagnose your hamster properly. Do not diagnose or treat your hamster’s condition without consulting with a medical professional beforehand. Now let’s talk a bit about what your can do to prevent diabetes in your little friend, and which hammies are at risk. Preventing your hamster from developing diabetes No hamster is born directly diabetic. True, a hammy can have the genetic makeup that makes diabetes easier to happen. But born diabetic, no. This means diabetes can be prevented, for the most part. A hamster can still get this illness even if you do prevent it as best you can, if it’s one of the breeds at risk. Still, you can rest assured that by trying to prevent it you’ve delayed the onset. Now let’s see which hammies are at risk, and why that is. Genetic predisposition – some hamster breeds are vulnerable If you’ve got a Dwarf hammy, then it’s very possible you’re going to have a diabetic hamster later on. Not all Dwarf hamsters will develop diabetes. But all Dwarf hamsters can develop it, they have the  genetic makeup that makes it easier. As for Syrians, they don’t have this predisposition. They can develop diabetes too, but not as easily as the Dwarf types. For Syrians there needs to be a very high carb, high fat diet and very little exercise for diabetes to set in. Syrians have the misfortune of getting wet-tail easier, so if you’ve got a Syrian like me, you should check out this article on wet-tail and how to help your hammy. If you’re not very sure which hamster breed you’ve got, here’s a guide on figuring that out. Your hamster’s diet and exercise can make things worse Aside from the breed, which makes your hamster prone to either diabetes of wet-tail, there is also the influence of food and exercise. Exercise will help your diabetic hamster burn off the excess fat that likely developed, and use up the blood sugar. This will make the impact of diabetes on your hamster’s live lower, and his life easier. Regular, simple exercise like a running wheel can be enough. If your hamster’s gotten lazy, or just isn’t a running hamster, you can place him in an exercise ball.  Never keep him there more than 30 minutes at a time, though, since he will need water and a bathroom break. If your hamster’s already diabetic, he will pee every 15-20 minutes, so keep him in the ball much less. Alright, now onto the food. This is a major player in your hamster’s condition. A diabetic (or diabetes-prone) hamster eating high carb, high fat foods will have a terrible time. This means most fruits are of limits for diabetic hamsters, and even the Dwarf types that aren’t diabetic yet. You can find out more about the fruits that are safe for hamsters to eat here. Of that list, berries/forest fruits, apples, pears, are the safest bet for a Dwarf. Always in very small pieces (half an inch/ 1 cm), and only rarely (once per week or less often). A word on sugar and carb in your hammy’s diet Do not remove sugar completely from the hamster’s diet. That will send your hammy into a hypoglycemic shock, and be another problem of its own. Instead, only allow a small amount of sugars. This means that you need to check out the label on your hamster’s food mix. If it’s got any kind of sugars – cane sugar, maple syrup, corn syrup, agave, honey, fructose, dextrose, those pieces need to be picked out of your hammy’s feed. The problem is not with just sugar. Yes, sugar and overly sweet foods will make your hamster’s diabetes worse. But, the problem is bigger than this. You see, when the hamster eats, his body breaks down all the food into sugars. Sugary foods produce more sugars, and high-carb foods produce more sugars as well. This is by comparison with protein meats, or veggies. So keeping chocolate away from your hamster is good, but giving him a slice of italian bread is just as bad. A bit exaggerated, but you get the idea. High-carb foods like bread, pasta, rice, maize, corn, are all foods that should be kept away from your hamster since they will produce almost the same effect as giving your hamster a slice of sweet, sticky banana. It might sound like your hamster’s got nothing left to eat, but he does. Check out this handy guide on what is safe and unsafe for hamsters to eat, and you’ll see the foods that are still on the list, even for diabetic hamsters. Signs of diabetes in your little hamster Alright, now that you know what you can do to prevent your hamster from getting diabetes, let’s see the symptoms of diabetes in hamsters. There are several signs, and please remember that you can’t take into account just one sign or another. Diagnosis is really more complex than this, and some symptoms may not even show up, even if the hamster is diabetic. Again, the best bet is to get your hamster friend to a veterinarian who will diagnose him correctly. A vet that can help you is going to be an ”exotics” vet. They have experience with rodents, reptiles, and birds in general. Onto the symptoms of diabetes in hamsters: Frequent urination A hamster with diabetes will urinate much more often than a hamster without diabetes. This means as often as every 15 minutes, for example. You’ll notice your hamster is peeing more often if you actually see him. He usually goes in his corner – he has just one corner – rolls back his little tail, and just wees. He will be immobile, and look like he’s staring into space for a couple of seconds. Another sign, if you’ve never caught your hamster peeing, is that his corner will be wet much more often. Pretty much always wet, and smelling fairly sweet and pungent. Think nail polish remover. (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.) Dehydration The easiest and clearest way to find out if your hamster is dehydrated, is to scruff the hamster by the back of the neck. It won’t hurt the hamster if done properly. Hold the hamster gently, but with a good enough grip that he won’t jump away. Then, right on the back of the hamster’s neck, you can use your fingers to pinch/pull at the skin a bit. Let go of the skin immediately, and you should see it sliding back into place. If it takes more than a second to spring back, your hamster is dehydrated. The hammy’s skin has lost it’s collagen and doesn’t arrange itself back into position as fast. You might even notice the skin is slightly raised where you picked it. The longer the skin takes to get back in place the more severe the dehydration. Increased thirst Along with dehydration comes increased thirst. Ironic, but the problem is not the water intake. But the regulation of how the electrolytes are being used by the hamster’s body. This can be noticed by your hamster drinking water much faster and often than usual. A healthy hamster consumes about 10 ml water/100 gr hamster per day. That’s 0.33 fl oz per 3.5 ounces of hamster. You can find out more about hamsters and their water requirements here, and how to give your hamster water the right way. That being said, a diabetic hamster will consume much more water than that, getting to even 3-4 times the amount of water. However he will be dehydrated still, since his body isn’t functioning properly. Should your give a dehydrated diabetic hamster Pedialyte ? This is something I’ve heard about, and did some googling to find people who have experience with this. As it happens, I did find the answer for this on thepipsqueakery.org. You can read their full blog post here. They also have experience with giving hamsters insulin shots, so you might want to check their article for that too. About the Pedialyte, the clear answer is no, you should no give it to a dehydrated diabetic hamster. This is because Pedialyte is a mix of water, sugar, and salt. The sugar will not help the diabetes, even if it does bring back some electrolytes. It may seem like it’s helping, but it’s actually make things worse. Change in appetite Another symptom is a sudden change in your hamster’s appetite. It may be that your hamster will eat much more, or much less. It varies from hamster to hamster. But there is a clear difference between a diabetic hamster, and a healthy one. 2 teaspoons of dry food are enough for an adult Syrian hamster. Dwarf hamsters need less, 1 teaspoon. So if your hamster is going through his food, and his food stash as well, quicker than you can feed him in a day, this is something to worry about. Dramatic weight gain or loss As a result of a sudden change of appetite, and also dehydration, your hamster will have a very different weight. He might gain weight, or drop a lot of weight. You can use a kitchen scale that measure in exact grams or ounces and track your hamster’s daily progress. Place the hamster in a cup he can’t climb out of, and use that do weight him on the kitchen scale. Of course, take the weight of the cup into account. Yellow, thick nails Not all thick yellow nails mean your hamster’s got diabetes. But it can be a sign, and is worth noting. Testing your hamster for diabetes Of course, you can test your hamster’s sugar levels at home too. You can test your hamster’s glucose and ketone levels with ketone test trips. Your veterinarian will do the same in his lab, with urine samples from your diabetic hamster. But, if you want to monitor your hamster’s progress and see how his treatment is coming along, then you can also use these strips at home. This particular box will last for several months, since you do not need to check the hamster’s urine daily. Do keep in mind that these test strips are not meant just for diabetics, but can also be used by them to monitor their health. Remember that the glucose levels aren’t always normal. They can sometimes be off, due to an infection for example. So it’s important that you consult with your veterinarian as well the first few times you use these strips, to know how to best read them. There are manufacturer’s indications yes, but your vet is the best person to ask about this. Treatment and care for a diabetic hamster Part of caring for the diabetic hamster includes changing the diet and exercise routine like we’ve discussed before. Another part is the treatment. There are treatments that can be successful, but it depends on how well the hamster responds to them, and what the veterinarian will recommend. Treatment with fenugreek is a common way of helping hamsters with diabetes, but the dosage is harder to be exact with. Fenugreek has been used as a healing plant for centuries, and often in diabetes treatment. It’s not  a definite cure, but might be an option. Another option your vet might present you with is Glipidize tablets to mix into the hamster’s food or drink. It’s basically going to make the hamster’s pancreas produce more insulin. So shots are out of the question here. And finally, insulin shots for a diabetic hamster are what your mind probably first wandered to. Honestly, they were my first guess too, given how humans are usually treated. The thing about insulin shots is that they need to constantly be adjusted to how well the hamster’s responding to other treatments, the new diet, the urine needs frequent measurements and so on. So it’s not a great idea to do this without a vet’s help, or if you’re not a vet at all. A trained professional will know how to dose the amount according to the hamster’s size and resistance to insulin. A word from Teddy I hope you found what you were looking for in this article. Us hammies can get sick sometimes, and we rely on you for help. Diabetic hammies can lead normal lives, but we need some treatment. If you want to know more about us hammies, you should check out the related articles below. You’ll find out more about how to keep up happy and safe. [...] Read more...
All About The Chinese Hamsters (Breed Info + Care Tips)
All About The Chinese Hamsters (Breed Info + Care Tips)Not often found in pet shops, Chinese hamsters are the least common hamster pets. Not very much is known about them (compared to the other hamster types), but they’re more common in Asia as pets. Still, I’ve looked around and found the info to make a guide on Chinese hamsters for you. Including whether they’re Dwarf hamsters or not. Table of Contents ToggleAbout the Chinese hamster – a short overviewIs the Chinese hamster a Dwarf hamster ?The Chinese hamster’s health and body sizeChinese hamster lifespan and breedingChinese hamster food and treatsChinese hamster exercise and toysChinese hamster cage requirementsA word from Teddy About the Chinese hamster – a short overview The Chinese hamster comes from, well, China. And Mongolia, which is right next to China. This hamster is very different from the Dwarf types (Roborovski, Campbell, Djungarian), partly because of how he looks, and partly because of temperament. If anything, he’s more like the Syrian hamster. Chinese hamsters are halfway between a Dwarf and a Syrian in terms of size. They grow to be 3-5 inches/8-13 cm long, without their long tail. Yes, the Chinese have long tails, shorter than a mouse’ tail but it still reaches 0.7-1.1 inch/2-3 cm, which is much more than the stubs every other hamster type has. The Chinese hamster has a long body, fairly thin, and a generally brown color on the back, with a thing dark stripe going down the back, and white on their belly. As such, they’re often confused with mice at first glance, and some places actively forbid owning them as pets. These hammies are not social like Dwarf types, instead the lean more towards Syrians in terms of solitude. They like being alone, on their own, and they get along just fine. Females in particular are more aggressive towards other hamsters, but both sexes will start a deathmatch if introduced to another hamster. Chinese hamsters live between 2 and 3 years,  and they’re fairly calm once they’re tame. Until then they’re very skittish and won’t like being handled. But after taming they tend to remain calm around humans and like to play with them. Is the Chinese hamster a Dwarf hamster ? This is a common question, and one I’ve had myself. You see, Dwarf hamsters (the Roborovski, Campbell, and Djungarian) are named Dwarf types because they’re always compared to Syrian hamsters. They’re only about half the size of Syrians. But the Chinese don’t fit nicely in the Dwarf category, and they’re not Syrian-sized either. So, they’re often called Dwarf hamster because they’re just smaller than a Syrian, along with the other 3 types. I’ve sometimes called them Dwarf hamsters too, just for easier classification. But in terms of biology and official naming, Chinese hamsters are not Dwarf hamsters. The only true Dwarf hamsters are those of the Phodophus genus. To be fair, hamsters are a big family, and there are dozens of subspecies. Confusions are fairly common when we look at the hamsters who are not Syrians. Simply because Syrian hamsters are easy to tell apart from every other hamster. The Asian hamsters often look alike to an untrained eye, even if they have a few distinctive features like the presence or absence of a dark stripe, coat colorations, and so on. If you’re not sure which hamster type you’ve got, you can use this guide to figure it out, and them go to the corresponding care article. The Chinese hamster’s health and body size Usually the Chinese hamster looks a lot like a mouse. He’s got a long body, especially compared to the Dwarf hammies who look like a round ball of fluff. The Chinese hamster’s body length is 8-13 cm/3-5 inches. These hammies have a shorter looking fur, set closer to the body than the other types. His fur is usually brown, with flecks of dark grey and some white. His belly is whitish, and he has a dark, thin stripe going down his back. His tail is another defining feature, partly because it’s longer than the other hamsters’ tails, and partly because it’s thicker than a mouse’ tail. Every other hamster has a short, stubby tail, fleshy and hairless. The Chinese has a longer tail, 2-3 cm/0.7-1.1 inch long, covered in fur. There are other color variations, though not many. The wild color and the most common is the one described above with brown and white. But breeders have tried for other colors, like a sort of light grey instead of the brown, still with a dark stripe down the back, and a white belly. And there is a 3rd option, of an almost completely white Chinese hamster, with a black spot around one eye. The dark stripe is not usually present in this variation. As for their health problems, the Chinese aren’t especially prone to one disease or another. There is the danger of wet-tail, that threatens all hamsters regardless of type. This disease shows its ugly head mostly when the hamster is young (around 4 weeks of age) and is separated from the mother, and put into same-sex groups, to later be brought to a pet shop and them home. The whole process can be a bit stressful for the hamster, and stress s the biggest trigger for wet-tail, though not the only one. Aside from this, Chinese hamsters can have the usual health problems associated with hamsters. Eye infection, ear problems, tumors, fur loss, and so on. There are treatments for most, if not all of these problems. A veterinarian that can treat hamsters will usually be labeled as an ”exotics” vet, which means he is able to help rodents, reptiles and birds, or just most small animals. (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.) Chinese hamster lifespan and breeding The Chinese hamster can live up to 2-3 years, depending on genetics and the conditions the hamster is kept in. In the wild, most don’t make it past their first year, because of illnesses or predators. In captivity though, with the proper food and care their lifespan has increased significantly. These hamsters are hardy, and they reach adulthood around 12 weeks of life. That’s when they can also be bred, between 10-14 weeks, both for females and for males. Pregnancies started past that period can be dangerous both for the female, and the babies. The usual gestation period for Chinese hamsters is between 18 and 21 days, resulting in a litter of 3 to 15 hamsters. You can find out more about hamster reproduction here, and how to make sure the female carries her pregnancy safely. You’ll also find info on the birthing process, and the after-birth care, which is crucial for the hamsters babies’ survival. Chinese hamster food and treats Usually the Chinese  hamster will eat grains, along with some fruits and vegetables he can find. Nuts and seeds are welcome too, along with a couple of insects or mealworms. This is a combination usually found in the hamster’s commercial food mix. Without the insects or the mealworms, though. The protein in the commercial hamster food is either soy-based, whey or beef-based. A hamster safe food list will help you figure out which foods from your pantry or fridge are great for hamster snacks. For example a bit of cooked plain chicken, a bit of cheese, a small sized carrot, some lettuce (and most leafy greens) are all okay for hamster treats. Not given often though. There are foods you should definitely keep away from your little Chinese hamster, like onions, garlic, leek, citrus aloe vera plant skin, rosemary, and so on. You can find a safe and unsafe herb guide here as well. Chinese hamster exercise and toys Now, Chinese hamsters are still hamsters. As such, they absolutely love to run, and they have so much energy it’s almost unbelievable. This means an exercise wheel is going to be mandatory for your little guy, and it needs to be a bigger one so his tail doesn’t suffer. For example this one’s a 9 inch/23 cm wide wheel, complete with tail and foot guards. It’s a silent wheel, so it won’t wake you up squeaking and creaking in the middle of the night. It’s also got a heavy bottom, which means it will stay wherever you put it. You can check the listing on Amazon here, and see it for yourself. Aside from the wheel, which your hamster will use a-plenty, there are other toys and cage objects he will need. Like a chew toy or two, or tunnel toys, hide and seek toys, a few puzzle toys as well. Most of these toys can be DYIed at home, out of cardboard. It could be cardboard rolls from paper towels or toilet paper, it could be egg cartons with holes cut in them. Your hamster needs lots exercise and stimulation, to keep him happy and stimulated. Hamsters can get bored or stressed if they’re not stimulated, and if they have nothing to in, especially in a small cage. This can lead to behaviors like chewing the cage bars, nippy when trying to handle the hamster, and can even develop some illnesses. For example loss of appetite, fur loss, lethargy, can all be triggered by an extremely depressed and listless hamster. It can be avoided by giving the hamster plenty of toys and stimulation, and a large enough cage. Chinese hamster cage requirements The usual cage requirements for a Chinese hamster vary from continent to continent, sometimes from country to country. I’d recommend it to be 24 x 12 inches, and about 12 inches tall. That’s 61 x 30.5 cm, and about 30.5 cm tall. Even if that’s the cage size necessary for a Syrian hamster, a Chinese will enjoy it too. This is because a larger cage will always be preferred, even if the hamster only needs a small space for himself to build a nest. The rest of the space available he considers his territory, which in the wild can be as large as 3.5 square km/2.17 square miles. So, you’re going to need a large cage. Given how small this hamster is, he can find some cages easy to escape. If you can find a very very large aquarium, than you’re set. If not, try for an Ikea Detolf. That’s a big standing shelf with glass sides. Remove the shelves, lay it on its side, and cover with a wire mesh. Unfortunately these ‘cages’ require lots of space available in your home, and they’re heavy. So wherever you decide to put it, that’s where it’s going to stay. But, if space and budget don’t allow a Detolf – that’s the case for most people, including us – you can always look for a big cage. For example this one is large enough for a Chinese hamster, it’s actually great for a Syrian as well. The spacing between the bars is small enough so the hamster will not escape. Aside from the ground floor, there is an upper level, which you can set to whichever height you like. Don’t set it too high though, hamsters prefer the ground anyway. You can fit a lot of toys in it, and even the wheel I talked about earlier. You can check the listing on Amazon here, and see it for yourself. Very important, and I know I mentioned this earlier too. Chinese hamsters are not social like Dwarf type hamsters. This means that keeping more than one Chinese hamster in the cage is not alright, since they will do a lot of fighting. It won’t end well, and you need to be a responsible hamster owner. A word from Teddy I hope you found what you were looking for in this article. I know us hammies can be confusing, with all our types and cousins. But we’re all cute and friendly, and great pets. 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. [...] Read more...