5 Reasons Hamsters Chew On Cage Bars – And How To Stop Them

Is your hamster chewing on his cage bars ? So does mine from time to time, and I know it’s awful to hear, and bad for his teeth. I’ll tel you what I know about how to stop your hammy from chewing the cage bars, and how to prevent it.

Keep in mind that some hamsters simply have this habit, and will have their teeth on the bars (or anything else) often, just because. I’ll tell you what to do in those cases too.

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My Teddy always chewed his bars, and how he chews his hideout more often

So why do hamsters chew on the cage bars ?

Hamsters are rodents, so they will chew on everything by default. Still here’s a short, clear list of the main reasons your hamster is chewing on his cage bars:

  1. Small cage – this is often a big problem, since many hamsters are kept in tiny cages.
  2. Teeth growing – rodent teeth never stop growing, they must always chew and nibble on something .
  3. Anxiety/stress – hamsters can develop this habit as a way to cope with something.
  4. Need attention/curiosity – hamsters need to see and know everything, and will ask for attention.
  5. Habit – they’ve gotten this habit, and it’s going to be hard to unlearn it.

Hammies are known to be quiet pets, but having them chew on the bars is incredibly annoying. Aside from being a possible sign of something wrong, it’s also bad for their teeth. Only because the metal is too harsh for their teeth, and they’ll need something softer like wood to chew on.

We’ll cover that list in this article, so you know in more detail why hamsters end up chewing on the cage bars. But let’s first talk a bit about rodents and chewing in general, so we understand why this happens from their point of view.

About rodents and chewing in general

All rodents – hamsters, mice, guinea pigs, rabbits, squirrels, and so on – have an innate need to chew. Their teeth never stop growing. If they don’t keep an eye on the growth, it can be deadly.

So, rodents need to constantly chew and nibble on something. This is normal for them, and is a very good habit to have in order to file down their teeth.

But what about pet rodents ? Well, your hamster doesn’t know the sound of his chewing is awful to you. And still, his teeth are always growing and always need to be filed down.

Another thing about rodents, they like to try everything out with their teeth as well. Just like baby humans will put random objects in their mouth to ‘learn’ them, rodents will try out things too. It’s just that they’ll never grow out of that phase.

So be prepared for this happening again and again. However you can do a few things to lower the chances of your hamster chewing on the bars. Let’s get to those right now.

Get your hamster a larger cage

One of the reasons, maybe half the time, is that hamsters are kept in way too small cages. The hamsters end up feeling cramped and grumpy.

It varies from hamster to hamster type, but the absolute minimum is 24 x 12 inches, and about 12 inches tall. That’s 61 x 30.5 cm, and about 30.5 cm tall.

That is for an adult Syrian hamster, but I’d recommend it to be the minimum for a Dwarf type as well. Hamsters need a lot of space, they run around a lot, they sprint at the drop of a feather, and will burrow often. That requires more space than you’d think at first.

The small, square cages you can pick up at the pet shop – the ones that are most commonly sold when you get your hammy – are way too small. You can find a good guide on hamster cages here.

Always go for a bigger cage, with lots of floor space. Hamsters need that space and will become jittery and irritable if they don’t have where and how to run around.

Especially if you’re keeping two hamsters in a cage, this is crucial. They need to be able to hide from each other, run away, and have large spaces for themselves if they need to.

Otherwise they’ll end up chewing the bars, in an attempt to get away, or escape, or just let out that anxiety and stress.

A hamster’s teeth are always growing

This is what the problem is most of the time. Hamsters are rodents, so their teeth will always grow. So, they will always need to file them down.

There is not much you can do about this, other than giving the hamster chew toys. You’ll find a lot more info on that in the rest of the article.

Your hammy will always try to put its teeth on everything. Sometimes to chew, sometimes to try them out. But there are moments when they chewing will happen often. This is when their teeth get sort of growth spurts, and the hammies will feel the instinctive need to chew on something.

The best thing to do for a rodent, especially one that you’ve noticed is a big chewer, is to keep it in a large glass tank. There’s nothing to chew there, except for the toys.

Anxiety/stress is a common issue with hamsters

A hamster is used to hiding and being on alert all day, every day. That means that it’s prone to stress, an stress related illnesses. That also means that they will often need a way to release their stress.

Most of the time, the hamster will end up chewing on the hardest surface he can find – the cage bars. He will still use his chew toys, but the hard surface of the cage bars will still be interesting.

A few reasons hamsters can develop anxiety and stress can be:

  • being scared too often – they’re very easy to startle
  • being bullied by their cage mate – common problem
  • new home – baby hamsters can sometimes adapt very slowly to their new homes
  • poor housing  – small cage, improper bedding, not enough food, no exercise, could be many things

What you can do is to try and make life easier for your hamster. So if your hammy is scared often – by a sudden noise, or the dog looking at them, you need to read this article. Do keep in mind that hamsters scare easily, so some things just can’t be helped.

If your hammy is bullied by his cage mate, then you need to separate the two. This is a problem that can come up seemingly out of nowhere, even for hamsters that looked like they were getting along. Always keep an eye on them if you’ve got a pair,

Your hamster needs your attention, or is curious about something

Hamsters are incredibly curious, and will want to check out everything. Even if they’re scared, they will still try to investigate that sound.

Most of the time they investigate or hear things out because they’re listening for predators. But a pet hamster will have the bravery to walk up to the cage bars and try to see and hear and smell why that bag is making those sounds.

He will sometimes ask for your attention, even if you’re doing something else and didn’t notice he woke up. In these cases it’s best to give the hamster a bit of attention, but be careful.

If you hear chattering teeth, and you see him very aggitated and jumpy, do not touch him directly.

A hamster with chattering teeth is not a playful one. He is curious, but has a burst of energy that makes him hard to handle, and prone to biting.

Best to play indirectly with him. Like a bit of paper towel through the bars, and a piece of cardboard in his cage, like you would play with a cat.

Some hamsters develop a habit of chewing on the cage bars

Unfortunately this is a habit very hard to kick. Mostly because it’s sort of addictive for hammies. They love the sound and feel of their teeth on the bars, as much as it might make your cringe.

So getting your hamster to let go of something he loves will be incredibly difficult. The best option for this is to remove the bars completely.

That means again, putting the hammy in a glass tank. For hamsters that developed a habit of chewing the bars, no matter how large their cage will be, they will find the corners and chew on them.

A few things other people have tried – blowing on the hamster, using a paper towel on his nose, or even citrus oil on the bars – do not work. They’re only temporary reliefs, only for a few minutes. The hamster will start chewing again, this time with a vengeance.

And in some cases, if you’ve got two hamsters in the same cage, they can copy each other. If one of them starts to chew on the bars, then the other will probably follow suit. If that’s the case, you will probably need to separate them. or move them both in a glass tank.

Sometimes, there’s not much you can do. But you need to try everything else before moving him to a glass tank.

What you can do about the hamster chewing

Here’s a few things you can actually do about your hammy chewing on the cage bars. They will work, some temporary, some permanently, depending on your hamster, and the reason he is chewing.

My Teddy still chews the bars every now and then, for a couple of minutes. I usually distract him, and move him to a different room at night anyway, so I do no hear him when I sleep.

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My Teddy with his walnut, and his puzzle toy

Chew toys for the hammy

You can help your hamster by getting or making him some chew toys, and leaving them randomly around his cage. This means that your hamster will have plenty more opportunities to chew on solid things inside his cage.

Often, your hammy will need something wood-based to chew on. The cage bars are too hard for your hamster’s teeth, even if he likes chewing on them.

So you’ll need to provide him with some chew toys. You can find a whole article dedicated to hamster toys here, and you’ll get store-bought and DYI ideas as well.

Mineral chews are actually not that useful for your hamster. They’re marketed as a chewing aid, and are supposed to bring more mineral content to your hamster’s diet.

But the truth is, hamsters don’t need more minerals if they’ve got a good diet already. A pre-made food mix will take care of that.

Distract the hamster

You can distract the hamster, and this will work most of the time. As in, after you stop paying attention to the hamster it will probably not chew the bars for a few hours, or at least enough time for you to fall asleep.

Exercise the hamster

Exercising your hammy is probably the best way to get him to distract him. You can do this two ways.

First, you can use his exercise wheel. If it’s a wheel he can see through, like a wire mesh one, you can use a bit of paper towel to guide your hamster through his cage, into the wheel.

Then, your hamster will try to get to the paper towel or your hand. But if you place it directly in front of him while he is in the wheel, the hamster will end up running trying to get to you.

You can do this several times a day, or whenever your hammy seems restless. Do let him get to the paper towel every now and then, to keep things interesting.

Second, you can exercise the hamster by putting him in his exercise ball – you can find out more about that here. Once he’s in the exercise ball, let him roam the house as much as he likes, but make sure you don’t go over 30 minutes per session.

Your hammy will need some water, and some food, and he can’t find those in the exercise ball. Also make sure that your hammy can’t fall down any stairs, or your other pets will not reach it.

A barking, curious dog, or a playful cat will scare the hamster, and will only distress him more.

Be warned though, exercise balls can be loud on their own. The hamster will bang it against the furniture, walls, the corner of your coffee table, the door, anything. So you can either proof an area to let your hamster run around, or make peace with the noise.

To proof the area, you will just need to cover the surfaces the ball can hit with some textile, like a blanket or towel, to absorb noise. Or, in the case of odd corners, you can just put a slipper in the way and the hammy will not be able to reach that corner.

Play with the hamster

You can also play with your hamster to distract it. But again, if his teeth are chattering and he has a sort of odd look about him, best to not touch him directly. Give him a puzzle toy – you can find an example here – or use a bit of cardboard to guide him through an obstacle course in his cage.

Or, you can pick him up if he seems fairly calm. Let the hamster run over your hands, talk to him, pet him, as you would normally. But if he seems like he’s about to jump out of your hands, make sure you’re every close to his cage.

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

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What to do if your hamster just can’t stop chewing on the bars

Sometimes, there’s not much you can do. If you’ve tried every little thing you can think of, and every other alternative you’ve found in this article so far, and your hamster is still chewing, then it’s time to do something else.

Move the hamster to a glass tank

Your hamster will not have anything to chew, if he’s in a glass tank. The glass gives him nothing to hold onto, just plain, smooth, straight glass he can’t do anything with.

In this case you will need to give your hamster ample wood-based toys to play with. He will chew on every little thing he can get his paws on. The hideout, the toys, the food bowl, in some cases even the water bottle.

So, make sure the glass tank is large enough to fit your hamster, or your hamsters if you’ve got more than one. And you can check out this article for bedding and hideout ideas made of wood.

You’ll find lots of toys ideas here, and depending on the kind of wheel you had before, it might need changing. You can find more info on the exercise wheel on here.

As for where to find an actual glass tank, you can check this Amazon link for an example. It’s the minimum space requirement for a single hamster, and you can look at the reviews as well.

Honestly, I recommend getting a glass tank from a pet shop, or somewhere you can actually go and see the tank for yourself. That way the transport can be arranged by you, and you’re in control of whether the glass breaks on the trip home or not.

As you know, glass is difficult to safely transport, so it’s best if you’re involved as well. Still, you can check the link above to at least see what glass tanks have to offer, and the price range they’d be about.

Move the hamster’s cage to a different room

This is a last resort. If you do not want, or can’t afford or fit a large enough glass tank for your hamster, then this is your other option.

Glass tanks can’t be moved about as easily as a cage. But a cage can be moved temporarily or permanently to a separate room.

If your hamster keeps chewing the bars and he just won’t stop, no matter what, moving him to a different room will at least let you have your peace.

There are a few things to keep in mind though, before you move the hamster.The temperature of the room you move the hamster to needs to be constant. Hamsters need a range between 20-23 C/68-75 F to feel comfortable, and anything below or above that range can make them uneasy.

In some cases, if your hamster is exposed to sudden, very cold temperatures, it can hibernate. But since it’s sudden, it can be actually deadly for him, depending how long it lasts. You can find more info on hamster hibernation here, and how to save your hammy.

So be sure to check up on your hammy every day, to make sure he feels alright in his room. Make sure he is safe from other pets, or overly curious small children.

Is a hamster a good choice for a pet ?

In this case, after talking about all the ruckus a hamster can make while chewing the bars, you’d think no, they’re not good pets.

But the truth is, at least in my opinion, hamsters are actually good pets. They’re quiet most of the time, and will not bother you often. It’s just that they have some very specific necessities – like the chewing and temperature – that can make then a bit iffy.

A hamster isn’t as easy to tame – and keep tame – as a dog or cat, and does not respond well to being held wrong or annoyed. So for this reason I’d advise against getting your child a pet hamster, of any kind.

Children would need a more mellow, loving pet, like for example a dog that can take on the full force of a kid tackling him, or pulling his tail.

You can read more whether hamsters make good pets or not here – and get a more detailed insight on why you need to know yourself and your limits before you get a hamster as a pet.

A word from Teddy

I hope you got some good ideas here on how to stop one of us hammies from chewing the cage bars. Sometimes we just love to chew the bars, and sometimes we can stop if you give us an alternative. It depends from hammy to hammy.

If you want to know more about hamsters, and why we sometimes do odd things, like eat our poop or suddenly freeze, you should check out the articles below.

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The main things to look for when determining your hamster’s breed or type is the size of the hamster, and the color/markings. There are very distinct differences between the hamsters available for purchase. We’ll get into the different size and color options for all the hamster types in the rest of this article. There are 5 types or breeds or hamster available, and they are: Syrian – the largest, most common hamster Chinese Dwarf – not really a Dwarf type, but still often called that; the only one with a longer tail Roborovski Dwarf – the tiniest, fastest hamster, almost impossible to hold Campbell Dwarf – a bit larger than the Roborovski, often confused with the next breed Siberian/Winter white/Djungarian Dwarf – the only one that changes its coat color according to temperature Now these 5 types are the ones you will usually find in a pet shop, and they might come under different names or nicknames. 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Honestly Syrian hamsters are about as colorful as cats and dogs, except they never have stripes like a cat. Aside from that, they can be a single color, black and white mixes, spotted, ringed, just one spot on the eye, sooty, and so many more colors. The fur itself can be short/normal, longhaired, or curlyhaired. These as well can have any of the color options you can imagine. When I got my Teddy I knew next to nothing about hamsters. So I thought an orange hammy with a bit of white on the belly is going to be so unique, and rare. Well, it turns out that is the most common color you can get a Syrian hammy. Those are called Golden hamster and they’re the classic coloration, the one they have in the wild. This hammy comes from Syria, and southern Turkey in the wild. At some point, a few managed to populate and thrive in parts of Israel. All about the Chinese Dwarf hamster The Chinese hammy is not really a Dwarf type, although most everyone calls him that. 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The Hamster’s Lifespan – 7 Things Affecting It
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There are 5 species in total to pick from, though not all pet shops will carry all 5, and I’ve never seen all 5 present at the same time. There are: Syrian hamsters – the largest hamster, and the most common one found in pet shops. Also called Teddy-bear hamsters (hence my little Teddy’s name). Roborovski Dwarf – much smaller than the Syrian, actually the tiniest of all the Dwarf types – only 2 inches/5 cm ! Djungarian/Winter White/Siberian Dwarf Campbell’s Dwarf Chinese Dwarf There are certain differences in the genetics of all 5 breeds, but they don’t differ all that much. The breed (and the coat color and sex) is all you can pick when it comes to the hamster’s genetic makeup. 2. Genes and other inherited traits When it comes to inherited traits, that’s completely out of your control. It depends on where you’re also getting your hamster from. For example you may get a hamster from a pet shop, but where does the pet shop have them from ? Sometimes they breed them there, sometimes they get a new litter from people who have had accidental litters. Some breeders aim for a docile line of hamsters, or more variation in coat colors, or size perhaps. However all those traits may come with certain genes. We all know about the white cat’s predisposition towards hearing problems. That’s simply the gene that comes with being a white cat most of the time. There are such genes with hamsters, but they’re not well documented, aside from the breeder’s own notes on their pets. So you won’t know if a black Syrian hamster comes with a gene that gives him weak kidneys and leads to a shorter lifespan. Or a white Robo hammy that somehow manages to live to the ripe age of 7, because his coat color gene comes with a long lifespan. However what you can count on is that the Dwarf types have an inherited risk of developing diabetes much faster that the Syrians.  The Syrians on the other hand have the misfortune of getting Wet-tail much easier than the Dwarf types. Whichever genes your hamster inherited you’ll be able to give him a wonderful life is you take into account the elements I’ve listed below. Those you actually have control over, and can change whenever necessary. Elements you have control over, and can influence There are a few things that are completely up to you. Like how well the hamster is fed, his health (partly), and his stress levels. Let’s see how to maximize all these elements so you give your hamster one happy, long life with you. 1. Diet and additional foods Diet is incredibly important for your hamster friend. Actually it’s more important than exercise, and that’s true for hamsters as well as other animals. What we eat has more impact that what we do. Which is why your hamster’s feed must be a high-quality feed, and whatever else you give him as treats must be safe. So, here is a clear list of safe and unsafe hamster foods. Those are foods you’ve already got in your pantry or fridge, and can give to you hamster either as regular food, or as a treat. Hamsters in general can eat anything, with a few exceptions. You can give them fruits, vegetables, nuts and peanuts, some types of meat, and even bread sometimes ! Whatever you decide to give your hamster friend, you’ll find more info in the links provided above. Do keep in mind that Dwarf hammies should be kept away from sweet foods (fruits, some veggies, most treats) since it will raise their chances of getting Diabetes. Also if you feed your hamster a commercial food mix, remember to not overfeed your hamster. This can only lead to obesity, which will lead to less exercise, which will lead to further weight gain, and serious health problems. A healthy daily portion is about 2 teaspoons of dry food for a Syrian hamster, and one teaspoon for a Dwarf type. A Syrian is double the size of a Dwarf, and all hamsters love to hoard their food. So do not panic if you’ve just fed your hammy and half an hour later everything’s gone. It’s okay, the food is tucked away in the hammy’s food stash, and he’ll nibble on it whenever he needs it. 2. Exercise Your hamster will need plenty of exercise throughout his life. Especially as a young hamster. Young ones have a tremendous amount of energy, much like toddler humans, and will want to explore everything. All at once. And run there, see that, sniff this other thing too. So a running wheel is absolutely mandatory for a healthy hamster. This will give our hammy the opportunity to run as far and as much as his little feet can carry him, with energy to spare. You see, in the wild hamsters always have to be on the run, and they’ve got amazing reflexes. They have to, in order to stay alive. Pet hamsters still have this instinct, much like domestic cats will pounce a laser dot or a dog will howl at the moon. After all, hamsters have only been pets for the last century or so, and they’re pretty much the same as they were in the wild. Another option is to give your hamster time outside the cage. This means an exercise ball. Your hammy can use it to explore your home and cover more ground than he would in his cage. It’s also a better and more intense workout than his usual running wheel. For this same reason hiding and climbing toys are important for the hamster too. They give your hamster something to do, and keep him away from the cage bars. A hamster with no exercise option will become irritable, nippy, and obese. This is never a good combination, neither for the hamster, or for you as an owner. 3. Cage size and cleanliness There is a required minimum for a hamster’s habitat. For example a Syrian hamster needs a cage of 24 x 12 inches, and about 12 inches tall. That’s 61 x 30.5 cm, and about 30.5 cm tall. That’s the absolute minimum, and I honestly would recommend looking for a cage larger than that. If you’ve got a Dwarf hamster he can live in such a cage easily enough. Unfortunately most cages on the market or in pet shops are not larger than the minimum, most not even respecting the minimum space requirement. Do keep in mind that while hamsters do climb and use the levels of a multi-level cage, why prefer the ground floor. This gives them more security, and it’s safe for them – hamsters are horrible at calculating depth and distances, and will jump from heights. Also if you’ve got a tube system installed your hammy will go nuts over it. My Teddy has a tube connecting 2 levels and he’s in it half the time. Hammies are attracted to small, cramped spaces. Their homes in the wild are composed of many tunnels, actually. As for the cage cleanliness, most of the time it’s okay to change the hamster’s bedding once per week, and can be stretched to once every two weeks. You see, hamsters are very clean animals, and they don’t smell. The only thing about them that can get smelly is their pee corner. That’s a specific corner in the cage that the hamster will use to pee. Always the same corner, the farthest away from his hideout. Make sure you use safe bedding options, like aspen wood shavings, or soft paper bedding. For more info on safe and unsafe hamster bedding material, check out this article. It also covers the cleaning routine in much more depth than I can here. 4. General care and stress Aside from everything we’ve discussed so far, the general care your hamster receives is going to decide how comfortable he feels around you, or in your home. This means that the temperature must be at a certain range for his comfort – that’s 20-23 C/68-75 F, and kept well away from any drafts or direct sunlight. Handling your hamster will also be important. The is a too little, and a too much, and they’re both influenced by the hamster’s personality. If you want to know how to tame your hamster friend without getting your hand bitten off, you need to read this article. As for whether they like being held, they generally do, once they’re tame. But many steps need to be taken before a solitary, not very cuddly hamster will feel okay being picked up. The placement of the cage in your home is crucial to how well the hamster can rest, and how safe he feels. If you notice your hamster being scared of you, rest assured this will go away in time with efforts on your part. You can read this article to know how to ease a scared hamster. A very stressed hamster will be a nippy, irritable hamster. he will be hard to handle until you remove the stress source. Unfortunately many things can stress him out, so you should check out this article, since it will shed some light on what having a hammy is like. 5. To pair or not to pair You’ve probably seen hamsters kept together before. Or even heard of a pair of hamsters being kept together. While this isn’t unusual, it’s not the best idea. True, Dwarf hamsters can live in pairs. But they require a much larger size cage than the minimum of 24 x 12 inches, and about 12 inches tall. That’s 61 x 30.5 cm, and about 30.5 cm tall. This is because hamsters are very territorial. While they can get along if they have no other choice, they will always prefer to live alone. Hamsters kept in pairs can become stressed, and one of them will eventually try to bully the other one. You can find out more about why hammies fight and how to separate them here. Syrian hamsters, as well as Chinese Dwarfs, will fight to the death any creature put in their cage, be it another hamster or a rabbit. So the most humane and comfortable thing to do for your hamster buddies is to keep them separated. I know this might go against many people you’ve heard say it’s fine to put them together. It’s an added stress, and it builds up in time. When is a hamster old ? When looking for answers on the general lifespan of a hamster, you’ll want to know when your hamster becomes a senior. This is part of the natural order of things, and every hamster will grow old and grey. Still, that does not mean old age in hamsters is terrible. Some may become blind, some may get an illness quicker. But most lead fairly normal lives up until their end. A hamster can be considered old when he reaches his second birthday. In the case of a Robo hammie, who can live up to 4 years this threshold can be extended to about 3 years. While for a Chinese that usually lives for two years, he can be considered old when he-s 1-1.5 years old. But 2 years is the accepted average. Your hamster might not show his true age until very late into his life. For example my teddy is a Syrian male hammy, and he was born in July 2017. That’d make him about a year and half old as I’m writing this. He doesn’t yet waddle, or lose his fur, although he’s getting close to his second birthday. But he has lost quite some energy, and sleeps much more than he used to. His fur is a bit silver around his ears, and he’s become very picky with his food. Still, he’s the same funny little furball we know. Always curious, always coming up for a treat, still panicked from time to time. (If you like this article so far, you can pin it to your Pinterest board by clicking the image below. The article continues after the image.) The life cycle of a hamster From birth to his final days, a hamster pet will always be a wonderful little thing. Right from the moment the hamster is born, he could possibly be in danger. Even in homes, baby hamsters don’t have a 100% survival rate, because of their mothers most of the time. You see hamster mothers are very skittish and nervous, and will resort to eating their babies if they feel in any way threatened. She may also do this if the baby hamster is ill or she thinks it’s too weak to survive to adulthood. So it’s best to leave a hamster mother alone for 2-3 weeks after she’s given birth and only just feed her. Absolutely no handling or cleaning or saying hi. More on that in the link above. Once the hamster has survived his first few weeks, he will be weaned. That usually happens around 3-4 weeks of age. At this stage it becomes crucial to separate the hamster babies into male and female enclosures. This is because even so young, they can start to reproduce, and no one wants surprise litters, plus the fact that the incredibly young mother has a very low chance of survival. You can find out more about how to figure out your hamster’s gender here. Once the babies have been separated, they end up at a pet shop or given away to prospective owners. This should all happen up until the hamster’s 12th weeks or life, or his 3rd month. This is when he has become an adult, and will start showing most of his fur marking and personality. He still has an immense amount of energy, needs to run, climb, hide, and generally investigate every new sound. Once the hamster has become a senior, around 2 years old, his metabolism will start to slow down. He may become blind, or develop an illness, or maybe just die peacefully in his sleep. It’s much like with human seniors, some are worn down and tired in their 50s, some are vibrant and energetic even in their 70s. What owning a hamster is like Finally, a hamster is a commitment. They may not live very long lives, like a cat or a dog. But they are still souls that need your attention and care. Sometimes you will have to schedule things around them, or not be able to leave town until you’ve found a sitter to look after them. There will be moments when you wonder why you got yourself a rodent, of all things. Then you’ll look at his cute fuzzy face when he wakes up, stretching, and know it was the best choice ever. Honestly when I got my Teddy I knew nothing about hamsters. I knew they had short lives, and were fuzzy. This whole blog is dedicated to folks like me, who had no idea about hammies and want to know everything there is. How to care for them, how to play with them, cages, toys, everything. You can check out this article to see some pros and cons of owning a hamster here. You’ll get a feel for how a hamster changes your life, and understand them better. Aside from all this, I’d only recommend a hamster as a pet to more mellow, quiet people. You see hamsters are very sensitive, and need much patience and gentle handling. A child for example would not be a good owner for a hamster. Children simply don’t have the patience and care for a hamster. A guinea pig, on the other hand, might be better suited for them. A hamster will bite when handled wrong, try to escape at the drop of a hat, and be endlessly curious. They’re not exactly low maintenance in that regard. A word from Teddy I hope you found what you were looking for here, I know us hammies can be very cute and cuddly, but we don’t live the longest lives out there. Still, you can make our stay with you as comfy as possible. If you want to know more about us hamsters, you should check out the related articles below. You’ll find more info on how to care for us and keep us happy too ! [...] Read more...
How To Potty Train A Hamster? 4 Easy Steps
How To Potty Train A Hamster? 4 Easy StepsPotty training a hamster is just as important as it is for the other common pets we keep at home. since it will help you have a cleaner cage and a nicer smell in your home However, a hamster is not a dog or a cat; potty training your little furball can be quite challenging, so that’s why I decided to make a step-by-step guide. Before getting into this topic, it is important to know that hamsters are quite clean, and their cage doesn’t smell as bad as other small animals/rodents like rabbits or guinea pigs. Generally the smell doesn’t come from their poo or pee, but from marking their territory.  Table of Contents ToggleCan you potty train a hamster?How to potty train a hamster?4 Steps to potty train a hamster1. Check the behaviors2. Get a litter box or something that can serve as a litter box3. Choose the best litter4. Get your hamster used to the litter boxWhy should you potty train a hamster?How often to change the litter?Conclusion Can you potty train a hamster? Yes, you can potty train a hamster, but depending on your hamster’s personality, you might have more or fewer chances to succeed. I know most guides and videos talk about this topic like it is a walk in the park, but considering that hamsters are quite stubborn and, truth to be told, not the most intelligent rodents, it might be quite challenging to change their habits. If you want to increase your chances of succeeding when potty training a hamster, you have to do this as soon as possible. Training your hamster once it has already developed its habits will be way harder. That being said, let’s get to the actual topic. How to potty train a hamster? There are 4 easy steps that you should follow to make sure you do your best when you potty train a hamster. It is important that you are patient with your small pet, it can take a while to properly potty train your hamster. Also, an important thing to know is that you hamster might change their routine all of a sudden, especially when you clean its cage.  So you might succeed in potty training it for now, but this can change and vice versa, you might not succeed immediately, but in time, they will get to use the litter properly on their own. 4 Steps to potty train a hamster Here are 4 easy steps you can follow to properly potty train your hamster: 1. Check the behaviors The first step is to observe your hamster’s habits. Hamsters usually have a favorite spot to pee in, as I discussed in the article about why hamsters pee in their wheel.  They might not have a favorite spot when it comes to pooping, but that is not as important when potty training a hamster since their poop doesn’t smell that bad and it is solid, so it will not make a mess in the cage if they poop all over the place (which they will most probably do). They might be more poop in one place, but they rarely have only one or two favorite spots to poop. So, this is the first step you have to do, observe where they usually pee to know where to place the litter box. 2. Get a litter box or something that can serve as a litter box Now that you know where to place the litter box, buy a good plastic litter box or use any other plastic bowl or casserole you have. Hamsters usually pee in the corner of the cage, that’s why the most useful litter will be in kind of a triangle shape so you can cover the corner. If you don’t cover the spot they use as a litter with the litter box, your hamster might get around that and pee where they are used to. Buying a litter box that is specially made for this purpose will be easier. Here is a good triangle one that you can find on Amazon, if you hamster is used to peeing in a corner.    However, if your hamster is peeing in the middle of a side of the cage, an oval or rectangle one might be more useful. Here you can find an oval-ish litter box   If you want to save some money, you can use a plastic casserole. Clean it very well but without using too much soap since the hamsters are very sensitive to strong smells. The plastic container has to be heavy enough your hamster won’t move it or turn it over. You probably have to make some adjustments to the casserole to make it a good litter box. So you have to cut an entrance on a side, big enough for your hamster to fit, and make sure you make the surface smooth without any places where your hamster might get hurt. I saw some people recommend cardboard litter boxes, but hamsters can eat cardboard or chew very fast on it, so it might be a waste of time to keep changing it. They can chew on the plastic as well, but they will go through it way slower than they will go through cardboard. 3. Choose the best litter Choosing a good litter is as important, if not more as choosing a good litter box. There are many options out there, but not all of them are safe. Providing hamsters with safe litter that does not contain dust and is made from materials such as paper, chopped straw, wood pulp, or dried plant material is important. These materials are non-toxic and provide an ideal safe environment for your pet hamster. Some companies even sell cotton-based bedding and litter. It might look nice since it can be in fun colors, but it is important to know that hamsters should not be exposed to cotton litter or bedding as it can lead to choking, intestinal blockage, constipation, or limb entanglement. Here is a potty litter I found on Amazon that should be safe for your hamster:    Some people use sand as litter, but your hamster might use that for taking a bath instead of using it as a litter. That being said, this doesn’t mean it can’t work, if you want, you can give it a try. If you buy proper sand for your hamster, it should be safe. 4. Get your hamster used to the litter box Now, once you have everything set up, you have to do the following. Place the litter box in the corner or the spot your hamster uses as a litter and a bit of soiled bedding and some of their droppings in the litter box and wait. If you are lucky, your hamster might get to use the litter box right away. If not, you might have to put it in the litter so they get to know the place. If your hamster is not a friendly one, and you can’t move it to the litter box too easily, you might have to place some treats inside the litter box to lure them in. If you don’t succeed at first, don’t get the litter box out of its cage, it might get to use it later, so don’t give up. Why should you potty train a hamster? Potty training a hamster is important in order to have a cleaner cage. As I said before, hamsters are quite clean, they don’t smell bad, but cleaning a hamster cage might be challenging if they pee too much in one place since that pee will combine with the bedding and get stuck to the corner of the cage. And having in mind that you can’t use too much soap when you clean a hamster cage, it might be hard to clean a cage after a while. Having a litter box will make it much easier. You just get the box out, throw out what is in it, clean it a bit with hot water, dry it, and put it back with new litter. Observation: Your hamster doesn’t know that the new object you add to the cage is a litter box, and what that is.  They might use it as a new home where to sleep, as a sandbox to bath in, or just to sit in there and do nothing. This is not in your control, so don’t feel bad if it happens. How often to change the litter? Several things factor into how often a hamster’s litter needs to be changed, such as the type of bedding, the size of their cage, and the number of hamsters living in it(in the case of dwarf hamsters).  It is generally recommended to spot-clean the cage every couple of days, get rid of any poo and dirty bedding, and change the bedding entirely at least once a month. However, some of the original bedding should always be left in the cage to maintain your hamster’s scent. Conclusion Potty training a hamster is possible, and it is a good idea to at least try to potty train your hamster since it will make your job of cleaning the cage easier, and there will be a better smell overall in the cage. However, I wanted to be realistic and explain the steps you have to do but also the challenges you can face since a hamster is unpredictable and quite hard to train. Here is an article about taming your hamster while we are on the training topic, which is also challenging for some hamsters. I hope this article was helpful and now you know what to do in order to potty train your hamster properly, if you don’t succeed, don’t feel bad, not all hamsters will do that. [...] Read more...
Hamster Grooming, And The Importance Of A Proper Sand Bath
Hamster Grooming, And The Importance Of A Proper Sand BathYou’ve probably seen your hamster friend groom himself. Pulling his fur, combing through it, behind his ears, the works. But do hamsters need sand baths ? Does it help their grooming process ? This is something I’ve asked myself too, seeing as I did give Teddy (male, Syrian hamster) a bowl with sand for him to play in. But we should first know everything about a hamster’s grooming routine. Then, we can figure out if the sand bath helps. Table of Contents ToggleAbout the hamster’s grooming routineWhy a hamster needs to be cleanA sick hamster won’t take care of himself very wellHealth problems that come up because of poor grooming/hygieneA clean habitat keeps the hamster clean tooHow a sand bath helps a hamster groom himselfWhat kind of sand bath you should get for your hamsterHow to give your hamster a proper sand bathA word from Teddy About the hamster’s grooming routine All hamsters, everywhere, groom themselves. That’s a very well known fact. Actually hamster are pretty much on par with cats in terms of cleanliness. If you’ve ever noticed your hamster when he’s cleaning himself, you probably know he does that often. Much more often than most animals. This is one reason hamsters never need a water bath, with shampoo or other cleaning supplies. They’re simply too good at cleaning themselves, they don’t need it. And getting a hamster wet can be fatal in some cases, in most cases it leads to colds and hypothermia. For example my Teddy grooms himself when I put him in his exercise ball, when I take him out of it, when he wakes up, before he goes to bed, after he pees, after he runs for 10 minutes, after he eats and after he poops. Usually hamsters will pull at their fur, scratch part of their fur, com and comb again through their fur to get everything out and spread the oils on their fur. They’re especially funny when they start pulling on their ears and collecting whatever dirt was behind them, and especially their cheeks. As if anything had a chance to appear in the 2 hours since their last grooming session. That’s a lot of cleaning. But why do hamsters do that ? Why a hamster needs to be clean Hamsters need to be clean in order to keep their predators at bay. That’s the main reason, since hamsters are prey for many animals. This means that their scent will draw predators like wild cats, snakes, owls, and so on to hunt for them in the wild. So, hamsters have evolved this cleaning routine to keep themselves ‘invisible’, kind of. They’re very strict about it, and it’s what kept them alive all this time. Hamsters will want to clean themselves after every little interaction with something that can leave a smell on them. This includes other creatures, like other hamsters, or humans, and even food. Another reason hamsters clean themselves is because of their habitat. Hamsters in the wild live inside burrows, with series of tunnels and nests deep underground. This can make lots of debris like dirt and twigs get stuck in the hamster’s fur. The hamster cleans himself to function properly, and not have his fur matted with dirt. You can tell there is something wrong with the hamster if he stops cleaning himself, or he still looks bad after a grooming session. A sick hamster won’t take care of himself very well Hamsters not grooming themselves anymore have only two explanations. First, it could be that the hamster has become very old. So old, in fact, the he is very close to the end. His brain has started disintegrating and can’t help him do normal hamster things, like clean himself, not pee in his nest, and in extreme cases even eat. It’s a sad thing to watch, but there is nothing you can do to make your friend any better. It’s much like with human seniors. Once they start losing control of bodily functions, things can’t get better. The second reason hamsters stop grooming themselves is because they have become very, very sick. It could be an infection that weakened their body to the point of exhaustion. They’re simply too tired to clean themselves, and this will make the infection even worse. Or it could be a physical problem, as in a broken or sprained paw that restricts their movement, or a form or arthritis. In short, if your hamster isn’t cleaning himself, that is very bad news. Most of the time the vet will be able to help you treat the hamster’s illness. For this you need to look for an ”exotics” vet, who has experience with rodents, reptiles, and also birds. Health problems that come up because of poor grooming/hygiene Some of the health problems that can rear their ugly heads when the hamster isn’t clean can be very serious. I’ll give you a brief rundown of these health problems. Infections – can become serious business, in any part of the body. Especially bad if the hamster ends up swallowing part of the pus, like with cheek infections, or tooth infections. Eye infections can be rinsed with a saline solution, until the vet can receive your hamster and give him proper treatment. Even a small, seemingly benign cut (if the hamster is scratching himself, for example) can be dangerous if the hamster’s skin isn’t clean, or the claw he’s scratched himself with is dirty. As with humans, infections need antibiotic treatment, which can take a toll on the body. Given that the hamster is such a small little thing, his food will need to be supplemented during his treatment. Mites and parasites – these are never fun to treat, and please do not get your hamster treatments for such problems without talking to your vet. Most over the counter treatments are much too harsh for the hamster’s skin and can cause death, so please be careful. The vet will be able to recommend a treatment that will be fairly easy on your hamster. The problem with mites and other parasites (like fleas for example) is that the hamster will scratch himself much too hard and eventually hurt himself. This can lead to bald patches, and other health problems like infections or warts. Fungus – the cage needs to be clean, to prevent the spores from fungus to develop. There are two main culprits when it comes to fungal infections in hamsters (ringworm and Aspergillus) and both can be very dangerous. Ringworm is easier on the hamster, but Aspergillus can be deadly. Wet-tail – can come about if the hamster is kept in miserable conditions, or is highly stressed and his immune system can’t fight off the infection. The result is a weak hamster with constant diarrhea, and very little chances of survival. Thankfully wet-tail has a certain age when the hamster is likely to develop it. A bit like childhood illnesses. Wet-tail is more common on young (4-10 weeks) hamsters, who have been separated from the mother and brought to their new owner. All of these can be treated, so do not worry. If you notice your hamster having health problems, call your veterinarian. A clean habitat keeps the hamster clean too A clean cage will mean a clean hamster. For example the fungus problem I mentioned earlier. The Aspergillus spores will grow from the hamster’s pee corner. It will first look like a white growth, then turn black. But if the pee corner is cleaned often, the spores don’t really have a chance to develop. This only happens if the cage isn’t cleaned for a very long time (like a few weeks), or if the home/room has a fungal infection and the spores are already in the home. But what is a clean cage ? Hamsters will kick around bedding, bits of cardboard, fling their poo across the cage, and sleep on top of a pile of food. Well, that’s all normal, actually. Hammies keep themselves very clean, and their nest as well. As in, the area immediately around where they sleep. Aside from that, not their business. So cleaning the cage once per week is pretty much mandatory. If you’ve got more than one hamster living in the same cage, then you will have to clean the whole cage more often than that. This is because the pee corner starts to smell, and the bedding becomes very very messy. There will be bits of food lying somewhere, and torn up cardboard in the food bowl. It’s a lot like a small child’s room. To clean the hamster’s cage, you’re going to have to remove the hamster from the cage in the first place. Put him in his travel cage or exercise ball until you’re done cleaning. Take out all the bedding and objects, wipe the cage down with a wet, clean towel, then pat it dry. Add fresh bedding back, but make sure to sprinkle in a bit of the old bedding so the hamster recognizes things easier. Place everything back the way it was before, and finally add the hamster back in. (If you like this article so far, you can pin it to your Pinterest board by clicking the image below. The article continues after the image.) How a sand bath helps a hamster groom himself You’re wondering, after all this talk of hamsters cleaning themselves and how to keep their habitat clean, how does a sand bath help ? Well, at first glance it might seem like it’s pointless. It can be, from a certain point of view. But let’s see both sides for a moment. The main reason hamsters would need a sand bath is to absorb the excess oil in their fur. You see, hamster fur has a layer of oils (like our human hair does, the sebum) which helps keep the hair healthy and the skin clean. However too much of that sebum will make the hamster’s fur look bad, and feel bad too. This is where the sand comes in, to help keep the hamster’s fur nice and clean. Now, the hamster does comb through his fur often. So often that he moves the oils from the skin all the way to the tips of the hairs. So you could argue that their fur never gets too oily. While that is true, what is also true is that hamsters simply seem to go nuts when they feel sand. They immediately jump into the sand bowl and start spazzing, like cats on catnip. They not only rub themselves in the sand, they rub the sand into their fur. Somehow, they know something we humans do not know. And it looks like a sand bath is something they enjoy. My Teddy for example has his sand bowl close to his nest, and he takes occasional baths in it. He also loves to dig in that sand bath, which kicks up soooo much sand. Luckily it never gets out of the cage. What kind of sand bath you should get for your hamster As for what kind of sand to get your hamster, I unfortunately can’t give you a brand to look for. I mean, the sand I use for my Teddy can be used for chinchilla sand. So that’s a good starting point, chinchilla sand. But not all petshops have chinchilla sand, and looking for it online only gave me unhappy customers. It seems like the sand that was once okay (there were a couple of brands) is now not okay. They’ve changed their formulation and their sand is rather dusty, more like flour. Given how sensitive hamsters are, inhaling all that dust just isn’t alright for them. It isn’t alright for humans either, but hamsters are much more sensitive than us. So when you go and look for sand for your hamster buddy, make sure you look for granulated sand, dust-free. It shouldn’t be very coarse, it should be like… well, sand that’s been sifted. The one I have for Teddy is made of ground up sea shells and minerals. Some brands use this kind of formulation as well, and you can find it in either very light grey/white, or a sort of brown. It really depends on the brand and the formulation they’re using right now. I’ll attach a photo of the sand I have for my Teddy. If you can find this one, it’s probably still got the right texture for hamsters. How to give your hamster a proper sand bath Alright, we’ve talked about why hammies need a sand bath, and what kind of sand to look for. But how do you give a hamster a sand bath ? Well, hamsters are great at doing that themselves, so you won’t really have to do anything other than just provide the sand. What you need to be careful for is the fact that the sand will get everywhere. If you’ve ever been to the beach, you know what I mean. You have to be careful with it. So this means giving your hamster an appropriate place/object for that bath. You might think a shallow bowl would be enough. And it would, if it had something overhead. For example my teddy has half of a plastic hideout filled with sand, and it’s places under the first level of his cage. So that sand never gets outside the cage, and is well contained. But what if you don’t have another level in your cage ? Or not enough room under that level to fit a bowl ? Then you’ll need to look around for some options. For example this one is large enough to fit a Syrian hamster, and is easy to take apart and clean. It’s got a clear side, so you’ll be able to see your hamster when he uses this sand bath. It’s small enough so it will fit in most cages, so unless you’ve got an especially crowded cage, this one will fit right in. It’s even got a small scoop to get the hamster’s droppings out, if he ever decides to use the sand bath as a toilet too. Don’t be surprised if he does. You can check the listing on Amazon here. All you have to do is add the sand into the sand bath, and leave it in your hamster’s cage. I change my Teddy’s sand once per week, when I clean the whole cage. A word from Teddy I hope your found what you were looking for in this article. Us hamsters are very good at cleaning ourselves, we don’t really need any help. But we do appreciate a nice sand bath, to keep our fur nice and groomed. 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...
Understanding Syrian Hamster Behavior – An Owner’s Guide
Understanding Syrian Hamster Behavior – An Owner’s GuideIt can be great fun and very rewarding to own and look after a Syrian hamster, but in terms of treatment and cost, it can be a major burden and a long-term commitment. Syrian hamsters are small animals with a great deal of character. Their needs are very complicated and they can be easily injured. Hamsters are nocturnal animals, meaning they sleep most of the day and become active at night and in the evening. This implies that for people who may be out during the day and at home during the evening, they can make good pets. Table of Contents ToggleMale Syrian hamster behaviorAggressive behaviorParental behavior Social behavior of a hamster  Male Syrian hamster behavior Among the most common options for small pets is the Syrian hamster, also known as the golden hamster. Generally speaking, it is easy to tame, enjoyable to watch, and reasonably low-maintenance, making it a good beginner’s pet. These hamsters come from northern Syria and southern Turkey’s arid areas. Just as we do, hamsters use body language. They can show several feelings that include being happy, scared, threatened, curious, terrified, angry, and many other feelings. When conversing with others, they also use sign language to a limited degree. That doesn’t say, with all that said, that they won’t use an auditory method of communication as well. To call their mothers, babies use ultrasonic sounds, females have mating calls to attract a mate, and a hamster will squeak when it feels threatened or aggressive. Many of these sounds are brief and often unrecognizable to the human ear. Learning all the behaviors of your Syrian hamster means that you will be able to understand it better, thus taking better of him. If you notice your hamster is upset, mad, or ill, you can change the way you care for it. Sometimes, when you put your hands in the cage, you may just need to create more confidence with your pet so that it doesn’t act aggressively or get afraid. If the hamster is burrowing or digging its bedding it just means that the hamster is happy. The hamster is just playing around and by digging it is searching for snacks he buried earlier. Hamsters in the wild are extremely good diggers and will develop deep underground burrows. Make sure that your hamster has a dense layer of bedding so it can dig and burrow endlessly. If he is standing erect on its legs and watching you, it means that he is curious and is watching his surroundings, but still being calm. But when they’re standing with their dukes up on their hind legs, the hamster tells you it feels threatened and if you don’t back off, he might get aggressive. They are looking for reassurance while it is grooming and feel very happy with all that’s going on. They feel comfortable and relaxed about their present condition as they are stretching their limbs. It’s a sign of fright if his ears are forward with his cheek pouches puffed up and his mouth open. Try to minimize the stress factors that brought on this action. It means that a hamster is insecure about the current situation and is likely to run and hide when it empties its cheek pouches quickly. Another indication of insecurity and uncertainty is that as you approach it gets startled. In this case, he fells unaware of what’s going on at the moment. Also, if he is lying on his back with incisors showing, it’s a sign of a threatened hamster and he is scared. If you just got the hamster and you see him walking slowly and creeping around the cage, it just means that he is insecure around his surroundings. He is not yet comfortable with the cage and needs time to adjust to it. Try burying some snacks in the bedding to keep him active and get used to the habitat. Also, if the hamster is new to the cage, when you approach him, he will freeze in place. When the hamster is afraid, he will most likely play dead by standing still or lying down. He will most likely shy away and hide from you. This means that he is stressed out with the new environment and will need to adjust to, for example, loud noises. If the hamster continues to be unresponsive, you need to make some extra measures. If a hamster has a repeated routine and is doing the same things from day to day, it means that he is mentally ill. You can fix this by giving him toys to play and exercise, or giving him a larger cage. The most indecisive sign of a hamster is its squeak. He might be squeaking for no reason at all. But it can also squeak as a mating call, if he feels uncomfortable, or if he’s scared. This situation is the most difficult to figure out. Most of the behaviors displayed by hamsters does not mean he is ill. Hamsters are very active when they are awake and always find things to entertain them. If you feel the hamster is not acting normally, you can always enrich their time with toys and exercise. Make sure your hamster has plenty of training room and has suitable things to play with, such as tiny boxes, tubes, and mazes. For exercise, a good quality running wheel may provide additional activities. Once you can handle them with trust, you should enable your hamster to spend time out of their cage, but never leave your hamster unattended or overnight out of the cage. As long as the hamster is properly maintained, he will not be bothered and his behavior will remain natural. If you notice something strange, don’t jump to the conclusion that he is unwell. Try interacting and exercising with him. If his behavior is seriously worrying you, consult with the local vet. Aggressive behavior Since they are solitary by nature, Syrian hamsters can never be housed together. If you bring two Syrians together, they’re going to fight eventually. It’s only fine to house them together when they’re either breastfeeding babies or when you’re planning on mating them. Sometimes, almost without reason, hamsters may display worrying or aggressive behaviors. Acting this way is also not an indicator of the nature of the hamster – there is generally a very good explanation of why the animal behaves this way. If two grown male Syrian hamsters are kept together, they will show aggressive behavior. When one violent hamster attempts to bite the underbelly of the other, encounters will intensify into a wrestling match. To drive the hostile hamster down, the subordinate hamster will rise up, open its mouth, puff up its cheeks and stretch its arms out. When the hamster doesn’t want any trouble, its paw may be held out, its tail flicked, and does not maintain eye contact with the dominant hamster. This action can be interpreted as a retreat. However, a wrestling match can break out if one hamster does not initially back down. The wrestling match starts when one hamster stands up on his hind legs and attempts to bite the underbelly by lunging at the other. The two hamsters start rolling around in unison, trying to get the advantage. When one of the hamsters admits defeat, it will give up by lying on its back and freezing in this position. The wrestling match is generally over when this happens, but often, no hamster wants to give up that quickly. This is when they can intensify the wrestling into a fight. A fight looks a lot like a wrestling match but takes on a more violent and physical tone. Biting can become even more extreme and can lead to severe injuries. More pronounced squeaking may also be present. In the end, a hamster will give up and escape from the fight. When the subordinate hamster runs away through a hamster tunnel and hides in another habitat compartment, the battle always ends. If the hamster cage is not big enough for the hamster to run and hide, by chasing after it, the winning hamster can continue to fight. When it comes to this, it’s probably best to physically remove one of them to separate the hamsters. Hamsters can and do bite in certain cases. However, it is uncommon for a hamster to actually be aggressive, and they generally only bite when they get frightened. The most important thing to remember when you are dealing with these hamsters is that they’re biting because they’re scared, not because they’re aggressive. Tame hamsters are those who have been handled daily, so they’re used to people and are not easily frightened. Hamsters who have not been approached often, on the other hand, are typically not quite friendly, and if you attempt to pick them up, they sometimes bite. It can bite out of fear if you grab your hamster without allowing it time to readjust to your presence. If you do not physically hold them correctly, hamsters can even nibble you, which can be very painful for them. Hamsters are nocturnal, and if you wake them up during the day, they will be quite disoriented and very agitated. If they are scared and afraid, when you try to pick them up, they are likely to bite you. When it’s awake in the early evening and night, it’s going to be a lot more active and will potentially be more comfortable playing with you. Hamsters have very bad eyesight, and when they’re uncertain whether anything is edible or not, they are likely to experiment. If you stick food through the cage bars, then when you do the same with your finger, it will also believe it is a tasty treat and will bite you. When it comes to biting hamsters, it’s important to be patient. You will need to gain the trust of your pet and do so gradually. Don’t be brought down by the fact that it may take a month or a few months to fully succeed in this. Gaining a hamster’s trust can vary from week to week. Spend time sitting near the cage and talk to your hamster. Remember, moving to a new cage and new environment is very stressful, so this period is also habituation to a new home. After a week, try putting your hand on the cage. Place your hand next to the door or top of the cage, then extend it a little further each following day. Don’t try to touch the hamster, but if he becomes curious, let him explore your hand. When the hamster explores your hand, use that trust to slip him some treats and let it eat them from your hand. When your hamster starts eating treats relaxed, you can try to gently pet it. If your pet accepts treats and allows you to cuddle him, try lifting it. First, try to direct it so that it climbs into your arm, by placing the treats in it.  Parental behavior The Syrian female hamster has anatomical characteristics that are different from other species. They mature from 8-10 weeks of age and have an estrous period of 4 days. She frequently prefers to mate with an alpha male who, more often than any subordinate males present, will flank the mark (a scent-marking activity associated with aggression and competition). Male offspring are at greater risk of permanent effects from maternal social stress than female offspring. It is always recommended to separate the male hamster from the mother and the babies. There are many cases in which the father eats the babies, but it sometimes happens with the mother as well. In expectation of their babies’ birth, female hamsters will begin to build a nest. A female hamster is pregnant for only around three weeks and up to 20 babies will evidently appear in a hamster’s nest overnight. If by nesting and consuming a little more food than average, a hamster has prepared for a regular birth, then it may be particularly shocking to see a hamster kill and eat its own offspring. But while the reason this happens could be a shortage of food, there are a few other explanations that a hamster will eat its babies. For anyone, even a hamster, getting pregnant, giving birth, breastfeeding, and caring for multiple babies is really exhausting. If a hamster is too stressed, its babies will be eaten. She may feel that caring for her young is more than she can do. The same goes for when the hamster is scared. This is especially true with young hamsters. This can be caused by the fear of other pets, loud noises, and many other things that will intimidate the hamster. A hamster mother spends a lot of time grooming and caring for her youngsters. The fragrance left on each infant helps the mother to identify the babies. The mother could become confused and not know her own babies if a new smell, such as the scent of a human, is detected on the babies. The shortage of food is the most apparent explanation of why a hamster eats its own babies. Every animal that is pregnant or breastfeeding needs more energy than it can normally need. Therefore, there is so much more food required. From the lack of food, the hamster may be starving and fear being unable to provide for its baby. To prevent the mother from eating her babies, provide a quiet place for them. This can include keeping kids and other pets out of the space where your hamster lives, keeping the noise down in your house so that your hamster is not bothered, and maybe even covering the cage so that no potential threats or tension can be noticed. The most obvious precaution to take is to provide the hamster with plenty of food, during and after pregnancy. Make sure that you offer a high-quality hamster diet with plenty of protein as soon as you know that your hamster is pregnant. Also, make sure it always has clean water. You may want to split the hamsters if your pregnant hamster lives with another. This would make the babies safer and prevent any adult battle. If you find that you have a male and a female hamster living together, this will probably eliminate any pregnancy in the future. But, if both male and female hamsters are cared for properly, both of them will show high parental behavior. The male hamster will also contribute to building a nest, caring, grooming the young. Male hamsters will even pick up and carry the babies more often than the female. Even though the female hamster is more likely to eat the babies, male hamsters will injure them more. When trying to lie down, the male will accidentally lay down on the babies, almost suffocating them.  Social behavior of a hamster  Hamsters are normally solitary creatures and may be aggressive to other animals, often leading to significant injury or even death. In particular, Syrian hamsters are not inherently sociable and they are best kept on their own. The Syrian Hamster lives alone in the wild and is intensely territorial, threatening any intruders or other hamsters that it might face while traveling. In separate burrows, Syrian hamsters live a distance away from some other burrow of another hamster. Hamsters create unique odors that they use to communicate, so avoid housing unknown hamsters and hamster cages next to each other, as they can find this disturbing and can start fighting. In the house, they can also find the presence and scent of other animals stressful, especially animals such as cats and dogs that would usually eat small animals such as hamsters. Never let other pets rest on or interact with the hamster’s cage. By using their body language to exhibit emotion, you should observe your hamsters communicating and engaging with each other. As a pet hamster owner, understanding when all is well in the cage or when you may need to resolve a dispute is crucial. These hamsters are one of the most solitary species in the wild. As pets, they should always be alone in a cage. Young hamsters often tolerate cage companions for a little while. But there’s a fair chance they’ll become violent when they age, even battling to the death. Hamsters will stick their noses up to each other’s muzzles when they face each other head-to-head. Through smelling their scented gland that is located in that region of their face, they would be able to tell who the other is. Several things may then take place once their identity is established. If one hamster recognizes the other like a dominant hamster, he will point its ears up, lean backward in fear, turn, and leave. The female could do a walk where she arches her back and then goes into the lordosis position, if the encounter is between a male and a female, showing she is ready to mate. For two hamsters, circling is another way to find out who each other is. To scent its glands, one hamster will put its head up under the other hamster’s belly, then another will take its turn to smell the other. This hamster action may often look a little aggressive if there is an over-eager hamster involved. Often, it can escalate into wrestling in this case. Syrian hamsters are generally friendly, and many owners say that they are a good choice of pet since they can develop a very close bond with their owners. They are the biggest and one of the most common pet hamsters, partially because their size makes it easier to handle them. These hamsters are slower than any of their smaller counterparts. Another factor adding to their popularity is that this hamster breed should be kept on its own, as for fun and excitement, it focuses more heavily on its owner. Because they do not have a hamster friend to play with, during the hours you are both awake, it will be more open to forming relationships with the owners. Hamsters may not interact with a variety of people like many other pets do. Instead, hamsters are most happy sharing time with one, often two, owners. A hamster will learn to recognize the owner’s smell and might be scared of anyone he doesn’t know. Hamsters are reasonably independent and can amuse themselves for long periods, provided that their housing is sufficiently enriched with toys, bedding, burrowing, and climbing opportunities. Also, the hamster should undergo regular handling and contact to be comfortable and well-adjusted. Some hamsters are cuddlier, while others are more independent. Syrian hamsters are usually easier to tame, so they will be a little more affectionate than other types of hamsters. But this is only because the Syrians are much bigger than the other hamsters, which makes it easier to treat them. You should pet your hamster’s body or their head very softly to express your affection when they’re either in their cage or in your hands. Hamsters often seem to prefer to sleep on their owners once the trust point has been achieved. When they’re active, you can also speak to them with a quiet and soft voice (the talking approach also works when you’re trying to develop trust in your hamster). So, it’s important to be around them and connect with them daily to create a deeper relationship between you and your hamster. Even though hamsters show affection to their owners, they will not be so affectionate and lovable to other hamsters. One shouldn’t be too affectionate with the hamster. Remember that in the wild, hamsters live alone. It’s their natural instinct to play, explore, and eat on their own. They should have plenty of time by themselves, and they will find any kind of entertainment. Some owners tend to think that hamsters get lonely and want to touch them all the time. When you’re developing a relationship with a hamster, you should maintain a routine that your hamster will follow. Don’t pick it out of the cage anytime you wish. The hamster will not appreciate it if you pick him up constantly and it can become aggressive if he is not left alone. Especially during the daytime, when it is sleeping. Set up a routine so your hamster knows when he will play with you and it will not get stressed out. [...] Read more...
When And How Hamsters Sleep – Your Furball’s Sleepy Time
When And How Hamsters Sleep – Your Furball’s Sleepy TimeIf you’ve got a hammy, you’ve probably wondered at first why he sleeps so much, especially during the day. Our guests always ask us where Teddy is, since he’s sleeping when they come over. Turns out hamsters have a veeery different sleeping pattern than us humans. Sometimes it’s cute, sometimes you’ll wonder why you got yourself into this. But they’re always lovable. Table of Contents ToggleWhen is your hamster sleeping ?How your hamster usually sleepsDo hamsters sleep with their eyes open or closed ?No hamster likes being woken upDon’t change your hamster’s sleep scheduleKeep your hammy’s sleeping area undisturbedThe cage should be in a calm, secluded areaYour hamster might be making odd, random soundsHamsters get midnight munchies and bathroom trips tooA word from Teddy When is your hamster sleeping ? Hamsters sleep during the day, and are awake at night, or in the twilight hours. This is an instinct they’ve had since forever, and it’s what kept them alive for so long. Hamsters are prey animals, and most of their predators are awake during the day. This means the hamster must hide, so he sleeps the day away in his little burrow. Once evening sets in, he gets his little nose out and starts looking for food. But what about your domestic, furry little friend sleeping in his cage ? He’s sleeping the day away too, even if there are no predators around. That’s simply his schedule, and don’t take it personally. He will wake up in the evening, around 8-10 PM, and stay up til morning. His sleep pattern might change over the years a bit, but he is largely nocturnal, and it’s the best thing for him, given the way his body works. You can change his sleeping pattern, but you’re mistreating him and causing much discomfort. We’ll cover that part too, and why it hurts the hamster. How your hamster usually sleeps Your hamster friend usually sleeps in his hideout, or the nest he’s made in a corner if he has no hideout. He sleeps in a big, knotted pile of paper towels, toiler paper squares, chewed up cardboard, and some bits of wood shaving from the bedding. Sometimes you can catch a glimpse of him sleeping, with his little feet curled up and ears folded. Seriously, a sleeping hammy is about the cutest thing ever. For example my Teddy is a Syrian hamster, and a male at that. Syrian males are notorious for having ridiculously large testicles, and they just… hang out… when he sleeps. So I’ve had a few moments when I wanted to see him sleep and instead got a full view of the family jewels, and a furry foot. Hammies sleep curled up, and very well hidden in their little nest. So actually seeing the hamster will not be easy. But you can sometimes see parts of the nest moving when he twitches or shifts. Do hamsters sleep with their eyes open or closed ? I’ve seen no hamster sleep with his eyes open, nor have other hamster owners told me about that. It’s not something hamsters do, unlike bunnies. Hamsters sleep with their eyes closed, and they might crack one open if they hear something or feel the cage move. Other than that, a hamster sleeping with open eyes sounds like a possible medical problem. So it’d be best if you checked with your dedicated veterinarian. If you don’t have a vet on call, or are not sure what kind of vet you need, look for an ”exotics” vet. Hamsters, like parrots and guinea pigs and lizards, are considered exotic animals and a regular vet won’t have very much experience with them. No hamster likes being woken up On the topic of waking a hamster up, well, don’t. No one likes being woken up in the middle of the night, unless there’s a disaster happening right this minute. It might be 3 PM on a sunny afternoon for you, but it’s something like 4 AM for him. Let the little fella rest. Hamsters do a whole lot of sleeping for being such small creatures. For example an adult Syrian can sleep between 6 and 8 hours per day ! That’s about as much as you or I need, and we’re much larger than a fistful of fur. Hamsters need the rest, because they are always on high alert, and quite high strung. They’re jumpy and always on the move. Imagine your little friend on the wheel, all night long, running as far a 9 km/5.5 miles in one night. He needs the rest. If you do handle the hamster when he just woke up, that’s on your own risk. Hammies, like humans, are quite disoriented when they wake up. That means you’ve got an equal chance at a docile, hazy hamster as well as a snappy, irritable one. I usually leave Teddy alone when he wakes up, and only talk to him for the first few minutes. Don’t change your hamster’s sleep schedule Given the fact that you’re awake during the day, and sleeping at night, I know you probably don’t get to see your friend too often. Maybe a couple of hours in the evening before bed, and in the morning when you’re rushing to get somewhere. I know that’s my routine with Teddy, and we do a whole lot playing and handling in the evening when he’s up. It is at all possible to change your hamster’s sleeping pattern, and you’ll find plenty of guides on how to do that. However that’s not very safe for your hamster. Hear me out here. Hamsters have very sensitive eyes, even if their eyesight is almost non-existent. By forcing your hamster to stay up during the day, you’re putting a lot of bright daylight on his eyes. Even if it’s not direct, the light is still much too harsh for his sensitive night creature eyes. Hamsters do best in low light conditions, and harsh lighting can be painful for them. A regular light bulb won’t hurt him much, but it’s nothing compared to the sunlight. I doubt you have the lights on in the middle of the day. Then there’s the fact that hamsters are okay with humans handling them, but there is such a thing as too much for them. Handling your hammy too much might tire him out faster than you’d like, and faster than would be alright for him. Finally, it’s about the other bodily functions that hamsters have as nocturnal creatures, that don’t work as well in the middle of the day. So, again, please let your hamster have his normal routine, and try finding a happy medium between you both. Keep your hammy’s sleeping area undisturbed We’ve already covered the fact that hamsters don’t like being woken up. Neither do you, neither do I, for that matter. But the sleeping area is very important too. You see, hamsters don’t see very well but rely a whole lot on their sense of smell. Their sleeping area, or bed if you will, is full of their scent. Your hammy took the time and effort to decorate his bedroom just the way he likes it. But we can’t leave it like that, since it needs periodic cleaning. Now, there are way to clean the hamster’s nest without disturbing it too much. One of them is spot-cleaning the nest, where you only pick out the droppings, and maybe a piece of the nesting material that got soiled. Add a few fresh pieces of paper towel, and your hammy will add them to his bedroom. But what if you need to change the whole thing, since it’s been a while ? In that case remember to leave a few pieces of the old nest, and throw out the rest. The old bits will have your hammy’s scent, and make it much less annoying for him to rebuild. Changing the entire nest at a time can be a bit stressful for your hamster. He is after all a creature of habit, and needs things to be the way they always were. He doesn’t do well with change. The cage should be in a calm, secluded area The area in your house where you keep the cage needs to be in a calm area. For example if your living room has lots of guests, a couple of kids, and a puppy running about, it’s not a good place for a hamster. Find a room or a corner of the house where your hamster can hear the hustle and bustle of the house and get used to it. But, it should be a fairly private place where there’s not much traffic, and your hamster can sleep undisturbed. Even if he’s not sleeping, your hammy doesn’t take well to stress. By this I mean an overly curious cat, child, or even adult prodding at him, tapping the cage and trying to interact with the hamster when he’s not up for it. Truth is, hamsters are indeed friendly, but in short bursts. They won’t stay put long, and won’t stay in your hand for more than a couple of seconds. Hammies are always moving and curious and need to see and smell and know and inquire about every little thing. You’re literally holding them in place when they want to investigate that rustling bag. Maybe a bit exaggerated, but you get the general idea. (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.) Your hamster might be making odd, random sounds Even when he sleeps, your hamster is still a funny little thing. Not only is he a cute, curled up ball of fur, but he might also be making the oddest sounds. Maybe it’s just my Teddy, maybe it’s all Syrian hamsters. I know lots of hamsters make cute sounds, and I’ve heard of and read about other hammies squeaking in their sleep. My Teddy can be fast asleep and still squeaking. It’s somewhere between a hiccup and a bark, like he’s going ‘hmph’ left and right. Maybe your hammy does it too, maybe he doesn’t. But do expect odd noises coming from his nest when he sleeps. If it’s not the squeaking, it could be a rustle, or a chatter, or a chewing sound. Those are all normal. Think about when you sleep. You do a whole lot of moving in your sleep as well, so don’t be surprised if your hamster is not very different. Hamsters get midnight munchies and bathroom trips too Ah yes, the midnight snacks. Like we’ve never woken up to grab something from the fridge, on our way to the bathroom. Your hammy does that too. You see, hamsters designate a ”pee corner” and they only use that one. It just so happens to be on the farthest point from their nest. Hammies are very clean animals, and they keep their nest very clean. So if your hammy suddenly wakes up to much on a peanut,goes for a pee, and stops on his way to grab a drink, that’s okay. He’a a healthy, normal hamster, doing healthy, normal hamster things. Even if your hamster doesn’t wake up too much for a quick snack, that’s fine too. While hamsters do sleep for a lot of hours, they don’t necessarily have to be continuous. For example my Teddy wakes up randomly in the middle of the day (night for him) and takes a short walk of sorts. He might even get on his wheel for a bit, but he’s always up for just a few minutes. Every hamster wakes up with his fur a bit ruffled, ears folded back, eyes half closed. He might even stretch and yawn, and look bleary. He did just wake up, after all. Usually after that he’ll start grooming himself, and start his day. apparently A word from Teddy I hope you found a lot of useful info here. I know us hammies seem to sleep a lot, but it’s just the time difference between us. If you work a night shift, your’re probably on the same pattern as us. You’re probably very tired all the time, though. If you want to know more about us hammies, you an check out the articles below on how to take care of us properly. [...] Read more...