How To Choose Your First Hamster – Health And Temperament

If you’re looking to get a hamster, you’ll want to know how to choose your first hamster. Getting a hammy for the first time is exciting, and a big responsibility, even if he’s so small.

Even if you’re not headed out the door to find your furry friend right now, there’s a few things you should know before you get a 2-3 year commitment. I wish I knew some of these when I first got my Teddy (Syrian male hammy).

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How to choose your first hamster

The best way to choose a hamster is to look both for a healthy one, but also a even-tempered hamster. Hamsters are skittish and jumpy by nature, but they should be relatively easy to tame, and not very afraid of you.

It’s easier to find a healthy hamster than a calmer, cooperative hamster. Most of the health checks are obvious and immediately noticeable, like scabs, missing teeth, bald spots, leaky nose, etc.

The temperament however is a bit trickier, and won’t show completely until the hamster becomes an adult – around 3 months old. Until then, you’ll have to look for some specific signs.

Let’s start with the health checklist, to see if your future hammy is healthy.

The hamster’s health

A healthy hamster  is easy enough to find, although some signs of illness won’t be immediately obvious. Some depend on the sex and breed of hamster you’re looking for as well.

The hamster’s eyes

A hammy’s eyes are supposed to be bright, and clear. Now hamsters usually have black eyes, but they can also be dark red, red, or even pink, and some look like a very deep dark blue.

However the color should be clear, with no milky or whitish spots. They should not be hazy.

Bright, sparkly, bulging eyes are a trait that hammies are known for.

No missing teeth

It should be obvious, but a hamster should have all of its teeth. That means 2 pair of front incisors, that you should be able to see clearly. They are very long, especially the bottom pair.

Hamster teeth are yellow, sometimes even orange. That’s okay. You should only worry if you see white teeth, or whitish teeth, since those are signs of an illness or deficiency.

Broken, cracked, crossed, or even missing teeth are a bad sign. They can come about from poor handling by the caretakers, or it could be a hereditary problem.

Teeth are crucial to a hamster’s health, so they should be something you look at. You can find out more about hamster dental issues here, and what to look out for.

Clean ears

A hammy’s ears are the first thing he will use to make sense of his surroundings. Hamsters don’t see very well, so they rely a lot on smell and hearing.

A pair of clean, thin ears is ideal, with no bite marks or missing bits. Do take note that many hammies have harder ears than the rest of their body. So you’ll need to get a bit of a closer look into the hamster’s ear for an infection or any other issues.

No odd lumps

Hamsters are this small ball of fur. But they should have no lumps, since that usually means an odd growth, or tumor, or a possible impacted cheek or abscess.

None of those are good news. You might see your preferred hammy with a cheek full, or maybe both. That’s usually just food stored in his cheeks, though it’s not a common sight in pet stores.

A note to be mindful of Syrian hammies. I wish I knew this about Teddy, because I was afraid he was sick when I first saw this.

Syrian hamsters have two black mole-like spots on their hips, with barely any fur around them. Those are normal, and they are the scent glands. You will probably only notice them of the hamster is licking that spot.

Bald spots, and how the fur looks

The fur of a hamster should be fluffy, and clean looking. It should not be particularly shiny, unless the hamster was bred for that purpose.

That being said, no bald spots (aside from the scent gland or genital area) should be present on the hamster. Any bald spot could be an indication of a skin disease, some of which could be contagious.

However some bald spots can simply mean that he hamster somehow hurt himself, and managed to rip some fur off of himself. Be sure to check the habitat the hamster is in for other clues.

Are there other hamsters with bald spots ? Are they actually scars from fighting ? Is there a part of the habitat the hamster could have cut himself on ?

Discharge in the eyes or nose or ears

A healthy, happy hamster should be completely dry. No discharge or liquids from the ears, nose, tail area, or mouth.

Discharge can be a sign of infection, and it’s most probably contagious as well. SO it could be that your chosen hamster is sick, or is in the incubation phase.

Any sign of infection however should be immediately treated by the staff at the pet store, since that isn’t a humane way to keep hamsters.

Wet tail, or soiled bottom

Wet tail is noticeable if the tail is, well, wet or soiled. It’s a type or diarrhea and can be extremely dangerous for your hamster’s health.

You can find out more about wet tail here, and the chances your hamster has of getting it and surviving.

If one hamster does have wet tail, or any other disease, it’s very possible that the other hamsters in the habitat have got it too, or they’re in the incubation phase.

You’ll also notice signs of wet tail on the bedding, as it might be soiled and very smelly.

Slender hamster

A baby hamster – between 4 and 12 weeks old – should be neither skinny nor fat. This is actually how you should keep him as an adult, as well.

An obese baby hamster will have a much shorter life span, and have several health issues, including and not stopping at diabetes and joint problems.

An underfed hamster will be noticeable if you hold the hamster and feel its spine and leg bones very clearly.

Since hamsters are so fluffy, it can be difficult to tell if they’re skinny or fat. The fur will cheat you there, but you should be able to tell if you look at the head and eyes, and how plump the skin is there.

You can find out more about how big a hamster can get, depending on his breed. And find out here what you can do if you hamster’s already overweight.

No weird smells

An odd smell coming from your hamster is not a good sign. Hamsters are actually incredibly clean animals, and they clean themselves regularly, several times a day, very thoroughly.

They have no scent that a human can detect, aside from female hamsters in heat.

So if your hamster smells odd, you should check it for any signs of infection as well. It could be that the hamster has an abscess in his mouth (possibly because if a bad tooth) and that could be the source.

Or a possible ear infection that isn’t obvious right away.

The hamster’s personality

Your hammy’s personality is probably something you won’t think of immediately, but you’ll notice it’s more important than anything.

This is what I wish I knew before I got Teddy. You see, I wanted an orange hammy, and that was it. I had no idea about hamster breeds, temperaments, calmness, and so on.

In time I saw that my Teddy is a bit of a despot, if you will. He must know, he must see, he will have his way, and he always has something to object. A bit annoying, but still a lovable ball of fur.

Just not what I had in mind when I decided I want a hamster. I wanted a cuddly, friendly hammy, who will sleep on my shoulder and want to play all the time. Basically the world’s tiniest puppy.

Again, I knew absolutely nothing about hamsters.

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Baby hamsters are hard to read

When selecting your hamster, keep in mind that babies don’t have their personalities completely formed. You can’t look at a baby Syrian and know it’ll be friendly straight away, as you would a Lab puppy for example.

Still, you can look at a few things when selecting your new hamster:

  • Is he afraid or just cautious ? He should want to come closer if you reach for him, but not too confidently.
  • Does the hamster run away as soon as it sees anyone ? Hamsters are shy, yes, but an extra shy hamster who bolts into his hideout all the time is very hard to tame.
  • Does he look mostly calm and curious ? Hamsters are notoriously hyper, and older hammies are calmer than babies. Syrians are calmer than Dwarf types. Depends on what kind of hammy you want.
  • Does the hammy look like it’s angry or snappy ? Might be best to stay away from that one, he will be harder to tame.
  • Is the hamster trying to attack you ? It might sound silly, but if your hamster of choice starts making himself look bigger and tries to intimidate you, you’ve got a difficult one. Best to leave him be and find a different one.

Keep in mind that previously owned hamsters might be a better choice, since they’ve been handled before and are most probably already tamed. They can be traumatised, however, so be gentle with them.

If you’re selecting a baby hamster, make sure it is curious, and can hold its attention for several seconds. Hamsters are always on the move and are curious about a million things at a time, but still, if you put your hand on the cage, he should notice it and try to come closer.

Your petshop should be able to let you handle the hammy before you walk out with him. Make sure you handle him beforehand, otherwise you’ll end up with not exactly what you were looking for.

I didn’t ask to handle Teddy when I got him, and I’m not sure that pet store lets you do that. But handling him would’ve shown us that he wasn’t the calmest hamster in the cage.

Male or female hamster

This is up to you, and your preference. Males are generally a bit calmer, and easier to handle than females.

That being said, if you’re getting a Dwarf type hammy, both genders are hyper and won’t sit still.

Females come into heat every few days, about once a week. They become very irritable and a bit smelly in that period.

You can recognize male hammies by the genital openings. In males the genital and anal opening are far apart, and do have fur between the two spots. Some hamster types may have a scent gland on the abdomen, so it will look like a third opening.

Female hamsters have the obligatory and noticeable rows on nipples, and the genital and anal openings very close together. It will look like a bit of a bald spot with two pink dots.

When picking a pair of hamsters, you’ll want to get them in same-sex pairs. This means no surprise, unplanned litters.

Also, if you select a female hamster keep in mind that they can become pregnant as soon as they’re weaned – aprox . 4 weeks old.

This means that if the caretakers didn’t separate the hamsters into same sex groups early enough, you might just bring home a pregnant female hamster without knowing.

If your hammy is a pregnant female and you only just found out, congratulations on your new litter ! And here’s how to make sure they survive.

Which hamster breed to get

When it comes to the hamster breed, this is again up to you and your preference.

There are two main types of hamsters available – Syrian and Dwarf hamsters. The Syrian is the most common one, it’s the largest, and easiest to tame.

The Dwarf types (4 of them) are much smaller, and faster and agile and, can be a bit harder to tame since they just won’t sit still. No hamster ever sits in one place for more than a few seconds, but Dwarves are terrible at it.

I have a Syrian male, and I sometimes have trouble keeping up with him. You can imagine how well I’d do with a Dwarf.

Actually, Dwarf types are harder to handle, and as such are best left as observational pets. A bit like fish, but cuddly and much faster.

Here’s how to identify each hamster type, and pick out the one you think you’d like the most.

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

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Bringing your new hamster friend home

Alright, you’ve picked out your new friend, he’s in his nice cardboard box and ready to go home.

I’ll urge you to bring your pet as fast as you can to his new home, so he can accommodate. Hamsters don’t like change too much, so they won’t like being taken away.

Make sure you get home and have his cage set up beforehand. You can read here about the recommended cage sizes for each hamster type, and how to pick one out for your hamster.

An in-depth look at the best hamster cages available will be helpful before you actually go and buy your hammy’s cage.

The bedding and hideout should be picked out beforehand too, so they’re already laid out in the cage and ready for your hamster friend.

You can find here a good roundup of safe hamster bedding/substrate options, and pick your favorite.

Toys and food bowl, should be available and already in place when your hammy comes home for the first time.

As well as a running wheel for your hamster, and browsing a nice selection according to hamster breed will be useful to pick out a good exercise wheel.

And finally, a bit of food and a treat in his cage will help your hamster settle in easier.

This means that the hamster himself will be the last thing you buy when you decide to get this cuddly pet.

This is because the moment you bring your hammy home and settle him in his new home, you won’t disturb him at all for at least a couple of days, if not 3-4.

The transition from being with his siblings, and then being put in a box, and then put in another box is very disorienting and stressful, and hamsters are very very bad at handling stress.

So when you get home, place the cardboard box in the hamster’s cage, with the hamster still in the box. Open a side of the box, and from then on leave the hammy alone.

Talk to him when you walk past his cage, and dedicate some minutes every day to just let him smell you.

Do not touch or try to handle him at all for a couple of days. Once he’s settled in, you can begin taming him, and you’ll become friends fairly quickly.

Is a hamster really the pet for you ?

This is a question you should ask yourself very seriously. I’ve seen a lot of people get a hamster without knowing what they’re getting themselves into. Me included.

A hamster is not a puppy, and won’t always be there as you want him to be. In this respect, a hamster is more like a cat, if you will. He has a lot of personality, for being so incredibly small.

And he can be aloof and hard to read sometimes. Hamsters don’t wag their tails, or purr to show affection or happiness.

They do have their own special charm, but they’re a different pet than the norm. And they are definitely not suited for small children, no matter what else you hear.

Hamsters don’t take well to being handled wrong, or too much, or loud noises, or sudden movements. These are all things a 6 year old can and will do, since they’re children.

A guinea pig would be more suited for a small child, since they’re incredibly calm and serene (compared to a hamster).

If you want to get a more in-depth view on what owning a hamster is like, and some pros and cons, you need to check this article. You’ll get much more info, and see if a hammy is really the one for you.

And if you’d like to know more about how to properly care for your hamster, you can check out these essential steps.

A word from Teddy

I hope you found what you were looking for here, and know how to pick out the best hammy. I know us hamsters can be the cutest things ever, but we have our own personalities.

So, make sure you check out the health and personality of your new friend before bringing him home.

If you want to know more about us hammies, you should check out the related articles below for more info.

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Hamsters Living With Rabbits ? Shedding Some Light On This
Hamsters Living With Rabbits ? Shedding Some Light On ThisA hamster and a rabbit living together might sound odd, but it’s a question we stumble upon often. Can hamsters live with rabbits ? Would they get along ? Sounds like a reasonable, if a bit misguided,  question from an owner who would like to introduce his two pets. While rabbits are fairly even tempered and seem kind of relaxed, hamsters are another story. Let’s see if they would get along, though. For a more detailed comparison between hamsters or rabbits, you should read this article here. Table of Contents ToggleSo should hamsters be living with rabbits ?A little about the hamster’s personalityAbout the rabbit’s personalitySize and cage differences between the twoFood and diet difference between a hamster and a rabbitA word from Teddy So should hamsters be living with rabbits ? No, hamsters and rabbits should not and can not live together. There are a few reasons for this. First, the hamster is very territorial, will fight anything that tries to trespass, and is very jumpy and easy to frighten. Second, a rabbit is a very social animal, who will want to cuddle and also establish a hierarchy of sorts. Bunnies have a lot of personality, and they also have the advantage of being ridiculously larger than hamsters. In short, a hamster-rabbit combo can’t go well, at all. The bunny will demand cuddles, grooming, run around, and generally own the place. This leaves the hamster in a subordinate position, which he does not take well to, and will bite, hide, and be stressed out of his mind. In some extreme cases the hamster may end up dead, since a kick or bite from the a bunny can be fatal for it. And given how tiny a hammy is, an accident isn’t that unheard of. But let’s get into the personalities of each animal, and see why they are they way they are. A little about the hamster’s personality A hamster is a very territorial, solitary animal. Even the hamster breeds that can live together in pairs – more on that here – can end up fighting to the death. This is the reason I’d recommend keeping all hamsters separate, not just the Syrians or Chinese. Hamsters like having their own space, their own food, and keeping away from other animals. A hamster will mark things as his own with his scent glands. He will try to be the dominant one in any setting, and hamsters housed together can end up bullying one another. You might argue that your two Dwarf hammies get along just great. They might, but because they were introduced as babies, and grew up together. They grew up of the same size, species, and scent profile. They have the same type of reactions, and will know how to read one another properly. A hamster will be jumpy and scared most of his youth, while he learns the new sights, smells, and sounds in your home. He’ll even get scared of you walking past his cage when he’s in his first few weeks. A scared hamster is unpredictable, and is very likely to nip. There’s a lot more to hamsters than just what I said here. You should check out this article, on what it’s like to own a hamster and why they can be good pets (also a few cons of owning a hammy). And this article here, to understand the difference between the two main types of hamsters, and thus the general disposition of hamsters. About the rabbit’s personality A rabbit is very different from a hamster. I’m not even going to cover the size difference, since that’s one major but obvious reason to never house them with a hamster. A quick word for those who assume rabbits are rodents – like I did until I got my own hamster and learned the differences: Rabbis are not related to hamsters, they are not rodents. Yes they bite and chew and burrow, but rabbits are lagomorphs. They share a very distant ancestor with the hamster – about as distant as the dinosaur extinction – but that’s about it. That being said, rabbits are very social animals, and in the wild they live in colonies. They love being groomed, and they actually have a hierarchy. If you’ve ever been to the pet store and seen 78 rabbits piled on top of each other, maybe you thought it was cute (like I did). But it’s their way of establishing dominance. The top rabbit is the one getting all the attention, food, grooming and so on. This doesn’t sit well with other species, like the hamster. Rabbits will actually come up to each other and ask for (or demand) attention, cuddling, and general social chit chat. They will mark their territory with large pellets (aside from their regular droppings), or spraying pee, or rubbing their chins (scent glands) on things they’ll consider their own. Rabbits aren’t aggressive by nature, but they won’t think twice about kicking or biting back if they feel threatened. They do give out warnings though, but unless you’re a rabbit, or a human with a keen eye, you won’t know what’s coming. Actually if you’ve got a rabbit, or are thinking of getting one, I really think you should check out this site. It’s got a clear explanation of most bunny behaviors, and you’ll get a good glimpse into what having a bunny is like. As far as I’ve read it’s a bit like having a cat, except the meowing and shedding. (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.) Size and cage differences between the two There’s a few differences when it comes to habitats, between hammies are rabbits. A hamster can live in a cage that’s 24 x 12 inches, and about 12 inches tall. That’s 61 x 30.5 cm, and about 30.5 cm tall. That’s the minimum for a Syrian hamster, and they prefer larger cages anyway. A rabbit will need much more than that. It needs both a living space, and an exercise space. The minimum for the living space would be 90 x 60 cm, and 90 cm high/ 35.4 x 23.6 inches, and 35.4 inches high. The exercise space should be a minimum of 2.43 x 1.21 m/ 8 x 4 feet, with height allowance. Rabbits can sometimes jump very high, and like to jump on top of things. Finally, for rabbits the living and exercise areas should be linked together, for easy access. If you want to know more about picking out a good rabbit habitat, you need to check out this site. It’s also where I did part of my research for this article, and they’re pretty good with rabbits. Alright, you might say that hamsters love a big cage anyway, and would do well in a habitat as large as the rabbit needs. Fair point, but let’s consider how these two animals keep their space. A hamster will sleep the day away, much like the rabbit, and will make regular rounds of his space. A rabbit will do the same, and they are both very territorial. No matter how large their territory is, these two can’t live together. They’re both too attached to ‘their’ things to share them with anyone else. Well, rabbits do share their ‘home’ but only with those they consider to be family (never a hamster). And they do see some areas as theirs, some as public areas, and some as ”do not enter”. They’ll try to enter those anyway when you’re not looking, entitled little fluffballs these guys. Hamsters on the other hand only know ”their” space. All of it. So finding bunny scent on the outside of their hideout will be a source of stress and lots of fighting. Food and diet difference between a hamster and a rabbit Alright, now that we’ve settled territory and living spaces and personalities, let’s talk about their food. Since they’re not even related, their foods will be very, very different. As with any other combination between hamsters and another animal, keeping their food separate won’t be feasible. One will poke into the other’s food bowl, and that’s not a good idea. Not only because of tensions coming up between the two. But also because the rabbit won’t find anything worthwhile in the hamster’s food, and the hamster will steal the good bits from the rabbit’s food. A hamster will have an omnivore diet. That means they can eat any type of food, with some exceptions – more on that here. However they will need grains and hard dry food to keep their teeth in check. A rabbit on the other hand will need a different diet. First off, hay, lot and lots of hay since they much on it pretty much all day. This can be a problem, since the hamster will try to use this as his nesting material. Another thing rabbits need is fresh veggies and some fruits, which again can be attractive for the hamster. Finally, pellets are considered to be the best kind of feed for rabbits. This way they won’t be able to pick and choose their favorites. A pellet is like a large kibble, with all the nutrients the rabbit needs, and all pellets in the bag are the same. A word from Teddy I hope you found out what you were looking for here. Us hammies don’t really like to share anything, and a big bunny can be very intimidating for us. Best to keep us separate. If you want to know more about us hamsters, then your should check out the related articles below. You’ll find info on how to keep us happy and safe. [...] Read more...
Can Hamsters Eat Bird Food? You Need To Know This
Can Hamsters Eat Bird Food? You Need To Know ThisI have a hamster, and my inlaws have two parrots, so this question popped into my mind several times before doing research to see if a hamster can safely eat bird food. The first thought was that the pre-made food for birds and hamsters looked kind of similar, so I thought there was no harm in feeding them the same thing. But after doing a bit of research, I found out that there are more things we need to know before feeding our hamsters with bird food. I have seen people experimenting with hamster food a lot without checking if that is safe for the little hamster, so I’m glad you are here, and you are willing to fact-check those things before feeding your hamster. Table of Contents ToggleCan hamsters eat bird food?Differences between bird seeds and hamster foodSafe and unsafe seeds for your hamsterIs feeding your hamster with pre-made food mix enough?What other pet food can hamsters eat?What about cat food?Guinea pig/rabbit foodConclusion Can hamsters eat bird food? Hamsters can eat small quantities of bird food as a treat. However, swapping the pre-made hamster food with bird food long-term is unhealthy for your pet hamster. Those are the two main reasons why you should not feed your hamster with bird food. Bird seeds contain more fat than hamster food, and eating too much bird food might endanger your hamster. If you have bird seeds and don’t want to throw them away, you can give them to your hamster as a treat instead of the main food. When we talk about bird food, it is important to know that besides the seeds, there are bird pellets that contain more fruits and vegetables in the mix. This might sound like a healthier option, but it is actually more dangerous for hamsters since they can develop diabetes much easier, especially dwarf hamsters. Hamsters primarily east grains and seeds, not fruit.  Here is an entire article about hamster diabetes and all you need to know in order to prevent it. Dwarf hamsters are predisposed to diabetes, but that doesn’t mean a Syrian hamster can’t develop it. Also, those pellets might contain too much vitamin C for your hamster. Vitamin C is an essential vitamin for hamsters, and it is essential to ensure that they receive a balanced amount.  If the hamster doesn’t receive the correct amount of Vitamin C, the mineral deficiency can cause scurvy, resulting in diarrhea, lethargy and hair loss. If they receive too much Vitamin C, they are also at risk of experiencing diarrhea and weight loss. It is, therefore, imperative to ensure that your hamster receives the right amount of Vitamin C to ensure their health and well-being. Dedicated hamster food will always have the correct amount of Vit C. Differences between bird seeds and hamster food Bird seeds and hamster seeds are two types of seeds that offer different nutritional benefits to the animals they are intended for.  Bird feed usually consists of millet, sunflower, rapeseed, and canary seed, which may contain excess fats and sugars that are not beneficial for hamsters but are necessary for birds.  Hamster feed is composed of a mix of ingredients such as sunflower, pumpkin, flax, sesame, wheat, and corn, providing an array of vitamins and essential fats that hamsters need, making it a more suitable option. The hamster pre-made food mixes are fortified with vitamins and minerals to make sure your hamster doesn’t lack them but also does not get too many of them, as we talked about above. Safe and unsafe seeds for your hamster Hamsters eat a lot of seeds, however that doesn’t mean that any seed is safe for your hamster. Here is a list of safe seeds for your hamster, after which we will continue with the list of unsafe seeds for your hamster. Sunflower seeds Pumpkin Seeds Sesame Seeds Flax Seeds Wheat Seeds Corn Kernels Unsafe seeds for your hamster: Apple Seeds Grape Seeds Pear Seeds Citrus Seeds (Citrus fruits should be avoided at all, not only the seeds) Apricot Pits Cherry Pits If you want to make sure you feed your hamster properly, check my article on what hamsters eat, and there you will find everything you need to know. Is feeding your hamster with pre-made food mix enough? Yes, a pre-made food mix for hamsters should have all the nutrients a hamster need. Since hamsters are omnivores, we might get confused and think that this is not enough but in reality, hamsters eat very little animal protein, even in the wild. The occasional treats we give to our hamsters are not mandatory for a healthy hamster diet if you feed it with a proper food mix. Here is a good one I found on amazon. This one should last you a few months. What other pet food can hamsters eat? Maybe you have another pet, a dog, a cat, or other rodents like rabbits or guinea pigs, and you wonder if you can feed your little furball with their food. I have an entire article that talks about whether a hamster can eat dog food or not, so I will not get into much detail about that one here. But the short answer is no, hamsters can’t eat dog food (nor cat food). Those pets have very different digestive systems, and you have to keep in mind that dogs are carnivores. They don’t need too many grains or vegetables to be healthy. On the other hand, hamsters are omnivores, but do not normally eat meat. I discussed this in more detail in my article about hamsters eating insects. Hamsters can eat meat/insects but they don’t need to, even in the wild. Insects are not the first thing on their menu, they might eat a few of them if they can’t find any other food. But it is not what they need or prefer to eat. What about cat food? The same applies to cat food as to dog food. Hamsters should not eat cat food. A treat every now and then might not immediately hurt your hamster but it is better to avoid giving cat food to your hamster. If your hamster accidentally ate cat food that it found while you were playing with it, you should not worry if it wasn’t a large quantity. One or two cat kibbles should not affect your hamster at all. Guinea pig/rabbit food We tend to think that rabbits, hamsters, and guinea pigs are all rodents, so the diet must be similar, but that is not quite accurate. Rabbits and guinea pig are herbivore animals and they need way more hay, grass, leafy greens and vegetables than a hamster needs. Also, they can have much more vitamin C than a hamster. We’ve already discussed the side effects of too much vitamin C in a hamster’s diet. While a hamster needs fewer seeds and nuts than a bird, they still need a good amount of them compared to a guinea pig or rabbit, which doesn’t eat nuts and seeds at all. I had all those pets when I was a kid. I’ve had guinea pigs for about eight years, I’ve had a cat and a dog for a couple of years, and now I have a hamster, and I can tell you that they all have quite different diets. If you have other pet food and you don’t know if it’s safe to feed your hamster, you better throw that food away instead of putting your little furball in danger. Conclusion Hamsters can occasionally eat bird food or seeds, but that doesn’t mean you should include them in your hamster diet. It is better to stay safe when it comes to hamster diets, they can be quite sensitive, so you should stick to a pre-made food box and give some occasional treats here and there if you want to diversify the diet. I hope this article helped you understand the differences between hamster food and bird food and also why you should not give other pet food to your hamster. [...] Read more...
Bedding And Hideout For Your Hamster (Care And Cleaning)
Bedding And Hideout For Your Hamster (Care And Cleaning)Hamsters need a specific kind of bedding, and most pet shops don’t carry just the safe kinds. When I first got my Teddy I was lucky an acquaintance worked at that petshop. Otherwise I would’ve walked out with  some very bad bedding and hideout choices for my Teddy. As it happened, she gave me some very good advice that I’m going to pass onto you. Along with some info I learned along the way about what kind of bedding is best for hamsters, and what hideouts they like. We’ll cover how often to change/clean the cage as well. Table of Contents ToggleSo what is the best bedding for your hamster ?Safe wood-based bedding for your hamsterWood shavings as bedding for hamstersWood pellets bedding for hamsterGrass or seaweed bedding for your hamsterPaper based bedding for your hamsterWhat a hamster will use as nesting materialWhat nesting or bedding to NEVER give to your hamsterSand bath for your hamster friendSo what is the best hideout or house for your hamster ?Wood hideout for your hamster friendAn example of wood hideout for hamstersHow much bedding a hamster needsHow much nesting material a hamster needsHamsters hoard food in their nestHow often to change the hamster’s beddingHow often to change the nesting for your hamsterA word from Teddy So what is the best bedding for your hamster ? Generally the bedding for hamsters is easy to find, but you have to know what you’re looking for. Hamsters do well in paper/wood based kinds of bedding. So organic, bio-degradable wood or paper based bedding is alright for hamsters, under a few conditions. First, hamsters have a very sensitive sense of smell, so NOTHING scented will be alright for them. Do not get your hamster a scented bedding, even if you find one in your local petshop or online. Scented beddings are more for your comfort but give the hamster a bad time. Please stick to unscented, plain bedding. Second, whatever kind of bedding you choose, it must be dust-free. This is because your hamster will be breathing that dust in all day, every day, and it will cause serious lung problems for him. Make sure you get a dust free bedding. I’ll get into some clear examples of what is ok and what isn’t ok as a bedding for your hammy. Most wood based bedding are alright, but there are a few exceptions. Teddy: Remember, wood or paper bedding is ok for us hamsters. Keep them plain and unscented, and make sure they are dust free to keep your hammy safe ! Safe wood-based bedding for your hamster These can be wood shavings or wood pellets, and we’ll talk about both of them. Wood shavings as bedding for hamsters They’re the most common kinds of bedding, and this is the kind I have for my Teddy as well. I use aspen, since it is readily available in my area, and is one of the safest types of wood for hamsters. Most fruit trees are safe for hamster, so if you’ve got apple or pear wood shavings, you can use them as bedding for your hamster. Best to mix it with aspen or another neutral type of wood, since the fruit trees can have a strong aroma. Other options can be white birch, bamboo, rosehip, sycamore, elm or hazelnut. These are not always available in some stores, but depending on which area of the world you live in, you might find these. If you get wood shavings, make sure they’re dust free. You can check this by looking at the packaging, it’s usually clear and you will be able to see excess dust. The dust will cause lung problems for your hamster, so avoid that. Another thing to be very careful about, is that some wood shavings can be mixed with actual sawdust, which is the smaller, dustier kind of wood shaving. So make sure that does not happen with your hamster’s bedding. I looked around and found a big pack of aspen bedding for your hamster. This will keep your hammy for months. It’s got great reviews on Amazon, and a lot of people seem to be really happy about it. Aspen is the kind of wood I use for my Teddy too, so you can be sure it’s safe. You can check the pricing on Amazon here. Wood pellets bedding for hamster These are not as easy to find, but they can still be found. You’ll often see them marketed towards rabbits or large rodents like ferrets. But for hamsters the wood pellets aren’t the most comfortable. Unless you set a layer of wood pellets, and then a layer or wood shavings, to simulate the dirt layer, but that one’s up to you. As for the kind of wood pellets to use, the same applies as with wood shavings. What is a safe wood for your hamster to live and breathe on, is also a safe wood for the pellets. Grass or seaweed bedding for your hamster These are common in my area as well, and I’d guess the seaweed based ones are even more common in countries or area with a lot of sea access. Both seaweed and grass are okay for hammies to live on, and in fact it simulates the hamster’s natural nesting material. When hamsters burrow, they use a mix of twigs, dried leaves, twigs, anything soft and plant-based that they can fit into their dwelling. So dried grass and seaweed are a good substitute for that. DO NOT get your hamster yellow hay ! That’s the tougher, twig-like dried grass. That can stick at weird angles and will not be comfortable for your hamster. The grass or seaweed versions are very clearly wider and softer, even if they are dried. But as a general rule, I’d give Teddy the grass or seaweed for nesting material, not bedding in the whole cage. While grass and seaweed are soft and easy to work with, I wouldn’t recommend them as bedding for a small rodent, like hamsters or gerbils since it will be harder for them to navigate their cages. But it is absolutely GREAT as nesting material, and it’s what your hammy will use it for. Paper based bedding for your hamster Paper bedding is fine for hamsters, and it’s usually just as easy to find as the wood shavings. But it’s a matter of personal preference I think, which one you use. Paper bedding is a bit more absorbent than the wood shavings, but it comes scented more often than it doesn’t. So make sure you get an unscented, plain version for your hamster so he can live comfortably. One thing about paper based beddings, is that they’re often in various colors, or color mixes. So if you want, you can make your hamster’s bedding pink and purple. The hamster will not mind, since he can’t see very well. But if it makes you happier, then go ahead. The paper bedding keeps the hamster just as warm or cool as the wood shavings. It’s just a matter of what you like and what you find in your area. I looked around and found a good option for paper bedding for your hammy. This will keep your hamster warm enough in winter as well as summer. It’s safe for the hamster to put in cheek pouches if he wants. It’s dust free and controls odor fairly well. It’s also a large size, 60 liters/15 gallons so you’re going to get a lot of uses out of it. You can check the listing on Amazon here. What a hamster will use as nesting material Hamsters usually use very soft, paper/wood/cardboard pieces for their nests. If you give your hamster seaweed or grass bedding, it will most probably end up in his nest. When I first got Teddy I gave him extra wood shavings in his hideout, so he has a nice base for his nest. In time I saw that he didn’t really use it for nesting, except for winter when he hoarded every warm material he could find. Most of the time, I give Teddy ripped paper towels. Honestly these are the cheapest and most effective things to keep your hamster warm. If you’ve got no paper towels, use toilet paper. Whatever you use, keep it unscented. Really, this is one of the most important things about a hamster’s bedding or nesting material. Do not give him anything scented, because his nose just can’t handle that. When you give your hammy the paper towel, make sure it is ripped into manageable pieces. They have a side which rips easily in a straight line. Use that side to give him ribbons of paper towel or toilet paper. All hamsters do this, but to me Teddy is the funniest. As soon as he sees the paper bits, he starts shoving them into his pouches and gets both of them as full as he can. Then, he goes into his hideout and I can see him pull them out of his cheek and start decorating the place. Then he goes out for more paper, and continues building his nest. He’s always so focused when he does that, he’s easy to scare by mistake. One time he jumped sideways because I got up too fast, and he was still shoving paper towel in his cheeks. I’ve never seen such dedication. What nesting or bedding to NEVER give to your hamster Never give your hamster cotton or fiber nesting material. There are several reasons for this. First, hamsters will eat a small part of whatever they put in their cheek pouches. So, your hamster eating cotton, even just a little bit, is never a good thing. Anyone eating cotton is not good, actually. Second, the fibers in this kind of nesting material can get caught in your hamster’s teeth, and cause serious problems for him. Those fibers can also get caught in his cheeks, and lead to deadly situations. Third, cotton absorbs and keeps moisture. So your hamster’s warm breathing and some condensation will be trapped in that cotton. Your hamster is in danger of colds and pneumonia in that case. It’s much harder for a hamster to fight a cold than it is for a human, so best to avoid that. Teddy: Remember, us hamsters need wood or paper based bedding, and we use soft paper or dry grass for nesting. Never give us cotton or fiber nesting, it an be lethal ! Sand bath for your hamster friend This is something that’s always funny to watch, and will bring joy to your hamster. A sandbath is what hamsters use for a sort of cleaning. Actually hamsters are incredibly clean, and clean themselves very very thoroughly, much like cats. They barely have a smell that humans notice. Unless you get your nose right in your hamster’s fur, which isn’t so nice for him. But as most animals do, hamsters need an extra bath or cleaning. This is also a sort of reflex of their to get rid of any possible parasites. If you’ve ever seen sparrows rolling around in sand, you’ll know what I mean. The best kind of sand to get your hamster is mineral sand. That’s just crushed up calcium and shells, so your hamster can get an actual sand bath going on. Make sure it’s actual sand, and not dust. If it’s the consistency of flour, send it back. If you put a bowl of that sand in your hamster’s usual peeing corner, he’ll use that as a potty too ! Be warned though, the hamster will kick up a lot of sand when he bathes, so you might find some in random places in your house. Best to use a second hideout with a detachable roof for this. Alright, now that you’re all set with your little one’s bedding, sand, and nesting material, let’s see to his hideout. Yes, a hamster’s hideout is just as sacred as your bed or own room. So I’ll get into a lot of detail with it. So what is the best hideout or house for your hamster ? Hamsters will need small hideouts in which to, well, hide. This is their nest, their food stash, their safe place. In the wild, it would be a burrow underground. But in their comfy warm cage, it’s usually a cute house-shaped hideout. The best kind is actually one that fits the general size of your hamster when he is fully grown, and with some spare room so he can wiggle around. So it doesn’t have to be a large hideout, a small one with some air flow is okay. The air in the hamster hideout is very important, since it needs to be able to travel easily. Even if the hamster will block up the air vents with his nesting material, it’s best to give him plenty of air. If your get your hamster a home with more than one exit, he will only use one and block up the other one. For example my Teddy has 3 entrances to his hideout, and he only uses one, depending on his mood. Sometimes he rearranges his hideout if he feels something is off. Finally, never get your hammy a plastic house. These trap condensation and are not breathable. Best to stick with wood. Wood hideout for your hamster friend A wood hideout is what I settled on for my Teddy, and I think it’s the best option out there, for anyone who has any kind of rodent. First, it’s a much more natural option, and very durable. Wood hideouts are more similar in feel to what the hamster would have as a burrow if he were underground, in that it’s a familiar material. Especially compared to plastic. Second, hamsters and other rodents will chew, gnaw, and bite into everything. Not because they’re wild or mean, just because that’s what they do. Their front teeth are always growing, so hamsters need to literally file down their teeth. They do that by chewing on whatever they find, and their hideout is a common option. So if the hideout is made of wood, that’s great since they love chewing wood anyway. Third, wood is much more breathable than other types of material. I’ve seen ceramic hideouts, and plastic as well. The thing is that unless the hideout is breathable, will absorb moisture and let it pass through to the outside, then it is a problem. Your hamster is in danger of hypothermia, pneumonia, and even a ordinary cold can get the best of them. The hideout must remain dry at all times, and be able to keep the warm as well. And fourth, wood retains the hamster’s scent the best. Compared to plastic or ceramic, wood keeps the scent of the hamster. This is very important to a creature that has a very sensitive sense of smell, so best not to mess with that. An example of wood hideout for hamsters Here’s what my Teddy has for a hideout, and you can see the gnaw and chew marks on the roof. At night he absolutely loves to just …sit… on his home and watch for possible predators. Usually that’s just me grabbing a glass of water in the middle of the night. But you never know, Teddy reckons. Constant vigilance. You can see my Teddy shoved all kinds of nesting material, like the paper towels, some cardboard pieces, and some random wood shavings. Your hammy will probably have something very similar in his hideout too, if you look. I found a great one on Amazon, and it looks a lot like the one I have for Teddy ! It’s wood, so your hamster can  chew on it as much as he likes. It will keep his scent, and it’s also got enough airflow so he will be fine. You might find your hammy on top of his hideout, like I sometimes find my Teddy. Just make sure that you put something of his, like a few droppings or  a bit of his nesting material in his new hideout, so he get more familiar with it. You can check the listing on Amazon here. Now that we’re all set with the hideout, let’s talk about how much of the bedding and nesting material your hammy will need. Teddy: wood is the most comfortable and safe option for us hamsters, and we love to chew on everything ! So make sure you get your hamster a hideout he will enjoy, and not hurt his teeth on. How much bedding a hamster needs This is a bit of a debate, since there isn’t really a too much, as well as there is a too little. But the enough part is what people never settle on. It also depends on your hamster’s personality. For example if your hamster is a digger, and he loves to burrow, then you’re going to need to give him much more bedding than other hamster owners. But if your hamster is like my Teddy, and burrowing or digging isn’t his favorite thing, then he won’t need too much. I’ve tried different amounts in Teddy’s cage, and I’ll tell you what I’ve found: just enough bedding to cover the cage floor – not good, he moved around a lot of it and brought it to his hideout; his wheel was noisy since it banged in the cage floor. bedding 2.5-3 inch/ 6-7.5 cm was too much, since there was always too little he used, and a lot he kicked around to get to different parts of the cage an inch, maybe a bit over/2-3 cm is what Teddy is most comfortable with; the wheel sits nice, and his hideout has a lot as well Now, your hamster could need more or less. Again, if he is a digger, then give your hamster what you think is too much, and he’ll dive right into it. If he’s more of a runner, he might need a thinner bedding. But in general, the bedding should cover the bottom of the cage by at least an inch, so the hamster can gather piles of it if he wants to, and not leave empty spots. If your hammy has a hideout, but chooses to build his nest somewhere else, look at where he builds his and add much more bedding and nesting material there. The bedding acts as a sort of insulation as well, so maybe you should check out the ideal temperature to keep your hamster comfortable. How much nesting material a hamster needs This is a clear case of give the hamster as much as you can. A whole roll of toilet paper. No, but he will use up however much you give him. I usually give Teddy 3 whole paper towel pieces, ripped into strips. He also has the cardboard roll that’s left front he paper towel. He sometimes chews on that to add some extra bedding if he needs more. I’ve given him 4 paper towels sometimes, and he found use for all 4. But it was a bit harder for him to navigate into and out of his hideout. So we stuck to 3 paper towels. Keep in mind that if you can still properly see your hamster in his hideout, then he probably needs a bit more nesting material. Hamsters form a sort of cocoon out of the nesting they find. So they will wrap that nest around them very well, to keep them warm. Sometimes Teddy even manages to knot the pieces of paper into a continuous piece, which he then wraps around himself. So give your hamster as much bedding as he needs, start with the 3 paper towels and see if he needs more. If you put 1 more he will take it, but see if he can move around well in his nest. Hamsters hoard food in their nest This is something I found out when I first cleaned Teddy’s cage. When I lifted his hideout, and saw the pile of while paper towel strips, I was not surprised. When I saw the droppings in his nest, I figured that’s just what he does. But when I saw his food stash, I was impressed. The little furball had a stash for the Apocalypse right there. So don’t be surprised if you find food and poo and a bit of pee in your hamster’s nest. That’s okay. But that’s another sign of just how important the nest is to your hamster, so make sure you get a good one for him. And try not to disturb his nest unless you absolutely have to. More on that later. (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 often to change the hamster’s bedding By bedding I mean everything but the nest itself. Honestly the bedding stays clean (as in not smelly) for up to 2 weeks, but I recommend changing it every week. This applies especially to the corners where the hamster pees. Hamsters do have a peeing corner, and you’ll figure out which one it is by how smelly it can get. If your hamster is using the sandbath as a potty, then that’s even easier to clean. Just throw out the sand he’s used, and clean the residue that might have stuck to the bottom with hot water and a tooth pick. Then, pat dry with paper towel and place new sand. If you have a setup like that then your hamster’s bedding will only need changing every couple of weeks, when it gets a bit too overfilled with droppings. About droppings, if your hamster has somewhere safe/hidden to poop, and it’s also not his hideout, you’ll find most of the droppings there. But never let the bedding go for more than 2 weeks. It becomes stale and a bit funky past that point. How often to change the nesting for your hamster The nest itself is relatively clean and will not need changing more often than the bedding itself. So the nest can be left alone for up to 2 weeks, but I personally change it once per week. When I change it I make sure I keep a few pieces of the old nest, to place in his new nest in his hideout. Whatever food I find in his stash goes into Teddy’s food bowl, and I start ripping up new paper towels for him to use. It’s important to not change or disturb your hamster’s nest as much as you can. If it’s getting smelly, then change it. But hamsters rarely pee in their nest and that’s the only thing about them that smells. Keep the hamster in his travel cage or exercise ball while you’re cleaning his cage, to keep him occupied. A word from Teddy Long read, I know. But us hamsters need a bit of special care, so I hope you found all the information you need in this article. We’re very clean and like to take care of ourselves, so a smelly cage shouldn’t be a problem ! I’m an adult Syrian hamster, but what you just read applies to all my brothers and sisters, even if they’re dwarf hamsters. If you want to check out more important info on hamsters, then read the articles below. You’ll find out about what kind of cage us hamsters need, and even how long we can last without food or water. [...] Read more...
All About The Chinese Hamsters (Breed Info + Care Tips)
All About The Chinese Hamsters (Breed Info + Care Tips)Not often found in pet shops, Chinese hamsters are the least common hamster pets. Not very much is known about them (compared to the other hamster types), but they’re more common in Asia as pets. Still, I’ve looked around and found the info to make a guide on Chinese hamsters for you. Including whether they’re Dwarf hamsters or not. Table of Contents ToggleAbout the Chinese hamster – a short overviewIs the Chinese hamster a Dwarf hamster ?The Chinese hamster’s health and body sizeChinese hamster lifespan and breedingChinese hamster food and treatsChinese hamster exercise and toysChinese hamster cage requirementsA word from Teddy About the Chinese hamster – a short overview The Chinese hamster comes from, well, China. And Mongolia, which is right next to China. This hamster is very different from the Dwarf types (Roborovski, Campbell, Djungarian), partly because of how he looks, and partly because of temperament. If anything, he’s more like the Syrian hamster. Chinese hamsters are halfway between a Dwarf and a Syrian in terms of size. They grow to be 3-5 inches/8-13 cm long, without their long tail. Yes, the Chinese have long tails, shorter than a mouse’ tail but it still reaches 0.7-1.1 inch/2-3 cm, which is much more than the stubs every other hamster type has. The Chinese hamster has a long body, fairly thin, and a generally brown color on the back, with a thing dark stripe going down the back, and white on their belly. As such, they’re often confused with mice at first glance, and some places actively forbid owning them as pets. These hammies are not social like Dwarf types, instead the lean more towards Syrians in terms of solitude. They like being alone, on their own, and they get along just fine. Females in particular are more aggressive towards other hamsters, but both sexes will start a deathmatch if introduced to another hamster. Chinese hamsters live between 2 and 3 years,  and they’re fairly calm once they’re tame. Until then they’re very skittish and won’t like being handled. But after taming they tend to remain calm around humans and like to play with them. Is the Chinese hamster a Dwarf hamster ? This is a common question, and one I’ve had myself. You see, Dwarf hamsters (the Roborovski, Campbell, and Djungarian) are named Dwarf types because they’re always compared to Syrian hamsters. They’re only about half the size of Syrians. But the Chinese don’t fit nicely in the Dwarf category, and they’re not Syrian-sized either. So, they’re often called Dwarf hamster because they’re just smaller than a Syrian, along with the other 3 types. I’ve sometimes called them Dwarf hamsters too, just for easier classification. But in terms of biology and official naming, Chinese hamsters are not Dwarf hamsters. The only true Dwarf hamsters are those of the Phodophus genus. To be fair, hamsters are a big family, and there are dozens of subspecies. Confusions are fairly common when we look at the hamsters who are not Syrians. Simply because Syrian hamsters are easy to tell apart from every other hamster. The Asian hamsters often look alike to an untrained eye, even if they have a few distinctive features like the presence or absence of a dark stripe, coat colorations, and so on. If you’re not sure which hamster type you’ve got, you can use this guide to figure it out, and them go to the corresponding care article. The Chinese hamster’s health and body size Usually the Chinese hamster looks a lot like a mouse. He’s got a long body, especially compared to the Dwarf hammies who look like a round ball of fluff. The Chinese hamster’s body length is 8-13 cm/3-5 inches. These hammies have a shorter looking fur, set closer to the body than the other types. His fur is usually brown, with flecks of dark grey and some white. His belly is whitish, and he has a dark, thin stripe going down his back. His tail is another defining feature, partly because it’s longer than the other hamsters’ tails, and partly because it’s thicker than a mouse’ tail. Every other hamster has a short, stubby tail, fleshy and hairless. The Chinese has a longer tail, 2-3 cm/0.7-1.1 inch long, covered in fur. There are other color variations, though not many. The wild color and the most common is the one described above with brown and white. But breeders have tried for other colors, like a sort of light grey instead of the brown, still with a dark stripe down the back, and a white belly. And there is a 3rd option, of an almost completely white Chinese hamster, with a black spot around one eye. The dark stripe is not usually present in this variation. As for their health problems, the Chinese aren’t especially prone to one disease or another. There is the danger of wet-tail, that threatens all hamsters regardless of type. This disease shows its ugly head mostly when the hamster is young (around 4 weeks of age) and is separated from the mother, and put into same-sex groups, to later be brought to a pet shop and them home. The whole process can be a bit stressful for the hamster, and stress s the biggest trigger for wet-tail, though not the only one. Aside from this, Chinese hamsters can have the usual health problems associated with hamsters. Eye infection, ear problems, tumors, fur loss, and so on. There are treatments for most, if not all of these problems. A veterinarian that can treat hamsters will usually be labeled as an ”exotics” vet, which means he is able to help rodents, reptiles and birds, or just most small animals. (If you like this article so far, you can pin it to your Pinterest board by clicking the image below. The article continues after the image.) Chinese hamster lifespan and breeding The Chinese hamster can live up to 2-3 years, depending on genetics and the conditions the hamster is kept in. In the wild, most don’t make it past their first year, because of illnesses or predators. In captivity though, with the proper food and care their lifespan has increased significantly. These hamsters are hardy, and they reach adulthood around 12 weeks of life. That’s when they can also be bred, between 10-14 weeks, both for females and for males. Pregnancies started past that period can be dangerous both for the female, and the babies. The usual gestation period for Chinese hamsters is between 18 and 21 days, resulting in a litter of 3 to 15 hamsters. You can find out more about hamster reproduction here, and how to make sure the female carries her pregnancy safely. You’ll also find info on the birthing process, and the after-birth care, which is crucial for the hamsters babies’ survival. Chinese hamster food and treats Usually the Chinese  hamster will eat grains, along with some fruits and vegetables he can find. Nuts and seeds are welcome too, along with a couple of insects or mealworms. This is a combination usually found in the hamster’s commercial food mix. Without the insects or the mealworms, though. The protein in the commercial hamster food is either soy-based, whey or beef-based. A hamster safe food list will help you figure out which foods from your pantry or fridge are great for hamster snacks. For example a bit of cooked plain chicken, a bit of cheese, a small sized carrot, some lettuce (and most leafy greens) are all okay for hamster treats. Not given often though. There are foods you should definitely keep away from your little Chinese hamster, like onions, garlic, leek, citrus aloe vera plant skin, rosemary, and so on. You can find a safe and unsafe herb guide here as well. Chinese hamster exercise and toys Now, Chinese hamsters are still hamsters. As such, they absolutely love to run, and they have so much energy it’s almost unbelievable. This means an exercise wheel is going to be mandatory for your little guy, and it needs to be a bigger one so his tail doesn’t suffer. For example this one’s a 9 inch/23 cm wide wheel, complete with tail and foot guards. It’s a silent wheel, so it won’t wake you up squeaking and creaking in the middle of the night. It’s also got a heavy bottom, which means it will stay wherever you put it. You can check the listing on Amazon here, and see it for yourself. Aside from the wheel, which your hamster will use a-plenty, there are other toys and cage objects he will need. Like a chew toy or two, or tunnel toys, hide and seek toys, a few puzzle toys as well. Most of these toys can be DYIed at home, out of cardboard. It could be cardboard rolls from paper towels or toilet paper, it could be egg cartons with holes cut in them. Your hamster needs lots exercise and stimulation, to keep him happy and stimulated. Hamsters can get bored or stressed if they’re not stimulated, and if they have nothing to in, especially in a small cage. This can lead to behaviors like chewing the cage bars, nippy when trying to handle the hamster, and can even develop some illnesses. For example loss of appetite, fur loss, lethargy, can all be triggered by an extremely depressed and listless hamster. It can be avoided by giving the hamster plenty of toys and stimulation, and a large enough cage. Chinese hamster cage requirements The usual cage requirements for a Chinese hamster vary from continent to continent, sometimes from country to country. I’d recommend it to be 24 x 12 inches, and about 12 inches tall. That’s 61 x 30.5 cm, and about 30.5 cm tall. Even if that’s the cage size necessary for a Syrian hamster, a Chinese will enjoy it too. This is because a larger cage will always be preferred, even if the hamster only needs a small space for himself to build a nest. The rest of the space available he considers his territory, which in the wild can be as large as 3.5 square km/2.17 square miles. So, you’re going to need a large cage. Given how small this hamster is, he can find some cages easy to escape. If you can find a very very large aquarium, than you’re set. If not, try for an Ikea Detolf. That’s a big standing shelf with glass sides. Remove the shelves, lay it on its side, and cover with a wire mesh. Unfortunately these ‘cages’ require lots of space available in your home, and they’re heavy. So wherever you decide to put it, that’s where it’s going to stay. But, if space and budget don’t allow a Detolf – that’s the case for most people, including us – you can always look for a big cage. For example this one is large enough for a Chinese hamster, it’s actually great for a Syrian as well. The spacing between the bars is small enough so the hamster will not escape. Aside from the ground floor, there is an upper level, which you can set to whichever height you like. Don’t set it too high though, hamsters prefer the ground anyway. You can fit a lot of toys in it, and even the wheel I talked about earlier. You can check the listing on Amazon here, and see it for yourself. Very important, and I know I mentioned this earlier too. Chinese hamsters are not social like Dwarf type hamsters. This means that keeping more than one Chinese hamster in the cage is not alright, since they will do a lot of fighting. It won’t end well, and you need to be a responsible hamster owner. A word from Teddy I hope you found what you were looking for in this article. I know us hammies can be confusing, with all our types and cousins. But we’re all cute and friendly, and great pets. If you want to know more about us hamsters you should check out the related articles below. You’ll learn how to keep us safe and happy, and what we need for a good life. [...] Read more...
What Is Wet Tail, And How To Save Your Hamster’s Life
What Is Wet Tail, And How To Save Your Hamster’s LifeIf you’ve got a hamster, and you think he’s got wet tail, I can help. Even if your hammy is healthy so far, you need to know what wet tail is, since it can be fatal and you need to know how to save him. This is a disease that can affect any hamster of any age, although some are more prone to it. I’ll cover what wet tail is, what you can do about it, and how to make sure your hamster friend never suffers through it. Table of Contents ToggleSo what is wet tail ?Is your hammy at risk ?Symptoms of wet tail in hamstersHow to treat wet tailTaking your hamster to the vetCaring for a wet-tail sick hammy at homeChances of survivalHow hamsters develop wet tail in the first placeStress in hamstersDirty hamster cageOther medicationsMake sure your hamster stays healthyKeep your hamster away from stressful environmentsKeep the hammy at a comfortable temperatureAlways clean your hands before handling the hammyDo not feed the hamster overly watery foodsMake sure the water you give your hamster is safeA word from Teddy So what is wet tail ? Wet tail is a serious, contagious disease that can affect any and all hamsters. It’s noticeable by the wet, matted aspect of your hamster’s tail (hence the name). There are other symptoms, which we’ll cover soon. That is because wet tail is a type of diarrhea, brought on by bacteria inside the hamster’s gut. While diarrhea for humans is not very hard to treat, hamsters have an incredibly small chance of survival. Wet tail is mostly brought on by severe stress, which triggers unwanted changes in the hamster’s intestinal flora. It is mostly found in baby hamsters who were just weaned, but there have been cases of adult or elder hamsters as well. Something to remember: wet tail is often used as a sort of blanket term, to describe any kind of diarrhea in hamsters. Actual wet tail is hard to diagnose, since the symptoms are many and it could not be just wet tail. More on that later in the article. Is your hammy at risk ? Any hamster is at risk. Not to sound doomsday-ish, but this is the truth. However there are a few specific hamsters out there that are most susceptible. Syrian hamsters, of all the hamsters, have the highest chance of developing wet tail. Seeing as they’re the most common type of hamster pet, this doesn’t sound great. Dwarf types can still get wet tail, but in a much smaller degree and it’s kind of rare for them. Baby Syrian hamsters, who were just weaned by their mothers – around 4 weeks of age. They are very sensitive, and the stress of weaning, and being handled to be separated into same sex groups, then transported to the pet shop, and then to your home, can be very stressful. Older Syrian hamsters can be at risk as well, though not as much as babies. Senior hammies can’t move very well, and can’t clean themselves as well as they used to. This increases the risk of an infection, which can trigger wet tail. That being said, wet tail can develop in adult, healthy Syrian hamsters, if certain conditions are met. That doesn’t mean that any and all Syrian hamsters will develop wet tail. But they are the ones you should keep an eye on the most. Symptoms of wet tail in hamsters The symptoms for wet tail are quite a few, and they can also be found in the description of other health issues for hamsters. This is one reason it’s a bit hard to diagnose wet tail in the first place. Here are the symptoms for wet tail: Wet, matted tail – very runny stool, matted to the hamster’s tail and hind end. It can extend to the hammy’s abdomen. Strong smell – wet tail smells, and it’s hard to miss. Your hammy is usually very clean and only smells like fur if you smell him. But with wet tail, he might have a strong poo smell. Hunched back, brought on by intestinal discomfort. Slow, sluggish movements Half-closed eyes, very sunken, the hamster looks tired all the time Loss of appetite, possibly not drinking water either Continuously bad temper – if he never bit before, he will bite now and he’s very irritated Folded ears, all the time, possibly shaking Hides in a corner, or worse barely moves at all. Possible weight loss, with dull, ruffled fur Wet tail is also contagious. So if you spotted your hammy with these symptoms, separate him from his cage mate immediately. Once you do separate them, make sure that anything the sick hammy touched is thoroughly cleaned (hot water and soap), and if necessary provide with new cage accessories. Wood accessories are not easy to disinfect, unfortunately. The bedding must be thrown away as well. How to treat wet tail Treating wet tail is not exactly complicated, but the small size of the hamster makes it so. Normally you’d have two options, to treat it at home, or take the hammy to a vet. I very strongly recommend calling your dedicated vet, this is not something to waste time with. Taking your hamster to the vet Get your small friend into his transport cage, and get a car ride to the vet. More on how to safely transport your hamster in this article, and how to keep your hammy comfortable during the ride right here. Once you’re there, the vet will examine the hammy, to see the condition he’s in. The veterinarian might administer extra fluids to the hammy. He might even recommend to keep the hammy overnight, to be able to administer the fluids regularly and keep a close eye on him. If this is the case, best to trust your vet with your hamster. Depending on how severe the case is, your veterinarian might administer some antibiotics himself. Or, he might give you some medication to give to the hamster at home. In any case, your hammy has more of a chance or surviving if you bring him to the vet. Wet tail can be treated, if spotted in its first phase (first 24 hours). After that, the chances of the hamster surviving are lower. He might still survive, but harder. Whatever instructions your veterinarian gives you, be sure to follow them completely. Possibly schedule another check-up after a few days. Caring for a wet-tail sick hammy at home There are some cases when the vet is not available. Or, maybe you can’t afford a vet at the moment. This will not cure the hamster, but it will make his life much easier. A veterinarian is definitely needed for a treatment. In this case you need to do the following: Remove any fruit and veg from your hamster’s diet. ‘Wet’ food like these can worsen the diarrhea, mostly because it doesn’t provide just water. Only give the hammy very dry food. This includes his usual food mix, dry oats, a very small piece of dry bread. Another option if a few grains of steamed brown rice. The dry food will settle your hamster’s insides a bit more. The water your hamster gets from his bottle should not be very cold. And it should be plain, unflavored water. If he has a vitamin mix in his water, remove it for the time being. If your hammy isn’t drinking – try giving him one drop of water every half hour. Hold him by the scruff of the neck (it will not hurt) and with an eye dropper place a drop of water on his lips. The hammy will then lick it, and have at least a bit of water. More than a drop at a time can drown the hammy. If your hamster isn’t eating, try unflavored baby food. No onion, garlic, sugar, or any spices at all. He will need very small amounts of food, only what he can lick off the very tip of a teaspoon. Scruffing the hammy will work here as well. Aside from all of this, make sure your keep the hamster in a comfortable temperature range. Hamsters are okay with a 20-23 C/68-75 F range. More than that and he is in danger of overheating, which he probably already is given his infection. And lower than that can bring on a cold for the hammy. Keep the room your sick hamster’s in very quiet and stress free. Any amount of stress or excess handling an make his condition worse. So any and all pets, small children, loud noises, should be kept away from the hamster’s room. Do not place the hamster in direct sunlight, instead keep him in a shielded, darker corner. At all times, wash your hands thoroughly with antibacterial soap before, but especially after handling your sick hammy. Chances of survival Wet tail can be fairly hard to survive for hamsters. This is mostly because it has an incubation period (7 days), in which it’s not immediately obvious that the hamster is sick. Once the signs of illness start to show, it becomes progressively harder to successfully treat. There were cases where the hammy unfortunately passed away, even after being cured. This was because of the stress brought on by the illness itself, and hamsters are terrible stress managers. However, if you spot your hamster’s problem within 24 hours of it surfacing, his survival chances are higher. This means that you should be watching your hamster closely, and handling it every few hours. For older hammies, the chances are lower than for babies, This is because their immune system is already breaking down, as opposed to forming (like in babies). So, if your elder hammy is stricken with wet tail, do your best to treat him. But if worse comes to worst, be prepared for his passing. (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 hamsters develop wet tail in the first place The way wet tail develops is thought to be because of stress. This is the biggest culprit known so far, although there are other we’ll cover here as well. Stress brings a host of psychosomatic reactions from the hamster, including severe changes to the bacteria in his gut. That can trigger wet-tail. In some other cases, a very stressed hamster  will develop a very weak immune system, which won’t be able to battle the infection brought on by a stray bacteria. Which in turn may lead to wet tail. Stress in hamsters A stressed hamster will show any signs of illness. Hamsters are very sensitive creatures, and can be stressed easily. A few factors for hamster stress include: Overcrowded cage – the size of the cage matters so much (more on that here), and keeping hamsters together in an appropriate sized cage. The right sized cage is a minimum of 24 x 12 inches, and about 12 inches tall. That’s 61 x 30.5 cm, and about 30.5 cm tall. That’s for a Syrian hammy, and the minimum for keeping 2 Dwarf types. Not all hamsters can live together though, and some will fight to the death. Crucial info on that can be found here. Improper handling – hamsters don’t react well to being woken up, constantly being handled, being held wrong, meeting too many strangers at a time, unsafe play time and so on. Especially the babies, under 12 weeks of age. Be very careful when handling your hamster, and never let a child or pet interact unsupervised. A very curious cat, or a grabby toddler won’t bode well for your hamster. Hamsters require so much attention and gentleness, they are not well suited to families with small children or lots of pets. You can find out more on how to show your hamster affection the right way, without annoying him in this article. And you can find out more about how to tame your hamster without stressing him out here. Dirty hamster cage That doesn’t mean a stray poo will freak the hamster out, but a cage that hasn’t been cleaned for more than 2 weeks is turning into a serious threat to his health. More on how often to clean a hammy’s home here, and what kind of bedding to provide to make sure he is safe. This is because infections can occur when the hamster’s cage has stray bacteria, that can develop from an unclean cage. And also, an unclean cage can become moldy in some places. Especially the bedding, if it’s been moist in some places, like where the water bottle drips for example. Imagine your tiny hamster, breathing in those mold spores, wreaking havoc in his immune system. An infection will be the last thing your hammy needs, but it might just happen. Other medications Like in humans, hamster medications can sometimes interfere. Or, they can make it easier for some problems to appear. If your hamster is already on a certain treatment, be sure to ask your veterinarian if he’s at risk of developing other diseases. It can happen, rarely, but it can still happen. It’s best to know beforehand and be prepared. Make sure your hamster stays healthy You can make sure your hamster survives by not getting wet tail in the first place. That means your need to follow a few steps in the first place. Keep your hamster away from stressful environments Hamsters are very susceptible to stress-related illnesses. So naturally, they must be kept away from stress factors. Here’s how to make sure your hamster has a minimal-to-none stress. Do not house your hamster with another. I’d recommend even Dwarf types to be housed alone, since a hamster is very territorial by nature. Even if your give both hammies a cage that’s large enough for 5 hamsters, there can still be problems. One hamster will always be more dominant, and might start bullying the submissive one. It can be hard to make out the difference between playfighting, and actual serious fighting between hamsters. Roborovski, Campbell, and Siberian/Winter whites can be traditionally housed together, while Chinese and Syrians will try to kill other hamsters. Conversely keep pets, small children, loud noises, and general ruckus away from the hamster’s cage or room. Hamsters are mostly nocturnal, so a rowdy house during the day will be incredibly stressful for the hamster. Do not introduce lots of new people to your hamster at the same time. Your hammy will be overwhelmed, and needed a few days to trust you in the first place. He will freak out and hide when faced with many new people he does not know. Try not to wake up or annoy the hamster, since it will not rest properly and he will be very irritable. This will make him even harder to handle or tame, which is completely against what you’re trying. Let the creature rest peacefully. Keep the hammy at a comfortable temperature hamsters need a certain temp to feel comfortable. That range is about 20-23 C/68-75 F, and your hammies will be fine. A hamster exposed to very cold temperatures will enter a state that can be confused with hibernation. But in truth, it’s actually a case of hypothermia. It can be fatal because the hamster hasn’t had time to fatten up and build a big and warm enough nest. More on hamster hibernation and the risk of keeping them in too cold a room. Always clean your hands before handling the hammy Hamsters are very sensitive creatures, and as such your hands need to be clean before handling them. Before you touch your hamster, make sure your hands are clean. Use an antibacterial soap, and try to find one with little to no scent. A strong scent could make your hamster either think you’ve really got coconut on your hands and try to taste it, or scare him away. This also applies for the toys the hammy’s got in his cage as well. They too need to be disinfected and cleaned before you first place them in the cage. The shipping, the handling, and where the toys were stored can all be health risks. Even if it’s just a bit of dust, best to be safe and clean them. Do not feed the hamster overly watery foods Watery foods, like cucumber, watermelon, zucchini, grapes (more about safe foods here) can trigger diarrhea in your hammy. You might ask if water doesn’t trigger diarrhea too. Well, the water your hamster can decide how much to drink. I mean the water from the water bottle. But the water content in the fruit or veg is not up to him, and he can be overly hydrated. Conversely, do not give your hammy milk. The lactose content in milk is the highest (compared to cheese or yogurt), and that can trigger a bout of diarrhea too. Make sure the water you give your hamster is safe The water your hamster drink must be safe and clean. If your tap water isn’t safe for you, it’s not safe for him either. So, you can either boil the water beforehand, to rid it of bacteria. Let it cool down and pour it into the hamster’s water bottle. Or, you can use a bottled water that is labeled as safe for newborn humans, which is safe for hamsters as well. You can find out here how much water a hamster needs, and how to clean his water bottle. A word from Teddy I hope you found out how to save us if we ever get wet tail. I am a Syrian hammy, and I’ve been healthy so far. I hope your hamster friend is alright too. If you want to know more about us hammies, you should check out the articles below for more info how to care for us and feed us right. [...] Read more...
How To Choose Your First Hamster – Health And Temperament
How To Choose Your First Hamster – Health And TemperamentIf you’re looking to get a hamster, you’ll want to know how to choose your first hamster. Getting a hammy for the first time is exciting, and a big responsibility, even if he’s so small. Even if you’re not headed out the door to find your furry friend right now, there’s a few things you should know before you get a 2-3 year commitment. I wish I knew some of these when I first got my Teddy (Syrian male hammy). Table of Contents ToggleHow to choose your first hamsterThe hamster’s healthThe hamster’s eyesNo missing teethClean earsNo odd lumpsBald spots, and how the fur looksDischarge in the eyes or nose or earsWet tail, or soiled bottomSlender hamsterNo weird smellsThe hamster’s personalityBaby hamsters are hard to readMale or female hamsterWhich hamster breed to getBringing your new hamster friend homeIs a hamster really the pet for you ?A word from Teddy How to choose your first hamster The best way to choose a hamster is to look both for a healthy one, but also a even-tempered hamster. Hamsters are skittish and jumpy by nature, but they should be relatively easy to tame, and not very afraid of you. It’s easier to find a healthy hamster than a calmer, cooperative hamster. Most of the health checks are obvious and immediately noticeable, like scabs, missing teeth, bald spots, leaky nose, etc. The temperament however is a bit trickier, and won’t show completely until the hamster becomes an adult – around 3 months old. Until then, you’ll have to look for some specific signs. Let’s start with the health checklist, to see if your future hammy is healthy. The hamster’s health A healthy hamster  is easy enough to find, although some signs of illness won’t be immediately obvious. Some depend on the sex and breed of hamster you’re looking for as well. The hamster’s eyes A hammy’s eyes are supposed to be bright, and clear. Now hamsters usually have black eyes, but they can also be dark red, red, or even pink, and some look like a very deep dark blue. However the color should be clear, with no milky or whitish spots. They should not be hazy. Bright, sparkly, bulging eyes are a trait that hammies are known for. No missing teeth It should be obvious, but a hamster should have all of its teeth. That means 2 pair of front incisors, that you should be able to see clearly. They are very long, especially the bottom pair. Hamster teeth are yellow, sometimes even orange. That’s okay. You should only worry if you see white teeth, or whitish teeth, since those are signs of an illness or deficiency. Broken, cracked, crossed, or even missing teeth are a bad sign. They can come about from poor handling by the caretakers, or it could be a hereditary problem. Teeth are crucial to a hamster’s health, so they should be something you look at. You can find out more about hamster dental issues here, and what to look out for. Clean ears A hammy’s ears are the first thing he will use to make sense of his surroundings. Hamsters don’t see very well, so they rely a lot on smell and hearing. A pair of clean, thin ears is ideal, with no bite marks or missing bits. Do take note that many hammies have harder ears than the rest of their body. So you’ll need to get a bit of a closer look into the hamster’s ear for an infection or any other issues. No odd lumps Hamsters are this small ball of fur. But they should have no lumps, since that usually means an odd growth, or tumor, or a possible impacted cheek or abscess. None of those are good news. You might see your preferred hammy with a cheek full, or maybe both. That’s usually just food stored in his cheeks, though it’s not a common sight in pet stores. A note to be mindful of Syrian hammies. I wish I knew this about Teddy, because I was afraid he was sick when I first saw this. Syrian hamsters have two black mole-like spots on their hips, with barely any fur around them. Those are normal, and they are the scent glands. You will probably only notice them of the hamster is licking that spot. Bald spots, and how the fur looks The fur of a hamster should be fluffy, and clean looking. It should not be particularly shiny, unless the hamster was bred for that purpose. That being said, no bald spots (aside from the scent gland or genital area) should be present on the hamster. Any bald spot could be an indication of a skin disease, some of which could be contagious. However some bald spots can simply mean that he hamster somehow hurt himself, and managed to rip some fur off of himself. Be sure to check the habitat the hamster is in for other clues. Are there other hamsters with bald spots ? Are they actually scars from fighting ? Is there a part of the habitat the hamster could have cut himself on ? Discharge in the eyes or nose or ears A healthy, happy hamster should be completely dry. No discharge or liquids from the ears, nose, tail area, or mouth. Discharge can be a sign of infection, and it’s most probably contagious as well. SO it could be that your chosen hamster is sick, or is in the incubation phase. Any sign of infection however should be immediately treated by the staff at the pet store, since that isn’t a humane way to keep hamsters. Wet tail, or soiled bottom Wet tail is noticeable if the tail is, well, wet or soiled. It’s a type or diarrhea and can be extremely dangerous for your hamster’s health. You can find out more about wet tail here, and the chances your hamster has of getting it and surviving. If one hamster does have wet tail, or any other disease, it’s very possible that the other hamsters in the habitat have got it too, or they’re in the incubation phase. You’ll also notice signs of wet tail on the bedding, as it might be soiled and very smelly. Slender hamster A baby hamster – between 4 and 12 weeks old – should be neither skinny nor fat. This is actually how you should keep him as an adult, as well. An obese baby hamster will have a much shorter life span, and have several health issues, including and not stopping at diabetes and joint problems. An underfed hamster will be noticeable if you hold the hamster and feel its spine and leg bones very clearly. Since hamsters are so fluffy, it can be difficult to tell if they’re skinny or fat. The fur will cheat you there, but you should be able to tell if you look at the head and eyes, and how plump the skin is there. You can find out more about how big a hamster can get, depending on his breed. And find out here what you can do if you hamster’s already overweight. No weird smells An odd smell coming from your hamster is not a good sign. Hamsters are actually incredibly clean animals, and they clean themselves regularly, several times a day, very thoroughly. They have no scent that a human can detect, aside from female hamsters in heat. So if your hamster smells odd, you should check it for any signs of infection as well. It could be that the hamster has an abscess in his mouth (possibly because if a bad tooth) and that could be the source. Or a possible ear infection that isn’t obvious right away. The hamster’s personality Your hammy’s personality is probably something you won’t think of immediately, but you’ll notice it’s more important than anything. This is what I wish I knew before I got Teddy. You see, I wanted an orange hammy, and that was it. I had no idea about hamster breeds, temperaments, calmness, and so on. In time I saw that my Teddy is a bit of a despot, if you will. He must know, he must see, he will have his way, and he always has something to object. A bit annoying, but still a lovable ball of fur. Just not what I had in mind when I decided I want a hamster. I wanted a cuddly, friendly hammy, who will sleep on my shoulder and want to play all the time. Basically the world’s tiniest puppy. Again, I knew absolutely nothing about hamsters. Baby hamsters are hard to read When selecting your hamster, keep in mind that babies don’t have their personalities completely formed. You can’t look at a baby Syrian and know it’ll be friendly straight away, as you would a Lab puppy for example. Still, you can look at a few things when selecting your new hamster: Is he afraid or just cautious ? He should want to come closer if you reach for him, but not too confidently. Does the hamster run away as soon as it sees anyone ? Hamsters are shy, yes, but an extra shy hamster who bolts into his hideout all the time is very hard to tame. Does he look mostly calm and curious ? Hamsters are notoriously hyper, and older hammies are calmer than babies. Syrians are calmer than Dwarf types. Depends on what kind of hammy you want. Does the hammy look like it’s angry or snappy ? Might be best to stay away from that one, he will be harder to tame. Is the hamster trying to attack you ? It might sound silly, but if your hamster of choice starts making himself look bigger and tries to intimidate you, you’ve got a difficult one. Best to leave him be and find a different one. Keep in mind that previously owned hamsters might be a better choice, since they’ve been handled before and are most probably already tamed. They can be traumatised, however, so be gentle with them. If you’re selecting a baby hamster, make sure it is curious, and can hold its attention for several seconds. Hamsters are always on the move and are curious about a million things at a time, but still, if you put your hand on the cage, he should notice it and try to come closer. Your petshop should be able to let you handle the hammy before you walk out with him. Make sure you handle him beforehand, otherwise you’ll end up with not exactly what you were looking for. I didn’t ask to handle Teddy when I got him, and I’m not sure that pet store lets you do that. But handling him would’ve shown us that he wasn’t the calmest hamster in the cage. Male or female hamster This is up to you, and your preference. Males are generally a bit calmer, and easier to handle than females. That being said, if you’re getting a Dwarf type hammy, both genders are hyper and won’t sit still. Females come into heat every few days, about once a week. They become very irritable and a bit smelly in that period. You can recognize male hammies by the genital openings. In males the genital and anal opening are far apart, and do have fur between the two spots. Some hamster types may have a scent gland on the abdomen, so it will look like a third opening. Female hamsters have the obligatory and noticeable rows on nipples, and the genital and anal openings very close together. It will look like a bit of a bald spot with two pink dots. When picking a pair of hamsters, you’ll want to get them in same-sex pairs. This means no surprise, unplanned litters. Also, if you select a female hamster keep in mind that they can become pregnant as soon as they’re weaned – aprox . 4 weeks old. This means that if the caretakers didn’t separate the hamsters into same sex groups early enough, you might just bring home a pregnant female hamster without knowing. If your hammy is a pregnant female and you only just found out, congratulations on your new litter ! And here’s how to make sure they survive. Which hamster breed to get When it comes to the hamster breed, this is again up to you and your preference. There are two main types of hamsters available – Syrian and Dwarf hamsters. The Syrian is the most common one, it’s the largest, and easiest to tame. The Dwarf types (4 of them) are much smaller, and faster and agile and, can be a bit harder to tame since they just won’t sit still. No hamster ever sits in one place for more than a few seconds, but Dwarves are terrible at it. I have a Syrian male, and I sometimes have trouble keeping up with him. You can imagine how well I’d do with a Dwarf. Actually, Dwarf types are harder to handle, and as such are best left as observational pets. A bit like fish, but cuddly and much faster. Here’s how to identify each hamster type, and pick out the one you think you’d like the most. (If you like this article so far, you can pin it to your Pinterest board by clicking the image below. The article continues after the image.) Bringing your new hamster friend home Alright, you’ve picked out your new friend, he’s in his nice cardboard box and ready to go home. I’ll urge you to bring your pet as fast as you can to his new home, so he can accommodate. Hamsters don’t like change too much, so they won’t like being taken away. Make sure you get home and have his cage set up beforehand. You can read here about the recommended cage sizes for each hamster type, and how to pick one out for your hamster. An in-depth look at the best hamster cages available will be helpful before you actually go and buy your hammy’s cage. The bedding and hideout should be picked out beforehand too, so they’re already laid out in the cage and ready for your hamster friend. You can find here a good roundup of safe hamster bedding/substrate options, and pick your favorite. Toys and food bowl, should be available and already in place when your hammy comes home for the first time. As well as a running wheel for your hamster, and browsing a nice selection according to hamster breed will be useful to pick out a good exercise wheel. And finally, a bit of food and a treat in his cage will help your hamster settle in easier. This means that the hamster himself will be the last thing you buy when you decide to get this cuddly pet. This is because the moment you bring your hammy home and settle him in his new home, you won’t disturb him at all for at least a couple of days, if not 3-4. The transition from being with his siblings, and then being put in a box, and then put in another box is very disorienting and stressful, and hamsters are very very bad at handling stress. So when you get home, place the cardboard box in the hamster’s cage, with the hamster still in the box. Open a side of the box, and from then on leave the hammy alone. Talk to him when you walk past his cage, and dedicate some minutes every day to just let him smell you. Do not touch or try to handle him at all for a couple of days. Once he’s settled in, you can begin taming him, and you’ll become friends fairly quickly. Is a hamster really the pet for you ? This is a question you should ask yourself very seriously. I’ve seen a lot of people get a hamster without knowing what they’re getting themselves into. Me included. A hamster is not a puppy, and won’t always be there as you want him to be. In this respect, a hamster is more like a cat, if you will. He has a lot of personality, for being so incredibly small. And he can be aloof and hard to read sometimes. Hamsters don’t wag their tails, or purr to show affection or happiness. They do have their own special charm, but they’re a different pet than the norm. And they are definitely not suited for small children, no matter what else you hear. Hamsters don’t take well to being handled wrong, or too much, or loud noises, or sudden movements. These are all things a 6 year old can and will do, since they’re children. A guinea pig would be more suited for a small child, since they’re incredibly calm and serene (compared to a hamster). If you want to get a more in-depth view on what owning a hamster is like, and some pros and cons, you need to check this article. You’ll get much more info, and see if a hammy is really the one for you. And if you’d like to know more about how to properly care for your hamster, you can check out these essential steps. A word from Teddy I hope you found what you were looking for here, and know how to pick out the best hammy. I know us hamsters can be the cutest things ever, but we have our own personalities. So, make sure you check out the health and personality of your new friend before bringing him home. If you want to know more about us hammies, you should check out the related articles below for more info. [...] Read more...