The Truth About Mineral Chews For Hamsters – And Great Alternatives

When I first got Teddy I also got a bunch of toys for him, including some mineral chews. Since he is my first hamster, I did not know if he’d need them or not, but I got them just to be sure.

But do hamsters really need mineral chews ? Are they useful ? Do they stop the hamster from biting the cage ? Here’s what I found out, and how you can help your hamster as well.

hamster mineral chew

So do hamsters need mineral chews ?

As it turns out, no. Hamsters do not need mineral chews. This is because the feed you give them already has enough minerals in the mix.

If you are using a well balanced muesli mix – grains, dried fruit, some vitamin colored bits – then your hamster is doing just fine.

As soon as I found this out, I stopped getting mineral chews for my Teddy. He went through them really fast, since he’s a chewer.

The same goes for salt licks for your hamsters. Hamster do not need salt licks any more than they need mineral chews. They get enough salt from their food mix, so they should not have any deficiency.

If you are unsure, check your food mix box to check for mineral content.

High mineral content foods for hamsters

Some food alternatives you can give your hamster are easily available, and are easy to eat for hamsters. For example you can give your hamster nuts and seeds, since they have a high mineral content that will help your hamster prevent health problems.

Just be careful to not give the hamster too many nuts and seeds, since they do have a higher fat content. Limit them to just a couple of peanuts, or half a walnut per day. Unsalted, raw.

Another idea is broccoli, along with some dark leafy greens like kale or spinach leaves. They are rich in minerals and fibers, so your hamster is getting a full meal out of them.

Dried fruit and tofu are also good alternatives for your hamster to get his minerals, just keep these on a low intake since they can get sticky for the hamster. With the dried fruit make sure they are not sweetened, and you don’t give the hamster too much of it.

The right nutrition for your hamster

Whatever brand of hamster feed you use, make sure it has a balanced content of vegetables, added vitamins and minerals, dried fruit, and some grains as well.

Most manufacturers have good mixes, so it does not really matter what brand you get, as long as the ingredients are alright.

Aside from the food mix, you can give your hamster some of the foods I mentioned earlier.

I give Teddy (adult Syrian hamster) unsalted raw peanuts every now and then, or pumpkin seeds as a treat. He’s had some spinach leaves when we were cooking spinach, and he liked that as well.

Just be warned that the hamster will store some food in his house as well, and stale spinach or broccoli does not smell great. So, make sure that you give the hamster a small amount, that he will eat soon.

For a clear list on what your hamster can eat, and what he should avoid, check out the food list article here. You’ll also find the kind of treats your hamster can eat as well.

Mineral chews to stop your hamster from chewing the cage

This is something I did at first, to stop Teddy from chewing on the bars. Hamster chewing on bars can be out of annoyance or their teeth growing.

A hamster’s teeth will keep growing his entire life, so he must constantly chew on hard surfaces to keep them at a healthy length. If the hardest surface is the cage bars, then that’s what he will use. You can find a few cage ideas here.

However you can give your hammy what I gave Teddy – wooden accessories for his cage. For example his home is entirely out of wood, and he sometimes chews on that as well.

Another idea is bendy bridges, the kind that’s made out of cut tree branches and you can shape them however you want. They can be used as a toy, or even a home for your hamster.

But the most important fact is that they’re made of wood, so your hamster will chew on them instead of the cage when he needs to take care of his teeth.

Mineral chews are not a good idea to keep your hamster from chewing the cage or something else, because they are too soft.

If your hamster is anything like my Teddy, he will tear through an entire mineral block in 20 minutes. Teddy just goes crazy when he has a mineral block, it’s like he must rip it to pieces or else.

The second reason mineral chews are not good for hamsters to chew on is because they are incredibly dusty. They’re usually made up of crushed shells, tapioca, and some calcium powder, and when they break into pieces they leave a whole lot of dust.

That dust is never good for your hamster. When Teddy had mineral chews he looked like a construction worker, he was covered in that dust and had to clean himself more often.

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

hamster mineral chew pin

A few chew toy ideas for your hamster

If you’re trying to give your hamster something more bearable to chew on, consider these options. These make much less noise, are better for your hamster’s teeth, and do not contain odd ingredients.

Actually they’re mostly wood.

Like the bendy bridges I mentioned before, or the wooden home for the hamster. Another idea would be the dense cardboard tubes that are left from aluminium foil wraps. Those are much much denser and stronger than toilet rolls, and they give the hamster more to chew on.

Another idea would be whole walnuts or a very large chestnut. The point is that it must be too big for your hamster to try to shove it in his cheeks.

If you make a small hole in the nut the hamster will smell it, and attempt to reach it. So he’ll chew and chew and keep his teeth in check.

Finally, you can try toilet paper rolls, or paper towel rolls. As long as they are unscented, they’re fine. You can use Paper egg cartons as well, just make sure they are clean and not stained.

For a more comprehensive list of toys you hamster can safely chew and play with, here is a list of store bought toys and also how to make them at home.

If you’d like more info on how to properly care for your hamster, then you should check out these 15 essential steps. You’ll find out everything from what kind of cage he needs, to how much food he needs, and how to figure out which breed you’ve got.

A word from Teddy

I hope you understand more about us hamsters and mineral chews. We don’t really need them, since the food you give us is usually good enough and has enough minerals.

If you want to keep one of us off the cage bars, you could try something made of wood. We love chewing and wood is a friendly material for us.

If you want to know more about us hammies, you can check the articles below. You’ll find great info on why we eat our poop, how much water we need, and much more.

Related blog post
13 Steps To Tame Your Hamster Without Getting Bitten
13 Steps To Tame Your Hamster Without Getting BittenWhen I first got my Teddy I only knew a little about hamsters, so I made a few mistakes while taming him. Here I want to show you what to do to make sure you tame your hammy, and not get bitten in the process. My Teddy is a golden Syrian hamster, but this guide will work with any kind of hamster breed. Be warned through, that the Dwarf types are harder to handle and tame because they are so small. Table of Contents ToggleSo how do you tame a hamster ?What to know before you try to tame your hamsterSome hamster breeds are harder to tameBe patient and consistentGive the hamster some timeMake sure the hamster has enough spaceGet your hamster an exercise wheel for all his energyDo not annoy the hamsterMake sure your hands are cleanMake a habit of talking to your hamsterStart by giving the hamster a small treat through the cage barsPlace your hand in the cage, with a treat on your palmFeed the hamster from your hand dailyPut some food in your other palm, so he will cross over your handsGently lift the hamster when you give him a treat in your palmLift the hamster higher, and place your other hand over himStart ‘walking’ your hamster over your handsA word from Teddy So how do you tame a hamster ? In short, you can tame your hamster by building trust with it. Getting the hamster used to you, slowly starting to feed him from your hand, and only touching him for short periods of time at first is a great way to start. Most hamsters will be scared when you pick them up, so you need to build up to that slowly over the course of a few days or even weeks. That is the most basic, and important piece of information I can give you about taming a hamster. Everything else is just patience. But I’ve made you a guide on everything you need to know and do when you try to tame your hamster. Here’s a quick rundown, and we’ll cover each entry in detail in the rest of the article. Give the hamster some time, it might take a couple of weeks Make sure the hamster has enough space in his cage, and a hideout Get your hamster an exercise wheel for all his energy Do not annoy the hamster, they’re not lighthearted like puppies Make sure your hands are clean before handling the hamster Make a habit of talking to your hamster Start by giving the hamster a small treat through the cage bars Place your hand in the cage, with a treat on your palm Feed the hamster from your hand daily Put some food in your other palm, so he will cross over your hands Gently lift the hamster when you give him a treat in your palm Lift the hamster higher, and place your other hand over him Start ‘walking’ your hamster over your hands Before we get into every entry on that list, let’s talk a bit about hamsters. They’re not bred like dogs to trust humans from the get-go, and they won’t jump on you to show affection. So reading a hamster’s reactions will be different from any other usual pet. This is another reason to take things slow, and make sure you have enough patience with your furry friend. What to know before you try to tame your hamster A few things you should consider, and it’s for your own good, as well as the hamster’s. Remember that hamsters are very different from many pets, and they will seem aloof most of the time. Some hamster breeds are harder to tame Actually, almost every other hamster type aside from the Syrian is harder to tame. This is because they are so very small, and will not sit still for very long. Smaller hamsters, like the Dwarf types are fast, very hyper, and some of them are nearly impossible to hold, more on that in this article about syrian vs dwarfs. This means that when you’re trying to pick up your hammy, he will jump off and scurry away faster than you can move. It also means that they will not be still in your hands for more than a few seconds, so you will have to keep moving your hands. Which will make it much easier for the hamster to fall out of your hands, and they can hurt themselves. There is also the issue of short-term memory. Dwarf types can forget interactions within 24 hours, so it’s best to interact with them daily. Syrians have a longer memory, and will remember you for up to a week. Still, all hamsters need constant stimulation. Be patient and consistent Taming your hamster will take some time. It might take a few days, or it might take even a few weeks. It depends on several factors, but it’s mostly the hamster’s personality, and your patience. True, there are some hamsters that never want to be handled. And there are hamsters that scare very very easily and will shy away from you. If that is the case for your hammy, there’s not much you can do. They each have their own personality. For example my Teddy isn’t the cuddliest fluffball around. He’s curious and will come up to you, but doesn’t like being handled too much, and won’t really let you pet him. He’s fine if you pick him up for a minute, but if he’s in his cage and you try to pet him – no. The point is that your hammy’s taming process might take longer than expected. Or, the end result might be different from what you wanted or expected. But it’s important to be consistent and patient. Even after you’ve tamed your hamster, it’s important to keep touching and petting it, and also talking to it. Hamsters can forget, so they need constant stimulation. Now let’s get into the whole process, and how to start. Give the hamster some time Your hamster might take to you fast, or it might never get attached to you. Keep trying, and be consistent with the attention you give him. Remember that Dwarf hamsters might take more time to get to know you well enough. Syrians will usually take less time to tame, and won’t be prone to biting or nipping as much. That being said, all hamsters need some time to get used to you. The smell of your hand, your voice, everything needs some time to get used to. Progress slowly from each step to the next, and do not try to pick up the hamster as soon as you brought him from the pet shop. Instead build up to actually being able to hold your hamster. Start small, by feeding your hammy through the bars at first, until he is comfortable with your smell and associates it with ”good”. Make sure the hamster has enough space This is very important for a hamster. For any animal actually. Space is their territory, and how free they feel will have an impact on how relaxed they are. So if your hammy is in a cramped up, tiny cage – like the square, bright colored ones they give you at the pet store – he won’t be hammy. Even if it’s a Dwarf hamster he still needs lots more space than those cages. For more info on how to select the right cage for your hammy, check this best cages article.  You’ll get the minimum cage requirements as well, and know what to look for in a new cage. Your hammy’s cage is important, and just as important is his hideout. That is what he will use to… well, hide, and sleep, and eat, and sleep some more. So it’s important you actually get your hammy a hideout. Hamsters will use the bedding in the cage if they have no other option, but they will not feel okay. For more info on a hamster’s hideout and how to make sure you get a good one, you can read this article. Get your hamster an exercise wheel for all his energy Hammies need a lot of exercise. Especially the smaller breeds, like Robo, Campbell, and Siberian are always on their wheel. The Chinese and Syrian can get lazier as they age. A hamster with a lot of pent up energy will not be easy to handle, will nip at you, and will probably squirm in your hand much more. So it’s in your interest that your hamster gets plenty of exercise. He needs to have where and how to run around, since hamsters can cover up to 9 km/5.5 miles in a whole night. Imagine keeping that hamster locked up ! You can find out more about a hamster’s usual running routine here, and why he needs to run in the first place. And you can also find out more about hamster exercise wheels in this article. Do not annoy the hamster It’s important to remember that hamsters are not like other pets. They don’t take well to pranks or jokes, because they’re easy to scare and take everything seriously. They have to, if they’re expecting to survive. So seemingly harmless things like tugging on his whiskers, or an ear, or waking up him suddenly won’t be welcomed. Hamsters are unfortunately much more serious than puppies, who will forgive you for holding their snout. Best to leave the hamster be, he will come out of his hideout in his own time. So don’t try to poke or annoy the hamster in any way. You are, after all, trying to build a good relationship with him. He is supposed to trust you, and his trust is very fragile. Make sure your hands are clean Hamsters are very sensitive to smell, so your scent will be very important. That also means that they’ll be very sensitive to whatever’s on your hands. Maybe moisturizer, or maybe you just peeled an orange, or you handled a tube of disinfectant. Whatever the case, be sure to wash your hands thoroughly. Go for an unscented, or very very lightly scented soap when you handle your hamster. Excessively floral or fruity soap – if it smells extra sweet – will make your hamster think you’ve actually got vanilla and coconut on your hands. The hamster himself is very clean, so cleaning your hands afterwards will not be an issue. I still recommend you wash your hands after handling the hamster as well, but it’s not mandatory. Make a habit of talking to your hamster Your hammy will recognize your voice as well, since he is sensitive to sound as well. So by making sure that your hamster recognizes your voice, you’re making the taming process go much smoother. You can do this by talking to your hammy every time you see it. He won’t look like he’s reacting, but hamsters aren’t very expressive. Trust me when I say that he’s listening to what you’re saying, especially if he’s coming closer or looking your way. Go for a soft, low voice since his ears are very sensitive and there is no point in being loud around him. Talking to your hamster will help disarm some odd moments too. Like when he suddenly freezes, for example, or when he’s a bit scared of you. If you lower yourself to his level and talk to him you look much less threatening. Start by giving the hamster a small treat through the cage bars The steps before this one were more for setting the tone for your hamster. This is the first thing to do to show your hamster that you mean him no harm. So take a treat for your hamster, it can even be something simple like a sunflower seed or a peanut. It needs to be large enough that you can hold one end of it, and your hamster can grab he other end through the bars. Your hammy will come close, sniff the treat, and go for it right away. His love for food will override his fear of you, and he will come closer. He might even touch your finger with a paw. That might seem like a small thing, but it’s actually your first contact for your hamster ! Do this often throughout the day, and keep doing this even after you’ve tamed your hamster. It will help keep your bond close. Here’s a clear list of what hamsters can and can not eat. You’ll also find out the treats that are available for hamsters as well. Place your hand in the cage, with a treat on your palm This is the biggest step your will make. Your hamster’s never had your hand in his cage before. He will ignore it for a lot of time if you just put it there, plain. He will also become curious and come to sniff and nibble at it. And if you’re not used to it, and he’s not careful, it might turn into a bite. So best to get your hand in his cage with a treat on your palm, and just keep it there for a few minutes. Your hammy will come to investigate it immediately. He will recognize your smell, but will probably not trust you just yet. You might see funny things like your hammy straining his neck to get to the treat but not touch your hand. He will give in one day, and actually place a paw on your hand. Whoa, big move there ! Feed the hamster from your hand daily Keep giving your hamster food from your hand as often as possible. You can even give your hammy his full serving of food from your hand. A full serving for a Syrian is 2 teaspoons of dry food, and one teaspoon for Dwarf types. This is for a daily feeding. If you feed him daily from your hand, you’ll feel his little paws on your hand more and more often, and you’ll notice they are cold. That’s normal for them, and they’re fine. Just be careful, because when your hammy will be close to finishing the food from your hand he will go for the lines of your hand. That’s where food will pool, and your hammy will go looking for it. He might nibble at your hand for a bit, but he won’t bite. Unless you suddenly pull your hand away in shock, in which case you will scare him, and he will definitely bite then. (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.) Put some food in your other palm, so he will cross over your hands Now you can try putting some food, or more food, in your other hand. So when you place your one hand in your hamster’s cage with a bit of food, he will touch it. He might even climb onto it. Then, place your second hand with a bit of food next to your other hand. Your hammy will learn to walk across your hands like this, and he will trust them. Again, do this repeatedly, many times throughout the way and it might take a while but your hamster will learn to trust you. If you want, you can even make a sort of board with your hands for your hamster to walk on. Place just a bit of food at the end farthest from your hamster, so he will have to cross almost both hands in order to get his food. Gently lift the hamster when you give him a treat in your palm Once you have your hamster comfortable with every step until this one, you can try to gently lift him. Do this in his cage, or glass tank, and do not lift him high. The reason behind lifting your hamster just a couple of inches off the ground is to get him used to the movement. Hamsters scare very easily, so he needs this training part. Place your palm with a bit of food inside the cage, and when your hamster’s climbed into your hand, slowly lift the hand. Your hamster will probably walk away once he feels your hand moving, that’s okay. Keep trying. This is why he needs training. You might find that he jumps off your hand if you keep him up for more than a couple of seconds. So make sure you put him back in a short amount of time. Lift the hamster higher, and place your other hand over him If your hamster is used to everything until now, then great. This step will be a bit more challenging for him, since you won’t be putting him back down soon. So once your hammy is safely in your hand, place your other hand on him, and lift him higher that usual. Do this for a short amount of time, and do not do it very fast. It will be new for your hammy, so make sure he is comfortable with every step up to this one. Be sure both your hands are safely cupping the hamster when you lift him. If the hamster falls from a higher place, he will hurt himself. So it’s best to not keep him up for too long. Start ‘walking’ your hamster over your hands Once your hamster is comfortable being held, you can start moving your hands so he can walk over them. It looks a lot like you’re washing your hands. Do this in your hamster’s cage at first, since he will probably move faster than you imagine. You need to make sure that if your hamster will jump out of your hands it will land somewhere soft, like his cage. And this was the final step in training and taming your hamster. If he is comfortable being picked up, and will run over your hands when you hold him, he’s pretty much tame. Now, all hamsters are jittery and will not sit still so do not judge your hammy too hard for not staying calmly in your hand. When he wants to be let go it will be obvious, and he might just jump. So always be very close or over your hamster’s cage. A word from Teddy I know taming one of us hammies can be a bit difficult. But it’s worth it when you talk to us and we look right at you. I for one don’t like being handled for more than a minute, but maybe your hammy loves hugs, who knows ? We all have a personality of our own. If you want to know more about us hammies, you can check out the articles below. You’ll find info on how much water us hamsters need, what room temp we need to be comfortable, and even why we eat our own poop ! [...] Read more...
Do Hamsters and Hedgehogs Get Along?
Do Hamsters and Hedgehogs Get Along?Hamsters and hedgehogs are two of the most popular small pets in the entire world as many different households take care of these tiny critters. But can you take care of both of these animals at the same time? Do hamsters and hedgehogs get along fine with each other in case you own both of these animals? While you can keep hamsters and hedgehogs as pets at the same time, it is not a good idea to make them get along and allow them to live together because of how hedgehogs can be dangerous to your hamsters. And even if that’s not the case, it might end up stressing the animals out to the point that they might fall ill. As a pet owner, it might sound like a good idea for your pets to live together in harmony. But you also have to understand that some pets just don’t naturally get along with others due to their nature and physical characteristics. This includes your hamsters and hedgehogs as we will now talk more about why these small pets don’t necessarily get along. Do hamsters and hedgehogs get along? When you own more than one pet, it sounds like a good idea for all of your animals to live in harmony with one another because you treat them all as members of your family. After all, family members should be able to get along fine with each other especially when they are living under the same roof. In most cases especially when you are talking about two different animals belonging to the same species, it is quite easy to make them get along with each other. That is why a lot of pet owners are able to keep multiple dogs, cats, and rabbits under one roof or are even able to make their dogs get along fine with their cats. In that case, can the same scenario become possible when you are talking about small pets? Can you make your hamsters and hedgehogs get along fine with one another when you are keeping them both as pets? Well, not exactly. When you are talking about hamsters, these animals may look quite cute and cuddly but don’t let their friendly looks fool you. One would think that hamsters love playing with their fellow hamsters and would prefer to live together with a friend but this should never be the case if you want your hamster to live a long and healthy life because these animals are highly territorial and would rather be left alone instead of sharing the same space with another fellow animal. While the hamster’s territorial instincts kick in more often when they live together with their fellow hamsters, it still is a bad idea to make them get along with another animal roughly of the same size because they might get too territorial to the point that they would use their sharp teeth to try to attack the other animal in an attempt to preserve its sense of territory and space. Moreover, hamsters really don’t like other species no matter how hard you try to make them get along. On the other hand, hedgehogs are growing in popularity as exotic pets but these small and cute balls of pins are also better off not interacting with other animals because of the fact that they are walking and living pin cushions. Having them get along with any other pet in your house can spell disaster for either one of them because the hedgehog may easily harm the other pet due to its sharp pins. So, while hedgehogs are not as territorial as hamsters are, they are pretty dangerous to be around other pets. If they are dangerous for humans to touch especially if we are not careful enough with them, the same is true when it comes to other pets like hamsters because the hedgehog can easily prick them and injure them beyond recovery.  All in all, while there is no consensus as to whether or not hamsters and hedgehogs can end up getting along with one another if you try your best to make them friendly with one another, the fact is that it is a bad idea in the first place. It is best to make sure that you keep them away from each other at all times without ever letting them try to get along with each other to be on the safe side of things. Still, though, there are instances where owners were able to safely introduce their hamsters and hedgehogs. In such rare cases, introductions are usually made with them holding on to their hedgehogs while allowing the two animals to meet. But the fact is that it might be better off for you to never leave them together in one place thinking that the two small animals can end up getting along fine with one another without your supervision. Can a hamster and a hedgehog live in the same cage? For a lot of different pet owners, keeping two small pets in one single cage can be a good idea so that they can save up money and space. It might also be a good way for the animals to end up getting along with each other especially considering that they are forced to share the same space throughout their entire lives. But, is it a good idea to keep your hamster and your hedgehog together in the same cage? If it isn’t a good idea for you to force your hamsters and hedgehogs to try to get along with one another, then it is never a good idea for them to live together in the same cage as well. In fact, that might be one of the worst decisions you can make in your entire life as a pet owner precisely due to the fact that hamsters and hedgehogs are better off living solitary lives in their own individual cages. In the case of a hamster, as mentioned, these animals are highly territorial and are best kept individually because of that nature of theirs. It’s not even a good idea for you to keep multiple hamsters in one cage due to how they might end up attacking one another. As such, it would be an even worse idea for you to keep a hamster in a single cage together with an entirely different species of animal such as a hedgehog. Moreover, are usually at the lower end of the food chain when it comes to other pets. That means that they are used to such a life and can be quite defensive when they are together with another animal. As such, this could end up stressing the hamster out if it keeps on thinking that, at any given moment, it could get eaten regardless of whether the hedgehog does indeed include hamsters in its regular diet. In the case of a hedgehog, it is never a good idea to keep it together with a hamster because of how dangerous it can be. A hedgehog’s quills are sharp and can easily prick a hamster to the point that the injury could possibly become fatal.  While hedgehogs are not aggressive or territorial animals, there is still always a good chance for them to accidentally prick a hamster if it is in defense mode and the hamster gets too close to it. While this instance may be rare when it comes to hamsters and hedgehogs, you do have to consider that hedgehogs can possibly end up eating the hamster if you keep them both in the same cage.  The reason is that hedgehogs eat a wide variety of different things including smaller rodents such as mice. Some owners even feed their hedgehogs baby mice. So, if your hamster is a lot smaller than your hedgehog, there might be a chance that the hedgehog will treat it as food and end up eating it. In any other case, the fact that you are keeping two different species together in the same cage is never a good idea because of how it could end up placing both or either of these animals in stressful situations. A stressed animal can fall ill and may end up dying because of that. And, on top of that, a hedgehog may actually carry bacteria that can end up harming the hamster in the long run.  That is why it should never be a good idea for you to keep these pets together in the same cage even if you think that doing so will help save you money or even allow these animals to get along well with one another. [...] Read more...
Are Your Hamster’s Eyes Closed?
Are Your Hamster’s Eyes Closed?Being a responsible hamster parent means being able to know how to properly take care of your hamster in both good and bad situations. When it comes to bad situations the hamster can easily suffer from several illnesses and health conditions. This includes conditions that their eyes may suffer. So, are your hamster’s eyes closed and, if yes, what is causing their eyes to be closed? Closed hamster eyes are also called sticky eyes, which is a common problem in most hamsters. This happens when the hamster secretes fluids from its eyes whenever it is sleeping so that the eyes stay moist. However, the fluid may end up drying up and hardening around the eyes of the hamster preventing it from opening them.  Sticky eye is a really common problem that hamsters often go through because it is simply one of the inconveniences that come with one of their natural bodily functions. But, even though it might only be an inconvenience, the sticky eye may still make life a lot more difficult for your hamster because it won’t be able to see. That is why you should know more about sticky eye so that you would be able to help your pet the next time it suffers from this condition. Table of Contents ToggleWhat causes a sticky eye in hamsters?How to treat sticky eye in hamsters?1. Hold the hamster gently2. Go get a cotton swab or a Q tip and wet it with lukewarm water3. Gently wipe the crusted substances off of the hamster’s eye4. Open the hamster’s eye in a gentle manner5. Preventing sticky eyeCan sticky eye kill a hamster? What causes a sticky eye in hamsters? At a lot of points in your life, you may have yawned whenever you were so sleepy and your eyes began releasing fluids that will eventually dry up around your eyes and harden. This is also common early in the morning upon waking up when the fluids that your eyes released while you were sleeping had dried up to form some sort of sand-like sediments around your eyes. Hence, that is where the sandman concept comes from. While you may have experienced this as a human, animals also go through a similar experience as well. Yes, this includes your pet hamsters and a lot of other animals as the sandman of the animal world also tends to visit them while they are sleeping. However, the difference here when it comes to you and your hamster is that it can be a bit more serious when it comes to your pocket-sized pet. When a hamster is sleeping, its eyes need to secrete a fluid that is meant to keep their eyes moist because dry eyes can eventually lead to serious health conditions. But the fluids secreted by their eyes will eventually dry up and harden around the eyes. When that happens, the dried-up fluid can actually shut the hamster’s eyes close like glue. Sticky eye is much more common in hamsters that are a bit older because of how they need their eyes to secrete more fluid. However, even younger hamsters may also end up suffering from this condition as well. Sticky eye normally doesn’t discriminate when it comes to age even though it is more common in older hamsters. As such, it is one of the most common problems that hamsters face on a regular basis. Still, if you notice that your hamster is suffering from eyes that have been shut closed, you shouldn’t conclude right away that it is suffering from sticky eye because there are still some other possible causes for its condition. This includes foreign objects such as dust that may have entered the hamster’s eye. Pink eye is also one of the more common reasons for a hamster to shut its eyes closed as those swollen eyes together with the regular discharge coming from its eyes will naturally force the hamster’s eyes to close. How to treat sticky eye in hamsters? The good news for you is that the normal sticky eye that hamsters suffer from on a regular basis don’t require immediate attention from a veterinarian. In fact, most sticky eye cases can be remedied at home even if you are not an expert in handling hamsters. All you have to do is to follow these simple steps: 1. Hold the hamster gently Get your hamster and hold it as gently as possible so that you won’t end up harming it. However, make sure that you are still applying a bit of pressure so that the hamster won’t end up slipping away from your hand and run away. You need to make sure that you are holding it firmly so that the little fella won’t be able to escape from you but, at the same time, won’t feel like you are hurting it. 2. Go get a cotton swab or a Q tip and wet it with lukewarm water Find a cotton swab or a Q tip in your home and wet it with lukewarm water. If you don’t have a Q tip in your household, you may use a washcloth but you should make sure that you are using a clean washcloth and that it should also be wet with lukewarm water. The Q tip or the washcloth will serve as your main cleaning tool for treating your hamster’s sticky eye. 3. Gently wipe the crusted substances off of the hamster’s eye At this point, you may be asking why can’t we just pull the hamster’s eyelids open or try to scratch the crusted substances off the eyes of the hamster. Well, the reason why we aren’t doing that is that the substance has become similar to glue in the sense that forcing the eyelids apart can possibly damage the hamster’s eyes. As such, what we need to do here is to use the Q tip or the washcloth to gently wipe away the crusted substances. The moisture from the wet Q tip or cloth will soften the dried up substance to make it easier for you to wipe it off the eyes of your hamster. Gently break the substance down until it is easier and easier for you to wipe it away. In some cases, holding the Q tip or washcloth on the eyes of your hamster may already be enough for the substance to soften up to the point that the hamster will be able to open its eyes again. However, if the hamster doesn’t open its eyes even after a few minutes, you have to wipe the substance off of its eyes using a gentle brushing stroke that won’t hurt the little fella. 4. Open the hamster’s eye in a gentle manner If the hamster doesn’t open its eye by itself after you have washed away the dried up fluids around its eyelids, you may have to open its eyes yourself. Trust us when we say that some hamsters are too afraid to open their eyes thinking that the dried-up substance is still there. In such a case, what you need to do is to gently pull the eyelids apart using your fingers. However, if you are finding it difficult to do this or if the hamster is resisting, stop right there. Go get another Q tip or washcloth and repeat the same process over and over again because there might be some stubborn dried up fluids that you probably missed the first time around. Repeat the same steps until it becomes easier for you to open the hamster’s eyelids using your fingers or until the hamster itself will be willing enough to open his eyes by itself. 5. Preventing sticky eye After you have treated the hamster’s sticky eye, the best way for you to prevent it from happening again is to make sure that you regularly wash around its eyes. This allows you to prevent the buildup of any dried up fluid.  However, if the problem still persists or if your hamster is quite prone to this condition, you may have to bring it to a vet so that your hamster can get checked for any other possible reason why it is getting sticky eyes more often than most other hamsters. Can sticky eye kill a hamster? Another good news about hamster sticky eye is that it is not fatal or even very harmful to the hamster on a regular basis. In most cases, sticky eye is an inconvenience that will prevent your hamster from being able to see because it can’t even open its eyes. However, this can be a precursor to other more serious problems such as when your hamster can’t eat or drink water because it can’t even see. In some cases, your hamster may even find itself bumping into objects due to their impaired eyesight. That is why you have to make sure that you treat sticky eye as soon as possible even though it generally isn’t very harmful much less fatal. [...] Read more...
Tumors And Lumps In Hamsters – Symptoms, Treatment, And Care
Tumors And Lumps In Hamsters – Symptoms, Treatment, And CareYou might have noticed an odd lump on your hamster recently. Is it cancerous ? Is it benign ? Can hamsters survive surgery to remove a tumor ?  We’ll cover tumor and odd lumps in this article, including the options you would have when treating your hamster. This is a situation where you will have to see your hammy’s vet often. Table of Contents ToggleSo can hamsters develop a tumor ?Why tumors appear in hamstersMalignant vs benign tumors in your hamsterSigns and symptoms your hamster has a tumorTreating your hamster’s tumorCommon treatments for the hamster’s tumorCaring for the hamster after surgeryA word from Teddy So can hamsters develop a tumor ? Yes, hamsters can develop tumors. Whether they’re called, lumps, or tumors, the end result is the same. A growth of extra cells, which does not serve a particular purpose and could potentially be fatal. It can affect any part of the hamster’s body, and can come about at any age. There is an increased chance that older hamsters will develop tumors, compared to young hamsters. Tumors are treatable  most of the time, especially if noticed early on. It also depends on the location of the tumor. For example a growth on the outside of the leg is easy to remove, but one on the hamster’s ovary is not. Let’s see how and why tumors come about, so we know what to expect. Why tumors appear in hamsters Tumors appear in hamsters pretty much the same way as they appear in humans. Studies haven’t really pin-pointed the main reason tumors appear in humans, so knowing why they appear in hamsters is just as confusing. However we do know how the tumor forms (this is a very simplistic and sketched-out explanation). Usually the hamster’s cells have a certain programming. They renew every few days, but their programming can go awry sometimes. As such, old cells can forget to die, but new cells still appear. This leads to an overgrowth, which is not exactly healthy. It’s not like the hamster is getting a larger lung which will help him. He is growing part of the lung that does not serve a purpose, and will mess with his other internal organs. Take up room, blood, energy, and keep on expanding. The tumor can become infected sometimes, and this makes the treatment fairly difficult. These cells don’t respond as normal cells would. Malignant vs benign tumors in your hamster There are 2 types of tumors. One is benign, meaning not dangerous nor spreading, while the other is malignant meaning it is spreading to other tissues and can be life-threatening. A benign tumor is just an overgrowth of the cells, but it does not ‘move’ to another part of the body. For example a lump on the leg that just grow to a certain size and then stops, without triggering other growths somewhere else, is benign. A malignant tumor is one that spreads to other ares on or in the body, because the very cells themselves become contagious, in a way. This means that a growth on the leg can produce a growth on the belly and tail as well. The best person to decide whether your hamster’s tumor is dangerous or not is the veterinarian. He will examine the hamster, possibly run him through an ultra-sound to see if there are any odd growth on the inside too. He might also collect a small sample of the tumor, to study it under a microscope. He will come back to you shortly with a diagnosis and a treatment option. Signs and symptoms your hamster has a tumor There are very few clear, external signs of your hamster having a tumor. Aside from the tumor itself, if it is on the skin, or right under the skin and becoming a very large bulge/lump. A noticeable lump will be fleshy, but mostly hard. It will not yield like skin and muscle, and instead feel much like hardened tissue. It does not hurt, but it can press down on certain nerves or blood vessels and thus hurt your hamster. If the lump is on the skin, you will see it straight away. If it is under the skin, it will not be very clear unless you handle your hamster often, and all over. You need to get a feel for all of his little body, so you will notice where there is an extra lump. Do keep in mind that female hamsters have teats along their bellies, and the male Syrians have very large testicles hanging around their tail. Aside from all of this, there are more subtle signs your hamster has a tumor. They don’t necessarily mean there is a tumor present, since they can also indicate other health issues. But here are the most common ones: Low appetite Abnormal droppings – no droppings, bloody droppings, diarrhea (but not necessarily wet tail) Increased thirst (especially for adrenal gland tumors) Lethargy, low energy Huddling in a corner, hiding more often and not coming out too fast Possibly falling over, poor direction (if tumor is affecting inner ear) Weight gain or loss, despite feeding the hamster the same amount (also adrenal gland tumor) Abnormal grooming – much less grooming because the hamster is depleted of energy, or much more grooming since the hamster is licking at the tumor (skin-level) Irritated, grumpy disposition Fur loss, usually in patches If you see these signs, make sure to tell your veterinarian about this. It’s important for him to know everything that has changed with your hamster friend. Treating your hamster’s tumor The first step is to set up an appointment with your veterinarian. You’ll want to look for an vet who has experience with small animals, or even better a vet labeled as ”exotic”. These vets have experience with rodents, reptiles and birds and will have more knowledge on hamsters than a regular veterinarian. Once you’ve reached your vet’s office, he will look at your hamster and turn him over to see any lumps. There might be an ultra-sound exam too, to see if there are tumors on the inside. If the vet does find a tumor, and it’s easy to access, he will inspect it closely. He might take a sample of the tumor, which means an actual piece (very tiny) of the skin there. This will show him the structure of the cells, and whether they’re malignant or benign. According to what the vet will find out about the hamster, and also the location of the tumor, he will set a diagnostic. Once you know that, you can decide together on a treatment for your hamster. This can take anywhere between a few minutes to a few days, depending on the situation. Common treatments for the hamster’s tumor Usually the treatment for a tumor is to remove it. If the tumor is on the outside, like a growth on the hamster’s leg or back, it will be easy to remove. The vet himself might perform the surgery, or he might enlist a surgeon’s help. However if the tumor is inside the hamster, for example on his kidneys, it is much harder to treat. It can still be removed, but there are a few considerations to take. The first is whether the hamster, small as he is, will survive the anaesthesia and the ensuing surgery, with all the blood loss. The second is that the risks associated with surgery on a very small animal usually are very high, which might mean the hamster would have to be put down. This is only if the tumor is hindering the hamster’s life quality. Deciding to put down the hammy is not easy, and should be thought about very well. You need to take into account whether the hamster can live the rest of his normal life with this tumor. If it’s the kind of tumor that will spread and grow, then it will slowly eat the poor creature from the inside out. This is a case where putting the hamster to sleep would be the most compassionate and human treatment. However if the tumor is fairly small, does not grow in time, but is on the inside and can’t be removed without putting the hammy at risk, this is probably a case where the vet would advise letting the hamster live his life. There is a third option, which involves chemo therapy. As you know from humans that went through such a treatment, chemo is very rough. Many humans do not survive this. Imagine a small, weakened hamster going through it. You could try, however, and see how the hammy responds. Make sure you talk to your vet about all the options you’ve got, and see which you think is best. (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.) Caring for the hamster after surgery If the tumor can be safely removed, them this means your hamster will go through surgery. After he wakes up from his anaesthesia the vet will probably keep him for a day or two, for further observations. Once you can pick up your hamster, you will also get a set of guidelines from your vet. He will let you know exactly how to care for the hamster, as well as many post-op medications he needs to take. Do keep in mind that a hamster out of surgery will have the scar still a bit red and swollen in the first few days. That’s normal until the wound heals. However make sure to check the scar daily, to see if there is an infection. Sometimes, depending on the conditions the hamster is in after the surgery, an infection might occur. This will be noticeable by continued swelling, and pus. The wound will not close properly and will ooze a white-yellow liquid, and might smell bad as well. If this is the case, rush your hamster friend to the vet immediately. Also keep in mind that a hamster who was just under surgery will probably not want to be handled for a few days. He is tired, and sore, and he will possibly try to reach the scar to lick at it and clean it. So resist the temptation to pick up your hamster the first few days after the surgery. As always, the room he lives in must be warm enough, not drafty, and he must be separated from cage mates during his recovery. A word from Teddy I hope you found what you were looking for here. I know us hammies don’t normally get sick, but when we do we need your help. A tumor is definitely something we can’t figure out on our own. If you want to know more about us hamsters, you can check out the related articles below. You’ll find more info on how to keep us happy and safe. [...] 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...
What Do Hamsters Eat In The Wild? Don’t Feed Your Pet The Same
What Do Hamsters Eat In The Wild? Don’t Feed Your Pet The SameAs a hamster owner, I always had this question in the back of my head, what do hamsters eat in the wild? Yes, my furball has food delivered to his house daily, which is not so bad, but it is not like this in the wild. There isn’t only one type of hamster, and they come from different parts of the world, so talking about what hamsters eat in the wild might be too general if you don’t talk about each species but the thing is that they have similar behaviors and diets in the wild no matter where they came from. There are a few differences between Syrian hamsters and the smaller ones, but we will talk about that a bit later. I decided to write this article because I wanted to make sure we don’t miss anything when we feed our hamsters, and for that, I had to do my research to see what they eat in the wild. But it is important to know that a wild hamster’s diet is not a perfect one, they might eat something they don’t like, or it is very healthy for them, but it might be the only thing they have. Table of Contents ToggleWhat do hamsters eat in the wild?When do hamsters eat in the wild?How does a wild hamster find water?Diet differences between pet hamsters and wild hamstersChallenges for a wild hamster to obtain food in the wild1. Avoiding predators while looking for food.2. Knowing what food is safe to eat.3. Storing food for later4. They compete with other animals for the same food.Do pet hamsters live more than wild hamsters?Conclusion What do hamsters eat in the wild? A wild hamster’s diet has a lot of seeds, grains(like wheat, oat, barley, and more), and all kinds of nuts, since those are the ones easier to find and they are pretty nutritious for a hamster, but they also might look for fruits and vegetables if possible. Last but not least, they can also eat insects if needed. The last ones are not their primary target since a hamster can live pretty well without the trouble of hunting for those, but they will not refuse them if they come in their way. Keep in mind that hamsters are prey animals, and they are not the most courageous hunters out there. They might prefer to eat the safer food they can find. When do hamsters eat in the wild? Most wild hamsters are crepuscular, which means that they are active at sunset and sunrise since the visibility for their predators is not so great, but the hamsters can see what they are doing. They usually don’t go outside during the day because they fear predators like snakes, eagles, and other wild animals, who are mostly active during the day. Most people think that hamsters are nocturnal, and they associate this with having good eyesight in the dark, which is not true, hamsters have pretty weak eyesight all the time, and it doesn’t get better in the dark. But they do have a very good sense of smell and hearing. So a hamster will procure food during those hours and store the food for later. They can carry a good amount of food in their cheek pouches but they have to store it in their burrows since they can’t keep it on them for too long. If you want to know more about hamsters’ cheek pouches, I have an entire article about how cheek pouches work and common problems. For them, the cheek pouches are similar to a shopping cart for us. How does a wild hamster find water? Wild hamsters will get most of their water requirements from their food, especially vegetables, seeds, and fruits. They might also drink water from puddles and streams but this might not be accessible for all wild hamsters, and as you can imagine, it can be quite dangerous to make noises while they drink, and storing water for later is not an option. Rainwater is also an option, but as we all know, it is not reliable, and they usually avoid the rain directly since they can get sick very fast if they get wet, check my article to see more on why you should never wash a hamster. They can drink rainwater only if they capture some water in their burrows, but they will not get outside when it rains to drink water. Diet differences between pet hamsters and wild hamsters I will not get into many details about what a pet hamster should eat since that would be an entire article and I already wrote a big article hamster’s diet. Most hamster owners feed their small friends with specially-formulated food pellets that usually have all the vitamins and minerals a hamster needs. You can also feed a pet hamster whatever a wild hamster can eat, but those mixes are more than enough and they usually cover all they need. So my advice is to feed your hamster with a pre-made mix, and if you want to give it some extra food, nuts, seeds, and even some cooked meat, if you respect what I’ve said in the article about what hamsters can eat, your hamster should be fine. Make sure you check the article since there are some exceptions, especially when you feed a dwarf hamster that has a predisposition to diabetes. While a Syrian hamster can eat small amounts of banana, a dwarf hamster should avoid it completely. A wild hamster on the other hand will not focus as much on a healthy and nutritious diet because his focus is surviving and not a balanced diet. So saying that you should feed a hamster what they actually eat in the wild instead of a pre-made mix might not be the best idea. The pre-made mix is the ideal version of what a wild hamster would need in the first place.  Challenges for a wild hamster to obtain food in the wild As you can imagine, a wild hamster faces many challenges when trying to find food. I will list here a few of them: 1. Avoiding predators while looking for food. This one is the biggest challenge a wild hamster will face when finding food. They have predators everywhere, it might be a snake that comes from the ground or from the water, it might be other wild animals from the ground or burrows, an eagle or owl from the air, or even other hamsters. A hamster looking for food in the wild is in for a wild ride, with a high chance of the hamster actually becoming the food, which is pretty sad. 2. Knowing what food is safe to eat. They have a pretty good instinct for that, but they don’t know all the time which type of insect, plant or seed is poisonous and which one is not. Or if that food is safe in the long term, we as humans know what is safe for us and what is not.  We know that if we eat only chocolate for a few months, we will end up with some serious health issues but a hamster might not realize that eating only fruits for a month might get them in trouble. But, the wild hamster will eat whatever it can get its paws on since it doesn’t have many options.  3. Storing food for later Hamsters have cheek pouches that are more like a shopping cart for them but they can’t store food in their cheeks for too long, so they have to come back to their burrows. This limits their ability to go too far for food, especially because they don’t have the best eyesight.  4. They compete with other animals for the same food. In the wild there are a lot of animals that will eat the same thing, so for the wild hamster it’s not only important to find food, but it is also important to find it first. Also, places with more food will be more crowded by animals and the stronger ones will get the most food. As you might imagine, hamsters are not the strongest animals in the wild since they are pretty small. They are pretty strong for their size and bite quite hard, but it is not enough to kill a snake or other predators. I remember when my hamster was hanging from the cage ceiling, and actually moving using only two paws which is quite incredible, I have to admit that I envy his power. Do pet hamsters live more than wild hamsters? Not having predators makes pet hamsters live longer than wild hamsters. Also, they don’t face all the challenges that a wild hamster would face when it comes to finding food or water. Hamsters are not social animals, and they are quite happy if they have food and water, so this might make them good pets but not perfect one. A hamster is not a puppy or a kitten is a bad pet for a young child (under 9 years old).  Read my article on 10+ reasons why you should not get a hamster. Conclusion A wild hamster will eat way more things than a regular pet hamster but don’t confuse more things with a more diversified diet. They eat more things because this is what helps them survive, they don’t get to choose what they want to eat to complete their diet. So the life of a wild hamster is just that – “wild” when it comes to finding food or water. And this is without talking about finding a partner to reproduce with, which is a big challenge on its own. Check my article about hamster reproduction, it is way more interesting and complex than you might think. I hope this article helped you understand the differences between the life of a pet and a wild hamster. Please make sure you take good care of your little furball and you make its life as good as possible. [...] Read more...