Here’s How To Find A Hamster’s Gender (All Breeds And Ages)

Knowing your hamster’s gender will save you from a world of trouble. Pairing a male with a female by mistake will get you a new litter faster than you’d like. When I got my Teddy I didn’t care about the gender, I just wanted him to be orange.

It turned out he was the only orange hamster they had at the pet shop, so there we go. But today I’ll be talking about how to find the gender for your hamster, since this is very important. Especially if you’ve got Dwarf pairs.

finding hamster gender c

So how do you find a hamster’s gender ?

The shortest and clearest answer is to check the hamster’s genitals. There are some very clear differences between males and females, and you will notice them in your hamster.

Females – You’ll notice on the underside of the hamster a sort of bald spot where the rear end is. Those are the anal and vaginal openings for the female hamster. They are very close together, and will possibly look like the same organ.

There is very little, to no hair at all in that area. Also, you will notice the nipples on her abdomen running on both sides of her belly. They might be covered by fur, but they will be there.

Males – have a larger patch of fur between the genital and anal opening. Some breeds will have a third point on their belly, a scent gland higher up on the abdomen.

Males have no nipples in hamsters, so you should find none. And in the end, the testicles will make the male hamster’s rear end look larger, and more elongated than the female.

Alright, but how do you actually go about finding the hamster’s sex ? Hamsters spend most of their time on all fours, so they won’t really roll over and show you. Let’s see how to go about that.

Here’s how to find a hamster’s gender – step by step

I’ll give you a step by step guide here, but remember that this works mostly for tame hamsters. Untamed hamsters, that do no like to be handled at all, will need a different strategy. I’ll provide you with that as well, just scroll down a bit.

Give the hamster attention beforehand

Before you try to tell the hamster’s sex, you need to make sure the hamster is calm and relaxed. A treat and some playing and handling will help a lot with this.

If you can actually incorporate this into the playtime it would be easier for your hamster. You will be holding your hamster tilted on his back, and he won’t really like that.

So play with your hamster a bit, stroke him, talk to him softly, do as you would normally. Give him a treat, maybe a big one to distract him. For example a large piece of carrot that he can’t immediately show into his cheeks would be great.

If not, a simple dog treat will suffice. If you’re unsure what to feed the hamster, you can check the list of safe foods here. You’ll find foods and treats as well.

Prepare your surroundings

Your hamster might squirm, even if he is tame. No hamster likes to be held on their backs, and you can’t really hold them above your face since this will be too high for them.

So, it would be best to do this low on the ground, with a box lined with bedding under your hamster. This way if the hamster manages to wriggle out of your hands, he will only fall on the soft bedding. And he won’t really get very far, since the box will keep him contained.

If you’ve got a glass tank, you can do this over the hamster’s tank, to stress him even less. Again, try to incorporate this into the play routine you have with your hamster. Make it feel like it’s another game, and he will be a bit more relaxed.

Only try it when the hamster is relaxed

This should go without saying, but do not try to handle the hamster when he’s irritated, or is sleeping. If he just woke up for good, and just started walking about his cage, this can be a good time.

But if he was just chewing on the cage bars a second ago, and his teeth are chattering, stay away. Your hamster is not in a friendly mood, and will definitely bite you if you try to hold him now.

An eating hamster will not like being held or handled either.

So a good moment would be when he’s out and about as usual, or when he just woke up.

Hold the hamster properly

When you do hold your hamster in order to find its gender, make sure you’ve got your thumb across the hamster’s chest. The hamster should be cupped in your hand, and you will need to use both hands.

Your hamster will probably squirm and try to escape, which is understandable. Do not hold him up very high, instead do this over his glass tank close to the bedding if you can. Or over a box lined with bedding, so he will fall somewhere safe and soft.

If you’ve dropped your hamster and didn’t manage to figure out his gender, that’s okay. Keep playing with him, and give him a couple of bits of food for his trouble.

You can try again in a few minutes. This is something that you might need to have patience with.

Look at the underside of the hamster

Hold the hamster a bit tilted on his back, so you can see his underside. He will probably squirm, but that’s reasonable. Use your other hand to try and feel on his abdomen for the nipples.

If you find none, it’s a male. If you do find nipples, it’s a female.

Take a look at the hammy’s rear end too. If you see the vaginal and anal opening close together, like they’re the same opening, it’s a female. If the openings are farther apart, and there is a patch of fur between them, then it is a male.

You might also see a swelling near the tail, those are the testicles of the male.

These will all look the same, whether you have a Syrian or Robo or Campbell or any other kind of hamster. Some breeds might have another point on the male’s abdomen, a scent gland.

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

finding hamster gender

Alternative ways to find out a hamster’s gender

If you’ve got an especially stubborn hamster, who does not like being handled at all, then you’ll need to find another way. Or, if you’re looking at a hamster at the pet shop, and can’t pick it up but you want to know which gender you’re picking.

Using a transparent container

You can use a transparent container to find your hamster’s gender as well. This means that you will need something clear, like a jar, or a plastic box. You need to be able to see clearly through it.

Place the container on its side in your hammy’s cage, with a treat inside. Wait for your hamster to wander into it and take the treat, then pick up the container. This might take a few minutes, but it will happen.

Once the hamster is in the container, make sure he can’t get out. This means that the sides must be high, or there must be a lid on, which the hamster has to be able to breathe through.

Lift the container above your head, and look up. It might take some trying and your hamster might not flatten itself onto the floor of the container at first. But you should eventually be able to notice the hamster’s underside clearly.

Look for the anal and vaginal openings, and for the nipple markings as well. This is easier on the hamster, but takes much more time.

Looking for size and shape difference between genders

There are a few difference between males and females, even if they’re not immediately obvious.

First, a male will be a bit larger than a female. If you’ve got a Syrian, and he’s alone in his cage as he should be, this won’t be easy to tell.

But if you’ve got a Dwarf pair, it will be much easier to compare a specific hamster against another.

Then, another difference between male and female hamsters is the rear end. A male’s rear will be larger, and slightly elongated, pointier. This is because his testicles are there, and take up quite some space. Of all the breeds the Syrian is the most obvious one, with very large testicles.

The females have a more rounder, kind of shorter end. So if you look there, you might find some tell tale signs.

When to separate hamster babies

Baby hamsters are weaned by their mother when they’re about 3-4 weeks of age. Whats more important here is that they can breed about as soon as they’re weaned.

They still have a bit of growing up to do to become full adults, but they are capable of breeding even at 3-4 weeks. So this would be the time to separate the litter into male and female cages.

Doing this too late can bring you surprise litters, so you should keep an eye on the mother. Once she starts weaning them, the babies will be pushed away by their mother. They can drink water and eat commercial food now.

If there was a very large litter, and not all babies managed to grow and develop properly, you can leave those with the mother for another week.

When you separate the babies into male and female groups, run another check a week later, to be sure that they are all male or female. Just to be sure and not have 20 more hamsters overnight.

A word from Teddy

I hope you found out what you were looking for here, and know whether you have a boy or a girl hammy. I’m a Syrian boy, and I was pretty obvious from the get go. But my Dwarf cousins might be harder to figure out, so try to be patient.

If you want to know more about us hammies, like how how expensive or cheap it is to keep one of us at home, or what we like to eat, you can check the articles below.

Related blog post
Complete Guide To Choosing Dwarf Or Syrian Hamster Cages
Complete Guide To Choosing Dwarf Or Syrian Hamster CagesThe hamster’s cage is the most important purchase you’ll ever make for your furry friend. I know I made some mistakes when I got my Teddy his first cage. And I’m here to help you get your hammy the best cage ever. My Teddy is a fully grown Syrian hamster, but I will also cover the cage requirements for dwarf hamsters as well. Table of Contents ToggleSo how do you choose the best cage for a syrian or dwarf hamster ?The best cage size for your hamsterCage size for Syrian hamstersCage size for Dwarf hamstersThe best cage type for your hamsterWire cages for hamstersA good wire cage for your hamsterPlastic cages for hamstersA good plastic hamster cage recommendationGlass tanks for hamstersA recommendation on glass tanks for hamstersSafety and escape-proof rating of the hamster cageHamster’s safety in his cageIs the hamster’s cage escape proof ?How to clean a hamster’s cageHow to place a hamster in a temporary holdingHow to clean wire or plastic cages for hamstersCleaning a glass tank for hamstersMultiple levels or one ground level ?The airflow of the cage is important for your hamsterPlacing toys and hideouts in the hamster’s cageWhere to keep the hamster’s cage in your homeHow to safely move and handle a hamster’s cageA word from Teddy So how do you choose the best cage for a syrian or dwarf hamster ? This depends on several factors, and I’ll list them here. Then, we’ll get into detail for each and every one of them, so you have the most information. So, you have to be mindful of: The cage size – different needs for different hamster species The cage type – plastic vs wire vs glass tank Escape-proof rating of the cage Multiple levels or a simple ground level Air flow – some cage types aren’t the most breatheable Whichever kind of cage you get, be careful to check every nook and cranny before you buy it. Or, when it ships to you. Your hamster will check it anyway, so if there’s anything wrong with the cage, best to know before you put your friend in it. Teddy: Us hamsters are very curious creatures, and we’ll get our little faces into EVERY part of the cage. So make sure it’s safe for us before you let us in ! The best cage size for your hamster It will vary from species to species, but I’ll cover both types. In general hamsters need more space than you’d think, since they’re very active creatures and love to run around. Even if you see your friend as the smallest ball of fur, he will still need plenty of room to roam and explore. Cage size for Syrian hamsters The best size cage for your Syrian hamster would be a minimum of 24 x 12 inches, and about 12 inches tall. That’s 61 x 30.5 cm, and about 30.5 cm tall. The height of the cage is not very important, because hamsters need more actual floor space than levels. Of course, you can get your hammy a cage with a few levels, aside from the ground floor. This is actually what my Teddy has. He has a combination of plastic and wire cage, with 2 attachable levels. I left the highest level out of the cage, so I can fit his 8.5 inch/23 cm wheel. Syrian hamsters are always housed alone. They are very territorial and will not share anything with another hamster, even a litter mate. Cage size for Dwarf hamsters The best size for a dwarf hamster is 18 x 10 inches, and a 12 inch height. That’s 46 cm x 25.4 cm, with a 30.5 cm height. That is for one dwarf hamster. You can house dwarf hamsters together, but not too many. 2 or 3 are enough, but for each hamster your add, you will need a bigger cage. So for example if you’ve got 2 dwarf hamsters, then they will need more space than I said above. They will need at least a Syrian cage, so that’s 24 inches by 12 inches (61 x 30.5 cm) for 2 dwarf hamsters. If you’ve got 3 dwarf hamsters, then you’ll need a much bigger cage. You’d be better off looking for a glass tank. We’ll cover that soon. The best cage type for your hamster There’s 3 main types of cages you can pick, and I’ll go through all of them. You can find combination cages (like plastic and wire cages), but not very often. Wire cages for hamsters The most common kind of hamster cage, and the one you will find in a pet shop most of the time. They have their own advantages and disadvantages, and I’ll go through them here. This kind of cage is made up of a plastic bottom, usually about the height of your palm. The attachable wire walls, which are actually most of the cage itself. Although, the most important part is the bottom bit. That is where your hamster will live, walk, eat, sleep, and poo. The wire of the cage is just how far he can go. But the floor space is the most relevant part of your cage, to be honest. Good points for a wire cage: breathable, lots of air flow for your hamster easy to clean, just a wipe down with a warm, moist cloth easy to take apart and reassemble generally sturdy, will last a long time Bad points for a wire cage: can sometimes have metal wiring on the floor, and your hamster can get stuck there is the hamster’s favorite chew toy bedding can easily fly out of it wire spacing is often too large for hamsters, they can squeeze their heads through When it comes to the space between the wire of your cage, the smaller then better. The thing is, hamsters are very curious, and will stick their faces everywhere and will try chewing everything. If your hamster’s head can fit between the wires, then his body can fit as well and he can escape. So, for Syrian hamsters a maximum wire space should be 0.6 inches/1.5 cm. And for dwarf hamsters, a maximum of 0.4 inches/ 1 cm. The problems is that most of the cages your will find in a pet shop have the wiring too far apart. If they’re large enough for a Syrian, then the wiring is too far apart. If the wiring is good, they’re almost always just large enough for a parakeet, not a hamster of any kind. A good wire cage for your hamster A good wire cage is one that has a sensible wire spacing, This one’s got less than half an inch, so it will keep even dwarf hamsters inside. It’s easy enough to work with and you an fit any kind of hideout or toy inside, and a tall wheel will fit as well. It has the added benefit of an extra level, which hamsters will love. My Teddy loves to hide under the home level, and yours is probably no different. This one’s level is adjustable, so you can place it whichever way you want. You can check out the listing on Amazon here. Plastic cages for hamsters These can be plastic bins that you can drill some holes in, and put a wire mesh in place of a lid. Or you can even find plastic cages at a pet shop, designed for your hamster. These are see-through, and are the second most common type of hamster cages. They’re usually a bit more pricey than wire cages, but they have the added benefit that they can be customized. Good points for plastic hamster cages: less bedding thrown outside the cage, contains poo and wood shavings better easier to customize, you can often find them with holes made for attaching tunnels and tubes less of a chew hazard, the hamster rarely chews on them since he can’t get his teeth on anything usually has a very large topside latch, so you can fit both hands inside the cage you can provide deeper bedding, since there is a higher plastic guard Bad points for plastic hamster cages: less airflow than wire cages or glass tanks, since the air holes are smaller more condensation or trapped air need more cleaning, since there is more surface to clean less sturdier than wire cages, careful when moving the plastic cages The plastic cages sound like a good option, and they can totally be a good option for your hamster. If you’ve got a hamster who loves to dig around and burrow, this might be for him. You can give your friend a lot of digging space and a whole bunch of bedding to roam around in. Just make sure that you get a version that’s well ventilated, so your hamster can breathe easily. As for the actual bins some people use in place of a hamster cage, I wouldn’t recommend that. The plastic is usually too soft and blurry, even if it can be drilled to get some air holes for your hamster. When it comes to basic, important hamster accessories like the cage or the wheel or exercise ball, or even the water bottle, I suggest you get a professional one. Those are made with the hamster’s comfort in mind. A good plastic hamster cage recommendation This is actually the cage I have for my Teddy. It has 2 levels, and they provide a lot of room for your hamster. My Teddy is a solitary adult Syrian hamster, But this would be alright for 2 dwarf hamsters as well. The best thing about this cage is that it comes with the tube attachments, which can actually fit an adult Syrian hamster inside easily. This is an easy to clean and assemble cage, with a great combo between plastic and metal cage advantages. There’s air, and there’s safety and containment as well. I removed the highest level so I can fit  9 inch wheel inside. The wheel that come with it, as well as the hideout I wouldn’t recommend, since they are plastic and small. You can check out the listing on Amazon here. Glass tanks for hamsters A third and final option would be to keep your hammy in a glass tank. This is a great option if you have a lot of space in your home, and can place la large glass tank somewhere. There are some special precautions, though. Glass keeps cold for longer, so make sure you keep the tank in a definitely warm room. Hamsters need an temperature of 20-23 Celsius/68-75 Fahrenheit to feel comfortable. A glass tank might keep them colder if not properly maintained. Good points for a glass tank: you can get them in a very large size, and will definitely fit any kind of hamster you have can be split down the middle with a large bendy bridge if the hamsters become rowdy you can see your hammy, but he can’t kick out any bedding can be found quite easily, it can even be a glass shelf with the shelves removed Bad points for a glass tank: cleaning and changing the bedding will need serious planning and will take more time more sensitive to temperature shifts you can’t move it around like a normal cage; the room you keep it in is its final room The glass tank is a seriously good option if you’ve got a room to keep the hamster in, and it won’t bother you during the night, and you can keep it an even temperature. Glass tanks don’t have to be aquariums. They can be that, but you can also use a glass shelf/display rack. When cleaning day comes, you’ll probably need a bit of help from a friend with this. But if you’re a dedicated hamster owner, you probably won’t mind the extra trouble to give your hammy the best home ever. The best thing to do is to find a wire mesh that you can use as a lid, on the top of your hamster’s glass tank. This is just a precaution. Most glass tanks are too tall for hamsters to climb, but you never know until they’re out. A recommendation on glass tanks for hamsters You can find a good glass tank here. It’s a 20 gallon tank, and that’s about the minimum for a hamster’s glass tank. The best part about it is that it’s tall enough the hamster can’t escape, and you probably won’t need a wire mesh to cover the top. Best to get one, just to be sure, though. The cleaning and washing and drying will be a longer process than the other cage types, but you can see your hamster clearly. When it comes to glass anything, it’s best to go there personally and buy it. Glass breaks very easily so don’t be surprised if that happens during transport. You can check out the listing on Amazon for this glass tank here. Safety and escape-proof rating of the hamster cage Another important aspect when you choose the hamster’s cage is how safe it is for your hamster, and how well it can keep him contained. Hamster’s safety in his cage Your hamster’s cage is his home. This is where he will eat, sleep, poop, run around, and just live out his entire life. It needs to be a safe place for your hamster. So let’s look at a few precautions to take: check for any sharp edges your hammy could hurt himself on, like some stray wires or sides no chipped edges if you’re using a glass tank the seams/corners are safe and can’t be chewed on, and have no visible glue that the hamster can gnaw on if you’ve got a multi level cage, make sure the levels aren’t too high so he can’t fall too far give your hammy lots and lots of bedding to shield him from  any odd edges make sure the cage fastenings don’t come open easily, and keep the cage top well secured If you’ve checked all of the above, and you’re sure your hammy can’t hurt himself on anything, then great ! Remember to keep the room temperature between 20-23 Celsius/68-75 Fahrenheit and he will be fine. Is the hamster’s cage escape proof ? Hamsters are escape artists. Not because they reaaaaally want to escape, but because they’re curious and want to know everything, If there’s something that smells like food, they’ll be all over the cage to try to get to it. If they see you they’ll be clawing at the cage to come and smell you. Hamsters are busy things, people to see, things to do. So they will try their teeth on everything, including the cage. If you’re not careful, he might chew through a cage fastening (depending on the material) and hurt himself and/or manage to escape. So let’s talk about what you can do to make sure your hamster can’t escape. if you’ve got a glass tank, use a wire mesh with metal clamps to fit it on top of the cage make sure the cage wiring and the wire mesh holes don’t have more than 1.5 cm/0.6 inch opening for Syrian hamsters for dwarf hamsters, make sure the opening between wires is no more than 1 cm/0.4 inches; Syrian hamster babies need smaller openings, like this one make sure that the cage fastenings keep the cage well closed and can’t be opened easily check the cage for any weakness that the hamster night chew on, like ripped plastic bottom or a small hole somewhere How to clean a hamster’s cage This depends a bit on what type of cage you own, but I’ll go through each type. Whichever kind you have, you must first place the hamster(s) somewhere else. So use an exercise ball, or transport cage, to keep the hamster while you clean he cage. How to place a hamster in a temporary holding If you can hold your hamster, then scoop him up and place him in his exercise ball or transport cage. If the hamster can’t be handled, then coax him into the exercise ball or transport cage with a bit of food he loves. He only has to stay there until you clean his cage. If you’ve put him in an exercise ball, make sure you keep an eye on him as well. Remove any and all toys and home and food bowls from the cage, until you only have the bedding. The cages are very simple, open the latches on the cage (usually on the side) and remove the top. Then, after you’ve removed everything but the bedding, look for soiled parts. If the bedding looks relatively clean and doesn’t smell, remove only the dirty parts. Use a rubber glove, and throw away the parts that need to be thrown away. Keep a bit of the old bedding and nesting material, for your hamster to feel more familiar. If you’re using a sand bath for your hamster, make sure you change and clean that as well. How to clean wire or plastic cages for hamsters As for the cage itself, it will need only hot water and a bit of soap. Small quantities of soap, since hamsters are very sensitive to smell. You can scrub the sides of the cage, or wipe them down, your choice. You can also bring the cage parts into the shower and give them a good cleaning there, just make sure your pat them dry with paper towels and especially the lower part. The bedding can get wet if you don’t, and will become moldy. Once you’ve washed and dried the cage, place the parts of the old bedding back onto the lower part of the cage. Put new bedding if you need to, until you reach a depth of about 1-2 inches/2.5-5 cm. Then, place back every toy and food bowl or accessory in the hamster’s cage. In his hideout, place the bits of the old nesting material, and some new nesting material in the cage. Do not place new nesting material directly in the hamster’s hideout. He will take it out anyway, and bring it back in as he thinks fit. My Teddy got quite annoyed when he found his hideout full of ripped up paper towel not the way he left it. Cleaning a glass tank for hamsters The bedding and toys need to be removed the same way as the wire or plastic cages. But the last bits of bedding will require something like a vacuum cleaner, to make sure you get absolutely everything out. The cleaning and washing part is done with hot water and a small amount of soap, but will need more rinsing with a moist clean cloth. You can’t bring the glass tank to the shower, but you can rinse it thoroughly with lots and lots or moist cloth. When you’re done washing it, dry very well with paper towels. If you want to be extra sure there are no hidden water droplets in the corner, use a blow dryer. Keep it a safe distance from the glass, at least 40 cm/16 inches and use a warm setting. After you’re done washing and drying the glass tank, place back the bedding and nesting material, with bits of old bedding and nesting material as well. Place the toys and hideout and everything back, and use this as an excuse to maybe redecorate the hammy’s place. Even if the glass tank is a glass one, do now use window washing liquid on it. The alcohol and strong smell will be harmful for the hamster, just stick to hot water. Multiple levels or one ground level ? This is entirely up to you, and the hamster will enjoy both. The thing is that hamsters need a lot of leg room, because they run and climb and explore new places. If you’re looking for a hamster cage that will give your hamster a lot of space, look for a low cage, with lots of space in width and length. This will take up a lot of actual floor space in your home. So, it depends on your home as well. If you choose a multi-level cage, you do give your hamster more room, and he will use the higher levels as well. He will hangout mostly around his hideout, so make sure you put that somewhere he will not fall far from. For example my Teddy has a multiple level cage. I took out the last level so I can fit his wheel inside, but Teddy uses all the space he has. When I gave him the extra level, he used that one too. A word of caution though. Hamsters can’t judge heights very well, so they will jump or fall from a high ground if they think it’s a shortcut. My Teddy is also plain silly and just forgets he has a nice ramp set up from his upper level to the ground level. He sometimes just jumps from the upper level (like 15 cm/6 inches) to the ground floor. He often just climbs up instead of using that ramp. That’s okay, he’s working out quite well. So if you get your hamster a multi-level cage, make sure your give the levels lots of bedding. And also, make sure the levels overlap a little, so he can’t jump too far down. This is because hamsters will use the actual floor of the levels as much as they can, so there is no point if giving them a ‘high ceiling’ type of cage. Hamsters spend most of their time on all 4 feet, and don’t need a lot of vertical space to stand. Just make sure that a large exercise wheel (9 inches/23 cm and upwards) will fit into the type of cage you have. (If you like this article so far, you can pin it to your Pinterest board by clicking the image below. The article continues after the image.) The airflow of the cage is important for your hamster As with every living being, air is important. Stale air will give your hamster a lot of health issues, including lung problems, possible colds, and suffocation in extreme cases. To make sure your hamster gets lots of air, a wire cage is best. But to make sure the hamster won’t chew the bars, you need a plastic cage or glass tank. But with the plastic cage the air quality is often a problem. However a glass tank is often expensive. So what should you do ? Take a look at your budget, see which kind of cage you can provide your hamster and still be okay. Then, do the following: If you get a wire cage – keep it in a corner, away from drafts and in an even temp of 20-23 Celsius/68-75 Fahrenheit If you get a plastic cage – place the hamster in his exercise ball more often, and use that time to air out the plastic cage If you’ve got a glass tank, the air will be sufficient but again keep it from drafts, and when the hamster is outside the cage remove the wire mesh to allow for more air If you hamster’s cage isn’t properly aired, the condensation and air quality will give him health problems, and we want to avoid that. This is especially important with the ammonia fumes from the hamster’s pee. Protect your hamster’s cage from drafts and any especially cold air. Placing toys and hideouts in the hamster’s cage The hideout is where your hamster will spend most of his time. Place that in a corner, hidden from sight or at least under a bendy bridge or something similar. Hamsters will choose a very hidden and safe spot to build their nest, so put their hideout there. For example my Teddy often uses the most hidden corner of his cage to eat, under the upper level and blocked by paper tubes and bedding. To find out more about what kind of hideout is best for your hamster, as well as which kind of bedding is safe for him, check out my article. You’ll also find out what nesting material is okay, and how to take care if your hamster’s hideout. As for the toys and wheel, make sure you keep any tall toys away from the glass tank’s edge otherwise the hamster might climb out. The wheel can be anywhere in the cage, but make sure it fits into your cage. If it’s a mounted wheel, it will have to be attached to the side of the cage. A standing wheel can be placed anywhere. You can find my article on what kind of exercise wheel your hamster needs, according to his size as well. You’ll also find out how to clean and acre for the exercise wheel, and how to acclimate him to one. The toys, whether they’re food bowls or chew toys or bendy bridges can be put anywhere. Anywhere in the cage is fine, as long as they’re not in the pee corner. Hamsters usually choose a corner to pee in, usually the farthest away from their hideout. So, in that particular corner I put Teddy a sand bath. It acts as a litter box, and it keeps smell down to a minimum. You can use an old hideout, with a removable lid, or even special sand containers. Your choice, as long as you put something there to contain the sand. Other toys, like the chew toys and climb toys you can find out more about here. You’ll learn about the kind of toys your hamster needs, and what to look for to figure out which he likes the most. And you’ll get some DYI ideas for some of them as well ! Where to keep the hamster’s cage in your home This is something you’ll have to think about for a few minutes, see where the best option is. Best not to move the hamster’s cage often. Hamsters are sensitive, and do notice and wake up when you move their cage. It won’t shock or scar them for life, but they do notice. That being said, I do move my Teddy’s cage every day, because of my apartment’s layout. During the day when he sleeps he is in our bedroom, and I never move him. But at night, before I go to bed, I move him to the kitchen where my girlfriend can’t hear him rummaging through his cage. Hamsters rarely make noise, and they’re very quiet by nature, but she’s a light sleeper. In the morning, we take him back to the bedroom and don’t disturb him for the rest of the day. Now, if you’ve got an apartment with a better setup than I do, figure out a place to keep him at all times. It’s best if it’s a room where he can’t be bothered by other pets or curious children when he sleeps. If you have a room for the hamster alone, then you can probably get him a glass tank (not taking the budget into account) since it will stay in one place. The room you keep your hamster in needs to be free of drafts, with an even temperature. Do not place the cage in direct sunlight, or near a heat source. How to safely move and handle a hamster’s cage The cage should not be moved often, but there will be times when you must do this. When this does happen, make sure you do not grab the cage by the top part, at all. Even if it has a nice handle to hold, do not trust it. Most of those are poorly build and will not hold that weight. Do not hold the wiring, since your fingers can become stuck, and the hamster will possibly chew them as well. If you’ve got a long sleeve shirt, keep the sleeves or any shirt part away from the wire cage wall. If possible, try not to bump the cage into the wall or drop it. Avoid taking it up and down the stairs, since you won’t see very well. Even more important, if the hamster is still inside the cage. In these situations use a transport cage for the hamster, and empty the large cage to hold it in an way you can see in front of you. When picking up the cage, pick it up by the lowest part of the bottom. Make sure your thumbs don’t stick into the cage or the hamster might nibble and you might drop him. When placing the hamster’s cage down on the floor, do not bend over, but kneel. This is easier on your back, and safe for the hamster as well. A word from Teddy I hope you have a clear idea of what kind of home us hamsters need now. There are difference between hammies like me (Syrian hamsters) and dwarf hamsters, but we’re more alike than different. Us Syrian hamsters need larger cages, and dwarf hamsters can do with smaller ones, but always add more space for each new hamster. For example my dwarf brothers and sisters can be housed together, in same sex pairs. But I need to be alone, I don’t like sharing my space or toys or… well, anything. If you want to know more about hamsters in general, you can check out the articles below. You’ll find out more about why we eat our poop, and how much water we need as well ! [...] Read more...
12 Reasons That Hamsters Squeak-Understanding Your Pet
12 Reasons That Hamsters Squeak-Understanding Your PetAlmost all animals have a distinct sound. We know that dogs bark for many reasons, cry when they want something, and growl when they are aggressive, but not many people know what sounds hamsters make. The most common noises that hamsters make are squeals, screams, and squeaks, but they can also hiss and grind their teeth. It is hard to say exactly why your hamster is making any of these noises, which is why you’ll have to examine what it’s doing to understand why it’s making that noise. However, we do have a general idea of what might be going on with your hamster when it makes certain sounds. If your hamster is grinding its teeth, it means that your hamster is probably irritated and wants you to leave it alone. If you notice that it is baring its teeth, it is giving you a visual warning that it’s planning to attack you. Similar to a car, your hamster can hiss if it’s aggressive and does it to give off warning signs before it attacks. It might hiss if you won’t leave it alone after it ran away from you, and if you don’t stop trying to take it even after it hissed at you, it will probably bite you. You won’t hear your hamster screaming very often. They usually scream because they are afraid of something, and the scream is loud and distressing.  The most common sound all hamsters make is squeaking. Squeaking can mean so many things which is why it’s very hard to determine why your hamster is squeaking without examining the situation. Here are 12 reasons why your hamster might be squeaking, which will help you understand your hamster better. Table of Contents Toggle1. Your hamster is happy2. Your hamster is afraid3. Your hamster needs something4. Your hamster is talking to other hamsters5. Your hamster doesn’t like being picked up6. Your hamster recognizes something7. Your hamster is aggressive8. Your hamster is trying to be dominant9. Your hamster is trapped or in danger10. Your hamster wants to breed11. Your hamster is giving birth12. Your hamster is injured 1. Your hamster is happy Hamsters sometimes squeak when they are happy. For example, hamsters are known to squeak when they get a treat, or when you pet them. If you have more than just one hamster, your hamsters could squeak because they are happy to see each other, or just because they are playing. You can tell that your hamster is squeaking because it is happy if you see it stretch or yawn while squeaking.  2. Your hamster is afraid When your hamster squeaks continually, it’s telling someone to back off. The hamster can be saying this to other hamsters if you have more than just one, or to you, if it’s new to your home and still afraid of you. If your hamster is new, socialization will make it calm down. When you get a hamster for the first time, it might be hard to figure out on your own how to tame it.  The first thing you should do when you bring a hamster home is to let it adjust. Try giving it a week before you handle it. Keep it in a big enough cage, and make sure it always has water and food, so it’s not stressed out. It would be best if you placed the cage somewhere where it is surrounded by people, but where it won’t be disturbed by the noise, distractions, or other pets. It’s important to remember that hamsters sleep during the day, so they will need to be placed somewhere peaceful and quiet during this week, but where they can still see people. A good place would be a study if you work from home or a bedroom. Try not to get annoyed with the taming process, as it doesn’t happen overnight. The goal of the taming process is to convince your hamster to trust you, and that there’s no reason for it to be afraid of it. You will have to take the time to get to know your hamster and learn how it communicates.  You will notice that your hamster has become more comfortable once it leaves its cage on its own. Do not handle your hamster before it leaves the cage on its own, you will just make it more afraid of you. The hamster will let you know that it is comfortable with you when it eats, drinks, or plays when you’re around. You should talk to your hamster, but not too loudly, so it gets used to your voice. You might feel awkward talking to your hamster, so try reading it a book, or if you have kids, read them a goodnight story with the hamster present in the room.  They say that love goes through the stomach, and that’s true for hamsters as well. You can convince your hamster to trust you by offering it a lot of treats. Start by offering them through the bars or at the edge of the cage. Wait for the hamster to come and explore your hand, but don’t try to touch it. After a while, you will be able to place your hand inside the cage and put the treat on your hand. Again, it is very important that you don’t touch the hamster or try to force it into your hand. Instead, let it get interested and explore your hand. The first time you do this, the hamster will probably only place one paw on your hand. The more you do it, the more your hamster will trust you, and eventually, it will climb into your hand to get the treat. When your hamster trusts your enough to get to your hand, you can try to take it into your hand. If you notice that your hamster wants to get away, let it go. Your hamster will probably do this the first few times, but after a while, it will realize that your hands are safe. How long it will take for your hamster to let you pick it up depends on its personality and age. Some hamsters might let you pick them up as soon as they come into your home, while others need a month or longer to fully relax and trust you. Make sure you pick it up safely. The best way to do so is to cup your hand and put the hamster in it and place the other hand on its back so that it feels safe. The first few times you pick up your hamster, make sure there is a soft surface beneath you in case it jumps out of your hand. As time passes, the hamster will become more comfortable with you and trust you more, and it will walk over your hands and arms.  3. Your hamster needs something Hamsters squeak when they want something. They can’t talk, so squeaking is their way of communicating that they need something. They might want to get out of the cage, want your attention, or their food and water bowl is empty. If your hamster squeaks for a long time and it doesn’t stop squeaking after you give it food and attention, check whether it’s injured. 4. Your hamster is talking to other hamsters The only way young hamsters can talk to other hamsters is by squeaking. They squeak to let others know how they feel. When they squeak loudly, they are telling the other hamsters that they are afraid, or that they don’t like what they’re doing. If you notice that your hamster is squeaking softly when around other hamsters, it means that it’s enjoying their company, or that it wants attention from another hamster. This depends on the type of hamster. Dwarf hamsters are smaller and they can’t produce soft sounds, so they squeak, but if you have a Teddy Bear hamster, it will most likely softly murmur to communicate because it has longer vocal cords.  5. Your hamster doesn’t like being picked up Depending on the type of your hamster, it might never learn not to be afraid of heights. Dwarf hamsters are miniature and they will probably squeak when you pick them up, not because they are afraid of you, but because they are afraid of the height. Hamsters also get scared when they don’t know where they are. Bigger types of hamsters will soon learn that they are safe when you pick them up, as they aren’t as afraid of heights as the Dwarf hamsters.  6. Your hamster recognizes something Dwarf hamsters are known to learn what it sounds and looks like when you’re about to feed them. If you notice that your hamster squeaks when you open its bag of food, or open its cage to give it some treats, it means that your hamster has recognized what’s about to happen. If you tame your hamster and it bonds with you, it can learn what you look and sound like, and it can squeak because it recognizes you. Most types of hamsters squeak when they recognize something, but the owners have noticed that Dwarf hamsters are often louder than other types of hamsters. 7. Your hamster is aggressive If your hamster is tamed, and it squeaks when you try to touch it, it’s probably aggressive. This doesn’t necessarily mean that it is going to bite you. It is likely that your hamster doesn’t feel like hanging out with you because it is tired, or just in a bad mood.  8. Your hamster is trying to be dominant If you have more than just one hamster, it is likely that they will get into a fight every once in a while. While it is natural to get concerned and think that your hamsters are getting hurt when they squeak during the fight, they can actually be doing it for a whole other reason. Most hamsters will squeak when fighting because they will try to be dominant. However, this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t break up the fight.  9. Your hamster is trapped or in danger Your hamster might squeak when it finds itself trapped, or in a dangerous situation, and it is trying to signal that it needs help. This squeak is usually quite loud and continuous, and it might seem as if it is screaming.  10. Your hamster wants to breed If you have hamsters of both gender, they will likely squeak when to make a mating call. The mating call is very loud and persistent. You might notice that your male hamster sits upright when it hears your female hamster squeaking when in heat. You can choose whether or not you want to breed them at this point. If you choose to breed them, you should put the female hamster into the male hamster’s cage every night for four days during the estrus, which is the 12-hour long period during which the female hamster will mate with the male hamster. Make sure that your female hamster wants to breed because otherwise, it could become aggressive and attack the male. You will notice that it wants to breed once you place it into the male hamster’s cage and it settles down soon.  You will know that your female hamster is pregnant because it will be fatter about 2 weeks after mating, and it will move around less. It will also become more and more aggressive as it gets closer to its due date. Female hamsters are usually pregnant for about 18 to 22 days. Most commonly, it gives birth to 4 to 6 hamsters. However, depending on the type of your hamster, there can also be less than 3 or more than 12. Be careful because sometimes female hamsters eat their babies.  11. Your hamster is giving birth If you’ve decided to breed your hamsters or didn’t keep them apart during mating time, your female hamster will get pregnant. If you know that your hamster is pregnant and you hear it squeaking, it could mean that it is getting into labor. You might feel bad for it and the pain it’s going through, but it’s very important that you leave it alone. Female hamsters want to give birth alone so that they can focus.  It will give birth to the hamsters in 10 to 30-minute intervals and cut off the umbilical cord on its own. It tends to clean the area after the birth of each hamster. Make sure you give your female hamster enough food and water. Don’t try to look at the hamsters or open the cage for the first two weeks. It can think that they are in danger and eat their babies.  12. Your hamster is injured If you notice that your hamster is squeaking, it might be in pain or injured. Sick or injured hamsters tend to hide, so if you notice your hamster hiding, make sure you check for any injuries. If you can’t see any injury but your hamster is still squeaking, make sure you take it to the vet, there might be something going on inside your hamster. The most common injuries in hamsters are cuts and scrapes. If you notice that your hamster is squeaking because it has a cut, there’s no need to panic. Try to figure out what it got cut on so you can remove it and reduce the chances of your hamster cutting itself on it again. Your hamster will probably squeak as soon as it cuts itself, so it should be easy to see what it has cut itself on. To clean the cut, you can use some lukewarm water and a cotton pad. Don’t use anything humans use to treat cuts, such as antiseptics, creams, or band-aids. If you notice that the wound is big or it doesn’t seem to stop bleeding, take your hamster to the vet. If you notice that your hamster is squeaking when you’re touching it, it might have developed an infection that caused an abscess to formed on its skin. It could also have abscesses in the mouth. Regardless of where they are located, they are very painful for your hamster, and they will have to be drained by a vet. [...] Read more...
Do Hamsters Need Affection ? How To Keep Your Furball Happy
Do Hamsters Need Affection ? How To Keep Your Furball HappyWhen I first got my Teddy I didn’t know how much attention he’d need from me. Or if he’d need any at all. I only knew hamsters can be left by themselves in their cages and be fine, but do hammies really need your attention ? Table of Contents ToggleSo do hamsters need attention from their owners ?It depends on your hamster’s personalityHamsters are always very curious and activeHow to keep your hamster friend happyPlay with the hamsterGive the hammy plenty of toys and ways to exerciseGet your hamster the right sized everythingHamsters do not get lonelyA word from Teddy So do hamsters need attention from their owners ? YES, much less than other pets but yes. Hamsters are solitary by nature, but they still enjoy human company, and can grow to be attached to their owners. This means you need to handle and play with the hamster very often, to form this bond. But your hammy will not be lonely if you don’t pay him too much attention. Hamsters are solitary by nature, and do not miss company necessarily. This means that they can live on their own, and not miss the owner too much. However a hamster not handled regularly will need a lot more space and activities, to consume all of his energy. He’s basically an untamed hamster in this case. But let’s get into detail with this, and see how and when to give your hamster attention. It depends on your hamster’s personality Some hamsters are more cuddly, some are more aloof. In general Syrian hamsters are easier to tame, and thus will be a bit more affectionate than other hamster types. But this is only because the Syrians are much larger than the other hammies, and thus can be handled easier. However there are hamsters and hamsters. For example my Teddy – adult Syrian male –  is not the cuddliest of hamsters. He’s not completely aloof, but he is always on the go, doing something, too busy to stay in my hands and relax a little. To be honest he was not what I imagined when I said I wanted a hammy, but he’s got a whole personality of his own. He may not be cuddly, but he makes a lot of funny faces, and would be a really good circus acrobat. Maybe your hammy is like my Teddy, or maybe he’s a very mellow hamster. A family friend of ours had a hammy, his name was Oscar, and he was the tamest thing ever. He let anyone touch him, and would come up to the cage bars if he heard you, asking for a bit of attention. There’s hamsters and hamsters, and you won’t really know what kind of hamster you’re getting when he is a baby. But it’s important to realize that your pet is his own creature, and won’t always be what you imagined. You can, however, do your best to try and tame your hamster. Just don’t be surprised by the outcome, and love him anyway. Hamsters are always very curious and active Your hamster need your attention, even if it’s not for reasons as sentimental as a puppy. True, hamsters do need attention, but they do not crave it as much as dogs. Hamsters can’t be emotionally handicapped (since they’re loners by default) like a puppy starving for affection, but still you should give your hamster plenty of love and attention. Still, your hamster will be curious. About everything. Including what you’ve got in that bag you’re rustling next to his cage, or 2 rooms away. So even for something as small as this, hamsters do need your attention so they know what you’re doing, and they can investigate in peace. Just bring the bag close to the cage and let him sniff what you’ve got there. Chances are he won’t be interested. For example my Teddy goes nuts when I’m doing something next to his cage, but the second I let him get a sniff of what I’m doing (often just heating something in the microwave) he loses all interest and walks away. Sometimes I think I have a cat. So, sometimes your hamster’s curiosity might be mistaken for asking for affection. Hamsters aren’t aloof like fish, or spiders or reptiles, but they’re not nearly as cuddly as dogs, cats, or parrots. How to keep your hamster friend happy You can keep your hamster friend happy, and give him a lot of attention and love. There’s a few ways you can do that, and I’ll tell you right here. Play with the hamster The first and most obvious thing to do is to play with your hamster. This will create and deepen the bond between the two of you. Also, you’re giving your hamster plenty of attention by constantly handling him, and letting him get your scent. For example my Teddy’s fave playtime is a toilet paper square, dangled in front of him and he tries to climb onto it half the time. He just loves chasing that bit of paper around his cage every time he notices it. Even if you don’t want to take the hamster out of his cage, you can still talk to him and touch him in the cage. This helps him get closer to you, because hamsters need plenty of stimulation. Give the hammy plenty of toys and ways to exercise This is the next best thing after playing with your hamster. Sometimes, like when you’re sleeping and your hamster is awake, your hammy needs things to do. So giving the hamster chew toys and a running wheel is going to give him something to do. As said before in this article hamsters sometimes are just very curious, and sometimes that can be mistaken for asking for attention. If your hammy has not much to do in his cage, then he’ll grow bored and want to explore the outside. And if the outside means you, making coffee next to him, then he will absolutely need to know what’s in that cup. So a good option is getting your hamster some toys – here’s a link for some DYI and store bought toy ideas for your hamster, so he never gets bored. And here is an article on running wheels for hamsters, so you know what to look for when you get one for your hamster. Or, if the one you’ve already got is good enough. There’s wheel size requirements, depending on your hamster’s breed. Get your hamster the right sized everything From food bowl to water bottle to hideout and cage, everything needs to be the right size for your hammy. A very small cage will make your hamster nervous and anxious, and he will be all over the cage bars. It will look like he’s asking for your attention, but once you do handle him he will not be friendly or sit still. He will be happy he is out, and can explore, but you’re not letting him. So for this reason (and many others) getting your hamster a large enough cage is one of the most important things to do to keep him comfortable and happy. Hamsters are very small, but they need quite a bit of space. You can read more about hamster cages – size, types, and how to clean them – right here, so you can take care of your hamster friend as best you can. Remember, if you’ve got Dwarf hammies and they’re at least two, you’re going to need a bigger cage. As for the hideout your hamster will spend most of his time in, it’s important that you get your hammy a wooden one. He will chew on everything in his cage, even the hideout, so it’s best to get him one that’s safe for his teeth. You can see more about hamster hideouts and the bedding hamsters usually need right here. (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.) Hamsters do not get lonely You might think that hamsters can get lonely, all by themselves in those cages. Well, hamsters are okay to be left alone, after all they’re loners by nature. In the wild hamsters live alone, and only meet other hamsters to mate. Or, the occasional trespasser in their territory who they will fight. There are some hamster breeds that can live together. But even those hamsters need to be introduced as babies, and be of the same litter, in order to get a long. Even so, sometimes it just doesn’t work. So if you’ve got an adult Syrian hammy, and you’re feeling bad because you feel like you’re not paying him enough attention, do not get him a friend. He will fight anyone new that you put into his cage, even a baby hamster. Syrians and Chinese hamsters are especially territorial, and will get into an actual, legit deathmatch with another hamster in their cage. Hamsters are not puppies, and won’t do well in a group. Some Dwarf types are okay being raised with a sibling of theirs, but even there they can get on each other’s nerves and develop stress-related illnesses. A word from Teddy I hope you know more about us hammies now, and know that we do in fact need your attention. Maybe not as much as other pets, and we won’t jump on you to lick your face to show affection. But we love you in our own way, and we do like your company ! So if you want to know more about us hamsters, feel free to check out the articles below. You’l find more info on what kind of food we need, how much water we can drink, and even why we play with our poop. [...] Read more...
Do Hamsters Get Bored ? How To Keep Your Hamster Entertained
Do Hamsters Get Bored ? How To Keep Your Hamster EntertainedIf you’ve got a hammy you want to make sure he has the best life. So, sometimes you wonder if your hamster is bored, and how you can keep your hamster friend entertained. I know I had these thoughts for my Teddy (Syrian male hammy) and here’s what I found out. Table of Contents ToggleSo do hamsters get bored ?A look at a hamster’s usual life and daily routineWhat your hamster would do in the wildWhat can make your hamster boredDo you need to get your hamster a friend so he’s not bored ?A word from Teddy So do hamsters get bored ? No, not really. Hamsters don’t see the passing of time the same way as we humans do. Aside from their instincts (survive, reproduce, find food, etc.) hamsters don’t have grand goals that could suffer from being kept in a cage. That being said, hamsters can become stressed or sad if their cage/habitat is terrible. Too small, dirty, no toys, no hideout, too many sounds and people trying to get to them, being handled too much, etc. We’ll cover those too. But first let’s take a look at the usual life of a hamster, and see that it’s not terribly different from the one ha has in your home. There are a few key differences, yes, but they’re all in his benefit. A look at a hamster’s usual life and daily routine Normally a hamster spends most of the day sleeping in his little warm nest, and once night starts to set in, he will come out. He’ll start looking for food, and that’s the best moment to feed him. The sound of his food being put in his cage while he is sleeping will wake him up, and he’ll be a grumpy little furball. Best to wait until he’s up. After finding his food and pouching most of it your hammy will move back into his nest, where he’ll hide all of his food. Yes, hamsters have an amazing stash of food in their nests, and they will hoard everything. Once he’s done with his food he’ll spend most of his time running around his cage. He’ll end up on his wheel for most of the night. Actually he can run for up to 9 km/5.5 miles in a whole night ! That’s a lot of running around, and it’s no wonder he’s dozing off in the morning. Every once in a while, he’ll stop running around and just… check. Sit up, eyes wide open, ears strained, trying to hear if there’s any danger around. He’ll look like he’s freezing, but in truth he’s just hearing things out. It’s what kept him alive in the wild, after all. If he’s got any toys he will use them. If he’s got tunnels, he will do laps in his tunnels too. Chew on everything available, including his hideout – great to have a wooden hideout for that reason. This is his usual routine, and it’s what will keep him busy. He’s got a ridiculous amount of energy, and need to burn it all. Unless he’s got a very bare cage, he can’t get bored. This isn’t very different from his usual routine in the wild, although there is the element of adrenaline that’s missing. Let me explain, What your hamster would do in the wild In the wild, the essential activities would be the same ones I described above. Except the hamster can be found and eaten by a predator at any moment. So that means the hammy is always on edge, always hearing things out, always running away. That makes for a very skittish and shy animal – if you were ever wondering why he’s like that. In the wild toys would have no purpose. The running around and dodging predators would be ‘fun’ enough. In your home there’s nothing to hunt him, hence why he needs toys to keep him busy. Finally, in the wild the hammy would try to find a mate too. He’d patrol his territory, and if he met a female in heat he’d try his luck. What can make your hamster bored As you’ve seen, your hamster has a whole lot of things to do. This means that you won’t really be up to see him do most of these things, since he’s awake when you’re sleeping. But if you were to ever stay up all night and just observe him, you’d see all the things I described above. He can get bored though, only if you’ve given him an especially bare and small cage. Let’s see what that means. The minimum cage size for a single hamster is 24 x 12 inches, and about 12 inches tall. That’s 61 x 30.5 cm, and about 30.5 cm tall. Every hamster will like a larger cage better, so if you can get a big cage you should do that. Aside from the minimum bedding on the cage floor, there is also the absolute need for a hideout. Your hamster will make himself a nest anyway in the most hidden corner he an find. But a hideout will provide definite shelter, and he’ll be thankful for it. A food bowl and water bottle are mandatory as well, and they’re easy to find. An exercise wheel is mandatory as well, simply because running is half of everything a hamster does. He spends most of his life running, so not getting him that would be like someone never letting you out of your house. These are the bare minimum, but there are toys to take into consideration. Some you can DYI, some are store bought. Look around and see which you like best. You can save up money and still keep you hammy happy with cardboard tubes (from paper towels and toilet paper rolls). Teddy has a grand time with those cardboard rolls, and he uses them as chew toys too. Any other distractions you can provide your hamster – like time outside his cage in an exercise ball – will be welcome too. A large cage will also mean lots of space for him to run around in, explore, and have a whole bunch of toys. Finally, keeping your hamster in a dirty cage will lower his general disposition, since no one likes that. A hamster’s cage needs a full cleaning once per week. A dirty cage can lead to several health issues, which is never something you want. (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.) Do you need to get your hamster a friend so he’s not bored ? Alright, let’s say you’ve got a hamster, and he’s got a very big cage, with every toy ever and everything he could ever want. But you think he’s possibly bored, and wouldn’t he maybe need a friend ? To be fair, that’s a question many hamster owners have at first. However hamsters do not need a buddy. That sounds terrible, but bear with me. Hamsters can be social, sometimes, under certain circumstances. But for the most part they will fight to the death with other hamsters. In the wild the hamster is not a very cuddly animal. Sure, Dwarf types can live together if they absolutely have to, but they end up fighting over food and space in the nest. They end up on their own, and the Syrians are definitely to be kept alone. And very important – if you’ve got a hamster already, and he’s past the 3 month mark, then introducing him to any other hamster will most likely not go well. Hamsters need to grow up together in a very large cage, with lots of food and toys and space, order to get along. Introducing a new hamster out of the blue ends in pain. A word from Teddy I hope you found what you were looking for in this article. Us hamsters may look like we’re bored every now and then, but we’re very different from you humans. We  don’t do the same things or have the same thoughts. 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...
Eye Infections In Hamsters (And Other Eye Problems)
Eye Infections In Hamsters (And Other Eye Problems)Eye problems can be common in hamsters, like in most animals. Since hamsters are so small, it’s important to know how to help your furry friend. Not only with an infection, but with any other eye problems as well. Read on to find out how to help your hamster when and if he develops eye problems. My Teddy (Syrian male) had a sticky eye a couple of times, but he survived just fine. Now let’s get into the various eye problems hammies can develop. Table of Contents ToggleTreating your hamster’s eye infectionHere’s how to make a batch of saline solution for your hamster:Hamster’s eye is closed shut (sticky eye)Your hammy’s eye is red (pinkeye)Odd white spots on your hamster’s eyesBulging eye/ one eye looks biggerHamster eyes are sensitive to light and temperatureKeeping your hamster’s eyes safe and healthyWhat if your hammy becomes blind, or loses an eye ?A word from Teddy Treating your hamster’s eye infection A hamster can develop an eye infection fairly easy. It can be from dirty bedding, which can be avoided by cleaning the hamster’s cage one per week. It can also happen because of a stray bacteria on the hamster’s food, for example on a piece of apple or broccoli. Or it could be from many other reasons. The point is that your hamster has an infection and needs your help. For the most part, an infection can be noticed if the eye is red, puffy, hot to the touch. If there is oozing and pus, you can be sure it’s infected. The best thing to do is to bring your hamster to the vet as soon as possible, so he can prescribe a round of antibiotics. The treatment can last up to 2 weeks in some cases, and your hammy might be required to stay at the vet for a couple of days. For future reference, the veterinarian you should look for is an exotics vet. This is the kind of vet that can help with your hamster, guinea pig, snake, and parakeet as well. If you’ve got a Dwarf hammy and you’re keeping him with other hammies, make sure to separate the sick hamster. The infection can be contagious, and hard to deal with if all hamsters have it. Until you reach your veterinarian, you can try using a saline solution to clean your hamster’s eyes. Saline solution is basically just distilled, salted water. It’s got almost the same structure as tears, and can be used to clean wounds. Here’s how to make a batch of saline solution for your hamster: 250 ml/8.45 fl oz distilled water 2.5 g/0.008 oz table salt 2.5 g/0.008 oz baking soda very clean pot, washed with very hot water and soap beforehand sterile glass jar or cup to keep the saline solution in a set of clean cotton pads or cotton buds You can use distilled water, or tap water. If you use tap water, be sure to boil it very, very well and them let it cool to room temperature. After that it can be considered sterile, and go on with the steps I’m describing. Heat the water (either distilled, or sterilized tap water), and dissolve the salt and baking soda Let cool to room temperature Store in the clean glass jar or cup Get a clean cotton pad or cotton bud, and dip it in the liquid. It needs to be wet, but not soaked so you get the hamster wet. A wet hamster is a very easy to get sick and doesn’t dry quickly. Clean and wipe the hamster’s eye until you can not see the pus. You’re going to have to scruff the hamster’s neck to keep him still. Use a clean pad or bud for each wipe ! You must keep the saline solution clean. The solution is good for 24 hours, tops. If anything gets into it, or it looks odd or cloudy or dirty, throw it out and make a new one. In the meantime, make sure you’ve got your vet on call if you need any extra info or guidance. Do not use antibiotics you’ve got around the house ! Hamsters are different than humans, and not only require different doses but they also process medicine differently than us. Hamster’s eye is closed shut (sticky eye) A case of sticky eye can happen to anyone. This doesn’t necessarily mean your hamster’s got an infection. It could be that, but it’s likely something else. The crusty part you see on your hamster’s eye is what develops on your eye as well when you sleep. Most of the time your eyes (and the hamster’s) don’t get stuck shut, But, sometimes it happens, and it can be painful. Not only that, but it can get very frustrating for the hamster. He might try to paw at his eye and cause further damage. In this case the solution is a lot like with the infection. Make a batch of saline solution, and keep it at room temp. Use clean cotton buds or pads to wipe at the hammy’s eye. The difference is that the crust will have to soften. You will have to hold the pad soaked in saline solution for a few seconds on the hamster’s eye until it gives. Again, scruffing the hamster will help keep him still while you wipe his eye. My Teddy had this a couple of times, and I didn’t know about the saline solution at first. I used one of those sterilized baby wipes you can get at the pharmacy. Not baby wipes from the supermarket ! Sterilized baby wipes will work too, just that you’ll have to keep switching the corner with which you’re wiping. And they dry out fairly quickly, so they’re not the best bet, but will do in a pinch. Your hammy’s eye is red (pinkeye) Conjunctivitis can be a problem in hamsters, as well as humans. It can be less dangerous than the infection we talked about earlier. It can come about as an irritation because of dust in the bedding, a scratch, a small injury, an overgrown tooth. Anything, really, since conjunctivitis is just the inflammation of the tissue surrounding the eye. You can tell your hammy’s got pink eye by the redness and swelling around the hamster’s eye – his eyelids, to be exact. In extreme cases the entire half of the face could be swollen. Pink eye does not usually have any discharge, but don’t be surprised if you find some. Most of the time the discharge is clear in conjunctivitis. This is a case to be treated by your veterinarian, and he’ll be able to give your hamster a good treatment. The saline solution works here too, you just have to keep cleaning the hamster’s eye. Whatever was bothering the hammy’s eye will be flushed out this way, but it might not be enough, which is why a vet will be necessary. This is another case where you should separate the sick hamster from the other hamsters. (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.) Odd white spots on your hamster’s eyes Hamsters can get cataracts, which can cause problems when you’re hamster’s trying to see. The upside, if you will, is that hamsters barely use their eyes anyway. They use their sense of smell, and their sharp hearing to navigate and live a happy life. However a cataract, as far as I know, is not treatable. My Teddy never had one, so in this particular case it’s best to check with your veterinarian. Get your hammy in his transport cage, and get him to a check-up so the vet can see if there’s other symptoms that might point to another problem. You can tell your hamster’s got a possible cataract by the white spot developing on his eye. It could be both eyes, it could be just one, and it could be a larger spot, or just cloudy, blurred eyes. In most cases, cataracts forms as the hamster ages. Bulging eye/ one eye looks bigger There are cases when one eye might look bigger, like it’s about to pop from the hamster’s head. I looks bad, and there’s an explanation for it. The eyeballs have tissue surrounding them, and especially behind them. This can become inflamed, and push out the eye a bit. It can be painful for the hamster, but is treatable. Your veterinarian will be able to give the hamster a treatment for this problem, but until then there is not much you can do for your friend. The vet will need to be able to look behind the hamster’s eye to figure out what the problem is. In some cases it could be a tumor growing behind the eye, since hamsters can develop tumors as well. Not all bulging eye cases mean a tumor, do no worry. It could just be a severe case of conjunctivitis. You can track the progress of the eye with photos every few hours, to show to your vet once you get to him. Hamster eyes are sensitive to light and temperature When it comes to your hamster’s eyes, you should keep them away from harsh sunlight. Even daylight filtered through the curtains, if placed directly on the hamster’s eyes, can become painful. Hamster eyes are not meant to be able to see in bright conditions, since they must survive in a dawn/dusk habitat. So make sure you don’t turn on bright lights in your hamster’s room. And he does not need a nightlight, since he’s got his cage memorized and know where everything is. Even by smell and touch, he can still know where everything is. Another benefit of keeping your hamster away from any bright sunlight is that cataracts and blindness will come much later. You can delay them by keeping your hamster’s eyes away from UV light. That being said, make sure you do not keep your hamster in too cold a temperature. Even the Dwarf hammies that come from the cold parts of Russia, Siberia, Mongolia, and so on, will still need a certain temperature. For hammies a good temperature is a range between 20-23 C/ 68-78 F, all year round. Make sure you keep your hamster in a room that keep this temperature, otherwise he can develop either sticky eye, or a form of conjunctivitis from a cold. In some extreme cases, the hamster can get a case of hypothermia, and needs your immediate attention to survive. Please keep your hamster warm, but not too warm. Keeping your hamster’s eyes safe and healthy Aside from the light and temperature warnings, there are a few general precautions you should take. Your hamster’s eyes, while kind of useless for his navigation and daily life, are still capable of injury and infection. Hammies are very sensitive animals. They don’t get sick often, but when they do, it’s terrible. Here’s how to keep your hammy’s eyes safe, healthy and clean. Keep the bedding clean, and change it once per week. You can find out more about the safe kinds of bedding you can get for your hamster here. And also how and when to clean his cage. Hamsters are very sensitive to dust, so bedding or toys that are dusty should be cleaned. Even if you let your hamster just roam the house in his exercise ball, make sure the floor is clean. Any debris or dust can get stuck inside the exercise ball, and get in your hammy’s ears, nose, or eyes. Keep any toys or objects inside the hamster’s cage smooth. Especially if you’ve got wood objects in the hamster’s cage, they can get some rough edges that weren’t sanded down properly. Make sure you sand them down if need be. What if your hammy becomes blind, or loses an eye ? Hamsters can lose their sight with old age. The cataracts settle in, and they become completely blind. Or, maybe your hamster was born without eyes, or maybe he lost an eye in a terrible happening. Whatever the case, your hamster can’t see anymore. You’re probably worrying if he’ll be alright, if he’ll manage to navigate his cage and lead a happy life. Rest assured, hamsters can live their entire life without their eyesight. In a way, they already do – hamsters barely use their eyes, they use their noses and ears much more. But if a hamster that used to see suddenly can’t see, there will be some changes: Always keep his cage the same way, since the hammy will memorize the layout of the cage. Any changes will make him stressed. Whenever you clean his cage add back in a bit of his old bedding, and his nesting too so he knows it’s his. Remove objects that need him to see. Like see-saws, or bridges, or climbing toys. Talk to your hamster much more often, before you get near him so he knows you’re coming Let him smell your hand before picking him up, and get in it himself. Otherwise he might panic at being suddenly picked up, even if he was okay before. Know that your hamster friend might be a bit grumpy, now that he can’t see anymore. He might bit a bit, but no major changes should happen in his personality. That being said, a blind hamster will not be very handicapped. He was already nearly blind from birth, so being completely blind doesn’t take away much from him. A word from Teddy I hope you found what you were looking for here, and know how to help your hammy friend if he ever gets an eye problem. I know us hammies can look like cute, cuddly creatures, but we do have our troubles. We count on you to help us out. If you want to know more about us hamsters, you can check out the articles below for more info on how to properly care for us and keep us happy. [...] Read more...
10 Common Hamster Health Problems And How To Treat Them
10 Common Hamster Health Problems And How To Treat ThemA hamster with a health problem is a sorry sight. But, most health issues in hamsters can be solved, especially if caught in time. Let’s see what those problems are, and how to help your hammy. You’ll find these health issues grouped by body parts or type. Where possible I’ll link you to articles where I’ve covered that specific topic in more detail. Table of Contents Toggle1. Hamster eye problems2. Hamster dental problems3. Hamster ear and hearing problems4. Hamster nail problems5. Hamster skin/fur conditions and parasites6. Hamster Digestive problems7. Wet-tail in hamsters8. Diabetes in hamsters9. Tumors and lumps in hamsters10. Hamster cheek problemsAbout a hamster’s general healthKeeping your hamster healthyA word from Teddy 1. Hamster eye problems Hamsters rarely use their eyes, that much is known to most hamster owners. Whether you’ve got a Syrian or a Dwarf type, they both can’t really see. Still, health issues do come up with a hamster’s eyes. The most common of them being cataracts/blindness. This comes especially with old age in hammies. Do keep in mind that a hamster without his sight will be able to live his life almost the same. Since he doesn’t usually rely on his eyes, not seeing anymore will not be a big loss, as it could be for humans. Other problems include infections, pink eye, bulging eye, and eyes that have stuck shut due to a possible infection. Still, for a detailed rundown on all the possible issues that can happen with a hammy’s eyes, I recommend you check out this article. You’ll find there the issues themselves, and the treatments necessary. Sometimes a trip to the vet is necessary, sometimes the problems can be treated at home. 2. Hamster dental problems A hamster’s teeth are possibly the most important tool the hamster has. His teeth never stop growing, in order for him to be able to eat the hard, dry grains his diet is based on. Sometimes though, problems come up. Teeth become overgrown, possibly due to soft food or lack of a chew toy. Or a tooth might break or crack, or it could become infected. You can find out more about hamster dental problems here, and how to treat them. Again, some may require a vet treatment, some can be treated at home. For example overgrown teeth can be fixed by giving the hamster a multitude of chew toys he can file his teeth on. Most of the time though, hamster teeth problems can be corrected. Even in the case of an abscess an antibiotic treatment will help the hamster recover. A word on hamster teeth: they are never white. If you’re looking at your hammy’s long, yellow (possibly orange) teeth and wondering if you should brush them, don’t. When I first got my Teddy I thought I had to do something. Turns out hamster teeth are not meant to be white. Any white spots on the teeth are a sign of the tooth breaking down and possibly breaking away. 3. Hamster ear and hearing problems Hearing is one of the primary ways a hamster navigates his surroundings. As such, any problem related to their ears and how well they can hear becomes a serious concern. Possible problems include: Parasites like mites, than can travel deep into the hamster’s ear Earwax buildup, preventing hearing and can become painful Ear infection, which can spread to the brain Possible tumor which can take on the whole ear These are all treatable, however the hamster won’t be able to much on his own. Actually most of the time the hammy will need your help, with any kind of health issue. To find out more about the health problems hamsters can have with their ears, you can check out this article. You’ll find both the issues and the treatments, and even an example of a successful tumor surgery on a Dwarf hammy. 4. Hamster nail problems Nail problems are few, and are treatable too. A hamster’s nails are used mostly for scratching and pawing at food or bedding. Problems come up when the nails become too long, and that’s where most of the problems stem from. A hamster’s nails grow too long when he has nothing to wear them out on. Like plenty of wood surfaces, possibly a large flat rock, or any hard surface on his cage. This means that a hamster living solely on soft bedding, and nothing else, will end up with overgrown nails. The nails will grow very long, and eventually curve into the hammy’s paw. In some cases they will break and fall off. My Teddy had this happen, and ever since we’ve installed 2 more levels in his cage, which are bare plastic, and he also uses his tunnel which is made of hard plastic. An exercise wheel, used constantly, helps a lot in this regard. It wears down the hammy’s nails and keeps them trim. Aside from overgrown nails, hamsters can also get nail infections. If they’re small, as in they don’t reach the surface and only stay for a couple of days, they’re safe to ignore. However if it goes on for more than 2 days, and even comes to a point, you should visit a veterinarian. He will prescribe an antibiotic for the hammy to combat the infection. 5. Hamster skin/fur conditions and parasites Hamsters are usually very clean animals. This means that they clean themselves daily, several times a day actually, and don’t  normally attract parasites. However they can get certain skin conditions if their cage is unclean, or has spores of fungi. 2 of the most common are: Aspergillus – forms in the hamster’s pee corner. Grows white, and in time turns black. Spores can be deadly to hamsters, and very bad for humans too. If this happens, get the hamster to the vet immediately, and clean and disinfect the cage. Ringworm – not an actual worm, but a fungus. It will form bald patches on the hamster, in the shape of a circle (hence the name). Dry, flaky skin is on those bald patches, and the hamster might scratch at them furiously. Treatable, but again a vet is necessary. Aside from these two fungi, hammies can lose their fur because of old age. Other skin problems can be mites, and fleas as well. You can find out more on fleas on hamsters here, and how to treat them. All of these problems require a veterinarian and a deep cleaning of the hamster’s cage, and his toys and objects. 6. Hamster Digestive problems Digestive problems are never fun for anyone. However a hamster is more in danger than other mammals, because of hos their stomach is shaped. You see a hammy’s stomach forms a sort of U bend, which means that any gasses or bloating is very hard to release. Yes, hamsters are able to pass gas if necessary, but not as easily as us humans. And you probably won’t ever hear the hammy fart, sorry to disappoint. Given the hamster’s stomach and gut layout and design, something like diarrhea does not go well. Or an upset stomach either. This is why giving the hamster foods he can’t properly digest will be a big issue for him. You can find out more about hamster-safe foods here, most of them already in your fridge or pantry. Another thing to keep in mind is that hamsters can become constipated. This is more common with old hamsters, given that their system is breaking down and doesn’t digest foods as well as it used to. You can help a constipated hammy by giving him softer foods like carrots, steamed veggies from this hamster-safe veggie list, and getting him to a veterinarian if he does not produce and droppings in 24 hours after the soft food. 7. Wet-tail in hamsters Wet-tail is more common in Syrian hamsters than Dwarf types. Still , that does not mean Dwarf types can’t get wet-tail at all. They’re just much less likely to get it. Wet-tail is most frequent in young hamsters, that were just weaned (approx. 4 weeks old) and are eligible for adoption. It’s usually stress based, and everything from his mother pushing him away when he still tries to suckle, to being taken to the pet shop, and then take to your home is all very alien to him. So a young Syrian hammy that was just brought home might develop wet tail. Treatment does exist, but it’s not a 100% survival rate. Still, your hammy needs to see a vet right away. If you’ve noticed the symptoms within 24 hours the survival chances are pretty high. Symptoms include: a wet tail, because if a very watery diarrhea possibly smelly rear-end, because of the constant soiling smelly cage weakness, lack of appetite or thirst a matted, sweaty look about the hamster You can find out more about wet-tail in hamsters here, including how to treat it and the steps you should take in caring for a hamster recovering from wet-tail. 8. Diabetes in hamsters Another big problem in hamsters is diabetes. This is most common in the Dwarf types, so the Syrians have it easier here. Diabetes can come about in a few ways, mostly because of a poor diet. That means a diet with too much sugar and carbs, and very little exercise. This is not the only reason, but one of the biggest. Another reason is that the pancreas does not produce enough insulin, or that the body is very resistant to it. This means that the body’s blood sugar will stay very high. It will cause weight gain, circulatory problems, difficult breathing, and other problems that stem from these. You can find out more about diabetes in hamsters here, and also about how to treat it. Sometimes it’s not completely treatable, but at least you can do some things to make the hamster’s life comfortable even so. (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.) 9. Tumors and lumps in hamsters Sometimes hammies develop extra cells. These cells are sometimes benign, sometimes they’re harmful and become cancer. However even benign tumors can be bad for the hamster’s health, as they can block certain body parts. For example a tumor around the ear can extend to the entire half of the face. These usually can be removed, but not many vets are willing to perform surgery on such a small animal. The problem is that the anaesthesia is hard to do, and the patient himself is very.. well, tiny. Still, some vets have tried and even succeeded. I’m sure in your area you’ll be able to find someone who can help. Best to look for an ‘exotics’ veterinarian. They have experience with rodents, reptiles and birds and will possibly be able to help you more than a regular vet. Try everyone though, you never know who is going to save your friend. 10. Hamster cheek problems Finally, the hamster’s cheeks are another problem. The thing is that hammies stuff everything in their cheeks. Food, nesting material, a bit of bedding, droppings. Mothers even stuff their babies there when they move them. However sometimes these cheeks can become injured, either by a sharp corner from the food, or maybe they were over stuffed. They can sometimes come out completely, like an inside-out pocket. Other times the cheek becomes sticky with residue and whatever is in the cheek will become stuck. All of these can be solved, and they can also be avoided. Mostly by not giving your hamster any sticky, saucy foods that he will put in his cheeks (grain-based foods end up in his cheeks usually). You can find out much more about hamster cheek pouches here, including how to treat the various problems that come up, and how to identify each one. About a hamster’s general health Hamsters are fairly hardy animals. They don’t develop health issues very easily, even if they are so sensitive. However once they do happen, hammies don’t really know what to do on their own. That is, they can’t get over most problems on their own. A flea infestation will drag on for months, a cold can be fatal, and an infected cheek pouch can lead to death. Still, hamsters are able to take care of themselves, mostly by how absolutely clean they are. Up until their very last days, hamsters know that cleanliness equals health. So they tug and pull at their fur, comb through it, fluff it up, groom it some more, every few hours. This is also done to avoid developing a strong scent that predators will use to find them. Your help is crucial here. Your hammy depends on you, and his health becomes your responsibility. This is a reason to become fast friends with a good veterinarian (again, look for one labeled ”exotic”). Keeping your hamster healthy Keeping your hamster healthy revolves around a few simple things. Cleanliness is chief among them, and the hammy himself is very good at keeping himself clean. Still, there are a few things you can do to help your hamster friend stay healthy: Regularly cleaning the cage, once per week. More on safe bedding and nesting material here. Giving the hamster a commercial food mix, which has all the nutrients balanced the way he needs them. Only treating him to occasional treats, and in moderation to avoid weight gain and joint problems. More on hamster-safe foods here. Making sure that the floor or other surfaces you let him roam in the exercise ball are clean, and dust free. More about hamster exercise balls here. Keeping the hammy in a room that’s at a constant temperature. The optimal range is 20-23 C/68-75 F, and the cage should be kept away from drafts or direct sunlight. Having an exercise wheel for your hamster friend, so he can run to his little heart’s content. More on hamster exercise wheels here. Aside from all these, remember that your pet hamster needs a calm and gentle person handling him. So a child or other pet should be kept away from the hamster. Any interaction should be supervised. Hamsters are very bad with stress, and will bite back if handled wrong. A word from Teddy I hope you found what you were looking for here. Us hammies do get sick every now and then, and we need your help with getting healthy. So this article was supposed to give you an overview of what kind of problems we can have. If you want to know more about us hamsters, check out the related articles below. You’ll find more info on how to care for us properly, and keep us happy. [...] Read more...