Hamster vs Gerbil – Which Is A Better Pet For You ?

Wondering what to choose between a hamster and a gerbil ? After all, they’re both so very cute and cuddly, but you can’t keep them both. But which should you choose ? Let’s see some details about each pet, so you can make a wise decision. If you want to know how a hamster would do if he were living with a gerbil, then you should read this article here.

hamster vs gerbil as pet (1)

Is a rodent a good pet for you ?

Before we go any further, you need to ask yourself this question. Is a rodent a good pet for you ? Both the hamster and the gerbil are rodents, they’re both very small and agile, and not easy to catch once they’ve escaped.

As rodents, they need plenty of wood to chew on – their teeth never stop growing and need to be filed down constantly. They will love to hide and spend lots of time digging, burrowing, and generally not being noticeable.

After all, these poor souls have always been food for other, larger animals. It’s their instinct to hide and taming them can take a while.

Very important: if you have children, especially if they’re very young and they’re begging you to get them a hammy or a gerbil, watch out. Both of these pets are too fragile and high-maintenance for a child. The cleaning, taming, and often even the playing will be passed onto you.

Not every child is like this, I know, but a hamster is not a puppy. A hamster or a gerbil can’t be handled like a puppy or a grown cat, and can’t match the child’s energy, nor the appetite for play. They’re very sensitive creatures.

Still, if this kind of pet sounds alright for you (it did for me), whether you have kids or not, then by all means go and get yourself either a hamster or a gerbil.

They’ll bring countless moments of ”awwww” and ”ooooh” to your life, starting with how cute they look when they sleep, and ending with the odd sounds they can make sometimes.

Now let’s see about each pet, so you know which would be the best for you.

About the hamster

Hamsters are very small, fluffy creatures. There are 5 types of hamsters you can choose from, and none of them ever grow very large. They all would fit in the palm of your hand, even as adults. Those 5 types are:

  • Syrian hamsters – the biggest of the bunch, and the most common as a pet.
  • Dwarf types – Roborovski, Campbell, Djungarian hammies. Half the size of a Syrian.
  • Chinese hamsters, sometimes called Chinese Dwarf hammies. The easiest to confuse with a gerbil, since they have a bit of a tail.

Hamsters come from the general, wide area of south Turkey, Syria, Mongolia, northern China, Russia, Siberia. That’s an area with not much vegetation going on, and most of it is a sort of desert, either a hot sandy one (Syria and Turkey) or a cold, tundra type.

Hamsters have adapted to eat mostly grains and a few veggies, maybe an insect or two. They don’t need much water, and they usually live alone. The Dwarf types can tolerate another of their own species, if it’s a sibling and they still might fight sometimes.

They’re mostly nocturnal, as pets. So getting a hamster would mean you might miss him if you go to bed around 10 PM and wake up early to go to work or school.

In terms of shape, hamsters are short, stocky little creatures. The Dwarf types look like they have no neck at all, while the Syrians have a distinct teddybear-like face.

About the gerbil

Gerbils are, for the most part, hard to tell apart from a hamster. Especially if you’ve never had to tell the difference between them very often. The main difference is that gerbils have a long tail, longer than the Chinese hamster’s tail.

And their hind legs are longer and thinner, since they do a lot of standing and jumping.

Gerbils come from roughly the same area as hamsters. Mostly Mongolia and northern China. As such they might resemble the Dwarf hamsters, who come from there as well.

As a difference though, gerbils live in colonies and they don’t do well on their own. They need company to enjoy themselves, and they don’t like being alone. Another difference is that gerbils aren’t exactly nocturnal, rather they sleep in patches and seem to be always awake.

Gerbils do a lot of digging, more than hamsters actually. So their cage would need to be filled up with more bedding, so they can tunnel away as much as they like.

Food for gerbils is very similar to the food for hamsters: mostly grains, a bit of fruit and veg, and a bit of protein if they can catch it.

In terms of what their bodies do and what they need for a happy life, hamsters and gerbils do not need very different things. Except for 2 things, which if you get wrong, it can be very bad.

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hamster vs gerbil as pet (2)

The hamster lives alone, the gerbil loves a group

One of the things you need to know about, and the most dangerous to get wrong, is the social aspect of these pets.

You see hamsters and gerbils are fundamentally opposites in terms of being social. Hamsters like to be on their own, they will not share anything.

Even the Dwarf types, which you can sometimes manage to raise successfully in a same-sex pair, will argue often. To a degree that’s normal, but even so it puts much stress on the hamster.

A gerbil on the other hand will not like being alone. Much like guinea pigs, gerbils need to be kept in pairs, at the very least. A lone gerbil will become depressed and lose his appetite.

A human, while entertaining, will never be able to supplement the attention of another gerbil. After all, we don’t speak gerbil very well, do we ?

So, please remember. A hamster should always be alone, a gerbil should always have a buddy. A buddy means either 3 females, or 2 males. Or anything over that number, since it will benefit them to be in a larger number. That will mean a larger cage though, so take care how many gerbils you get.

Cage, toys, and bedding for the hamster and the gerbil

Now when it comes to housing a hamster, that can be fairly easy. A cage big enough for a hamster will be a minimum of 24 x 12 inches, and about 12 inches tall. That’s 61 x 30.5 cm, and about 30.5 cm tall.

That’s a cage big enough for a Syrian, although I recommend it for Dwarf type as well. Hamsters, like gerbils, will always pick a bigger cage if they can. Close quarters can make them stressed and nippy.

A pair of gerbils would need a 12 x 20 inch cage, which is 30 x 51 cm. Not that very different from a Syrian cage. Still if you can afford to go for a bigger cage, do so.

This is the second thing that needs to be done a certain way, otherwise your gerbils won’t be happy. While they do enjoy each other’s company, they also enjoy some space to run around in and have fun.

Now, a good cage that would fit either a single hamster, or two gerbils is this one. It will provide air and lots of ventilation, being a wire cage.

It’s also got a second level, which the gerbils or hamster can use as they wish, and it adds extra floor space.

The wires in the cage are close together so that neither a gerbil nor a Dwarf hamster would be able to escape. And it’s got enough of a bottom to fill with bedding, so your gerbils have something to tunnel through.

You can check the listing on Amazon here, and see it for yourself.

Aside from the cage, both the gerbils and the hamster will need plenty of toys and objects in their cage. This means silly things like a cardboard tube can be amazing for them, since they both love to tunnel and they will stick their faces everywhere they can fit it.

You can make most toys at home, with a bit of cardboard and creativity. For example an egg carton, with a few holes cut into it is going to be the best hide and seek toy ever. It just won’t last very long, since both the hamster and the gerbils will chew at them often.

Some toys, like the exercise wheel, will need to be bought. This is mostly because the wheel needs to be silent, and run smooth, without a hitch. A tail and foot guard is welcome, and gerbil tails are not meant to get caught in anything.

So an exercise wheel with just rungs, or wire mesh is not alright for gerbils. A solid-floored one, with not gaps for the little guys to catch their feet or tails on is great.

One such example is this one, a 9 inch/23 cm wide wheel which is both silent and solid.

No tails or feet caught in this one, and it’s easy to spin both by a small Dwarf, and by a Syrian.

Gerbils are alright in it too, and their tails will stay safe as well.

You can check the listing on Amazon here, and see it for yourself.

Aside from the wheel and the toys the cage will need bedding and a hideout. I recommend you get a wooden hideout, since these two pets will chew at everything, including their nest.

As for the bedding, it can be wood shavings or paper bedding. Stay away from wood pellets, since they’re too hard for hamsters and gerbils. If you get wood shavings, make sure you keep away from cedar and pine since their strong aroma can choke the rodents.

Food and treats for the hamster and the gerbil

In terms of food, these two eat mostly the same things. Both are alright with grains, in fact it’s what they eat most of the time. Fruits are welcome, although some should be avoided – like citrus for example, or apple cores and peels.

Vegetables are good for them as well, just keep them away from onion, garlic, leek, and other such veggies. Best to ask before you feed your hamster or gerbils anything new.

Nuts and peanuts are a favorite among these guys, so they will enjoy the treat.

Just stay away from sweets, saucy foods, spicy foods, or any kind of condiments at all. Their tiny bodies can’t process those things, and they often end up with digestive problems.

For the most part hamsters and gerbils have the same foods and treats. Often they’re put on the same packaging to make things very clear.

Health problems the two can get

Their health problems are mostly the same. Both rodents need their teeth constantly filed down, otherwise they just grow too large. So dental problems can be a big deal, whether it’s overgrown teeth or infected broken teeth, or another problem.

Ear and hearing problems can arise as well, and so can eye problems. Tumors and lumps are a topic that is common for hamsters and gerbils, actually for rodents in general.

Most of the problems can be easily solved by a vet, but you will need a specific one. You’ll need to look for an ”exotics” vet, who has experience with rodents, reptiles, and birds. If you just look to a small pet vet, he might only be able to help with pets as small as cats.

Normally hamsters have a 2-4 year lifespan, depending on their type. The Robo Dwarf lives the longest (2 years) while the Chinese lives a shorter life, about 2 years.

Gerbils on the other hand have been known to live up to 5 years in captivity. So whichever one you choose as a pet, make sure you have the time and willingness to take care of them properly.

A word from Teddy

I hope you found what you were looking for in this article. I know us hamsters are easy to confuse with gerbils, but we’re actually sort of cousins, twice removed.

If you want to know more about us hamsters you should check out the related articles below. You’ll learn how to keep us safe and happy, and what we need for a good life.

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How Do Hamsters Mark Their Territory? Interesting Facts
How Do Hamsters Mark Their Territory? Interesting FactsI never had more than one hamster at a time since I had two Syrian hamsters, which are solitary animals and they don’t share a cage with other hamsters. So I never questioned how a hamster marks its territory and why they are doing it before doing research on this topic. However, I kind of knew they were doing this since I saw the scent glands on my first hamster, I thought he had a health problem, and that’s when I found out that those little black spots on the side were actually the scent glands. So in this article, we will discuss about why and how hamsters mark their territory and what you should know when you want to keep more hamsters together. Excluding Syrian ones, which you should never have more than one in a cage. Table of Contents ToggleHow do hamsters mark their territory?Why do hamsters mark their territory?Do female hamsters mark their territory?Which hamsters can live together?Can you introduce a new dwarf hamster to the ones you already have?Conclusion How do hamsters mark their territory? Hamsters mark their territory by rubbing their scent glands on the objects or territory they want to mark. Those scent glands can be located on the sides of a Syrian hamster or on the belly of dwarf ones. Syrian hamsters have one scent gland on each side, you can see a hairless spot that can be a darker color than their skin and show some greasy, yellowish secretion. Dwarf hamsters have only one scent gland on their belly, I talked a bit about this topic in the article about why hamsters pee in their wheel. I confused the secretion from their scent gland with pee. It smells a little bit like popcorn. Why do hamsters mark their territory? Hamsters mark their territory to assert authority like many other animals. Hamsters are very territorial and they will be quick to fight with other hamsters for their territory if they feel threatened. While dwarf hamsters can live together with another of their kind, that doesn’t mean they will gladly share the cage and never fight. In fact, it is quite hard to keep more hamsters together even if they are the right breed and even siblings. Some hamsters might even pee to mark their territory, this is not their primary method, but it can happen in some instances, especially when they have a problem with their scent glands. While marking territory might seem unnecessary for a pet hamster, in the wild, they have quite a few reasons for doing that. They have bad eyesight, and marking territory with their scent can help them get faster to their home, or at least what they consider to be a safer territory for them. In the cage, it is useless since they are in the same place, but in the wild, they travel for food, and getting lost can be quite dangerous, so they will ensure they know their way back by marking the territory. This might be one reason for marking the territory while they are running in the wheel, they don’t know they are on a treadmill, so they have to make sure they know their way back. With dwarf hamsters this happens naturally as the gland is on their belly.  Do female hamsters mark their territory? Female hamsters also mark their territory, but the purpose is not to assert authority but rather to let male hamsters know that they are coming into heat. If you have a female hamster and you notice a weird smell from time to time, this might be the reason. It might happen quite often since female hamsters get into heat at short intervals of about four days. Which hamsters can live together? Only certain Dwarf hamster breeds can peacefully cohabitate, such as Roborovski, Campbell’s and Siberian hamsters, but only if they come from the same litter. If they have been raised as siblings in their mother’s nest, they can then be housed together but you should still expect occasional fights. When it comes to Chinese hamsters, it is not recommended to house them with any of the other three species due to their larger size and more aggressive territorial behavior. Chinese hamsters, especially males, are extremely violent against other hamsters and should always be kept solitary. It is important to understand that even smaller hamsters still need plenty of space to live their lives. If they feel that the cage is too small, they might start fighting each other, even if they are from the same litter. It is important to have enough space for each hamster to exercise, eat and drink water. Can you introduce a new dwarf hamster to the ones you already have? We will not discuss here about Syrian hamsters since for those ones even the breeding process is a complicated task where you have to get the male out of the cage immediately after if you don’t want the female and male to fight. When it comes to dwarf hamsters, introducing a new hamster to the cage is quite challenging. You might see videos and blog posts with people succeeding but the odds are not in your favor, and this is important to know. Even if you do everything right, they have a big chance of not accepting each other. If you want to do that anyway, here are the steps you have to follow. -Thoroughly clean the cage and separate it into two sections with a mesh divider.  -Place the old and new hamster in each compartment.  -Allow them to acclimate to each other through sight and smell before removing the separator. Keep them separated for a few days. -Pay close attention and be ready to intervene if they start fighting So the process requires you to actively watch the hamsters while you are introducing the new hamster, so it is quite time-consuming and can be dangerous. I recommend keeping a gardening or thick rubber glove near the cage since intervening between two fighting hamsters can leave serious wounds. Conclusion Hamsters are territorial animals and they will try to mark their territory as fast as possible even if they are alone in the cage, they don’t know that the cage is only for them, so they have to make sure other hamsters know that the territory is occupied. Can you imagine your little hammy always marking its territory when you clean its cage to make sure other hamsters will not invade them, it is funny to think about it. I hope this article helped you understand a bit better hamster behavior when it comes to marking its territory, why they are doing it, and how you can keep more hamsters together without increasing their chances of fighting. [...] Read more...
The Surprising Reason Your Hamster Is Eating His Own Poop
The Surprising Reason Your Hamster Is Eating His Own PoopPoop eating is never comfortable to imagine, let alone witness. But maybe you’ve seen your ball of fur do that. Maybe you were confused and grossed out like I was. After catching my Teddy do this a few times, talking to other hamster owners, and doing some research, I found out why this happens. Turns out, there is no reason to panic, and there’s actually a very good reason this happens. Table of Contents ToggleSo why is your hamster eating his poop ?Changing your hamster’s diet to stop poop eatingThe nutritional value of night poopThe dry poop you’re used to seeingYour hamster could be pooping in his foodPlace the hamster cage to avoid a messA word from Teddy So why is your hamster eating his poop ? The short answer is that there are 2 types of poop. The regular, dry droppings that you find in his cage, and then softer droppings that occur mostly at night. When your hamster is eating his poop, he is eating the night poop. These are called caecotrophia and they are necessary for your hammy. His night poop contains a lot of vitamin B12 and it’s basically the only way for him to obtain that vitamin. Also, since some nutrients are not absorbed by their bodies properly on the first go, by eating their night poop they get more nutrients. The B12 vitamin is only produced by the hamster’s small intestine, but it can only be absorbed into the body by the stomach. So that means your hammy has to bring the poop back to the stomach by eating it. That’s the short version, and it sounds kind of icky. But that’s what it is, and it is normal for your hamster. Actually a lot of rodents do this, including the guinea pig, mice, and even rabbits. Changing your hamster’s diet to stop poop eating It will not work. This is something that your hamster will do anyway, since that is simply his programming from mother nature. He needs to digest and redigest some foods in order to get all the benefits. Even if you bring more nutritional food for your hamster, he will still need to eat his poop sometimes, because his body is made that way. He needs to digest twice in order to get all the nutrients. I understand that seeing your cute friend eat his poop might look and sound icky, but this is normal for him. So let your hamster eat his night droppings, since it is a normal and healthy thing for him to do. If you want to know what to feed your hamster in general, read my  food list article here. I’ll also cover what to not give your hamster to eat, and what treats he can have. The nutritional value of night poop Your hamster needs his night poop for one very good reason. Once he eats something, it passes through his stomach and gut, and he gets a part of the nutrition he needs. Once that food forms into droppings and comes out, your hamster will eat it, to bring it back to his stomach so he can get more nutrition from it. This is something your hamster does when he is a baby as well. When the baby hamsters are born, their gut does not contain the necessary bacteria to break down their food. Also, they do not immediately know what is food and what is not. So, they will eat their mother’s night poop, to get the bacteria they need for their own gut. And also to learn what can be food. (If you like this article, you can pin it to your Pinterest board by clicking the image below. The articles continues after the image.) The dry poop you’re used to seeing That’s the poop we all know our hamsters have, and the ones you see in their cage when you clean the cage. Those droppings are dry and hard, and sometimes your hamster might leave them in weird places. I’ve seen Teddy poop in his food bowl, hoard poop in his house, and store it in his cheeks sometimes. The oddest part was when we’d just cleaned his cage, and we knew there was no poop inside. After we put him back into the cage, we saw 5 new droppings. He didn’t have time to poop, but he’d kept them in his cheeks along with a bit of food. I’ve seen him sometimes throw the dry poop across his ‘room’, or even spit it out of his cage. It’s never funny to step on a dry poop and only realize it after a few minutes when you feel something weird on your sock. But it happens, and it’s part of owning a hamster. Your hamster will not eat the dry poop, since it has no nutritional value. Your hamster could be pooping in his food It’s strange, but you’ll find the poop everywhere. Everywhere. In your hamster’s food bowl. In his home. In his sand bath. You have to understand that animals, especially rodents, don’t care about their droppings as much as humans do. With rodents, and including your hamster as well as mine, the poop happens everywhere they live. You’ll find a large amount in his nest, since that’s where he spends most of his time. If your hamster’s cage smells, it’s not the poop. For humans the dry poop the hamster makes is nearly odorless. What smells is where the hamster pees, which will usually be in a corner. If you’re not careful, repeatedly using the same corner for his needs will make that corner very hard to clean. So I’d recommend getting some mineral sand for your hamster, and placing a few tablespoons in the corners, for easier cleaning. And to  trap odor as well. Place the hamster cage to avoid a mess This is something I’ve learned the hard way. I’ve always kept Teddy’s cage just on the carpet, and found out soon enough that the dry poop can cling to the carpet. Even if it’s dry, it’s a bit sticky. And depending on the color of your carpet, you might not know it’s there until you squished it into the fibers. So what I’d recommend is what I did, which is keep the cage on a piece of cardboard, or cloth that can easily be cleaned or even just shaken clean. Your hamster will probably spit out some dry poop around his cage, along with some stray bedding. And while poop is easier to get rid of, bedding is like glitter. 4 months later you still have bedding around the house, and you’ll find it in your pants as well. So make sure you place the cage on something that can be removed easily, and is easy to clean. As for the cage itself, check out my article on the best cages for hamsters. You’ll see the pros and cons of each cage type, and which have the most bedding spill-over. For more info on how to properly care for your little hamster friend, you can check out these 15 essential steps. You’ll get everything from what kind of food to what temperature he needs, and how to figure out what kind of hamster you’ve got. A word from Teddy I know this is not a topic you want to think about very much, but this is normal for us. We need the night poop to get all the nutrients we can from our food. This does not mean you’re not feeding us right ! It’s just that we have to do this, because of the way we’re made. I hope you’ll still see us as the cute ball of fluff you’re used to, and let us do our thing in peace. If you want to know more about us hamsters, and what the bet cage would be, or why we need a certain temperature in the room, and even why we’re night creatures, you can check the articles below. You’ll find more quality content on hamster care and facts. toto togel situs togel toto slot situs toto rtp slot cerutu4d toto slot situs toto bo togel situs togel situs toto situs togel situs togel toto togel pam4d toto togel situs toto situs togel situs toto situs togel toto togel situs togel situs togel bandar toto situs togel bo togel situs toto situs togel situs toto situs togel toto slot pam4d bento4d bento4d bento4d jacktoto jacktoto cerutu4d cerutu4d situs toto situs togel situs togel situs toto situs toto situs toto situs togel bandar togel situs toto situs toto situs toto situs toto situs togel situs togel resmi situs togel situs toto resmi situs togel resmi situs toto toto slot situs toto situs toto situs toto situs togel situs toto situs toto macau bo toto bo toto situs toto toto togel situs toto togel resmi situs toto situs toto situs togel situs togel resmi pengeluaran macau situs toto situs toto situs togel situs togel situs toto situs toto toto slot situs toto situs togel situs toto slot cerutu4d bo toto situs toto situs toto situs toto situs toto macau cerutu4d situs toto situs toto macau bet togel toto togel gimbal4d gimbal4d toto slot situs toto situs toto toto slot situs toto situs toto toto togel situs toto toto slot situs togel situs toto slot live casino toto slot toto togel situs togel situs toto bandar togel bandar togel situs toto bo togel situs toto daftar situs togel situs togel situs toto situs toto situs toto bakautoto situs bandar togel bakautoto situs resmi toto togel bakautoto situs toto togel terpercaya 2024 situs toto [...] Read more...
Hamster Grooming, And The Importance Of A Proper Sand Bath
Hamster Grooming, And The Importance Of A Proper Sand BathYou’ve probably seen your hamster friend groom himself. Pulling his fur, combing through it, behind his ears, the works. But do hamsters need sand baths ? Does it help their grooming process ? This is something I’ve asked myself too, seeing as I did give Teddy (male, Syrian hamster) a bowl with sand for him to play in. But we should first know everything about a hamster’s grooming routine. Then, we can figure out if the sand bath helps. Table of Contents ToggleAbout the hamster’s grooming routineWhy a hamster needs to be cleanA sick hamster won’t take care of himself very wellHealth problems that come up because of poor grooming/hygieneA clean habitat keeps the hamster clean tooHow a sand bath helps a hamster groom himselfWhat kind of sand bath you should get for your hamsterHow to give your hamster a proper sand bathA word from Teddy About the hamster’s grooming routine All hamsters, everywhere, groom themselves. That’s a very well known fact. Actually hamster are pretty much on par with cats in terms of cleanliness. If you’ve ever noticed your hamster when he’s cleaning himself, you probably know he does that often. Much more often than most animals. This is one reason hamsters never need a water bath, with shampoo or other cleaning supplies. They’re simply too good at cleaning themselves, they don’t need it. And getting a hamster wet can be fatal in some cases, in most cases it leads to colds and hypothermia. For example my Teddy grooms himself when I put him in his exercise ball, when I take him out of it, when he wakes up, before he goes to bed, after he pees, after he runs for 10 minutes, after he eats and after he poops. Usually hamsters will pull at their fur, scratch part of their fur, com and comb again through their fur to get everything out and spread the oils on their fur. They’re especially funny when they start pulling on their ears and collecting whatever dirt was behind them, and especially their cheeks. As if anything had a chance to appear in the 2 hours since their last grooming session. That’s a lot of cleaning. But why do hamsters do that ? Why a hamster needs to be clean Hamsters need to be clean in order to keep their predators at bay. That’s the main reason, since hamsters are prey for many animals. This means that their scent will draw predators like wild cats, snakes, owls, and so on to hunt for them in the wild. So, hamsters have evolved this cleaning routine to keep themselves ‘invisible’, kind of. They’re very strict about it, and it’s what kept them alive all this time. Hamsters will want to clean themselves after every little interaction with something that can leave a smell on them. This includes other creatures, like other hamsters, or humans, and even food. Another reason hamsters clean themselves is because of their habitat. Hamsters in the wild live inside burrows, with series of tunnels and nests deep underground. This can make lots of debris like dirt and twigs get stuck in the hamster’s fur. The hamster cleans himself to function properly, and not have his fur matted with dirt. You can tell there is something wrong with the hamster if he stops cleaning himself, or he still looks bad after a grooming session. A sick hamster won’t take care of himself very well Hamsters not grooming themselves anymore have only two explanations. First, it could be that the hamster has become very old. So old, in fact, the he is very close to the end. His brain has started disintegrating and can’t help him do normal hamster things, like clean himself, not pee in his nest, and in extreme cases even eat. It’s a sad thing to watch, but there is nothing you can do to make your friend any better. It’s much like with human seniors. Once they start losing control of bodily functions, things can’t get better. The second reason hamsters stop grooming themselves is because they have become very, very sick. It could be an infection that weakened their body to the point of exhaustion. They’re simply too tired to clean themselves, and this will make the infection even worse. Or it could be a physical problem, as in a broken or sprained paw that restricts their movement, or a form or arthritis. In short, if your hamster isn’t cleaning himself, that is very bad news. Most of the time the vet will be able to help you treat the hamster’s illness. For this you need to look for an ”exotics” vet, who has experience with rodents, reptiles, and also birds. Health problems that come up because of poor grooming/hygiene Some of the health problems that can rear their ugly heads when the hamster isn’t clean can be very serious. I’ll give you a brief rundown of these health problems. Infections – can become serious business, in any part of the body. Especially bad if the hamster ends up swallowing part of the pus, like with cheek infections, or tooth infections. Eye infections can be rinsed with a saline solution, until the vet can receive your hamster and give him proper treatment. Even a small, seemingly benign cut (if the hamster is scratching himself, for example) can be dangerous if the hamster’s skin isn’t clean, or the claw he’s scratched himself with is dirty. As with humans, infections need antibiotic treatment, which can take a toll on the body. Given that the hamster is such a small little thing, his food will need to be supplemented during his treatment. Mites and parasites – these are never fun to treat, and please do not get your hamster treatments for such problems without talking to your vet. Most over the counter treatments are much too harsh for the hamster’s skin and can cause death, so please be careful. The vet will be able to recommend a treatment that will be fairly easy on your hamster. The problem with mites and other parasites (like fleas for example) is that the hamster will scratch himself much too hard and eventually hurt himself. This can lead to bald patches, and other health problems like infections or warts. Fungus – the cage needs to be clean, to prevent the spores from fungus to develop. There are two main culprits when it comes to fungal infections in hamsters (ringworm and Aspergillus) and both can be very dangerous. Ringworm is easier on the hamster, but Aspergillus can be deadly. Wet-tail – can come about if the hamster is kept in miserable conditions, or is highly stressed and his immune system can’t fight off the infection. The result is a weak hamster with constant diarrhea, and very little chances of survival. Thankfully wet-tail has a certain age when the hamster is likely to develop it. A bit like childhood illnesses. Wet-tail is more common on young (4-10 weeks) hamsters, who have been separated from the mother and brought to their new owner. All of these can be treated, so do not worry. If you notice your hamster having health problems, call your veterinarian. A clean habitat keeps the hamster clean too A clean cage will mean a clean hamster. For example the fungus problem I mentioned earlier. The Aspergillus spores will grow from the hamster’s pee corner. It will first look like a white growth, then turn black. But if the pee corner is cleaned often, the spores don’t really have a chance to develop. This only happens if the cage isn’t cleaned for a very long time (like a few weeks), or if the home/room has a fungal infection and the spores are already in the home. But what is a clean cage ? Hamsters will kick around bedding, bits of cardboard, fling their poo across the cage, and sleep on top of a pile of food. Well, that’s all normal, actually. Hammies keep themselves very clean, and their nest as well. As in, the area immediately around where they sleep. Aside from that, not their business. So cleaning the cage once per week is pretty much mandatory. If you’ve got more than one hamster living in the same cage, then you will have to clean the whole cage more often than that. This is because the pee corner starts to smell, and the bedding becomes very very messy. There will be bits of food lying somewhere, and torn up cardboard in the food bowl. It’s a lot like a small child’s room. To clean the hamster’s cage, you’re going to have to remove the hamster from the cage in the first place. Put him in his travel cage or exercise ball until you’re done cleaning. Take out all the bedding and objects, wipe the cage down with a wet, clean towel, then pat it dry. Add fresh bedding back, but make sure to sprinkle in a bit of the old bedding so the hamster recognizes things easier. Place everything back the way it was before, and finally add the hamster back in. (If you like this article so far, you can pin it to your Pinterest board by clicking the image below. The article continues after the image.) How a sand bath helps a hamster groom himself You’re wondering, after all this talk of hamsters cleaning themselves and how to keep their habitat clean, how does a sand bath help ? Well, at first glance it might seem like it’s pointless. It can be, from a certain point of view. But let’s see both sides for a moment. The main reason hamsters would need a sand bath is to absorb the excess oil in their fur. You see, hamster fur has a layer of oils (like our human hair does, the sebum) which helps keep the hair healthy and the skin clean. However too much of that sebum will make the hamster’s fur look bad, and feel bad too. This is where the sand comes in, to help keep the hamster’s fur nice and clean. Now, the hamster does comb through his fur often. So often that he moves the oils from the skin all the way to the tips of the hairs. So you could argue that their fur never gets too oily. While that is true, what is also true is that hamsters simply seem to go nuts when they feel sand. They immediately jump into the sand bowl and start spazzing, like cats on catnip. They not only rub themselves in the sand, they rub the sand into their fur. Somehow, they know something we humans do not know. And it looks like a sand bath is something they enjoy. My Teddy for example has his sand bowl close to his nest, and he takes occasional baths in it. He also loves to dig in that sand bath, which kicks up soooo much sand. Luckily it never gets out of the cage. What kind of sand bath you should get for your hamster As for what kind of sand to get your hamster, I unfortunately can’t give you a brand to look for. I mean, the sand I use for my Teddy can be used for chinchilla sand. So that’s a good starting point, chinchilla sand. But not all petshops have chinchilla sand, and looking for it online only gave me unhappy customers. It seems like the sand that was once okay (there were a couple of brands) is now not okay. They’ve changed their formulation and their sand is rather dusty, more like flour. Given how sensitive hamsters are, inhaling all that dust just isn’t alright for them. It isn’t alright for humans either, but hamsters are much more sensitive than us. So when you go and look for sand for your hamster buddy, make sure you look for granulated sand, dust-free. It shouldn’t be very coarse, it should be like… well, sand that’s been sifted. The one I have for Teddy is made of ground up sea shells and minerals. Some brands use this kind of formulation as well, and you can find it in either very light grey/white, or a sort of brown. It really depends on the brand and the formulation they’re using right now. I’ll attach a photo of the sand I have for my Teddy. If you can find this one, it’s probably still got the right texture for hamsters. How to give your hamster a proper sand bath Alright, we’ve talked about why hammies need a sand bath, and what kind of sand to look for. But how do you give a hamster a sand bath ? Well, hamsters are great at doing that themselves, so you won’t really have to do anything other than just provide the sand. What you need to be careful for is the fact that the sand will get everywhere. If you’ve ever been to the beach, you know what I mean. You have to be careful with it. So this means giving your hamster an appropriate place/object for that bath. You might think a shallow bowl would be enough. And it would, if it had something overhead. For example my teddy has half of a plastic hideout filled with sand, and it’s places under the first level of his cage. So that sand never gets outside the cage, and is well contained. But what if you don’t have another level in your cage ? Or not enough room under that level to fit a bowl ? Then you’ll need to look around for some options. For example this one is large enough to fit a Syrian hamster, and is easy to take apart and clean. It’s got a clear side, so you’ll be able to see your hamster when he uses this sand bath. It’s small enough so it will fit in most cages, so unless you’ve got an especially crowded cage, this one will fit right in. It’s even got a small scoop to get the hamster’s droppings out, if he ever decides to use the sand bath as a toilet too. Don’t be surprised if he does. You can check the listing on Amazon here. All you have to do is add the sand into the sand bath, and leave it in your hamster’s cage. I change my Teddy’s sand once per week, when I clean the whole cage. A word from Teddy I hope your found what you were looking for in this article. Us hamsters are very good at cleaning ourselves, we don’t really need any help. But we do appreciate a nice sand bath, to keep our fur nice and groomed. If you want to know more about us hamsters you should check out the related articles below. You’ll learn how to keep us safe and happy, and what we need for a good life. [...] Read more...
Complete Guide To Choosing Dwarf Or Syrian Hamster Cages
Complete Guide To Choosing Dwarf Or Syrian Hamster CagesThe hamster’s cage is the most important purchase you’ll ever make for your furry friend. I know I made some mistakes when I got my Teddy his first cage. And I’m here to help you get your hammy the best cage ever. My Teddy is a fully grown Syrian hamster, but I will also cover the cage requirements for dwarf hamsters as well. Table of Contents ToggleSo how do you choose the best cage for a syrian or dwarf hamster ?The best cage size for your hamsterCage size for Syrian hamstersCage size for Dwarf hamstersThe best cage type for your hamsterWire cages for hamstersA good wire cage for your hamsterPlastic cages for hamstersA good plastic hamster cage recommendationGlass tanks for hamstersA recommendation on glass tanks for hamstersSafety and escape-proof rating of the hamster cageHamster’s safety in his cageIs the hamster’s cage escape proof ?How to clean a hamster’s cageHow to place a hamster in a temporary holdingHow to clean wire or plastic cages for hamstersCleaning a glass tank for hamstersMultiple levels or one ground level ?The airflow of the cage is important for your hamsterPlacing toys and hideouts in the hamster’s cageWhere to keep the hamster’s cage in your homeHow to safely move and handle a hamster’s cageA word from Teddy So how do you choose the best cage for a syrian or dwarf hamster ? This depends on several factors, and I’ll list them here. Then, we’ll get into detail for each and every one of them, so you have the most information. So, you have to be mindful of: The cage size – different needs for different hamster species The cage type – plastic vs wire vs glass tank Escape-proof rating of the cage Multiple levels or a simple ground level Air flow – some cage types aren’t the most breatheable Whichever kind of cage you get, be careful to check every nook and cranny before you buy it. Or, when it ships to you. Your hamster will check it anyway, so if there’s anything wrong with the cage, best to know before you put your friend in it. Teddy: Us hamsters are very curious creatures, and we’ll get our little faces into EVERY part of the cage. So make sure it’s safe for us before you let us in ! The best cage size for your hamster It will vary from species to species, but I’ll cover both types. In general hamsters need more space than you’d think, since they’re very active creatures and love to run around. Even if you see your friend as the smallest ball of fur, he will still need plenty of room to roam and explore. Cage size for Syrian hamsters The best size cage for your Syrian hamster would be a minimum of 24 x 12 inches, and about 12 inches tall. That’s 61 x 30.5 cm, and about 30.5 cm tall. The height of the cage is not very important, because hamsters need more actual floor space than levels. Of course, you can get your hammy a cage with a few levels, aside from the ground floor. This is actually what my Teddy has. He has a combination of plastic and wire cage, with 2 attachable levels. I left the highest level out of the cage, so I can fit his 8.5 inch/23 cm wheel. Syrian hamsters are always housed alone. They are very territorial and will not share anything with another hamster, even a litter mate. Cage size for Dwarf hamsters The best size for a dwarf hamster is 18 x 10 inches, and a 12 inch height. That’s 46 cm x 25.4 cm, with a 30.5 cm height. That is for one dwarf hamster. You can house dwarf hamsters together, but not too many. 2 or 3 are enough, but for each hamster your add, you will need a bigger cage. So for example if you’ve got 2 dwarf hamsters, then they will need more space than I said above. They will need at least a Syrian cage, so that’s 24 inches by 12 inches (61 x 30.5 cm) for 2 dwarf hamsters. If you’ve got 3 dwarf hamsters, then you’ll need a much bigger cage. You’d be better off looking for a glass tank. We’ll cover that soon. The best cage type for your hamster There’s 3 main types of cages you can pick, and I’ll go through all of them. You can find combination cages (like plastic and wire cages), but not very often. Wire cages for hamsters The most common kind of hamster cage, and the one you will find in a pet shop most of the time. They have their own advantages and disadvantages, and I’ll go through them here. This kind of cage is made up of a plastic bottom, usually about the height of your palm. The attachable wire walls, which are actually most of the cage itself. Although, the most important part is the bottom bit. That is where your hamster will live, walk, eat, sleep, and poo. The wire of the cage is just how far he can go. But the floor space is the most relevant part of your cage, to be honest. Good points for a wire cage: breathable, lots of air flow for your hamster easy to clean, just a wipe down with a warm, moist cloth easy to take apart and reassemble generally sturdy, will last a long time Bad points for a wire cage: can sometimes have metal wiring on the floor, and your hamster can get stuck there is the hamster’s favorite chew toy bedding can easily fly out of it wire spacing is often too large for hamsters, they can squeeze their heads through When it comes to the space between the wire of your cage, the smaller then better. The thing is, hamsters are very curious, and will stick their faces everywhere and will try chewing everything. If your hamster’s head can fit between the wires, then his body can fit as well and he can escape. So, for Syrian hamsters a maximum wire space should be 0.6 inches/1.5 cm. And for dwarf hamsters, a maximum of 0.4 inches/ 1 cm. The problems is that most of the cages your will find in a pet shop have the wiring too far apart. If they’re large enough for a Syrian, then the wiring is too far apart. If the wiring is good, they’re almost always just large enough for a parakeet, not a hamster of any kind. A good wire cage for your hamster A good wire cage is one that has a sensible wire spacing, This one’s got less than half an inch, so it will keep even dwarf hamsters inside. It’s easy enough to work with and you an fit any kind of hideout or toy inside, and a tall wheel will fit as well. It has the added benefit of an extra level, which hamsters will love. My Teddy loves to hide under the home level, and yours is probably no different. This one’s level is adjustable, so you can place it whichever way you want. You can check out the listing on Amazon here. Plastic cages for hamsters These can be plastic bins that you can drill some holes in, and put a wire mesh in place of a lid. Or you can even find plastic cages at a pet shop, designed for your hamster. These are see-through, and are the second most common type of hamster cages. They’re usually a bit more pricey than wire cages, but they have the added benefit that they can be customized. Good points for plastic hamster cages: less bedding thrown outside the cage, contains poo and wood shavings better easier to customize, you can often find them with holes made for attaching tunnels and tubes less of a chew hazard, the hamster rarely chews on them since he can’t get his teeth on anything usually has a very large topside latch, so you can fit both hands inside the cage you can provide deeper bedding, since there is a higher plastic guard Bad points for plastic hamster cages: less airflow than wire cages or glass tanks, since the air holes are smaller more condensation or trapped air need more cleaning, since there is more surface to clean less sturdier than wire cages, careful when moving the plastic cages The plastic cages sound like a good option, and they can totally be a good option for your hamster. If you’ve got a hamster who loves to dig around and burrow, this might be for him. You can give your friend a lot of digging space and a whole bunch of bedding to roam around in. Just make sure that you get a version that’s well ventilated, so your hamster can breathe easily. As for the actual bins some people use in place of a hamster cage, I wouldn’t recommend that. The plastic is usually too soft and blurry, even if it can be drilled to get some air holes for your hamster. When it comes to basic, important hamster accessories like the cage or the wheel or exercise ball, or even the water bottle, I suggest you get a professional one. Those are made with the hamster’s comfort in mind. A good plastic hamster cage recommendation This is actually the cage I have for my Teddy. It has 2 levels, and they provide a lot of room for your hamster. My Teddy is a solitary adult Syrian hamster, But this would be alright for 2 dwarf hamsters as well. The best thing about this cage is that it comes with the tube attachments, which can actually fit an adult Syrian hamster inside easily. This is an easy to clean and assemble cage, with a great combo between plastic and metal cage advantages. There’s air, and there’s safety and containment as well. I removed the highest level so I can fit  9 inch wheel inside. The wheel that come with it, as well as the hideout I wouldn’t recommend, since they are plastic and small. You can check out the listing on Amazon here. Glass tanks for hamsters A third and final option would be to keep your hammy in a glass tank. This is a great option if you have a lot of space in your home, and can place la large glass tank somewhere. There are some special precautions, though. Glass keeps cold for longer, so make sure you keep the tank in a definitely warm room. Hamsters need an temperature of 20-23 Celsius/68-75 Fahrenheit to feel comfortable. A glass tank might keep them colder if not properly maintained. Good points for a glass tank: you can get them in a very large size, and will definitely fit any kind of hamster you have can be split down the middle with a large bendy bridge if the hamsters become rowdy you can see your hammy, but he can’t kick out any bedding can be found quite easily, it can even be a glass shelf with the shelves removed Bad points for a glass tank: cleaning and changing the bedding will need serious planning and will take more time more sensitive to temperature shifts you can’t move it around like a normal cage; the room you keep it in is its final room The glass tank is a seriously good option if you’ve got a room to keep the hamster in, and it won’t bother you during the night, and you can keep it an even temperature. Glass tanks don’t have to be aquariums. They can be that, but you can also use a glass shelf/display rack. When cleaning day comes, you’ll probably need a bit of help from a friend with this. But if you’re a dedicated hamster owner, you probably won’t mind the extra trouble to give your hammy the best home ever. The best thing to do is to find a wire mesh that you can use as a lid, on the top of your hamster’s glass tank. This is just a precaution. Most glass tanks are too tall for hamsters to climb, but you never know until they’re out. A recommendation on glass tanks for hamsters You can find a good glass tank here. It’s a 20 gallon tank, and that’s about the minimum for a hamster’s glass tank. The best part about it is that it’s tall enough the hamster can’t escape, and you probably won’t need a wire mesh to cover the top. Best to get one, just to be sure, though. The cleaning and washing and drying will be a longer process than the other cage types, but you can see your hamster clearly. When it comes to glass anything, it’s best to go there personally and buy it. Glass breaks very easily so don’t be surprised if that happens during transport. You can check out the listing on Amazon for this glass tank here. Safety and escape-proof rating of the hamster cage Another important aspect when you choose the hamster’s cage is how safe it is for your hamster, and how well it can keep him contained. Hamster’s safety in his cage Your hamster’s cage is his home. This is where he will eat, sleep, poop, run around, and just live out his entire life. It needs to be a safe place for your hamster. So let’s look at a few precautions to take: check for any sharp edges your hammy could hurt himself on, like some stray wires or sides no chipped edges if you’re using a glass tank the seams/corners are safe and can’t be chewed on, and have no visible glue that the hamster can gnaw on if you’ve got a multi level cage, make sure the levels aren’t too high so he can’t fall too far give your hammy lots and lots of bedding to shield him from  any odd edges make sure the cage fastenings don’t come open easily, and keep the cage top well secured If you’ve checked all of the above, and you’re sure your hammy can’t hurt himself on anything, then great ! Remember to keep the room temperature between 20-23 Celsius/68-75 Fahrenheit and he will be fine. Is the hamster’s cage escape proof ? Hamsters are escape artists. Not because they reaaaaally want to escape, but because they’re curious and want to know everything, If there’s something that smells like food, they’ll be all over the cage to try to get to it. If they see you they’ll be clawing at the cage to come and smell you. Hamsters are busy things, people to see, things to do. So they will try their teeth on everything, including the cage. If you’re not careful, he might chew through a cage fastening (depending on the material) and hurt himself and/or manage to escape. So let’s talk about what you can do to make sure your hamster can’t escape. if you’ve got a glass tank, use a wire mesh with metal clamps to fit it on top of the cage make sure the cage wiring and the wire mesh holes don’t have more than 1.5 cm/0.6 inch opening for Syrian hamsters for dwarf hamsters, make sure the opening between wires is no more than 1 cm/0.4 inches; Syrian hamster babies need smaller openings, like this one make sure that the cage fastenings keep the cage well closed and can’t be opened easily check the cage for any weakness that the hamster night chew on, like ripped plastic bottom or a small hole somewhere How to clean a hamster’s cage This depends a bit on what type of cage you own, but I’ll go through each type. Whichever kind you have, you must first place the hamster(s) somewhere else. So use an exercise ball, or transport cage, to keep the hamster while you clean he cage. How to place a hamster in a temporary holding If you can hold your hamster, then scoop him up and place him in his exercise ball or transport cage. If the hamster can’t be handled, then coax him into the exercise ball or transport cage with a bit of food he loves. He only has to stay there until you clean his cage. If you’ve put him in an exercise ball, make sure you keep an eye on him as well. Remove any and all toys and home and food bowls from the cage, until you only have the bedding. The cages are very simple, open the latches on the cage (usually on the side) and remove the top. Then, after you’ve removed everything but the bedding, look for soiled parts. If the bedding looks relatively clean and doesn’t smell, remove only the dirty parts. Use a rubber glove, and throw away the parts that need to be thrown away. Keep a bit of the old bedding and nesting material, for your hamster to feel more familiar. If you’re using a sand bath for your hamster, make sure you change and clean that as well. How to clean wire or plastic cages for hamsters As for the cage itself, it will need only hot water and a bit of soap. Small quantities of soap, since hamsters are very sensitive to smell. You can scrub the sides of the cage, or wipe them down, your choice. You can also bring the cage parts into the shower and give them a good cleaning there, just make sure your pat them dry with paper towels and especially the lower part. The bedding can get wet if you don’t, and will become moldy. Once you’ve washed and dried the cage, place the parts of the old bedding back onto the lower part of the cage. Put new bedding if you need to, until you reach a depth of about 1-2 inches/2.5-5 cm. Then, place back every toy and food bowl or accessory in the hamster’s cage. In his hideout, place the bits of the old nesting material, and some new nesting material in the cage. Do not place new nesting material directly in the hamster’s hideout. He will take it out anyway, and bring it back in as he thinks fit. My Teddy got quite annoyed when he found his hideout full of ripped up paper towel not the way he left it. Cleaning a glass tank for hamsters The bedding and toys need to be removed the same way as the wire or plastic cages. But the last bits of bedding will require something like a vacuum cleaner, to make sure you get absolutely everything out. The cleaning and washing part is done with hot water and a small amount of soap, but will need more rinsing with a moist clean cloth. You can’t bring the glass tank to the shower, but you can rinse it thoroughly with lots and lots or moist cloth. When you’re done washing it, dry very well with paper towels. If you want to be extra sure there are no hidden water droplets in the corner, use a blow dryer. Keep it a safe distance from the glass, at least 40 cm/16 inches and use a warm setting. After you’re done washing and drying the glass tank, place back the bedding and nesting material, with bits of old bedding and nesting material as well. Place the toys and hideout and everything back, and use this as an excuse to maybe redecorate the hammy’s place. Even if the glass tank is a glass one, do now use window washing liquid on it. The alcohol and strong smell will be harmful for the hamster, just stick to hot water. Multiple levels or one ground level ? This is entirely up to you, and the hamster will enjoy both. The thing is that hamsters need a lot of leg room, because they run and climb and explore new places. If you’re looking for a hamster cage that will give your hamster a lot of space, look for a low cage, with lots of space in width and length. This will take up a lot of actual floor space in your home. So, it depends on your home as well. If you choose a multi-level cage, you do give your hamster more room, and he will use the higher levels as well. He will hangout mostly around his hideout, so make sure you put that somewhere he will not fall far from. For example my Teddy has a multiple level cage. I took out the last level so I can fit his wheel inside, but Teddy uses all the space he has. When I gave him the extra level, he used that one too. A word of caution though. Hamsters can’t judge heights very well, so they will jump or fall from a high ground if they think it’s a shortcut. My Teddy is also plain silly and just forgets he has a nice ramp set up from his upper level to the ground level. He sometimes just jumps from the upper level (like 15 cm/6 inches) to the ground floor. He often just climbs up instead of using that ramp. That’s okay, he’s working out quite well. So if you get your hamster a multi-level cage, make sure your give the levels lots of bedding. And also, make sure the levels overlap a little, so he can’t jump too far down. This is because hamsters will use the actual floor of the levels as much as they can, so there is no point if giving them a ‘high ceiling’ type of cage. Hamsters spend most of their time on all 4 feet, and don’t need a lot of vertical space to stand. Just make sure that a large exercise wheel (9 inches/23 cm and upwards) will fit into the type of cage you have. (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.) The airflow of the cage is important for your hamster As with every living being, air is important. Stale air will give your hamster a lot of health issues, including lung problems, possible colds, and suffocation in extreme cases. To make sure your hamster gets lots of air, a wire cage is best. But to make sure the hamster won’t chew the bars, you need a plastic cage or glass tank. But with the plastic cage the air quality is often a problem. However a glass tank is often expensive. So what should you do ? Take a look at your budget, see which kind of cage you can provide your hamster and still be okay. Then, do the following: If you get a wire cage – keep it in a corner, away from drafts and in an even temp of 20-23 Celsius/68-75 Fahrenheit If you get a plastic cage – place the hamster in his exercise ball more often, and use that time to air out the plastic cage If you’ve got a glass tank, the air will be sufficient but again keep it from drafts, and when the hamster is outside the cage remove the wire mesh to allow for more air If you hamster’s cage isn’t properly aired, the condensation and air quality will give him health problems, and we want to avoid that. This is especially important with the ammonia fumes from the hamster’s pee. Protect your hamster’s cage from drafts and any especially cold air. Placing toys and hideouts in the hamster’s cage The hideout is where your hamster will spend most of his time. Place that in a corner, hidden from sight or at least under a bendy bridge or something similar. Hamsters will choose a very hidden and safe spot to build their nest, so put their hideout there. For example my Teddy often uses the most hidden corner of his cage to eat, under the upper level and blocked by paper tubes and bedding. To find out more about what kind of hideout is best for your hamster, as well as which kind of bedding is safe for him, check out my article. You’ll also find out what nesting material is okay, and how to take care if your hamster’s hideout. As for the toys and wheel, make sure you keep any tall toys away from the glass tank’s edge otherwise the hamster might climb out. The wheel can be anywhere in the cage, but make sure it fits into your cage. If it’s a mounted wheel, it will have to be attached to the side of the cage. A standing wheel can be placed anywhere. You can find my article on what kind of exercise wheel your hamster needs, according to his size as well. You’ll also find out how to clean and acre for the exercise wheel, and how to acclimate him to one. The toys, whether they’re food bowls or chew toys or bendy bridges can be put anywhere. Anywhere in the cage is fine, as long as they’re not in the pee corner. Hamsters usually choose a corner to pee in, usually the farthest away from their hideout. So, in that particular corner I put Teddy a sand bath. It acts as a litter box, and it keeps smell down to a minimum. You can use an old hideout, with a removable lid, or even special sand containers. Your choice, as long as you put something there to contain the sand. Other toys, like the chew toys and climb toys you can find out more about here. You’ll learn about the kind of toys your hamster needs, and what to look for to figure out which he likes the most. And you’ll get some DYI ideas for some of them as well ! Where to keep the hamster’s cage in your home This is something you’ll have to think about for a few minutes, see where the best option is. Best not to move the hamster’s cage often. Hamsters are sensitive, and do notice and wake up when you move their cage. It won’t shock or scar them for life, but they do notice. That being said, I do move my Teddy’s cage every day, because of my apartment’s layout. During the day when he sleeps he is in our bedroom, and I never move him. But at night, before I go to bed, I move him to the kitchen where my girlfriend can’t hear him rummaging through his cage. Hamsters rarely make noise, and they’re very quiet by nature, but she’s a light sleeper. In the morning, we take him back to the bedroom and don’t disturb him for the rest of the day. Now, if you’ve got an apartment with a better setup than I do, figure out a place to keep him at all times. It’s best if it’s a room where he can’t be bothered by other pets or curious children when he sleeps. If you have a room for the hamster alone, then you can probably get him a glass tank (not taking the budget into account) since it will stay in one place. The room you keep your hamster in needs to be free of drafts, with an even temperature. Do not place the cage in direct sunlight, or near a heat source. How to safely move and handle a hamster’s cage The cage should not be moved often, but there will be times when you must do this. When this does happen, make sure you do not grab the cage by the top part, at all. Even if it has a nice handle to hold, do not trust it. Most of those are poorly build and will not hold that weight. Do not hold the wiring, since your fingers can become stuck, and the hamster will possibly chew them as well. If you’ve got a long sleeve shirt, keep the sleeves or any shirt part away from the wire cage wall. If possible, try not to bump the cage into the wall or drop it. Avoid taking it up and down the stairs, since you won’t see very well. Even more important, if the hamster is still inside the cage. In these situations use a transport cage for the hamster, and empty the large cage to hold it in an way you can see in front of you. When picking up the cage, pick it up by the lowest part of the bottom. Make sure your thumbs don’t stick into the cage or the hamster might nibble and you might drop him. When placing the hamster’s cage down on the floor, do not bend over, but kneel. This is easier on your back, and safe for the hamster as well. A word from Teddy I hope you have a clear idea of what kind of home us hamsters need now. There are difference between hammies like me (Syrian hamsters) and dwarf hamsters, but we’re more alike than different. Us Syrian hamsters need larger cages, and dwarf hamsters can do with smaller ones, but always add more space for each new hamster. For example my dwarf brothers and sisters can be housed together, in same sex pairs. But I need to be alone, I don’t like sharing my space or toys or… well, anything. If you want to know more about hamsters in general, you can check out the articles below. You’ll find out more about why we eat our poop, and how much water we need as well ! [...] Read more...
Why You Should Trim Your Hamster’s Nails, And How To Do It
Why You Should Trim Your Hamster’s Nails, And How To Do ItIf you’ve got a hamster then you’ve probably met his sharp claws, or at least seen them. If he’s even climbed on you, you’ve also felt them. But some hamsters do get overgrown nails,  and it’s necessary to keep them trimmed to avoid injury to you or to the hamster. Table of Contents ToggleSo do hamsters need their nails trimmed ?When do hamsters need their nails trimmed ?Why you should care about your hamster’s nailsHow to trim overgrown hamster nailsTrimming them at homeInspect the hamster’s nails before trimmingSeeing a vet for professional helpPreventing overgrown hamster nailsHome exercise for your hamster’s nailsA word from Teddy So do hamsters need their nails trimmed ? Yes, but ONLY in cases of overgrown nails. This is not something you should do regularly, like with your own human nails.  Hamsters usually trim their nails by climbing, grooming, digging, foraging. 9 of out 10 hamsters don’t need help with their nails. But some hammies do, especially very old hamsters or the hamsters that don’t have a few rugged surfaces to blunt their nails on. This is where you, as a responsible hamster owner, will come in and help the hamster take care of himself. I’ll help you with how to trim the hamster’s nails, and how to prevent overgrown nails in the first place. This article is ONLY for cutting your hamster’s overgrown nails. Leave healthy nails alone. They should have a bit of length to them, because the hamster uses them for climbing and getting a grip. When do hamsters need their nails trimmed ? Only when the hamster’s nails have become overgrown. You’ll notice they’re much too long, and they’re starting to curve in on themselves. They might break at some point, and they can and do fall off. I saw a couple of Teddy’s nails come off when they were too long and I didn’t notice in time to cut them down. The overgrown nails will turn a nasty yellow color, and if you look very closely you’ll see lighter/whitish spots or lines where they’re cracked or broken. Hamsters usually wear down their nails by the usual things they do. Digging a tunnel into the earth, making their nest, foraging for food, running around, grooming themselves, climbing on op of rocks, and so on. A pet hamster doesn’t do all of that, because he’s not in his usual habitat. The ones he does do, are on softer material like wood shavings and paper bedding. This means that sometimes, some hamsters get overgrown nails. That can be fixed. Why you should care about your hamster’s nails You might ask why you should consider trimming your hamster’s nails. After all, no one trims them in the wild. That’s true, no one does that for wild hamsters. But wild hamsters don’t get overgrown nails, because they have a lot of hard surfaces to wear them down on. This means that your pet hamster will need your help for several reasons. First an overgrown nail will curve in on itself and become painful for the hamster. In some extreme cases the nail can start growing into the hamster’s paw, curving back towards his paw. This will lead to pain, infection, and the hamster’s feet won’t be able to do their job. Second, nails too long will make grooming painful for the hamster. When he grooms, he also grabs onto his fur and hold it in place to clean it. With nails too long, that starts to hurt, and even walking becomes a hassle since he can’t step normally. Third, overgrown nails, if left unattended will fall off. But this is never a pleasant ans simple process. They fall off because the motion of the hamster’s paws when he goes about his business weakens the nails near the quick. So they end up bending over backwards, for lack of a better term. The nail will not simply fall off, it will hang in there for a couple of days, until the new nail grows back. This is both painful and awkward for the hamster, because using his paws won’t be easy at all. These are all things that can be avoided. Not all hamsters get overgrown nails. How to trim overgrown hamster nails Trimming your hamster’s nails will not be easy, at all. Hamsters are notorious for not staying put, and squirming. A hammy kept in one place so you can clip his nails definitely won’t cooperate easily. Trimming them at home Arm yourself with patience, and don’t expect to finish everything in one day. Your hamster should first of all be comfortable with being held. If he’s not, read this guide on taming your hamster and work on getting him comfy with you. Once he’s okay with being held, try and find a position for him that’s okay for both of you. Some hamsters will be okay with being on their backs, some will not. One position would be holding the hamster’s back against your stomach or chest, and holding one of his paws with your finger. Another could be the hamster just being on all 4 and you holding one of his paws. If you think you need help, ask a friend to hole the hamster while you trim the nails. Do expect fidgeting, and do expect squirming, maybe even a few protesting sounds. No hamster likes being held for this. Also be aware that even if your hamster might get relaxed enough to let you hold him, the sound of the nail being clipped can spook him. So be prepared for anything. Inspect the hamster’s nails before trimming When you do cut the hamster’s nail, look for the quick. You’ll need very good lighting for this, or even some sunlight. Make sure the hamster’s eyes aren’t in the bright light, or the sunlight, as they’re very sensitive to that. You’ll notice the hamster’s nails are kind of transparent. Not completely, they will have a whitish/yellowish tint to them and their very edges might be lighter in color. But look at where the nail starts, from the finger. You’ll notice a pinkish, cloudy area. Its very small, and very short, about the size of a couple of grains of sand. While very small, that little pink cloudy part is crucial. Do not cut into it. It has lots of blood vessels, and cutting into it is like cutting into the neat right under your nail. Actually, they’re the exact same area, just that our nails have a different shape from hamster nails. So when you cut your hamster’s nails, make sure you give the quick (pink part) a wide berth. When you cut the nail part, the translucent part of the nail, make sure you leave at least as much nail as the pink part. That means if there are 2 grains of sand of quick, then you should leave 2 grains of sand of transparent nail on your hamster. It might be hard to do, if your hamster isn’t used to this kind of operation. And he probably isn’t so don’t be surprised if you can’t manage to get all of his nails clipped in one day. Giving your hamster a treat after each nail successfully clipped is going to help him learn that everything’s okay, he’s safe, and you’re not hurting him. Seeing a vet for professional help Getting your hamster to a veterinarian to help trim his nails is probably the best decision. I say this only because finding the quick, and keeping the hamster still so you don’t cut into the quick are 2 hard things to do. A vet will have more experience with clipping a pet’s nails, and he will notice the quick very easily. Also, in the case of a bleeding accident, he will have a solution to stop the bleeding and disinfect everything. (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.) Preventing overgrown hamster nails Preventing is always much easier than treating. This is true for everything, and it’s also true for keeping your hamster’s nails filed down. But for this we need to look at why hamster nails can become overgrown in the first place. A hamster’s nails always grow, much like our human nails. Usually hamsters wear them down with their day-to-day activities in the wild. But in their warm, safe cages this doesn’t happen as much. Pet hamsters have fairly soft beddings, and they don’t get to dig into the earth a complex series of tunnels. This means the hamster’s nails have not very much to hit against. Wood shavings or paper bedding are much too soft for hamster nails, and they’re loose and move around. The objects around the cage will help wear the nails down, like the hideout or a couple of toys, but that’s it. So you will need to provide your hamster with a few hard, rugged surfaces to walk over or climb onto. For example a few flat stones from your garden (rinsed and dried, of course) arranged around his cage are going to help. each time he steps over those stones, his nails will wear down a little bit. And if you place the stones in many places, he will step on them often. For example placing them right around the food bowl will make sure your hamster  walks over them to get to his food. Home exercise for your hamster’s nails Another idea, aside from the flat rocks is an emery board. That’s the kind of material used for filing nails, and even in jewelry making. Make sure your get the smallest sized grit, so you do not hurt your hamster’s paws. Get a board big and wide enough so the hamster has room on it. You can also find emery paper and tape it to a small board. Place one of your hamster’s favorite treats at one end and put the hamster on the other end. Slowly start tilting the board, keeping it at an angle, with the treat on top. The hamster will dig his nails into the board to get more stability and a better grip. This will file down his nails, and in the end you’ll level the board again so he can get his treat. Or, you can keep the board perfectly horizontal, and only have a treat tied to a string or on the end of a stick. This is teasing, yes, but the hamster does get the treat in the end. Simply make him walk over the board a few times, and let him have his treat. Always check to see if his paws are okay. If you get grit small enough, he should be fine. You can try this exercise every 2-3 weeks, to make sure your hamster keeps his nails short. A word from Teddy I hope you found what you were looking for in this article. Us hammies usually take good care of our bodies, so our nails are usually pretty trim. It’s just that some of us need a little help from time to time. 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 Hamster Diabetes – Symptoms, Prevention, And Care
All About Hamster Diabetes – Symptoms, Prevention, And CareAny hamster owner is worried their hammy might get sick. The two main worries are diabetes, and wet tail, and today we’re discussing diabetes in hamsters. How to know if your hammy has diabetes, how to care for a diabetic hamster, symptoms to look out for, and which hamsters are most vulnerable. Let’s get into it. Table of Contents ToggleWhat is diabetes in hamsters ?Preventing your hamster from developing diabetesGenetic predisposition – some hamster breeds are vulnerableYour hamster’s diet and exercise can make things worseA word on sugar and carb in your hammy’s dietSigns of diabetes in your little hamsterFrequent urinationDehydrationIncreased thirstShould your give a dehydrated diabetic hamster Pedialyte ?Change in appetiteDramatic weight gain or lossYellow, thick nailsTesting your hamster for diabetesTreatment and care for a diabetic hamsterA word from Teddy What is diabetes in hamsters ? Diabetes (in a simplified version) is an illness that keeps the blood sugar very high. Usually the pancreas deals with this, and it must produce insulin. Insulin is needed to regulate how well the body manages its sugar levels. Sometimes the body becomes immune to insulin, or it produces too little insulin. This is where insulin shots come in. In very broad terms, and simplified, this is what diabetes is. When it comes to hamsters, this is a dangerous illness to have since they are so very small, and caring for them isn’t as easy as with a human. They might require insulin shots too, and will need regular testing in order to monitor their levels. Please remember: Your best option is to seek out a veterinarian who will be able to diagnose your hamster properly. Do not diagnose or treat your hamster’s condition without consulting with a medical professional beforehand. Now let’s talk a bit about what your can do to prevent diabetes in your little friend, and which hammies are at risk. Preventing your hamster from developing diabetes No hamster is born directly diabetic. True, a hammy can have the genetic makeup that makes diabetes easier to happen. But born diabetic, no. This means diabetes can be prevented, for the most part. A hamster can still get this illness even if you do prevent it as best you can, if it’s one of the breeds at risk. Still, you can rest assured that by trying to prevent it you’ve delayed the onset. Now let’s see which hammies are at risk, and why that is. Genetic predisposition – some hamster breeds are vulnerable If you’ve got a Dwarf hammy, then it’s very possible you’re going to have a diabetic hamster later on. Not all Dwarf hamsters will develop diabetes. But all Dwarf hamsters can develop it, they have the  genetic makeup that makes it easier. As for Syrians, they don’t have this predisposition. They can develop diabetes too, but not as easily as the Dwarf types. For Syrians there needs to be a very high carb, high fat diet and very little exercise for diabetes to set in. Syrians have the misfortune of getting wet-tail easier, so if you’ve got a Syrian like me, you should check out this article on wet-tail and how to help your hammy. If you’re not very sure which hamster breed you’ve got, here’s a guide on figuring that out. Your hamster’s diet and exercise can make things worse Aside from the breed, which makes your hamster prone to either diabetes of wet-tail, there is also the influence of food and exercise. Exercise will help your diabetic hamster burn off the excess fat that likely developed, and use up the blood sugar. This will make the impact of diabetes on your hamster’s live lower, and his life easier. Regular, simple exercise like a running wheel can be enough. If your hamster’s gotten lazy, or just isn’t a running hamster, you can place him in an exercise ball.  Never keep him there more than 30 minutes at a time, though, since he will need water and a bathroom break. If your hamster’s already diabetic, he will pee every 15-20 minutes, so keep him in the ball much less. Alright, now onto the food. This is a major player in your hamster’s condition. A diabetic (or diabetes-prone) hamster eating high carb, high fat foods will have a terrible time. This means most fruits are of limits for diabetic hamsters, and even the Dwarf types that aren’t diabetic yet. You can find out more about the fruits that are safe for hamsters to eat here. Of that list, berries/forest fruits, apples, pears, are the safest bet for a Dwarf. Always in very small pieces (half an inch/ 1 cm), and only rarely (once per week or less often). A word on sugar and carb in your hammy’s diet Do not remove sugar completely from the hamster’s diet. That will send your hammy into a hypoglycemic shock, and be another problem of its own. Instead, only allow a small amount of sugars. This means that you need to check out the label on your hamster’s food mix. If it’s got any kind of sugars – cane sugar, maple syrup, corn syrup, agave, honey, fructose, dextrose, those pieces need to be picked out of your hammy’s feed. The problem is not with just sugar. Yes, sugar and overly sweet foods will make your hamster’s diabetes worse. But, the problem is bigger than this. You see, when the hamster eats, his body breaks down all the food into sugars. Sugary foods produce more sugars, and high-carb foods produce more sugars as well. This is by comparison with protein meats, or veggies. So keeping chocolate away from your hamster is good, but giving him a slice of italian bread is just as bad. A bit exaggerated, but you get the idea. High-carb foods like bread, pasta, rice, maize, corn, are all foods that should be kept away from your hamster since they will produce almost the same effect as giving your hamster a slice of sweet, sticky banana. It might sound like your hamster’s got nothing left to eat, but he does. Check out this handy guide on what is safe and unsafe for hamsters to eat, and you’ll see the foods that are still on the list, even for diabetic hamsters. Signs of diabetes in your little hamster Alright, now that you know what you can do to prevent your hamster from getting diabetes, let’s see the symptoms of diabetes in hamsters. There are several signs, and please remember that you can’t take into account just one sign or another. Diagnosis is really more complex than this, and some symptoms may not even show up, even if the hamster is diabetic. Again, the best bet is to get your hamster friend to a veterinarian who will diagnose him correctly. A vet that can help you is going to be an ”exotics” vet. They have experience with rodents, reptiles, and birds in general. Onto the symptoms of diabetes in hamsters: Frequent urination A hamster with diabetes will urinate much more often than a hamster without diabetes. This means as often as every 15 minutes, for example. You’ll notice your hamster is peeing more often if you actually see him. He usually goes in his corner – he has just one corner – rolls back his little tail, and just wees. He will be immobile, and look like he’s staring into space for a couple of seconds. Another sign, if you’ve never caught your hamster peeing, is that his corner will be wet much more often. Pretty much always wet, and smelling fairly sweet and pungent. Think nail polish remover. (If you like this article so far, you can pin it to your Pinterest board by clicking the image below. The article continues after the image.) Dehydration The easiest and clearest way to find out if your hamster is dehydrated, is to scruff the hamster by the back of the neck. It won’t hurt the hamster if done properly. Hold the hamster gently, but with a good enough grip that he won’t jump away. Then, right on the back of the hamster’s neck, you can use your fingers to pinch/pull at the skin a bit. Let go of the skin immediately, and you should see it sliding back into place. If it takes more than a second to spring back, your hamster is dehydrated. The hammy’s skin has lost it’s collagen and doesn’t arrange itself back into position as fast. You might even notice the skin is slightly raised where you picked it. The longer the skin takes to get back in place the more severe the dehydration. Increased thirst Along with dehydration comes increased thirst. Ironic, but the problem is not the water intake. But the regulation of how the electrolytes are being used by the hamster’s body. This can be noticed by your hamster drinking water much faster and often than usual. A healthy hamster consumes about 10 ml water/100 gr hamster per day. That’s 0.33 fl oz per 3.5 ounces of hamster. You can find out more about hamsters and their water requirements here, and how to give your hamster water the right way. That being said, a diabetic hamster will consume much more water than that, getting to even 3-4 times the amount of water. However he will be dehydrated still, since his body isn’t functioning properly. Should your give a dehydrated diabetic hamster Pedialyte ? This is something I’ve heard about, and did some googling to find people who have experience with this. As it happens, I did find the answer for this on thepipsqueakery.org. You can read their full blog post here. They also have experience with giving hamsters insulin shots, so you might want to check their article for that too. About the Pedialyte, the clear answer is no, you should no give it to a dehydrated diabetic hamster. This is because Pedialyte is a mix of water, sugar, and salt. The sugar will not help the diabetes, even if it does bring back some electrolytes. It may seem like it’s helping, but it’s actually make things worse. Change in appetite Another symptom is a sudden change in your hamster’s appetite. It may be that your hamster will eat much more, or much less. It varies from hamster to hamster. But there is a clear difference between a diabetic hamster, and a healthy one. 2 teaspoons of dry food are enough for an adult Syrian hamster. Dwarf hamsters need less, 1 teaspoon. So if your hamster is going through his food, and his food stash as well, quicker than you can feed him in a day, this is something to worry about. Dramatic weight gain or loss As a result of a sudden change of appetite, and also dehydration, your hamster will have a very different weight. He might gain weight, or drop a lot of weight. You can use a kitchen scale that measure in exact grams or ounces and track your hamster’s daily progress. Place the hamster in a cup he can’t climb out of, and use that do weight him on the kitchen scale. Of course, take the weight of the cup into account. Yellow, thick nails Not all thick yellow nails mean your hamster’s got diabetes. But it can be a sign, and is worth noting. Testing your hamster for diabetes Of course, you can test your hamster’s sugar levels at home too. You can test your hamster’s glucose and ketone levels with ketone test trips. Your veterinarian will do the same in his lab, with urine samples from your diabetic hamster. But, if you want to monitor your hamster’s progress and see how his treatment is coming along, then you can also use these strips at home. This particular box will last for several months, since you do not need to check the hamster’s urine daily. Do keep in mind that these test strips are not meant just for diabetics, but can also be used by them to monitor their health. Remember that the glucose levels aren’t always normal. They can sometimes be off, due to an infection for example. So it’s important that you consult with your veterinarian as well the first few times you use these strips, to know how to best read them. There are manufacturer’s indications yes, but your vet is the best person to ask about this. Treatment and care for a diabetic hamster Part of caring for the diabetic hamster includes changing the diet and exercise routine like we’ve discussed before. Another part is the treatment. There are treatments that can be successful, but it depends on how well the hamster responds to them, and what the veterinarian will recommend. Treatment with fenugreek is a common way of helping hamsters with diabetes, but the dosage is harder to be exact with. Fenugreek has been used as a healing plant for centuries, and often in diabetes treatment. It’s not  a definite cure, but might be an option. Another option your vet might present you with is Glipidize tablets to mix into the hamster’s food or drink. It’s basically going to make the hamster’s pancreas produce more insulin. So shots are out of the question here. And finally, insulin shots for a diabetic hamster are what your mind probably first wandered to. Honestly, they were my first guess too, given how humans are usually treated. The thing about insulin shots is that they need to constantly be adjusted to how well the hamster’s responding to other treatments, the new diet, the urine needs frequent measurements and so on. So it’s not a great idea to do this without a vet’s help, or if you’re not a vet at all. A trained professional will know how to dose the amount according to the hamster’s size and resistance to insulin. A word from Teddy I hope you found what you were looking for in this article. Us hammies can get sick sometimes, and we rely on you for help. Diabetic hammies can lead normal lives, but we need some treatment. If you want to know more about us hammies, you should check out the related articles below. You’ll find out more about how to keep up happy and safe. [...] Read more...