Here’s How Much Water Your Hamster Needs

When it comes to water, hamsters do need it for drinking. But how much should you give to your hamster ? Does it need any special treatments ?

This is what I asked myself when I first got my hamster – how much water will he need ? Does he need a big bottle ? Is a bowl okay ? This article will answer all of those questions, and more.

hamster water
Our Teddy drinking water

So how much water does a hamster need ?

The short answer is that a hamster usually needs around 10 ml/100 gr of hamster, every day. So that’s 0.33 fl oz per 3.5 ounces of hamster. This is the same whether we are talking about syrian hamsters or the small types.

So if your hamster is like mine, an adult syrian hamster, who weighs around 170 gr, then he’d need around 17 ml per day. That’s 0.57 ml for 6 oz, every day.

This does change according to how much your hamster is running around. A more active hamster will need the full 10 ml per day. But a sedentary hamster or one who is very old and does not run as much will end up drinking less.

Another factor is your hamster’s diet. What you feed your hamster will make him drink more or less water. If you feed your hammy exclusively dry food (pellets, grains, seeds) he will drink more water. But if you give him mostly vegetables then he will draw a lot of water from them, and not use the water bottle much.

For more info on what to feed your hamster, and what foods he draws water from, check out my food list article. I also cover the wide range of treats a hamster can safely eat.

How to give your hamster water

The best way to bring water to your hamster is with a water bottle(1) or tube. This is what I have for my hamster, and he grew up drinking out of a water feeder.

hamster water bottle

You can see in the photo above the kind of water bottle he has. It’s easier for hamsters to lick the end of a tube than to drink like dogs or cats from a bowl.

Those water bottles have a small tube that goes into the cage itself, and have a small ball at the end, to make sure water doesn’t flow freely. But your hamster can easily drink like that, since all he has to do is push the ball with his tongue when drinking.

It may sound strange for a human, but for hamsters it’s normal and he has no problems drinking like that.

The temperature of the water does not really matter, as long as it’s not very warm water. For example Teddy drank both room temp water, and cold tap water. He was fine with both, and there was no immediate difference.

You can try bottled water, or tap water. Hamsters are fine with both.

When does a hamster usually drink water

Hamsters are mostly nocturnal, so that’s when they’re most active. So, that’s when they’ll be drinking water the most.

Teddy does come out during the day for a small drink, or because he’s heard movement in the house. But most of his drinking is at night.

I often put him in an exercise ball and let him roam the house. After about half an hour I put him back in his cage, and he goes straight for the water tube.

You can read my article on how to properly exercise your hamster in his exercise ball, and how long to leave him in one.

So like humans, hamsters will drink a lot of water immediately after a workout. Aside from this, they will drink water after eating very dry food,  and small sips of water when their body needs it.

But since your hamster is very active during the night, when you’re most probably asleep, you won’t see him drink often. Rest assured that your hamster probably is drinking water.

How often to change your hamster’s water

There is no definitive answer to this. It depends a lot on your disposition, the quality of the water you give, and how clean the water bottle is.

For example I change Teddy’s water once per week, when I clean the whole cage. He has a full water bottle, that reaches 150 ml/ 5 fl oz and he drinks out of that the whole week.

If you want, you can change your hamster’s water every day, or every few days. This depends a lot on the quality of the water.

Where I live the tap water is fresh and clean, safe for any human or animal. I know that there are places where this is not the case. So the water I put Sunday evening when I clean his cage, is still good next Sunday.

If you know your water is not very fresh, I suggest changing it more often. Or switching to bottled water and leaving that for more days if you wish.

There really is no clear answer, your hamster is capable of drinking condensation on water pipes so taste is not a matter to him. But do keep the water as fresh and clean as possible, to avoid any problems for your hamster.

If your hamster is very very active and drinks his water very fast, then obviously you will need to provide more water, or change it more often. A sedentary hamster can live with less water and not really need much.

How to clean the water bottle

I usually clean Teddy’s bottle when I change the water. So I unscrew the tube part from the bottle, throw out the remaining water, and get a clean paper towel.

Rinse out the bottle just to be safe, then wrap the paper towel on the end of a spoon or fork. This way I can reach inside the whole bottle and wipe it all down. If your water bottle is not very long and you can get your fingers in, then do that and a paper towel.

Of course, you will have to keep changing the parts of the paper towel so it’s always dry and you can completely clean the bottle on the inside.

Then, rinse once more and put enough water in the bottle.

Do not clean the water bottle with any kind of soap or disinfectant. Those require much rinsing and even then it might not be safe for your hamster to drink.

I’ve had Teddy’s bottle since I got him in August 2017 and it’s been fine since then, with just regular cleaning. If the water bottle is damaged or really needs a thorough cleaning, consider getting a new one. They’re usually inexpensive, and most of them hold a large amount of water.

I looked around for a good water bottle, and looked at the reviews as well. You can find a good water bottle for your hammy on Amazon, and it can hold about 11 ounces of water for your hamster.

Also make sure to clean the water tube itself with a Q-tip on the inside. Be careful to not leave cotton fibers on the tube, so your hamster will not catch its teeth in it.

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

hamster water pin

How to know if the water bottle is working

If you haven’t seen your hamster drinking from the water bottle, then you might worry it’s not working.

The water bottle usually works, but here is how to check it. The small ball at the end of the tube must move freely, even at the smallest touch. There should be no resistance when you try to push it with your finger.

So keep the water bottle in the cage, and reach for it. Gently push with one finger to see if the ball gives way. If it gives way you will also see a bit of water come out. That means it’s working and your hamster can drink.

If it doesn’t move much, consider adjusting the position of he bottle. If it’s the kind of bottle that has clasps that go onto the cage wires, try moving the clasps until the angle of the tube changes. You might have to take the water bottle out and put it back in a better angle.

Some cages have a small hole on the side, to put the tube through. If it does, then you can be sure that the position the bottle will stay in is correct.

If none of this works, and the ball does not move when you push with your finger, take the water bottle out. Get a clean Q-tip and fiddle around the tube itself until you see what the problem is.

Make sure the tube is facing upwards, so you don’t spill water on you. Or, unscrew the water tube part and rub it inside with the Q-tip.

What to do when your hamster does not drink water

Your hamster not drinking water is a serious thing, and it must be checked.

You can check for signs of dehydration by pulling very gently on the scruff of your hamster’s neck. He will not be hurt by this, since he has part of his pouch there, and it is used to expanding to great sizes.

Hold your hamster in your hand, and gently tug at his scruff. When your let go, the skin should snap back easily. This means your hamster is not dehydrated and is drinking water.

But if the skin on his scruff does not snap back easily, and instead slowly goes back to its initial shape, your hamster is very dehydrated. Especially if you still see a bit of raised skin where you tugged.

If your hamster is indeed dehydrated, do the following:

  • Check that the metal ball on the water bottle is fine, and lets water drip. You might see air bubbles come out when you check, this is a good sign.
  • Provide your hamster with ‘wet’ food, a lot of veggies like cucumber, carrot, lettuce, and even some fruits like seedless grapes and apple.
  • If after a couple of days of changing his diet and checking his water, your hamster is still dehydrated bring him to the vet. He could be having a more severe problem.

A word from Teddy

I hope this article helped you understand how much water we need, and how to make sure we’re hydrated. I hope your hamster is drinking enough water, and he’s happy.

Remember, a very active hamster will drink more water and more often, so make sure you provide lots of water for him !

If you’d like, you can check out the other articles on here. You’ll find great info on how to best care for hamsters, what kind of cage we need, and how to tame one of us.

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12 Reasons Why Hamsters Are Good Pets, And A Few Cons
12 Reasons Why Hamsters Are Good Pets, And A Few ConsHamsters are a very common pet to own. When I first got my Teddy, I’d heard of and seen hamster pets before, but never had one myself. I didn’t know if Teddy would make a good pet, but I wanted a cute hammy running around the house in his exercise ball. Then, once I got him I figured out just how good of a pet he can be, and hamsters in general. My Teddy is an adult Syrian hamster, but this will apply to Dwarf types as well. Table of Contents ToggleSo why are hamsters good pets ?Hamsters are low maintenance petsThey’re funny on their ownThe hamster’s cage will not take up much spaceHamsters are very clean animalsHamsters are cheap pets to keepHamsters are among the cutest petsThey have a shorter lifespan than most petsYou will not need to exercise them yourself too muchThere is no shedding problemHamsters are very quiet 90% of the timeYou won’t trip over them randomlyHamsters are okay in no-pet buildings or apartmentsBut are hamsters good pets for children ?Downsides/cons of having a pet hamsterA hamster is harder to tame than other petsIt’s very hard to guess their personality when they’re babiesHamsters are less affectionateThey’re nocturnal, you might miss them oftenHamsters are very sensitive to a lot of thingsSurprise littersA word from Teddy So why are hamsters good pets ? Hamsters are good pets, for the most parts. They have their good and their bad sides, and I’ll tell you both. Here’s why hamsters make good pets: They’re low maintenance – not hard to look after Funny even when not handled – they make the weirdest faces and do the silliest things Take up little space – a hamster’s cage is the only thing taking up space, and that’s not much Clean animal – hamsters groom themselves as much as a cat does Cheap to keep – will not burn a hole in your wallet Cuter than most pets, being so small – a hamster will always have that ‘baby animal’ face Short lifespan, not a long term commitment – only 2-4 years Do not need much exercise from you – they exercise on their own, if given a running wheel Do not shed – no allergies, and minimal cleanup Quiet most of the time – hamsters rarely make any noise, and sleep most of the day They stay where you put their cage – you won’t trip over them when you get out of bed or go down the stairs Accepted in no-pet buildings or apartments – this is a big plus for most city dwellers ! Alright, those are some pretty good reasons to get a hamster, I’d say. But let’s talk about why hamsters make good pets in more detail, so you know exactly what you’re getting yourself into. Hamsters are low maintenance pets This is something I imagined would be the case when I got my Teddy. I mean, it’s a pet that spends most of its time in a cage, and half that time it sleeps. Now much maintenance can it need ? To be fair, there is a bit of work involved, like changing the bedding, and feeding the pet daily, along with playing with it whenever you can. But aside from that hamsters are very easy to take care of. If you want more info on how often to change the hammy’s bedding, and which type of bedding is best for him, then you should read this. There are people who say that hamsters aren’t really that easy to keep. I’d argue that they’re wrong. Sure there are certain things to consider – like the temperature to keep in the room for the hamster, or what to feed the hamster. But when you compare a hamster with a shedding cat, a dog that needs regular walks and trips to the vet, and a squeaky parrot that you need to constantly clean up after, a hamster is just breezy. My girlfriend’s parents have a couple of cockatiels and they’re a chore. Lovable and fun, but still a lot of cleanup and upkeep. They’re funny on their own My Teddy does the weirdest things in his cage. I think most hamsters do, aside from the extra lazy ones. But even those are funny. For example Teddy sometimes pushes his hideout to the side in order to get a better look at us. Like he doesn’t have the rest of the cage to see us, but okay. And he does it in the most complicated and backwards way possible. He gets on top of the hideout, then kind of… melts between his hideout and the cage bars. Then he shoves his little face in that small space until he moves the hideout. You’ve maybe seen videos of hamsters flying off their running wheels because they stopped randomly. Or maybe hamsters falling asleep and actually falling over. Even when they suddenly stop and listen for something, they have that ‘did I leave the gas on ?’ face about them. Funniest of all, hammies can and do fart. They’re just embarrassed you’d find out so they only make a faint whoosh sound. No really, they do fart. They also blink like lizards, one eye at a time. It looks like the world’s slowest wink. You can also name your hamster whatever you think suits him or her. I’ve met hamsters named Oscar, Hamster-boy, and Peanut. They’re a lot like cats in this respect, so their name can be anything you like. The hamster’s cage will not take up much space A hamster’s cage is basically the only thing taking up space in your home. Depending on what kind of cage you get your hamster – like a cage or a large glass tank – you might have more or less space taken up. But the end result is the same, your hamster will only take up that much space, ever. As for how large a hamster’s cage should be, I’ll link you to an article about exactly that. You’ll find out how large a hamster’s cage should be, and what kind of cage suits him best. As always with hamsters, even if they’re such small creatures, they need more space than you’d think. So always go for a bigger cage. Never buy those tiny, square, cramped cages you see at pet shops. Hamsters are very clean animals It might come as a surprise to you or not, but hamsters are very clean animals. They clean and groom themselves regularly. Almost obsessively. If you’ve ever seen a cat spend 20 minutes licking and cleaning itself, a hamster will do the exact same thing. Minus the hairballs. And it will take less time since he is much smaller than a cat. But still, a very very clean pet all around. Even in their hideout, hamsters keep their pile of food well away from droppings, and only pee in the opposite corner of the cage. As far away from their hideout as possible. The only things that will ever smell will be the hamster’s pee corners. Those need their bedding changed more often than the entire bedding. Or, you can use a sandbath in the corner your hammy uses as a bathroom. He will use the sandbath as a litterbox. Hamsters are cheap pets to keep As far as expenses go, hamsters are inexpensive. They run around $10 per month, for food and bedding. It’s only the initial costs that can throw you off if you’re not expecting it. An average budget, for a new cage, wheel, exercise ball, transport cage, hideout, and toys can get to $225. But those are all things you only ever buy once, in the hamster’s entire life. You can find out more about hamster expenses here. And the hamster itself is incredibly cheap, somewhere between $5-10. Hamsters are among the cutest pets You know how cute your puppy was when you got him ? He’s cute now too, all grown up, but he’s not a puppy anymore. Well, a hamster will always have that kind of ‘baby face’. Especially baby hamsters, they’re even sweeter. But an adult hamster will have the cutest, furriest face you’ve ever seen. They’re just fuzzy all around, and they have those big black beady eyes. If you look at their wiggling noses, you’ll notice they look a lot like rabbits when they move their noses. Hamsters never really ‘grow up’, as most pets do. They stay that fluffy, cute little creature you fell in love with when you first brought home. They have a shorter lifespan than most pets A hamster’s life isn’t that long. That’s both a downside and a good thing, depending on which way you look at it. I’ve put it as a good thing, because this means the hamster is a smaller commitment than a dog or a cat. Hamsters only live for 2-4 years, with the Dwarf types living the longest. This is for hamsters kept as pets. In the wild hamsters do no reach such an old age. So if you’re looking for a furry friend to keep you company for a couple of years, a hamster will be a good match for you. Or, if you want to try your hand at raising and keeping a pet, a hamster is a good starting point. You will not need to exercise them yourself too much This is great news for very busy people, and it’s an easy thing to take care of. A hamster will exercise on his own, as long as you give him an exercise wheel and/or ball. An exercise wheel is the best way for your hamster to let out the immense energy it has. The hamster will have access to the wheel 24/7, since it’s in his cage all day and night. Also, an exercise ball will be a great help for keeping the hamster from becoming anxious or stressed. All you as a human need to do is help the hamster into the ball, and he will do the rest by himself. So if you’re a very busy person, and you often work long hours and don’t have a lot of time to walk a dog or play with a cat, a hamster might be great for you. Especially since most of the hamster’s exercise takes place when he is awake, which is usually at night, when you sleep. There is no shedding problem Hamsters do not shed, so if you’ve got an allergy to fur you should be safe with a hamster. Your clothes and furniture will not need a regular brushing as well, since there are no stray hamster hairs laying about. The only thing about the hamster is that there will be stray bits of bedding in odd places, but that’s the extent of the ‘mess’ a hamster will make in your home. Hamsters are very quiet 90% of the time Most of the time hamsters make absolutely no noise. Sure, you will hear them faintly rummaging in their hideouts, or digging in their bedding. But they don’t get noisier than that most of the time. So if you’re a very quiet person, and you need a quiet pet that won’t disturb you, a hamster could be for you. Most of the hamster’s activity happens at night. So while you’re sleeping is when he might make the most noise, but again he makes very little noise. Hamsters are very quiet since they’re prey. So they’ve evolved to be very quiet creatures, and not make noise unless absolutely necessary. You won’t trip over them randomly Since most of the time your hamster will be in his cage, you can’t trip over him randomly when getting out of the shower. If you’ve ever had your dog paw at the door when you’re using the bathroom, or your cat judge you when you’re in the shower, you know what I mean. Hamsters won’t be out unless you let them out, in their special exercise balls. My girlfriend’s parents have a pair of cockatiels, and they run around the house all day. They’re funny and love to chase you, but you can literally step on them if you’re not careful. Or you’ll find them perched on top of the open door and freak out if you want to close it. A hamster will not give you any surprises. Hamsters are okay in no-pet buildings or apartments Many apartments, or even entire buildings, do not allow pets. This is mainly because of damage to the furniture, noise level, and some types of mess that can only happen with pets larger than a guinea pig. So a hamster that stays in its cage most of the time, is quiet, and does not make a mess will be okay in those buildings. I guess the same could be said about any pet that needs to be kept in a cage or tank. Hamsters are also easier to accept by roommates, since they won’t be noisy or messy or smelly. So there is nothing to object to there. But are hamsters good pets for children ? You might be wondering if a hamster might be a good pet for your kid. The short answer is no. The longer one is still no, and here is why. While hamsters are fairly easy to care for, they still need a level of responsibility and patience that a child just doesn’t have yet. To be clear, I’m talking about children under 12-13 years of age, when they start to become more responsible. A 9 years old might love to have a hamster, but will probably forget to feed the hammy, or close the cage properly, or might scare him just for fun. A dog or a cat might run away and hide if they don’t like the way they’re treated. But a hamster can’t get very far, and can only hide in his cage. Aside from that, a hamster is not a very patient pet, and won’t take well to being held wrong or pulled by the ears. It will bite and scratch ad squirm to try to get away, which is no fun for anyone involved. In general, the younger the child, the worse a hamster will be as a pet for them. (If you like this article so far, you can pin it to your Pinterest board by clicking the image below. The article continues after the image.) Downsides/cons of having a pet hamster There are a few downside to having a hamster as a pet, although the upsides more than make up for these. Still, I think you should know what the cons could be, just so you’re prepared. A hamster is harder to tame than other pets Since hamsters are so jumpy, and easy to scare, they’re harder to handle than a dog or a cat for example. Taming a hamster means handling it, playing with it, letting it get used to your scent. Hamsters are much harder to tame than most pets. They’re not as trusting as dogs, not even cats. Hamsters have evolved to run away from everything, since anything can be a predator for them. This, combined with the immense amount of energy a hamster has, so restless and jittery, gives you a very active, possibly difficult pet. You need a lot of patience. It’s very hard to guess their personality when they’re babies So you won’t really know what kind of hamster you’re getting. And once you do figure out the hamster’s personality, it’s a very strong one anyway. There’s not much changing it. If it’s a very independent hamster that doesn’t like to be handled, you might dismiss that early on as ‘not yet tame’. Their personalities are simple enough, but can vary wildly from hamster to hamster. The Syrian hamsters are a bit mellower compared to their Dwarf cousins, and easier to handle. Hamsters are less affectionate They’re not crazy about hugs and kisses and cuddles and scratches. Sure, they’ll tolerate them a bit but you can’t hold and cuddle a hamster for a half hour as you could a dog. So keep that in mind if you’re looking for a cuddly, affectionate pet. Hamsters aren’t the cuddliest, and will not stay long in your hand anyway. They can bond with their owners and come closer when you talk to them. But that’s about it. This was a big drawback for me initially, since the main reason I wanted a hamster was to cuddle and play with it. My mistake was expecting it to be as loving and playful as a dog. Hamsters do ask for attention, just not in the same way and don’t need nearly as much emotional attachment. They’re nocturnal, you might miss them often This depends on the kind of schedule you have. Pet hamsters are nocturnal, and will come out possibly when you’re getting ready for bed, like 9 PM. So you might miss out a lot on your hamster’s funny antics. Hamsters are mostly solitary creatures, so they won’t miss you terribly. But still, talking to them and handling them is important to taming the hamsters and keeping them tame. If you go to bed early and wake early, then a hamster might not be for you. But if you’re awake late int the night regularly, you might get along with a hamster just fine. To find out more about a hamster’s night routine, you should check out this article. Hamsters are very sensitive to a lot of things It’s common knowledge that hamsters scare easily. Well, most rodents do. They can even die of heart attacks from a dog barking at them. So that’s one thing to be careful about, keeping the hamster from scaring too much. You can find some useful info on that here. Hamsters are also very sensitive to shifts in temperature, and can easily die of hypothermia. Once a hamster contracts a disease, it needs immediate care or else it has basically zero chances of survival. There are a lot of things to mind when you’re considering getting a hamster, including how large a cage you can get him. A small cage will make your hamster stressed, which will make him chew the bars and develop a serious case of anxiety. The same goes for how much exercise your hamster gets. And transporting a hamster is often a bad idea. Best to leave him at home, with someone to check up on him. Surprise litters This is especially true for Dwarf pairs. You see a cute pair at the pet shop, you get them home, and a couple of weeks later you find yourself with 15 hamsters, not 2. You see, baby hamsters can breed as soon as they’re weaned – that’s just 3-4 weeks after being born. And if the males and females aren’t kept separate immediately after weaning, they can start to breed, even so young. Most of the times they’re separated in time. But sometimes it’s too late, or one male gets tagged as female by mistake and put in an all female enclosure. You can see where that can go. This is possible with every type of hamster, but especially true for Dwarf kinds because only these can be kept in pairs. Syrians need to be alone, and will fight literally anything or anyone put in their cage. So there’s less of a chance of accidental litters. A word from Teddy I hope you can get a feel for how it would be to have one of us hammies as a pet. I’ve been a good pet so far, and I think that if you’re a patient, calm person then one of us would be a good match for you. If you want to know more about us hammies, you should check the articles below. [...] Read more...
A Hamster’s Running Routine – How Much, And How Fast
A Hamster’s Running Routine – How Much, And How FastIf you’ve got a hamster and you’ve seen him running, you know he’s fast and relentless. For example my Teddy can run for a straight half hour and I can barely see his tiny paws, he’s so fast. But how fast do hamsters run ? And how much ? This is what I’ll be covering today, and I’ll tell you why hamsters need this much exercise in the first place. Table of Contents ToggleSo how fast do hamsters run ?Why hamsters run in the first placePredatorsTerritoryEnergy levelSo how much does a hamster run in a night ?Give your hamster enough exerciseHamster exercise wheelHamster exercise ballPlaying with your hamsterDangers of not exercising your hamsterObesityAnxiety/stressBar chewingA word from Teddy So how fast do hamsters run ? Hamsters run at about 3-6 mph/5-9.6 km per hour. That’s for Dwarf and Syrian hamsters as well, with the Syrian being the fastest. The speed can vary from hamster to hamster, from breed to breed, but this is about the speed the can reach. A Syrian hamster has larger limbs than a Dwarf hamster, and can cover more ground. The Dwarf is more agile than the Syrian and takes more frequent breaks while running. Hamsters are built more for dodging, hiding, evading, so they’re more agile than they are fast. They’re amazing climbers and have a strong grip. Now let’s take a look at why hamsters run in the first place, to figure out why the reach such speeds. Why hamsters run in the first place Hamsters have 2 main reasons they run, and it’s often a combination of both. It is both instinct and pure energy that makes the cover a lot of ground in a single night. When I first got my Teddy I was amazed at how much he ran and kept running. Sometimes his wheel would wake me up in the middle of the night, so I know he runs pretty much all night. My Teddy is a Syrian hamster, adult, so if yours is the same kind you probably know what I’m walking about. Predators This is the main reasons hamsters run, and it’s become an instinct. Hamsters are prey, so that means they have a very quick reflex of running away. They run, and they have to be fast, but they have to be agile first of all. So a hamster running in the wild will take frequent breaks to listen for predators, and figure out where to run if he hears one. Hamsters need to be able to outsmart everything from wild cats, wild dogs, foxes, owls, snakes, and everything in between. So not only do hamsters need to able to run fast, they also need to be great at dodging an attack, changing their direction, and sprinting at the drop of a feather. If you’ve ever tried to catch your hammy you know he can be incredibly agile and quick to dodge your hand. This is a reflex even pet hamsters have, since they’ve not forgotten where they come from. Territory Hamsters need to cover a lot of ground, in order to find all the food they need. They also need to find a mate, and they need to keep their territory in check. A wild dwarf hamster needs about 3.5 square km, which is about 1.35 square miles. A Syrian will need double that, so you can imagine there’s a lot of ground to cover for such a small creature. The food a hamster eats needs to be gathered, so the hamster will have to run around looking for food every night. There is a stash that hamsters keep in their borrows, but they still need to find fresh food every night, or else. So, all around very busy little things. They need to be quick about it if they want to do all of that in one night, and make it home alive. Energy level Hamsters have an incredible amount of energy, and it needs to be expended. this is why hamsters can be found spending most of their time in the running wheel, when they’re not sleeping. This means that hamsters need a lot of exercise, and there are certain behaviors that will come up if the hamster doesn’t get enough exercise. You can notice a hamster’s immense energy even when he’s just walking about his cage. He’s not just walking, he’s scurrying. Everything he does is fast, focused, and in a bit of a frenzy. So how much does a hamster run in a night ? The average hamster runs about 9 km/5.5 miles in a night, according to Wikipedia. Hamsters can cover more than that distance, or much less, but this is the average. This is for the pet hamster, running in a hamster wheel. Wild hamsters haven’t been recorded, as far as I know. However this distance isn’t covered continuously. A hamster takes many short breaks when he is running, and will often check for predators or food around him. He will take  breaks to drink some water, get back on the wheel, and then eat some more. All of this, couples with how fast a hamster usually runs, means that your hammy needs more exercise than you’d think for such a small creature. So getting your hamster plenty of exercise is crucial for his happiness, health, and proper development. Give your hamster enough exercise You’ve see your hamster race around his cage often, and you’ve seen how fast he can run and how much distance he can cover in a night. Now let’s see how you can help your hammy get all the exercise he needs. Hamster exercise wheel An exercise wheel is what most hamster will get, and it’s what they love most, aside from eating. Getting your hamster a proper exercise wheel will mean you should keep some things in mind. There is a certain size your hamster will need for his exercise wheel. Generally, a Syrian hamster will need a minimum of 7 inches/18 cm in diameter for his exercise wheel. A dwarf hamster can do with less, like a 5 inch/13 cm. However studies have shows that hamsters and rodents will go for larger wheel, if they are available. So even if your dwarf can do with a 5 inch/13 cm wheel, if you place a a 10 inch/25 cm one in his cage he will choose that one as his new favorite. The minimum diameters are only set in regard to how comfortable the hamster’s back is, not his preference. So always go for a large wheel. If you want to know more about hamster wheels, and how to get a good one for your hamster friend, you need to read this article on hamster wheels. You’ll find all the info you need on how to get your hamster the best wheel, along with an actual example. Hamster exercise ball This is the second way your hamster can get some exercise, but outside of his cage. There are a few advantages to an exercise ball, and I’ll walk you through them. First, your hamster will be able to explore your home. You know he always wants to know everything that’s going on. He’s always on the bars, looking for whatever you’re doing. Second, if he ever starts to get restless and chew the cage bars, this is a good way to quiet him. It will give him something else to do, and a way to expend his energy. Third, your hamster gets even more exercise, since he also has to push the ball itself in order to move it around. It’s fun, actually, for everyone involved. Never leave your hamster more than 30 minutes in his exercise ball, since he can get dehydrated, and will start looking for food as well. You’ll know it’s time to put him back in his cage when you start hearing his dropping rattling around his exercise ball. If you want to know more about exercise balls for hamsters, and how to use one for your hamster the right way, you can check this article right here. You’ll also find out what kind of exercise ball your hamster needs, and how to place him in one in the first place. Playing with your hamster Another way to give your hamster some exercise is to actually play with him. You probably won’t be able to tire him as much as his exercise wheel or ball, but it’s still an exercise for him. You can try playing with him in your hands, but he will not stay for long there, no more than a couple of minutes at a time. And you can also use a toilet paper square, dangle it in front of him, and he’ll try to pull it from you, or climb onto it. There are many ways you can play with your hamster, and  they all improve the bond between you and your hamster. This is very important when you’re trying to tame your hamster. So play with him as much and as often as you can, since he will not be around for very long. Hamsters live only for 2-4 years, so you should take advantage of the time you have together. (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.) Dangers of not exercising your hamster There are dangers to not giving your hamster enough exercise. This means that the hamster either has no running wheel, or he only has the small one that comes with his cage. You know, the small plastic wheel that aren’t good even for dwarf hamsters. You should know what will happen to your hamster if he doesn’t get enough exercise. Obesity A very common problem for hamsters. This can happen to any hamster, since all that pent up energy has to go somewhere. So if you feed your hamster as usual, and he has no way to exercise, he will get fat. Which is a serious health problem, for every creature but especially hamsters. An obese hamster will have heart problems much faster, which is not funny since his little heart stops very easily anyway. Hamsters die of heart attacks very often, mostly because their heart can’t withstand shocks like scaring them. An obese hamster will also have joint and hip problems much faster and much worse. Please feed and exercise your hamster responsibly. You can find out more about why hamsters can get fat here, along with how to slim him down to save his health. And you can find here a helpful list of the foods your hamster can eat, as well as what he should never eat for his own good. Anxiety/stress A hamster is a very anxious and stressed creature anyway. That means a lot of negative energy that needs to be released. So if your hamster has no way to exercise, all that energy will feed upon itself and lead to a very anxious, possibly irritable hamster. He can develop stress based problems, like wet tail or a series or skin problems. A stressed hamster will scale the cage walls, will click his teeth, and will possibly jump at you. He will be much harder to handle, and won’t really be your cuddly friend. Pent up stress and anxiety can devolve into fights between cage mates, which is not something to laugh at since these usually take place at night, when you’re sleeping and can’t break them up. So do you hamster a favor, and give him plenty of exercise options. Aside from the exercise wheel and ball, you can get your hamster an entire host of toys. Or you can DYI them, you choice. You can find out more about hamster toys here, like what types to get or make for your hamster, and pick your favorites from there. Bar chewing This must be one of the most hated habits of hamster everywhere. Every hamster owner I know deals with this, and fortunately it’s only for a few minutes every day, and then the hamster stops. But a hamster with no way to release his energy will find other ways, like chewing the cage bars, or trying to bite on the glass tank. This is of the most annoying and hardest to beat habits that a hamster can develop, and it only comes about in certain times. When he is bored, or when he is angry or stressed. The hamster will chew and chew and bite some more at the cars of his cage, and not stop, possibly even for 15 minutes straight. You can hear his teeth chattering whenever he stops, and nothing will persuade him to leave those bars alone for more than a couple of minutes. This can also be accompanied by scaling the cage, running around the cage, moving his hideout and any large pieces of his ‘furniture’. A word from Teddy I hope your found out how much us hammies can run, and how far we can get. We love to run and run and run some more, so please make sure you get your hamster a good running wheel or exercise ball. If you want to know more about why us hamsters need such a large cage, and how much we eat and what to feed us, you should check out he articles below. [...] Read more...
Here’s How To Find A Hamster’s Gender (All Breeds And Ages)
Here’s How To Find A Hamster’s Gender (All Breeds And Ages)Knowing your hamster’s gender will save you from a world of trouble. Pairing a male with a female by mistake will get you a new litter faster than you’d like. When I got my Teddy I didn’t care about the gender, I just wanted him to be orange. It turned out he was the only orange hamster they had at the pet shop, so there we go. But today I’ll be talking about how to find the gender for your hamster, since this is very important. Especially if you’ve got Dwarf pairs. Table of Contents ToggleSo how do you find a hamster’s gender ?Here’s how to find a hamster’s gender – step by stepGive the hamster attention beforehandPrepare your surroundingsOnly try it when the hamster is relaxedHold the hamster properlyLook at the underside of the hamsterAlternative ways to find out a hamster’s genderUsing a transparent containerLooking for size and shape difference between gendersWhen to separate hamster babiesA word from Teddy So how do you find a hamster’s gender ? The shortest and clearest answer is to check the hamster’s genitals. There are some very clear differences between males and females, and you will notice them in your hamster. Females – You’ll notice on the underside of the hamster a sort of bald spot where the rear end is. Those are the anal and vaginal openings for the female hamster. They are very close together, and will possibly look like the same organ. There is very little, to no hair at all in that area. Also, you will notice the nipples on her abdomen running on both sides of her belly. They might be covered by fur, but they will be there. Males – have a larger patch of fur between the genital and anal opening. Some breeds will have a third point on their belly, a scent gland higher up on the abdomen. Males have no nipples in hamsters, so you should find none. And in the end, the testicles will make the male hamster’s rear end look larger, and more elongated than the female. Alright, but how do you actually go about finding the hamster’s sex ? Hamsters spend most of their time on all fours, so they won’t really roll over and show you. Let’s see how to go about that. Here’s how to find a hamster’s gender – step by step I’ll give you a step by step guide here, but remember that this works mostly for tame hamsters. Untamed hamsters, that do no like to be handled at all, will need a different strategy. I’ll provide you with that as well, just scroll down a bit. Give the hamster attention beforehand Before you try to tell the hamster’s sex, you need to make sure the hamster is calm and relaxed. A treat and some playing and handling will help a lot with this. If you can actually incorporate this into the playtime it would be easier for your hamster. You will be holding your hamster tilted on his back, and he won’t really like that. So play with your hamster a bit, stroke him, talk to him softly, do as you would normally. Give him a treat, maybe a big one to distract him. For example a large piece of carrot that he can’t immediately show into his cheeks would be great. If not, a simple dog treat will suffice. If you’re unsure what to feed the hamster, you can check the list of safe foods here. You’ll find foods and treats as well. Prepare your surroundings Your hamster might squirm, even if he is tame. No hamster likes to be held on their backs, and you can’t really hold them above your face since this will be too high for them. So, it would be best to do this low on the ground, with a box lined with bedding under your hamster. This way if the hamster manages to wriggle out of your hands, he will only fall on the soft bedding. And he won’t really get very far, since the box will keep him contained. If you’ve got a glass tank, you can do this over the hamster’s tank, to stress him even less. Again, try to incorporate this into the play routine you have with your hamster. Make it feel like it’s another game, and he will be a bit more relaxed. Only try it when the hamster is relaxed This should go without saying, but do not try to handle the hamster when he’s irritated, or is sleeping. If he just woke up for good, and just started walking about his cage, this can be a good time. But if he was just chewing on the cage bars a second ago, and his teeth are chattering, stay away. Your hamster is not in a friendly mood, and will definitely bite you if you try to hold him now. An eating hamster will not like being held or handled either. So a good moment would be when he’s out and about as usual, or when he just woke up. Hold the hamster properly When you do hold your hamster in order to find its gender, make sure you’ve got your thumb across the hamster’s chest. The hamster should be cupped in your hand, and you will need to use both hands. Your hamster will probably squirm and try to escape, which is understandable. Do not hold him up very high, instead do this over his glass tank close to the bedding if you can. Or over a box lined with bedding, so he will fall somewhere safe and soft. If you’ve dropped your hamster and didn’t manage to figure out his gender, that’s okay. Keep playing with him, and give him a couple of bits of food for his trouble. You can try again in a few minutes. This is something that you might need to have patience with. Look at the underside of the hamster Hold the hamster a bit tilted on his back, so you can see his underside. He will probably squirm, but that’s reasonable. Use your other hand to try and feel on his abdomen for the nipples. If you find none, it’s a male. If you do find nipples, it’s a female. Take a look at the hammy’s rear end too. If you see the vaginal and anal opening close together, like they’re the same opening, it’s a female. If the openings are farther apart, and there is a patch of fur between them, then it is a male. You might also see a swelling near the tail, those are the testicles of the male. These will all look the same, whether you have a Syrian or Robo or Campbell or any other kind of hamster. Some breeds might have another point on the male’s abdomen, a scent gland. (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.) Alternative ways to find out a hamster’s gender If you’ve got an especially stubborn hamster, who does not like being handled at all, then you’ll need to find another way. Or, if you’re looking at a hamster at the pet shop, and can’t pick it up but you want to know which gender you’re picking. Using a transparent container You can use a transparent container to find your hamster’s gender as well. This means that you will need something clear, like a jar, or a plastic box. You need to be able to see clearly through it. Place the container on its side in your hammy’s cage, with a treat inside. Wait for your hamster to wander into it and take the treat, then pick up the container. This might take a few minutes, but it will happen. Once the hamster is in the container, make sure he can’t get out. This means that the sides must be high, or there must be a lid on, which the hamster has to be able to breathe through. Lift the container above your head, and look up. It might take some trying and your hamster might not flatten itself onto the floor of the container at first. But you should eventually be able to notice the hamster’s underside clearly. Look for the anal and vaginal openings, and for the nipple markings as well. This is easier on the hamster, but takes much more time. Looking for size and shape difference between genders There are a few difference between males and females, even if they’re not immediately obvious. First, a male will be a bit larger than a female. If you’ve got a Syrian, and he’s alone in his cage as he should be, this won’t be easy to tell. But if you’ve got a Dwarf pair, it will be much easier to compare a specific hamster against another. Then, another difference between male and female hamsters is the rear end. A male’s rear will be larger, and slightly elongated, pointier. This is because his testicles are there, and take up quite some space. Of all the breeds the Syrian is the most obvious one, with very large testicles. The females have a more rounder, kind of shorter end. So if you look there, you might find some tell tale signs. When to separate hamster babies Baby hamsters are weaned by their mother when they’re about 3-4 weeks of age. Whats more important here is that they can breed about as soon as they’re weaned. They still have a bit of growing up to do to become full adults, but they are capable of breeding even at 3-4 weeks. So this would be the time to separate the litter into male and female cages. Doing this too late can bring you surprise litters, so you should keep an eye on the mother. Once she starts weaning them, the babies will be pushed away by their mother. They can drink water and eat commercial food now. If there was a very large litter, and not all babies managed to grow and develop properly, you can leave those with the mother for another week. When you separate the babies into male and female groups, run another check a week later, to be sure that they are all male or female. Just to be sure and not have 20 more hamsters overnight. A word from Teddy I hope you found out what you were looking for here, and know whether you have a boy or a girl hammy. I’m a Syrian boy, and I was pretty obvious from the get go. But my Dwarf cousins might be harder to figure out, so try to be patient. If you want to know more about us hammies, like how how expensive or cheap it is to keep one of us at home, or what we like to eat, you can check the articles below. [...] Read more...
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...
5 Reasons Your Hamster Bites And How To Stop It
5 Reasons Your Hamster Bites And How To Stop ItA biting hamster is never fun. For example my Teddy used to nip at my fingers when I first brought him. I figured out why he wanted to bite and how to stop him as well.  As it turns out, hamsters do a lot of things with their teeth, and half the time they have their teeth on you they’re not really biting. Table of Contents ToggleSo why is your hamster biting in the first place ?Hamsters nibble and chew on everything – including youReasons your hamster is biting – and what to do about themYour hamster is scared or irritatedYour hamster is hungry, or you’ve just handled foodYou might smell unfamiliar, or you’re a new person he just metBut what if you’re a new person, and you don’t know the hamster ?Your hamster might be difficult to handleMy Teddy is a bit difficultYour hamster might be hurtingA few precautions when picking up your hamsterMake sure that when you handle your hamster there are no loud noises, flashing lights, sudden movements.Do not pick up your hamster from above.Make sure your hands and clothes don’t have a strong smellAvoid any sudden movements.Dwarf hamsters are more jitteryIf you’ve got long nails and if you’ve got nail polish on, avoid exposing them to your hamster.If all else fails, you can use a garden gloveA few other options when handling your hamsterA word from Teddy So why is your hamster biting in the first place ? Hamsters bite when annoyed or scared, and they’re very easy to scare. That’s the most common reason, but a list of possible reasons could be: Your hamster is scared/irritated – hamsters get defensive real fast, and that often means biting or scratching The hamster could be hungry or you could be smelling of food He found an unfamiliar scent on you, or you might be a new person – he might bite strangers Your hamster might be a difficult hamster, or one that doesn’t like being handled at all He might be hurting and you’re touching that part of him There are times when you might mistake a nibble for the beginning of a bite, draw your hand fast, thus scaring the hamster, and end up bitten anyway. I’ve found this out with my Teddy when he was young, and I was trying to earn his trust. He still nips from time to time, since he is a hamster after all. Hamsters are very curious things, and will want to explore everything. Since they can’t see very well, they’ll use their paws, nose and teeth to try everything out. Let’s talk about that for a bit, since it can often be mistaken for a bite. Hamsters nibble and chew on everything – including you This doesn’t mean you’re a snack for him, he knows that. It’s just that hamsters have very very poor eye sight. Just enough to see right in front of them, but not enough to tell distances or certain things apart. So, hamsters use their ears, whiskers, paws and nose to figure out the things around them. This, combined with a natural curiosity will make them want to touch and feel everything. That means that your hamster will also try nibbling on things to get a feel for them. Much like baby humans, actually. Except hamsters never grow out of that phase. That, and the fact that a hamster’s front teeth never stop growing. Ever. So they need to always file them down on something, and that’s an instinct as well. So the next time you feed your hammy from your hand, don’t be surprised if he starts inching towards the edge of your palm, or the crease of the palm. He’s naturally drawn there, and will try to chew on any ends and bits, even if they’re your fingers. When this happens, draw your hand away slowly. Try to suppress your reflex since any quick movement will scare your hamster. And once you’ve scared him, he will definitely bite. So take your hand away gently and you hamster will leave it alone. Until you present it to him again, since he is very curious, always. But draw your hand away gently, and he won’t bite. Teddy: Us hamsters are a curious bunch, and we’ll want to try to get a feel of everything. Don’t make any sudden movements, we scare easily ! Reasons your hamster is biting – and what to do about them These are things I’ve tried myself, and things I’ve discovered from talking to other hamster owners. Most of these can be managed easily enough. Your hamster is scared or irritated These are in fact the same thing, at their core. A scared hamster is an angry, jumpy hamster, so we want to avoid this as much as possible, for the hamster and for you as well. For more info on why your hamster can get scared of you – or anything else, really – you should go here. It’s an article on exactly why your hamster might be scared, and what you can do to calm him down. Also, you find out how to avoid most of the reasons your hamster gets scared. Do take note that some hamsters are just too easy to scare, and that’s just their personality. In short, any scared or irritated hamster should not be handled immediately. Give the furball some time to relax and calm down, speak to him softly. Talking to him helps a lot, but keep you voice low since hamsters have very sensitive hearing. Using food and treats works as a way to get the hamster used to you, and he will calm down much faster with a peanut in his paws than not. Unsalted peanut, no peel. Your hamster is hungry, or you’ve just handled food This is very true, and something that is easy to forget. Like dogs, hamsters have very keen senses of smell. So if you’ve handled some food, wiped your hands on a towel, then went to pick up your hamster, he might bite. This is because he can smell the food on your hands, and not figure out that it’s your hand, not a piece of chicken. So wash your hands very well before handling your hamster. Use a soap that doesn’t have a strong smell, and avoid any fruity soaps. Make sure you get under the nails since some food particles might get stuck there, and your hamster might go straight for those. And sometimes, your hamster might be very hungry in that particular moment, and you’ve chosen to handle him when he wanted to eat. So, never handle the hamster when he is eating, same as you would leave alone a dog or cat when they’re eating. You might smell unfamiliar, or you’re a new person he just met Most hamsters are skittish, they don’t trust very easily and get defensive fast. That’s normal when you take into account how many predators they have in the wild. Now, if your hamster that you’ve had since forever and used to pick up easily, suddenly shies away or even bites your hand, there is a reason. What have you handled recently ? Another animal’s scent might have picked up on you, like a stray cat you played with, or the neighbor’s dog. It might be on your clothes, not necessarily on your hand. Or, it could be a strong smell like citrus – winter time with orange and clementine peels, maybe. A strong perfume, or anything new your hamster doesn’t recognize. My Teddy hates citrus oil and scrunches up his face whenever I peel an orange. Coffee grounds is again a scent he doesn’t like. I mean he gets close to the edge of the cage, gets a few whiffs, then makes the most disgusted face. He always does that, even if he’s smelled my coffee every morning. Maybe I make terrible coffee, who knows. As with the food on your hands, make sure you wash your hands before handling your hamster. And if you’ve got any heavily scented clothes on you, consider changing out of them. But what if you’re a new person, and you don’t know the hamster ? That’s a whole other story, and the hamster will not want to be around you at first. Most hamsters are distrustful, so you should not try to touch them right after seeing them for the first time. A very clear example was when a neighbor came with his daughter to see the hamster. The little girl is blind, so she needs to see with her hands. But since Teddy never met her, and I didn’t know better, and she tried to ouch him, Teddy started squeaking and tried to catch one of her fingers. I had him in my hands, and got him away fast enough. No one ended up bitten, but I learned a very important lesson that day. Strangers need to be introduced slowly, and the hamster will take a few encounters to accept someone new. So if you’re meeting a new hamster for the first time, first let him smell your hand through the cage. Then, feed him a bit of food through the cage. After a few tries, or better after a couple of days, you can then try to place your hand inside the cage, with a bit of food on it, to encourage him to touch your hand. Your hamster might be difficult to handle Some hamsters just don’t like being handled, no matter how much time or effort you put in. That’s just their personality, and there’s not much you can do about it. If you do find yourself with a difficult hamster, still try to be nice to him. Try finding his limit, and don’t cross it. If he will eat from your hand, but absolutely will not climb onto your hand or let you pick him up, then stop. That’s where his comfort ends, and there’s no point in pushing him any further. He may be your pet, but there are certain limits you both have. If your hamster is exceptionally difficult, try going to your local vet. He might be able to figure out something that you can’t, like if your hamster has an illness or maybe he’s seen cases like this before. It might take a very very long time to tame a difficult hamster. It might even take months, but you should still try. This is especially true if it’s a hamster you’ve picked up from a shelter or previous owner. There might be some bad things that the hamster can’t forget. Always approach the hamster with a treat or food, and it will be easier. If you want to know what treats or foods are safe for your hamster, you should check out this hamsters food list. It’s got what you can and can not feed hamsters, and what kind of treats hamsters can eat. My Teddy is a bit difficult In that, he will not sit still for more than 2 seconds when you hold him. He is a hamster, most of them don’t sit still anyway. But my Teddy is a very strong and independent hamster, who don’t need no man. Seriously though, there are times when he will stay in my hand, but most of the time I have to do the hand-washing motion when I handle him. You know, putting one hand in front of the other while he keeps trying to climb out. He rarely ever bites anymore, he used to a while back. But this was mostly because it took me a few weeks to tame him. This is when I found out that hamsters can lose trust in their owners sometimes. I had a period when I was too afraid to touch him, so I had to re-tame him. But now Teddy and I are friends again, he only nibbles my hand when I feed him, and he doesn’t shy away like he used to when I reach for him. Whatever I write here is what I’ve tried or found out with my Teddy, and I hope it helps you befriend your hamster faster than I did. Your hamster might be hurting Sometimes hamsters hurt themselves and it’s not obvious. Like maybe he fell from a level in his cage, or bit himself while grooming, or possibly sprained his foot in the wheel. It could be anything. But sometimes it’s not noticeable straight away, like a whole mess of blood and fur. Sometimes it’s a slight limp, or maybe not even that. But when you go to pick up your hamster, he might bite because you’re touching a very sensitive part of his body. If you had a sprained ankle and someone tried to pet it you’d hate it too. If you notice anything like this with your hamster, call your veterinarian as soon as possible. Your hamster might be sick or hurt, and need medical attention. Most of the time minor injuries heal by themselves, but with small creatures like hamsters you need to be very careful. A few precautions when picking up your hamster Most of the time the biting happens because the hamster is scared. And a few things need to be done properly before you try to pick up your hamster. Make sure that when you handle your hamster there are no loud noises, flashing lights, sudden movements. So no picking up the hamster under the Christmas tree with the fairy lights on with loud music, for example. Hamsters are easy to scare. A calm, quiet, predictable atmosphere will keep the hamster at ease. Do not pick up your hamster from above. As in, do not use your hand like a claw to close it around your hamster. You’re scaring him, since it feels a lot like when his ancestors were swooped up by birds of prey. Instead, use a scooping motion. Come from the front, with an open palm and let the hamster climb in on his own. You can use a treat in your hand to make the hamster come closer. Then, place your other hand on top of the hamster, like a shield. Hamsters are active and fidgety and they will not sit still in your hand. Make sure your hands and clothes don’t have a strong smell Perfume, fruits, motor oil, coffee, whatever you’ve used recently. When you wash your hands, avoid fruity soaps since your hamster will truly believe that’s an apple or strawberry you have on your hand, and will try to bite into it. Avoid any sudden movements. Hamsters can’t see very well, but they notice your movements. You don’t have to be extra slow, but do not be too quick with your hands. Dwarf hamsters are more jittery The smaller hamster breeds are a bit hyperactive, and will rarely sit still. An adult Syrian hamster like my Teddy might come up to you … normally, I’d say. But a dwarf will scurry and race every where. So, they’re harder to handle and bite easier. If you’ve got long nails and if you’ve got nail polish on, avoid exposing them to your hamster. This is because hamsters will nibble on everything that sticks out, so your nails are a great for that. And if the hamster chews on nails that are done up ? The nail polish is toxic for him, so make sure he doesn’t get his teeth anywhere near your nails. This is something my girlfriend discovered shortly after we got Teddy. Luckily she wasn’t wearing anything on her nails at the time. (If you like this article so far, you can pin it to your Pinterest board by clicking the image below. The article continues after the image.) If all else fails, you can use a garden glove In no way is this a good way to handle your hamster on a regular basis. But if you’ve got a very difficult hamster, and you need to pick him up for a short amount of time (like checking his body for injuries or rashes) then you will need protection. A gardening glove is great for this, since it’s made of thick, sturdy material the hamster can bite into without hurting himself or you. There are a few things to be careful about when you handle the hamster like this: be careful to not squeeze him hard be careful to hold him firmly enough, since he will wiggle his way out keep the handling very very short, very close to his cage in case he jumps A hamster is a very light creature, and he’s hard enough to feel in your hand anyway. All that fluffy fur, combined with a light weight, you don’t really know where he starts and where he finishes. But this is so very important with the gardening glove. You will not be able to feel him on your hands, but you will see him. So you must be careful to not squeeze him too hard, or hold him too lightly either. A few other options when handling your hamster Depending on why you need to handle your difficult hamster, you have a few other options aside from the gardening glove. You can place the hamster in a tall, plastic cup if you need to weight him on a kitchen scale. Just place the Cut laid down in his cage, and wait for him to climb in on his own. Of course, you need to account for the cup’s weight. You can use the hamster’s exercise ball if you need to move him from one cage to the other. Place a treat in his exercise ball, and wait for him to climb in. Then, scoop him up and place him in his new cage. You can also use a series of tubes your hamster can climb into to get him from one cage to another. Just tap the place you want him to be, and he will soon try to find where the sound is coming from. Then you can block off the tunnels he went through once he is where he wants to be. A gardening glove is never a good option for constant handling, but it works if you’ve got absolutely no other method of literally picking up your hamster for a good reason. A word from Teddy I hope you found what you were looking for. I know us hamsters can be a bit difficult sometimes, but we never mean you any harm. We’re scared more often than not, so there’s that too. If you come to us with a bit of food and a slow steady hand, we probably won’t bite. So if you want to know more about the kind of food we can eat, or what kind of cage suits us best, check the articles below. [...] Read more...
Why You Should Trim Your Hamster’s Nails, And How To Do It
Why You Should Trim Your Hamster’s Nails, And How To Do ItIf you’ve got a hamster then you’ve probably met his sharp claws, or at least seen them. If he’s even climbed on you, you’ve also felt them. But some hamsters do get overgrown nails,  and it’s necessary to keep them trimmed to avoid injury to you or to the hamster. Table of Contents ToggleSo do hamsters need their nails trimmed ?When do hamsters need their nails trimmed ?Why you should care about your hamster’s nailsHow to trim overgrown hamster nailsTrimming them at homeInspect the hamster’s nails before trimmingSeeing a vet for professional helpPreventing overgrown hamster nailsHome exercise for your hamster’s nailsA word from Teddy So do hamsters need their nails trimmed ? Yes, but ONLY in cases of overgrown nails. This is not something you should do regularly, like with your own human nails.  Hamsters usually trim their nails by climbing, grooming, digging, foraging. 9 of out 10 hamsters don’t need help with their nails. But some hammies do, especially very old hamsters or the hamsters that don’t have a few rugged surfaces to blunt their nails on. This is where you, as a responsible hamster owner, will come in and help the hamster take care of himself. I’ll help you with how to trim the hamster’s nails, and how to prevent overgrown nails in the first place. This article is ONLY for cutting your hamster’s overgrown nails. Leave healthy nails alone. They should have a bit of length to them, because the hamster uses them for climbing and getting a grip. When do hamsters need their nails trimmed ? Only when the hamster’s nails have become overgrown. You’ll notice they’re much too long, and they’re starting to curve in on themselves. They might break at some point, and they can and do fall off. I saw a couple of Teddy’s nails come off when they were too long and I didn’t notice in time to cut them down. The overgrown nails will turn a nasty yellow color, and if you look very closely you’ll see lighter/whitish spots or lines where they’re cracked or broken. Hamsters usually wear down their nails by the usual things they do. Digging a tunnel into the earth, making their nest, foraging for food, running around, grooming themselves, climbing on op of rocks, and so on. A pet hamster doesn’t do all of that, because he’s not in his usual habitat. The ones he does do, are on softer material like wood shavings and paper bedding. This means that sometimes, some hamsters get overgrown nails. That can be fixed. Why you should care about your hamster’s nails You might ask why you should consider trimming your hamster’s nails. After all, no one trims them in the wild. That’s true, no one does that for wild hamsters. But wild hamsters don’t get overgrown nails, because they have a lot of hard surfaces to wear them down on. This means that your pet hamster will need your help for several reasons. First an overgrown nail will curve in on itself and become painful for the hamster. In some extreme cases the nail can start growing into the hamster’s paw, curving back towards his paw. This will lead to pain, infection, and the hamster’s feet won’t be able to do their job. Second, nails too long will make grooming painful for the hamster. When he grooms, he also grabs onto his fur and hold it in place to clean it. With nails too long, that starts to hurt, and even walking becomes a hassle since he can’t step normally. Third, overgrown nails, if left unattended will fall off. But this is never a pleasant ans simple process. They fall off because the motion of the hamster’s paws when he goes about his business weakens the nails near the quick. So they end up bending over backwards, for lack of a better term. The nail will not simply fall off, it will hang in there for a couple of days, until the new nail grows back. This is both painful and awkward for the hamster, because using his paws won’t be easy at all. These are all things that can be avoided. Not all hamsters get overgrown nails. How to trim overgrown hamster nails Trimming your hamster’s nails will not be easy, at all. Hamsters are notorious for not staying put, and squirming. A hammy kept in one place so you can clip his nails definitely won’t cooperate easily. Trimming them at home Arm yourself with patience, and don’t expect to finish everything in one day. Your hamster should first of all be comfortable with being held. If he’s not, read this guide on taming your hamster and work on getting him comfy with you. Once he’s okay with being held, try and find a position for him that’s okay for both of you. Some hamsters will be okay with being on their backs, some will not. One position would be holding the hamster’s back against your stomach or chest, and holding one of his paws with your finger. Another could be the hamster just being on all 4 and you holding one of his paws. If you think you need help, ask a friend to hole the hamster while you trim the nails. Do expect fidgeting, and do expect squirming, maybe even a few protesting sounds. No hamster likes being held for this. Also be aware that even if your hamster might get relaxed enough to let you hold him, the sound of the nail being clipped can spook him. So be prepared for anything. Inspect the hamster’s nails before trimming When you do cut the hamster’s nail, look for the quick. You’ll need very good lighting for this, or even some sunlight. Make sure the hamster’s eyes aren’t in the bright light, or the sunlight, as they’re very sensitive to that. You’ll notice the hamster’s nails are kind of transparent. Not completely, they will have a whitish/yellowish tint to them and their very edges might be lighter in color. But look at where the nail starts, from the finger. You’ll notice a pinkish, cloudy area. Its very small, and very short, about the size of a couple of grains of sand. While very small, that little pink cloudy part is crucial. Do not cut into it. It has lots of blood vessels, and cutting into it is like cutting into the neat right under your nail. Actually, they’re the exact same area, just that our nails have a different shape from hamster nails. So when you cut your hamster’s nails, make sure you give the quick (pink part) a wide berth. When you cut the nail part, the translucent part of the nail, make sure you leave at least as much nail as the pink part. That means if there are 2 grains of sand of quick, then you should leave 2 grains of sand of transparent nail on your hamster. It might be hard to do, if your hamster isn’t used to this kind of operation. And he probably isn’t so don’t be surprised if you can’t manage to get all of his nails clipped in one day. Giving your hamster a treat after each nail successfully clipped is going to help him learn that everything’s okay, he’s safe, and you’re not hurting him. Seeing a vet for professional help Getting your hamster to a veterinarian to help trim his nails is probably the best decision. I say this only because finding the quick, and keeping the hamster still so you don’t cut into the quick are 2 hard things to do. A vet will have more experience with clipping a pet’s nails, and he will notice the quick very easily. Also, in the case of a bleeding accident, he will have a solution to stop the bleeding and disinfect everything. (If you like this article so far, you can pin it to your Pinterest board by clicking the image below. The article continues after the image.) Preventing overgrown hamster nails Preventing is always much easier than treating. This is true for everything, and it’s also true for keeping your hamster’s nails filed down. But for this we need to look at why hamster nails can become overgrown in the first place. A hamster’s nails always grow, much like our human nails. Usually hamsters wear them down with their day-to-day activities in the wild. But in their warm, safe cages this doesn’t happen as much. Pet hamsters have fairly soft beddings, and they don’t get to dig into the earth a complex series of tunnels. This means the hamster’s nails have not very much to hit against. Wood shavings or paper bedding are much too soft for hamster nails, and they’re loose and move around. The objects around the cage will help wear the nails down, like the hideout or a couple of toys, but that’s it. So you will need to provide your hamster with a few hard, rugged surfaces to walk over or climb onto. For example a few flat stones from your garden (rinsed and dried, of course) arranged around his cage are going to help. each time he steps over those stones, his nails will wear down a little bit. And if you place the stones in many places, he will step on them often. For example placing them right around the food bowl will make sure your hamster  walks over them to get to his food. Home exercise for your hamster’s nails Another idea, aside from the flat rocks is an emery board. That’s the kind of material used for filing nails, and even in jewelry making. Make sure your get the smallest sized grit, so you do not hurt your hamster’s paws. Get a board big and wide enough so the hamster has room on it. You can also find emery paper and tape it to a small board. Place one of your hamster’s favorite treats at one end and put the hamster on the other end. Slowly start tilting the board, keeping it at an angle, with the treat on top. The hamster will dig his nails into the board to get more stability and a better grip. This will file down his nails, and in the end you’ll level the board again so he can get his treat. Or, you can keep the board perfectly horizontal, and only have a treat tied to a string or on the end of a stick. This is teasing, yes, but the hamster does get the treat in the end. Simply make him walk over the board a few times, and let him have his treat. Always check to see if his paws are okay. If you get grit small enough, he should be fine. You can try this exercise every 2-3 weeks, to make sure your hamster keeps his nails short. A word from Teddy I hope you found what you were looking for in this article. Us hammies usually take good care of our bodies, so our nails are usually pretty trim. It’s just that some of us need a little help from time to time. If you want to know more about us hamsters you should check out the related articles below. You’ll learn how to keep us safe and happy, and what we need for a good life. [...] Read more...

References:

  1. https://www.rspca.org.uk/adviceandwelfare/pets/rodents/hamsters/diet