4 Reasons Your Hamster Is Trying To Escape – And What To Do

Hamsters escaping are never good news . So the best thing to do is to prevent your hamster from escaping in the first place. But for that, we need to figure out why hamsters try to escape in the first place. This is what I’ve done with my Teddy, and how it can help you too.

This can be applied for all hamster types, and I’ll tell you where things need to be different for each of them.

Hamster escape (2)

So why does your hamster try to escape ?

Some hamsters adapt to their home, some don’t. But generally hamsters try to escape when they don’t feel comfortable in their home. If they feel threatened, or like they don’t have enough space, or if they’re constantly tormented by kids or other pets.

Since hamsters are very quiet creatures, easy to scare, they can get uneasy in their homes. So make sure that any other pets in the house leave the hamster alone, by separating the hamster in a different room.

If it’s the children who are always on the hamster when it would need rest, or they keep scaring the hamster, that is an entire talk you need to have with them, that I am not entitled to guide here.

But the children need to give the small animal his own space, and understand that it won’t always want to play.

Alright, now let’s talk about some common reasons that your hamster could be trying to escape, and how to prevent those.

Hamsters are very curious and want to explore

Despite being easy to scare and sometimes too shy, hamsters are curious. They want to know everything that goes on, and will pop their heads out to see see what you’re doing.

So sometimes you might see your hammy all over the place, climbing the cage walls as well, to try to get to what is happening. Sometimes he might chew the bars in frustration that he can’t get to it.

If that is the case, make sure you give the hamster plenty of attention. If it’s suitable, then you can bring the action to the hamster. Like if you’re chopping carrots, you can give him a fresh new piece to sate him and his curiosity.

An example is when I make evening tea. I usually set the mug on the kitchen counter, which is where I keep Teddy at night. He’s always curious what I have there, and I bring the mug close to him so he can smell the tea.

Once he gets a few whiffs he figures it’s not that interesting and starts doing something else.

Or when you notice your hamster very focused on trying to reach something outside the cage, distract him with a treat on the other side of the cage. Also remove the distraction, or move the cage.

Most hamsters are very active and will be all over the place

Sometimes it might seem like he’s trying to escape, but he’s just being a hamster. Rodents in general, and especially hamsters, live a very fast-paced life. They climb their cage, they run around, they will chew on everything.

So it’s not something that you should worry about, but it is something you should keep an eye on. Make sure your hamster has enough toys to keep him entertained – like bendy bridge, a hide and seek tube, lots of hiding places.

And most importantly make sure you keep your hamster well exercised. That means a hamster wheel, for him to run in. The minimum for Syrian hamsters is 9 inches/23 cm diameter wheel.

The smaller breeds like Siberian o Campbell can do with smaller wheels like 6-7 inches/15-18 cm but I recommend getting them a larger wheel as well. This is to prevent back injuries and keep the hamster from feeling too confined.

A few things to keep in mind when looking for the hamster’s exercise wheel can be found here.

Also, an exercise ball for when he is outside the cage will help greatly. Your hamster can explore the house, and will learn the smells and sounds of it as well. As well as run as much as his heart tells him to.

Just be sure to keep the ball away from other pets when the hamster is inside. A few considerations for a hamster exercise ball can be found here.

For exercise balls the same space requirements apply as the exercise wheel.

Hamsters need more space than you’d think

The cage your hamster lives in needs to be a certain size.

The absolute minimum for Syrian hamsters is 24 inches by 12 inches in floor space. That’s 61 cm by 30.5 cm for your hamster to run in. But I do recommend getting a cage with more space than that.

Siberian and other small breeds of hamsters far well in smaller cages than Syrians, but with hamsters you should always get a bigger cage than you’d first think.

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

Hamster escape

Keep in mind that most of the cages you find in stores are too small for Syrians, and the accessories that come with them are too small as well.

The best cages for Syrians are actually the ones that are suited for ferrets or chinchillas or guinea pigs. But there the space between bars is a problem because the Syrian can escape through them.

Giving your hamster a lot of space to run around and play is going to keep him much happier, and he will want to escape much less. In general hamsters need a wide and low cage, instead of one with many levels, but they can enjoy those too.

The distance between the cage wires is important, since the hamster can squeeze through them. If they can get their head through, they can get their body through as well.

So for Syrians the wire distance should be 0.4 inches/1 cm or smaller, so they can’t get their head through. Siberians and smaller breeds need much less space between the wires. Actually, for the small breeds it’s best to get n glass tank with a wire mesh over the top.

My Teddy has a 21 inch by 12/53 cm by 30.5 with 2 extra floors, which give him about double that running space. He has bridges connecting the floors and a thick layer of bedding in case he falls.

If your want to know more about what kind of cage to get your hammy, look here to know how to choose a hamster cage. I cover the 3 main types of cage, as well as how to clean the 3 kinds of cages.

A scared hamster will try to escape

If there is something bothering or even scaring your hamster consistently, he will try to escape. He will try to run as far away as possible, and will keep escaping if you bring him back. This is a case where cage size and temperature and food quality does not matter.

So watch your hamster for a few days, and see what keeps spooking him. Pets, kids, lawnmowers, visiting aunts, it could be anything. Find the reason, and figure out a way to keep your hamster safe.

An idea would be to keep the hamster in a different room, where nothing can bother him and he can sleep peacefully. This way pets like a very curious cat won’t be able to paw at the poor hamster.

If the hamster is scared of you, the owner, then you need to build trust with him. Let him get used to you, let him know your smell, and do not rush him. Check the article on how to tame your hamster.

Place your hand into his cage, with a treat on it. He will come to take the food, but possibly run away after that. It’s okay, it’s a step forward. Repeat this every day until your hamster trusts you to touch your hand. From there, small steps towards holding your hamster in your hand, inside the cage.

Talk to your hamster, even if he doesn’t understand the words he understands the tone. He knows a friendly tone from a harsh one.

A word from Teddy

This was about why we hammies try to escape, but really it’s about how you can help us lead a better life with you. A happy hamster might try to escape sometimes, since we are a curious and energetic bunch.

But if you keep us well exercised, and with lots of toys and love, we’ll stick around.

If you want to know more about hamsters, and why we throw our poop around or the best way to feed us, check the articles below. You’ll get lots of great info on hamster care !

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Hamster Fur Loss: 4 Causes and Treatments
Hamster Fur Loss: 4 Causes and TreatmentsWe all love our pets and enjoy spending time with them, but it’s our duty to take care of them and keep them healthy. Many animals develop dermatological problems with age, shedding fur to the point where they’ve completely lost it, and hamsters are no different. It’s terrible to see your hamster lose its fur, as that’s the animal’s equivalent of humans being left without clothes on. Whenever we can, we should try to help our pet. That’s exactly what we’ll be discussing in this article: hamster fur loss. We’ll be taking a look at the reasons for your hamster’s fur loss and how to treat it. As these causes can vary from stress to old age, and the fur loss can appear at different places, keep in mind that there’s a lot to this topic, and you should visit a vet if this article can’t help you. Today, we’ll be covering hamster fur loss on their backs and behind their ears, and we’ll also be taking a look at flaky skin and fur loss due to old age, as well. Let’s get started! Table of Contents Toggle1. Hamster Fur Loss on Back.2. Hamster Fur Loss – Old Age.3. Hamster Fur Loss and Flaky Skin.4. Hamster Fur Loss Behind Ears. 1. Hamster Fur Loss on Back. There are many reasons why your hamster may be losing its fur. Friction is one of the most common reasons for this. If you’ve noticed your hamster losing fur after they’ve spent a lot of time burrowing or rubbing against the cage or toys, then friction is likely the reason for them losing fur. This is actually natural for hamsters, and you shouldn’t be worried. When they’re in the wild, they spend a lot of time digging and burrowing, so this is a normal process for them. Hamsters can also develop face sores from rubbing their face against the bars of the wire cage, or by water dripping down their face when they’re drinking. If it’s the latter, then you have to buy a better water bottle. If it’s the former, it may be a sign that the cage is too small, so you should get a larger cage for your hamster (preferably not a wire one). Even though many people find hamsters running on wheels amusing, overuse can lead to the hamster losing fur on its legs. Remove the wheel until the hamster’s fur grows back. Secondly, your hamster may be suffering from nutritional deficiencies. This is, clearly, a lot more serious than simple friction, and it’s just as common. If your hamster’s diet is low in vitamin B, then that could be the reason for its fur loss. Another thing that can also have an effect on fur loss is the lack of protein. If you think that this is the problem, you’re going to have to start supplementing your hamster’s meals with certain foods. Add unsweetened cereal, cheese, cooked eggs, whole-wheat pasta, and fresh fruits and veggies. Make sure to talk to your vet, as well, and if they recommend it, you can add water-soluble vitamins to their diet. Another unfortunate cause for fur loss can be found in parasites – ticks, fleas, ringworm, and mites are all capable of affecting your pet’s hair. If you notice that your hamster’s constantly itchy and it’s scratching itself – that may be because of ectoparasites. This excessive scratching is what’s causing the fur loss, and you should definitely contact your vet for assistance. Hamsters rarely get ticks, because ticks are mostly found outdoors, and hamsters rarely venture outdoors. Most ticks lay dormant during the winter, aside from a few species, and the only way for your hamster to contract a tick is for you or someone else to bring it in the house. If your hamster has contracted a tick, they’ll be scratching that area a lot – this is because they feel the bite from the tick and it causes an itch. When we’re talking about fleas, they’re also very rare for hamsters. However, when a hamster does contract fleas, they can shed all of their furs away. It’s easy to determine whether your hamster actually has fleas since they’re visible to the naked eye. You can also see their droppings, which look like small black dots on your hamster’s skin, easily. If your hamster does have fleas, all you have to do is buy one of the products made for clearing fleas off. There are many products for all furry animals, but try to find a product specifically for hamsters. It’s much more likely that you’ll find mites on your hamster than fleas or ticks. These are invisible to the naked eye, so it’s almost impossible for you to identify them on your own. They won’t cause any problems if they’re small in numbers, but if your hamster has a weakened immune system, irregular grooming patterns, or is stressed, the mites will increase their numbers. Signs that mites are present in this situation: reddened skin, rough dry patches, and fur loss. The best way to deal with this is by taking your hamster to the vet and let them take skin samples and take a look at it under the microscope. Mites are treated with topical sprays for hamsters, so make sure to buy that and use it the way it’s instructed on the packaging. Also clean your hamster’s cage, taking everything out and disinfecting it. A ringworm infection is also possible. All animals can get ringworm, and that includes hamsters. These fungal infections will appear as a distinctive ring of hair loss with flaky, yellowed skin. You have to be careful if you’re handling a hamster with ringworm, because you’re vulnerable to it, as well. Make sure that you’re always wearing gloves, that’s the best way to deal with that. Ringworm develops in environments that are too humid, so you’re going to want to keep your hamster’s cage properly ventilated. The way to treat ringworm is to wash your hamster with a topical shampoo for ringworm. Most of these contain miconazole, povidone-iodine, or keratolytic, and either of them should do the trick. If your hamster’s hair is already long, you may want to shorten it to ensure that the shampoo gets to all areas and washes everything. Shedding is another reason for fur loss, but this isn’t a reason you should worry about. Most furry animals shed, most often during spring and fall – it is normal to see periods of thin fur at this time, and keep in mind that Syrian and Russian hamsters tend to shed more than the Chinese and Roborovski types do. Hot spots are another cause for hamsters losing fur. Hot spots are, however, pretty rare when it comes to hamsters. These spots are actually open wounds, caused by a fungal infection that causes the hamster to scratch and chew their own fur and skin. To deal with this, take your hamster to the vet. Another thing that may cause your hamster’s fur loss is allergies. Hamsters can often become allergic to substances in their cages, usually their bedding – this can cause them to develop a rash and lose some fur. Don’t use cedarwood shavings for your hamster’s bedding, this is because oils within the wood are too strong for the hamster’s sensitive skin. Another thing that may cause this is dyed paper bedding, as well as dyed food. This is easy to fix – just find better bedding and provide a better diet to your pet. There are other possible causes for your hamster’s recent fur loss, but they’re less common and it’s unlikely that either of those things is happening. However, we’ll list them just in case: your hamster may be suffering from kidney inflammations, or T-cell lymphoma – cancer that attacks the skin, hormonal imbalances may be an issue, as well. However, these causes are all very rare and you should exhaust your options with the list of the most common reasons before you even think about any of these serious things. When discussing the loss of hair specifically on a hamster’s back, you have to understand that the most likely cause for that is one of the causes we’ve already discussed. There are perhaps a few things that cause hamsters to suffer from fur loss in specific areas, but their backs can be affected by any of the things we’ve mentioned. If you’ve noticed that your hamster’s losing hair on its back – it’s most likely because of one of the things we’ve already talked about. However, another reason why your hamster may be losing fur is because of its age, as older hamsters tend to lose fur, which is exactly what we’ll be talking about in our next section. 2. Hamster Fur Loss – Old Age.   One of the clearest signs of your hamster starting to age is their fur looking sparse and matted. A hamster’s fur is usually bright, clean, possibly shiny, and always put together – this is one of the reasons that makes them so appealing to the eye. However, once they start aging, they start losing their fur, and here’s why. The fur is mostly defined by genetics – most hamsters are born blind, and they’re also mostly born bald. Unfortunately, some hamsters end up like that in their older days, as well. Once your hamster ages (hamsters live from 2 to 4 years, depending on the species), you will probably start noticing patches of skin where fur simply doesn’t grow – this is because your hamster’s old. Even if your hamster is not balding, you may notice that their hair isn’t as soft and shiny as it was before, but it’s rather sparse. It can become matte and coarse, which is something that’s deemed odd for hamsters, who are usually shiny. The fur may also start to change color, just like with humans. Your hamster may actually start having their first grey hairs. Unfortunately, there’s no cure for aging, so you can’t exactly fix this. However, as they age, hamsters are more prone to diseases (just like humans are, as well). So, the reason for your hamster’s hair loss may not be hidden in numbers, but rather in a disease. Hamsters are also very well-groomed creatures, similar to cats (although those species aren’t exactly the best of friends in real life). They’re usually grooming themselves whenever they’re not eating, sleeping, or playing on the wheel. Their cleanliness is very important to them, as it keeps their scent to a minimum, which is a great defense against predators. So, if you’ve noticed that your hamster’s hair is less shiny and well-groomed, and is now becoming dustier and more reminiscent of a certain German scientist’s hair – it’s because your hamster’s getting old. Older hamsters can’t clean themselves as well as younger hamsters because of their many physical restrictions, they are also careless. The most effort usually goes towards cleaning the tops of their little heads and cleaning their flanks, they need to bend around like crazy to reach these spots. These spots are the first you’ll notice are becoming less groomed, because they’re usually the most well-maintained spots. The result of this is your hamster getting a bit more smelly, which is especially applicable to your hamster’s rear end. You might find his rear soiled from time to time, without there being an infection or wet tail. This actually also refers to the cage, as the hamster will clean their cageless when they’re in their older days. Older hamsters can also lose their hair due to a lack of protein (less than 16%) or iron in their diet. As we’ve already said, there isn’t really a way for you to affect this. We all get old and you can’t stop your hamster from getting old. Help your pet during this time and ensure that their final days are happy and enjoyable. 3. Hamster Fur Loss and Flaky Skin. We’ve already mentioned a few reasons for flaky skin or skin cabs when we were discussing fur loss, but let’s go into detail with them. One of the most common skin diseases that causes both fur loss and flaky skin are mites. Mites are one of the most common skin diseases in hamsters. If you’re suspecting mites, you won’t be able to identify them on your own in any way, as they’re invisible to the naked eye. You need to take your hamster to the vet. The vet will take a sample of the hamster’s skin and take a look at it under the microscope. Your vet may also brush your hamster while holding a white piece of paper to catch the mites, and then take a look at them using a magnifying glass. If your vet has diagnosed your hamster with mites, the first thing you need to do is isolate it from all other hamsters, as you don’t want them to get infected, as well. You should also wash your hamsters, and return them to their cages after washing and disinfecting the cages, as well. Mites are contagious, so your healthy hamsters are very likely to catch them if you don’t isolate the ill hamster. If multiple hamsters have already caught mites, then treat them all as prescribed. After that, you need to treat your hamster as your vet has prescribed. The most common and the most popular treatment with vets is medicated shampoo. However, hamsters don’t really like showers and baths, so they may resist and not let you apply the shampoo and wash them. The alternative to this is medicated ointment that you’ll apply to the affected area. There are different options when it comes to this: oral ivermectin, which kills parasites, is a treatment option. To apply this, place the prescribed number of drops of this solution in your hamster’s mouth. There are also anti-mite sprays available. However, they’re mostly an over-the-counter treatment, and you need to discuss this with your vet before you decide to apply it to your pet. Severe mite infestations are most often treated with a full-body dip. This dip is basically just a medicated bath containing ivermectin. Your vet will explain how to perform this, but know that your hamster could resist because they don’t really like baths. You may need to repeat this process numerous times, as many hamsters (especially older hamsters or hamsters with lower immunity) need to be treated for mites more than once. Make sure that you discuss this with your vet before you repeat the process. We’ve already mentioned that it’s important to clean your hamster’s cage before you put them back in. When doing this, wash all of the accessories in the cage; all the toys, water bottles, food bowls, etc. – do this with hot, soapy water. Use a hamster-safe cage disinfectant, as some other disinfectants may harm the pet. Make sure that everything has dried before you put it all back. Another disease that may cause skin scabs is ringworm infection. We’ve already discussed this and said that humans can catch ringworm, as well, so make sure that you’re always wearing gloves when dealing with this. To treat this, you’ll first need to visit the vet, as they need to diagnose the ringworm for you to treat it. You should suspect a ringworm infection is at play if you notice patches of hair loss where the skin looks crusty, flaky, and red. Your vet will take a look at this and take a look at the fur with a microscope – the affected area looks like rings. It’s especially possible if your hamster is older, as older animals have a weaker immunity. To treat this, follow your vet’s treatment instructions. Firstly, always wear gloves and make sure you’re not making any contact with your hamster or its cage without wearing gloves – humans can also catch ringworms. One option of treatment is medicated shampoo, containing either povidone-iodine (antibacterial) or antifungal medication. You should cut your hamster’s hair before you go through with the treatment, as it’s very important that they’re completely cleaned. This way, the shampooing will be very effective. Once again, just like with mites, isolate this hamster from other hamsters and place it in a separated cage (and make sure that all cages are properly cleaned). Another treatment option is topical treatment with griseofulvin, an antifungal medication. This is an ointment, so if your vet prescribes this, they’ll shave the affected area and you’ll have to apply the ointment. Know that treatment for ringworm usually lasts between 18 and 21 days, so this isn’t going to be finished very soon. Make sure that you’re keeping your hamster’s cage ventilated, as it can become damp inside if you don’t. Damp areas are ideal for fungal growth and they’re an increased risk for all kinds of infections, including ringworm. Wire cages usually have great ventilation, so you should consider buying one if you don’t already own one. Lastly, the most common reason for your hamster’s skin scabs are actually wounds. We’re not talking about wounds caused by diseases or infections, but by your hamster fighting (female hamsters are more likely to bite than male hamsters because they’re more territorial) with its cage mate or getting scratched by sharp bedding. This wound can become infected and it can cause a pocket of infection to form and leak abscess. Your vet will take a sample of the abscess and will have to surgically remove it and close the wound. After that, you’ll have to apply an ointment on the wounded area for some time. During this time, until your hamster’s wound has completely healed, you’ll need to remove the cause of the wound. This means that you have to isolate that hamster from all the other hamsters, as a fight or biting could reopen the wound and cause even more damage. If the wound was caused by sharp bedding, replace the bedding with something soft. Here are some other, more simple reasons for your hamster’s flaky skin: – if you have an older hamster, their skin is naturally weaker and their scabs may be caused by them scratching their belly on their bedding or any other hard surface. Your hamster’s skin will become sensitive when it gets old, so it doesn’t matter if this bedding didn’t cause any problems before. – you could notice your hamster’s scent gland having sores, this is usually caused by excessive grooming and licking. 4. Hamster Fur Loss Behind Ears. If your hamster’s getting older, then it’s completely normal for them to lose fur anywhere, including right behind the ears. If this is the case (you should primarily gauge that by its age), you won’t really be able to do anything about that. However, this doesn’t have to be the only reason. If you’ve also noticed redness or swelling around that same area, it may be because your hamster’s scratching itself too much. This can be caused by a number of reasons – firstly, just like humans, animals sometimes have to scratch themselves for no good reason. Secondly, it may be mites or fleas – this will cause the hamster to scratch themselves to the point of losing fur. You can cancel this out if you’ve recently cleaned their cage and they’ve only started scratching themselves recently – this means that the cause is most likely not mites or fleas. Thirdly, your hamster may be having an allergic reaction to something. Take a look at their diet and see if anything has changed. Maybe you’ve got a new pet? A dog or a cat and they’re having a reaction to them. Also, although it’s rare amongst animals, it may be psychosomatic. Maybe your hamster is under a lot of stress for some reason and that’s causing them to scratch their fur out. If you can’t find a reason for this article, we’d suggest visiting your local vet and let them find out what’s going on. Hamsters are without a doubt some of the most popular pets in the world. If you have a hamster and you’ve recently noticed that it’s started to lose fur, it’s most likely because of old age. However, if your hamster is not that old and that shouldn’t be happening, then it can be a number of reasons, ranging from dietary restrictions to infections. Make sure to clean your hamster’s cage regularly, even if they’re not having problems with their fur at the moment, as that’s the best way for you to ensure that they don’t start suffering from any issues in the future. If you’re having any further trouble, make sure to call your vet. [...] Read more...
The Real Reason Hamsters Like Wheels
The Real Reason Hamsters Like WheelsIf you have owned a hamster or if you are currently a hamster owner, one of the things you would instantly notice is how your hamster loves playing with its wheel. The hamster wheel instantly becomes the little animal’s favorite thing in the world, and it will play with it non-stop to the point that an average hamster can go for up to five miles in a single night on a hamster wheel. But what is the real reason why hamsters like wheels? The real reason why hamsters like using their hamster wheels are the fact that they are naturally born to run. Generation of domestication as well as a proper introduction to the hamster wheel has allowed the hamster to associate it with running. As such, your hamster will easily love the hamster wheel once it becomes used to it. Hamsters do love to run but they are usually kept in enclosed cages that really limit their movements and activities. As such, the only way for them to be truly themselves is to run on the hamster wheel, which is basically the only exercise they can get whenever they are kept in their cages. In that sense, the hamster wheel becomes a necessity. But don’t stop there because there are more things you need to know about hamsters and their hamster wheels. Why hamsters like wheels If you are a hamster owner or if you are planning on getting one, one of the first purchases you need to make is a hamster wheel. Every pet store will always tell you to buy a hamster wheel together with the hamster’s cage or habitat because it is a necessity for your tiny pet rodent. And the moment you bring your hamster home and set its cage up with its hamster wheel, it won’t take a long time for it to start running on the wheel. And whenever you try to observe what your hamster is doing while it is awake, it will most likely be on the wheel running. But why exactly do hamsters like wheels? For us to understand why hamsters love their hamster wheels, let us go back to the basic nature of a hamster before they were even domesticated and treated as pets. After all, everything an animal does can be traced back to its natural state in the wild. As rodents, hamsters are usually somewhere near the bottom of the food chain in the wild because they have plenty of natural predators that will not waste time trying to make dinner out of them. That is why hamsters have developed a lot of different habits that allowed them to survive in the wild. After all, if they were so easy for predators to catch, they would have been extinct by now. Hamsters, due to how a lot of predators are more likely to be active during the day, have developed the ability to stay awake and active at night as nocturnal animals. They are usually hiding in their burrows during the day before they try to go out at night whenever it is usually safe for them to forage for food. But, even if hamsters are indeed nocturnal, that doesn’t mean that they don’t have predators at night. A lot of cats and reptiles are nocturnal predators as well and are not hesitant to hunt hamsters whenever they are available for them in the wild. Because hamsters still have predators no matter what time of the day it is, they have developed one of their best basic instincts—to run. Yes, because of the very fact that hamsters need to run a lot in the wild due to how they are nearly at the bottom of the food chain, they have developed the basic instinct to run and run and run whenever they can. Running has become second nature to hamsters regardless of whether or not they are wild or domesticated. That is why hamsters are always running and running even when they are kept in their cages as pets. As such, because running is a part of a hamster’s basic instincts for it to survive, it has carried that nature even after the animal has become a domesticated pet. Hamsters as pets will always find a way to run regardless of whether they are in their cages or are let out of their habitats for a short while. And if they are kept in their cages, they will always find a way to run by making use of their hamster wheels. So, a hamster wheel basically plays into the hamster’s instincts of running. That means that your hamster doesn’t technically love its hamster wheel but it actually loves running. It is only that its hamster wheel is what allows it to be its natural self, which is a tiny rodent that basically spends an entire day running. In fact, hamsters run so much in a single day that they can reach up to five miles on their hamster wheel alone. There was even a time when a single hamster was able to run 26.2 miles on its hamster wheel in a span of five days. If you think about it, most people nowadays can’t even run five miles in a single week. That goes to show how truly active hamsters really are especially when they are given hamster wheels. On top of all that, hamsters are also naturally curious animals that love to explore their surroundings by running around. That is why a lot of hamsters can’t help but run around the house when they are let loose from their cages. So, by giving a hamster a wheel, it is able to satisfy its natural sense of curiosity by allowing it to run around to make it feel like it is exploring. Why hamsters need wheels While we have discussed why hamsters like their wheels, let us go to the discussion of whether they need their wheels and why they need their wheels. First things first, your pet hamster can survive without a wheel because a wheel is not one of its basic necessities. As long as you have found other ways for the hamster to run around and be active, then it can do without a wheel.  However, know for a fact that it still needs a wheel if you are going to keep it in a cage without anything for it to do. As such, this is when a hamster wheel becomes a necessity for a hamster. So, why do hamsters need wheels? Well, the first reason why they need wheels goes back to the hamster’s basic instinct of running. Hamsters are natural runners that need to run a lot every single day because that is what they are used to in the wild for them to survive. So, by giving them hamster wheels and letting them run on those wheels, the hamster can be its natural self again. Moreover, hamster wheels are the best ways for your hamster to stay healthy. As mentioned, hamsters are natural runners that require a lot of constant movement. It is their natural habit as runners that allow them to stay healthy in the wild. So, by giving your hamster a hamster wheel to run on, you are allowing it to stay active so that it can not only burn off those extra calories but also keep itself away from diseases caused by obesity and inactivity. Finally, hamsters have nothing to do in their cages. But by giving them hamster wheels, they can stay mentally and physically stimulated as they are running tirelessly on those wheels. It is a way for them to have a hobby and a pastime so that they won’t end up developing bad habits. Do all hamsters like wheels? It’s not like hamsters like the wheels themselves but it is the act of running on the wheels that they actually love. So, do all hamsters like wheels? Yes, they do but only because the wheels allow them to run around and not because they like the wheels themselves. In that sense, if you were to give your hamster another way for it to run around and stay active, then it might have no need for its hamster wheel. A lot of owners, in this case, would much rather give their pet hamsters a hamster ball where the hamster is kept inside an inflatable ball that it can use to run around the house freely without getting exposed to the outside elements. The hamster ball allows the little animal to stay safe and have a sense of freedom while it is running around outside the confines of its cage. But because there are some dangers in using a hamster ball (such as when your hamster bumps into things and falls down the stairs while using the ball), it is still better for you to use the hamster wheel as its main source of exercise and activity. [...] 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...
All About A Hamster’s Ears – Common Problems And Hearing
All About A Hamster’s Ears – Common Problems And HearingHamster ears are some of the cutest ears. My Teddy has his folded when he wakes up, and he’s always listening for some thing or another. But we need to know everything about our hamsters’ ears, hearing, and ear problems if we want to give them a happy life. So read on here to find out more, starting with the basics. Table of Contents ToggleDo hamsters have good hearing ?How wild hamsters use their hearing to surviveYour hammy will learn every sound in the houseYour hamster’s ears can change colors as they ageFolded hamster earsHamsters can develop several ear problemsEar infectionEar tumorEar mitesEar wax and/or dischargeLoss of fur around earsA word from Teddy Do hamsters have good hearing ? Yes, hamsters have very good hearing. Hearing is actually one of the main ways hamsters navigate their habitat, and avoid predators. Hamsters rely on smell to ‘see’ their environment (smells, pheromones), and on hearing to listen for potential predators or other sounds of danger. That being said, a hamster won’t react to sudden sounds as badly as sudden movements. A sudden movement will scare the hamster, while a sudden noise will be investigated and learned. How wild hamsters use their hearing to survive In the wild hamsters are hunted by almost every creature possible. As such, they’ve had to develop very good survival skills. Hamsters sleep for much of the day, when most of their predators are out and hunting. Once evening sets in, hammies wake up, and perk their ears up. Listening for a fox’s paws, a swooping owl, a slithering snake, anything that could be dangerous. If he hears nothing out of the ordinary, he’ll come out. Once he’s out of his labyrinth of tunnels and burrows, the hammy will start foraging for food, and will cover lots his territory. He’ll literally stop to check every few minutes, to make sure there’s nothing chasing him, or to smell for another food source. Hearing is the hamster’s first line of defense, since he can hear before he can smell a predator. Even a very quiet and sneaky cat won’t be able to fool a hamster too easily. This trait has been passed down to your pet hamster too. He’ll be very curious about sounds and will have the instinct to listen for absolutely anything odd. Your hammy will learn every sound in the house A pet hamster is still very much like a wild hamster. Aside from variations in the colors, pet hamsters have largely the same personalities they had as wild hamsters. Granted, hammies haven’t been pets for more than a century now. You can find out more about how hammies came to be pets, and where they (all) come from, right here. For example my Teddy (a Syrian male, golden) used to stop and listen for everything when he was young. Seriously, he’d stop every few minutes and learn each new sound. We have an air freshener that goes off on auto, that was mind-blowing for him. Or when it rained the first few times, and he had to figure out if it’s water dropping from the sky or something terrifying. Over time he calmed down and learned every sound in the house, and those usually around the house as well. Our neighbors, a door closing somewhere, someone speaking outside, a dog barking, and so on. As they age, hamsters become more accustomed to all the sounds and smells of their home. This makes them more comfortable, but it depends on your hamster’s personality just how soon he’ll stop panicking. My Teddy took almost a year to relax, and not stare at me when I open the fridge. Your hamster’s ears can change colors as they age Depending on which type of hamster you have, your hammy’s ears might change colors a bit. The ears, but the fur as well. First off, here’s how to find out which kind of hamster you have. Then, if you’ve got a Syrian hamster know that the ears might turn a dark grey as the hamster turns into an adult. For example my Teddy is a golden Syrian hamster, the soft/blended variety. So no stark lines or patches of color. When he was a baby he was all cream, and had a bit of white on his belly and paws. Once he started coming close to the 3 month mark (when hamsters become adults) he started getting all of his markings. Which included darker, grey ears, and a few grey markings on his forehead, and shoulders. And the tips of most of the hairs turned dark grey, like he’s a bit smoky. So it could be that your Syrian might develop grey ears too, or a darker color all over his fur if he’s got the gene. This can apply to all hamster breeds, since they only become adults around the 3 month mark. This is where they reach their ‘final form’, so to speak, and won’t change very much. Only when they become old, will there be any other changes. For example my Teddy is a year and a half at the time I’m writing this article. His snout’s got a bit whiter, and the fluff around his ears got whiter as well. He’s not very old yet, but he’s getting there. Hamster’s don’t live long, Syrians can reach a maximum of 3 years, the same way us humans reach past 100 years. Folded hamster ears Ears are an important part of your hamster’s body language. Knowing what your hamster’s ears are saying is about as important as knowing what a dog’s ears are saying. So for example hammies can have their ears folded, in several situations. If he just woke up, his ears will be folded, and you will notice he moves slowly, eyes half open, fur a bit ruffled. No one looks great in the morning. It could be that your hamster’s folded ears mean fear, when he’s also shying away from you or another hamster, and making himself appear to be very small (curling in on himself). This fear can be dangerous, depending on the hamster. Some hamsters flee, some fight. Those who fight get their folded ears mistaken for a sign of aggression. Your hammy could also suddenly perk his ears up, even stand up, to better figure out what’s happening. If there’s an odd sound, he’ll listen for it. He can get the most intense face when he’s focused, I swear. Generally a hamster’s ears are up, but relaxed. They don’t move as much as a dog or cat’s ears, but they’re still very much mobile and can pick up a lot of sound. (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.) Hamsters can develop several ear problems Since hearing is an important part of a hamster’s defense, his ears are usually clean. The hammy is a very clean animal, in fact, and he can clean his own ears just fine. He has to, in order to be able to use them properly. But sometimes, infections happen, or a parasite, or even an injury. Make sure you isolate the sick hamster from the other hamsters, since most of these conditions are contagious. Whatever the case, sometimes you will have to help your little friend. Here’s why and how. Ear infection An ear infection can come about in many ways, even if the cage is clean. You can tell your hamster has an infected ear by the fact that it’s possibly become red, swollen, hot to the touch, and your hamster might be scratching at it. He might carry his head to the side/tilted, and you might actually see some discharge. If you think this is the case, don’t panic. An ear infection is bad, but treatable. It does require you to reach a veterinarian, though. The best vet to ask for help is an ”exotic” vet, since they have experience with rodents. The vet will prescribe a round of antibiotics for your hammy. He might keep your friend for a couple of days, or he might give you the medicine to administer at home. It depends on the vet and how bad the infection is. Ear tumor Ear tumors can grow in older hamsters, and will require surgery. The tumors usually grow very fast, and will send you to the vet a few times in the same week. If you think your hamster’s got a suspicious growth, keep an eye on it for the next 48 hours. Take pictures of it every few hours, to compare the growth. Know that tumors can be both under and on the skin, so you might have to pick up the hammy and feel him. I’ve heard of hamsters getting tumors removed and survived, but this isn’t something that happens every day. Still, I found at least one example of a Dwarf type that needed a surgery for an ear tumor, and survived. I’ll link you to the vet’s site, and be warned that there’s a few pictures from before and after the surgery. No worries, the hamster is safe and he made a full recovery. Many thanks to the veterinarian for showing us that it’s possible to help the hamster. Ear mites This can be tricky to tell with black hamsters, or those with very dark ears. Ear mites are a type of tiny parasites That settle in the hamster’s ears, and they’re black. They look like tiny black dots moving in and around your hamster’s ears. Your hamster is probably scratching himself furiously. The mites can extend to the hamster’s face and paws, even some parts of his fur. Bring the hamster to the vet immediately, so he can give your friend the proper treatment. The treatment can extend over a few weeks, but your hamster will be fine. Ear wax and/or discharge Excessive ear wax can be caused by a possible infection, or can lead to one. Hamsters usually don’t have a lot of ear wax, so if your friend suddenly has a build-up, it should be checked. A discharge from the ears can also be a sign of an infection, one that’s actually ruptured. This is a case you should bring your hamster to the veterinarian for a treatment. Loss of fur around ears Fur loss can be caused by excessive scratching, and if your hamster’s got an infection or mites, his ear will itch. Excessive scratching can lead to more than just ear loss, it can develop an even worse problem. So make sure you speak to your vet, to possibly get a treatment for your hamster. Another reason for fur loss, but not necessarily around the ear, can be ringworm. Which is a fungal infection that gives the hamster bald spots, with dry itchy skin. This too can be treats by a veterinarian. A word from Teddy I hope you found out how to take care of our ears here. I know us hammies look like the most adorable creatures, but we do get sick sometimes, and we need your help. If you want to know more about us hamsters, be sure to check the articles below, so you get all the info you need to help us have a great life with you. [...] Read more...
5 Reasons Your Hamster Bites And How To Stop It
5 Reasons Your Hamster Bites And How To Stop ItA biting hamster is never fun. For example my Teddy used to nip at my fingers when I first brought him. I figured out why he wanted to bite and how to stop him as well.  As it turns out, hamsters do a lot of things with their teeth, and half the time they have their teeth on you they’re not really biting. Table of Contents ToggleSo why is your hamster biting in the first place ?Hamsters nibble and chew on everything – including youReasons your hamster is biting – and what to do about themYour hamster is scared or irritatedYour hamster is hungry, or you’ve just handled foodYou might smell unfamiliar, or you’re a new person he just metBut what if you’re a new person, and you don’t know the hamster ?Your hamster might be difficult to handleMy Teddy is a bit difficultYour hamster might be hurtingA few precautions when picking up your hamsterMake sure that when you handle your hamster there are no loud noises, flashing lights, sudden movements.Do not pick up your hamster from above.Make sure your hands and clothes don’t have a strong smellAvoid any sudden movements.Dwarf hamsters are more jitteryIf you’ve got long nails and if you’ve got nail polish on, avoid exposing them to your hamster.If all else fails, you can use a garden gloveA few other options when handling your hamsterA word from Teddy So why is your hamster biting in the first place ? Hamsters bite when annoyed or scared, and they’re very easy to scare. That’s the most common reason, but a list of possible reasons could be: Your hamster is scared/irritated – hamsters get defensive real fast, and that often means biting or scratching The hamster could be hungry or you could be smelling of food He found an unfamiliar scent on you, or you might be a new person – he might bite strangers Your hamster might be a difficult hamster, or one that doesn’t like being handled at all He might be hurting and you’re touching that part of him There are times when you might mistake a nibble for the beginning of a bite, draw your hand fast, thus scaring the hamster, and end up bitten anyway. I’ve found this out with my Teddy when he was young, and I was trying to earn his trust. He still nips from time to time, since he is a hamster after all. Hamsters are very curious things, and will want to explore everything. Since they can’t see very well, they’ll use their paws, nose and teeth to try everything out. Let’s talk about that for a bit, since it can often be mistaken for a bite. Hamsters nibble and chew on everything – including you This doesn’t mean you’re a snack for him, he knows that. It’s just that hamsters have very very poor eye sight. Just enough to see right in front of them, but not enough to tell distances or certain things apart. So, hamsters use their ears, whiskers, paws and nose to figure out the things around them. This, combined with a natural curiosity will make them want to touch and feel everything. That means that your hamster will also try nibbling on things to get a feel for them. Much like baby humans, actually. Except hamsters never grow out of that phase. That, and the fact that a hamster’s front teeth never stop growing. Ever. So they need to always file them down on something, and that’s an instinct as well. So the next time you feed your hammy from your hand, don’t be surprised if he starts inching towards the edge of your palm, or the crease of the palm. He’s naturally drawn there, and will try to chew on any ends and bits, even if they’re your fingers. When this happens, draw your hand away slowly. Try to suppress your reflex since any quick movement will scare your hamster. And once you’ve scared him, he will definitely bite. So take your hand away gently and you hamster will leave it alone. Until you present it to him again, since he is very curious, always. But draw your hand away gently, and he won’t bite. Teddy: Us hamsters are a curious bunch, and we’ll want to try to get a feel of everything. Don’t make any sudden movements, we scare easily ! Reasons your hamster is biting – and what to do about them These are things I’ve tried myself, and things I’ve discovered from talking to other hamster owners. Most of these can be managed easily enough. Your hamster is scared or irritated These are in fact the same thing, at their core. A scared hamster is an angry, jumpy hamster, so we want to avoid this as much as possible, for the hamster and for you as well. For more info on why your hamster can get scared of you – or anything else, really – you should go here. It’s an article on exactly why your hamster might be scared, and what you can do to calm him down. Also, you find out how to avoid most of the reasons your hamster gets scared. Do take note that some hamsters are just too easy to scare, and that’s just their personality. In short, any scared or irritated hamster should not be handled immediately. Give the furball some time to relax and calm down, speak to him softly. Talking to him helps a lot, but keep you voice low since hamsters have very sensitive hearing. Using food and treats works as a way to get the hamster used to you, and he will calm down much faster with a peanut in his paws than not. Unsalted peanut, no peel. Your hamster is hungry, or you’ve just handled food This is very true, and something that is easy to forget. Like dogs, hamsters have very keen senses of smell. So if you’ve handled some food, wiped your hands on a towel, then went to pick up your hamster, he might bite. This is because he can smell the food on your hands, and not figure out that it’s your hand, not a piece of chicken. So wash your hands very well before handling your hamster. Use a soap that doesn’t have a strong smell, and avoid any fruity soaps. Make sure you get under the nails since some food particles might get stuck there, and your hamster might go straight for those. And sometimes, your hamster might be very hungry in that particular moment, and you’ve chosen to handle him when he wanted to eat. So, never handle the hamster when he is eating, same as you would leave alone a dog or cat when they’re eating. You might smell unfamiliar, or you’re a new person he just met Most hamsters are skittish, they don’t trust very easily and get defensive fast. That’s normal when you take into account how many predators they have in the wild. Now, if your hamster that you’ve had since forever and used to pick up easily, suddenly shies away or even bites your hand, there is a reason. What have you handled recently ? Another animal’s scent might have picked up on you, like a stray cat you played with, or the neighbor’s dog. It might be on your clothes, not necessarily on your hand. Or, it could be a strong smell like citrus – winter time with orange and clementine peels, maybe. A strong perfume, or anything new your hamster doesn’t recognize. My Teddy hates citrus oil and scrunches up his face whenever I peel an orange. Coffee grounds is again a scent he doesn’t like. I mean he gets close to the edge of the cage, gets a few whiffs, then makes the most disgusted face. He always does that, even if he’s smelled my coffee every morning. Maybe I make terrible coffee, who knows. As with the food on your hands, make sure you wash your hands before handling your hamster. And if you’ve got any heavily scented clothes on you, consider changing out of them. But what if you’re a new person, and you don’t know the hamster ? That’s a whole other story, and the hamster will not want to be around you at first. Most hamsters are distrustful, so you should not try to touch them right after seeing them for the first time. A very clear example was when a neighbor came with his daughter to see the hamster. The little girl is blind, so she needs to see with her hands. But since Teddy never met her, and I didn’t know better, and she tried to ouch him, Teddy started squeaking and tried to catch one of her fingers. I had him in my hands, and got him away fast enough. No one ended up bitten, but I learned a very important lesson that day. Strangers need to be introduced slowly, and the hamster will take a few encounters to accept someone new. So if you’re meeting a new hamster for the first time, first let him smell your hand through the cage. Then, feed him a bit of food through the cage. After a few tries, or better after a couple of days, you can then try to place your hand inside the cage, with a bit of food on it, to encourage him to touch your hand. Your hamster might be difficult to handle Some hamsters just don’t like being handled, no matter how much time or effort you put in. That’s just their personality, and there’s not much you can do about it. If you do find yourself with a difficult hamster, still try to be nice to him. Try finding his limit, and don’t cross it. If he will eat from your hand, but absolutely will not climb onto your hand or let you pick him up, then stop. That’s where his comfort ends, and there’s no point in pushing him any further. He may be your pet, but there are certain limits you both have. If your hamster is exceptionally difficult, try going to your local vet. He might be able to figure out something that you can’t, like if your hamster has an illness or maybe he’s seen cases like this before. It might take a very very long time to tame a difficult hamster. It might even take months, but you should still try. This is especially true if it’s a hamster you’ve picked up from a shelter or previous owner. There might be some bad things that the hamster can’t forget. Always approach the hamster with a treat or food, and it will be easier. If you want to know what treats or foods are safe for your hamster, you should check out this hamsters food list. It’s got what you can and can not feed hamsters, and what kind of treats hamsters can eat. My Teddy is a bit difficult In that, he will not sit still for more than 2 seconds when you hold him. He is a hamster, most of them don’t sit still anyway. But my Teddy is a very strong and independent hamster, who don’t need no man. Seriously though, there are times when he will stay in my hand, but most of the time I have to do the hand-washing motion when I handle him. You know, putting one hand in front of the other while he keeps trying to climb out. He rarely ever bites anymore, he used to a while back. But this was mostly because it took me a few weeks to tame him. This is when I found out that hamsters can lose trust in their owners sometimes. I had a period when I was too afraid to touch him, so I had to re-tame him. But now Teddy and I are friends again, he only nibbles my hand when I feed him, and he doesn’t shy away like he used to when I reach for him. Whatever I write here is what I’ve tried or found out with my Teddy, and I hope it helps you befriend your hamster faster than I did. Your hamster might be hurting Sometimes hamsters hurt themselves and it’s not obvious. Like maybe he fell from a level in his cage, or bit himself while grooming, or possibly sprained his foot in the wheel. It could be anything. But sometimes it’s not noticeable straight away, like a whole mess of blood and fur. Sometimes it’s a slight limp, or maybe not even that. But when you go to pick up your hamster, he might bite because you’re touching a very sensitive part of his body. If you had a sprained ankle and someone tried to pet it you’d hate it too. If you notice anything like this with your hamster, call your veterinarian as soon as possible. Your hamster might be sick or hurt, and need medical attention. Most of the time minor injuries heal by themselves, but with small creatures like hamsters you need to be very careful. A few precautions when picking up your hamster Most of the time the biting happens because the hamster is scared. And a few things need to be done properly before you try to pick up your hamster. Make sure that when you handle your hamster there are no loud noises, flashing lights, sudden movements. So no picking up the hamster under the Christmas tree with the fairy lights on with loud music, for example. Hamsters are easy to scare. A calm, quiet, predictable atmosphere will keep the hamster at ease. Do not pick up your hamster from above. As in, do not use your hand like a claw to close it around your hamster. You’re scaring him, since it feels a lot like when his ancestors were swooped up by birds of prey. Instead, use a scooping motion. Come from the front, with an open palm and let the hamster climb in on his own. You can use a treat in your hand to make the hamster come closer. Then, place your other hand on top of the hamster, like a shield. Hamsters are active and fidgety and they will not sit still in your hand. Make sure your hands and clothes don’t have a strong smell Perfume, fruits, motor oil, coffee, whatever you’ve used recently. When you wash your hands, avoid fruity soaps since your hamster will truly believe that’s an apple or strawberry you have on your hand, and will try to bite into it. Avoid any sudden movements. Hamsters can’t see very well, but they notice your movements. You don’t have to be extra slow, but do not be too quick with your hands. Dwarf hamsters are more jittery The smaller hamster breeds are a bit hyperactive, and will rarely sit still. An adult Syrian hamster like my Teddy might come up to you … normally, I’d say. But a dwarf will scurry and race every where. So, they’re harder to handle and bite easier. If you’ve got long nails and if you’ve got nail polish on, avoid exposing them to your hamster. This is because hamsters will nibble on everything that sticks out, so your nails are a great for that. And if the hamster chews on nails that are done up ? The nail polish is toxic for him, so make sure he doesn’t get his teeth anywhere near your nails. This is something my girlfriend discovered shortly after we got Teddy. Luckily she wasn’t wearing anything on her nails at the time. (If you like this article so far, you can pin it to your Pinterest board by clicking the image below. The article continues after the image.) If all else fails, you can use a garden glove In no way is this a good way to handle your hamster on a regular basis. But if you’ve got a very difficult hamster, and you need to pick him up for a short amount of time (like checking his body for injuries or rashes) then you will need protection. A gardening glove is great for this, since it’s made of thick, sturdy material the hamster can bite into without hurting himself or you. There are a few things to be careful about when you handle the hamster like this: be careful to not squeeze him hard be careful to hold him firmly enough, since he will wiggle his way out keep the handling very very short, very close to his cage in case he jumps A hamster is a very light creature, and he’s hard enough to feel in your hand anyway. All that fluffy fur, combined with a light weight, you don’t really know where he starts and where he finishes. But this is so very important with the gardening glove. You will not be able to feel him on your hands, but you will see him. So you must be careful to not squeeze him too hard, or hold him too lightly either. A few other options when handling your hamster Depending on why you need to handle your difficult hamster, you have a few other options aside from the gardening glove. You can place the hamster in a tall, plastic cup if you need to weight him on a kitchen scale. Just place the Cut laid down in his cage, and wait for him to climb in on his own. Of course, you need to account for the cup’s weight. You can use the hamster’s exercise ball if you need to move him from one cage to the other. Place a treat in his exercise ball, and wait for him to climb in. Then, scoop him up and place him in his new cage. You can also use a series of tubes your hamster can climb into to get him from one cage to another. Just tap the place you want him to be, and he will soon try to find where the sound is coming from. Then you can block off the tunnels he went through once he is where he wants to be. A gardening glove is never a good option for constant handling, but it works if you’ve got absolutely no other method of literally picking up your hamster for a good reason. A word from Teddy I hope you found what you were looking for. I know us hamsters can be a bit difficult sometimes, but we never mean you any harm. We’re scared more often than not, so there’s that too. If you come to us with a bit of food and a slow steady hand, we probably won’t bite. So if you want to know more about the kind of food we can eat, or what kind of cage suits us best, check the articles below. [...] Read more...
Do Hamsters Cause Allergies ? How Hamsters Affect Your Health
Do Hamsters Cause Allergies ? How Hamsters Affect Your HealthIf your allergies have flared up since you got your new hamster, this article might help. Even if you’ve never been allergic and you’re just now starting to react poorly to hamsters, this will help make things clear. Table of Contents ToggleSo do hamsters cause allergies ?What you’re actually allergic toMost pets have the potential to cause an allergic reactionKeeping your allergies down when you’ve got a hamsterA word from Teddy So do hamsters cause allergies ? Yes, hamsters can cause allergies. Any animal with fur or hair will cause allergies to flare up in a person who is already allergic. Some people who never had allergies can suddenly develop one, be it from hamster fur or cat fur or someone’s beard.  The problem is the same, whether it’s a hamster or a different animal. But back to hamsters, most allergies are because of trapped dander inside the hamster’s fur. It’s not the fur itself but the fine particles within the layer of fur that make you sneeze, cough, your throat close up, or other severe reactions. Now let’s talk about why pet-related (and thus hamster-related) allergies come up, and what you can do to lessen the reactions. What you’re actually allergic to For the most part, allergies are a pain to pinpoint. Not only are they not always immediately clear – like peanut or shellfish, for example – but they can annoyingly change over time. But, for the most part, people with allergies react to very fine foreign particles in the air. Those particles are usually pollen or dander. Since hamsters don’t frolic in flowers all day long, only dander remains as a culprit. You see, hamsters have skin like everyone else, and those skin cells eventually die off and get renewed. The dead skin needs to go somewhere. It’s the fact that it’s dander not our own that sets things off, really. In humans, we wash it off. In furry animals, it stays in their fur for an amount of time. Sometimes it breaks into very very small little pieces. Not those white clumps, immediately noticeable. No, very very fine particles that stay trapped in the animal’s fur. Once your hammy moves, those particles get released into the air. If you’re sensitive to fine particles, you’ll feel those in your nose and lungs and eventually start reacting to them. Those are most cases. Sometimes it’s the smell itself that can trigger a reaction. Like the smell of hamster pee. Or, another trigger can be the bedding on which your hamster lives. You might be allergic to whatever bedding the hamster has, when it is in fine particles. But most of the time it’s just the dander that sets people off. Most pets have the potential to cause an allergic reaction This can and does happen with every and all animals who have fur. Even those with no fur, actually. Because it has to do with the skin, not the fur. The fur acts as a trap for the dander. But even a Sphinx cat – hairless cat – can cause allergies. It won’t trigger them for most people who have allergies. But those with severe allergies can get reactions even from a hairless cat. This is because the dander – dead skin cells – still exist, everywhere the skin is. A hairless animal won’t have as much since most of it falls off. But there will still be some. So the only way you can be truly sure you won’t get a reaction at all is to get an unconventional pet. That’s a fish or a reptile. Reptiles don’t shed parts of their skin, but it all comes off in one clean, simple molt. No debris and flying skin anywhere with a snake or a lizard. And a fish is… well, underwater, so you won’t be breathing anything in. Birds also have this amazing potential to cause allergies. Birds have a fine dusting on their feathers, to keep them waterproof and it happens to contain a bit of dandruff as well. If you’re a person with allergies, they might flare up if you get a budgie for example. Or any other bird. My girlfriend’s parents have a pair of cockatoos. Always had birds since I could remember. When those two birdies ruffle their feathers and preen themselves, a whole layer or dandruff settles on the surfaces around them. (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 your allergies down when you’ve got a hamster If you’ve got a hamster but you’re allergic to him, there are a few things you can do to make your reactions not as severe. The biggest problem is the dandruff, and where and how it settles. Aside from the hamster’s fur, it can get on the carpets, curtains, on your clothes, in your own hair, and so on. So let’s see what you can do. Do not handle the hamster. Most obvious one, and most painful one if you really love your hamster. Simply not handling him will get you as far away from his fur and dander as possible. Regularly groom him. Never bathe a hamster, since that can be deadly for hamsters. But a light grooming with a soft comb would help get the dander off. You’ll probably need a friend to do this for you, since this will release a whole lot of dander in the air. A surgical mask won’t help much there. Don’t let the hamster onto carpets or any textile surface. This means your bed, the floor, the curtains if he can get to them (hammies will climb your curtains if you don’t stop them), your clothes as well. Clean the hamster’s cage often. This means twice per week. Usually you should do this once a week, but if you’re very sensitive to the particles in his cage, cleaning it out might help with the symptoms. Carry a shot of epinephrine, or adrenaline with you. If you get into anaphylactic shock, a shot will help. This is only temporary, and you need to get to the hospital straight away. Use an air purifier. This will trap most of the harmful particles in the air, and relieve most of your symptoms. Visit a doctor to look for treatment options. Allergies come and go, and sometimes they even suddenly disappear. But you should still seek a professional for medical help. A word from Teddy I hope you found what you were looking for in this article. I know us hamsters are very fluffy and cute, but we sometimes do cause allergies. It’s nothing personal, it’s just us being hamsters. 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...