Hamsters Living With Guinea Pigs – What No One Told You

You might wonder if your furry hamster can live with a friendly guinea pig. After all, they’re both rodents, and they might just get along, right ?

As it turns out, guinea pigs and hamsters are very different animals, and housing them together is a delicate subject. Here’s the answer to what you were looking for. If you want a more detailed comparison between a hamster and a guinea pig, you should read this article.

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So can a hamster live with a guinea pig ?

No. Hamsters can’t and shouldn’t live together with guinea pigs. Not because there is something wrong with guinea pigs.

But because of a major difference in personality, how they react to strangers. One is fiercely territorial, while the other can live in a large group.

And incredibly important, one sleeps the day away, while the other takes short naps throughout the 24 hours. They will inevitably annoy the hell out of each other.

So if you ever mix a hamster and a guinea pig in the same cage, or even just during playtime, things will go bad. Very very fast, and you’ll need to be quick to separate the two.

To really understand why these two furballs should be kept separate, we need to look at their personalities, cage requirements. and even playtime.

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 guinea pig is much bigger, smells different, and acts different.

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.

While there are differences between hamsters, they are roughly the same. You need to know both hamsters and guinea pigs well before you even think of housing them together.

About the guinea pig’s personality

A guinea pig is a very social animal, and a great starter pet. They’re more docile than a puppy, but still show some personality so you learn that pets are their own beings and you need to do some things their way.

That being said, guinea pigs don’t do well on their own, unless you’re always there to play with them and cuddle them. In nearly every case it’s best to get your guinea pig a buddy so they can keep each other company.

A guinea pig is easy enough to tame, since it will react well to new sights and people. Still, some care should be taken, since they’re not immediately friendly like a puppy, or curious like a kitten.

Guinea pigs will generally flee if they sense any danger, and won’t really bite unless in some extreme cases of self defense. And they’re not terribly territorial.

However problems will arise when the hamster gets scared or annoyed by the pig, and will bite in retaliation. While hamsters are small, their jaws a powerful, and will injure the guinea pig.

Think of the guinea pig as a gentle giant, who lets things slide for the most part. Very hard to anger, but once he is irritated, his teeth and jaws are much stronger than a hamster’s.

The small piggy can only keep its patience for so long, and will eventually bite back. Given the sheer size difference between a guinea pig and a hamster, it won’t go well.

You will end up with an injured, irritable guinea pig, and a dead hamster.

Cage size for guinea pigs, and hamsters

A single Syrian hamster can live in a cage the size of 24 x 12 inches, and about 12 inches tall. That’s 61 x 30.5 cm, and about 30.5 cm tall.

A Dwarf would need half that size, but I honestly recommend getting your hamster a very large cage, since he’ll feel much more comfortable with lots of space to run around.

A guinea pig, on the other hand, needs 30 x 36 inches/ 76 x 91 cm cage. That is the absolute minimum, for just one guinea pig. The more piggies your have, you’ll have to almost double that size. As with the hamster, a larger cage is better.

Alright, you might argue that you’ve got an incredibly large cage, big enough for both the piggy and the hamster. Fair enough, let’s look at how both animals keep their territory.

A guinea pig will share his home with his partner, or the other 234 piggies it lives with. A guinea pig is a very social, herd animal.

A hamster will attack anything that comes into his territory, and lives alone. He makes regular rounds of the space he owns, and will jump any creature stumbles upon. While the guinea pig will turn away, the hammy will chase him and eventually bite. 

Another thing to keep in mind is that hamsters are incredibly sensitive to smell, and very much love their routine. They need things to be in the same place, smelling of their scent, and nothing alien.

A guinea pig wandering the cage will throw off the hammy’s routine, and become a nuisance without even trying.

Finally, guinea pigs will get bored with the same setup, and move their herd from one hideout to another. The hamster will disagree with this.

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

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Difference between playtime with guinea pigs and hamsters

What about the playtime between hamsters and guinea pigs ? Well, they both love to exercise, so they’ve got that in common.

While the piggy won’t use the hamster’s wheel to run, he’ll use the entire cage for a quick sprint. And he will bump into the hammy’s wheel, or hideout or any other objects. This won’t sit well with the hamster.

And finally with the playing and handling, the hamster can’t sit still for very long. But a guinea pig will stay put for longer, and come back with your scent.

This will produce mixed feelings in the hamster, who is again a very smell-sensitive animal.

So generally most interactions between the two don’t go too well, largely due to the hamster’s need for solitude.

While hamsters will only come out and play in the evening and most of the night, a guinea pig is different. A guinea pig sleeps in patches throughout the day, and will generally follow the owner’s routine.

A hamster on the other hand will sleep the day away, and only wake up in the evening, which will produce large amounts of stress. The hammy won’t rest well, since the piggy is running around the cage and the sounds will keep the hamster on alert.

And when the guinea pig would take a short nap, the hammy could possibly stumble upon it (curious as hamsters are, but also silly and a bit thick). Which will not end up well, again.

Food fights, and other habits your two rodent will argue over

Alright, let’s cover the difference between foods, since this is a major problem. Hamsters are omnivores, so they eat anything from meat to grains and veggies, to fruits.

In certain proportions, and they prefer grains for the most part. You can find out more about that here.

A guinea pig on the other hand will need food based on veggies, Timothy hay, and lots of vitamin C.

If you mix their food, or even if you put the food separately, there’s not telling who is going to eat whose food. Neither the hamster or the piggy will know the food is for the other one, and they will end up fighting over it.

This is a serious issue with Dwarf hammies who live together and can lead to fatal injuries. Let alone a large guinea pig fighting a small hamster.

Also take into account that hamsters live far less than guinea pigs. A hamster can live as long as 2-4 years, while a guinea pig can reach 7 years. An old hamster will probably become blind in his final weeks or months, and find it more difficult to navigate his cage.

Normally hamsters memorize their cages and where to find everything, so they can do just fine without their eyesight. But stumbling upon the piggy, while blind, is bound to scare them.

The hammy will be scared even if he’s alone in his cage and you don’t talk to him enough before coming close, when he’s blind.

So to sum everything up, and give you a rounded answer:

Hamsters and guinea pigs can’t live together. The hamster prefers to be alone and will consider the piggy an intruder, even if they’re introduced as babies.

Best to keep them separate, and make sure they don’t even meet. You’ll save yourself and the two animals a lot of literal pain and heartache.

A word from Teddy

I hope you found what you were looking for here. I know us hammies seem like we could use a buddy, but we’re fine on our own. We like it that way, and won’t take kindly to other animals. Nothing personal, that’s just us being hamsters, is all.

If you want to know more about us hammies, you should definitely check out the articles below to find out how to care for us properly, and keep us happy.

Related blog post
Choosing An Exercise Ball For Your Hamster – Complete Guide
Choosing An Exercise Ball For Your Hamster – Complete GuideWhen I first got my Teddy, I didn’t have an exercise ball for him. I didn’t even think that would be necessary. But a friend helped me out and let me have her hammy’s old exercise ball. After a few weeks I got Teddy his own exercise ball. But that was when I learned most of the things I know about how much exercise a hamster needs, and how to help him get that exercise. That’s what I’m going to help you with here. Table of Contents ToggleSo what is the best exercise ball for hamsters ?Why hamsters need an exercise ballHow to tell if your hamster is comfortable in the exercise ballPrecautions when using the hamster exercise ballDo not leave your hamster in the exercise ball for too long.Keep an eye on your hamster when he’s in the ball.Hamsters can sometimes escape their exercise balls.Be careful what surface you place the ball on.Proof your apartment or house.My recommendation for a good hamster exercise ballHow to use a hamster exercise ballGet your hamster used to the exercise ballPlacing your hamster in the exercise ballPlacing the hamster back in his cageWhen to place the hamster in his exercise ballWhen to not place the hamster in his exercise ballA word on hamster exercise balls with standsHow to clean a hamster exercise ballWhere to keep the hamster exercise ball when not using itA word from Teddy So what is the best exercise ball for hamsters ? A great exercise ball for hamsters is one that will fit the adult hamster properly. This means that an adult Syrian hamster like my Teddy will need at least a 7 inch exercise ball, up to 9 inches. That’s 18 cm to 23 cm, in diameter. Smaller breeds of hamster like a dwarf or Campbell will do well in 5 inch exercise balls, up to 7 inches. So that’s 13 cm to 18 cm for your little hamster types. Another thing about the hamster exercise balls is that you should be careful that your hammy’s feet or tail don’t slip through the air holes. This can happen with the very large exercise balls, that are geared towards guinea pigs or ferrets. So inspect the air holes and vents carefully to see how wide they are. If it looks like your hamster’s entire foot could fit through there, then look for a size smaller. All exercise balls are made of hard plastic, so your hamster will be safe. Why hamsters need an exercise ball If your hamster is anything like my Teddy, then he’s very curious and want to be everywhere, and know everything, right now. He’s a very active hammy and I wouldn’t label him as a ”relaxed” hamster. He’s more like a border collie than anything, he’ll find something to do if I don’t give him something to do. So the exercise ball saved us both, especially in the beginning. He can roam the house as much as he likes. This is the first way an exercise ball helps your hamster. It gives him the opportunity to roam, explore, get into all the nooks and crannies he sees from his cage, and wander under your desk when you’re busy. Second, an exercise ball will help your hamster get more exercise than the running wheel. This is because the hamster has to push the weight of the ball as well, and that’s a great way to give him good exercise. He can’t run as fast as he can in the running wheel, but it’s a different type of workout. To find out more about the kind of exercise wheel your hamster needs, check out my article here. Third, it gives him something to do. He can’t really chew at that ball from the inside, it keeps him moving, and he’s easy to contain. If you’re cleaning his cage and have nowhere to put him, try the exercise ball. This is what I do with my Teddy, and he always gets excited when he sees it. And fourth, they’re just so funny when they’re in that ball. This one is more for you than the hamster, I know. But you need a laugh every now and then too. A hamster in his exercise ball bumping into every bit of furniture, and trying his best to push the ball over that powerstrip cord is the best thing ever. How to tell if your hamster is comfortable in the exercise ball Teddy has a 7 inch exercise ball, and he’s had it since his first few weeks. The first one he had was a smaller, 5 inch one. Since he was a baby, it was alright for a couple of weeks. Back then he was the size of an adult dwarf hamster. But he soon started to grow and get bigger and longer, and once I was that I went to look for a bigger exercise ball. The one I landed on was a 7 inch version, clear plastic, with removable lids on the side. The way I could tell he was much more comfortable in this new ball was that his back was finally straight. When he ran/pushed the ball, his back wasn’t as arched as it was in the smaller ball. So that’s one thing you can look for, how arched the hamster’s back is. His back isn’t meant to arch backwards, it’s built for hunching and standing straight at best. If you notice your hammy having back problems consider getting him a larger exercise ball. Other signs to look for are how easy the hamster can move the ball from the inside, and how much his tail or feet stick out at times. If the hammy can easily move the ball, that’s good. Some resistance is expected, if he’s on a carpet. The ball moves easier on hard surfaces like hardwood or tiles. But if the hammy can’t move the ball easily, it might be just too big for him, even if it looks like he has enough space. Large exercise balls equal more plastic, so more weight. You hamster can only push so much, especially if he’s a smaller breed. As for the tail and feet sticking out, they will stick out a bit anyway. His claws and tail are so small and thin it’s hard for them not to stick through the air vents. Especially when he stops to clean himself, check something and sits down. But if the hammy’s entire leg can fit through an air hole, then the ball is not good for him. He can get hurt or catch his tail and that’s never good. Precautions when using the hamster exercise ball While the ball is made to protect your hammy, and it does that quite well, there are a few things you should be careful about. Do not leave your hamster in the exercise ball for too long. Best to put him in the ball several times a day, for set amounts of time. I usually leave Teddy in the ball for about 30 minutes, but not more. This is because the air inside is not very much, even with the air holes. Also, he has no access to water or food. If you see droppings in your hammy’s exercise ball, then you can be sure he needs a break. If you can’t see them, you’ll definitely hear them jingling. Keep an eye on your hamster when he’s in the ball. If he gets stick on some carpet, or corner, or charger cord, help him out. Otherwise he will panic. If your house is on at least two levels, keep him away from the stairs. The ball will protect him, but only so much. Hamsters can sometimes escape their exercise balls. Maybe it’s not closed properly, or maybe he’s a genius, no matter. Make sure you close the exercise ball very tightly, and keep an eye on him. Be careful what surface you place the ball on. Hardwood and short haired carpet are okay. But a shaggy carpet, with long frills is not okay, since it can stick into his exercise ball. The hamster, being curious, will shove the carpet pieces in his cheeks to use as nesting later. That’s not good, ever. Watch out for dusty or unclean surfaces. Dirt and dust will find their way into your house anyway, but it’s important that you let the hamster run on a clean surface. Otherwise the dirt and dust will end up on him, and that can affect his health. Proof your apartment or house. The area your hamster will run around in needs to be safe, for him and for your furniture. So any corners the ball can fit into and actually get stuck in, should be blocked by a slipper or something like that. If there is anything fragile like a mirror, either place it somewhere else when the hamster is in the ball, or put some slippers or rolled towel in front of it. The ball bumping into furniture is incredibly noisy, so make sure you put him in a room where there is not much hard furniture, or try not to mind the noise. Teddy: In general, if you can’t hear the ball moving for more than a few seconds, you should check on your hamster friend. He’s either stuck, or up to something. My recommendation for a good hamster exercise ball I looked around and found a good exercise ball on Amazon. It’s the same size as the one I have, and it has a lot of air vents for your hamster to breathe. You can choose whichever color you like, but in the end all exercise balls end up with scratches on them after a few uses. Think of it as the polished armor on a knight. This particular ball is 7 inches/18 cm, so that’s the minimum diameter for a Syrian hamster, and the maximum for a dwarf type. So both hamster types can use this kind of ball freely. This kind of ball is easy enough to assemble, so there should be no problems there. You can check out the listing on Amazon here. Once you get your hamster an exercise ball, whether it’s the one above or a different one, you’ll need to know how to help your hammy use it. So let’s get into that, so you can watch your little friend run around. How to use a hamster exercise ball This will be very intuitive for your hamster, but he might need some time to adjust at first. I’ll give your Teddy’s example. When he first found himself in a hamster ball, he was a bit confused. I made the mistake of putting him in the ball too soon after bringing him home. Teddy got used to the ball very quickly, and learned how to steer it properly in about a week. Get your hamster used to the exercise ball Leave the ball in his cage for about half an hour, maybe a full hour. Make sure one end is open, and the hamster has easy access to the opening. Place a treat inside the ball, so your hammy has more reason to climb into the ball. Let him explore, smell, try to chew on it. He will get used to it, and will probably climb into it fairly fast. After your hammy is used to the exercise ball, it will be much easier to get him into the ball. If he starts moving his nest into the ball, remove the ball, and leave the nest parts in the cage. It’s clear he’s comfortable in it. Placing your hamster in the exercise ball Once your hammy is used tot he exercise ball, this will be easy. You can do this 3 ways, depending on your hamster’s personality, current mood, and the type of cage you have. First, you can place the ball in the cage with a treat inside. Once the hamster climbs in, scoop the ball up and close it. This works best for cages that have a top-side opening, and a large one at that. It’s also great if you’re hammy is in a very feisty or irritated mood and can not be held at the moment, but you need to clean the cage. Second, you can  place the exercise ball (with a treat inside) with the opening on the side of the cage. It only works for cages that have side clasps. Then unhook one side, and slowly raise that part until your hamster can get through. Most hamsters will be so curious about the new opening they will climb right into the ball. By keeping the opening flat against the side of the cage, you’ll make it easier to keep him in place until you put the lid on. Third, if your hammy is very tame and is easy to hold, pick him up. Place him by hand in the exercise ball, which of course has a treat inside. This way you’re sure the hamster gets into the exercise ball, which makes cleaning the cage much easier. Placing a treat inside the exercise ball will teach your hamster to always be excited when he sees the exercise ball. After a while he will climb into it even without the treat. Placing the hamster back in his cage This is a lot like the way you got him into the cage in the first place. Place a bit of food in the cage and place the open exercise ball near that food. The hamster will climb out, and will enjoy his treat. If your have a cage that can lift the sides, place the food close to the side you will use to place the hamster back. So that when you lift the side of the cage to place your hamster back, he will see the food right away and go straight to it. Never force or shake your hamster out of his exercise ball. Try coaxing him out with a treat, or just wiggling a finger where you want him to get. He’s very curious and will go to check it out. When to place the hamster in his exercise ball First off, let’s talk about how soon to place the hamster in the ball after bringing him home from the pet store. You should allow him about a week to get used to his new home, in which time he will build his nest and get a sense of  normality. After that week, make sure you get the hamster slowly used to the ball by placing it in the cage like I explained above. Aside from that, you can place the hamster in his ball at almost any point when he is awake, but there is a best time. If you see your hamster very agitated, or climbing all over the cage, that would be a good time. He has a lot of extra energy which he needs to release. When to not place the hamster in his exercise ball shortly after he woke up when he is sitting on his hideout, scoping the area and being watchful when he is eating when he has low energy, and would be sleepy when he is sick and needs a lot of rest and water A word on hamster exercise balls with stands I had one of these, actually I still do. The one I have used to have a stand for the ball, and a second set of lids so the hamster could climb into and out of the ball when he wants. It sounds like a great idea, but there are a couple of problems here. First, the stand is meant as an actual stand. Not as a support for a spinning exercise ball. This is the mistake I made with Teddy, and after a couple of weeks, I heard the noise. Plastic on plastic eventually chewed down on the stand bits, and it started making the most awful screeches when Teddy ran in it. It’s not like a metal wheel, which you can just oil and it will be fine for a couple of weeks. No, the plastic one actually gets ground down to nothing, both the stand handles and the holes they plug into. Second, the hamster can somehow, some way, move its nest in that ball. This happened with Teddy, and I’m sure there are a few other people out there who had this happen too. The little furball moved food, nesting material, and a few droppings into his exercise ball, and used that as a nest. Which wasn’t so terrible, except when he started running. The contents Teddy brought into that exercise ball flew everywhere in the ball, and a bit outside. It actually woke me up a couple of nights. So do yourself and your hammy a favor, and only use that stand outside the cage. Use it as a stand to actually keep the ball on, without the hamster inside. (If you like this article so far, you can pin it to your Pinterest board by clicking the image below. The article continues after the image.) How to clean a hamster exercise ball The exercise ball will get a bit dirty, there’s no way around that. It will grind on whatever is on the floor, it will get all kinds of scratch marks on the outside from rolling around. Aside from all that, it will pick up a bit of dust or other small debris that need to be cleaned off. Make sure you use only hot (as hot as you can handle it) water, and the smallest amount of soap to clean the ball. Take it apart, and thoroughly scrub it down with hot water and a tiny amount of soap, inside and out. You can use the rough side of a dishwashing sponge, or a cloth, whichever you prefer. Be extra careful in the inside of the ball to not use much soap. The soap has a strong scent for your hammy, and he might not want to get into the exercise ball if he can’t stand the smell. The wash will also remove most of the hammy’s scent from inside the ball, so make sure you place a treat inside the exercise ball when you reintroduce it to the hamster. As for how often to clean it, it depends on how often the hamster uses it, and how much it’s been through. If you place your hamster in the ball every day, and let him roam for a half hour, then the ball should be cleaned often. Best to do that daily, since there a lot on the floor usually. If he only ever uses the exercise ball a few times a month, and for a short amount of time, you can even clean it every week. Where to keep the hamster exercise ball when not using it Wherever you keep it, it must be a clean, dust-free place. In a cupboard, or a drawer would be alright. Place it on its stand if it has one, and keep it somewhere the dust will not settle on or in it. Do not leave it on the floor, especially if you have other pets or children. Someone might kick it by accident, or a dog might chew on it, or maybe one of your toddlers will confuse it with a bouncy ball. A word from Teddy This was all I could tell you about our exercise balls. How to pick one, how to keep it clean, and how to put one of us hamsters in an exercise ball. We love to run around and play, us hamsters are very active creatures and we get anxious when we’re cooped up too much. So let us roam free-ish, in the exercise ball, so we can explore your home ! If you’d like to know more about us hamsters, and what kind of food we can eat, or how much water we need, you can check out the articles below.   [...] Read more...
Do Hamsters Use Tubes And Tunnels ? Gifts For Your Hamster
Do Hamsters Use Tubes And Tunnels ? Gifts For Your HamsterWatching a hamster crawl through tunnels is half the fun of having one, right after watching him stuff his cheeks and run on the wheel. But do all hamsters use their tunnels ? Are they worth getting for your hamster ? I’ll tell you my experience with Teddy (Syrian male hammy) and what I’ve learned from other hamster owners. Table of Contents ToggleSo do hamsters use tubes/tunnels ?What to look for in a hamster tunnelA few hamster tunnel/tube examplesStore bought hamster tunnel toysDYI hamster tubes and tunnelsA word from Teddy So do hamsters use tubes/tunnels ? Yes, most hamsters do use tubes or tunnels. Some will use them more often, some will use them every now and then. But all hamsters are drawn to small, tight, hidden pockets of space. This is mostly because of the nature of rodents, to always seek a tunnel or hole to hide in. Also, in the wild hamster nests are made of a series of long, interconnected tunnels and galleries. So a tunnel or tube will feel very familiar to him. That being said, some hamsters will be more on the lazier side and won’t use them much, instead preferring to sit down and snack on something. There are a few things you should look out for, when you get your hamster a tunnel toy, for their own safety. Let’s talk about that. What to look for in a hamster tunnel For the most part tunnels (the store bought kind) are made of plastic and as such can be a bit slippery. You should check to see if the tunnels have rungs on the inside, so your hamster can actually get a grip. Another issue is airflow. Being plastic, and being mostly external tubes (running on the outside of the cage), the tubes will not be easy to escape. This also means that airflow could be restricted, so there will be a bit less air in the tubes than in the cage. This also makes cleaning and drying the tube much easier. Most tunnels will be clear, so you can watch your hammy scamper up and down. However when you assemble the tunnels, you need to be careful to not create very sharp angles, so the hamster can turn easily. A U-bend is alright, as long as it’s wide enough. You should make sure your cage can support a tube opening though. Our Teddy’s cage came with tubes and we can always connect those tubes to other extensions. But no all cages can do that. There are tutorials online on how to create a safe tube opening in your hamster’s cage though, and you can get some ideas from those videos. Aside from all this, hamster tunnels are pretty much great for hamsters, and for us owners too. Let’s see a few examples. A few hamster tunnel/tube examples You can get all kinds of tube, or tube toys. Some of them can be made at home, some can be bought. It depends on what you’re planning to use the tubes for. For external tubes, or a complex tube series, I recommend plastic tubes, since they will definitely keep the hamster contained. Let’s see some options for both kinds. Store bought hamster tunnel toys For the most part tubes can be constructed any way you like them, as long as they fit. This tube style for example is popular, and leaves you room for creativity. You can build a whole set of complex tunnels, as long as you don’t go overboard and tip them over (center of gravity and such). You’ll see only one style in the photo here, but the listing on Amazon shows you all their available pieces. You can combine them as much as you like, and create a whole playground for your hamster. They can be used both inside the cage and outside. You can check the listing on Amazon, and read the reviews as well. You’ll have to check your cage if it can fit the openings for tunnels. If not, they can be created securely, with a few online tutorials. DYI hamster tubes and tunnels Many hamster toys can be made at home, very simple, from cardboard rolls. If you have toilet paper or paper towels, then you’ve got a whole bunch of tubes for your hamster. Unfortunately cardboard is a favorite among hamsters to chew on, so these tubes can’t be used as external tubes. Connecting them would also be a chore, and there is no airflow as well. But, inside the cage, our Teddy always has a couple of tubes he uses to get from one end to the other. I guess it’s more exciting that way. Sometimes those tubes end right in front of the water bottle. He doesn’t even bother to get out and drink water like normal hamster, he just twists himself up to get a drink and then darts 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.) Giving your hamster a tube to play in is as simple as just placing the tube inside his cage. But, if you want to get fancy you can cut a few holes in a long tube and he’ll use as a hide and seek toy. You can leave it at that, or you can use a few shorter tubes (like the toilet paper ones) to create a tube system on the floor of his cage. Just fold the end of the tubes a bit, so they fit into the holes, and make an entire system. Do keep in mind that it won’t last long, though. Hamsters love cardboard, and will chew their way through it. So the tunnel system will be bitten here and there, and parts of it will be missing. The hamster’s gonna have a great time though, so there’s that. A word from Teddy I hope you found what you were looking for in this article. I know us hamsters love to play, but we’d love to run around in tunnels too. I hang out in my tunnel quite often, and I’ve moved some food there as well, so I have a snack when I go there. If you want to know more about us hamsters you can check out the related articles below. You’ll find out how to keep us safe and happy. [...] Read more...
What Do Hamsters Eat ? – Food List And Exceptions
What Do Hamsters Eat ? – Food List And ExceptionsWhat do you usually feed your hamster ? What can hamsters eat ? What should they NOT eat ? I had some many of these questions when I first got my Teddy, and I can tell you what I found out. Some I found out by trial and error, some I asked vets, and some still I found out from other hamster enthusiasts. So I’ve compiled a big ol’ list here, so you can have all the info you need for your hamster’s food and diet. Table of Contents ToggleSo what can hamsters eat ?What hamsters should never eatProtein foods your hamster can eatVegetables and Legumes you can feed your hamsterHamsters can eat pasta and bread too !Nuts and seeds your hamster can eatFruits your hamster can eatPre-made food mixes for your hamsterGrain and pellet food mix for your hamsterTreats for your hamsterHow much does a hamster eat ?Dangers of overfeeding your hamsterWhat to do if your hamster is not eatingA word from Teddy So what can hamsters eat ? First off, hamsters are omnivores. That means they can and will eat anything from plant-based food, to grains, to meat and insects. This applies for every kind of hamster out there, be it Syrian, Robo, Campbell, or Chinese. If you look at a box of hamster feed, you will usually just see grains, a few seeds, and a few vitamin pellets. But if you turn the box and look at the ingredients, you will often see protein sources like chicken/fish/beef/shrimp.  You can feed the hamster an omnivore diet yourself, or get a pre-made mix that will last for several weeks, even a couple of months. I’ll get into more detail with each food group a hamster can eat, along with actual examples you probably have in your home. And I’ll give you a couple of food mixes you can buy for your hamster, along with other treats. But first, let’s see what hamsters should definitely avoid. What hamsters should never eat In general hamsters should stay away from anything acidic. Even if you give your hammy a piece of orange he will turn away from it, but that’s just because of the strong smell. Best to avoid acidic food altogether. There are other foods your hamster should avoid, mainly because his stomach is not built for such foods. Here are a few examples of foods your hamster should never eat: any type of citrus at all – lemon, orange, clementine, grapefruit, etc. any part of a tomato, it’s acidic as well, even if less than a lemon chocolate, and anything sweet – can cause diabetes fruit seeds or peels – apple, grapes, strawberry, etc onions, garlic, peppers, spices – anything extra spicy or tasty will upset his stomach high-fat content foods – like extra fat meat, or even some types of dairy anything unwashed like unwashed fruits or vegetables any part of a rhubarb(1) almonds, apricot pits can be highly toxic celery or very stringy/fibery foods like cabbage anything containing added sugar or salt raw potato or beans (any kind) These are all foods that your hamster is better off not eating, since he can’t digest them. In some cases these foods will kill the hamster, so best to avoid them completely. Alright, now let’s get into the food groups your hammy can eat, along with actual examples. Yay ! Protein foods your hamster can eat Hammies do eat protein, and it doesn’t have to be soy-based necessarily. While you can feed your little hammy something soy-based like tofu, you can also find some soy protein in his food mix as well. But I wouldn’t advise giving the hamster and actual, raw soy bean. Best to stay away from that. For example I’ve given my Teddy boiled egg white, boiled unseasoned chicken and turkey, and he loves them both. Actually, most of the time hamsters just store food in their cheeks and hide it in the house. But with the egg and chicken, Teddy dropped everything he had and ate them right there. Of course, the pieces you feed your hammy should be small, so he can eat them on the spot. If you give him too big a piece, he might want to save some of it for later and we all know how quickly meat goes bad. Mealworms are sometimes a treat for hamsters. I’ve never give my Teddy one, but I’ve met hamster owners who give them to their hammies as treats. Not all hamsters will like them, but you can try. Do not give them mealworms too often though, since they are very filling. Teddy: If your feed any kind of meat or egg to you hammy, keep it simple, unsalted, unseasoned. Never feed any raw protein tot us, like raw meat or egg. Dairy is also a good protein source, but don’t give it to your hammy often ! Hamsters are mammals just like us humans, and as such we can’t process milk-based products very well when they are in large quantities. So, keep the dairy to a minimum. Something like a peanut sized piece, once per week is alright. Vegetables and Legumes you can feed your hamster Most vegetables are safe for hamsters to eat, but some are to be avoided. Especially legumes like lentils, beans, peas, chickpeas and so on are not alright. This is mostly because of their high fiber content, which can upset your hamster’s guts. So best to stay away from legumes for your hamster. Vegetables like leafy greens and roots are mostly alright. But let’s talk about a few clear examples. Here are some vegetables your hammy can totally eat: most leafy greens, like spinach, watercress, lettuce, kale cucumber, zucchini carrots are okay, but any other hamster than a Syrian will have to eat them less frequently (higher sugar content than other vegetables, can cause diabetes for dwarf hamsters) sweet potato, cooked – same as carrots, keep a very low intake for dwarf hamsters asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower (cooked) You probably have most of these in your fridge or pantry already. So feel free to feed your hamster small pieces of these veggies as a treat, or even as a supplement to his usual food mix. Hamsters can eat pasta and bread too ! But only in small quantities. The thing with pasta, bread, rice, and so on, is that they’re all high carbohydrate foods. As such, your hamster needs them, but not as much as you’d think. The carb content of a hamster diet should not get past 20%, since they require a balanced dies of protein and veggies as well. So here are a few examples or carbs and bread your hammy can safely eat: Bread, as long as it has no added sugar and has a low salt content. That rules out toast bread, hot dog buns, and hamburger buns as well. Whole grain or multi-cereal bread is great for hamsters actually. Dry grains, of basically any kind Cooked brown rice, unseasoned Cooked wholegrain pasta, unseasoned. Regular white pasta becomes too sticky for your hamster, and will leave residues in his cheek pouches that can cause problems later on. Corn flakes, oat flakes, most muesli mixes Unsalted, unsweetened crackers and biscuits, small piece The food mix you give your hamster is usually well balanced, so don’t feed your hammy too much additional bread or other carbs. Keep them as a small treat every now and then. Nuts and seeds your hamster can eat Hamsters love to chew on a lot of things, and nuts and seeds give them just that opportunity. Most nuts and seeds are okay for hamsters to eat, but there are a few exceptions. Here’s a list of seeds and nuts your hamster can enjoy: dried sunflower and pumpkin seeds, with or without shell, unseasoned peanuts and hazelnuts, unsalted, plain; remove shell and skin walnuts chestnuts, without shell, cooked, plain sesame seeds Do keep in mind that nuts and seeds have a high fat content. So don’t feed too many or too often to your hamster. Keep them as a treat every now and then. Especially if the food mix you bought for the hamster already has a couple of seeds and nuts included. Teddy: Stay away from almonds though. They classify as a nut, but they are toxic for us hamsters ! Fruits your hamster can eat Most kinds o fruit are safe for hamsters. There are a few exceptions, and I’ll cover those too. But first, here is a list of fruits your hamster can eat: apple, pear, peeled and cored (no seeds) strawberries, no seeds banana slice, in a very small amount grape, no seeds, peeled dates and figs, dried raisins blueberries, blackberry, raspberry cherries, no seeds Again, keep the hamster away from citrus fruits. The citrus oils is toxic for hamsters, and will harm them. If you’ve ever peeled an orange and got your hand close to your hammy, you saw him pull away. (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.) Pre-made food mixes for your hamster These are a convenient way to feed your hamster, and often are actually pretty well thought out. If you see the ingredient list, and think there’s something vital that’s missing (like proteins) you can look for another brand or supplement with proteins like the list above. Grain and pellet food mix for your hamster I use a pre-made mix for my Teddy, and give him fruits, veggies, and meat whenever I’m cooking. So he gets the grain and pellets mix, with an assortment of carrots and other foods I have around the house and are safe for him. As I said above, I’ll give you a few options on store bough food to give to your hamster. The first one I found is an actual food mix, with a fair amount of seeds and pellets as well. The whole bag will last you for a couple of months or more, depending on how much you feed the hamster, and what you supplement alongside (More on that below). You can check the Amazon pricing here, and other details as well. Treats for your hamster While most hamster food mixes have a balance of protein, vitamins, and carbs, you can give your hamster occasional treats. These don’t have to be often, but need to be kept as a treat every few days, or when you’re trying to teach or tame your hamster. For example I give Teddy cheese drops as a treat, and he absolutely loves them. The drops can be made of other fruits or veggies too. But Teddy seems to prefer the cheese. I found a variety pack that you can give your hamster. They’re yogurt based and suitable for all kinds of hamster, rats, gerbils, even ferrets. You can find the listing on Amazon here, and check the price as well. There are other types of treats hamsters go for, like for example simple dog treats (no flavors) or milk bones, and some granola bars(no sugar or honey). But my Teddy loves these cheese yogurt drops, and he gets them 2-3 times a week. Teddy: Whatever treat or food you choose, make sure you feed us hamsters responsibly ! Treats are treats and we don’t need them every day. Food mix is a great way to make sure we get the proper nutrition and stay healthy. How much does a hamster eat ? Alright, now that you know what kind of foods your hammy can and can not eat, and you’ve seen a few examples of pre-made food and treats, let’s talk about how often to feed the hamster. This depends mostly on the hamster himself, in that a baby hamster will need a bit less food than an adult hamster. But in general, 2 teaspoons of dry food are enough for an adult Syrian hamster. Dwarf hamsters need less, 1 teaspoon. It might sound like very little food, but look at the size of your hamster. Not only can he not eat much, but also dry food keeps him full for much longer than veggies. If you’re unsure, grab a teaspoon and put the necessary amount in your hand. I’ll attach a photo here of how much 2 teaspoons of dry food is for my Teddy. This is enough for an adult Syrian hamster. Teddy: Remember, we don’t need a lot of food, and we also hide food in our hideouts ! So if you just fed your hammy, and see no food there 5 minutes later, don’t give him more food. He just took the food into his hideout, to snack on later. Us hamsters are funny like that, and love to hoard our food ! Dangers of overfeeding your hamster The first and immediate danger is getting your hamster fat. While you might think that a chubby hamster looks cute (and he does, not gonna lie) it’s very bad for his health. Hamsters are very active creatures, and must be able to run and sprint and dart through tubes or into hideouts at any point. This is their instinct, and a large fat hamster will not be able to do any of these, or at least not properly. This will shorten the hamster’s lifespan as well. A hamster can only live for so long (2-3 years), might as well make his short life comfortable. If you want to know more about why your hamster can get so big or fat, check out my article on this exact topic. There I’ll tell you everything you need to know about why hamsters can get fat, and even how to slim yours down. Hint: it involves getting your hammy more exercise opportunities. For this a great hamster wheel is essential. You’ll also find out what a reasonable weight is for the hamster himself, so you have a guideline to follow. What to do if your hamster is not eating Some hamsters are very picky about their food. They will not eat just anything, and need more attention in that way. So play around with his food, change up the flavors a bit. Maybe he only likes chicken flavored pellets or treats. That could be a start to your hamster eating more. If your hammy is not touching dry food, try with veggies. Give him alternatives, like a piece of broccoli, one asparagus, and a small kale leaf. See which he likes, and keep giving him that. Then, continue adding new foods to his diet, from the list of foods I wrote above. Until you reach a mix of vegetables that you can give him daily, and you know he will eat them. If veggies are not an option for him, try giving the hamster meat. I’ve never seen a hamster turn down meat. Make sure the piece is cooked, but unseasoned. The extra salt is not needed in your hamster’s diet, since he needs much less than humans. If, in an exceptional case, your hamster turns down every kind of food, call the vet. Especially if you see other signs of a possible illness like sparse fur, a wet tail (very bad), dried blood on his body, or anything that looks out of the ordinary. In a worst case scenario, you might want to know how much a hamster can survive without any food and water. I wrote an article on that topic, and the point is that if your hamster is not eating, but at least has water he has a higher chance or survival. In any case, contact your vet if your hammy seems sick, along with not eating. A word from Teddy I hope you’re very clear now on what us hamster can and can not eat. I know it’s a bit of a list to remember, but it’s in your hamster’s benefit. If you’re not sure about a food, and you can’t find any info anywhere, maybe don’t feed it to your hammy. That way at least you’ll be sure he’s safe. You can find more info on the best kind of bedding for us hamsters, or why we sometimes eat our own poo, and even why we’re sometimes scared of you ! Just check out the articles below and you’ll find your answers. References: https://www.rspca.org.uk/adviceandwelfare/pets/rodents/hamsters/diet [...] Read more...
4 Best Hamster Bedding/Substrate Options (An Owner’s Opinion)
4 Best Hamster Bedding/Substrate Options (An Owner’s Opinion)As a dedicated hamster owner, I’m sure you know how important it is to offer your little one the best bedding out there. So let me help you with that, since I too has to look for the best option for my Teddy when I first got him. We’ll look at the best hamster bedding options you can find, and compare them by how well they work, how well they absorb waste and smell, and how long they’ll last since that’s a major thing to look out for as well. And how easy it is to clean it out, since you’re going to need to do that once a week. Table of Contents ToggleSo what kind of bedding do hamsters use ?A comparison of 4 hamster bedding optionsAspen bedding for your hamsterAspen bedding from KayteeAspen bedding from Small Pet SelectSimple paper bedding for the hamsterSimple paper bedding from CarefreshMulticolored paper bedding from CarefreshYou can add some dried grass or paper towels as wellA word from Teddy So what kind of bedding do hamsters use ? Hamsters prefer bedding that’s going to be soft on their feet, easy to tread on, and in a thicker layer so they can dig through it a bit if they suddenly want to. Your hamster’s bedding should be made of a safe material, not be dusty, and also not smell. Any scented bedding will bother the hammy’s sensitive nose, no matter what the packaging may say. So we’re going to go through the 4 best options I’ve found for hamster bedding, and discuss each of them in turn. You’ll also find them compared in a handy table as well, so you can get a clearer picture. As a companion to this article, I recommend you also read up on general info about hamster bedding. You’ll find there info on what bedding materials to avoid, and how to change/clean the bedding when needed. A comparison of 4 hamster bedding options You’ll find this table comparing the general usefulness of each bedding type, and anything else that might interest you. Like absorbency, odor control, how long the bag will last, and so on. After you’re done reading this table, you’ll find each of these beddings discussed in more detail in the rest of the article.   Kaytee, aspen Small Pet Select, aspen Carefresh, brown paper Carefresh, confetti colored image material aspen aspen recycled paper recycled paper size 27 lbs/ 12.2 kg 14 lbs/ 6.3 kg 60 liters/ 15 gallons 50 liter/ 13.2 gallons odor control yes yes yes yes price on Amazon check here check here check here check here   Aspen bedding for your hamster Aspen is the number one bedding people use for their hammy, and it’s there for a reason. Wood shavings, in general, are a great choice for hamsters since they’re very comfortable on their feet, they’re also cheap to find and manufacture, and they’re a natural by-product of woodwork. As for the best kinds of wood shavings to use, aspen is the best since ti has no definite scent of its own, and is not allergenic. Cedar and pine though, those should never be used for small rodents like hamsters. Rabbits (and possibly guinea pigs) can stand up to it as well. But hamsters, with their small size and sensitive noses, are literally crawling all over that bedding, all day and night. Breathing in those scents does not do them good. As humans, we’re alright since we can handle the natural elements found in those wood types. Hamsters can not. So, aspen it is. You’re going to find aspen easily enough, since it’s a very common tree in many parts of the world. If you’re somehow unable to find aspen, you can always get paper-based bedding since those are universally available. Aspen bedding from Kaytee Back to aspen. This bad boy from Kaytee’s going to last you quite some time. I’m recommending the 8 cubic feet version, so your hammy can have bedding for months on end. Possibly a year. Really this thing will last a long time, even if your hammy lives in a Detolf. As weight it should be 27 lbs/12.2 kg of pure aspen shavings, so you’re going to have this bag for a long time. As reference, my Teddy’s  10 lbs/5 kg bag lasts for about 4-5 months. So, long-lasting it is. I’d venture it can last at least 8 months, if not more, depending on how much you use. You can check the listing on Amazon for this Kaytee aspen bedding, and read the reviews as well. Aspen bedding from Small Pet Select If you’re not very happy with Kaytee, you can try this one. It’s still aspen, so it will be safe for your little hammy. It’s a smaller size, 14 lbs/ 6.3 kg and this one can last you about half a year. You can check the listing on Amazon here, and read the reviews as well. In terms of odor control, aspen is good enough, seeing as it can dry out after it’s been wet. And given how little the hammy pees, I think it’s going to be just fine. My Teddy uses the corners of his cage as a litter box and they’re always fine by the end of the week when I change his bedding. This kind of bedding isn’t dusty, as it’s larger than sawdust. It’s actual wood chips, but thinner and softer. And in terms of price, your investment will be well repaid in time. After all, owning a hamster is not expensive and there’s very little you have to buy often. Cleaning the cage is easy enough, and using something like a litter scooper is going to help a lot. This bedding is heavier when it gets wet, so keep than in mind when cleaning your hammy’s cage. Overall, I think aspen is a cheap, safe way to provide your hamster with all the bedding he needs. (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.) Simple paper bedding for the hamster Paper is another option you can try, and it’s about as popular as aspen. Maybe even more so in some places, since this is the kind of bedding usually made of recycled paper. So you’re being a bit eco-friendly here. An upside to paper bedding is that you can often choose between different colors, if that’s something that interests you. The one I’m recommending here is a plain brown version, but you can choose a different color. It’s also the largest size they have, but again you can choose a smaller size if you want. Paper bedding is available anywhere, everywhere, and so it’s going to be easy to come across. However the same no scent thing applies here as well. Hamsters are sensitive, so please don’t get your hammy a scented bedding, no matter the material used. This is part of taking care of your hamster. As for durability and how many uses you can get from paper bedding, it’s going to last you about as much as aspen shavings. It’s a bit more absorbent than wood, but since it’s made into little fluffy balls it won’t leak everywhere. So I guess you could argue that this kind of bedding would be easier to clean. It’s lighter than wood shavings, even when wet, so you can’t really compare length of use by weight alone. Please keep in mind that paper bedding expands when wet, so it’s going to take up more space when the wood shavings after the hammy relieves himself on it. Which is actually helpful in a way, since you’ll easily notice which corner of the cage is currently soiled, and easily replace it as necessary. Simple paper bedding from Carefresh For example the paper bedding I’m recommending here is an 8.5 lb/3.8 kg bag. Or, 60 liters/15 gallons. Sometimes it’s more useful to measure by volume. Back to the bedding, 8.5 lbs/3.8 kg doesn’t sound as much when compared to the wood shavings we discussed before. But remember that a layer of 1 inch of wood bedding is going to be much heavier than paper bedding of the same thickness. So again, we can’t really judge by weight. This means that you’re going to be able to use this bag of paper bedding for months, much more than half a year, depending on how much you use at a time. You can check the listing on Amazon for this Carefresh paper bedding, and read the reviews as well. Multicolored paper bedding from Carefresh This is for you colorful people out there, who want to see your hammy dig through a rainbow. Paper bedding in all the possible colors, all mixed together. Also a large bag, a 50 liter/13.2 gallons one so you’re going to get a lot of uses from this bedding as well. Some hammies get 1 inch bedding, some get 4 inches and dig around in that. My Teddy is a runner, and he’s not very impressed by extra-thick bedding. So for him 1 inch is enough (by trial and error). You’re going to get a lot of uses out of whichever bedding you choose, and also find no odor problem. You can check the listing on Amazon here, and read the reviews as well. You can add some dried grass or paper towels as well Another option, which you can easily mix and match with any of the beddings I was talking about before, is dried grass. This is for the nesting material. Not thick, stiff hay. Dried grass, which is much softer on the hamster, and won’t be poking his eyes. Why give your hamster dried grass ? Mostly because it’s a much softer option than anything else, and it’s very similar to what your hammy would be using in the wild. Originally, hammies are from desert-like areas. Either very hot – Syrian hamsters – or very cold – Dwarf types – hammies are used to scrounging for things to use as their nesting material. Dried grass is just the thing, and treading over it all day, every day, is something very familiar to them. They would dig series of tunnels underground, and line them with dried leaves, grass, small twigs and whatever else they could find. You’ll find dried grass easy enough. But, if you can’t find any, then simple paper towels will suffice. Unscented, plain white paper towels. Take a few squares, and rip them into ribbons. Drop them in your hammy’s cage and you’l’l see him start to decorate his home in no time. A word from Teddy I hope you found good info here on what kind of bedding to get for your hammy. I know us hamsters seem like tiny creatures who don’t need much. And for the most part we don’t. But we’re really sensitive about our homes, and it;s where we spend almost all of our time. So I hope you’ll get a good bedding for your hammy, no matter which one you choose. If you’d like to know more about us hammies, and how to keep us safe and happy, you can read the related articles below. [...] Read more...
These Are The 4 Best Hamsters For Beginners
These Are The 4 Best Hamsters For BeginnersHamsters are cute and small, and they seem to be great pets for children. You only have to feed them, clean their cages, and give them attention. They are great for teaching children responsibility or as a starter pet before you get them a dog or a car. There are 16 types of hamsters that we have discovered, and only a few of them are kept as pets.  That being said, not all these hamsters are suitable to be children’s pets. Some are more difficult to tame, some need more care, and others will bite. You want to pick a hamster that is easy to care for and that doesn’t bite. Make sure you do your research before you get a hamster to know exactly what to expect. For example, hamsters are nocturnal, which means that they are only active during the night, and they will probably wake up your child if the cage is in your child’s bedroom. You should also be aware of the fact that hamsters never bond with people as cats or dogs do. If you’ve done your research and are sure that you want to get a hamster, here’s a list of 4 hamsters that are best for beginners.  1. Syrian Hamster The Syrian hamster is also known as the golden hamster, and it is one of the most popular hamsters that people keep as pets. They make very good pets for beginners since they are easy to tame, fun to play with, and very low-maintenance. Syrian hamsters originate from dry areas of northern Syria and southern Turkey. Their fur is naturally colored golden brown and they have a lighter belly. Nowadays there are many different colors, patterns, and hair lengths of Syrian hamsters thanks to selective breeding.  The captive-breeding programs for Syrian hamsters have begun in the 1930s both for experiments and pet trade. Because they are losing their habitat in the wild, they are considered to be vulnerable. It’s very easy to take care of a Syrian hamster. You can find food made specifically for them in the pet store, and their housing won’t take up much of your space. Syrian hamster weighs around 5 ounces and is 5 to 9 inches long. It lives for 2 to 4 years.  You might have heard that Syrian hamsters have a reputation that they bite a lot. This is, however, mostly because people don’t know how to handle them. If you don’t squeeze or shake it while you’re holding it, the Syrian hamster will learn that it has nothing to be afraid of when it’s in your hand. This type of hamster likes to be alone and is very territorial. You should never have more than one Syrian hamster living together in a cage. If you keep 2 or more Syrian hamsters together in a cage, they will get really aggressive, and they sometimes even fight to the death. You should keep any other pets you might have in your household away from the hamster because they will likely hurt each other.  Syrian hamsters, like all hamsters, sleep during the day and are active during the night. They are generally quiet, but it would be best if you kept it away from your bedroom at night because it could wake you up.  If you are looking for a hamster to bond with, you will have to look for some other type of hamster, because Syrian hamsters never really bond with their owners. Some might come closer when they see you and sleep on your hands. Make sure you spend enough time with your hamster each day to keep it tame. The Syrian hamster will need as big of a cage as you can get. The smallest cage you can put your Syrian hamster into can be 1x2x1 feet. Make sure you put a lot of hamster toys in its cage and don’t forget to put an exercise wheel. It’s best that you get an exercise wheel that has a solid surface so you avoid any injuries. Place a sleeping hut in the corner of the cage, you can usually find these in the pet store. You will have to feed your Syrian hamster with nuts, grains, and seeds, fruits, and vegetables. Syrian hamsters are omnivores, so you can occasionally give them a hardboiled egg or some insects. You should talk to your vet to see what is the best diet for your hamster because it depends on the size and the age of your hamster. Make sure there’s always a bowl of food in the cage and throw away any food your hamster doesn’t eat after a day. There should also be a water bottle or a water bowl in the cage, and you should change the water each day.  Syrian hamsters rarely get sick, but there are a few diseases you should be on the lookout for. One such disease is a wet tail, a gastrointestinal infection that is caused by stress. This is the most common disease that affects Syrian hamsters. You will know that your hamster has a wet tail if you notice that it’s not eating, has diarrhea, and the area around its tail is wet. Make sure you take your hamster to the vet if you notice any of these symptoms.  2. Dwarf hamsters Dwarf hamsters are tiny hamsters that originate from the desert regions. Unlike larger hamsters, they are very social and are happiest when they are in groups. Unlike cats or dogs, they won’t bond with you, but they will recognize you and come close to the side of their cage if they see you. They weigh between 1 and 2 ounces and are around 2 inches long. You can expect them to live for 3 years.   Dwarf hamsters are also nocturnal, but they can sometimes adapt to their owner’s schedule. That being said, if you try to wake up the Dwarf hamster, it will probably bite you. Most hamsters wake up in the evening and are happy to hang out with people then. When they wake up, they will make noises during the night, so you shouldn’t keep them in your bedroom if you are a light sleeper.  This type of hamsters usually likes being held by people, however, if they feel uncomfortable, they will bite you. You should start handling them when they are young and always be careful and gentle. This way they will learn that they shouldn’t be afraid when you handle them. When you try holding your hamster, it’s best that you’re in a closed room and that there’s something soft underneath you. Hamsters are very quick and they can escape from your hands before you realize it. That’s why there should be something soft for them to land on, and the door should be closed so they can’t escape to the other room. If your hamster falls from even a couple of feet and hits the ground it could lead to some serious injuries.  Your Dwarf hamster should have a big cage because it needs a lot of room to play in. The smallest cage you can keep your Dwarf hamster is in 1x2x1 feet, but that is the bare minimum. If you have more than one hamster, you will have to get a bigger cage. Dwarf hamsters usually live in glass or plastic aquariums, or in wire cages. Wire cages provide better airflow, but they won’t protect your hamster from the draft. If you choose to get a wire cage, make sure that the distance between wires is narrow so that your hamster can’t escape. You should place at least a 1 to 2-inch layer of bedding, for example, chemical- and dye-free shredded paper or hardwood shavings. You will have to change the bedding once a week, and clean all surfaces with water and soap. Make sure you clean up any wet spots each day. You should never forget to place an exercise wheel in your hamster’s cage, as well as many toys. There should be a lot of mineral or wooden toys to chew on so that hamsters can take care of their teeth, and add a sleeping house to the cage. Your hamster should be fed once a day, and ask your veterinarian how much food you should give it. You can buy food blends that are made specifically for Dwarf hamsters. You can also feed your Dwarf hamster with a bit of nuts, seeds, oats, bananas, and carrots. Never feed your Dwarf hamster with avocados, almonds, and chocolate as they are very toxic. Dwarf hamsters are prone to many health issues, and make sure you have a veterinarian near you who treats Dwarf hamsters before you buy this type of hamster.  They can lose hair and get skin lesions from rubbing on something in its cage or because it was attacked by another hamster. Make sure you take your hamster to the vet as soon as you notice any skin injuries because they can get infected quickly. Dwarf hamsters are known to be prone to diabetes. You can prevent this if you don’t let your hamster eat a lot of sugar and make sure it gets a lot of exercise. Check your hamster’s teeth every once in a while. Unlike human teeth, hamster teeth never stop growing, and if your Dwarf hamster doesn’t have anything to chew on, its teeth will become overgrown. This will make it hard for your hamster to eat, and the vet will have to trim its teeth.  3. Robovski Hamsters Robovski hamsters are the smallest and fastest hamsters. When they grow up they are as big as an adult’s thumb, which is about 2 to 3 inches. They originated from China, Mongolia, and Russia.  Wire cages are the easiest to clean up, but since Robovski hamsters are so small, it’s hard to find a wire cage that won’t let them escape. It’s best to get an aquarium that is 24 inches by 12 inches and minimally 12 inches high for two hamsters. If you choose to have more than 2 hamsters, you will have to provide 12 by 6 inches of space for each new hamster. Make sure you cover your hamster’s cage with mesh so nothing falls into the cage but the air is still able to flow.  There should be at least 1 1/4 inches of bedding because Robovski hamsters love to burrow. It is not recommended that you use pine or cedar shavings because they can be harmful to hamsters. This type of hamster loves being active so make sure it has a lot of toys and an exercise wheel. Robovski hamsters don’t like to share, so make sure you get toys for each one of your hamsters. This also goes for food and water.  Robovski hamsters are also active during the night and sleep during the day. They are gentle and rarely bite. However, they are extremely fast which makes it hard to handle them. You should always handle them above a large box so you can catch them if they slip away. You can train Robovski hamsters to take treats from your hand. To do this, you will have to rest your hand and put a treat in your palm. The hamster will explore your hand and find the treat.  This type of hamster is very social, and it is best if you keep it in groups with same-sex hamsters. You should establish groups from a young age. It is not advisable to introduce a new Robovski hamster to an already established group, as it’s not likely to survive. If your hamsters don’t kill each other, you can expect them to live for 3 years. Robovski hamsters are naturally sandy brown and they have white bellies, which lets them blend in with the desert nicely when they live in the wild. 4. Chinese hamsters Chinese hamsters are small hamsters that originated from China and Mongolia. Most of them are brown and they have a lighter belly and a black stripe running down their back. You can recognize these hamsters because they have longer tails than any other type of hamsters. They are easy to take care of, however, some of them bite. They weigh between 1 and 2 ounces and live for 2 to 3 years.  Chinese hamsters make good pets and they don’t mind when you handle them if you’ve done it since they were young. Always sit when handling your hamster because it could get injured if it falls.  You can choose to only have one Chinese hamster, or keep them in same-sex groups. That being said, there’s a big chance that they will be aggressive and territorial if they live in groups. It would be good if you can get hamsters from the same litter that will grow up together and gets used to each other. Make sure you keep your Chinese hamster away from any other pets you have because it’s so small and it could get easily injured.  They will also need 1x2x1 feet cages, and you should layer 1 to 2 inches of bedding, for example, aspen shavings or some other paper-based products. Make sure you add toys, an exercise wheel, and a sleeping hut to their cage.  You can find food for your Chinese hamster in the pet store, and make sure that it’s supplemented with vitamins and minerals. You can put food for the whole day in the bowl and place the bowl in the cage. Chinese hamsters like eating small portions throughout the day.  You can also supplement the commercial food with some seeds, nuts, and fresh fruit and vegetables, but make sure that the supplemental food makes only 10% of your hamster’s diet.  Chinese hamsters are prone to respiratory issues. You will be able to tell that something’s going on with your hamster if you notice it wheezing, sneezing and that it has nasal discharge.  They can also suffer from the wet tail. If you notice that your hamster doesn’t want to eat, that it has diarrhea, or that the area around its tale is wet, take it to the vet immediately.    [...] Read more...
Understanding Dwarf Hamster Behavior – An Owner’s Guide
Understanding Dwarf Hamster Behavior – An Owner’s GuideAll animals communicate with one another with their body language, and that includes humans, even though we tend to focus on speaking, more than showing someone what we mean with our body. Hamsters, however, aren’t that good at articulated speech, so the only way they can communicate with other hamsters and with their owners is through their body. They can say “Hello.”, “Back off!” or “I’m hungry.” in many different ways. You’re always going to want to understand your hamster and what it’s trying to say, as that’s the best way of understanding your hamster’s needs and desires. Today, we’ll be taking a more in-depth look at all these things that hamsters do to tell us or show us something. In this article, we’ll show you all the ways hamsters can use body language to explain that they need or want something, what does it mean, and what are some changes in hamster behavior that should raise concerns. Without further ado, let’s get started! Behavior Meanings in Dwarf Hamsters. There are many behaviors that may intrigue you with your hamster, so we’ll be explaining all of them. Being active at night – many owners actually don’t know this before they purchase their hamster, but most rodents are primarily night dwelling creatures. You shouldn’t be surprised if you hear your hamster running around their cage at night – that’s a sign of a perfectly happy and healthy hamster. The reason behind this is their poor eyesight, as they don’t really rely on their eyes. Hamsters tend to sniff around if they’re looking for anything and want to identify something, so night and day doesn’t really make too much of a difference to them. You can even hear them running on their wheel during the night, as they need a lot of exercises, as well. Chewing – you’re definitely going to notice that your hamster seems to be chewing a lot on a regular basis, even when they don’t have anything to chew on. This is completely normal. What they’re actually doing is filing and grinding their own teeth. Many animals, for example, sharks, have their teeth growing from the day they’re born until the day they die. Hamsters belong to this group of animals, as well. If they don’t file and grind their teeth regularly they’re going to become too long and that’s going to cause issues when they’re eating. Cheek stuffing – probably everyone knows that hamsters stuff their cheeks, it’s part of what makes them so adorable. They actually put food in their cheeks to carry it back to their den in order to hide it. The reason they do this is their natural instinct. In the wilderness, they would have to hide their food to keep it safe from other hamsters and other animals. Although there may be no need for that when they’re living in captivity, hamsters will still instinctively do this. They’ll stuff their cheeks full of food and bring that food back to their den, where they’ll hide it. Don’t let your hamster fool you into thinking that you didn’t give them enough food, as it’s likely that there’s more than enough, it’s just that they’ve hidden it. Hamster mamas actually stuff their babies into their cheeks to carry them to the den. And if they feel that the babies are in danger, they will even put their babies in their cheeks to protect them. Burrowing – hamsters burrow in order to hide from any potential threat, this is completely normal behavior, and you shouldn’t worry. You have to understand that hamsters have no defensive capabilities, they can only bite their attacker, but that’s almost useless as their teeth can’t do much damage. If a hamster bites you, they’ll likely draw some blood, but that’s about it. Unlike dogs who can bite, cats who can scratch (not to mention large cats who can rip other animals apart), and snakes who can kill with their venom – hamsters are completely defenseless. Evolution has placed them at the bottom of the food chain, and their only defense system is to run and hide. They do this instinctively, and you may even find them hiding long after they’ve bonded with you and started seeing you as someone they trust. It should be noted that hamsters are very scared animals – because they’re naturally defenseless, they fear everything – that way there’s always on the lookout for danger. Your hamster is most likely going to take a month or two to adjust to the tone and color of your voice, your scent, and your presence. However, you’ll probably see it hiding from you even after that. You can’t exactly change this – no matter how much your hamster may trust you, it’s always going to fear sudden movement, loud noise, light flashing, etc. Observing you with its ears erect – this is actually funny, but hamsters will watch you just as much as you watch them. When they feel that they’re not in danger, your hamster will try to observe you and see what you’re doing. We’re saying ‘try to observe’, because they have terrible eyesight and won’t be able to see much. When you notice your hamster watching you with its ears in an erect position, know that it’s just curious about what’s going on. Grooming – Grooming is an essential part of your hamster’s life, and it’s completely normal to notice them grooming a lot. They will spend hours upon hours of their awake life grooming themselves – they’re some of the most well-groomed pets, alongside cats (ironically). It’s important for them to groom as their hair, just like their teeth, never stops growing. Well, it slows down once they get old. Something that you should keep an eye on is patches of skin where there’s no fur. If you notice that your hamster has actually itched or groomed its own fur out, that probably means that your hamster’s sick in some way. It may be something simple, like mites, but you’ll still want to take it to the vet. With age, hamsters will become lazy – but that’s all for a good reason. Their fur will grow less with age, and it’s completely normal for them to spend less time on grooming when there’s no need for grooming. Yawning and stretching – all animals yawn, and all animals stretch, not just humans. When you notice that your hamster is yawning and/or stretching, it’s because it feels comfortable and safe in its current environment. This is actually a great sign for you, as it means that it feels comfortable around you. Stretching leaves the hamster vulnerable, and the fact that it’s willing to do that around you is a clear sign that your hamster trusts you. Eating out of your hand – while we’re at the topic, here’s another great behavior sign that your hamster trusts you. If a hamster is willing to eat out of your hand, it’s basically telling you that you’ve earned its trust. When an animal is eating, any animal (including humans), it’s at its most vulnerable. Snakes like to hide when they eat and remain dormant for weeks after digesting, most animals that live in pits like to move back to that pit to enjoy their meal. If a hamster is willing to eat straight out of your hand when it’s at its most vulnerable – it must really trust you. Biting the cage – you may sometimes notice that a hamster is biting its cage. This is textbook attention-seeking, so it means that you should take your hamster out and play with it. Rubbing their heads against the cage – this behavior has nothing to do with the previous example. Hamsters will rub their heads against the cage, especially the metal bars if they find their cage to be too small. This isn’t something you should ignore – small cages will stress your hamster out. You have to understand that hamsters are very sensitive, and if just one thing is out of order, they’ll lose their minds. If they can’t spend their energy if their cage is too small, or if they’re hungry – the result is always the same; the hamster gets stressed out. This is dangerous because smaller animals, hamsters included, are known to die from stress – their hearts can literally give out from stress. It’s also harmful because the hamster will often lose hair on its face when it rubs it on the metal bars. Biting – if your hamster bites you, it’s out of one of two reasons. Firstly, we’ve already explained that their eyesight is terrible. If you put your finger in the cage and the hamster bites it, it might just be trying to find out if your finger is actually food. This is especially often if you haven’t washed your hands, as you bring many scents with you that way (and if you’ve been eating before that, the hamster will definitely smell the food). That’s why it’s always important to wash your hands before interacting with your hamster. The second reason why your hamster may be biting you is to tell you to back off. Hamsters fear everything, and if you were a small animal and all of a sudden a giant finger was approaching you, you’d likely try to run away from it, as well. However, once they have nowhere to run to, they’ll bite back. Even if you’re well acquainted with your hamster and it knows you well, it’s still likely going to bite you in this situation. You need to interact with your hamster slowly, just how you would interact with a dog – let it sniff your hand. And even after that, don’t poke at the hamster. Nibbling – hamsters will usually start to nibble if they’re being handled and they’ve had enough of it. Return the hamster to its cage. Ears forward with cheek pouches puffed up and mouth open – this usually means that the hamster is frightened. There’s something stressing it in its current environment and you should remove that something. Emptying their cheek pouches quickly – hamsters that do this are usually under some kind of threat and they need to empty their pouches in order to run away quickly. This means that something has startled your hamster. Standing on hind legs with dukes up – this is your hamster telling you to back off. Although this will happen rarely, this is basically your hamster telling you that it’s feeling threatened and it will have to get aggressive if you don’t back off. Acting startled when you’re approaching it – this means that your hamster still hasn’t adjusted to its environment and to you as an owner. This is completely normal during the first few months of your relationship, as it takes a lot of time for hamsters to fully adapt to their owners. Sleeping during the day – completely normal. Hamsters are mostly nocturnal animals, so the fact that they’re sleeping during the day is the equivalent of humans sleeping during the night, nothing wrong with that. Squeaking – squeaking can mean many things in many different animal languages. Hamsters squeak when they’re in distress or feel scared. This is basically a universal sign for feeling agitated. You’re likely going to notice this when you’re taking the hamster to your home for the first time. They’re also likely to squeak if they’re in pain or if they’re fighting. If you have two hamsters in the same cage and hear them squeaking, they might be fighting. Chattering – if you hear your hamster chattering with their teeth, that likely means that they need more space. This doesn’t mean that you need to buy a larger cage, but that you need to back off, give them some breathing room, because you’re irritating them and they might bite you. Hissing – although this sign is mostly connected to snakes, not furry pets like hamsters, they can his too. This usually means that they’re feeling very agitated or afraid, although it can happen when they have been startled too. Ears laid back with narrow eyes – this is actually similar to how humans behave in the same situation, as well. This means that the hamster is suspicious of something going on – they’ve noticed something that drew their attention and they need to investigate it. Lying on its back with incisors showing – this is another sign of a frightened and threatened hamster that doesn’t want to be messed with. Give your hamster some breathing room. Slowly moving around – this means that the hamster is exploring. It’s likely that your hamster will keep exploring for the first few weeks when you bring it home, it’s completely normal and shouldn’t raise any concerns. Creeping slowly along the sides of the cage – this means that the hamster is unsure of their bearings and they’re just trying to figure out where they are. Playing dead – this is one of the techniques hamsters use to evade being eaten or disturbed by other animals and predators. This is actually a method that many animals utilize, and hamsters are no different. If you notice that your hamster appears to be frozen, it’s because it’s playing dead. Unless it’s actually dead, but that’s a whole other barrel of monkeys (check by poking it). Unresponsiveness – if you find your hamster being unresponsive to your presence (which is highly unlikely, hamsters are always going to react to your presence, either positively or negatively, but they’re definitely going to react), they may be ill. Laziness – if you notice that your hamster’s acting lazy or lethargic, it may be another sign of your hamster being ill. Behavior change in Dwarfs hamsters Although it’s not behavioral, we feel that we may need to address that illnesses can be recognized by physical changes in appearance. Especially losing weight and fur. Two hamsters fighting – all males in the animal kingdom fight to assert dominance. If you notice your hamsters fighting, it may be over territory or to assert dominance. Be sure to separate them. Also know that if you have a male and a female hamster, the male hamster is going to try to mate every time the female is in heat (which is literally every four days) – and if the female doesn’t want to mate, it can actually kill the male. So you should keep your male and female hamsters separated if you don’t want this issue, and also if you don’t want literally hundreds of hamsters a year, since hamsters breed like crazy and you’ll be way in over your head very quickly. Repeating a specific behavior all over again – when hamsters do this it’s usually a sign that they’re not doing well mentally. This is most often due to a monotonous lifestyle – we’ve already explained that these animals are crazily active, and you need to keep them interested if you want them to live a healthy and happy life. You should buy some toys and consider purchasing a larger cage. Not eating or drinking – this is always a cause for concern, regardless of the species. When an animal isn’t eating, it usually means that it’s ill in some way. You should definitely take your hamster to the vet. This will often be followed by the animal losing fur and weight. Not chewing – hamsters have to chew to shred their teeth, we’ve already discussed this. When a hamster stops chewing, it usually means that you should be concerned. You will also notice if your hamster’s teeth are too long. You should take your hamster to the vet. Uncharacteristic hiding – we’ve said that hamsters hide when they’re afraid or stressed, but if your hamster keeps hiding all the time for no apparent reason, it should be a sign of concern. There’s something in your hamster’s environment disturbing it and you should try to find out what it is so you could remove it. Female Dwarf hamster behavior Female hamsters go in heat periodically, every four days. That period lasts for 12 hours. When they’re in heat, you’ll notice that they’re crouching and raising their tail. This is an invitation to mate. You’ll also notice a different smell in the air around the cage – these are the pheromones that the female is releasing to attract the male. When a female is pregnant (pregnancy usually lasts between 18 and 30 days, depending on the individual hamster), you will notice that the female is constantly burrowing and digging. This is because it’s building a better nest for her offspring. You’ll notice that these activities are particularly intensifying right before she gives birth. Mothers will be very protective of their young when they’ve given birth, and they won’t allow anyone (not even you) to come near their young. They won’t even allow the father to approach the babies. During this time, you’ll notice the mother becoming very stressed, very active, constantly running around, digging, carrying pellets, etc. When a hamster is behaving similarly to a cat, slinking around its cage, it’s probably trying to tell you that it’s in pain. “Often when in pain, a hamster may hunch his back slightly, and take very small steps,” says Dr. Kerry Kraemer, DVM, of Blum Animal Hospital in Chicago. “He may also be restless, and possibly show difficulties in getting comfortable. If you observe this type of movement, be sure to handle the hamster carefully, as pain may cause the animal to bite.” Waving their hands – if you see your hamster waving its little paws, it’s actually a sign of them exploring their surroundings. Hamsters have really bad eyesight, so they rely on their other senses to explore. When they want to know what’s around them, they’ll often stand on their hind feet and raise their front feet and wave them around, resembling a human. The hamster appears to be begging – if it seems like the hamster is begging, it’s not actually good to approach it. Sometimes, a hamster will stand on its hind legs with its front paws hanging limply, and many people will judge this as the hamster begging. It’s actually being watchful, and that can turn to aggression. Even though yawning is most often just that – yawning, sometimes it can actually indicate displacement behavior or an aggressive display. Yawning is often visible in aggressive, stressed, and pre-sleeping hamsters. If you see your hamster yawning, it’s best to leave it be. The exact opposite of that would be nipping – as hamsters are known to nip their owners when they want attention. If you let your hamster out of its cage and it nips your finger while it’s playing with you on the couch – it’s probably inviting you to interact with it more. Hamsters are very well known as a sensitive species, and they’ll definitely let you know that as soon as you decide to adopt one. As soon as something isn’t going their way, they’ll be sure to let you know. You should always keep an eye on the signs that your hamster is unsatisfied with something, signs saying that there’s a problem you shouldn’t ignore. You may see hamsters as animals that are just behaving animalistic, but their body language is actually quite complex and they’re trying to send messages. It’s important that you interpret these messages properly and that you behave accordingly. If there’s something wrong with your hamster’s surroundings – change them. Don’t be afraid of interacting with your hamster, most signs that are telling you to back off are going to be pretty obvious – hissing, scratching, etc. We’ve covered all signs of hamster behavior that are available for interpretation and that have actually been interpreted. Dwarf hamsters behave like most other hamsters, the only hamsters that actually somewhat different from their cousins in the behavioral department are Syrian and Chinese hamsters, so you can even use this guide if you have some other breed of hamsters. What’s also important to know is that all progress in a relationship with an animal is going to take some time, so you shouldn’t hurry it. Know how to read your hamster’s body language, know what it means, and know-how you should react to it. There’s no reason for you to not be able to communicate with your hamster, even though it can’t use words. Hamsters can grow to become loving animals, but you’re going to need to learn their language to build a trusting relationship that’s not going to be slowed down by the barrier of understanding. Feel free to consult this guide whenever you’re in doubt about what your hamster’s trying to say. [...] Read more...