Hamster Teeth Problems. What They Are, And How To Treat Them

If you’ve got a hamster, then you need to know about the teeth problems your friend can develop. Hamster’s teeth are crucial to their health, so you need to know how to help him out if something happens.

I’ll cover the main dental problems hamsters can get into, how to check for those problems, and how to treat them.

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What a normal, healthy hamster’s teeth should look like

A healthy hamster’s teeth are quite long, yellow-ish orange, and a bit see-through. The hamster’s teeth look very different from a human’s teeth.

Hamsters, like most rodents, have 2 pairs of incisor teeth. The lower pair is the longer pair, and will look very large compared to the top pair.

You will see your hamster’s teeth clearly when he bites the cage, since he often bites hard onto them.

Normally, your hammy’s teeth should be aligned, and ‘meet’ properly, both pairs forming a nice close.

You can also check your hamster’s teeth by holding him and gently scruffing the back of his neck. This does not hurt if done right, since you are only pulling a little at the fur on the back of his head.

This will reveal the hamster’s teeth, and you can check them for yourself. Do not be surprised that your hamster’s teeth aren’t white, or very pale. Yellow teeth in hamsters is no unhealthy.

However you should worry a bit if you start seeing white spots on your hamster’s teeth.  Usually they’re brittle sport in the teeth, and will crumble. Those can be serious dental problems that require a veterinarian.

A hamster’s teeth are always growing

A hamster’s life is defined by chewing, and gnawing, and biting some more.

Hamster are rodents, and as such they have an inherent need to always be chewing on something.  This is mostly because their front teeth are always growing. So, your hamster friend need to file them down regularly in order to keep them healthy.

This can be done in several ways, but it’s mostly through the tough food your hamster chews every day, and whatever he chews on aside from that, like chew toys.

Teeth problems hamsters can develop, and how to spot them

Your hamster can develop dental problems. That can happen to anyone, but given the small size of hamsters, and how important their teeth are, it’s more of a problem for them.

There are 3 main types of problems your hammy can run into, and in the rest of this article we’ll cover how you can help your friend.

Overgrown

The most common problem found with hamsters, overgrown teeth lead to several problems. Those problems can be that the hamster isn’t able to eat enough, is in pain, and will possibly be grumpy.

Teeth can become overgrown if the hamster isn’t filing down his teeth. This can mean that the food he’s being fed isn’t hard enough – hamsters need hard, chewable foods – so he can’t file the teeth down.

Or, it could be that he has nowhere to file the teeth down onto, like chew toys or cage bars. If you’ve got a glass tank for your hammy, and he’s got nothing to chew on, that’s a problem.

Infected

Infections can occur if the hamster’s gums become hurt in some way (like something sharp scraping them) and the bacteria has a way into the animal’s body.

Or, it could be tooth decay from possibly sugary food (depending on what you feed your hamster), which can lead to an infection.

In any case, this is something to treat at the vet.

Misshapen/broken

Sometimes, hamsters are born with tooth problems. Like misshapen teeth, and in those cases it’s best to get the hammy to the vet so he can help the hamster.

If the hammy’s teeth are healthy and straight, but end up breaking, that again means a trip to the vet. This can happen if your hamster’s got weak teeth, or if he chews on much too hard surfaces, like the metal bars in his cage, or the running wheel.

Typical symptoms to look for

Usually hamster dental problems can be spotted fairly quickly. There’s just a few things you should check your hamster for, so see if he’s alright.

Bad breath

An infection especially, will smell terrible. Your normally clean and non-smelly hammy might have terrible breath if he’s got an infection.

You can notice this when you pick up the hamster and play with it. Or, by giving it something to chew onto and then you might smell the problem.

The smell is caused by the pus and irritation in the hamster’s mouth, where the abscess is located. If you scruff the hammy you will probably be able to see which tooth is infected.

You’ll notice the gum around the tooth is red, swollen, and might already have whitish spots where the infection is coming out. This needs to be treated immediately, otherwise your hamster is at serious risk.

Sudden loss of appetite

This can come along with an infection, or even just overgrown teeth.

If you’ve noticed your hamster’s food bowl has been mysteryously full these past few days, you should check on the hamster. It can happen that your hamster isn’t able to feed himself properly lately, and he needs your help.

Now, do keep in mind that hamsters can and do become very picky eaters. So if you’ve got a food mix, and only some parts of it are still in the food bowl the next day, your hamster is fine.

For example my Teddy (Syrian adult male) favors the sunflower seeds, peanuts, and other vitamin bits he finds in his food bowl, and leaves the plain grains aside. He’s still a healthy Syrian hammy though, he just gets picky.

However if you’ve noticed that your hamster is also losing a bit of weight, this is also a sign. You can check the weight by placing your hammy in a cup he can’t get out of (like a tall glass, or plastic cup) and weighing him on a kitchen scale.

Make sure to account for the weight of the cup !

Chattering teeth

This is another sign that something might be wrong with your hamster’s teeth. Chattering teeth are usually a sign of nervousness, and are accompanied by a short temper, and lots of cage biting. He might even bite you, he’s in no mood to play.

If your hamster has chattering teeth, and also chews on the cage bars a lot, it could be a possible tooth problem indicator. Like tooth pain, or an infection.

Do keep in mind that chattering teeth can show up even if your hamster is healthy. He could be just aggitated or trying to intimidate you.

So make a mental note of chattering teeth, but this is not a clear sign of just tooth problems.

Drooling

Hamsters, like cats, do not drool normally. They do have saliva, but their mouth is usually ‘dry’.

So if your hamster is suddenly drooling, it could be a sign of him not being able to close his mouth properly because of his teeth.

Bad temper

Hamsters, like humans, do not respond well to pain or stress. So if your hammy has a tooth ache, he might be snappy. Imagine your last tooth ache.

So your usually mild and cute hamster might turn into a snappy, nippy hammy with no patience for anything. He might not even let you touch him in some cases.

Now, not all ill-tempered hamsters have tooth aches. But this could be a sign of tooth problems. Especially if it’s a change that came on suddenly.

Cage biting

If your hammy suddenly started biting the cage bars, this too could be a sign. Hamsters always need to chew on something, but if he’s ignored the bars until now, that says something.

Your hammy could be seeking some relief from the cage bars, instead of his chew toy because the bars are, well, much harder and are also cold.

If your hammy’s got an infection, the gums will seem very hot to him, and he’ll want to cool off a bit.

Obviously, your hammy biting the cage bars is not a good idea. And it’s not healthy for his teeth either, since he can actually break or crack his teeth on the bars.

Filing down overgrown hamster teeth

If your hamster’s got overgrown teeth, then he will need to file them down. This happens by repeated chewing and biting onto hard surfaces. But, those surfaces should never be as hard as the cage bars, or the glass of his glass tank.

There’s two ways your can go about this.

The hamster will file them down himself

Most of the time, the hamster will file the teeth down himself. If he’s got proper food and chew toys, he will do that himself.

Your hamster’s front teeth are always growing, so he always needs to do this. You can help him out here by giving him the right kind of toys to use for his teeth.

Chew toys and other options for your hamster friend

One option is chew toys. Hamsters do well with wood based chew toys.

So for this reason a set of toys like this one will help your hamster not only file down his teeth, but also keep his mind occupied.

This set’s got several toys, so your hammy will have lots of options to choose from.

You can find the listing on Amazon here, and see the reviews for yourself.

Another option is giving your hamster friend a walnut, or a chestnut so he will want to chew and gnaw on it. My teddy has a walnut in his cage and he goes absolutely insane when he sees it. He just has to break the thing open or he won’t know what he’ll do.

He never did manage to open the walnut, hamsters aren’t squirrels. But he loves biting into the shell, and your hammy will probably do the same if your give him one.

Other options include bendy bridges, which are made from wood, and can serve as a great chew toy for your hamster friend. You will find those on Amazon as well.

And finally, hamsters will chew on absolutely everything. Including their food bowl and hideout. For this reason, and not only (more on that here) I recommend you get your hamster friend a wooden hideout.

This will make it easier for your hamster to file down his teeth, since he will wake up in the middle of the night to chew a little.

And he will chew on his hideout, without even getting out of his nest.

I looked around for a hideout very similar to the one I have for my Teddy. My hammy already shaved fairly large chunks of the inside, in the year and the half since he’s had his hideout.

Still, he loves it, and it keeps his scent.

You can find the listing on Amazon for this wooden hamster house here, and read the reviews.

You can take the hammy to the vet

If the case is severe, and immediate attention is needed, you can also take your hamster friend to the vet. He will know what to do to file down the hammy’s teeth.

There are a few guides to filing down hamster teeth at home, or even clipping them. But I honestly discourage them, since the animal isn’t comfortable, and you need a lot of training to make sure you do not hurt the hamster.

Please do not file or clip your hamster’s teeth at home. Seek professional care for him.

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

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Infections in hamster teeth

Sometimes the hamster’s teeth can get infected. This can happen like with humans too.

Maybe the hamster ate a food that made a small cut in his gums, and that cut got infected. There could be other reasons, but the end result is the same.

Checking for infections in your hamster’s teeth

Red, angry, inflamed gum(s), and a bit of pus. This is dangerous for your hamster to swallow, so it must be solved quickly.

You can check this by holding the hamster in your hand, and gently scruffing him. This will pull back his lips and you will see his teeth. He might not like being held like this, so expect a bit of squirming.

Expect lots of squirming if the hamster does have a serious infection, since it will possibly hurt him a bit.

Treating your hamster’s teeth infection

If the gums or mouth looks at any point like I just described above, then your hamster might be dealing with an infection.

In this case, take your hamster to the veterinarian. He will prescribe a round of antibiotics that are safe for small animals. He will tell you how to administer the medication to your hamster.

Usually the veterinarians that have experience with rodents are labeled as exotic, meaning that they will also know what to do with unusual pets if the case arises.

Misshapen or broken hamster teeth

There are some unfortunate hamsters who are born with misshapen teeth. They are misaligned since birth, but they can sometimes be corrected.

You can notice this at the pet store by looking closely at the hamster for any mouth problems. You will also be able to notice this when the hamster tries to drink a bit of water.

Or, if you haven’t noticed at the pet store and brought him home, you can still check him. Just use the scruffing method and check the teeth. There should be no gaps, or odd angles or crossed teeth.

If there are such problems, take your hamster to a veterinarian.

Now, if your hamster’s got great teeth, and suddenly broke them, that’s an issue. Breaking teeth are a sign of malnutrition, or poor health, old age, or a possible illness. It depends on each hamster, and his own medical history.

Broken teeth are particularly dangerous, since the hamster can cut himself on them. And often they’re cracked/fissured as well, which means that your hamster is in for some serious problems.

Again, it’s best if you take your hamster to the veterinarian, who will know how to align or file the hamster’s teeth, and do it humanely.

Helping your hamster with bad teeth

For any hamster with bad teeth, the diet is important. I don’t mean putting your hamster on a weight loss diet. But the food he eats has a direct and large impact on his health.

You can take care of this by giving your hamster friend a healthy food mix, to make sure he has all the basic nutrients already in his food bowl.

This particular mix has all the nutrients your hamster needs, including the harder, sturdier grains hamsters need to chew on in order to file down their teeth.

The whole bag will last you a couple of months or more, depending on how much you feed your hammy.

You can check the listing on Amazon here, and read the reviews as well.

Aside from the healthy food mix, you can give your hamster from your own pantry or fridge. A large amount of the foods we humans eat are also safe for hamsters, so you should check out this article on what foods are okay and not okay for hamsters to eat.

Just remember, fruits and high-fat foods should be kept to a minimum, since they can lead to an obese hamster. And that’s a whole different set of problems, which you can read about here.

And always, always, make sure your hamster has something wood-based to chew onto.

A word from Teddy

I hope you found out how to care for your teeth in this article. I know us hammies can get a bit overzealous with our chewing and biting, but we do have dental problems from time to time.

So if you want to know more about us hammies, you can check out the articles below for valuable info on how to care for us.

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Do Hamsters Have A Good Sense Of Smell ? A Few Hammy Facts
Do Hamsters Have A Good Sense Of Smell ? A Few Hammy FactsIf 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. Table of Contents ToggleSo do hamsters have a good sense of smell ?Hamsters can smell anything on youMake sure your hands are clean when handling your hamsterHamsters are very sensitive to artificial smellsSyrians can’t really stay close to each otherKeeping the hamster’s nose healthyKeep the temperature in the room between 20-23 C/ 68-78 FDo not leave anything sharp or rough in the cageClean your hands before handling the hamsterKeep dust away from your hamsterOnly use safe bedding for the hamsterA word from Teddy 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.) 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. [...] Read more...
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(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.) Another big difference is the sleeping and activity patterns. While the hamster sleeps during the day, the gerbil will go about his business. He will take short naps throughout the day, but the main sleeping time is the night. This annoys the hamster greatly, since he is trying to sleep. An irritated hamster that hasn’t rested well enough will be very hard to handle, and will snap at the gerbil. Conversely, while the gerbil sleeps at night, the hamster will wake up and do his own hamster things. This will wake up the gerbil and he will not rest well, leading to other fights. Food is pretty much the only thing hamsters and gerbils agree upon. They even share food mixes/pellets, since they both eat mostly grains, with some veggies and fruit, peanuts, and a bit of protein when they can. 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Hamster vs Rabbit – Which Is The Best Pet For Your Home ?
Hamster vs Rabbit – Which Is The Best Pet For Your Home ?Thinking of getting a pet, but can’t decide between a rabbit or a hamster ? I know you know they’re very different animals, but there are some things that can become deal-breakers, depending on what you’re looking for in a pet. Let’s see the main differences between a hamster and a rabbit, so you can properly decide which is best for you. If you want to know how a hamster would fare living with a rabbit in the same cage, you should read this article. Table of Contents ToggleAbout the hamster – general info and personalityAbout the rabbit – general info and personalityFood and treat differences between hamsters and rabbitsCage sizes and exercise requirements for rabbits and hamstersSocializing and upkeep needs are very different for rabbits and hamstersA word from Teddy About the hamster – general info and personality A hamster is very small, can be as small as 2 inches/5 cm, and as large as 5 inches/13 cm. He doesn’t need as much room as a rabbit, and usually stays put. As in, leaving the hamster in his cage all his life is not a problem, as long as he has a large enough cage. He does need a bit of exercise, but this is where his exercise wheel comes to the rescue. Hammies don’t like to share and generally should not be housed together. The only exceptions are the Dwarf types, who can live with a sibling or two of the same sex. This is only true for siblings that have never been separated and live in a very large cage, so they won’t fight over food and toys and general resources. Even so, I recommend keeping any and all hamsters alone, one hamster per cage. This reduces the hamster’s stress levels and this way you make sure there are no unnecessary fights, which can sometimes be deadly. Hamsters are prey animals, so they’re used to running away and hiding. Their cages need to have plenty of hiding places, so they can feel safe. This also means that taming the hamster will not be as easy as taming a puppy. He will take anywhere between a few days and a few weeks to trust you. And that trust can always be lost, or forgotten if you stop interacting with him for a few days. Still, hamsters make for very entertaining pets. It’s just that the vast majority of hamsters only come out of their hiding place at night. This means that if you go to bed before 10 PM you might just miss their waking up.  And if you wake up around 6 AM, they’ve just gone to bed. So I’d only recommend a hamster to a person who either stays up very late, or works night shifts and can catch the hamster awake more often. They’re also very sensitive animals, in that there is such a thing as handling them too much, and too little. They get grumpy if you wake them up, they won’t always want to stay in your hands… okay, they rarely want to stay put. They want to explore and see everything. Their personalities are not obvious from the start, when they’re babies. But once they grow up (3 months-ish) you’ll realize you’ve either got a Rambo type (all over the place, exploring, trying to intimidate you, not staying still) or the world’s laziest and relaxed furball. There is no in-between. All hamsters mellow down once they become old, it’s just that some are absolutely spastic when they’re young. About the rabbit – general info and personality Rabbits are very different from hamsters. For a very long time I thought that, with rabbits being rodents they must be very similar to hamsters. Well, it turns out rabbits aren’t even rodents, they’re lagomorphs. That’s mainly a difference in teeth and digestive system, which includes the fact that their feed is going to be different. Rabbits are everything the hamster is not. While they too are small (compared to a dog), even the tiniest bunny is bigger than the largest hamster. You can get anything from Dwarf bunnies to the ridiculously large Giants. That means your cage and pens are going to vary according to the type of rabbit you have. Bunnies are social. Definitely social. They’re more like a cat than a hamster, actually, demanding attention and then getting fussy if they don’t get it. If they do get it, you’ve probably done it wrong. Bunnies aren’t as easy to read, so it’s best if you read up on their general body language here. This means that rabbits can’t be kept in a cage all their life, like a hamster. You’re going to need to let the bunny out. often, and let him roam around the house, or a designated area. They also live longer than hamsters – about 8-12 years – so they’re a big commitment. That means for the next 8-12 years you’re going to have to adapt yourself to your bunny’s demanding yet endearing personality, and he’ll adapt to yours. Maybe. Rabbits can and do get aggressive, but not often. They’d rather warn you that you’ve done something wrong rather than bit or headbutt you. They’re forgiving like that. But they will attack if you insist on annoying them. Territory is a big thing for rabbits. They will mark any and every thing they think they own. Your sofa, the carpet, under the table, between counters, your leg, maybe even your shoes. They do this with a combination of pee, pellets, and rubbing their chins onto surfaces. That’s where their scent glands are. Food and treat differences between hamsters and rabbits Food is fairly different for hamster and for rabbits. Firstly hamster eat almost anything, but they prefer and start with grains. Hard, dry grains are their usual meals, accompanied by nuts and seeds. A bit of fruit and vegetables are welcome, if they can find them. Protein too is great, whether it’s insects, a mealworm, or a fresh nice strip of cooked chicken (plain, no condiments or oil). You can find a whole bunch of commercial feeds for hamster, and most of them are good. You can also use foods you’ve got in your fridge or pantry as treats for them. Here’s a big list of safe hamster foods you can find in your home. But, if you’ve got a diabetic hamster be warned that most fruits are off-limits to them. A few vegetables like sweet potato and carrots are limited too, since they will only worsen their condition. As for rabbits, their food is not that similar to a hamster’s food. A hamster can find things he likes in the rabbit’s food, but the rabbit won’t eat much of what’s in the hamster’s bowl. But what does a rabbit eat, aside from the classic carrots ? Well plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, especially the leafy green kind of foods. They eat food that’s a lot like guinea pig food, actually. They eat lots of timothy hay as well, since they use it to file down their teeth and for nutrients as well. This means you’re going to have to provide them with a fresh supply of hay all day, every day. Aside from all of this, rabbits will need pellets as feed. This commercial food mix has a blend of all the nutrients a rabbit will need, and they’re all in one single pellet. This way the rabbit won’t be able to pick and choose his favorite foods (which all animals end up doing), so you can be sure he’s going to get all his nutrients on one go. Rabbits go through a bag of food much faster than a hamster seeing as a hamster only needs a teaspoon or two of his dried food mix every day. A rabbit can need even 4 heaping tablespoons of pellets ! This is aside from all the extra veggies and hay. (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.) Cage sizes and exercise requirements for rabbits and hamsters Cages are a big problem here. Mostly because a hamster will only need a cage of minimum 24 x 12 inches, and about 12 inches tall. That’s 61 x 30.5 cm, and about 30.5 cm tall. This is the absolute minimum, and I recommend getting a cage much larger than this. However most cages on the market don’t come much bigger than this. Most barely reach this size, actually. Hamsters don’t need time outside their cages, mostly because they spend most of their time hiding and digging burrows. If you were to let them out on the floor they’d need a place to hide. Wide open spaces make them panic and they will want to find a safe, dark corner to hide in. As for their actual exercise needs, hamsters do a whole lot of running. This is why they always get an exercise wheel with their cage. But the wheels that come with the cage you buy are almost always poor quality plastic wheels that barely spin. You need a good, solid, big wheel to let your hamster get all of his exercise. You can find out more about exercise wheels for hamsters here. Rabbits, on the other hand, need not only a much larger cage, but also a very large play area. Most people agree that providing the rabbit with a whole room, all to himself, would be best. But not everyone has a spare room. In this case a minimum for the living space would be 90 x 60 cm, and 90 cm high/ 35.4 x 23.6 inches, and 35.4 inches high. The exercise space should be a minimum of 2.43 x 1.21 m/ 8 x 4 feet, with height allowance. Rabbits can sometimes jump very high, and like to jump on top of things. The living area and exercise space need to be linked together so the rabbit can come and go as he pleases. If you’ve got more than one rabbit living together, you’re going to have to double those sizes I mentioned. So in short, keeping a rabbit in an apartment or house is going to be very difficult. In a garden outside however, you can provide much more space. But that space can’t be used for anything else, though. So think about this carefully. You should read here more about the cage and playpen areas necessary for rabbits. You can’t skimp out on the rabbit’s enclosure size, since he will become irritated, restless, and generally destructive. Do not underestimate rabbits, cute as they may look. Socializing and upkeep needs are very different for rabbits and hamsters Hamsters don’t need much by way of socializing. They’re loners, for the most part, and get by just fine if they’re got a big enough cage and plenty of toys to keep them entertained. Hammies don’t really get bored if they have all of that. They are fine with their owner’s presence, although they’re not necessarily crazy about being held or petted. They’ll tolerate it because they can learn that it’s not something harmful for them, and sometimes those hands carry treats. Still, hammies are perfectly fine on their own, and are mostly low-maintenance. Yes, their cage should be cleaned one a week, but that’s pretty much the only downside. Rabbits need plenty of attention and petting and rubbing behind their ears. They need to be the center of attention. All rabbits do, even if you’ve got a mellow bunny. They will eve ask for your attention, either by butting their head against your hands or legs, sometimes even nipping gently. Sometimes they might even just lay flat across you, or parts of you. This is partly them showing dominance, and partly asking for grooming/attention from you. Can you think of another furball that does the same things ? It usually meows and can’t decide if it wants out of the house or back inside. Rabbits will take up your lives, and that can be either a great thing or a nuisance, depending on your disposition and what your home can offer. If you’re willing to be there for the bunny, cuddle him, feed him, play with him, and leave him, all on his own terms that’s great. He will claim parts of your home as his, and will understand that some parts of the home are yours (and thus off limits). He’ll still try to go into those place, just not when you’re looking. Cleaning after the rabbit will be a constant aspect of your life, since rabbits mark their territory with pee and pellets. And wherever you let him roam is going to need to be an easy to clean place, otherwise the entire are will stink up fast. If you’re looking for more of a quiet pet, who won’t take up more than you give him, then maybe the hamster is for you. He needs less attention from you, and is there more to look at than cuddle with. They can be charming and cute on their own, with their fuzzy mugs and that did-I-leave-the-gas-on look about them. You need to think very carefully which pet would be best for you. A rabbit is high maintenance, more than a dog for example. And definitely more than a hamster. And they definitely can’t be kept together, that’s for sure. Some have tried, and it’s never went over well. A hamster, while low-maintenance, can be sometimes dull compared to the sometimes too lively rabbit. Neither of them are good pets for children, since they require a very patient person to look after them, and to handle them. A word from Teddy I hope you found what you were looking for in this article. I know you might be trying to decide between a hammy and a rabbit, but we’re very different. You’ll need to think about whether your home and life would be a better fit for a hammy, or a bunny. 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...
Can Hamsters Eat Bird Food? You Need To Know This
Can Hamsters Eat Bird Food? You Need To Know ThisI have a hamster, and my inlaws have two parrots, so this question popped into my mind several times before doing research to see if a hamster can safely eat bird food. The first thought was that the pre-made food for birds and hamsters looked kind of similar, so I thought there was no harm in feeding them the same thing. But after doing a bit of research, I found out that there are more things we need to know before feeding our hamsters with bird food. I have seen people experimenting with hamster food a lot without checking if that is safe for the little hamster, so I’m glad you are here, and you are willing to fact-check those things before feeding your hamster. Table of Contents ToggleCan hamsters eat bird food?Differences between bird seeds and hamster foodSafe and unsafe seeds for your hamsterIs feeding your hamster with pre-made food mix enough?What other pet food can hamsters eat?What about cat food?Guinea pig/rabbit foodConclusion Can hamsters eat bird food? Hamsters can eat small quantities of bird food as a treat. However, swapping the pre-made hamster food with bird food long-term is unhealthy for your pet hamster. Those are the two main reasons why you should not feed your hamster with bird food. Bird seeds contain more fat than hamster food, and eating too much bird food might endanger your hamster. If you have bird seeds and don’t want to throw them away, you can give them to your hamster as a treat instead of the main food. When we talk about bird food, it is important to know that besides the seeds, there are bird pellets that contain more fruits and vegetables in the mix. This might sound like a healthier option, but it is actually more dangerous for hamsters since they can develop diabetes much easier, especially dwarf hamsters. Hamsters primarily east grains and seeds, not fruit.  Here is an entire article about hamster diabetes and all you need to know in order to prevent it. Dwarf hamsters are predisposed to diabetes, but that doesn’t mean a Syrian hamster can’t develop it. Also, those pellets might contain too much vitamin C for your hamster. Vitamin C is an essential vitamin for hamsters, and it is essential to ensure that they receive a balanced amount.  If the hamster doesn’t receive the correct amount of Vitamin C, the mineral deficiency can cause scurvy, resulting in diarrhea, lethargy and hair loss. If they receive too much Vitamin C, they are also at risk of experiencing diarrhea and weight loss. It is, therefore, imperative to ensure that your hamster receives the right amount of Vitamin C to ensure their health and well-being. Dedicated hamster food will always have the correct amount of Vit C. Differences between bird seeds and hamster food Bird seeds and hamster seeds are two types of seeds that offer different nutritional benefits to the animals they are intended for.  Bird feed usually consists of millet, sunflower, rapeseed, and canary seed, which may contain excess fats and sugars that are not beneficial for hamsters but are necessary for birds.  Hamster feed is composed of a mix of ingredients such as sunflower, pumpkin, flax, sesame, wheat, and corn, providing an array of vitamins and essential fats that hamsters need, making it a more suitable option. The hamster pre-made food mixes are fortified with vitamins and minerals to make sure your hamster doesn’t lack them but also does not get too many of them, as we talked about above. Safe and unsafe seeds for your hamster Hamsters eat a lot of seeds, however that doesn’t mean that any seed is safe for your hamster. Here is a list of safe seeds for your hamster, after which we will continue with the list of unsafe seeds for your hamster. Sunflower seeds Pumpkin Seeds Sesame Seeds Flax Seeds Wheat Seeds Corn Kernels Unsafe seeds for your hamster: Apple Seeds Grape Seeds Pear Seeds Citrus Seeds (Citrus fruits should be avoided at all, not only the seeds) Apricot Pits Cherry Pits If you want to make sure you feed your hamster properly, check my article on what hamsters eat, and there you will find everything you need to know. Is feeding your hamster with pre-made food mix enough? Yes, a pre-made food mix for hamsters should have all the nutrients a hamster need. Since hamsters are omnivores, we might get confused and think that this is not enough but in reality, hamsters eat very little animal protein, even in the wild. The occasional treats we give to our hamsters are not mandatory for a healthy hamster diet if you feed it with a proper food mix. Here is a good one I found on amazon. This one should last you a few months. What other pet food can hamsters eat? Maybe you have another pet, a dog, a cat, or other rodents like rabbits or guinea pigs, and you wonder if you can feed your little furball with their food. I have an entire article that talks about whether a hamster can eat dog food or not, so I will not get into much detail about that one here. But the short answer is no, hamsters can’t eat dog food (nor cat food). Those pets have very different digestive systems, and you have to keep in mind that dogs are carnivores. They don’t need too many grains or vegetables to be healthy. On the other hand, hamsters are omnivores, but do not normally eat meat. I discussed this in more detail in my article about hamsters eating insects. Hamsters can eat meat/insects but they don’t need to, even in the wild. Insects are not the first thing on their menu, they might eat a few of them if they can’t find any other food. But it is not what they need or prefer to eat. What about cat food? The same applies to cat food as to dog food. Hamsters should not eat cat food. A treat every now and then might not immediately hurt your hamster but it is better to avoid giving cat food to your hamster. If your hamster accidentally ate cat food that it found while you were playing with it, you should not worry if it wasn’t a large quantity. One or two cat kibbles should not affect your hamster at all. Guinea pig/rabbit food We tend to think that rabbits, hamsters, and guinea pigs are all rodents, so the diet must be similar, but that is not quite accurate. Rabbits and guinea pig are herbivore animals and they need way more hay, grass, leafy greens and vegetables than a hamster needs. Also, they can have much more vitamin C than a hamster. We’ve already discussed the side effects of too much vitamin C in a hamster’s diet. While a hamster needs fewer seeds and nuts than a bird, they still need a good amount of them compared to a guinea pig or rabbit, which doesn’t eat nuts and seeds at all. I had all those pets when I was a kid. I’ve had guinea pigs for about eight years, I’ve had a cat and a dog for a couple of years, and now I have a hamster, and I can tell you that they all have quite different diets. If you have other pet food and you don’t know if it’s safe to feed your hamster, you better throw that food away instead of putting your little furball in danger. Conclusion Hamsters can occasionally eat bird food or seeds, but that doesn’t mean you should include them in your hamster diet. It is better to stay safe when it comes to hamster diets, they can be quite sensitive, so you should stick to a pre-made food box and give some occasional treats here and there if you want to diversify the diet. I hope this article helped you understand the differences between hamster food and bird food and also why you should not give other pet food to your hamster. [...] Read more...
15 Essential Steps To Properly Care For Your Hamster
15 Essential Steps To Properly Care For Your HamsterHave you just gotten a hamster ? Or are you planning on getting a hamster and want to know how to care for him ? I’ll tell you everything I know, and I wish I knew some of these when I first got my Teddy (Syrian male hammy) home. There are 15 essential steps to take and know, so you can be a good hamster owner. Some of these might be obvious, some might be counterintuitive. But they all help your hamster lead a healthy, happy life. As a sidenote, hamsters are actually cheap to care for, and they make good pets. It’s just that they have some very specific needs sometimes. Table of Contents Toggle1. Choose a good cage for your hamster2. Choose safe and healthy bedding for the hamster3. Choose toys and a hideout to keep the hamster entertained4. Know what foods and treats are okay, and how much water he needs5. Clean the cage and keep things sanitary6. Get the hamster plenty of exercise7. Tame the hamster and interact with him often8. Find a good veterinarian, in case something happens9. Be aware of his health problems and how to spot them10. Know the hamster’s reproduction and gestation period11. Figure out which breed of hamster you have12. Know what behavior to expect from a hamster13. Have a sitter for him when you leave town14. Know that hamsters are very sensitive animals15. Know your hamster’s lifespan and what old age looks likeA word from Teddy 1. Choose a good cage for your hamster The first and biggest problem when getting a hamster is what kind of cage to get him. Now I’ve covered this in detail in this article on how to choose the best cage, but a short version would be this. A Syrian hamster (the biggest kind of hamster you can find as a pet) needs a minimum cage of 24 x 12 inches, and about 12 inches tall. That’s 61 x 30.5 cm, and about 30.5 cm tall. This is for one Syrian hamster. They should always be kept alone. If you’re keeping Dwarf hamsters, then the same cage will fit a pair of Dwarves well enough. Always remember that while hamsters are so small and fluffy, they need a lot of space. They will always feel better in a large cage, rather than in a small one. This is because they do a lot of running around and roaming, and they get bored very easily in a small cage. Especially if it’s not almost nothing in it aside from bedding and some food. An overcrowded cage can also make the hamster irritable and nippy, so it’s best to only keep one hamster in one cage, even if he’s a Dwarf. As for examples of good cages, here is this one. It’s got a small space between the wires, so no hamster can escape. It’s also got an adjustable level which you can put wherever you like. I recommend keeping it pretty low though, since hamsters prefer the low ground. Of the commercial cages you can find available, this is the largest and safest. It provides lots of ventilation and it easy to take apart and clean. All in all a good choice for hamster owners who are both space and budget conscious. You can check the listing on Amazon here, and see the reviews as well. If you want to go for a bigger cage, you’ll need to look for an Ikea Detolf. That’s basically a big standing shelf. You put it on its side, remove the shelves, and make a wire mesh to cover the top if need be. The only problem with the Detolf is that it’s heavy, and big. So wherever you put it, that’s where it’s going to stay. Cleaning the Detolf is going to require a few more steps, but it’s doable. What is brings though is almost double the space the cage I mentioned above does. So no hamster would feel cramped in a Detolf. 2. Choose safe and healthy bedding for the hamster Another big and important step to make is to provide the hamster with bedding (or substrate). That’s what the hamster will live on, eat on, sleep on, pee on, and generally live all his life on. It needs to be a safe and healthy, and you need to be able to provide lots of it. Hamsters generally dig into their bedding, so giving your hammy at least an inch/2-3 cm of bedding is a minimum. You can find several hamster bedding options are in this article, you can pick whichever you think works best. The safest bedding you can provide your hamster is aspen wood shavings. All hamsters react well to aspen, and it’s a type of bedding readily available in most parts of the world. Another option is paper bedding, however that’s not as easy to find as aspen shavings. When you go out looking for the wood shavings, please make sure to stay away from cedar and pine shavings. Sometimes they’re sold for pets, but for small animals like hamsters those wood types are too strong. Their smell will suffocate the hamster, who has a very sensitive nose to begin with anyway. A good example is this one for aspen shavings. The bag comes in different sizes, so it can last you anywhere from a few months to a couple of years, depending on which size you get. You will only need to replace the hamster’s bedding once per week, so it also depends on how much bedding you put down into the cage. It’s a dust-free bag of wood shavings, which is important hen dealing with small animals. Respiratory problems can and do some up when the hamster has contact with dust. A dust-free bedding will keep him safe from that point of view. You can check the listing on Amazon here, and read the reviews as well. You also need to know about hamster nesting materials. Now, there’s nesting material you can buy, yes. But that’s almost always textile based. It’s a type of fluff, which does keep the hamster very warm. It’s a lot like the stuffing inside a teddy bear. But the problem is that kind of material can get tangled around the hamster and suffocate him. Or get tangled in his teeth (hamsters always pouch their nesting material) and end very gruesomely. So what can you use ?  Toiled paper, unscented. Plain tissues. Plain paper towels. Bits of cardboard. Rip them into strips and shreds, and watch you hamster decorate his home. He’ll build a big and warm nest out of all of those things and sleep like an angel. 3. Choose toys and a hideout to keep the hamster entertained The toys you choose for your hamster are important. Partly because a hamster can get bored if he’s got nothing to do in his cage. And partly because they need to be safe for the hamster and help file down his teeth. This means that hamsters will need plenty of wood or cardboard based toys. They can and will chew on absolutely everything in their cage. So for this reason wooden chews are a must, and cardboard too. Most toys can be either DYIed at home out of cardboard rolls, or bought from a store. This means the hamster can have an egg carton with holes in it an enjoy himself, using it as a hide and seek toy. You can even place a treat at one end of the carton and it’s just turned into a puzzle toy. You can also place a walnut inside the hamster’s cage. Make sure to remove any dirt off the walnut, and leave it whole in the hamster’s cage, He’ll go crazy over it and try to open it. He can’t, since he’s no squirrel. But he’ll try, and file down his teeth in the process. Hamster teeth always grow, so this is crucial. The most important thing in the hamster’s cage though, is his hideout. He will build a nest anyway, in the most hidden corner he can find. But he will feel more secure and safe in a hideout. It provides shelter, warmth, and a feeling of safety for the hamster. In the wild his nest would be in the ground, quite a few feet deep. It would be a series of tunnels, well hidden from any predators. In a cage though, he can’t do that. But a hideout is the next best thing. That hideout absolutely needs to be made of wood for two reasons: It will absorb moisture and release it outside. It’s basically breathable, and the hamster won’t have a damp nest, which means he won’t get a cold, or wet fur easily. Hamsters chew everything, even the hideout/nest. Wood is safe for them, and they even chew in their sleep. So it’s important that the hideout is of a safe material, not plastic or ceramic. A good example of a wooden hideout is this one. It’s a lot like my Teddy’s hideout actually. It’s big enough for a Syrian hamster, and it will also fit a Dwarf hammy. The wood is safe to chew on, and it has plenty of ventilation with all 3 holes available. They’ll be blocked with nesting material by the hamster, but he will still get fresh air. A hideout like this one will keep the hamster his whole life, unless he decides to use this as his one and only chew toy. Even then, it would take him quite some time to get through all that wood. You can check the listing on Amazon, and read the reviews as well. 4. Know what foods and treats are okay, and how much water he needs When it comes to food, you’ll be glad to hear hamsters can eat almost anything. But they do have a specific diet. The usually eat lots of grains, with a few vegetables and fruit thrown in for good measure. Nuts and seeds are okay too, as is a bit of protein in the form of cooked plain chicken, or even a mealworm or two. Actually most foods that are safe for hamsters are already in your fridge or pantry. The only problem is that they need a very specific diet, which you can always supplement with food from your kitchen. A good hamster mix will have his ideal diet in mind, and provide lots of vitamins and minerals as well. For example this one will last you quite a few months, because hamsters do not each very much. For a Syrian hamster two teaspoons per day are enough, and for Dwarf types just one teaspoon is enough. Hamsters will hide their food in their nest, so don’t panic if you see the food bowl is empty after a few minutes. This mix lasts long and is among the best for hamsters. You can check the listing on Amazon here, and read the reviews as well. Aside from the hamster commercial mix, you can give your hamster treats like bits of carrots, a plain peanut, a leaf of spinach and so on. He will enjoy the treat. But if your hamster is a diabetic hamster, keep fruits away from him. Carrots, corn, and sweet potatoes are off limits as well. 5. Clean the cage and keep things sanitary Cleaning the hamster’s cage is the first way to make sure the cage does not get smelly, and the hamster stays healthy. Cleaning should be done once per week, and only clean the pee corner every few days. The thing about hamsters is that they’re very clean animals. They groom themselves constantly, almost as much as a cat does. So the hamster himself does not smell. However what does smell is the corner in which the hamster usually pees. This is always the corner farthest away from the hideout, and it’s usually wet or at least damp. That corner can be scooped up every few days, and you can place new bedding in that corner. But once a week, a full cleaning is needed. That means taking the cage apart, putting the hamster in a safe place (like his travel cage), and cleaning everything. You can find a whole tutorial on cleaning the hamster’s cage here. Including how to proceed in the case of a sick hamster, and what you should be aware of before you start cleaning any hamster’s cage, sick or not. 6. Get the hamster plenty of exercise Hamsters are runners, for the most part. Some will love to climb or dig more than running. But most hamsters will enjoy running, and that’s what they will need to do to expend all that energy. Keep in mind that a hamster can run as much as 9 km/5.5 miles in a single night. That’s a whole lot of running for a creature so small. So make sure you get your hamster an outlet for all that energy. This means providing him with a big enough hamster exercise wheel, and you can choose which is best for your hammy. A wheel will allow him to run as far and as much as his little feet can take him. It’s important that the wheel is a large enough one, because a small wheel can give the hamster back problems. You see, hamsters don’t have a straight-ish spine. They look like they’re hunched over all the time, because they actually are. Their spines need to remain mostly hunched even when running. A straight spine can be odd for them, and a backward bent spine is actually painful. So this means you need to get he biggest sized wheel your hamster can comfortable run on. For example this one is a 9 inch/23 cm wide wheel, and it will fit pretty much any hamster. It’s also got not middle fixture, so the hamster has nothing to hurt his back on. It stays where you put it, and it’s a very silent kind of wheel. It won’t wake you up in the night (like Teddy did with us when he was younger). It’s got a tail and foot guard, which means your hamster friend won’t catch important appendages in the wheel when he’s running. This is especially important for the Chinese hamster. You can check the listing on Amazon here, and read the reviews as well. 7. Tame the hamster and interact with him often Taming the hamster is going to be either a breeze or a story to pass down onto your grandchildren. Some hamsters get used to their owners and warm up to them in just a few days, and some hamsters will never be okay with being picked up. It varies from hamster to hamster, and it also depends on how much patience you’ve got. Taming a hamster takes time, and consistency. It’s not hard, but it can be very slow. It’s also a bit hard to read the hamster’s reactions. If he’s not biting or running away, it’s a good sign. But noticing whether he actually likes something or not ? Your guess is as good as mine. Hamsters are easy to bribe with food though, so that’s always going to help. You’ll need to interact with the hamster constantly to gain and keep his trust. He might not always sit still so you can pet him, and he might not always like it when you pick him up. But in time he will learn to associate you and your hands with food and good things. Even if you’re not doing much, at least talk to the hammy. He’ll come up to the side of the cage to hear you out. He won’t understand a word, but at lest you’ve got his attention. 8. Find a good veterinarian, in case something happens Hamsters don’t need regular trips to the vet, and they don’t get sick often. For the most part hamsters will only stay in their cages, unless take out. This means the only moment they can get sick is if someone sick interacts with them. Or, if they become much too stressed or the cage is very dirty, and they develop wet-tail. But aside from that, hamsters aren’t sickly animals. That being said, when a hamster does get sick, it can get very serious, very fast. And you’re going to need a good vet for that. You’ll need to look for an ”exotics” vet. That’s a vet who has experience with rodents, reptiles, and birds as well. Such a vet will be able to help more than a regular cat and dog veterinarian. You can find out more about choosing a good vet for your hamster here. 9. Be aware of his health problems and how to spot them When it comes to the hamster’s usual health problems, there aren’t as many as us humans can have, but they are serious. You can find a list of the main health problems here, and how to treat them. Of all the threats to a hamster’s well-being, wet-tail is the most notorious. This is a type or diarrhea, and it can become deadly in a matter of days. Hamsters usually contract it either from an already infected hamster, from an overly dirty cage, or through high stress levels which can disrupt their normal digestive system. Tumors and lumps are not uncommon, infections are about as common as they are in humans. Infections can be treated with antibiotics, but tumors can sometimes be impossible to remove without putting the hamster at too much risk. Hammies can lose their eyesight and become blind, and this is usually a sign of old age. Blindness can come earlier than that in some cases though. While hamsters don’t really use their eyes, they are still vulnerable and can become injured or infected. There are treatments for almost all of the hamster’s health problems, and most of them are meant to be administered by a vet. (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.) 10. Know the hamster’s reproduction and gestation period Hamsters reproduce in large litters. They can fall pregnant very often – every 4 days actually – and their gestation period is short. Only 16-22 days, depending on which hamster type you’ve got. So if you brought home a pair of Dwarf hammies, and one of them seems to be too fluffy, you’ll find out in 2-3 weeks if you’ve got a pregnant female on your hands. This can happen because pet shops sometimes separate the hamsters into gender specific groups either too late, or misgender a male and put him with females. To find out more about finding your hamster’s gender, you should read here. The gender becomes important from week 4 of life, when the hamster babies are weaned by their mother. That’s when they can also start breeding, and sometimes unwanted accidents can happen. Once the hamster has reached 10 weeks, he or she may be introduced to the opposite sex, if you’re looking to breed them for a new liter. Pregnancies started past week 14 are not safe though, so keep an eye on the hamster’s age. For more info on the mating ritual and the reproduction itself, you will need to read here. And read here to make sure the babies survive until they are adults. New momma hamsters can be unpredictable. 11. Figure out which breed of hamster you have There are 5 main types of hamsters, 3 of which are Dwarf types. The 3 Dwarf types are hard to tell apart, but the Syrian is the largest and the Chinese is the only one with a noticeable tail. There are essential differences between the Syrian hamster and every other hamster out there. Including where they all came from, actually. Hamsters have only been pets for the past century or so, and they have some pretty rugged ancestors. Why does the breed matter ? In a way, it doesn’t. There aren’t severe temperament differences between hamster breeds like there are between dog breeds. Still, not all hamsters can live together. Only the Dwarf types can come to tolerate a sibling or two, as long as they were never separated since they were babies. Obviously, they need to be of the same gender, otherwise you’ll become a grandparent, not the way you’d like. Even so, I wouldn’t recommend putting any hamster in a cage with another hamster, Dwarf or not. Cohabiting is very rough, and there will be quarrels between the hamsters. To a certain degree they’re normal, as any sibling quarrels are. But, they can always degenerate into serious fights, sometimes deadly. For this reason I strongly recommend you keep each and every hamster in his own cage. 12. Know what behavior to expect from a hamster Remember that hamsters are prey animals. This means that they’re used to running away, and hiding. They won’t really stay put so you can pick them up. It’s not their nature. So expect a certain degree of fear and jumpiness from your hamster. He will freeze up from time to time, for no immediate reason. He’s actually listening for predators, and learning the various sounds that go around in your home, and outside of it. A hamster will sleep most of the day, and only wake up at dusk. He’ll come put when his instincts tell him no predators are around. And he’ll stay up most of the night, and go back into his nest once dawn comes. He might make a couple of sounds, but aside from that he’s a very quiet pet. What you might hear though, is the sound of him chewing on something to wear down his teeth. He does this often, and it’s as important to him as brushing our teeth is to us. If your hammy doesn’t warm up to you very fast, don’t be disappointed. That’s a fairly normal reaction from a small animal used to being chased through the desert by animals much larger than himself. You’re not very different from the big animals chasing his ancestors. Other than that, hamsters are a loveable bunch, prone to all kinds of weird acrobatics. My Teddy was one hell of a climber when he was young, he was all over the cage. 13. Have a sitter for him when you leave town Hamsters can’t really be left to their own devices when you leave town. Much like fish or a pet turtle, your hamster is going to need someone to come over and feed him daily. Hammies do survive for a few days with no food or water. But I don’t think you’ll want to find out just how much your hamster can last like that. Best to have someone to take care of him, even if it’s just giving him food and changing the water. 14. Know that hamsters are very sensitive animals Hamsters are sensitive to everything. The light levels, the noise levels, the temperature, the stress levels, being handled too much, being handled too little, being held wrong, and drafts. So you’re going to have a to be a very careful person if you’re going to look out for a hamster. Most of their sensitivities stem from the fact that they’re mostly nocturnal animals, so they react to light levels and sounds. The other is that they are very very bad at managing stress factors. This means that about half of their health problems come from how stressed they are. Given the fact that these creatures are almost always on high alert, they’re also high-strung all the time. So not a very good thing. It’s also very hard to not scare a hamster. Really, they’re so on edge that even getting up can trigger them. Walking past their cage. Sneezing within a few feet of them is a cataclysmic event. In truth this is because hamsters have very poor eyesight. So if you sit quietly and fairly still, he won’t even know you’re there. That means when you move he’s going to have a small heart attack. He didn’t even notice you, when did you get there ? 15. Know your hamster’s lifespan and what old age looks like Another thing to be aware of is how long your hamster will live. this will vary from hamster breed to hamster breed, but in general a hamster’s lifespan will be around 2-3 years. Hamsters are adults when they reach 3 months age, and they’re considered old when they reach their 2nd birthday. This means an old hamster will happen upon you faster than you’d think at first. Some hamsters don’t show their age, and some hamsters look very old even before their first birthday. Health problems become more common, walking becomes slow, and they slowly start to wither away. Old hamsters will need special care from you, and you can read up on this here. A word from Teddy I hope you found what you were looking for in this article. I know us hamsters look like cute and cuddle little things, but we do require a certain level of care. Hopefully this article gave you a lot of insight into what owning a hammy looks like. 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...
Ideal Temperature For Your Hamster’s Comfort
Ideal Temperature For Your Hamster’s ComfortWhen I first got Teddy I was very curious about whether he needs extra-warm temperatures or not. After all, he’s a Syrian hamster, hailing from the desert. The same way I’d think Siberian hamsters would need cold temperatures. After all, Siberia is famous for being a cold, frigid tundra. But I quickly found out I was wrong. Table of Contents ToggleSo what is the ideal temperature for your hamster ?Hamsters are very sensitive to temperature and draftsBedding ideas to keep your hamster warmThe right home for your hamsterDifference between hamster species when it comes to temperatureDangers of keeping your hamster too cold or too hotA word from Teddy So what is the ideal temperature for your hamster ? As it turns out, the ideal temperature for your hamster is basically the same for all species, with a few minor differences. But in general hamsters need around 20-22 degrees Celsius/68-72  Fahrenheit to live comfortably. They’re okay with the temperature dropping a few degrees, but once it reaches below 15 Celsius/60 Fahrenheit, they will enter a state of hibernation that can be dangerous to them. Hamsters do naturally hibernate in the wild, like bears for example. Hamsters only hibernate in case of extreme cold, so make sure you keep your hamster’s cage in a room that is  20-22 degrees Celsius/68-72  Fahrenheit. Hamsters are very sensitive to temperature and drafts Much of what is true for humans is true for hamsters as well. We are both mammals, and need warmer climates. But your hamster can’t adapt to the cold as fast as you. You can put on a sweater, but your hamster’s only got the one sweater he was born with – his fur. So, when it gets cold, your hamster will begin drawing more and more bedding into his house. If you gave him ripped paper towels for extra bedding, he will make a nest out of them and snuggle tightly to keep himself warm. When it gets too hot for the hamster – which is anything above 22 Celsius/72 Fahrenheit – you’ll see him start to push the bedding out of his house. This allows air to circulate through the house and cool him down. Hamsters can’t sweat like we do, and his fur coat will keep him warm no matter what. So higher temperatures are not good for him either. It’s very important that the room you keep your hamster in is one free from drafts. Those can create very cold and intense air that will give your hamster a cold. For them that cold can be fatal, even if for you it might be just a sniffle. Bedding ideas to keep your hamster warm Normally your hamster would run around the desert at night, to forage for food. Actually, they’re be running at dusk and dawn, when the temperature is more tolerable for them. Desert nights are colder than you’d think at first. So your hamster would stay in his burrow below the ground, when the temperature is too hot or too cold. In his little home he would have dried leaves, grass, and whatever plant material he can find that can be good insulation. What you can give your hamster is what I gave my Teddy. Lots of wood particles, or more commonly called sawdust. NOT the fine dusty kind ! And keep them unscented, since your hamster has a very very sensitive nose. The softer wood shavings that are left behind after working with wood are alright. We give Teddy a thick layer of the wood shavings for ‘ground’, which he has in his house as well. Then we also give him unscented, clean paper towels, ripped into smaller pieces that he can move easily. He usually uses those for the actual ‘bed’ inside his home. Aside from that, he also has the cardboard rolls that are left from the paper towels. He usually chews on them for fun, and he sometimes uses bits of it for his home, for extra insulation. As for just how much bedding to give, if it covers the bottom of the cage by a couple of inches (or 5 cm) then it will be enough. As for the paper towels, we usually give Teddy 2 sheets (3-ply) and he is fine with those. Never give your hamster cotton or fiber bedding. The hamster stores the bedding in his cheeks to use it in his home, and cotton keeps moisture and has fibers that can get stuck in your hammy’s teeth, which can be fatal. So stick to soft wood and paper. To find out more about the best kind of bedding you can give your hamster, check out my “best bedding” article. We’ll talk about the safest options you have, and which to avoid. The right home for your hamster The home your hamster lives in is crucial. And the material it’s made out of is very important for your hamster’s health. Ideally you want wood homes, because they ‘breathe’ and absorb moisture from the inside and let it evaporate outside. The home also needs some ventilation holes, like ‘doors’ or ‘windows’ that need to be large enough for your hamster to get through with his cheeks full. And finally, it’s okay if it’s small-ish, since your hammy will only use it to sleep and eat, and he does not take up much space. So in short, a plastic house, with just one entrance, is not okay. It will cause condensation and that can lead to your hamster catching a cold. You never want your hamster wet or staying in a humid place. I’ve seen this with Teddy when I first got him. The home that came with the cage was plastic, and whenever I’d clean it there would be beads of condensation on the ceiling of his home. I got him a wooden one, which has small cracks in the ceiling/roof to let air flow, and 3 big doors for air to flow freely. The condensation stopped, and the home never smells. Difference between hamster species when it comes to temperature There is little difference between species here, but there is one exception. While most hamsters need a 20-22 degrees Celsius/68-72  Fahrenheit  range, Winter whites need an 18-21 Celsius/65-70 Fahrenheit range to be comfortable. Even if the difference between them and other hamster species is small, it’s still something to take note of. This is because Winter white (or Siberian) hamsters come from a colder climate than the other types. (If you like this article, you can pin it to your Pinterest board by clicking the image below. The articles continues after the image.) Dangers of keeping your hamster too cold or too hot While your hamster can take on a lower temperature easier than a warmer one, neither extreme is easy for him. If it get cold, your hamster will do like my Teddy does, and gather as much bedding as he can to keep himself warm. If it gets too cold for more than 24 hours, then your hamster can enter a kind of hibernation. If left in this state for long, he can develop serious health issues. He only does this in case of emergencies, and can’t keep it for long. You can bring your hamster out of hibernation by slowly raising the temperature around him. Do no place your hamster in a very warm room, or on a very warm heater surface (like an electric blanket). Slowly bring the temperature up, degree by degree, until he wakes up. It may take a couple of hours or just a few minutes, depending on your hamster’s health and age. But if you keep you hamster at a temperature that’s too hot for him then he is in danger of heatstroke and dehydration. Never let your hamster get too warm since it’s not easy for him to cool off naturally. What you can do to help your hammy during summer is to place some ice cubes wrapped in a cloth, inside a jar, which you can place in his cage. This way there will be no condensation on the outside that can keep the bedding wet and get too cold for the hamster. Or, another thing to do is keep him away from direct sunlight. Or place the cage on a cool surface, which will slowly cool the bedding as well. Make sure the room is not at all drafty and humid, otherwise you risk your hamster’s life. I usually keep Teddy in a corner of the room that is away from the window, so not drafty. And away from sunlight, so he will not overheat. The thermostat is around 22 Celsius all year round, so he is fine overall. A word from Teddy I hope this article helped you figure out the best way to keep my kind happy when it comes to our environment. While most of us come from a desert landscape, we don’t stay out during the day because it’s too hot, not during the night because it’s too cold. But dawn and dusk are good temperature ranges for us, so remember that we need around  20-22 degrees Celsius/68-72  Fahrenheit to live comfortably. You can check out the other articles on this site as well, you’ll find great info on what we usually eat, how much water we drink, and why we eat our poop too ! [...] Read more...