Hamster vs Rats And Mice – Which Should You Keep As Pets ?

If you’re looking to get a rodent, but can’t decide between hamsters, mice or rats then this article will help you sort that out. Unfortunately they can’t be all kept together, you need to pick just one kind of pet.

But they’ve all got different needs, even if they are so similar. Let’s see a bit about each rodent, so you know which would be the best pet for you. If you want to know how a hamster would fare if he were to live in the same cage as a rat or mouse, then you should read this article here.

hamster mice

About the hamster – general info + personality

A hamster is very small, can be as small as 2 inches/5 cm, and as large as 5 inches/13 cm. He doesn’t need as much room as a rabbit, and usually stays put.

As in, leaving the hamster in his cage all his life is not a problem, as long as he has a large enough cage. He does need a bit of exercise, but this is where his exercise wheel comes to the rescue.

Hammies don’t like to share and generally should not be housed together. The only exceptions are the Dwarf types, who can live with a sibling or two of the same sex. This is only true for siblings that have never been separated and live in a very large cage, so they won’t fight over food and toys and general resources.

Even so, I recommend keeping any and all hamsters alone, one hamster per cage. This reduces the hamster’s stress levels and this way you make sure there are no unnecessary fights, which can sometimes be deadly.

Hamsters are prey animals, so they’re used to running away and hiding. Their cages need to have plenty of hiding places, so they can feel safe.

This also means that taming the hamster will not be as easy as taming a puppy. He will take anywhere between a few days and a few weeks to trust you. And that trust can always be lost, or forgotten if you stop interacting with him for a few days.

Still, hamsters make for very entertaining pets. It’s just that the vast majority of hamsters only come out of their hiding place at night. This means that if you go to bed before 10 PM you might just miss their waking up.  And if you wake up around 6 AM, they’ve just gone to bed.

So I’d only recommend a hamster to a person who either stays up very late, or works night shifts and can catch the hamster awake more often.

They’re also very sensitive animals, in that there is such a thing as handling them too much, and too little. They get grumpy if you wake them up, they won’t always want to stay in your hands… okay, they rarely want to stay put. They want to explore and see everything.

Their personalities are not obvious from the start, when they’re babies. But once they grow up (3 months-ish) you’ll realize you’ve either got a Rambo type (all over the place, exploring, trying to intimidate you, not staying still) or the world’s laziest and relaxed furball. There is no in-between.

All hamsters mellow down once they become old, it’s just that some are absolutely spastic when they’re young.

About mice – general info + personality

Mice are very social animals, and will generally do better if they’re kept in a small group. For example 3 females, or 2 males seems to be the best kind of match. There will always be one mouse trying to be the dominant one.

Mice are much smaller than hamsters – smaller than a Dwarf sometimes – and are so much more agile and quick. This means that trying to handle a mouse is very hard, since he’ll be all over the place. This doesn’t mean they’re impossible to tame. But it is much harder than with a hamster.

Usually mice are kept as pets to look at, rather than play with. Even if you do manage to hold onto one, he’ll almost immediately want to go exploring. Mice, like hamsters and rats, have poor eyesight and as a result they can’t really judge distances and heights.

All 3 will try to jump off of ledges or out of your hands if they’ve had enough, but mice and hamsters are just plain terrible at this. They will jump from high places, even if they’re too high. Mice are only a slight bit smarter in this area.

Still, seeing a small colony of mice interact and build their own little nests, and lay with every little toy is going to be fun. They’re almost always unpredictable, and seem not to care if they survive a climb or any special endeavor.

Given how shall mice are, even the mellow, chill ones will seem skittish. That’s just the way mice are. They can get along with each other, but it’s a lot like with Dwarf hamsters. They must be siblings, and never been separated at all. Even then, they might argue from time to time. What sibling doesn’t, though ?

About rats – general info + personality

A rat is a very opportunistic animal, and a smart one at that. Of the 3 rodents we’re discussing today, the rat is the smartest. They’ve often been compared to dogs in terms of affection and comprehension of human intent.

That being said, rats make for good pets, it’s just that they need lots of handling or a buddy. They’re highly social animals, and they like playtime. They’re able to learn tricks and they get bored easily if not given enough stimulation. So they’ve got a big advantage over hamsters.

Actually rats bond with their owners much more than hamster or mice, and actually like it when their owners hold them.

When it comes to food, rats will eat almost anything. This means they will eat about equal proportions of meat, grains, veggies, and fresh fruit. They will steal anything if ever left outside of their cage, and let them out your should from time to time.

This is mostly because they need lots of stimulation, and sometimes being kept in their cage isn’t enough. You can always keep just one rat, but you should be warned that you’ll need to interact with him often if you want him to not get bored.

A bored rat is never good news. He will try to escape, chew through a part of the cage you’d never expect, or just wait for the perfect moment when you’re opening his cage to take him out.

But, a rat is a smart animal, and he will be very entertaining. He’ll tend to understand you better, and sometimes even sit still when you need him to, or when you just want to keep him cuddled in your arms.

(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 mice

Food difference between the 3 rodents (there aren’t any)

When it comes to food, hamsters mice and rats eat pretty much everything. They all eat mostly grains, with some fruit and vegetables thrown in for good measure.

Nuts and peanuts are welcome too, ans so it a bit of meta. It’s okay if it’s mealworms, it can even if a bit of boiled plain chicken.

Do keep in mind that the serving sizes vary from animal to animal. A hamster will need 1 or 2 teaspoons of dried commercial food mix (depending on whether you’ve got a Dwarf or a Syrian). This is per hamster, per day.

A mouse will need just the one teaspoon, once a day, aside from whatever treats you give them.

A rat will need much more, amounting to 2 tablespoons of their commercial mix food. They’re much larger and need more food than the other two rodents.

However all 3 have teeth that never stop growing, and they will need to gnaw on something all the time. This is where the dry grains or pellets come in handy.

Social needs of all 3 rodents and how they get along with owners

Hamsters are solitary animals. If you really want to, you can house a pair of Dwarf hamsters,  but that often doesn’t end well. This is mostly because hamsters are very territorial, and they end up fighting over everything, unless they have a very very large cage.

The only way you can keep a pair of Dwarf hamsters is if they’re siblings, of the same gender (so 2 girls or 2 boys), and they’ve never been separated.

Hammies do interact with their owners, but they don’t bond with them as much. They can be rather aloof and disinterested most of the time, unless you’ve got a treat in your hands.

Mice can be kept in more than just pairs, but it’s the same story as with Dwarf hamsters. They should be siblings, of the same sex, and never separated. They’re very skittish and all over the place.

Handling them – and as such taming them – is going to be difficult, like with Dwarf hamsters. They simply don’t sit still, and don’t really like being handled. They bond a little more with their owners than hamsters, but that doesn’t say much.

Rats are social too, but they should be kept with a buddy if you can’t talk to them or handle them often. They can grow bored very easily, and need a whole lot of toys.

Cage size and housing differences

When it comes to housing these rodents, things aren’t very different. For example a hamster can live in a cage of 24 x 12 inches, and about 12 inches tall. That’s 61 x 30.5 cm, and about 30.5 cm tall. This is for one lone Syrian hamster, or two Dwarf types.

This same size is enough for one male rat, or 3 female mice. Mice males need a cage almost as big as a Syrian’s, just for one male mouse. Females live together easier.

When it comes to toys and objects inside their cages, all 3 rodents need plenty of things to play with. Rats need the most stimulation, and will end up getting bored the fastest. This means that giving them plenty of puzzle toys is going to help.

Puzzle toys can be something like a maze made out of an egg carton with holes cut in one end, and a treat at the other end. All 3 rodents are great with mazes.

Another such toys would be a cardboard tube with a treat inside, but very tightly packed so the pet can’t get to the treat easily.

Climbing toys are another object rodents will love, but especially mice and rats since they are used to climbing pipes or small plants. Hamsters prefer the low ground and tunnels. Rats and mice will go for hammocks, or maybe ladders, suspended bridges, and so on.

If it requires a bit of acrobatics skill, it’s a rat or mouse toys, not a hamster toy.

A word from Teddy

I hope you found what you were looking for in this article. I know us hammies sometimes get confused with mice and rats, but we’re a bit different actually.

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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5 Creative Ways to Tell Your Hamsters Apart
5 Creative Ways to Tell Your Hamsters ApartIf you have two hamsters from the same species, they can look exactly the same, especially if they are hamsters from the same litter. In that case, it can be quite difficult to distinguish hamsters when you first become their owner. To differentiate them, you need to figure out a way to tell your hamsters apart. On the internet, you can find various tips on how to mark your hamsters to tell them apart. However, you have to be very careful. Tips such as to tie a ribbon around your hamster can be extremely dangerous and can even cause the death of the hamster. To help you safely differentiate your hamsters, here are some creative ways to tell your hamsters apart. Table of Contents Toggle1. Food colors2. Cut a small piece of hair from your hamster3. Put hamsters in different cages4. Study your hamsters’ personality5. Study the smallest differences on your hamsters 1. Food colors Sometimes it will happen that hamsters have absolutely no noticeable physical differences. In such cases, unless you know them very well, you will not be able to distinguish them which can sometimes create problems. Some owners have therefore decided to use the hamster labeling method with food colors. Food colors are edible and non-toxic if used in very small amounts in the hamster diet or when coloring toys in the cave.  This is why some owners have decided that food color could be used to put small dots on your hamsters so they can distinguish them. For example, one hamster will have a blue dot and the other a red one. Another method that some owners use is dyeing the tail of your hamster. Previously, this method was questionable for use because food coloring contains many chemical ingredients that can cause skin irritation and various inflammations. Even today the safety of artificial food dyes is highly controversial. However, in modern times there are many food colors that are made from natural ingredients, and there are simple instructions on the Internet for making your own natural food colors. For example, carrot or paprika is used for orange, spinach for green, strawberries or raspberries for pink or for red color beets. Such natural colors are safe to use on the hamster. If you just put a dot on your hamster with natural food colors, your hamster should have no consequences. Some owners recommend that the same can be done with a permanent marker. However, hamsters are constantly cleaning and licking, so they would surely lick a dot made with a permanent marker at some point, which would certainly be poisonous for them. The hamster might not die, but he could easily experience poisoning and get sick. By no means put permanent markers because, in addition to being intensely fragrant, they contain figures of chemical ingredients that can be poisonous, but also irritate hamsters skin. However, if you have two hamsters and cannot distinguish them, there is no need to label both hamsters with food colors, but only label one. You will know which hamster has a dot and which does not. Also if you opt for food coloring you will have to repeatedly label the hamsters with a dot because the food color will be constantly rinsed off. If you notice that the hamster has any reaction at the place where you put the food coloring, immediately stop using food coloring to distinguish the hamster and turn to one of the safer methods. 2. Cut a small piece of hair from your hamster Although the method with food colors is safe to use today if you use natural food coloring, there are also simpler ways to distinguish hamsters. A safe and easy way to distinguish hamsters is to definitely cut a small piece of hair from one of them. Some owners usually cut hamsters’ hair because their hair grows too much, so it is full of food and dirt. Haircutting a pet is very simple, and all you need are good scissors. To cut your little five, or in this case, cut off a small piece of hair, it is best to use surgical scissors or scissors for children. Surgical scissors are very sharp so you will simply be able to cut off all the hair you want with one stroke. If you use scissors for children, they have a rounded tip that will prevent injuries even if the hamster twitches and is restless during the haircut. It is best to cut a piece of hair on the upper part of the hamster’s body so that the cut is noticeable and so that you can immediately distinguish it from another hamster. It is easiest to cut a hamster if it is done by two people at the same time. One person needs to gently hold the hamster to calm him down. The other person should use both hands to cut a piece of hamster’s hair without injuring it. Use one hand to hold the hamster’s hair while you will use the other hand to cut it. It is best to hold the chunk of hair between your middle and index finger and then to cut it past it so as not to injure the hamster. If the hamster trusts you and is fairly calm in your arms, you don’t have to seek the help of another person. Grab the hamster in one hand and play with it until it calms down. When it calms down, take scissors and carefully cut a piece of hair in a visible place and the job is done. If your hamsters are spirited and you can’t tire them out or you are afraid that you might hurt them if you cut a piece of hair yourself, it is best not to do it. Take one of your hamsters to a vet that will cut off a piece of your hamster’s hair in just a few seconds without hurting him. There is a possibility that they will charge you for it, but it is certainly better to pay for that vet than to hurt your hamster. 3. Put hamsters in different cages To distinguish hamsters, perhaps the easiest way is to put them in different cages. If for some reason, you do not want to use any of the above methods, it may be easiest for you to place the hamsters in separate cages that you will arrange differently or to place a name tag on each. That way you will know at all times which hamster it is and you will not be able to replace them. Unless of course, you let them both out of their cages at the same time. If you put them back in the wrong cages, you will notice that they are behaving confused and that they are not used to being in that cage so you will quickly notice your mistake. This solution in some cases is not only desirable but also necessary. Most hamsters are very territorial animals that love solitude and their space. If you want to keep hamsters in the same cage, the best option is to take a Dwarf hamster that can live in pairs with other members of its species. Moreover, they even enjoy their company. But it can also happen to them that over time they stop getting along and start bullying each other. Syrian hamsters, on the other hand, have to live alone. These hamsters only meet to mate and the rest of their lives must be kept separate. If you put two Syrian hamsters in the same cage, they will start to stress very quickly and they will fight, which can end in the death of one of the hamsters and serious injuries to the other. The golden rule for hamsters is to never, ever mix different hamster species in the same cage. If you want hamsters to live together, if they get along well it is best to keep siblings together to avoid fights. If you are taking hamsters from different nests try to get to know them as soon as possible to get along as well as possible. Once they are older than eight weeks they are very likely to react badly to one another. In addition, make sure you have a large enough cage for each hamster to have space for themselves and that you have more than one feeding area to be able to feed on their own food bowls and water bottles. No matter how hard you try, sometimes hamsters just won’t get along with each other. In these cases, hamsters will often fight or bully one another which can be very dangerous and even deadly to one of them. If you have two of the same hamsters living together in the cage observe well how they behave, whether they get along and whether there are any problems. Living in an environment where hamsters are constantly fighting and harassing each other can be very stressful so rest assured that none of your hamsters will be happy. In this case, it will be necessary to separate the hamsters into different cages. This will ultimately help differentiate hamsters, but it will also make their lives more beautiful and peaceful. 4. Study your hamsters’ personality You constantly observe your hamsters to find the slightest difference. You try and try, but you still can’t find the differences that would help you to know which hamster is which. Physical appearance is simply not a thing that can help you because your hamsters look identical. But if you study them well you will notice that hamsters do not behave identically. As much as they look the same as humans, hamsters have different personalities. One of them, for example, will be shy, will often spend time in the cottage, and will run away every time you give him food. The other will be brave and will like to cuddle, will spend a lot more time outside the house, and will be more open to contact with you. Hamster’s personality depends on the species of hamster, how tame they are, and do they like to have friends in the cave. For example, Syrian hamsters quickly develop a relationship with the owner and are in a very friendly mood. However, they like to be alone and are very aggressive towards other hamsters so you cannot keep them with others. According to the behavior they show towards you, but also, in general, the habits and behavior they show in the cage, you will be able to notice the behaviors according to which hamsters differ. Place in the cave two different feeding bowls and two different water bottles. Since hamsters are fairly territorial animals even when they live together they are very likely to drink from different water bottles and eat from different feeders. If it is easier for you, record their habits and notice if they repeat some behaviors and if they do some things that are specific only to them. For example, it could be carrying food to a certain part of the cage or sleeping in a specific place. It is also very important to observe how your identical hamsters get along. It can happen that hamsters will not get along best and will cause stress. If you hear them fighting or see injuries on one of them, don’t wait for the situation to calm down. The hamsters will just keep fighting more and more until they get completely angry and kill each other. So you can be left without both hamsters because they can easily die from injuries. By studying their personalities and behaviors you will notice in time if something is happening and you can easily prevent such events if you separate them into two different cages. If the hamsters look exactly the same, they will most often be hamsters from the same litter so you should have no problems with fights and bullying, but you never know with their personalities and primitive instincts. Personality can be a great indicator and help you distinguish which hamster you are at any time. For this, you will need a lot of patience, paper and pencil, and the interesting company of your little pets. This way you can get to know your pets very well, and you will feel like a real scientist studying animal behavior. If you have children, be sure to include them in this activity because they will learn everything about hamsters. Besides, it will certainly be interesting to them to notice new things about their pets every day. 5. Study the smallest differences on your hamsters This method may not be completely creative, but it will certainly help you differentiate your hamsters in the long run. Besides that, this method can be very interesting for you and especially for your children if you make it a real detective job. Your main task is to find a difference between hamsters. While your hamsters may seem exactly the same at first, there are small differences that can help you differentiate them. However, to find these differences you need to study the bodies of your hamsters well and look for any spot that deviates from the usual fur color or some irregularity. Even when you spot spots on both hamsters, observe if they are exactly the same shape and if they are in exactly the same place. It can happen that the spot on one is just a little bit higher or lower than on the other hamster. For example, when it comes to White WInter hamsters, it often happens that it is difficult to find differences between two completely identical all-white hamsters. In such situations, pay attention to detail. Does one of the hamsters have a slightly shorter or longer tail than the other? Does the hamster perhaps have some spot or any irregularity on its tail or on the rest of its body that could help you distinguish them? The owners of the looking hamsters themselves state that it was precisely these small details that enabled them to distinguish hamsters at all times. In addition, when you study two hamsters of the same species for a long time, you notice some details that you did not see at first. For example, one of the hamsters has a slightly different head shape, a slightly different ear shape, or a more protruding muzzle. One of the hamsters may be barely noticeably larger than the other or be a shade lighter or darker in color. These are all little things that you will notice over time. To identify which hamster it is, take a good look at the color of their eyes. Hamsters can also have different eye shades and you can differentiate them accordingly. If there are no obvious differences and you can’t find any difference even after a long study, it’s best to turn to study their personalities and behavior to help you differentiate them. If this is not possible then turn to the method of using food coloring or cutting the piece of their hair. One of these methods will surely help you to easily tell your hamsters apart. [...] Read more...
Can Hamsters And Gerbils Live Together ? An Owner’s Guide
Can Hamsters And Gerbils Live Together ? An Owner’s GuideIf you’re wondering if you can keep a hamster and a gerbil together, you need to read this. They’re often mistaken for one another, but the differences between hamsters and gerbils are critical. We’ll see whether these two rodents can live together, and what decides that fact. For a more detailed comparison between gerbils and hamster, you should read this article here. Table of Contents ToggleSo can hamsters and gerbils live together ?About the hamster’s personalityAbout the gerbil’s personalityMajor differences between hamsters and gerbilsHousing a hamster vs housing a gerbilA word from Teddy So can hamsters and gerbils live together ? No, hamsters and gerbils can not and should not live together. This is because the hamster is territorial, and will attack (and kill) anything that tries to come close, even their own siblings. While gerbils can and do live together, hamsters do not. This makes hamsters unable to share their home with anything, especially not an animal that is not another hamster. There are some very important differences between the two, and we’ll discuss them here. About the hamster’s personality Hamsters are small animals, about the size of a gerbil (without the gerbil’s tail) and they’re very much prey for other, larger animals. This means that they are skittish, will try to hide as often as they can, and do not react well to strangers. Hamsters are more aggressive than gerbils, and they will attack anyone or anything that comes too close. There are some submissive hamsters that just cower in a corner or freeze in fear, but most will actually attack and fight to the death. This means that housing a hamster with anything is a bad idea. Most of the time even another hamster is a bad idea, even if they’re siblings. Hamsters sleep during the day, and wake up in the evening. They stay up all night, running in their wheel and playing in their cage. In the wild they’d be running from predators and looking for food at the same time, while fending off intruders on their territory. Busy little things. A hamster doesn’t react well to stress, and is actually quite jittery and restless when handled. He will not stay put, at all, and will want to wander off and explore everything. As such, a big cage with lots of space is going to help the hamster feel more at ease, and less stressed. About the gerbil’s personality Gerbils are social animals, and they actually live in colonies of up to 20 individuals in a colony. This means that you can house together several gerbils and they would be fine, but their cage needs to be very large. The more gerbils you own, the larger the cage. Since gerbils are social, this means they’re okay with sharing, but only with gerbils they know. Strangers, or even siblings that smell different are attacked on sight (well, rather smell) and it’s usually deadly. Gerbils, like hamsters, will protect their own. It’s just that their definition of ”their” also includes their immediate family. Most of the time gerbils are kept only in pairs, partly because a cage big enough for 10 gerbils isn’t easy to find or fit somewhere. Compared to hamsters, gerbils are more mellow, and are easier to tame. They can still be skittish, especially as babies, but not nearly as much as hamsters. Gerbils too are very active animals (all rodents are), and they’re always exploring, digging a tunnel, making a nest, playing with a friend, or running on their wheel. Their energy is similar to the hamster, and as such they needs lots of stimulation. Unlike hamsters, a lone gerbil will become depressed, and possibly ill from being so lonely. They need the stimulation and activity a colony (or at least another gerbil) provides, and they grow up happier if they have a friend. Major differences between hamsters and gerbils A hamster is fairly short, stocky, and has barely any noticeable tail. There are 5 types of hamster to choose from (Syrian, Chinese, Roborovski, Campbell, and Djungarian) and they look very different from a gerbil. The only hamster that resembles a gerbil is the Chinese, with its long slender body and longer tail. Not as long as the gerbil’s tail, but definitely longer than the other hamster tails (which are just stubs). Gerbils have longer bodies, and look like a bit of a cross between a mouse and a squirrel, minus the bushy tail. A hamster has a much shorter neck, and a wider body. It looks fluffier than a gerbil, and has more of a rounded face. Both gerbils and hamsters love to run, but their needs are different. A hamster needs a minimum of 7 inches/18 cm for a wheel, but a gerbil will need a much larger one, since its tail is sensitive. If the tail is injured or caught in something (and it can happen in a wheel) it can and will fall off. This is not easy on the gerbil, nor on you as an owner. (If you like this article so far, you can pin it to your Pinterest board by clicking the image below. The article continues after the image.) Another big difference is the sleeping and activity patterns. While the hamster sleeps during the day, the gerbil will go about his business. He will take short naps throughout the day, but the main sleeping time is the night. This annoys the hamster greatly, since he is trying to sleep. An irritated hamster that hasn’t rested well enough will be very hard to handle, and will snap at the gerbil. Conversely, while the gerbil sleeps at night, the hamster will wake up and do his own hamster things. This will wake up the gerbil and he will not rest well, leading to other fights. Food is pretty much the only thing hamsters and gerbils agree upon. They even share food mixes/pellets, since they both eat mostly grains, with some veggies and fruit, peanuts, and a bit of protein when they can. Housing a hamster vs housing a gerbil Two gerbils can live in a lone Syrian’s cage – 24 x 12 inches, and about 12 inches tall. That’s 61 x 30.5 cm, and about 30.5 cm tall. But a single hamster can’t live in a single gerbil’s cage, unless it is a Dwarf hamster. All this means is that a gerbil and a hamster have different housing needs, and they will end up fighting over space anyway. This is because most cages aren’t large enough for a hamster and a gerbil together, but also because both animals mark their territory. They both use their scent glands to mark what;s their, be it it with their bellies, hips, or faces rubbed against various objects. This leads to fighting in the end, and there is no amount of toys and duplicate of cage objects that will keep that from happening. Both the hamster and the gerbil love to chew, so in that respect they would need the same toys and hideouts. They would both end up chewing on the cage bars or trying to escape, so housing them together is not good. A word from Teddy I hope you found what you were looking for in this article. I know us hammies get confused with gerbils often, but we’re really very different. And we can’t live together, at all. We’d fight all the 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...
3 Reasons Your Hamster Can Be Big/Fat, And How To Slim It
3 Reasons Your Hamster Can Be Big/Fat, And How To Slim It A fat hamster is always funny. But is your hamster too fat ? I know I wanted to be careful with my Teddy so that he never ends up too fat. Actually he’s pretty fit. But how do you know when your hamster is too fat ? How big can hamsters get in general ? Is he eating too much ? This is what I’ll talk you through today, and Teddy will be our reference. Let’s start by figuring out if your hamster is fat.   Table of Contents ToggleSo is your hamster fat ?Is the hamster fat or just fluffy ?Why your hamster is fat in the first placeWhat to do when your hamster is fatNot all hamsters are the sameA word from Teddy So is your hamster fat ? Often times hamster owners don’t know how much to feed the hamster, and end up making their pets fat. For reference, a healthy, adult Syrian hamster will be around 6-7 ounces/170-200 gr. They will weigh much less as babies, but they reach their largest size when they’re around 3 months old. You can use a kitchen scale to weigh your hamster to see how much he weighs. He should not be having any food in his cheeks at this time. Our Teddy doesn’t really sit still, and your hamster probably won’t either. So you must be quick, or you can put your hamster in a cup that he can’t climb out of, and measure him like that. Take into account the weight of the cup as well. If your hamster is of a smaller breed, like Chinese or Roborovski those are usually much lighter. They reach between 20-25 gr/0.70-0.88 ounces. They are very tiny and very fast, so you definitely need to put them in something when you want to weigh them. Is the hamster fat or just fluffy ? This is something that made me look intently at Teddy so many times. Hamsters rarely every sit up straight, so the skin on them will bunch up. Their cheek pouches can reach behind their head and on their shoulders, so that can throw you off as well. And finally they’re the fluffiest thing ever. You can’t figure out anything through all that fur. So how do you tell if he’s really fat or just fluffy ? Well, one thing to look for is when your hamster does sit up straight. This usually happens when there’s something he wants and it’s way above him. Or, you can try feeding him a treat but holding onto it with your thumb and index finger. Once your hamster holds onto the treat, lift him gently off the ground a couple of inches/cm, still inside his cage. He will hang freely, and not be hurt. If when you see him straight like this he is… well, straight and not fat, then he’s fine. Just a lot of fur. But if your hamster is chubby and slightly round even when he’s straight, then you can be sure he’s fat. Why your hamster is fat in the first place If your hamster is in fact fat, there’s a couple of reasons for that. First, he can get fat if you feed him too much. For an adult Syrian hamster anything past 2 teaspoons of dry food will be too much. Hamsters hide a lot of food in their house, or stash it away under some bedding in the corner of the cage. So if you put some food for your hamster now, and check back after half an hour and it’s all gone, don’t put more. You hamster just took it into his house, where he will eat it as he needs. This is normal for all hamsters. Sometimes you’ll see some food left in the bowl even after a few hours. This happens when he still has enough food in his house, and also if he feels very safe and doesn’t need to hide his food. Second, you hamster could be fat because of what you’re feeding him. A diet heavy on nuts and sugary treats will get your hamster fat. So peanuts, walnuts, hazelnuts, sunflower seeds, etc are all fine for your hamster but do no feed him just that. Keep them as nice treats every now and then. Third, your hamster can get fat if he does not get enough exercise. If he has no wheel to run in, or an exercise ball, some other form of activity, he will get fat. So, provide your hamster with a wheel to run in, and possibly an exercise ball for when you take him out of the cage. What to do when your hamster is fat Slimming down your hamster will be to his benefit, and will extend his life expectancy. So here area few things you can try for your hammy to help him slim down. First, you can reduce the amount of food you give him. If you’re overfeeding him, then this will be the first step to help your hamster reach a normal weight. Transition feeding sizes slowly, until you reach the amount of food he normally needs. Second, make your hamster work for his treats. For example you can set up a sort of obstacle course for him, and place a bit of food at the end. If your hammy will have to climb a few toys and squeeze through some nooks and crannies to get to a treat every day, he will shed a bit of weight. Of course, the most work is done when he is running, so make sure he has a running wheel. For Syrians the wheel should be at least 8-10 inches across, to allow their backs to be straight. Smaller breeds need slightly smaller wheels, but it’s better to get a bigger wheel for them as well. Hamsters can damage their backs if their wheel is too small, so best to get a large wheel for your hammy to run. The best would be those metal wheels, with barely any space for his feet to sink into or he might hurt himself. If you can find a full wheel, even better. If you want to know more about hamster exercise wheels, check my full guide. Third, you can change his food. Switch your hamster to vegetables and dry grains, and you’ll see a clear difference. Make the switch slowly over a few days, so he has time to get used to it. If you want to know exactly what a hamster can eat, and what he should not eat read my article on how to properly feed your hamster. (If you like this article, you can pin it to your Pinterest board by clicking the image below. The articles continues after the image.) Not all hamsters are the same Some hamsters eat a lot, some are kind of constantly dieting. Some are greedy and some can be more tempered with their food. It really comes down to your hamster’s personality, aside from what you feed him and how much, or how much activity he has. For example my Teddy is a very very active Syrian. He runs most of the nights and rarely ever sits still more than half a minute. His little paws are everywhere and when he was younger he used to scale his cage to reach me. He gets into the weirdest situations and does silly things like jump out of his moving wheel to race around his tube. Maybe your hamster is the same, or maybe yours is slow, or more relaxed. Hamsters in general are jumpy and tend to be all over the place. But I’ve met really tame and slow hamsters, who are still healthy, they’re just … so relaxed. This translates into how your hamster eats its food as well. Teddy gets his daily feeding, 2 teaspoons of dry grains and pellets, and some occasional slices of carrot or a piece of lettuce. Depending on what we have around the house he’s gotten fruits and vegetables on different occasions. And he only takes as much as he needs, and leaves the rest for later. I’ve often found spare food in his house when I clean his cage, from the days before. I’ve spoken to other hamster owners and some of them leave food for the entire week, and their hamster will only take as much as it needs. Others have hamsters that would binge on everything if they found enough food. Not all hamsters are the same, and some of them will have an easier time getting fat. If you end up with a hamster that is not very active and absolutely loves food, then he’ll get fat faster. If you’d like to know more about how to properly are for your hamster, then feel free to check this guide on the 15 essential steps to take car of your furry little friend. A word from Teddy I hope you’re clear on why we can get fat, and just how big a hamster needs to be. Remember, there’s clear differences between Syrian hamsters and the smaller sizes. I am a Syrian hamster, and my kind is the largest. Roborovski and Chinese hamsters are much smaller, but you can figure out for any of us if we’re fat or not. Feel free to look around the site, you might find something you like. 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A Word On Keeping Hamsters With Rats, Or Hamsters With Mice
A Word On Keeping Hamsters With Rats, Or Hamsters With MiceA hamster isn’t all that different from a mouse, or a rat, since all 3 are rodents. You might argue they can all live together, or at least get along during playtime. As it happens, these 3 animals are in fact very similar. But it’s the key differences between them that mean they’re not as good a match. If you want a more detailed comparison between rats, mice, and hamsters, you should read this article here. Table of Contents ToggleSo can hamsters live with rats ?Can hamsters live with mice ?About the hamster’s personalityAbout the rat’s personalityAbout the mouse’s personalityDifferences in food for hamsters, rats, and miceCage size differences between the 3 rodent typesPlaytime and other habits that might conflictA word from Teddy So can hamsters live with rats ? No, hamsters can’t live with rats. A hamster is territorial, solitary, and will try to attack anything that crosses his path.  A rat is much larger, calmer, and very social, loves to live in groups. However it will bite back if the hamster attacks, and it won’t stop until the hammy is dead. While both the rat and the hamster are good pets, hamsters simply can’t share their space with another. They only seek another soul when they’re ready to mate. Any other time would be a deathmatch. We’ll cover the main characteristics of hamsters and rats in the rest of the article, so you will get a more thorough answer to your question. But if rats being larger are a problem, what about mice ? Good question, let’s look into that.   Can hamsters live with mice ? No, hamsters can’t live with mice either. The hamster is territorial, solitary, and likes to keep his food to himself. A mouse is smaller than a Syrian hamster, but much faster, and agile, and will end up stealing the hamster’s food. If you keep just one mouse and just one hamster, the hamster will end up killing the mouse. The size helps there. However if you’ve got at least two mice and a hamster, they will gang up on the hamster, turning the fight in favor of the mice. It’s really not a good idea to combine hamsters with any other animal. At all. Even another hamster is a bad idea half the time, let alone a different animal. Let’s see why hamster and mice can’t really get along, even if they’re closer in size than rats and hamsters. About the hamster’s personality A hamster is a very territorial, solitary animal. Even the hamster breeds that can live together in pairs – more on that here – can end up fighting to the death. This is the reason I’d recommend keeping all hamsters separate, not just the Syrians or Chinese. Hamsters like having their own space, their own food, and keeping away from other animals. A hamster will mark things as his own with his scent glands. He will try to be the dominant one in any setting, and hamsters housed together can end up bullying one another. You might argue that your two Dwarf hammies get along just great. They might, but because they were introduced as babies, and grew up together. They grew up of the same size, species, and scent profile. They have the same type of reactions, and will know how to read one another properly. A hamster will be jumpy and scared most of his youth, while he learns the new sights, smells, and sounds in your home. He’ll even get scared of you walking past his cage when he’s in his first few weeks. A scared hamster is unpredictable, and is very likely to nip. There’s a lot more to hamsters than just what I said here. You should check out this article, on what it’s like to own a hamster and why they can be good pets (also a few cons of owning a hammy). And this article here, to understand the difference between the two main types of hamsters, and thus the general disposition of hamsters. About the rat’s personality A rat is a very opportunistic animal, and a smart one at that. Of the 3 rodents we’re discussing today, the rat is the smartest. They’ve often been compared to dogs in terms of affection and comprehension of human intent. That being said, rats make for good pets, it’s just that they need lots of handling or a buddy. They’re highly social animals, and they like playtime. Actually rats bond with their owners much more than hamster or mice, and actually like it when their owners hold them. When it comes to food, rats will eat almost anything. This means they will eat about equal proportions of meat, grains, veggies, and fresh fruit. They will steal the hamster’s food if they think it’s tastier, or it’s something they like. Very important to note, rats tend to attack and view as food anything smaller than them. That includes the hamster, and the mouse too actually. Back to the rat’s intelligence, they’re able to learn tricks and they get bored easily if not given enough stimulation. So they’ve got a big advantage over hamsters, and would be able to rick them if they wanted. A bored rat next to a skittish hamster does not sound good. About the mouse’s personality The mice are a bit harder to tame than the rat, since they’re so small and all over the place. They too are social animals, but they need to be in same-sex pairs, female if possible. Male mice can get along, but it’s like with the Dwarf hammies. Only if they were kept together as babies, need a very big cage, and they still might fight. Aside from that, mice have much of the same diet as rats. As in, they can and will eat nearly anything, and will steal bits of food whenever they can. Mice are fairy skittish, and need a lot of patience from their owners when being handled. They don’t jump out of your hands as often as the hamster. But they still can. (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.) Differences in food for hamsters, rats, and mice Food is something these 3 would argue over, and here’s why. While mice, rats, and hamsters are omnivores, hamsters still tend to eat mostly grains and veggies. So giving them the same feed will leave the dietary needs of the other ones unmet. And there will be food thefts, which can become a major problem. A rat stealing from a hamster can make do, although the hamster might fight back. However a hamster can’t really steal from the rat’s food, since it’s made up of slightly different nutrients. So that leaves the hamster at a disadvantage. Also the fact that the rat will protect his food and bite the hamster is another concern. You can’t keep separate food bowls for hamsters, mice, or rats. They won’t know which is which, and will pick out what they like from whichever bowl they find. Hamsters hoard food in their nest, as do rats and mice. However if the hamster feels unsafe in his hideout – and he will, with another rodent – he’ll keep the food in his cheek pouches. This leads to a host of health problems, since those pouches are not meant as permanent storage. Cage size differences between the 3 rodent types Hamsters need a minimum of of 24 x 12 inches, and about 12 inches tall. That’s 61 x 30.5 cm, and about 30.5 cm tall. This is the minimum for a lone, Syrian hamster. A single, male mouse will need a cage of 10 x 12 inches/25 x 30 cm. The same size will work for a trio of female mice. Males need more space of their own, but the larger the space, the more territorial they become. Rats, on the other hand, need a cage about 25 x 12.5 inches/ 63 x 31 cm for one single male rat. The more rodents your have the bigger the space you’ll need, if you want to combine the hamster with either one of them. However I do not recommend putting hamsters in with any other rodent, even if your got them both as babies. They’re very different animals, even if they’re kind of related. Playtime and other habits that might conflict While some things might annoy your hamster, like cleaning his cage, they might be okay for your rat or mouse. Cage cleaning can be postponed for up to two weeks for hamsters, since they won’t smell at all, they only have the one pee corner. Rats and mice habitats become smellier faster, and need regular cleaning once per week at the latest. Playtime is another problem that might come up. Hamsters don’t like being handled all that much, while mice and rats are more comfortable with their owners. Hamsters, mice, and rats alike need lots of exercise to keep themselves occupied. However hamsters are much jumpier than the other two, and will become defensive very fast. So to sum everything up, and give you a very clear answer: Hamsters should be kept alone, not even with another hamster. Keeping a hamster with a rat, or with a mouse might sound like a good idea since they might be similar. But the differences between them will lead to very uncomfortable pets. A word from Teddy I hope you found what you were looking for here. I know us hammies might look related to mice and rats, but we don’t really get along. Rats are too big, and mice too small. And they’re both very social, while us hamsters like to be on our own. Nothing personal, it’s just us being hamsters, that’s all. If you want to know more about us hammies, you can check the articles below to find out how to care for us properly. [...] Read more...
How To Choose Your First Hamster – Health And Temperament
How To Choose Your First Hamster – Health And TemperamentIf you’re looking to get a hamster, you’ll want to know how to choose your first hamster. Getting a hammy for the first time is exciting, and a big responsibility, even if he’s so small. Even if you’re not headed out the door to find your furry friend right now, there’s a few things you should know before you get a 2-3 year commitment. I wish I knew some of these when I first got my Teddy (Syrian male hammy). Table of Contents ToggleHow to choose your first hamsterThe hamster’s healthThe hamster’s eyesNo missing teethClean earsNo odd lumpsBald spots, and how the fur looksDischarge in the eyes or nose or earsWet tail, or soiled bottomSlender hamsterNo weird smellsThe hamster’s personalityBaby hamsters are hard to readMale or female hamsterWhich hamster breed to getBringing your new hamster friend homeIs a hamster really the pet for you ?A word from Teddy How to choose your first hamster The best way to choose a hamster is to look both for a healthy one, but also a even-tempered hamster. Hamsters are skittish and jumpy by nature, but they should be relatively easy to tame, and not very afraid of you. It’s easier to find a healthy hamster than a calmer, cooperative hamster. Most of the health checks are obvious and immediately noticeable, like scabs, missing teeth, bald spots, leaky nose, etc. The temperament however is a bit trickier, and won’t show completely until the hamster becomes an adult – around 3 months old. Until then, you’ll have to look for some specific signs. Let’s start with the health checklist, to see if your future hammy is healthy. The hamster’s health A healthy hamster  is easy enough to find, although some signs of illness won’t be immediately obvious. Some depend on the sex and breed of hamster you’re looking for as well. The hamster’s eyes A hammy’s eyes are supposed to be bright, and clear. Now hamsters usually have black eyes, but they can also be dark red, red, or even pink, and some look like a very deep dark blue. However the color should be clear, with no milky or whitish spots. They should not be hazy. Bright, sparkly, bulging eyes are a trait that hammies are known for. No missing teeth It should be obvious, but a hamster should have all of its teeth. That means 2 pair of front incisors, that you should be able to see clearly. They are very long, especially the bottom pair. Hamster teeth are yellow, sometimes even orange. That’s okay. You should only worry if you see white teeth, or whitish teeth, since those are signs of an illness or deficiency. Broken, cracked, crossed, or even missing teeth are a bad sign. They can come about from poor handling by the caretakers, or it could be a hereditary problem. Teeth are crucial to a hamster’s health, so they should be something you look at. You can find out more about hamster dental issues here, and what to look out for. Clean ears A hammy’s ears are the first thing he will use to make sense of his surroundings. Hamsters don’t see very well, so they rely a lot on smell and hearing. A pair of clean, thin ears is ideal, with no bite marks or missing bits. Do take note that many hammies have harder ears than the rest of their body. So you’ll need to get a bit of a closer look into the hamster’s ear for an infection or any other issues. No odd lumps Hamsters are this small ball of fur. But they should have no lumps, since that usually means an odd growth, or tumor, or a possible impacted cheek or abscess. None of those are good news. You might see your preferred hammy with a cheek full, or maybe both. That’s usually just food stored in his cheeks, though it’s not a common sight in pet stores. A note to be mindful of Syrian hammies. I wish I knew this about Teddy, because I was afraid he was sick when I first saw this. Syrian hamsters have two black mole-like spots on their hips, with barely any fur around them. Those are normal, and they are the scent glands. You will probably only notice them of the hamster is licking that spot. Bald spots, and how the fur looks The fur of a hamster should be fluffy, and clean looking. It should not be particularly shiny, unless the hamster was bred for that purpose. That being said, no bald spots (aside from the scent gland or genital area) should be present on the hamster. Any bald spot could be an indication of a skin disease, some of which could be contagious. However some bald spots can simply mean that he hamster somehow hurt himself, and managed to rip some fur off of himself. Be sure to check the habitat the hamster is in for other clues. Are there other hamsters with bald spots ? Are they actually scars from fighting ? Is there a part of the habitat the hamster could have cut himself on ? Discharge in the eyes or nose or ears A healthy, happy hamster should be completely dry. No discharge or liquids from the ears, nose, tail area, or mouth. Discharge can be a sign of infection, and it’s most probably contagious as well. SO it could be that your chosen hamster is sick, or is in the incubation phase. Any sign of infection however should be immediately treated by the staff at the pet store, since that isn’t a humane way to keep hamsters. Wet tail, or soiled bottom Wet tail is noticeable if the tail is, well, wet or soiled. It’s a type or diarrhea and can be extremely dangerous for your hamster’s health. You can find out more about wet tail here, and the chances your hamster has of getting it and surviving. If one hamster does have wet tail, or any other disease, it’s very possible that the other hamsters in the habitat have got it too, or they’re in the incubation phase. You’ll also notice signs of wet tail on the bedding, as it might be soiled and very smelly. Slender hamster A baby hamster – between 4 and 12 weeks old – should be neither skinny nor fat. This is actually how you should keep him as an adult, as well. An obese baby hamster will have a much shorter life span, and have several health issues, including and not stopping at diabetes and joint problems. An underfed hamster will be noticeable if you hold the hamster and feel its spine and leg bones very clearly. Since hamsters are so fluffy, it can be difficult to tell if they’re skinny or fat. The fur will cheat you there, but you should be able to tell if you look at the head and eyes, and how plump the skin is there. You can find out more about how big a hamster can get, depending on his breed. And find out here what you can do if you hamster’s already overweight. No weird smells An odd smell coming from your hamster is not a good sign. Hamsters are actually incredibly clean animals, and they clean themselves regularly, several times a day, very thoroughly. They have no scent that a human can detect, aside from female hamsters in heat. So if your hamster smells odd, you should check it for any signs of infection as well. It could be that the hamster has an abscess in his mouth (possibly because if a bad tooth) and that could be the source. Or a possible ear infection that isn’t obvious right away. The hamster’s personality Your hammy’s personality is probably something you won’t think of immediately, but you’ll notice it’s more important than anything. This is what I wish I knew before I got Teddy. You see, I wanted an orange hammy, and that was it. I had no idea about hamster breeds, temperaments, calmness, and so on. In time I saw that my Teddy is a bit of a despot, if you will. He must know, he must see, he will have his way, and he always has something to object. A bit annoying, but still a lovable ball of fur. Just not what I had in mind when I decided I want a hamster. I wanted a cuddly, friendly hammy, who will sleep on my shoulder and want to play all the time. Basically the world’s tiniest puppy. Again, I knew absolutely nothing about hamsters. Baby hamsters are hard to read When selecting your hamster, keep in mind that babies don’t have their personalities completely formed. You can’t look at a baby Syrian and know it’ll be friendly straight away, as you would a Lab puppy for example. Still, you can look at a few things when selecting your new hamster: Is he afraid or just cautious ? He should want to come closer if you reach for him, but not too confidently. Does the hamster run away as soon as it sees anyone ? Hamsters are shy, yes, but an extra shy hamster who bolts into his hideout all the time is very hard to tame. Does he look mostly calm and curious ? Hamsters are notoriously hyper, and older hammies are calmer than babies. Syrians are calmer than Dwarf types. Depends on what kind of hammy you want. Does the hammy look like it’s angry or snappy ? Might be best to stay away from that one, he will be harder to tame. Is the hamster trying to attack you ? It might sound silly, but if your hamster of choice starts making himself look bigger and tries to intimidate you, you’ve got a difficult one. Best to leave him be and find a different one. Keep in mind that previously owned hamsters might be a better choice, since they’ve been handled before and are most probably already tamed. They can be traumatised, however, so be gentle with them. If you’re selecting a baby hamster, make sure it is curious, and can hold its attention for several seconds. Hamsters are always on the move and are curious about a million things at a time, but still, if you put your hand on the cage, he should notice it and try to come closer. Your petshop should be able to let you handle the hammy before you walk out with him. Make sure you handle him beforehand, otherwise you’ll end up with not exactly what you were looking for. I didn’t ask to handle Teddy when I got him, and I’m not sure that pet store lets you do that. But handling him would’ve shown us that he wasn’t the calmest hamster in the cage. Male or female hamster This is up to you, and your preference. Males are generally a bit calmer, and easier to handle than females. That being said, if you’re getting a Dwarf type hammy, both genders are hyper and won’t sit still. Females come into heat every few days, about once a week. They become very irritable and a bit smelly in that period. You can recognize male hammies by the genital openings. In males the genital and anal opening are far apart, and do have fur between the two spots. Some hamster types may have a scent gland on the abdomen, so it will look like a third opening. Female hamsters have the obligatory and noticeable rows on nipples, and the genital and anal openings very close together. It will look like a bit of a bald spot with two pink dots. When picking a pair of hamsters, you’ll want to get them in same-sex pairs. This means no surprise, unplanned litters. Also, if you select a female hamster keep in mind that they can become pregnant as soon as they’re weaned – aprox . 4 weeks old. This means that if the caretakers didn’t separate the hamsters into same sex groups early enough, you might just bring home a pregnant female hamster without knowing. If your hammy is a pregnant female and you only just found out, congratulations on your new litter ! And here’s how to make sure they survive. Which hamster breed to get When it comes to the hamster breed, this is again up to you and your preference. There are two main types of hamsters available – Syrian and Dwarf hamsters. The Syrian is the most common one, it’s the largest, and easiest to tame. The Dwarf types (4 of them) are much smaller, and faster and agile and, can be a bit harder to tame since they just won’t sit still. No hamster ever sits in one place for more than a few seconds, but Dwarves are terrible at it. I have a Syrian male, and I sometimes have trouble keeping up with him. You can imagine how well I’d do with a Dwarf. Actually, Dwarf types are harder to handle, and as such are best left as observational pets. A bit like fish, but cuddly and much faster. Here’s how to identify each hamster type, and pick out the one you think you’d like the most. (If you like this article so far, you can pin it to your Pinterest board by clicking the image below. The article continues after the image.) Bringing your new hamster friend home Alright, you’ve picked out your new friend, he’s in his nice cardboard box and ready to go home. I’ll urge you to bring your pet as fast as you can to his new home, so he can accommodate. Hamsters don’t like change too much, so they won’t like being taken away. Make sure you get home and have his cage set up beforehand. You can read here about the recommended cage sizes for each hamster type, and how to pick one out for your hamster. An in-depth look at the best hamster cages available will be helpful before you actually go and buy your hammy’s cage. The bedding and hideout should be picked out beforehand too, so they’re already laid out in the cage and ready for your hamster friend. You can find here a good roundup of safe hamster bedding/substrate options, and pick your favorite. Toys and food bowl, should be available and already in place when your hammy comes home for the first time. As well as a running wheel for your hamster, and browsing a nice selection according to hamster breed will be useful to pick out a good exercise wheel. And finally, a bit of food and a treat in his cage will help your hamster settle in easier. This means that the hamster himself will be the last thing you buy when you decide to get this cuddly pet. This is because the moment you bring your hammy home and settle him in his new home, you won’t disturb him at all for at least a couple of days, if not 3-4. The transition from being with his siblings, and then being put in a box, and then put in another box is very disorienting and stressful, and hamsters are very very bad at handling stress. So when you get home, place the cardboard box in the hamster’s cage, with the hamster still in the box. Open a side of the box, and from then on leave the hammy alone. Talk to him when you walk past his cage, and dedicate some minutes every day to just let him smell you. Do not touch or try to handle him at all for a couple of days. Once he’s settled in, you can begin taming him, and you’ll become friends fairly quickly. Is a hamster really the pet for you ? This is a question you should ask yourself very seriously. I’ve seen a lot of people get a hamster without knowing what they’re getting themselves into. Me included. A hamster is not a puppy, and won’t always be there as you want him to be. In this respect, a hamster is more like a cat, if you will. He has a lot of personality, for being so incredibly small. And he can be aloof and hard to read sometimes. Hamsters don’t wag their tails, or purr to show affection or happiness. They do have their own special charm, but they’re a different pet than the norm. And they are definitely not suited for small children, no matter what else you hear. Hamsters don’t take well to being handled wrong, or too much, or loud noises, or sudden movements. These are all things a 6 year old can and will do, since they’re children. A guinea pig would be more suited for a small child, since they’re incredibly calm and serene (compared to a hamster). If you want to get a more in-depth view on what owning a hamster is like, and some pros and cons, you need to check this article. You’ll get much more info, and see if a hammy is really the one for you. And if you’d like to know more about how to properly care for your hamster, you can check out these essential steps. A word from Teddy I hope you found what you were looking for here, and know how to pick out the best hammy. I know us hamsters can be the cutest things ever, but we have our own personalities. So, make sure you check out the health and personality of your new friend before bringing him home. If you want to know more about us hammies, you should check out the related articles below for more info. [...] Read more...
Why Is My Hamster Licking The Cage? 4 Main Reasons
Why Is My Hamster Licking The Cage? 4 Main ReasonsHamsters are rodents, they like to try and test things by biting instead of licking. But licking the cage or other objects in it is not unheard of. So let’s talk about a few reasons why your hamster is licking the cage. Before getting to the topic is important to know that hamsters have different personalities and not all of them would have the same behavior for the same reason. So, it is important to know all the possible reasons for your hamster licking the cage, but you might have to decide which is most likely. Table of Contents Toggle4 Reasons your hamster is licking the cage1. Curiosity2. Cooling off3. Thirsty4. Lack of mineralsHow to clean the cage after a hamster licks it?Why does a hamster lick itself?Is it ok for your hamster to lick your hands?Why do hamsters bite the cage?Can you stop a hamster from licking its cage?Conclusion 4 Reasons your hamster is licking the cage Hamster licking the cage happens more often when we are talking about glass tanks and less often for bin cages or regular hamster cages. You can check my article about glass tanks for hamsters if you want to know more about how safe they are and what you should know when you keep your hamster in one of those. Here are a few reasons why a hamster is licking the cage. 1. Curiosity This is one of the main reasons why hamsters lick their cage, so you should not worry too much about it. Those little furballs are anxious by default, and at the same time they are also curious, which might not be the best idea in the wild since they can get into a predator trap but in some situations, it might help them get food.  Here is an article about what hamsters eat in the wild and how their diet differs from a pet hamster. I know that all the hamsters I had were curious, when they would hear a sound around their cage, the first instinct was to hide, but after a few seconds, they would come out to see what it was. You can imagine that this is not the safest behavior for a hamster in the wild but is fun to see it if you have a pet hamster. So them licking the cage, especially a glass tank it, is usually out of curiosity. They want to know if they should chew it and what it tastes like or simply want to explore more. 2. Cooling off If the room temperature is too high, they might lick the glass tank to cool off a bit, as we might eat ice cream on a sunny summer day. Compared to bin cages, glass tanks are cooler and your hamster can easily cool off (and even get too cold) when in direct contact with the glass.  If you want to know more ways to keep your hamster cool, here is an article about 9 ways to do that. But before that, you should check this article to know what is the best room temperature for a pet hamster. 3. Thirsty Being thirsty might make a hamster lick the cage, but this doesn’t happen as often since a pet hamster should always have a water bottle filled with fresh water. But to be sure, you better check that their water bottle is working properly if you see your hamster licking the cage. 4. Lack of minerals Hamsters lacking minerals might be an obvious reason for them licking the cage. However, I’ve put it last since a pet hamster usually gets all the minerals it needs from a pre-made food mix that you can find online or at the pet shop. So a pet hamster should not lack minerals. I gave a mineral chew to my first hamster, and right after that, I wrote an article about mineral chews for hamsters. You can read the article if you want to know more, but long story short, they don’t really need extra minerals, and it might actually be dangerous for them. So, a lack of minerals is not the most common cause for a hamster licking the cage but people usually think this is the main reason because we like to control things and know what the reasons and solutions are. While most of the time, the reason is unknown and you can’t do too much to stop it, but the good news is that the hamster is usually ok and doesn’t need special attention because it licks the cage. How to clean the cage after a hamster licks it? It is not crucial to clean the cage right away, but when you do, it is important to use just a bit of soap or even only hot water. Hamsters are very sensitive to the smell of soap, and if they start licking the cage again, it can be dangerous for them. My advice is not to rush to clean the cage when you see your hamster licking it but rather wait for when you do a complete clean anyway. Why does a hamster lick itself? Hamsters are very clean animals, you don’t ever need to wash them since they are doing a great job themselves and getting wet is dangerous for hamsters. They are always cleaning themselves to stay odor free, or they might leak their scent glands to release a specific odor that helps them confuse and/or scare predators. So a hamster constantly licking itself is normal behavior. You should not worry about that. The only thing that can be bad about that is when they lick and try to bite themselves since that might be a sign of having mites. Is it ok for your hamster to lick your hands? Hamsters can lick the owner’s hand as well, they do this for a few reasons. They try to show affection by doing this, which sounds cute but it doesn’t happen as often as we think. We have to keep in mind that hamsters are not social animals and they don’t necessarily enjoy playing with you. They can tolerate you, but they cannot love you like a puppy would. Depending on the hamster’s personality, some of them might not be bothered by getting picked out of the cage, but to say that they love that is a bit much. This is similar to the first reason they lick the cage: curiosity. They will try to see if it’s safe to eat, so a small bite after they lick your hands shouldn’t come as a surprise. Hamsters explore their world with their mouth and teeth, so that’s how they will explore you as well.  Why do hamsters bite the cage? A more serious and annoying behavior is when a hamster is biting the cage, either the plastic part or the bars. This can be dangerous for your hamster since they can get to eat the toxins from the plastic if they chew it. There are a few reasons for this behavior that I discussed in my article about hamsters chewing the cage bars, but I will shortly touch on them here as well. Small cage. This is one of the main reasons a hamster bites on the cage or the cage bars. They feel like they need more space or they want to evade.  Stress. Hamsters are quite anxious animals, so a lot of things can easily stress them. It can be the food, the water, the temperature, the noises and so on. You might have to investigate more to see what bothers your hamster. Teeth are growing. The hamster’s teeth are constantly growing like any other rodent, and they have to chew something. It might be the fact that they don’t have any other chewing toys, or it might simply be their favorite place to chew on. Curiosity. Yet again, they are curious animals, and more often than licking something to see what it is, they are biting it. Can you stop a hamster from licking its cage? Yes, you can temporarily stop your hamster from licking the cage, but it is not guaranteed that you will always succeed in the long-term. If the reason is the fact that they need to cool of, the solution is quite simple, you have to make to room cooler. If the lack of minerals is the problem, you should be more careful with the food you give and read on the box to make sure it contains minerals and vitamins in the appropriate amount. When it comes to being thirsty, if they use the water bottle properly and the bottle has water in it, this should not be a reason for a hamster to lick the cage. The tricky part is when they are curious, in this case all you can do is to distract them with other toys and tunnels. Make sure you put some treats, and some of their food in those toys and tunnels to ensure your hamster will want to use them. A bored hamster will lick the cage, bite the cars, climb all over the cage, and generally be frustrated. Adding enrichment items will help your hamster. But don’t expect quick results, your hamster might be stubborn and ignore your treats and keep licking the cage. However, this behavior might change in time by itself without any intervention from you, so patience might be the key in this case. Conclusion A hamster licking the cage is not an actual problem most of the time, but you better make sure that reasons 2-4 are not the problem. If your hamster is just curious, that will not put them in danger, it is just how they are, curious and anxious simultaneously. I hope this article helped you better understand your little furball’s behavior. [...] Read more...