Releasing Your Hamster Into The Wild – Is It A Bad Idea ?

Wondering if you should let your hamster roam free ? Releasing a hamster into the wild  can sound like a good idea, but is it really ?

Let’s see everything we should take into account when we’re thinking about such a big decision. I’ll be honest with you, I sometimes wondered if I should release my own Teddy (male Syrian hammy). So these are the things I’ve thought about before deciding what to do with him.

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So should I release my hamster in the wild ?

Short answer – NO. Do not release your pet hamster into the wild.

Long answer – it depends on a series of factors like the area you live in, predators, how easily the hammy can find its food, if it will survive the winter or a storm, and so on.

For the vast majority of people who own a hamster, the outside conditions, even in the countryside, could not sustain a hamster. Some select few could release their hamster and he could live a happy life. 

But let’s see what those factors are, and how they could affect your hamster’s lifespan and quality of life.

Hamsters haven’t been pets for very long

Let’s start with the beginning. Where hamsters come from, and where they should go, if you ever want to let them go.

There’s 5 types of hamsters: Syrian or Golden hamster, Roborovski Dwarf, Campbell’s Dwarf, Djungarian Dwarf, and the Chinese Dwarf. These hammies come from a very specific part of our planet.

The Syrian from Syria, Southern turkey and the arid land between them.

The Dwarf types come from the area between Siberia, southern Russia, Mongolia, Northern China.

Hamsters have become pets only in the last century or so, and that means one thing: they’re still very much like their ancestors.

So, in theory, if you were to release your pet hamster in the wild, he would still know what to do. His instincts are intact, even if he comes from a breeder who focused on docile hamsters.

However the problem is that a hamster that’s already an adult (3 months and older) is already used to human interaction, and will be a bit confused for the first few days if you were to release him into the countryside. If he’s an especially docile hamster, he will have a bit more trouble adapting.

You can’t really release a baby hamster into the wild since he will immediately become dog food, There’s also the fact that a baby hasn’t learned everything from his mother yet.

So there’s that, but there are still many things that would be not safe or alright for a pet hamster in the wild.

A hamster’s usual food probably isn’t available in your area

Another concern is that the hamster will probably not have his usual food in the wild, in your part of the world. The thing is, hamsters can and do eat many things.

Grains, fruit, veggies, some types of meat, etc. But they rely mostly on grains, and if you’re living in a very urban area, you’ll have to drive to the countryside to release him.

There he might be able to find some grains and a few veggies to forage. The problem with that is that unless you’re from the origin area of your hamster type (figure out which type you’ve got here), his normal food won’t be available.

If you were to release him next to a corn field, he would indeed find the corn, and also a few other unsafe foods. Hamsters are very curious, and will try anything new that they find. This includes safe and unsafe weeds and plants.

If the hamster were to somehow find the right kind of food, he would be able to survive in the wild. Not a guarantee, but it could be possible, strictly form a dietary point of view.

You probably don’t live in the hamster’s natural habitat

This is the biggest concern I have with releasing hamsters into the wild. As I said above, hamsters come from a very specific area of our planet.

Those areas happen to be very sparsely populated. Most people who own a hamster do no live in the rural parts of northern China, or Mongolia.

Actually many people don’t live at all in those areas, since they’re mostly barren. Some vegetation grows, which is where the hamster will find his food.

But aside from that, it’s very hard living. The terrain is harsh, cold, and stretches on forever. This is one of the reasons hamsters are born to run (aside from predators), so they cover more ground looking for food.

If, however, you do live in an area close to the hamster origin, you could release him into the wild. Again, the area depends on which type of hamster you’ve got. There are indeed differences between the Syrian and Dwarf hammies, and they could not live in swapped homes.

We need to also take into account the difference in weather. It might sound silly, but it’s something that can make your hamster’s life in the wild unnecessarily hard.

For example if you’ve got a Syrian hammy, and you live in the mountainside in France, releasing him there would be a death sentence. The cold would be too much for him, and the rains would kill him as well. Hamsters do not take well to being wet, and they have a hard time recovering from that.

If you were to have a Djungarian Dwarf, he’d be more suited to the cold. The problem is that the terrain is very different from what his ancestors had.

A cold, permanently snowy mountain is very different from the dry, plain tundra of Siberia or Mongolia. Again, the food source he’d find would not be similar to what his ancestors found.

Keep in mind predators and other dangers

Predators are a given. Whether you release the hamster in his normal habitat, or another different habitat, he will still be hunted. That’s just the nature of hamster life.

A wild hamster has a much shorter life span than a pet hamster. A wild hamster has to run for his life nearly all the time, and is going to need all the energy he can muster from those little feet.

In the wild there are snakes, foxes, owls, cats, wild dogs, and so on. They all hunt the tiny hamster, and he will not be safe anywhere. Wherever you release him, he has a very high chance or not making it until for long.

(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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It’s your decision in the end

After everything you’ve read, do keep in mind that keeping or releasing your hamster is your decision.

When I thought about releasing Teddy, it was when we were making incredibly slow progress with the taming process. We did have a breakthrough in the end and we get along fine now. But I asked myself the same things I’ve shared with you above.

Would he survive in the wild here ? Would he find food ? Could he find a mate ? Would I be sending him to certain death ?

Those are questions I had to ponder, and in the end I decided to keep Teddy. That’s how I decided to make this site, too. To help others understand and care for their little hamster friends, with what I’ve learned from Teddy and other hamster owners.

What got to me the most was the image of Teddy’s hideout, under a tree, with rain pouring down on every side. The poor thing shivering inside his little hut, with barely a few grains he found, and nothing else.

Rainy seasons are fairly long, and I knew that even if he could survive the rains, he wouldn’t survive the cold.

So in the end it all comes down to what you decide. You should weight the pros and cons, although the cons seem to far outweigh the pros.

What I’d suggest, if you do not want to keep your hamster anymore, is to donate him. There are certain sites, or even social media groups dedicated for donations. That’s how we got our pair of guinea pigs, actually.

Or, you could take them to a shelter or pet shop, to be taken in by another owner.

A word from Teddy

I hope you found what you were looking for in this article. I know us hammies might seem like we’d get along fine in the wild, but the truth is if we’re a pet, were probably very far away from our homes.

If you want to know more about us hammies, and how to keep us safe, you can read the related articles below.

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Should You Take Your Hamster Wheel Out at Night?
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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...
These Are The 4 Best Hamsters For Beginners
These Are The 4 Best Hamsters For BeginnersHamsters are cute and small, and they seem to be great pets for children. You only have to feed them, clean their cages, and give them attention. They are great for teaching children responsibility or as a starter pet before you get them a dog or a car. There are 16 types of hamsters that we have discovered, and only a few of them are kept as pets.  That being said, not all these hamsters are suitable to be children’s pets. Some are more difficult to tame, some need more care, and others will bite. You want to pick a hamster that is easy to care for and that doesn’t bite. Make sure you do your research before you get a hamster to know exactly what to expect. For example, hamsters are nocturnal, which means that they are only active during the night, and they will probably wake up your child if the cage is in your child’s bedroom. You should also be aware of the fact that hamsters never bond with people as cats or dogs do. If you’ve done your research and are sure that you want to get a hamster, here’s a list of 4 hamsters that are best for beginners.  1. Syrian Hamster The Syrian hamster is also known as the golden hamster, and it is one of the most popular hamsters that people keep as pets. They make very good pets for beginners since they are easy to tame, fun to play with, and very low-maintenance. Syrian hamsters originate from dry areas of northern Syria and southern Turkey. Their fur is naturally colored golden brown and they have a lighter belly. Nowadays there are many different colors, patterns, and hair lengths of Syrian hamsters thanks to selective breeding.  The captive-breeding programs for Syrian hamsters have begun in the 1930s both for experiments and pet trade. Because they are losing their habitat in the wild, they are considered to be vulnerable. It’s very easy to take care of a Syrian hamster. You can find food made specifically for them in the pet store, and their housing won’t take up much of your space. Syrian hamster weighs around 5 ounces and is 5 to 9 inches long. It lives for 2 to 4 years.  You might have heard that Syrian hamsters have a reputation that they bite a lot. This is, however, mostly because people don’t know how to handle them. If you don’t squeeze or shake it while you’re holding it, the Syrian hamster will learn that it has nothing to be afraid of when it’s in your hand. This type of hamster likes to be alone and is very territorial. You should never have more than one Syrian hamster living together in a cage. If you keep 2 or more Syrian hamsters together in a cage, they will get really aggressive, and they sometimes even fight to the death. You should keep any other pets you might have in your household away from the hamster because they will likely hurt each other.  Syrian hamsters, like all hamsters, sleep during the day and are active during the night. They are generally quiet, but it would be best if you kept it away from your bedroom at night because it could wake you up.  If you are looking for a hamster to bond with, you will have to look for some other type of hamster, because Syrian hamsters never really bond with their owners. Some might come closer when they see you and sleep on your hands. Make sure you spend enough time with your hamster each day to keep it tame. The Syrian hamster will need as big of a cage as you can get. The smallest cage you can put your Syrian hamster into can be 1x2x1 feet. Make sure you put a lot of hamster toys in its cage and don’t forget to put an exercise wheel. It’s best that you get an exercise wheel that has a solid surface so you avoid any injuries. Place a sleeping hut in the corner of the cage, you can usually find these in the pet store. You will have to feed your Syrian hamster with nuts, grains, and seeds, fruits, and vegetables. Syrian hamsters are omnivores, so you can occasionally give them a hardboiled egg or some insects. You should talk to your vet to see what is the best diet for your hamster because it depends on the size and the age of your hamster. Make sure there’s always a bowl of food in the cage and throw away any food your hamster doesn’t eat after a day. There should also be a water bottle or a water bowl in the cage, and you should change the water each day.  Syrian hamsters rarely get sick, but there are a few diseases you should be on the lookout for. One such disease is a wet tail, a gastrointestinal infection that is caused by stress. This is the most common disease that affects Syrian hamsters. You will know that your hamster has a wet tail if you notice that it’s not eating, has diarrhea, and the area around its tail is wet. Make sure you take your hamster to the vet if you notice any of these symptoms.  2. Dwarf hamsters Dwarf hamsters are tiny hamsters that originate from the desert regions. Unlike larger hamsters, they are very social and are happiest when they are in groups. Unlike cats or dogs, they won’t bond with you, but they will recognize you and come close to the side of their cage if they see you. They weigh between 1 and 2 ounces and are around 2 inches long. You can expect them to live for 3 years.   Dwarf hamsters are also nocturnal, but they can sometimes adapt to their owner’s schedule. That being said, if you try to wake up the Dwarf hamster, it will probably bite you. Most hamsters wake up in the evening and are happy to hang out with people then. When they wake up, they will make noises during the night, so you shouldn’t keep them in your bedroom if you are a light sleeper.  This type of hamsters usually likes being held by people, however, if they feel uncomfortable, they will bite you. You should start handling them when they are young and always be careful and gentle. This way they will learn that they shouldn’t be afraid when you handle them. When you try holding your hamster, it’s best that you’re in a closed room and that there’s something soft underneath you. Hamsters are very quick and they can escape from your hands before you realize it. That’s why there should be something soft for them to land on, and the door should be closed so they can’t escape to the other room. If your hamster falls from even a couple of feet and hits the ground it could lead to some serious injuries.  Your Dwarf hamster should have a big cage because it needs a lot of room to play in. The smallest cage you can keep your Dwarf hamster is in 1x2x1 feet, but that is the bare minimum. If you have more than one hamster, you will have to get a bigger cage. Dwarf hamsters usually live in glass or plastic aquariums, or in wire cages. Wire cages provide better airflow, but they won’t protect your hamster from the draft. If you choose to get a wire cage, make sure that the distance between wires is narrow so that your hamster can’t escape. You should place at least a 1 to 2-inch layer of bedding, for example, chemical- and dye-free shredded paper or hardwood shavings. You will have to change the bedding once a week, and clean all surfaces with water and soap. Make sure you clean up any wet spots each day. You should never forget to place an exercise wheel in your hamster’s cage, as well as many toys. There should be a lot of mineral or wooden toys to chew on so that hamsters can take care of their teeth, and add a sleeping house to the cage. Your hamster should be fed once a day, and ask your veterinarian how much food you should give it. You can buy food blends that are made specifically for Dwarf hamsters. You can also feed your Dwarf hamster with a bit of nuts, seeds, oats, bananas, and carrots. Never feed your Dwarf hamster with avocados, almonds, and chocolate as they are very toxic. Dwarf hamsters are prone to many health issues, and make sure you have a veterinarian near you who treats Dwarf hamsters before you buy this type of hamster.  They can lose hair and get skin lesions from rubbing on something in its cage or because it was attacked by another hamster. Make sure you take your hamster to the vet as soon as you notice any skin injuries because they can get infected quickly. Dwarf hamsters are known to be prone to diabetes. You can prevent this if you don’t let your hamster eat a lot of sugar and make sure it gets a lot of exercise. Check your hamster’s teeth every once in a while. Unlike human teeth, hamster teeth never stop growing, and if your Dwarf hamster doesn’t have anything to chew on, its teeth will become overgrown. This will make it hard for your hamster to eat, and the vet will have to trim its teeth.  3. Robovski Hamsters Robovski hamsters are the smallest and fastest hamsters. When they grow up they are as big as an adult’s thumb, which is about 2 to 3 inches. They originated from China, Mongolia, and Russia.  Wire cages are the easiest to clean up, but since Robovski hamsters are so small, it’s hard to find a wire cage that won’t let them escape. It’s best to get an aquarium that is 24 inches by 12 inches and minimally 12 inches high for two hamsters. If you choose to have more than 2 hamsters, you will have to provide 12 by 6 inches of space for each new hamster. Make sure you cover your hamster’s cage with mesh so nothing falls into the cage but the air is still able to flow.  There should be at least 1 1/4 inches of bedding because Robovski hamsters love to burrow. It is not recommended that you use pine or cedar shavings because they can be harmful to hamsters. This type of hamster loves being active so make sure it has a lot of toys and an exercise wheel. Robovski hamsters don’t like to share, so make sure you get toys for each one of your hamsters. This also goes for food and water.  Robovski hamsters are also active during the night and sleep during the day. They are gentle and rarely bite. However, they are extremely fast which makes it hard to handle them. You should always handle them above a large box so you can catch them if they slip away. You can train Robovski hamsters to take treats from your hand. To do this, you will have to rest your hand and put a treat in your palm. The hamster will explore your hand and find the treat.  This type of hamster is very social, and it is best if you keep it in groups with same-sex hamsters. You should establish groups from a young age. It is not advisable to introduce a new Robovski hamster to an already established group, as it’s not likely to survive. If your hamsters don’t kill each other, you can expect them to live for 3 years. Robovski hamsters are naturally sandy brown and they have white bellies, which lets them blend in with the desert nicely when they live in the wild. 4. Chinese hamsters Chinese hamsters are small hamsters that originated from China and Mongolia. Most of them are brown and they have a lighter belly and a black stripe running down their back. You can recognize these hamsters because they have longer tails than any other type of hamsters. They are easy to take care of, however, some of them bite. They weigh between 1 and 2 ounces and live for 2 to 3 years.  Chinese hamsters make good pets and they don’t mind when you handle them if you’ve done it since they were young. Always sit when handling your hamster because it could get injured if it falls.  You can choose to only have one Chinese hamster, or keep them in same-sex groups. That being said, there’s a big chance that they will be aggressive and territorial if they live in groups. It would be good if you can get hamsters from the same litter that will grow up together and gets used to each other. Make sure you keep your Chinese hamster away from any other pets you have because it’s so small and it could get easily injured.  They will also need 1x2x1 feet cages, and you should layer 1 to 2 inches of bedding, for example, aspen shavings or some other paper-based products. Make sure you add toys, an exercise wheel, and a sleeping hut to their cage.  You can find food for your Chinese hamster in the pet store, and make sure that it’s supplemented with vitamins and minerals. You can put food for the whole day in the bowl and place the bowl in the cage. Chinese hamsters like eating small portions throughout the day.  You can also supplement the commercial food with some seeds, nuts, and fresh fruit and vegetables, but make sure that the supplemental food makes only 10% of your hamster’s diet.  Chinese hamsters are prone to respiratory issues. You will be able to tell that something’s going on with your hamster if you notice it wheezing, sneezing and that it has nasal discharge.  They can also suffer from the wet tail. If you notice that your hamster doesn’t want to eat, that it has diarrhea, or that the area around its tale is wet, take it to the vet immediately.    [...] Read more...
Do Hamsters Climb ? The Funny Truth About Spider-Hamsters
Do Hamsters Climb ? The Funny Truth About Spider-HamstersHave you got a hamster, and he’s all over the cage ? Climbing everything, the cage walls, the furniture, your arm, the dog maybe. My Teddy was part-tarantula when he was young, so let me tell you about climbing hamsters. Table of Contents ToggleSo do hamsters climb ?Hamsters have so much energy to burnClimbing toys for your hamster friendA word from Teddy So do hamsters climb ? Yes, hamsters do climb. They will climb everything they can get a grip on, and are endlessly curious. Hamsters are exceptionally good climbers, though not nearly as good as mice or rats. Still, a hamster can climb anything as long as he’s got something to hold onto. A hamster’s grasp is very strong, and his entire body is a lean, mean, climbing machine. If you’ve ever seen your hamster climbing, you’ve probably seen the stripe down his fur on his abdomen. He’s very well muscled, and will scale every inch of his cage. Let’s see why this happens though, and if you and make it more fun for him. Hamsters have so much energy to burn Hamsters climb for two great reasons: They’re so incredibly curious, they have to see and smell and hear everything, and will move towards you as often as they can. They’ve got a ridiculous amount of energy, and even with a running wheel in their cage, baby hamsters will still be clinging to the ceiling. Let me tell you about my Teddy. He’s a Syrian male, and a fairly tough and energetic one at that. The first day we brought him home, he had one of those every small, square cages that you get at the pet shop. Too small, we had to go get another, bigger cage the following couple of days. In time we replaced that one too. In both cages, the very small one, and the large one, Teddy was all over everything. All over the walls, the cage ceiling, and he’s cross the whole cage suspended like that. Honestly it was the funniest thing ever, and I thought we’d gotten a tarantula by mistake. But no, that was just Teddy being a bright, curious, ball of energy. His wheel needed oiling every week, he was running so much in it. The best part of Teddy being such a climber was that he sometimes … well, I think he forgot he was climbing the the cage wires. I have no other explanation for this. He’d climb up and down the whole cage, show off his amazing abs, cling with just one paw, the use all 4, all kinds of acrobatics. Suddenly, he’s just let go, like his batteries ran out right then and there. It was always in weird places, like letting go from the side of the cage, or the ceiling of the cage. He was always fine and kept doing it, aside from all the toys he had, the running wheel, the exercise ball, everything. Hamsters are just full of energy. Maybe your hammy is a bit silly like my Teddy, maybe he’s more of a lazy puff. I’ve met hamsters that only used their running wheel to gently swing in it while they ate. (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.) Climbing toys for your hamster friend If you do have a hamster buddy who loves to climb, then he’s going to need some stimulation. While climbing the cage bars is perfectly fine, it can sometimes lead to chewing the cage bars. Not only is that annoying, it’s also not safe for his teeth at all. You can find out more on bar chewing here. One kind of toy that climbing hamsters would love is one that’s going to give them a place to hide too. This one’s got a coconut hideout connected to the ladder, and your hamster friend can get a lot of exercise through it. In general, bird toys make good climbing toys for hamsters, as long as they’re the ladder/climbing  types like this one. You can find the listing on Amazon here, and read the reviews as well. Another kind of toy a climbing hamster might like is just the ladder itself. Like this one for example, and can be used to connect 2 side of the cage, or even as a hanging rope. Hammies love to climb, but they will chew on everything. So their toys need to be safe. This one is made of wood and twine. This means your hammy will get a good grip on it, and also chew on it safely. Do remember that hamsters will jump from heights, since they can’t judge distances very well. I recommend hanging this toy not very high off the cage floor. You can check the listing on Amazon here, and read the reviews as well. Whichever toy you get your hamster, remember that he might still climb the cage itself too. That’s alright, as long as he has other forms of stimulation, he will be fine. A word from Teddy I hope you found what you were looking for here. Us hammies are very curious and want to explore everything, so naturally we’ll climb over and onto anything. If you want to know more about us hamsters, you can check the links below for more info on how to keep us happy and safe. [...] Read more...
Can Hamsters Eat Bird Food? You Need To Know This
Can Hamsters Eat Bird Food? You Need To Know ThisI have a hamster, and my inlaws have two parrots, so this question popped into my mind several times before doing research to see if a hamster can safely eat bird food. The first thought was that the pre-made food for birds and hamsters looked kind of similar, so I thought there was no harm in feeding them the same thing. But after doing a bit of research, I found out that there are more things we need to know before feeding our hamsters with bird food. I have seen people experimenting with hamster food a lot without checking if that is safe for the little hamster, so I’m glad you are here, and you are willing to fact-check those things before feeding your hamster. Table of Contents ToggleCan hamsters eat bird food?Differences between bird seeds and hamster foodSafe and unsafe seeds for your hamsterIs feeding your hamster with pre-made food mix enough?What other pet food can hamsters eat?What about cat food?Guinea pig/rabbit foodConclusion Can hamsters eat bird food? Hamsters can eat small quantities of bird food as a treat. However, swapping the pre-made hamster food with bird food long-term is unhealthy for your pet hamster. Those are the two main reasons why you should not feed your hamster with bird food. Bird seeds contain more fat than hamster food, and eating too much bird food might endanger your hamster. If you have bird seeds and don’t want to throw them away, you can give them to your hamster as a treat instead of the main food. When we talk about bird food, it is important to know that besides the seeds, there are bird pellets that contain more fruits and vegetables in the mix. This might sound like a healthier option, but it is actually more dangerous for hamsters since they can develop diabetes much easier, especially dwarf hamsters. Hamsters primarily east grains and seeds, not fruit.  Here is an entire article about hamster diabetes and all you need to know in order to prevent it. Dwarf hamsters are predisposed to diabetes, but that doesn’t mean a Syrian hamster can’t develop it. Also, those pellets might contain too much vitamin C for your hamster. Vitamin C is an essential vitamin for hamsters, and it is essential to ensure that they receive a balanced amount.  If the hamster doesn’t receive the correct amount of Vitamin C, the mineral deficiency can cause scurvy, resulting in diarrhea, lethargy and hair loss. If they receive too much Vitamin C, they are also at risk of experiencing diarrhea and weight loss. It is, therefore, imperative to ensure that your hamster receives the right amount of Vitamin C to ensure their health and well-being. Dedicated hamster food will always have the correct amount of Vit C. Differences between bird seeds and hamster food Bird seeds and hamster seeds are two types of seeds that offer different nutritional benefits to the animals they are intended for.  Bird feed usually consists of millet, sunflower, rapeseed, and canary seed, which may contain excess fats and sugars that are not beneficial for hamsters but are necessary for birds.  Hamster feed is composed of a mix of ingredients such as sunflower, pumpkin, flax, sesame, wheat, and corn, providing an array of vitamins and essential fats that hamsters need, making it a more suitable option. The hamster pre-made food mixes are fortified with vitamins and minerals to make sure your hamster doesn’t lack them but also does not get too many of them, as we talked about above. Safe and unsafe seeds for your hamster Hamsters eat a lot of seeds, however that doesn’t mean that any seed is safe for your hamster. Here is a list of safe seeds for your hamster, after which we will continue with the list of unsafe seeds for your hamster. Sunflower seeds Pumpkin Seeds Sesame Seeds Flax Seeds Wheat Seeds Corn Kernels Unsafe seeds for your hamster: Apple Seeds Grape Seeds Pear Seeds Citrus Seeds (Citrus fruits should be avoided at all, not only the seeds) Apricot Pits Cherry Pits If you want to make sure you feed your hamster properly, check my article on what hamsters eat, and there you will find everything you need to know. Is feeding your hamster with pre-made food mix enough? Yes, a pre-made food mix for hamsters should have all the nutrients a hamster need. Since hamsters are omnivores, we might get confused and think that this is not enough but in reality, hamsters eat very little animal protein, even in the wild. The occasional treats we give to our hamsters are not mandatory for a healthy hamster diet if you feed it with a proper food mix. Here is a good one I found on amazon. This one should last you a few months. What other pet food can hamsters eat? Maybe you have another pet, a dog, a cat, or other rodents like rabbits or guinea pigs, and you wonder if you can feed your little furball with their food. I have an entire article that talks about whether a hamster can eat dog food or not, so I will not get into much detail about that one here. But the short answer is no, hamsters can’t eat dog food (nor cat food). Those pets have very different digestive systems, and you have to keep in mind that dogs are carnivores. They don’t need too many grains or vegetables to be healthy. On the other hand, hamsters are omnivores, but do not normally eat meat. I discussed this in more detail in my article about hamsters eating insects. Hamsters can eat meat/insects but they don’t need to, even in the wild. Insects are not the first thing on their menu, they might eat a few of them if they can’t find any other food. But it is not what they need or prefer to eat. What about cat food? The same applies to cat food as to dog food. Hamsters should not eat cat food. A treat every now and then might not immediately hurt your hamster but it is better to avoid giving cat food to your hamster. If your hamster accidentally ate cat food that it found while you were playing with it, you should not worry if it wasn’t a large quantity. One or two cat kibbles should not affect your hamster at all. Guinea pig/rabbit food We tend to think that rabbits, hamsters, and guinea pigs are all rodents, so the diet must be similar, but that is not quite accurate. Rabbits and guinea pig are herbivore animals and they need way more hay, grass, leafy greens and vegetables than a hamster needs. Also, they can have much more vitamin C than a hamster. We’ve already discussed the side effects of too much vitamin C in a hamster’s diet. While a hamster needs fewer seeds and nuts than a bird, they still need a good amount of them compared to a guinea pig or rabbit, which doesn’t eat nuts and seeds at all. I had all those pets when I was a kid. I’ve had guinea pigs for about eight years, I’ve had a cat and a dog for a couple of years, and now I have a hamster, and I can tell you that they all have quite different diets. If you have other pet food and you don’t know if it’s safe to feed your hamster, you better throw that food away instead of putting your little furball in danger. Conclusion Hamsters can occasionally eat bird food or seeds, but that doesn’t mean you should include them in your hamster diet. It is better to stay safe when it comes to hamster diets, they can be quite sensitive, so you should stick to a pre-made food box and give some occasional treats here and there if you want to diversify the diet. I hope this article helped you understand the differences between hamster food and bird food and also why you should not give other pet food to your hamster. [...] Read more...
Four Reasons Your Hamster is Making Weird Breathing Noises
Four Reasons Your Hamster is Making Weird Breathing NoisesHamsters may be bite-sized but, thanks to their upkeep demands, they are more than a handful. Taking care of the little furballs is almost a full-time job sometimes. Doing everything correctly might not even be enough though, and a myriad of strange things can pop up seemingly out of nowhere.  Today we take a deep-dive into one of these problems: strange breathing noises. We explore some of the frequent problems and hamster quirks that may result in little Penfold producing unusual (and worrying) sounds.   Table of Contents Toggle1. Coughs and colds2. Respiratory infection and allergies3. Hibernation4. Behavioral 1. Coughs and colds If your little pet suddenly wakes up one morning with ghastly sounding wheezes, sneezes, and generally labored breathing, he may be reeling from a case of the sniffles. Of course, it may be more serious so we always recommend a quick visit to a veterinarian…just to be sure.  However, in most cases, there’s no need to worry because it’s probably the flu or a cough. Maybe you left the window by his or her cage open a touch too long the previous day. Maybe your mom (who’s also coming down with the flu) came into your room earlier to change the hamster’s water after touching her nose. Yes, hamsters can just as easily catch colds as we can, and from people or other pets. Coughs are usually innocuous and of little consequence. They come and go as randomly as they do with humans. There’s no reason to worry if the cough clears up in a day or two. Any longer than that though, and it could be a hint at something a bit more serious. A quick trip to the vet wouldn’t hurt in this case. You can identify a cold in your hamster by listening to its breathing, and observing its nose for excess wetness. What you want to do in this scenario is to isolate the hamster from any other pets you have. This could save you from the inconvenience of caring for more animals. It could also save your other pets’ lives if it turns out to be a more serious illness.  Try to keep the hamster warm and make it feels safe with soothing talk. One thing you can do is place a hot water bottle (with an appropriate temperature) underneath the hamster’s bedding or cage. The majority of hamster species originate from tropical to desert climes, which means that they are not big fans of the cold. Always try to keep your pet’s cage environment in a range of 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Nudge it to eat something (break it down yourself when you need to) and make sure to consistently hydrate. We recommend that you use a water dropper to help your hamster keep its fluids up. A syringe can also be used for this but be EXTREMELY careful with the plunger. A hamster’s mouth is incredibly tiny so any slightly excessive quantities or pressure could prove harmful. If you have transferred the hamster to a temporary cage, you should clean his or her regular cage thoroughly to disinfect it. Don a trusty pair of latex gloves and get to work.  Change the bedding, get rid of all waste, and scrub the cage vigorously. Use a bleach-based solution (approximately one part bleach, nine parts water) to do this. Take care to rinse the cage properly so as not to expose the hamster to harmful fumes.   2. Respiratory infection and allergies Hamsters can easily fall victim to a myriad of respiratory diseases such as pneumonia, chronic bronchitis, and emphysema. These frequently present themselves through symptoms like heavy breathing, wheezing, and clicking noises.  Sneezing is another symptom to look out for with these illnesses. Allergies are not uncommon for hamsters either, and susceptible individuals can have their reactions triggered by almost anything. While a mildly drafty room might not seem like a big deal for you, it is a serious hazard for your little rodent friend. As stated above, hamsters need relatively warm temperatures for them to be comfortable.  Prolonged exposure to a draft, combined with the inability to burrow underground for warmth (because of being in a cage), results in an increased risk of serious pneumonia. While this disease is usually treatable in humans, it is much more devastating for a rodent’s tiny respiratory system.  Your hamster will literally be clawing for each and every breath, with raspy wheezes. At this point, you will be in a race against time. Your best bet is to rush to the vet but that might not be enough. Chronic bronchitis is an illness that is usually associated with smokers. I know times can get stressful for anybody but I highly doubt that your little hamster is lighting up under the cover of darkness. Yet hamsters can get lung disease, resulting in irritating coughs and wheezy breathing. Causes are unclear, but it may be an allergic reaction or simply a genetic defect.  Captive hamsters have been subjected to inbreeding for generations. As pet merchants sought to make hamsters as cute and docile as possible, a wide range of genetic problems (including propensity towards respiratory diseases) was passed on and on. Hamsters are also prone to other smokers’ disease…emphysema. A National Institute of Health (NIH) study even used hamsters as models for the effects of emphysema and chronic bronchitis in people. Once again, genetic problems are the likeliest cause of most cases. If your hamster has a lineage that traces back to areas exposed to alpha radiation (such as uranium or halogen mining towns), it might be at risk of developing lung cancer at some point.  This first develops as a series of tumors along the trachea and the bronchi. These cause the animal to cough and make unusual clicking noises. Eventually, the lungs will gradually break down. In these cases, little can be done but to make your sweet little pets’ last days as comfortable as possible. Your vet will be your guide through this difficult period. 3. Hibernation One day you might find your hamster face down and lying lifeless in his cage, just hours after you last saw him as his usually sprightly self at breakfast. Before you channel the waterworks and cancel your week’s appointments, realize that he or she might just be hibernating. A dead giveaway (no pun) is the slight and soft breathing. Hibernation for domestic hamsters is a little different than for wild animals who also tuck in for the winter. The likelihood of a hamster hibernating depends on a few factors.  Most hamsters have had that instinct erased from their genetic memories thanks to selective breeders (who, doubtlessly, did not want the hassle of selling pets that sleep for a third of the year). However, if yours is still in touch with its wild roots, so to speak, the drive to hibernate may still lie dormant. The second factor depends on the environment. If temperatures drop low enough, your hamster’s dormant instincts may kick in and make him or her start preparing for hibernation. 4. Behavioral Some breathing noises that your hamster will make from time to time might seem strange, but, more often than not, these are just part of natural behavior displays. One common noise that might worry first-time hamster owners is the clicking noise. This sound is extremely sharp and incessant in some cases. If you’re part of the worry brigade, we’re here to tell you that you can relax this time.  Hamsters usually make the clicking noise when they are frightened or in an aggressive mood. Who knew that hamsters can get tired of all the kisses and cuddles? Well, now you do. When your hamster just wants some alone time or is feeling angry or afraid, he will issue this incessant clicking as a warning for you to back off.  Sometimes your hamster will make squeaky sounds while it is asleep. This is also normal and no need for alarm. Like you and me, hamsters are capable of having engaging dreams that demand real-world re-enactment.  Maybe he or she dreams about scurrying through the bushes with other little hamsters. Maybe it’s a dream about a hamster wheel made of cheese. Who knows? Some people talk in their sleep sometimes so is it crazy to imagine that some hamsters do the same? Hamsters are also known to snore, which is probably the cutest thing I can think of. A hard day on the hamster wheel can really do a number on your fluffy pal, so don’t be surprised if he hits the pillow just as hard. Snoring is more common in older hamsters but babies (or pups) are also known to do it, which is as precious as you can imagine. [...] Read more...