If you’ve got hamster and you think he is getting old, you should check out a few signs. My Teddy is a year and a half when I am writing this, so some of these signs I’ve seen in him.
Others I’ve seen in other hammies I know, particularly Oscar (family friend) who was a very gentle and mellow hammy.
So let’s see when hammies are old, and what signs to look for, and how to care for your old friend. Here are the signs you should look out for.
1. Your hammy is close to his 2nd birthday
Usually hamsters live 2-4 years, with Roborovski living the longest. A hamster, regardless of type, is considered old when he’s close to his second birthday. He may live much longer than this, or might not even reach his second birthday.
But, that’s the majority of the cases. This is not to say that hamsters die of old age around 24 months, but that’s when they’re about 80 years old (in human years).
As with humans, some hamsters live a very active life even in their old age, and some quiet down for the last 30 years of their life.
For example my Teddy is a Syrian male, and he was born mid-July 2017. At the time I’m writing this he’s a year and half old, and he has slowed down, and plays less.
He’s not 2 weeks away from his end, thankfully we still have some time together. But, he is way past his young adult life.
Still, there are other signs you need to watch out for, in conjunction to the age of your hamster.
2. His fur is starting to look sparse and matted
A hammy’s fur is usually bright, clean, possibly shiny, and always put together. Well, now that your hamster friend is becoming a senior, he might get a bit lazy or forgetful.
So if his fur becomes a bit ruffled or matted, this is why.
Older hamsters might also start to lose their fur. Hamsters are born blind, and bald, and unfortunately some hammies end up like that in their old age. You might start seeing bald patches in your hamster’s fur. Or it might just become sparse, and the hairs themselves will not be as soft and shiny as before.
They’ll be rather matte, and coarse. They might also change color. For example my Teddy has a bit of silver hairs around his ears, where there wasn’t that color before.
This will sound funny and/or gross, but it reminds me a lot of the ear hair some seniors get. Except it’s on top of his ears. He looks a bit like a madman.
Do keep in mind that your hamster’s fur could also be looking bad because of a skin condition, which is very probably in his old age. So while fur loss isn’t a definitive sign of old age, it’s still worth noting.
3. Eye problems occur, especially cataracts
Hamsters, like humans, can develop cataracts in their old age. This is because the composition of the inside of the eyeball naturally starts to break down. As such, the eyes will become milky, and unfocused.
A hamster usually has bright eyes, even if they’re such a dark color. Most have black eyes, but I’ve seen hammies with red eyes, dark red eyes, midnight blue eyes too.
You’ll notice your hamster has cataracts by the whiteness of his eyes. It might start out as a single white spot, and extend to the rest of his eye.
Other eye problems might occur but the most common one of the loss of eyesight.
Don’t panic if this happens to your hamster. In truth hamsters barely use their eyes in the first place. They’re notorious for not seeing well, and are very poor with judging distances or depth. You can find out more about hamster eyesight here.
The point is that a hamster without eyesight can lead a perfectly normal life. He will still react to sound and smell, and will recognize you.
4. Far less grooming than before
A hamster is usually a very clean, well groomed creature. You’ve probably noticed your hamster is grooming himself whenever he is not eating or running in his wheel.
Cleanliness is very important to hamsters, since this is what keeps their scent to a minimum, thus attracting no predators.
So, when your once very clean and shiny hammy starts to get a bit dusty, and doesn’t clean himself as much, he is getting old.
Old hamsters don’t clean themselves as much. Partly because they can’t reach ever place anymore, and partly because they kind of don’t care.
Especially the back of their heads, that’s a place you’ve probably seen your hammy tug at and comb like crazy. That requires the most effort, as well as twisting to the side to clean his flanks.
Those probably don’t happen anymore. As a result, your hammy might get a bit smelly. This is especially true for the hamster’s rear-end. You might find his rear soiled from time to time, without there being an infection, or wet tail.
You can help your hammy by using a clean cotton bud, dipped in a bit of warm water, and cleaning that area. You will need several cotton buds. Do not soak the buds, they need to be moist but not drenched.
5. Your hammy has lost most of his appetite
An old hamster will change his eating patterns too. While usually he would eat a commercial hamster mix, with grains, seeds, and a few vitamins, now he will be picky.
This happens with most hamsters, and my Teddy is starting to leave the hard, dry grains in his food bowl more often. He’ll go for softer foods like walnuts, carrots, boiled brown rice, broccoli, and so on.
He does still hoard food, and I find grains there as well. But he doesn’t eat them as much as before. He simply doesn’t eat as much as he used to.
Your hammy might be the same, and it can have several explanations. One of them could be that his teeth can’t deal with hard food as well as before. Another could be that grains can’t be digested as well, so he will need softer food.
You should still keep his usual food mix, but only keep it to half. The other half replace with cooked, softer food like a bit of plain omelet or egg white, steamed broccoli, steamed brown rice, a bit of boiled plain chicken or even porridge.
For more info on which foods are safe for hamsters, you should check out this safe and unsafe food list.
About porridge, it should be cooked in water, plain with no salt, sugar, or any other condiments. Half a teaspoon of porridge or more than enough. Keep it on the dryer, lumpier side of porridge.
6. Lack of energy, less playtime
An old hamster is a tired hamster. You could say he;s gotten lazy, but that’s not particularly true. Hammies are bundles of energy, and the only reason they even stop running on their wheel or playing with their toys is because they’re starting to get tired.
No amount of extra sleep will get them bouncing back through their cage. It’s just something that comes with old age.
For example my Teddy used to be a runner. My God he’d run the night away and wake us up with his squeaky wheel. When it wasn’t squeaking it was bumping against the cage, he was running so hard with his little hamster feet.
Now I haven’t had to oil the wheel in several months. He does get into it, gives it a few spins, and follows my hand into the wheel if i hold it in front of the wheel.
But on his own he won’t do much running or playing around anymore. He’s starting to turn into an orange fluffy potato, sitting on his hind-end, blinking at me.
Even so, he’s still got some energy in him.
7. More sleep and resting time
Another thing that comes with a lack of energy is more sleep. Yes, hamsters will sleep a lot even as adults. But as seniors, you’ll see even less of them.
Unlike human seniors, who seem to not be able to sleep as much as they used to, hamsters will spend significantly more time sleeping than before.
They still wake up and run around, eat, pee, spin the wheel a bit. But they go back into their nest soon enough.
My Teddy used to be up around 9 PM, and start his usual rounds. Now he’s up earlier around 7 PM, for about an hours, then pops back into his nest.
Which he moved out of his hideout, by the way, and now nests under the first floor of his cage. Which is transparent, and I can see him sleeping there. He does groom and eat in his nest, but he sleeps so much more.
So if this happens with your hamster friend, don’t worry. He’s trying to rest, and catch up on some sleep. It won’t help him much, since his body is slowly breaking down and he is not a young hammy anymore. But he is still healthy, even in his old age.
8. Shaky, unsure walking about the cage
A hammy is not the brightest creature, but he normally doesn’t bump against the cage. However an old hamster will start to slowly lose control of his footing. His feet will be weaker, and some joint or bone problems might occur.
Problems like arthritis, for example, will make it harder for your friend to travel from one end of his habitat, to the other.
He might stop in his tracks more often, or seem to trip. This will be present n very old hamsters usually, since it’s a sign that the body is very worn out.
9. Dental problems, teeth break easily
A major problem with hammies is their teeth. They’re constantly growing, and need to be constantly filed down. An old hamster is often going to avoid the hard, dry grains in his food mix.
This can lead to overgrown teeth, and other teeth-related problems. Dental infections can be more common in a senior hamster.
Normally a hamster’s teeth get filed down when the hamster eats something very hard, like grains, or chews on something wooden. Like his chew toys, or possibly his hideout.
An old hamster that’s avoiding hard surfaces for his teeth probably already has dental problems, but they will become worse with overgrown teeth.
If this is the case, I recommend taking your hamster to a veterinarian. He will be able to file down, or clip the hamster’s teeth to an appropriate length.
Another problems with teeth is that they might break more easily in senior hamsters. A broken tooth can lead to a infection more easily, and is painful for the hamster himself.
Dental problems can make eating a chore for your hammy, and you will need to add softer food to his food bowl.
10. His cage is less clean, needs cleaning more often
Usually a hammy’s cage is pretty clean. Aside from the odd droppings and seed shells, there isn’t much to clean. There is the pee corner, and if you’ve put a small litter box there then that’s easy to clean too.
But a senior hammy will not keep just one pee corner. He will go on other places in his cage, and on his very old age will also pee in his nest.
This is something hamsters – adult, healthy hamsters – never do. The whole point of having a pee corner is to keep the smell as far away from their nest as possible. This is done to keep predators from figuring out where the nest is.
So an old hammy not using his pee corner is in his final stages.
This will mean that you’ll have to clean the cage and change the bedding much more often. You can find out more about that here, including which beddings are safe for your hamster.
11. You notice less droppings in his cage
Less droppings are related to less eating. If your hammy is not eating as much, he won’t be passing as much.
This can also be because of blockage along the intestines. Constipation is not uncommon in seniors, both human and hamsters, and is one of he reasons you might notice significantly less droppings in your hammy’s cage.
If this is the case for your hammy, make sure you bring him to a vet. He will know what to do to help the hamster’s gut, and if there is anything to be done in the first place.
12. Your friend might protest when picked up
If your friend was usually calm and okay with being picked up, he might protest now. Nothing personal, it’s just that he is tired and would like a nap.
As a senior he’s always tired, and would like a nap. It could also be that something inside of him is hurting, or he might have a sore part of his body. Hamsters aren’t the most expressive when it comes to pain, so you might not notice for a long time.
13. His general shape will change
By this I mean that whether he was a chubby or slim hamster in his youth, now he will be oddly shaped. One of the first things you will notice is his neck.
Usually his cheek pouches kept his neck fluffy and puffed. Now however his neck will be noticeable, and a bit on the skinny side.
In fact the entire muscle structure will start to shrink and shrivel, and the skin will start to become thin and sag in places.
Of course, your friend is still furry and this will be harder to tell. But you can still make out the general shape of him, and whether it’s starting to look bony or not.
His eyes might look like they’re bulging too, since your friend’s face won’t be as full or fluffy as before.
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Caring for a senior hamster
Your hammy has been by your side, all his life. Now that he’s getting old it’s important to make his final days as comfortable as possible.
There are a few things your can do to make it easier for your friend, and here they are.
Also, if you’re looking for a general supply list with what your hamster will need throughout his life, here it is.
Add softer food to his diet
An old hamster will have trouble eating. Not only that but he will also become a picky eater. However most hamsters won’t say no to a piece of cooker chicken or a bit of porridge. Here’s a rundown of the foods you can add to an old hamster’s diet:
- Porridge – cooked with water, not salt, sugar, any condiments. Keep it on the dry, lumpy side. Half a teaspoon per day is enough.
- Steamed veggies like carrot, corn, broccoli, cauliflower, or asparagus
- Cooked chicken or fish, plain, no oil
- Cucumber slice
- Cooked egg white, plain
- Steamed brown rice or wholegrain pasta
These are all in conjunction with Hammie’s regular food. So feel free to make it a sort of half and half mix of his commercial food and these softer options.
Be warned that he might ignore the commercial food if you give him too much cooked food, and you’ll end up creating an imbalance in his diet.
Continue interacting with him
A senior hammy, even on that can’t see very well, or at all, still needs your presence. Pay with his like before, bu expect him to not come out as often.
Talk to him whenever you see him, and generally pay attention to the creature that brought you so many cute moments.
He might be old and shaky now, but he was a maniac tearing the exercise wheel when he was younger. Remember that hamster, and honor him.
Even if he’s not as active as he used to be, he might be easier to pick up, if he usually was very fussy about it.
Keep his habitat/room comfortable
Keeping your hammy’s habitat clean and warm makes things much easier for him. While a healthy, adult hamster will only need a cage cleaning about once per week, a senior might need it twice per week.
However this is only if you notice a strong smell coming from his cage. If everything is okay, you can keep the cleaning schedule as it is.
Do remember that cleaning the cage is stressful for the hamster. Even if you put him in a transport cage while you clean his usual cage, he will know something has changed.
Hamsters are sensitive to smell, and a freshly cleaned cage will have much less of his smell than before. For that, you should keep a bit of his old bedding and nesting material in the cleaned cage, to make things more familiar.
Another element if the temperature, which should be a 20-23 C/68-75 F range. That’s the most comfortable range for hamsters, and will keep your hamster friend happy and warm.
Make sure the cage is away from any drafts, and won’t be in direct sunlight either.
Any objects in the cage that require climbing like a rope or a high bridge should probably be taken out, since they can become dangerous. Especially if the hamster has also become blind or is a daredevil like mine.
When hammy passes away
At one point, even with all your efforts to make things comfortable and cozy, you friend will unfortunately pass away. While painful, try and focus on how well you took care of him.
The feedings, the playtimes, the funny faces, even the annoying bar chewing. Your hammy was your furry little friend, and no other hamster will replace him.
Even if you do end up getting another hammy, they will have a different personality, and be their own hamster.
Honor your late friend, and say your goodbyes. You’ve done all you can for him, and now it’s time for him to rest.
A word from Teddy
I hope you found what you were looking for in this article. Us hammies don’t have a very long life, but I know we can make you happy. I hope the hammy you have is feeling well, and is as happy as a hammy can be.
If you want to know more about us hamsters you should read the related articles below. You’ll find out how to care for us and keep us healthy.
- 6 Amazing Hamster Maze Kits (And 5 DIY Ideas)Hamsters are nocturnal animals, meaning they have the most activity during the night while sleeping through the day. But among all, hamsters need to have daily exercises. The best way to give them joy and stimulate their natural instinct is to give them a maze. You need to provide a hamster is a physical exercise routine to burn energy, better rest, and optimal health. You must know the basic concepts of hamster care, but among them is the topic of exercise because the animal is essential to be perfect and to live longer. Hamsters must exercise to prevent them from becoming hangmen and to mimic the performance of what they would do to live in the wild. Lack of exercise for your hamster can lead to obesity and even paralysis in some hamsters. Table of Contents Buy a hamster maze1. Hiding house with a maze2. Wooden maze tunnel3. Wooden maze playground4. Wooden maze with six rooms5. Hamster house maze6. Hamster habitat with tunnelsDIY hamster mazes1. DIY Tissue box maze2. DIY Tunnel Maze3. DIY Maze with Tunnels4. DIY Cardboard maze with obstacles5. DIY Lego maze Buy a hamster maze In the wild, hamsters constantly dig, improve, and enhance their burrows. Gradually, the tunnels become more intricate and branched. For hamsters, digging is a process that is no less natural than running or looking for food. It takes a lot of energy in nature, and hamsters do not need additional simulators to burn the required minimum of calories. For home conditions, it is necessary to build artificial labyrinths for a hamster. Natural labyrinths are often located on several levels, and usually have fairly long side aisles, emergency exits, storage rooms, and bedrooms. A well-assembled maze with a system of safe and attractive tunnels is the key to the long and happy life of this animal. A hamster not only burns calories collected from food but also entertains its small but very curious brain. That is why diversity can be one of the conditions for choosing a structure. Tunnels and labyrinth elements can combine different materials, which will give the animals additional research opportunities. 1. Hiding house with a maze If you want to provide your hamsters with a comfortable hiding home with a playground, this two-in-one playing nest is perfect for that. Hamsters appreciate small houses made for their rest. Since they are nocturnal animals, they will usually sleep during the day and will play and run around at night. This little home is perfectly enclosed, so the hamster can sleep during the day without bother. It has exercise features to keep the hamster healthier. There is a small ladder on the side of the hose, that allows the hamster to climb it. The main part of the hideout has a slide, which can be very fun for your hamster. The best part is that it’s made of wood, meaning that it is safe for use. Because of the material, you do not have to worry if the hamster starts chewing it. Also, a big plus is that you don’t have to assemble it. It comes in one part so you can unbox it and put it in the cage immediately. The openings on the structure are wide enough for every hamster. But make sure that you have a lid on your cage after you put the house inside. You can risk hamsters climbing on the roof of the hideout and jumping out of the cage. If your hamster doesn’t enjoy the slide, you can simply detach it. On the other side of the house, there is a climbing wall that the hamsters will use for the exercise as well. Overall, this construction is a perfect way to provide your hamster a hiding home with a maze in one. 2. Wooden maze tunnel This wooden maze is the most common and typical maze for the hamsters. This type is made from high-quality natural wood, making it safe to use around your hamsters. The maze comes assembled so you don’t have to worry about piecing it together. It has 16 entrance holes, with a total of 13 compartments, giving all the fun to your pet. It can fit in a cage and you get 2 small brushes for cleaning the maze. The brushes come in handy if you have to clean the feces or any dirt and dust particles from the maze. It can be used open, but it comes with a glass cover as well. Either way, the maze provides transparency, so you can keep an eye on your hamster at all times. It gives a perfect opportunity for your hamster to have fun and run around the maze. Also, you can amaze your hamster by putting treats around the maze and make him look for them. Some people even put little balls inside the maze so the hamster can run around and roll the balls as well. You can find this wooden maze tunnel on this Amazon link. 3. Wooden maze playground Similar to the previous maze, this wooden playground comes with climbing chambers and instead of laying it just horizontally, you can put it in the cage standing upright as well. You have to make sure to check the measurements because this wooden maze is bigger than mazes you can find online. This maze also comes with a glass cover, but you can also leave it open. If you plan to put the maze to stand upright, you might want to slide in the glass cover, to make sure your hamsters don’t fall off the maze. The maze has 2 openings and 6 compartments. It is made to mimic the wild burrows of hamsters, which will help them stimulate their instinct to explore. The openings are 2 inches wide, perfect for your tiny hamsters to enter. The compartments can be used as an exercise spot, hiding spot, and exploring spot. This maze keeps the hamsters active during the night. It doesn’t have any loose ends or parts that will accidentally come apart, so they can have their fun quietly. The maze is made from plywood and it has no nails that will accidentally come through. The maze has sanded corners, meaning it is extremely safe to use around hamsters, without worrying about any accidents. The wood doesn’t have any toxic coating, so you don’t have to worry if the hamster starts to bite and chew it. 4. Wooden maze with six rooms Multi-chamber mazes are perfect for hamsters because it gives them the joy of exploration. This wooden maze is designed to be standing upright since it has stairs that allow your hamster to climb. This maze is also multi-purpose, as it allows your hamster to have a napping place, a structure to hide and to sleep in. It is also designed to keep the hamster active. It is made from natural wood. It has a stable platform, climbing ladder, some ramps, and a food bowl. The material used to build the structure is a special apple wood, which is safe if the hamsters begin to chew it. The best thing is that chewing it will help their teeth be healthy. The maze is safe to use, which means that you can leave your hamsters to explore and have fun in peace. It can be covered with plexiglass to provide an additional safety feature to make sure your hamster doesn’t fall off. The maze is also extremely sturdy, so you don’t have to worry about it tipping over. It comes assembled and can be put in the cage or the tank right after you get it out. You must clean this maze only with a clean cloth. Gently clean it and don’t rub too hard. Be sure not to use wet wipes or wipes with alcohol. You shouldn’t soak the maze in water as well. 5. Hamster house maze This house maze is perfect for all small hamsters. It has two openings and six small rooms, with tunnel openings to ensure all the fun for your hamster. The house maze is also designed to mimic the underground burrow, used by wild hamsters. The design helps them stimulate their natural instinct to explore. It is perfect for enriching their night-time activity. It has a wooden cover, which makes it look like a house, but it also provides darkness so the hamster can sleep during the day without disturbance. The cover is removable, making it easy to check on your hamster, while also providing you better access for cleaning. It fits into any cage and you get a two-in-one structure with which the hamsters get a hiding spot and an exercise spot. The house maze is, of course, made of wood. If you fear that the wood will soak up the urine and odor, be sure to use aspen as bedding, to give you worry-free use. The six compartments give the hamster a free choice on what to do with them. Usually, they will use one room to store their food, while it will use the others just to run around. The house maze is perfect for Syrian hamsters, especially adult females since they tend to be larger than males. It doesn’t take up too much space and is safe to chew. This amazing wooden house maze can be found on Amazon. 6. Hamster habitat with tunnels If you want a habitat that has a tunnel maze attached, this Habitrail Hamster Habitat is an amazing choice. This habitat stimulates the natural burrow of hamsters. It has connected tubes with additional rooms that serve as bedrooms and storage rooms. This habitat will provide endless hours of fun for your hamster. It is very easy to clean and assemble. It is also a perfect starting point if you don’t know how to provide for your hamster. This habitat is perfect for smaller hamsters. The clear tubes provide safety for the hamster and you can always see what your hamster is doing. Their tubes are made for hamsters that are not used to them. Usually, the tip is to put a small treat at the very top so the hamsters will start climbing them. Habitrail is a known brand in making hamster habitats and tunnel mazes. They design their products so they are cooperative with each other and you can always upgrade the habitat of your hamsters with their products. DIY hamster mazes If you don’t want to buy a maze, you can always make one yourself. This will save you a lot of money and it gives you the freedom of making your design. Sometimes if the size of already-made mazes does not fit your or hamsters’ needs, you can modify whatever you want. This also allows you to switch the mazes every once in a while. Making your hamster maze gives you a choice of material. The most popular ones are cardboard and wood. You can get cardboard from boxes, display boards, and even rolls of toilet paper. It may not be very durable, but it is the cheapest alternative. Make sure it’s thick and solid, or the hamster is going to chew holes in the walls and run away. Wood is more durable than cardboard, but more costly as well. Make sure that it is a hardwood, such as birch, oak, or walnut when purchasing wood. Avoid wood that is harmful to hamsters, such as pine or cedar. Also, make sure that the wood is smooth and doesn’t have any cracks that can cause damage to your hamster. Wooden boards or blocks may be used. Make sure that you also use the right kind of glue, to make the maze extremely durable. If you plan to use wood, it is best to use wood glue. For cardboard mazes, you can use hot glue. The most important thing is to use non-toxic glue that is not harmful to your hamsters. Also, make sure that you’re not using nails or screws. If the nail happens to stick out, the hamsters can get hurt on the nails. You want the maze to be safe to use for your pet. There are many options to choose from and we bring you 5 tips to make a hamster maze. 1. DIY Tissue box maze Next time you use all of your tissues, save the boxes to make mazes. Take two boxes and use scissors to cut out the fronts of the tissue paper boxes. Glue them together and let them dry. You can paint the outside of the box, but be sure to use non-toxic paint. When the glue has dried and your boxes are stuck together, get a pen, and plan out the labyrinth. With the pencil, draw on the base where you plan to put the walls. Take one more tissue box, or any cardboard box and cut it into small pieces. Cut rectangular strips of cardboard that will represent the walls of the maze and fold them into the appropriate shape. Place the walls on the base of the tissue boxes and secure them with glue in one place. Leave them to dry. Carefully cut out the entry and exit openings in the sides of the connected tissue boxes and the inner wall, if necessary. You can also decorate the inside of the box with paint if you want and you’re done. You can find the full tutorial for the tissue box maze on this link. 2. DIY Tunnel Maze You can make a tunnel maze for your hamster from plastic bottles. Smaller ones will work perfectly fine for small hamsters, but if you have a larger one, opt to use large bottles. Make sure to thoroughly wash the bottles to remove any odors. Also, take off any labels and lids. You can start with any number of bottles and you can keep adding some from time to time. You will also need some scissors, tape, and a Stanley knife. Carefully use a Stanley knife to remove the tops and bottoms of the bottles. Make sure you have a sturdy surface that you won’t harm. Hold the bottles tightly so they won’t slip and cause accidents. The knife will leave the edges of the bottle jagged. Use tape, best to use is an electrical tape, and tap around the edges. This step is very important as you will protect your hamsters from unwanted injuries. To connect all the bottles and make the tunnels, you will need to cut a plus sign into the side of the bottle. This opening will create a path so you can slip in your scissors and cut out a neat circle. Use the tape again to protect the edges. Pick up the bottle you want to attach and squeeze it tight so it’s almost flat. Use the scissors to cut out the diagonal lines, so the bottle can sit comfortably in the opening. When you get the bottle in position, hold them, and use tape to secure it in place. Repeat this step with all the bottles you have and you can use this method for future adaptations for the tunnel. You find the full tutorial with pictures on this link. 3. DIY Maze with Tunnels You can make a combination of a tunnel and maze. You will need to save tissue boxes and empty toilet paper rolls. If you want a long tunnel you can save the rolls from the paper towels. Use a tissue box as a base for your maze. Find where you want to place your tubes. On this link, you can find an example of doing so. Trace with a pencil the opening for the tube. You place the end of the tube against the spot where you want the hole to be and trace the roll’s outline. To properly cut out the traced holes, use scissors, a craft knife, or a Stanley knife. Be careful not to make the holes too big, as this could allow your hamster to squeeze out of the maze, or it could cause the maze to collapse when your hamster is inside. Attach any tubes that would go into openings, and then line up the end of the remaining tube to end. To make the maze durable, add tape to the tubes, layering many bits. The hamster would need to be able to run inside the tubes, without the maze breaking apart. This is also a type of maze which you can gradually build up and add add-ons. In the tissue box, but some of the hamsters bedding, so it becomes familiar with the maze. You can place various treats inside the tubes. 4. DIY Cardboard maze with obstacles For this maze, you will need a cardboard box, popsicle sticks, and paper rolls. Make one side of the cardboard box to use as a base while cutting the remainder of the box to make walls and accessories for the obstacles. As with the tutorial before, use a pencil to draw on the base where you want to place the walls of the maze. Glue the pieces you cut before to glue down on the base. When you have the walls of the maze, start planning where you want to put the obstacles. Using popsicle sticks, you can create obstacles that your hamster can jump over. Glue them on the walls and make sure they are glued down tightly. Take the empty toilet paper roll and place it inside the maze. They can be used as an obstacle that the hamster can jump over, or crawl through. 5. DIY Lego maze Take out your old Legos and gather as many pieces as you can. This is one maze where you can get very creative, as you have many possibilities. Start by building a base for the maze. You can make a wide base or a narrow one. Everything depends on how you want the maze to look. You can build a narrower base, put up the walls, and place the stairs at the end. These stairs can be used to add another level to the maze or to even make the bridge and lead to another base. If you don’t know how or where to start, build a large base and use Legos to construct the walls, just like with the traditional maze. Legos give you a chance to build several levels to the maze, which your hamster will certainly enjoy. Whichever way you decide to make the maze for your hamster, make sure that you have a good base. The base is mostly responsible for the durability of the maze. If you choose to make cardboard of a wooden structure, it is best to use a plastic cover for the base to make it easier to clean. You can also glue the cover to the base to make sure it doesn’t slip off. When designing a maze, you can find inspiration online, or you can construct one of your own. The mazes do not have to be perfect. Either way, you make it, the hamsters will have fun while running around and exploring. To make it easier to build, construct your maze so that it has straight lines instead of curved ones. Make sure that the site of your maze fits your hamster. When you make an opening for your hamster, make sure that it is not too small, as the hamster can get stuck and injure itself. The walls of the maze don’t have to be too high; they just need to be high enough so the hamster will not jump over them. When constructing a large artificial maze with several levels of transition, you should try to avoid too steep slopes. Hamsters can get injured because it will be very difficult for them to fix their position with their claws. And also, in artificial tunnels ventilation should be organized so that the hamster does not suffer from lack of oxygen. If you’re making a bigger maze, not intended to be kept inside the cage, put it on the floor and not on the table. The hamsters can fall off the table once they leave the maze. There are many things you can do with the maze. You can leave various treats for your hamster to make sure he follows the path and exits the maze.... Read more...
- Do Hamsters Get Bored ? How To Keep Your Hamster EntertainedIf you’ve got a hammy you want to make sure he has the best life. So, sometimes you wonder if your hamster is bored, and how you can keep your hamster friend entertained. I know I had these thoughts for my Teddy (Syrian male hammy) and here’s what I found out. Table of Contents So do hamsters get bored ?A look at a hamster’s usual life and daily routineWhat your hamster would do in the wildWhat can make your hamster boredDo you need to get your hamster a friend so he’s not bored ?A word from Teddy So do hamsters get bored ? No, not really. Hamsters don’t see the passing of time the same way as we humans do. Aside from their instincts (survive, reproduce, find food, etc.) hamsters don’t have grand goals that could suffer from being kept in a cage. That being said, hamsters can become stressed or sad if their cage/habitat is terrible. Too small, dirty, no toys, no hideout, too many sounds and people trying to get to them, being handled too much, etc. We’ll cover those too. But first let’s take a look at the usual life of a hamster, and see that it’s not terribly different from the one ha has in your home. There are a few key differences, yes, but they’re all in his benefit. A look at a hamster’s usual life and daily routine Normally a hamster spends most of the day sleeping in his little warm nest, and once night starts to set in, he will come out. He’ll start looking for food, and that’s the best moment to feed him. The sound of his food being put in his cage while he is sleeping will wake him up, and he’ll be a grumpy little furball. Best to wait until he’s up. After finding his food and pouching most of it your hammy will move back into his nest, where he’ll hide all of his food. Yes, hamsters have an amazing stash of food in their nests, and they will hoard everything. Once he’s done with his food he’ll spend most of his time running around his cage. He’ll end up on his wheel for most of the night. Actually he can run for up to 9 km/5.5 miles in a whole night ! That’s a lot of running around, and it’s no wonder he’s dozing off in the morning. Every once in a while, he’ll stop running around and just… check. Sit up, eyes wide open, ears strained, trying to hear if there’s any danger around. He’ll look like he’s freezing, but in truth he’s just hearing things out. It’s what kept him alive in the wild, after all. If he’s got any toys he will use them. If he’s got tunnels, he will do laps in his tunnels too. Chew on everything available, including his hideout – great to have a wooden hideout for that reason. This is his usual routine, and it’s what will keep him busy. He’s got a ridiculous amount of energy, and need to burn it all. Unless he’s got a very bare cage, he can’t get bored. This isn’t very different from his usual routine in the wild, although there is the element of adrenaline that’s missing. Let me explain, What your hamster would do in the wild In the wild, the essential activities would be the same ones I described above. Except the hamster can be found and eaten by a predator at any moment. So that means the hammy is always on edge, always hearing things out, always running away. That makes for a very skittish and shy animal – if you were ever wondering why he’s like that. In the wild toys would have no purpose. The running around and dodging predators would be ‘fun’ enough. In your home there’s nothing to hunt him, hence why he needs toys to keep him busy. Finally, in the wild the hammy would try to find a mate too. He’d patrol his territory, and if he met a female in heat he’d try his luck. What can make your hamster bored As you’ve seen, your hamster has a whole lot of things to do. This means that you won’t really be up to see him do most of these things, since he’s awake when you’re sleeping. But if you were to ever stay up all night and just observe him, you’d see all the things I described above. He can get bored though, only if you’ve given him an especially bare and small cage. Let’s see what that means. The minimum cage size for a single hamster is 24 x 12 inches, and about 12 inches tall. That’s 61 x 30.5 cm, and about 30.5 cm tall. Every hamster will like a larger cage better, so if you can get a big cage you should do that. Aside from the minimum bedding on the cage floor, there is also the absolute need for a hideout. Your hamster will make himself a nest anyway in the most hidden corner he an find. But a hideout will provide definite shelter, and he’ll be thankful for it. A food bowl and water bottle are mandatory as well, and they’re easy to find. An exercise wheel is mandatory as well, simply because running is half of everything a hamster does. He spends most of his life running, so not getting him that would be like someone never letting you out of your house. These are the bare minimum, but there are toys to take into consideration. Some you can DYI, some are store bought. Look around and see which you like best. You can save up money and still keep you hammy happy with cardboard tubes (from paper towels and toilet paper rolls). Teddy has a grand time with those cardboard rolls, and he uses them as chew toys too. Any other distractions you can provide your hamster – like time outside his cage in an exercise ball – will be welcome too. A large cage will also mean lots of space for him to run around in, explore, and have a whole bunch of toys. Finally, keeping your hamster in a dirty cage will lower his general disposition, since no one likes that. A hamster’s cage needs a full cleaning once per week. A dirty cage can lead to several health issues, which is never something you want. (If you like this article so far, you can pin it to your Pinterest board by clicking the image below. The article continues after the image.) Do you need to get your hamster a friend so he’s not bored ? Alright, let’s say you’ve got a hamster, and he’s got a very big cage, with every toy ever and everything he could ever want. But you think he’s possibly bored, and wouldn’t he maybe need a friend ? To be fair, that’s a question many hamster owners have at first. However hamsters do not need a buddy. That sounds terrible, but bear with me. Hamsters can be social, sometimes, under certain circumstances. But for the most part they will fight to the death with other hamsters. In the wild the hamster is not a very cuddly animal. Sure, Dwarf types can live together if they absolutely have to, but they end up fighting over food and space in the nest. They end up on their own, and the Syrians are definitely to be kept alone. And very important – if you’ve got a hamster already, and he’s past the 3 month mark, then introducing him to any other hamster will most likely not go well. Hamsters need to grow up together in a very large cage, with lots of food and toys and space, order to get along. Introducing a new hamster out of the blue ends in pain. A word from Teddy I hope you found what you were looking for in this article. Us hamsters may look like we’re bored every now and then, but we’re very different from you humans. We don’t do the same things or have the same thoughts. If you want to know more about us hamsters you should check out the related articles below. You’ll learn how to keep us safe and happy, and what we need for a good life.... Read more...
- Do Hamsters Attract Mice ? Or Other Pests Like Bugs Or RatsYou might wonder if your hamster is attracting pests, like roaches or mice or even snakes. The thing is, pests don’t come out of nowhere, they have a reason for coming to your home. So is it the hamster ? We’ll delve into this today, and how to rid your home of said pests. Keep in mind that sometimes you might have to ask a professional for help. Table of Contents So do hamsters attract pests ?Why pests might show up in the first placeAgain, this has nothing to do with your hamster friend.Keeping your hamster pest-freeConsider calling a professional to deal with a large infestationA word from Teddy So do hamsters attract pests ? No, hamsters do not attract pests. Hamsters do not attract mice, rats, bugs, snakes, or any other creature that might make your guts squirm. You might think that the hamster’s scent might attract other rodents like mice or rats. This is not true. They are very different species, and will generally avoid each other. The same goes for snakes and bugs. They will not come to you because you’ve touched your pet hamster. Pests do show up when the hamster’s cage becomes dirty, especially with dirty old rotten food. If there are bits of old food on the floor too, then that’s more incentive. But it is not the hamster’s fault. At all. Why pests might show up in the first place To understand why pests might show up in a certain area, we have to know how pests work. You see, the vast majority of creatures regarded as pests – rodents and insects most commonly – are opportunistic feeders. They eat what they can, when they can, if they can get it. As such, a nice crop of corn, for example, can be decimated by a brood of mice, a murder of crows, or a whole locus infestation. But what if you’ve got no such crop ? Well, some food bags in your garage might suffice. If you live in a house and you’ve got foodstuffs stored in your garage or other places in your home, those might attract mice or roaches of not stored properly. This doesn’t mean a stray bag of cereal will make a horde of mice come running. But a bulk of 30 boxes, left in a part of the house that has access to ares that aren’t usually well traveled – like a storage unit or garage or closet or basement – can attract them. If they can pick up the scent of the food, and the food is unguarded, and left in an area that people don’t go through often, then pests can come. Another possibility, if you live in an apartment building: your drawer of snacks can be very inviting. This is more difficult though, since pests don’t come barging because you’ve left an energy bar open in that drawer. But if the building or neighborhood itself has a problem – like possibly your neighbors 2 floors down having a roach infestation – they you might too. They will choose your home over other homes because it has the most unguarded food. Again, this has nothing to do with your hamster friend. But, if you do not regularly clean the hamster’s cage and bits of food and droppings often end up on the floor, pests can show up. They sense where the home is most unkempt, and they go there, knowing no one will be in their way. For example our neighbors have a pair of parakeets. They often leave them in their cage outside in the summer, to enjoy the sun and fresh air. In that cage there’s food, and the birds outside know that. We’ve chased away sparrows trying to steal the parakeet feed more than once. The same scenario could happen with your hamster too, if you keep him in a room where people don’t go much. Sometimes, it could be about something else, and not food. Pests, especially mice and rats, are incredibly curious. and hardy. They will poke and prod and push and try every little corner of the plumbing and outside until they will get inside your home. (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.) Keeping your hamster pest-free Alright, now we know why pests show up. Now we can figure out how to keep the home, and the hamster’s cage pest-free. Here’s a few ideas: Regularly clean the hamster’s cage, once per week. Make sure there is no stray food or poop outside his cage. Do not keep the hamster in a side room. So rooms like basement, closet, garage, storage unit, attic are not okay to keep your living, breathing hamster in. Regularly check the areas where the plumbing comes out of the walls. Like under sinks, bathtubs, drains, etc. Make sure no food has fallen behind a counter, which might attract bugs or mice Keep up to date with your building or neighborhood’s pests infestation, see if your area is clear Make sure your trash can and bags are stored properly, not left outside overnight. For the most part, pests will show up in areas of the home where you don’t really go. So any hidden, dark corner, especially if it connects to a series of tunnels like plumbing for example. For very old houses pests can be a serious problem, since they can infest the walls themselves, and weaken the structure of the house itself. Consider calling a professional to deal with a large infestation If you’ve already got an infestation, you’ll want to get rid of the creatures. While one stray mouse or bug can be dealt with easily, and entire colony is hard to get rid of. There are certain treatments for insects, or poisons for rats, there are even humane traps. But they need to be used effectively. If you’ve got a large infestation, you’ll want to call some professionals. This is mostly because of convenience. By this I mean you can always find the correct dosage for poisons online, or how to set up certain traps as well. But the hassle and time spent on ridding your home of pests is best left to people who are meant to do just that. And you can mind your day-to-day life as usual, until things have settled. Aside from knowing that you’ve got a warranty, in case anything goes wrong. Now I have no recommendation for you, but I’m sure you will be able to look up a team of experts in your area. Do tell them that you’ve got pets, and ask if they’ve got any pet-safe treatments. A word from Teddy I hope you found out what you were looking for here. Us hammies may be rodents but we don’t attract pests, and we’re good guys on our own. We do love to chew though. If you want to know more about us hamsters you can check out the related articles below, to know how to care for us and keep us happy.... Read more...
- Dwarf Hamster Feeding Guide: Everything You Need to KnowDwarf hamsters definitely top the group for the most popular hamsters in the world. They’re immensely popular all around the world, and their numbers only grow by the day. If you’re an owner of this furry species, then you have to know their dietary requirements, how much they need to eat, and what they’re eating. Your hamster is only going to trust you if you feed it properly, so this is a must. There are many intricacies that we can notice when we’re researching this species’ feeding habits, and today, we’ll be saving you the trouble of having to do that research on your own. In today’s article, we’ll be taking a look at dwarf hamsters and their eating habits. We’ll be specifically defining how they eat, what they eat, etc. If you need the answers to questions like what do dwarf hamsters like to eat, what are they allergic to, how often do they need to be fed, how long can they go without food, what foods to avoid and what potential health risks do they have that are connected with food – you’re in the right place. We’ll be answering all of those questions today. So, without any further ado, let’s get started! Table of Contents How Often Should I Feed My Dwarf Hamster?What Can Dwarf Hamsters Eat?Tiny Friends Farm LoveliesKaytee Healthy BitsNutsWhat Are Dwarf Hamsters Allergic To?How Long Can Dwarf Hamsters Go Without Food? How Often Should I Feed My Dwarf Hamster? You should feed your hamster daily, they require fresh food every day. However, this depends on what you’re feeding it. If you’re feeding your hamster with Hamster Formula, then you need to feed them twice a day – once in the morning, and once in the evening. You also need to remove any uneaten food as it will rot quickly. You should feed your hamster with hard treats twice a week. There’s a difference between everyday treats, (apples, for example) which you can use to reward your hamster for training and hard treats. Hard treats help your dwarf hamster keep his incisors filed down, which is good for his overall dental hygiene. This is similar to dog treats that are used for dog hygiene. You can actually use this, as well – you can let your hamster chew on small dog biscuits, commercial hamster treats, or a small branch taken from a fruit-bearing tree. You can also feed your hamster with soft treats, once or twice a week. Soft treats include protein sources such as cooked meats; low-fat, no-salt cottage cheese, or a hard-boiled egg. You can also include wheat bread and scrambled eggs for your hamster. Something people often overlook is to keep your hamster hydrated, as well as fed. Many people pose the question ‘How often should I feed my hamster?’, but there aren’t many people asking ‘How often should I change my hamster’s water supply?’ – we’re telling you now that it’s vital for you to change your hamster’s water bottle often. Buy a hamster-sized water bottle with a stem and ball bearing from your local pet store. The ball regulates how much water comes out each time the hamster takes a drink. This is great because your hamster can control how much they’re drinking, but it’s important for you to change the water often – the water needs to be fresh. Even though it takes two weeks for the water to go stale (and that’s only in case it’s not bottled but in a glass), you wouldn’t drink stale water, so why should your hamster? Change your hamster’s water every two days, and following consultation with your veterinarian, you can even add supplements to the water. Another tip, while we’re already on the topic of water – make sure you’re using a water bottle, not a water bowl or dish. Hamsters will surely make a mess out of this and that’s heaven for bacteria and parasites. It’s smart to feed your hamster at the same time every day, if you can, of course. It’s unlikely that you’ll be able to do this flawlessly every day, but you should try to maintain a schedule. Dwarf hamsters have a really strong and high metabolism, so they need food throughout the day, flawlessly. There is some debate about whether you should feed them in the evening or in the morning, though. If you feed them in the evening, you’re feeding them when they’re most active, as hamsters are mostly nocturnal animals. However, if you feed them in the morning, you’re ensuring that they have food throughout the day. It may be best to do both, that way, your hamster will have food all day, every day. One last tip before we move on to our next section: all fruits and vegetables that aren’t eaten within 24 hours should be thrown away. What Can Dwarf Hamsters Eat? Firstly, we’ll let you take a look at a list of literally all things that dwarf hamsters are allowed to eat, and following that, we’ll explain things you should focus on. Fruits: apples, bananas, blackberries, blueberries, cantaloupes, cherries, cranberries, seedless grapes, lychee, mangos, melons, peaches, plums, raspberries, raspberry leaves, and strawberries. Vegetables: carrots, celery, broccoli, dandelion leaves, cauliflower, clover, kale, bean sprouts, asparagus, chickweed, chicory, cucumber, corn, spinach, watercress, radicchio, romaine lettuce, turnip, peas, green beans, chestnuts, squash, sweet potatoes, zucchini. Nuts, seeds, and grains: pumpkin seeds, peanuts, millet, flaxseed, cashew nuts, sunflower seeds, oats, barley, walnuts, lentils, soybeans. Other foods hamsters can eat grasshoppers (pet food), mealworms (pet food), boiled eggs, plain grasshoppers, plain tofu, whole grain bread, codfish (with bones removed), low-fat cottage cheese, brown pasta, unsalted peanut butter. Now, these are all very specific foods that you can feed your hamster, but you should know that you can feed your hamster to limited amounts of grains, vegetables, fruits, or Timothy hay, but that should never exceed 10% of their diet. The best thing to feed your dwarf hamster with is a hamster food mix. These are the healthiest option for most hamsters, as they’re made to fit and complete their daily dietary needs. The things we’ve listed can be fed to them in case you’ve run out of hamster food and you can’t yet buy some. Here are some of the best options when it comes to hamster food that’s best for dwarf hamsters: Kaytee Fiesta Hamster Food – this food mix is actually great for both dwarf hamsters and larger Syrian hamsters. It has natural veggies and fruits to add some variety and improve the nutrient content of the mix. This mix should definitely be enough to keep your hamster’s dietary needs fulfilled. However, an issue that’s often noticed with this food mix is that hamsters will often run to the fattier stuff and completely ignore the healthier foods until they’re full. Some hamsters don’t return to finish their meal, so you might be throwing some of this food away. This mix is ideal for all types of hamsters and gerbils, it’s naturally preserved and it has plenty of natural fruits and veggies for your hamster to enjoy, it’s also rich in antioxidants to support your hamster’s immune system, and the shape of the food is good for their dental hygiene. Tiny Friends Farm Hazel Hamster Mix – this is our next choice for dwarf hamster food. It has a great choice of seeds, mealworms, and other healthy treats. Mealworms are important because they bring protein into the mix, which is very important if you want to keep your hamster’s body strong. This is also great because all hamsters love mealworms, so they definitely won’t be skipping this. This food mix is great for all hamsters, and your pet is definitely going to love it. It’s a tasty mix, and it’s the best choice for hamsters that tend to be picky. It’s nutritionally balanced, suitable for all breeds, and it has vitamins included in the mix. Kaytee Forti Diet Pro Health Hamster Food – last entry on this list, this food is great if you’re worried about your hamster’s health. If you check this product out online, you’ll notice great reviews, and it’s not difficult to see why. This mix is full of all the nutrients your dwarf hamster needs to keep a healthy body. The only complaint hamster owners have on this food is that some packs have too many sunflower seeds in them, so you have to keep an eye on your hamster’s seed intake. It also contains omega-3 oils, and its shape supports dental care, while it also contains probiotics and it’s supporting immune health. You should also keep an eye on what you’ll be feeding your hamster for treats. Hamsters love treats, and it’s crucial to give them treats as that’s the best way for you to reward them after a job well done, for example teaching them a trick. Take a look at some of the best and tastiest treats for your furry friend. Tiny Friends Farm Lovelies This is a well-known brand for hamster treats, and you can be sure that all hamsters are going to love these treats. These treats are safe for both Syrian and dwarf hamsters, and your hamster is surely going to find them satiable. Kaytee Healthy Bits The ‘Healthy Bits’ pack definitely won’t disappoint you. It includes honey in the food, so hamsters naturally love it. The treats are small, so there aren’t any hamsters that shouldn’t eat this because of their size, and they’re also nicely held together so they won’t fall all over the floor. Nuts Your hamster will definitely enjoy all sorts of nuts. They’re a natural source of protein and necessary fats. Different hamsters enjoy different nuts, and we’ve already provided you with a list of nuts, seeds, and grains that hamsters enjoy, but here we’ll expand on the list of nuts hamsters love barley, cashew, flaxseed, lentils, millet, oats, peanut, popcorn, walnuts, monkey nuts. It’s also important to add fiber to your hamster’s diet. Natural sources of fiber, such as timothy hay and alfalfa hay, are good sources of fiber. Another thing that you should know is that Syrian hamsters and dwarf hamsters absolutely love insects, and you should feed them (not all insects) if you can. This is because insects are their main food source in the wild and they’re packed with protein and energy. This isn’t essential, so if you’re not comfortable with keeping insects around, that’s okay – but you will certainly be doing a disservice to your hamster. There are insects that are definitely worth considering: mealworms, wax worms, crickets, and grasshoppers. You’re going to want to provide a well-balanced diet for your hamster. Use a mixture of the food suggestions listed above to create a diet that’s going to be both tasty and healthy for your hamster. It’s important that their diet is packed with energy, as hamsters are very active animals that spend a lot of energy. Choose a food mix as the main and essential part of your hamster’s diet, and then add treats, fresh fruits, and insects to this diet. The general rule is that a single tablespoon of the mix is enough, and mix that with a couple of treats. You should also try to keep it interesting for your pet. You don’t eat the exact same meal every day, so why should your hamster? Provide your hamster with different types of fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds on a daily basis. Don’t fear to reduce the sizes of your hamster’s meals if you notice that it’s gaining a lot of weight, as you don’t want it to become too fat. When you’re feeding your hamster, it’s best to use a food bowl. The same doesn’t apply to water, as hamsters usually make a mess when they’re drinking water out of bowls, but you should definitely use a bowl for serving food. This way, all uneaten food will stay in the bowl and be ready to get eaten later. They provide a designated area for feeding and they keep all the leftover food clean. Hamsters quickly learn to check their food bowl, so you’ll notice your hamster checking the bowl every once in a while, and they’ll likely be waiting for you when you’re refilling it. Hamsters also have the habit of filling their cheek pouches with secret stashes of food to build secret food stores near their bed. This is a natural instinct to keep food hidden away from other animals who may try to steal it. If you have more than a single hamster in the same cage, you may even find hamsters hiding food from one another. Buy a ceramic food bowl, as hamsters are likely to topple a plastic food bowl and the mix will end up all over the place. You should definitely observe your hamster eating – this is a great way to find out what they like and what they dislike. Hamsters, just like humans, have different taste. One hamster may enjoy something, while the other won’t. If you notice that your hamster doesn’t like a certain vegetable, replace it with another vegetable. If you notice that it won’t eat a certain fruit, replace it with another fruit – you get it. If you see that it’s getting sick from eating a certain food, then stop giving your hamster that food. For example, they can get sick from eating too much watermelon. Before we end this section, we would like to point out that it’s bad to overfeed your hamster. Hamsters need a single tablespoon of the mixture a day and adding to that the occasional treat and fresh food – that should be more than enough. Overfeeding your hamster is bad. Many people make this mistake because a tablespoon of food is almost as big as the hamster itself, so they figure that it can’t possibly be enough for the animal, but it’s actually more than enough (and probably more than what they’d get in the wilderness). Dwarf hamsters have very fast and high metabolisms, and they can eat just as much food as larger hamsters can. Don’t be tempted to fill your hamster’s empty bowl – we’ve already explained that hamsters often fill their cheek pouches with food and then hide it next to their bed. This means that they may empty the food bowl, but that doesn’t mean that all food is eaten. Don’t let your furry friend fool you. We’ve just about covered the answer to the question of what can hamsters eat, but know that you can add supplements to your hamster’s diet if it’s ever necessary. This is sometimes needed because of many health concerns, but you should always speak with your vet before adding any supplements to your hamster’s water or food supply. What Are Dwarf Hamsters Allergic To? Hamsters, as a species, can have problems with certain foods. However, it’s also possible that an individual hamster develops an allergy to something. Let’s firstly take a look at all the things that you should avoid feeding your dwarf hamster with. Almonds, avocado (it’s literally poisonous to them), apple seeds, chocolate, sweets, potato chips, pork, raw potatoes, grape seeds, rhubarb, tomato leaves, citrus fruits, watermelon, jam, spices, garlic, onions, chives, leeks. There are many foods that should be kept out of your hamster’s diet as it will make your hamster sick. Watermelon, although considered healthy, can be dangerous if the hamster eats too much of it – a watermelon’s water concentration is too much for hamsters. Almonds contain cyanic acid, which can make your dwarf hamster very sick. Seeds can also be harmful, and most often are, so make sure to remove all seeds from the food before you serve it. This means that you can’t feed your hamster apples, peaches, and plums before you take out the seeds. Theobromine is a substance found in chocolate, and it negatively affects your hamster’s circulation. Also, you should always remove uneaten food. This can be as dangerous as feeding your hamster with something that they shouldn’t be eating. Fruits and vegetables can become spoiled and moldy very quickly, and it’s especially important to take them out after 24 hours. Something that you should keep in mind is that dwarf hamsters are prone to diabetes. Their bodies are very small and it’s difficult for them to deal with high levels of sugar in their bodies. The main cause of diabetes is poor feeding habits and high-sugar treats that are provided by the owner. This means that the responsibility of keeping your hamster diabetes-free befalls exclusively on your shoulders. Provide your hamster with a healthy and balanced diet, and avoid too much sugar in the pet’s food. You can recognize the most common symptoms of diabetes as your hamster will start to urinate more frequently and it will become quite lethargic. Consult with a veterinarian if you notice this. A poor diet can also cause diarrhea. You will recognize this by a loose stool, and you should, once again, consult a vet. There are also other symptoms to a sick hamster, and take note that all sicknesses can be caused by an unhealthy diet. If you notice your hamster losing weight, losing fur, breathing in distress, having a nasal discharge or skin lesions, you should take it to a vet. Hamsters can also develop allergies just like humans do. If you’ve noticed your hamster sneezing, they may be allergic to their bedding or something in their food. It could also be microscopic dust in the air. Try switching beddings, foods, to an unscented fabric softener, and use an air filter by your hamster’s cage to eliminate all allergens in that environment. If the problems persist, you should contact a veterinarian. There are many things that hamsters aren’t exactly allergic to, but it’s causing irritation to them. Perfumes, pine and cedar shavings, scented candles, electric “plug-in” style diffusers, scented room sprays, and even some cleaning agents can be harmful and irritating to your hamster’s respiratory canal. The best way to deal with this is to move the cage away from these fumes. Another irritant that’s definitely going to bother hamsters is cigarette smoke. To treat an allergic hamster, firstly remove anything that might be causing the allergy. For example, if you’ve just put new bedding for the hamster and it started sneezing, remove the bedding and see if anything will change. If the pet doesn’t get better, try changing other things around the cage and observe whether it will help. If you can’t pinpoint what’s exactly making your hamster allergic and five days have passed without the hamster’s symptoms reducing – take your hamster to the vet. How Long Can Dwarf Hamsters Go Without Food? So, you’re going to stay at work until late and you’re wondering whether your hamster will feel hungry? Don’t worry, hamsters can go three to four days without food, depending on when have they eaten last and how much have they eaten. Obviously, larger hamsters that eat more are going to be able to last longer, but you shouldn’t worry about your hamster as long as you know you’ll be feeding it soon. This applies to water, as well, as it’s just as important as food to them. To sum up, when feeding your hamster, you should know that the mixture is the backbone of your hamster’s diet – everything else is an addition that can be healthy, but isn’t really required. There are many things that you can add to your hamster’s diet that can be bad for it, we have listed all of those things in this article, and you should definitely avoid that. There are also many treats that are good for your hamster, but you should never overfeed them with treats, as they will lose their point – treats are there to reward your hamster after doing something good. Know that each individual hamster has individual taste, just like people, so you should adapt your food to your pet. You should always keep your hamster’s water supply fresh and completely full. Know that hamsters can only live three to four days without food and/or water. You should feed your hamster twice a day, once in the morning, and once again in the evening. Your hamster should get a full tablespoon of hamster food mixture daily – so give your hamster half a tablespoon of mixture each time you feed it. Know that your hamster is going to store that food away, so don’t be fooled into thinking that your hamster’s hungry just because their food bowl is empty. Dwarf hamsters’ metabolism is fast, so they can eat just as much food as other hamsters.... Read more...
- 10 Differences Between Syrian And Dwarf HamstersIf you’re looking to get a hamster and want to figure out which type is for you, read on. I have a Syrian male, his name is Teddy, and I think he’s the cutest furball ever. You might think the same about your hammy when you get yours. But let’s see what the main differences are between the Syrian hamster, and the Dwarf types. There’s more than one kind of hamster, and I’ll walk you through the differences. Table of Contents So what is the main difference between Syrian and Dwarf hamsters ?A brief rundown on all hamster types available in pet storesSyrian hamsterRoborovski DwarfCampbell DwarfChinese DwarfSiberian/Djungarian/Winter White DwarfSyrian hamsters are the largestDwarf types are hyper and faster than SyriansSyrian hamsters need bigger cagesThe minimum wheel size is smaller for Dwarf hamstersDwarf hamsters are harder to tameDwarf hamsters can be kept in same-sex pairsSyrian hamsters come in more color patternsThere are different illnesses the 2 types are prone toSome feeding exceptions are necessary for Dwarf typesEasier to find a Syrian hamster’s genderBefore you get any kind of hamsterA word from Teddy So what is the main difference between Syrian and Dwarf hamsters ? The main and most obvious differences between Syrian and Dwarf types are the size, and whether they are solitary. Syrian hamsters are much larger than the Dwarf types. Syrian hamsters ca grow up to 8 inches/20 cm in length, and are much bulkier than Dwarf types. Dwarf hamsters are about 2 inches/5 cm in size, with the Chinese Dwarf reaching a maximum of 10 cm/4 inches. Keeping hamsters together is alright for Dwarf types, except for the Chinese. The Chinese dwarf, along with the Syrian, is solitary and must be kept alone. If not, they will fight to the death for the cage. Alright, those are the main differences, and the most obvious ones. There’s a few more, let me give you a quick list of what’s left: There is a difference in temperament The cage size is different The minimum wheel size is different Syrians are the easiest to tame There are wildly different color options and markings Some are prone to a disease, some to other illnesses You can’t feed them quite the same, there are a few differences You can tell the gender of a Syrian easier Some of these might be important to you, maybe they’re not. But you have to be aware of them when you’re picking out what kind of hamster you want. Hamsters are hamsters, and they will generally behave the same. But there are some differences between the 2 main types – Syrian or Dwarf – which can give you a slightly different pet. So let’s talk a bit about what kind of hamsters there are available for you to choose, and which ones they are. A brief rundown on all hamster types available in pet stores There’s 2 main types of hamster available. There is the Syrian hamster, which is the largest and most common hamster you will find. And there are the Dwarf types, 4 usually available in pet stores, and they’re all much smaller and look very different from a Syrian. All Dwarf types hail from Northern Asia, albeit from different regions, like Siberia, Mongolia, China, Russia. I’ve grouped together the Dwarf types for the purpose of this article. But I will tell you a bit about each type available below. Syrian hamster The most common kind of hamster kept as a pet. They’re the ones you usually think of when you think of hamsters. These hamsters come from Syria, and southern Turkey, and they’re the largest kind of hamster. Usually they’re orange/golden, and there are variations that have come through breeding. Like all black, white, spotted, and so on. My Teddy is a golden Syrian hammy, and when I got him I thought I was getting a very special kind of hamster. I thought I got the most unique, cutest hamster, that will stand out from all the rest. Turns out golden variations are the most common, but he’s still what I wanted. You can find the Syrian hamster in short hair and long hair, of which the males have the longest. They can live 2-3 years. Roborovski Dwarf These are one of the most common Dwarf types, and the absolute smallest. There’s no real point in trying to hold them, since they’re so small and wriggly. You’ll also find their names shortened to Robo often. They’re grow up only to about 2 inches/5 cm, and will escape through most cage bars. Actually for dwarf types it’s better to get a glass tank. That way you’re sure they can’t go anywhere. Campbell Dwarf Another very common type of Dwarf hamster, the Campbell dwarf is just as small as the Robo, and is very easy to scare. Again, this kind of dwarf doesn’t really like being touched and will not sit still. A glass tank is the best options for this kind of dwarf as well. Chinese Dwarf This is a larger Dwarf type, growing up to 10 cm/4 inches long. Chinese dwarves aren’t very social, and unlike other Dwarf types do no like being kept with other hamsters. Even if they were raised together in the same litter, they will still fight to the death. The male Chinese Dwarf also has a scent gland on its abdomen, which isn’t present on other hamster types. Siberian/Djungarian/Winter White Dwarf The rarest kind of Dwarf hamster, it’s almost completely white. It’s just as small as the other 2 Russian Dwarves (Robo and Campbell), and this one actually is easier to tame than other Dwarf types. Still, he is hyper and need to run and climb a lot, since there’s so much energy in such a small creature. Now let’s get into the clear differences between the larger, Syrian hamster, and the cute Dwaf types. Syrian hamsters are the largest Syrian hamsters can grow much longer and larger than Dwarf types. Syrians can get up to 8 inches/20 cm long, and are much more elongated than the Dwarf types. The Dwarves reach a maximum of 2 inches/5 cm, with only the Chinese Dwarf managing 4 inches/10 cm. The Dwarves are more stout, and they kind of look like they have no neck at first. Their fur is much fluffier and longer compared to the Syrian’s. This means that there are large differences between cage and wheel sizes for these 2 types of hamsters. But I’ll get into that in a couple of paragraphs. Dwarf types are hyper and faster than Syrians The smaller they are, the faster and more agile they are. Syrians do run a lot, and jump, and need a whole lot of exercising and space. But Dwarf types take the cake here. They need the most exercise, and are actually kind of hard to actually touch. They keep moving, there is always something going on and they need to investigate. You’d think that given their size the Dwarf types would be slower, but they actually seem to move faster than the Syrian. This is only because they’re so small, but both types can run between 3-6 miles per hour. That’s 5-10 km per hour ! Syrians will stop and stare into the distance every now and then, but not as much as the Dwarves. Those tiny creatures take breaks from their running wheel often, and they’re always very short. If you want to know more about hamsters and their running routine, along with how much exercise they need, you should check out this helpful article here. Syrian hamsters need bigger cages Given their larger size, Syrian hamsters need a much larger cage. A large enough cage for a Syrian hamster is 24 x 12 inches, and about 12 inches tall. That’s 61 x 30.5 cm, and about 30.5 cm tall. While Dwarf hamsters can do with about half that size, it’s recommended that you give them a large enough space as well. Always go for a bigger cage if you have the space and budget for this. A cramped up hamster is a nippy, irritated hamster, and you risk your hammies fighting eachother just because they don’t have enough space. This roundup of the best hamster cages touches on hamster type, cage safety, and escape-proof rating as well. Remember that for Dwarf hamsters, if you’ve got 2, their cage will need to be as large as a lone Syrian’s ! And if you have just one Chinese Dwarf, better get him a Syrian sized cage, just to be sure that he has enough space since he is larger than other Dwarf types. If you want to know more about hamster cages, and choosing the best kind for your hamster here is a helpful and clear article on the 3 main kinds of hamster cages. But in short, Dwarf hamsters do better in glass tanks since they have no chance of getting stuck between the cage bars. The minimum wheel size is smaller for Dwarf hamsters Again, the Syrian hamster will need a much larger wheel size than Dwarves. 7 inches/18 cm are the minimum for an exercise wheel for a Syrian hamster. While 5 inches/13 cm are enough for a Dwarf, but that’s only the minimum. All hamsters go for a larger wheel if given the option. So like with the cage, get your hamster a large wheel. The largest you can find, even if it might seem like too much for a small hamster. They are all more comfortable in a larger wheel. If you want to know more about how to get a good exercise wheel for your hamster, you should read this article. You’ll find out what to look out for when picking your hammy’s wheel, along with a clear example. And if you’re looking for a roundup of the best hamster wheels, according to their breed, there it is. Dwarf hamsters are harder to tame This is only true because of how hyperactive and restless Dwarf types are. That, and the fact that they have a shorter memory than Syrian hamsters. In order to tame a hamster, you need to play with it, touch it, talk to it, make yourself available to it. There are days when you can’t, and Dwarf hamsters forget things and people and interactions fast. A Syrian will remember his owner even a week later, and will allow you to kind of touch him. A Dwarf will need you to talk to him daily, and touch and play with him. Dwarf hamsters do not sit still, and need to run around and play and jump and dig and do everything at one, all day. Syrians are a bit more mellow, and will give your more opportunities to touch him, so you can tame him easier. Then again, there are hamsters that simply can’t be tamed, and are very hard to handle. If you’ve got a biting hamster, or he’s very scared of you, you need to be extra careful. Dwarf hamsters can be kept in same-sex pairs This is true for Campbell, Robo, and Siberian hamsters. If they were raised together with litter mates of the same sex, they can be kept together in the same cage. Again, if you’ve got more than one hamster, double or triple the cage size. Keeping your Dwarf hammies together will only work if they are from the same litter, or were introduced when they were still babies and became ‘siblings’. If you’ve got an adult Dwarf, and want to introduce a baby dwarf, even if they’re of the same kind, it will not work. Neither will two separate adults. You can only do this with baby hamsters.And only if those babies were raised together. If not, they will act like Syrian and Chinese hamsters. That means they will be very territorial and fight anything and anyone that comes into their cage, male or female. It’s never a good idea to keep a Syrian or Chinese hamster with another hamster, of any kind. They are only solitary, and will be very aggressive. They won’t miss the company, don’t worry. You’re hurting them more by bringing them a cage mate than you’re helping. (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.) Syrian hamsters come in more color patterns Syrians have a wider range of color patterns. Originally they were golden/orange, with some white on their bellies and chins, and a bit of grey on their ears. But natural variations were possible, and breeders took advantage of that. So you can get almost any kind of color choice for your Syrian hamster. They can be golden like mine, they can be all in one color, they can be spotted, or maybe have a white sock, even a ringed hamster is possible. Somehow, a long-haired variation was made possible through selective breeding, and you can now find the same range of colors, now with long hair. Dwarf types have some variations as well, but they mostly have the same colors as the original hamsters they were bred from. Winter Whites are mostly white all over. Chinese hamsters are sandy brown on their back, with a dark stripe running down their back, and a white belly. The Robos have a color scheme much like the Chinese, with sandy brown on the back and white on the bellies, but they are much smaller and don’t have a stripe down their back. Finally Campbell’s are darker than the other types, with a more grey-brown color scheme on their backs, and just a bit of white on their bellies. They look like they went through a pile of ash most of the time. There are different illnesses the 2 types are prone to All hamsters can develop a number of diseased and illnesses. But in general, the Dwarf types develop diabetes much easier than the Syrian. This is because of their small size, and because they can’t process too well the sugars on some foods. Which is why there are certain food exceptions for Dwarf hamsters, that Syrians can eat, but Dwarves should stay away from, or eat very little. The Syrian, on the other hand, has higher chances of getting a disease called wet-tail. This can happen mostly when they hamster is young and was just weaned from its mother. It’s mostly stress-based. But if it’s caught in its early stages (less than 24h) it can be treated. Otherwise it is fatal. Hamsters do not get sick often, and aren’t sickly animals. But they don’t have a human’s stamina, so they will wilt fast if not given medical care as soon as you notice there is a problem. Some feeding exceptions are necessary for Dwarf types As mentioned before, Dwarf hamsters can’t process very sweet food. That can mean even simple things like a piece of carrot can be a bit too sweet for them. So that means that fruits, and carrots, and sweet potato should be give sparingly, and in very small quantities to your Dwarf hamster. Syrians on the other hand don’t have many restrictions. Yes, there are foods that are unsafe for any hamster, but Syrians are a bit easier to feed. You can see a helpful list of safe and unsafe foods for hammies here, along with some treats that hamsters can safely nibble on. Easier to find a Syrian hamster’s gender Finding your hamster’s gender can be a hassle. But if you’ve got Dwarf hamsters that you want to keep together, this is crucial. Otherwise you’re going to get yourself a whole new litter in about 3 weeks. For more info on exactly how to figure out your hamster’s gender, you need to check this out. You’ll find alternatives for hard to handle hamsters as well. But a Syrian hamster will be easier to figure out because they are larger, even as babies. And the fur on Syrians is shorter and not as ruffled and all over the place as a Dwarf’s. Not to mention that trying to hold a baby Dwarf is nearly impossible. Before you get any kind of hamster A hamster will change your life, just like any other pet. But there are a few things you should think about. Like whether you’ll be able to properly care for him, from food to cage to attention and health. Will you have the time to play with and tame your hamster ? Hamsters are mostly nocturnal and will come out when you’re ready for bed, so take into account your lifestyle, sleeping pattern, and how much time you can dedicate for the animal. Do you have the budget for it ? Hamsters aren’t very expensive. They’re actually cheap, aside from the initial expenses. Actually you can check this cost of buying a hamster article, to get an estimate on how expensive or cheap it is to own a hamster. Can you accommodate a hamster in your home ? His cage will take up some space, and he will need a certain temperature to be comfortable. Hamsters also scare easily, and do things that will look and sound odd. Do you have a cat in your home ? A hamster and a cat are pretty much the worst idea ever, since they’re very different animals. You might want to read the 15 essential steps on taking care of your hamster before you get one, in the first place. A word from Teddy I hope you’re clear on the differences between us hammies now. I know my Dwarf cousins can be confusing, and look the same for someone who’s never met them before. But they’re all a personality of their own, and they can make you just as happy as one of my kind. If you want t know more about us hammies, you can check out the articles below.... Read more...
- Hamsters Hiding Their Food – Why, When, And WhereEver seen how your hammy stuffs his cheeks and then wanders off ? Did you ever wonder where all that food goes ? That’s a lot of food for such a tiny furry boy. Where does it all go ? As it happens, hammies like to hoard. Their name in Syria where the first hammy was discovered translated to Mr. Saddlebags. Apparently hamsters like to carry away their food, but what do they do with all of it ? Table of Contents Do hamsters hide their food ?Why hamsters hide their foodWhen hamsters hide their foodWhere do hamsters hide their foodCan you stop your hamster from hiding his food ?Which foods are okay for hamstersA word from Teddy Do hamsters hide their food ? Yes, hamsters hide their food. In fact your per hamster is hiding the majority of the food you’re giving him. This is not to say you’re overfeeding him. We’ll discuss that later in this article. But hamsters are hardwired to hide away most of their food, in case of a long, hard winter. Or in case it’s too dangerous to go outside to forage for food. Pet hamsters still have this instinct, since it’s what kept them alive for so long in the wild. So they’re not going to forget it anytime soon. After all, they’ve only been with us for the last century or so. Now let’s see how and why this all happens, so you can better understand your friend. Why hamsters hide their food Hammies hide their food for a number of reasons. To understand this we need to look at the wild hamster, and how it survives in the wild. A wild hamster will come out of his hiding place in the evening, and hear for predators. He he thinks the coast is clear, he’ll run around looking for food. Now, given the fact that hamsters are prey and are always hunted by one animal or another, they move fast. They also have to move fast to cover lots of ground, their territory is large because the areas hamsters come from are quite barren. Not much vegetation or fruit or veggies to be found. So hamsters take what they can get, and cover a wide area to do so. They can cover 9 km/5.5 miles in a single night ! Imagine those tiny feet scurrying across the desert or steppes to find a few grains. On top of all this, winter does come. That means less food, and the need to stockpiling. Hamsters have evolved, because of all these reasons, to have one big pantry in their nest. That pantry is organized and cleaned daily. The hammy knows what he’s got there, and he knows it will last him through the cold. For convenience, for survival, and because of scarcity. This is also why hamsters usually eat dry, hard grains since those keep the best. They’ve also evolved to have long front teeth to manage eating those grains. More on hamster teeth here. How does this translate to your pet hamster ? Well, even if he’s a pet and he is safe and gets food constantly, he still has the instinct to hoard and make sure he has enough food. It’s something pet hamsters will probably never forget. When hamsters hide their food Hammies love to hide their food. They don’t usually need a time of the year to hide it, they always hide it. Whenever they find some food, they’ll hide it in their amazingly elastic cheek pouches and carry it with them. This means they’ll also have snacks along the way, and they don’t have to drop all their food if a predator comes along. So your pet hamster will hide his food when he finds it. This means that right after you put food in his little bowl, he will sniff it and start putting it in his cheeks. He’ll stuff his cheeks with as much food you’ve given him, or as much as his cheeks can carry. Then, he’ll wander off to his hideout, and put it in his food stash. More on that later in the article. Once his stash has been added to, he might stay there and eat a few bits of the food. Or, he might come out and play, or run on his wheel. Once he knows he’s got food, he won’t worry about much. If you give him additional bits of food, after his feeding time, he will still take those. hamsters are greedy little things, regardless of how much or how little food they have in their stash. They will always take the food offered. If it’s a food that spoils immediately, like a piece of cooked chicken or egg white, he’ll eat it right then and there. If it’s a food that keeps, including cheese, he’ll store it away. Where do hamsters hide their food Alright, hammies store their food, we know why and we know when. But where exactly do hamsters store their food ? Well, maybe you’ve noticed, maybe not. Hamsters are good at hiding. But whenever you clean your hamster’s cage you’ll see he has a corner, tucked away in his hideout or nest, and it’s got plenty of food. That’s the hammy’s storage place, or food stash. That’s where he keeps all the food you give him, and it’s convenient. Next time your think your hammy is sleeping try this. Keep your ears open for any chewing or small crunching sound. That’ll be your hammy taking a midnight snack. Hamsters keep their food close, and it will usually be in the lowest part of their nest. As in, they will build their sleeping area on top of the food, if they have no other option. In the wild hamsters only keep their food in a special, dedicated room. They have a different room for sleeping, another one for peeing, and so on. Hamsters are very organized, and in the wild their home is actually a series of tunnels on several levels, with many rooms. As a pet, they have either the hideout you provide them, or the nest they’ve built in a corner of the cage. For the sake of your hammy’s sanity, do get him a hideout. Or at the very least arrange a hidden, covered corner of the cage and you’ll see that’s where he will hide. (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.) Can you stop your hamster from hiding his food ? No. You can’t stop your hamster from hiding his food. It would be like trying to stop a dog from howling when he hears other dogs. Or a cat from surveying everything from the tallest object in your home. Or a parakeet from being… well, silly and noisy. It’s what the animal does, and it’s their instinct. A hamster will always hide his food, because this is what he knows. He knows food is scarce, and life in the desert or steppes is harsh, and he has to survive. The fact that he gets a steady, regular food supply from you is just happenstance for him. Giving him more food will only mean a larger food stash that will end up spoiling since he can’t eat it all. On the other hand, underfeeding your hamster will only give him a sense of anxiety. Having only enough food to eat in one sitting, and nothing to bring back home will make him stressed. Hamsters react very poorly to stress and can develop serious problems like fur loss, wet tail, and a series of digestive problems. So give your hamster food as usual, 2 teaspoons for a Syrian, and one teaspoon for a Dwarf type. That’s daily, and it’s for commercial mixes that have lots of dry grains and seeds and vitamins added in. He will have enough food to eat, and to hide. Do keep in mind that older hamsters become very picky, and won’t eat all of their food. Which foods are okay for hamsters This is a topic I’ve covered in a different article. Here you’ll find a whole list of safe and unsafe foods you can give your hamster. Some are already in your pantry, or fridge. However I do recommend a commercial food mix to give to your hammy, since that will have a balanced diet for him, with all the nutrients he needs. At a glance, hamsters eat mostly grains. They are omnivores, and will eat most things they find. But, not all are okay for them. Again, refer to the food list I’ve linked above. Aside from grains, hammies eat veggies, some root-type veggies, some fruits, a couple of insects, and lots of seeds and nuts. Very acidic foods like citrus or garlic or onion, and spices in general are very bad for hamsters. A word from Teddy I hope you found what you were looking for in this article. Us hammies love to hide our food, just so we know we’ve got enough to last us for several days. It;s not you, it’s just us being hamsters. If you want to know more about us hammies and how to care for us, you should read the articles below for more info.... Read more...
- What Do Hamsters Eat In The Wild? Don’t Feed Your Pet The SameAs a hamster owner, I always had this question in the back of my head, what do hamsters eat in the wild? Yes, my furball has food delivered to his house daily, which is not so bad, but it is not like this in the wild. There isn’t only one type of hamster, and they come from different parts of the world, so talking about what hamsters eat in the wild might be too general if you don’t talk about each species but the thing is that they have similar behaviors and diets in the wild no matter where they came from. There are a few differences between Syrian hamsters and the smaller ones, but we will talk about that a bit later. I decided to write this article because I wanted to make sure we don’t miss anything when we feed our hamsters, and for that, I had to do my research to see what they eat in the wild. But it is important to know that a wild hamster’s diet is not a perfect one, they might eat something they don’t like, or it is very healthy for them, but it might be the only thing they have. Table of Contents What do hamsters eat in the wild?When do hamsters eat in the wild?How does a wild hamster find water?Diet differences between pet hamsters and wild hamstersChallenges for a wild hamster to obtain food in the wild1. Avoiding predators while looking for food.2. Knowing what food is safe to eat.3. Storing food for later4. They compete with other animals for the same food.Do pet hamsters live more than wild hamsters?Conclusion What do hamsters eat in the wild? A wild hamster’s diet has a lot of seeds, grains(like wheat, oat, barley, and more), and all kinds of nuts, since those are the ones easier to find and they are pretty nutritious for a hamster, but they also might look for fruits and vegetables if possible. Last but not least, they can also eat insects if needed. The last ones are not their primary target since a hamster can live pretty well without the trouble of hunting for those, but they will not refuse them if they come in their way. Keep in mind that hamsters are prey animals, and they are not the most courageous hunters out there. They might prefer to eat the safer food they can find. When do hamsters eat in the wild? Most wild hamsters are crepuscular, which means that they are active at sunset and sunrise since the visibility for their predators is not so great, but the hamsters can see what they are doing. They usually don’t go outside during the day because they fear predators like snakes, eagles, and other wild animals, who are mostly active during the day. Most people think that hamsters are nocturnal, and they associate this with having good eyesight in the dark, which is not true, hamsters have pretty weak eyesight all the time, and it doesn’t get better in the dark. But they do have a very good sense of smell and hearing. So a hamster will procure food during those hours and store the food for later. They can carry a good amount of food in their cheek pouches but they have to store it in their burrows since they can’t keep it on them for too long. If you want to know more about hamsters’ cheek pouches, I have an entire article about how cheek pouches work and common problems. For them, the cheek pouches are similar to a shopping cart for us. How does a wild hamster find water? Wild hamsters will get most of their water requirements from their food, especially vegetables, seeds, and fruits. They might also drink water from puddles and streams but this might not be accessible for all wild hamsters, and as you can imagine, it can be quite dangerous to make noises while they drink, and storing water for later is not an option. Rainwater is also an option, but as we all know, it is not reliable, and they usually avoid the rain directly since they can get sick very fast if they get wet, check my article to see more on why you should never wash a hamster. They can drink rainwater only if they capture some water in their burrows, but they will not get outside when it rains to drink water. Diet differences between pet hamsters and wild hamsters I will not get into many details about what a pet hamster should eat since that would be an entire article and I already wrote a big article hamster’s diet. Most hamster owners feed their small friends with specially-formulated food pellets that usually have all the vitamins and minerals a hamster needs. You can also feed a pet hamster whatever a wild hamster can eat, but those mixes are more than enough and they usually cover all they need. So my advice is to feed your hamster with a pre-made mix, and if you want to give it some extra food, nuts, seeds, and even some cooked meat, if you respect what I’ve said in the article about what hamsters can eat, your hamster should be fine. Make sure you check the article since there are some exceptions, especially when you feed a dwarf hamster that has a predisposition to diabetes. While a Syrian hamster can eat small amounts of banana, a dwarf hamster should avoid it completely. A wild hamster on the other hand will not focus as much on a healthy and nutritious diet because his focus is surviving and not a balanced diet. So saying that you should feed a hamster what they actually eat in the wild instead of a pre-made mix might not be the best idea. The pre-made mix is the ideal version of what a wild hamster would need in the first place. Challenges for a wild hamster to obtain food in the wild As you can imagine, a wild hamster faces many challenges when trying to find food. I will list here a few of them: 1. Avoiding predators while looking for food. This one is the biggest challenge a wild hamster will face when finding food. They have predators everywhere, it might be a snake that comes from the ground or from the water, it might be other wild animals from the ground or burrows, an eagle or owl from the air, or even other hamsters. A hamster looking for food in the wild is in for a wild ride, with a high chance of the hamster actually becoming the food, which is pretty sad. 2. Knowing what food is safe to eat. They have a pretty good instinct for that, but they don’t know all the time which type of insect, plant or seed is poisonous and which one is not. Or if that food is safe in the long term, we as humans know what is safe for us and what is not. We know that if we eat only chocolate for a few months, we will end up with some serious health issues but a hamster might not realize that eating only fruits for a month might get them in trouble. But, the wild hamster will eat whatever it can get its paws on since it doesn’t have many options. 3. Storing food for later Hamsters have cheek pouches that are more like a shopping cart for them but they can’t store food in their cheeks for too long, so they have to come back to their burrows. This limits their ability to go too far for food, especially because they don’t have the best eyesight. 4. They compete with other animals for the same food. In the wild there are a lot of animals that will eat the same thing, so for the wild hamster it’s not only important to find food, but it is also important to find it first. Also, places with more food will be more crowded by animals and the stronger ones will get the most food. As you might imagine, hamsters are not the strongest animals in the wild since they are pretty small. They are pretty strong for their size and bite quite hard, but it is not enough to kill a snake or other predators. I remember when my hamster was hanging from the cage ceiling, and actually moving using only two paws which is quite incredible, I have to admit that I envy his power. Do pet hamsters live more than wild hamsters? Not having predators makes pet hamsters live longer than wild hamsters. Also, they don’t face all the challenges that a wild hamster would face when it comes to finding food or water. Hamsters are not social animals, and they are quite happy if they have food and water, so this might make them good pets but not perfect one. A hamster is not a puppy or a kitten is a bad pet for a young child (under 9 years old). Read my article on 10+ reasons why you should not get a hamster. Conclusion A wild hamster will eat way more things than a regular pet hamster but don’t confuse more things with a more diversified diet. They eat more things because this is what helps them survive, they don’t get to choose what they want to eat to complete their diet. So the life of a wild hamster is just that – “wild” when it comes to finding food or water. And this is without talking about finding a partner to reproduce with, which is a big challenge on its own. Check my article about hamster reproduction, it is way more interesting and complex than you might think. I hope this article helped you understand the differences between the life of a pet and a wild hamster. Please make sure you take good care of your little furball and you make its life as good as possible.... Read more...
- Ultimate Guide to Breeding Dwarf HamstersIf you own hamsters, you must know that you can actually make money off of breeding hamsters and selling their young. Or maybe you’re just looking to expand your group of rodents. Whatever the reason may be, you can definitely breed your hamsters. All rodents, including hamsters, breed like crazy and it doesn’t take long for them to make babies. Hamsters make for cute little furry pets, but breeding them needs to be a careful process, as pregnancy for any species is dangerous for both the mother and the child or children. This isn’t a decision to make lightly, as you need to carefully consider your hamster’s health before you decide to take this step. You also have to decide what you’ll do with the babies that are the result of breeding. Even if you haven’t planned on breeding your hamsters, you may find that your female is pregnant, and you need to know what to do. That’s exactly what we’ll be talking about in this article. Today, we will be tackling the subject of breeding dwarf hamsters, teaching you all the important ins and outs of that process. You will be learning what to expect, how often do these hamsters go in heat, how long are they pregnant for, how many babies should you expect, how to know when your hamster is ready to mate, how to breed Dwarf hamsters, and a few other things, as well. Without further ado, let’s get started! Table of Contents Are Dwarf Hamsters Good for Beginners?How Often Do Dwarf Hamsters Go into Heat?How Do You Know When Your Hamster Is Ready to Mate?How to Breed Dwarf Hamsters?How Long Are Dwarf Hamsters Pregnant For?How Many Babies Do Dwarf Hamsters Have?Do Hamsters Kill Their Babies? Are Dwarf Hamsters Good for Beginners? It’s difficult to actually define good when it comes to hamster breeding. The truth is, unless you’re looking for a specific breed of hamsters, the differences between hamsters are really arbitrary. Dwarf hamsters certainly aren’t any more difficult to take care of than any other breed of hamster, and they’re not any more difficult to breed than any other breed of a hamster. The only breed of hamster that’s actually more difficult to breed is Syrian hamsters. Dwarf hamsters are actually among the breeds that are very easy to breed. What you should know is that if you’re looking to breed hamsters just to sell them to a pet shop – you’re likely not going to succeed. Pet shops usually have their own list of suppliers, and it’s unlikely that you’ll be making that list since most of these suppliers have whole compounds devoted to hamster breeding. However, if you’re looking to be a small, local breeder or you want to give hamsters as presents to your friends and family, then breeding hamsters can be a good idea. And breeding Dwarf hamsters aren’t any more difficult than breeding any other breed of hamsters. There are many things that you’re going to have to be careful about, and we’ll be covering that in this whole article. But, breeding hamsters isn’t exactly difficult and anyone with a cage and a male and a female hamster can do it. When you’re trying to breed hamsters, you’re going to want to get a male and a female from the pet shop, or from whoever your supplier is. You can also buy your hamsters from a breeder, this may be an even better option since you’ll have a greater choice when choosing colors and types. You also get the breeding history of the hamsters. At a pet shop, you will often find siblings or hybrid breed hamsters that are less desirable for breeding. Pet shop workers may also have a difficult time telling the difference between male and female hamsters. You have to decide what kind of hamster you want and what you’re looking to achieve. Always look for hamsters that are in good health. Their eyes should be clear and bright, their fur smooth and glossy, and they should look active and interested in their surroundings. Hamsters are wildly active animals, and it’s very unusual for a hamster to be disinterested in their surroundings. When choosing your hamsters, you’re going to need a male and a female. You should check their genitalia to make sure that you’ve picked up the proper animal. This can be tricky since hamsters are so furry. Usually, the testicles and anus are far apart for the male, while the genitalia and the anus are really closely together with the females, so much so that it almost looks like it’s the same thing. You can check this below the tail, between the hind legs. Males should be at least 30 days old, while females should be at least three months old. Don’t try to breed your hamsters before they reach this age. The next thing you’re going to want to do is to prepare the breeding area for the hamsters. This means buying cages – you’re going to need two cages. You should always buy plastic aquarium cages, not wire cages. Hamsters will always try to escape, instinctively, and small hamsters that are still babies can easily crawl through the wires of a metal cage – plastic cages are definitely the way to go here. Put one hamster in each cage and fill the bottom with wood shavings, megazorb, or carefresh. Sawdust is no good – it can get into the hamsters’ eyes and affect their breathing. Avoid cedar or pine shavings because the wood bears natural chemicals harmful to your hamsters’ lungs. You should also get a small plastic or wood home for your hamster, and fill that with wood shavings, as well. You also have to buy a wheel for both of your hamsters (understand that they’ll be in separated cages until it’s time to mate, and they’ll be separated once again after mating). It’s vital that your hamsters can stay active, as they’re very energetic animals that get stressed out if they can’t spend that energy – this unfortunate occurrence would definitely not benefit your breeding plans. Also, buy two water bottles, two hamster food bowls, several packs of hamster food, treats, and toys. You should definitely move the female’s cage to a calmer area after breeding, and you should give the female extra bedding for nest building material. It’s important to feed your hamster properly, and that’s why it’s best to feed it with a hamster mix. You can also feed them fresh food, seeds, whole grains, fresh green vegetables, and boiled eggs. After the mother has given birth, you should supply her daily with a slice of bread soaked in cow’s skim milk. You should keep doing this until the babies reach four weeks of age. You shouldn’t disturb your hamsters when you take them home – give them a few days to adjust to the environment. This move is very stressful for them and you don’t want to stress them out before they have to breed. Don’t try handling your hamsters before they’ve spent at least two days in your home. How Often Do Dwarf Hamsters Go into Heat? Hamsters breed like crazy, we’ve already said that. All rodents, actually, can breed very quickly and before you know it, you have a huge family of hamsters on your hands. Male hamsters reach their sexual maturity when they’re 28 days old, while it takes female hamsters three to four months (depending on the individual) to mature sexually, and from that point onwards – the female will enter heat roughly every 4 days. Since hamsters are mostly nocturnal animals, a female will go into heat during the night and it will most likely be in heat for about 12 hours. How Do You Know When Your Hamster Is Ready to Mate? When it comes to the males, they’re basically ready to mate after being alive for a month, and they can mate at any time. However, to tell if the female is in heat and ready to mate, you have to pay attention to signs. Hamsters, ironically, act very similarly to cats when they’re in heat. The female will be crouching low to the ground and raising its tail. The hamster is also likely to smell, as the female is releasing pheromones. It’s important to tell that your female is actually in heat because trying to breed your hamsters when your female isn’t in heat can be very dangerous – the female is most likely going to kill the male in self-defense, as it doesn’t want to breed. When you’re trying to breed your hamsters, it would be smart to put the cages one near the other for a few days – just so the hamsters can get to know one another and to let the pheromones do their job. How to Breed Dwarf Hamsters? Now, to breed your hamsters, you’re going to want to place them into one cage together, preferably the male’s cage, and only do that after recognizing signs of heat. Since hamsters are nocturnal, it’s best to do this in the evening. It’d be best to have a third cage, just for mating, as this is seen as some sort of neutral territory, but putting the female into the male’s cage is just as fine. If you do the opposite and put the male in the female’s cage she may get territorial and kill the male. If you see your hamsters fighting when you try to mate them, separate them and try again in a few days. However, if your hamsters aren’t fighting, feel free to keep the female in the male’s cage until they’ve mated. Dwarf hamsters are actually quite sociable, unlike Syrian hamsters, so you can keep them in the same cage. If you place the mating pair together without supervision, the female will become pregnant quickly. Evidence of a female’s first mating is blood near her genitalia, under her tail. You will also find a white substance on your female hamster’s vagina. This is called the copulatory plug, and it’s proof that the male has released sperm. This is definite proof that your hamsters have mated. You should definitely isolate the female from the male as soon as the breeding is over with. There are many hamsters that will take care of their babies, but some hamsters will attack and kill them. This can happen for several reasons, for example; even the mother may kill their babies. This happens if a human has touched the babies and the scent of the human stays on the baby, the mother doesn’t recognize it, and it kills its babies to protect the others. We’ll go deeper into this topic later on. It’s best to be on the safe side and remove the male for the duration of the gestation and birth. The female will also be in heat immediately after giving birth, and the male will want to breed with her. This can be incredibly dangerous and often lead to the female’s death. How Long Are Dwarf Hamsters Pregnant For? After this, all that remains to do is wait, as the bus pretty much drives itself at this point. You need to be patient and watch the progress, and make sure that you’re taking proper care of the hamsters. If your female is pregnant, she will start showing within a few days, and saddlebags will appear on each side when she’s ready to give birth. When she’s reaching that point, she’s going to build a nest in her pregnancy by gathering bedding material into one location. She will start eating more and grooming more. She will also be digging more, as well as becoming more restless and startling more easily. Restlessness means that she will start to wander around her cage with no apparent reason for that, she’ll be gathering more and more food. This period lasts anything from 18 to 30 days, depending on the hamster. Dwarf hamster gestation is between 18 and 30 days, but the average time from mating to birth is 21 days. The Roborovski Dwarf hamster’s gestation usually lasts for a full month. This basically means that you’re going to have babies about three weeks after placing a female and a male in the cage together. The female will go in heat 24 hours after having her pups. You’ll notice that she’s going into labor by her sides starting to heave – small, pink bodies will start to emerge. Hamster babies are born blind and bald. She’ll actually be giving birth to them while she’s moving around the cage. Then, she’ll pick her babies up in her mouth and take them back to her nest. Don’t try to help the birthing process in any way. Firstly, there’s absolutely nothing you can do to help the hamster give birth more easily. Secondly, it’s already painful and stressful enough as it is, the hamster doesn’t need a giant hand waving around her cage. How Many Babies Do Dwarf Hamsters Have? You should expect four to six babies, that’s the average size of a Dwarf hamster’s litter. Although, there are cases where the mother has given birth to as few as three and to as many as twelve babies, so be prepared for all scenarios. Once the mother has given birth, you have to pay special attention not to disturb her. Do not touch any babies that she might leave lying around her cage. If you for some reason must touch the baby, rub a spoon into the flooring of the cage, and touch the baby with the spoon, do not touch the baby with your bare hands. You should also let the mother nurse for her young for three weeks without disturbing her. You shouldn’t even be cleaning the cage during this time. Leave her, the cage, and her babies alone – the only thing you should do is refill her food and water supply, and you should try to do this discreetly, as well. This is especially important for the first-time mother, who under stress, has been known to kill and even eat her babies. Don’t think that the mother is eating her babies if you see that she’s putting them into her mouth – she’s just doing this because she’s trying to protect them. The mother will be very jumpy after birth, so you should avoid touching the nest for at least three weeks after the babies have been delivered. If you desperately need to clean a part of the cage, use a spoon to do it, but we have to stress that it’s really not important that the cage is clean during this time. Be very careful to avoid the nest. Every time you’re restocking the food supply and the water supply – completely refill it. This way, you won’t have to return too often. You should wait for four weeks before trying to separate the male babies from the female babies. The males will be sexually matured at this age, not to mention that they’ll be eating on their own, so you should definitely remove them from their sisters as you want to stop inbreeding. Rodents don’t have any problems with incest, so they’re likely to try to breed with their own sisters if you don’t remove them quickly enough. You can keep the females in the cage with the mother since Dwarf hamsters are milder than some other breeds. However, do not place the males with the father – the father will reject male babies (as many species do), so you should place them in a separate cage when they are weaned. They take three weeks to wean, but let them live with their mother for another week to get adjusted to eating solid food. The babies will begin drinking water at 13-15 days of age and eating food between 16-21 days – after this period has passed, they’re showing you the first signs of being old enough to be separated. During this period, you’ll want to keep the food bowl and the water bottle accessible to the babies, as sometimes the water bottle can be set too high and the babies might not be able to reach it. When you’re separating your babies, you’re going to have to be able to tell their sex. To do this, take a hamster and grasp it firmly around the body and lift it upright and tilt its body slightly backward. The hamster will not appreciate this, and it will struggle to get out of this position. However, you shouldn’t worry as you definitely aren’t hurting your hamster. Take a look at the genital area – the females have the genital opening and the anus close together, while the males have the genital opening separated from the anus by a distance approximately equal to your forefinger. If the babies are more than five weeks old, you can tell their sex even more easily, as the males’ testicles will fall down to the edge of the body forming two distinct pale pink lumps on each side of the anus. Do Hamsters Kill Their Babies? Yes, there are instances in which a hamster (be it the mother or the father) will kill their own babies. There are many reasons for which a hamster might kill their own babies: – the mother may feel stressed if you constantly keep checking on her and her litter. We’ve already mentioned that you should really leave the mother alone after she’s given birth – aside from feeding her and ensuring that she has water, you shouldn’t be disturbing the mother. This can cause her stress levels to rise and kill her young. Hamsters are very scared as a species (this applies to all hamsters, not just Dwarf hamsters), and it’s very easy for them to get stressed out. It’s normal that a hamster that’s just become a mother will already be under enough stress, and a giant human being annoying her is definitely not going to help with that. – her personal space is too small, and the babies are taking up too much space in a cage that’s too tiny. This can also happen if the cage you’ve purchased isn’t large enough. Baby hamsters can take up too much space and the mother sees no other escape other than killing them to provide more space. This may seem brutal, but hamsters find space to be very important – even if they don’t have any babies, hamsters will get stressed out if their cage is too small. Many times, you’ll witness two hamsters in the same cage fighting because there’s not enough space for both of them, sometimes even killing one another. – she is hungry after giving birth. This sounds unlikely to some, but the mother can be so starved after giving birth that she kills and eats her young. She may also kill them, but not eat them if she’s stressed from birth and from being hungry. – the mother accidentally killed the young while carrying them in her cheeks. This is actually a common occurrence in the hamster world – the mother will try to carry the young to the house or put them in her cheeks to protect them from outside factors. She can accidentally squeeze too hard and kill the baby or babies. – biting her young too hard when she’s carrying them – while carrying her young, a mother needs to bite down a bit to ensure that her babies don’t shake and aren’t thrown around her mouth. She can accidentally bite down a little too hard and crush her young. – the mother may think that there’s something wrong with her babies. If the mother suspects that her babies are sick or that there’s something physically wrong with them, she’ll kill her babies. Maybe out of mercy, maybe because this is the evolutionary way of survival of the fittest, but the mother will be getting rid of any offspring that seems to be faulty in any way (by her standards). – she can’t recognize their scent. This is a terrible way to go as it isn’t the mother’s fault, but if you touch the babies, you’ll leave your scent on their bodies and the mother won’t be able to recognize the babies. She won’t think that they’re hers, and she’ll kill them. That’s why you should never touch the babies, and never let anyone else touch them either. – the father can kill the babies, as well. This is actually fairly common in the animal kingdom, as the male will often see the newborns as competition and kill the young. That’s why you should always separate the male from the female and the babies, as soon as the babies are born.... Read more...
- The Truth About Mineral Chews For Hamsters – And Great AlternativesWhen I first got Teddy I also got a bunch of toys for him, including some mineral chews. Since he is my first hamster, I did not know if he’d need them or not, but I got them just to be sure. But do hamsters really need mineral chews ? Are they useful ? Do they stop the hamster from biting the cage ? Here’s what I found out, and how you can help your hamster as well. Table of Contents So do hamsters need mineral chews ?High mineral content foods for hamstersThe right nutrition for your hamsterMineral chews to stop your hamster from chewing the cageA few chew toy ideas for your hamsterA word from Teddy So do hamsters need mineral chews ? As it turns out, no. Hamsters do not need mineral chews. This is because the feed you give them already has enough minerals in the mix. If you are using a well balanced muesli mix – grains, dried fruit, some vitamin colored bits – then your hamster is doing just fine. As soon as I found this out, I stopped getting mineral chews for my Teddy. He went through them really fast, since he’s a chewer. The same goes for salt licks for your hamsters. Hamster do not need salt licks any more than they need mineral chews. They get enough salt from their food mix, so they should not have any deficiency. If you are unsure, check your food mix box to check for mineral content. High mineral content foods for hamsters Some food alternatives you can give your hamster are easily available, and are easy to eat for hamsters. For example you can give your hamster nuts and seeds, since they have a high mineral content that will help your hamster prevent health problems. Just be careful to not give the hamster too many nuts and seeds, since they do have a higher fat content. Limit them to just a couple of peanuts, or half a walnut per day. Unsalted, raw. Another idea is broccoli, along with some dark leafy greens like kale or spinach leaves. They are rich in minerals and fibers, so your hamster is getting a full meal out of them. Dried fruit and tofu are also good alternatives for your hamster to get his minerals, just keep these on a low intake since they can get sticky for the hamster. With the dried fruit make sure they are not sweetened, and you don’t give the hamster too much of it. The right nutrition for your hamster Whatever brand of hamster feed you use, make sure it has a balanced content of vegetables, added vitamins and minerals, dried fruit, and some grains as well. Most manufacturers have good mixes, so it does not really matter what brand you get, as long as the ingredients are alright. Aside from the food mix, you can give your hamster some of the foods I mentioned earlier. I give Teddy (adult Syrian hamster) unsalted raw peanuts every now and then, or pumpkin seeds as a treat. He’s had some spinach leaves when we were cooking spinach, and he liked that as well. Just be warned that the hamster will store some food in his house as well, and stale spinach or broccoli does not smell great. So, make sure that you give the hamster a small amount, that he will eat soon. For a clear list on what your hamster can eat, and what he should avoid, check out the food list article here. You’ll also find the kind of treats your hamster can eat as well. Mineral chews to stop your hamster from chewing the cage This is something I did at first, to stop Teddy from chewing on the bars. Hamster chewing on bars can be out of annoyance or their teeth growing. A hamster’s teeth will keep growing his entire life, so he must constantly chew on hard surfaces to keep them at a healthy length. If the hardest surface is the cage bars, then that’s what he will use. You can find a few cage ideas here. However you can give your hammy what I gave Teddy – wooden accessories for his cage. For example his home is entirely out of wood, and he sometimes chews on that as well. Another idea is bendy bridges, the kind that’s made out of cut tree branches and you can shape them however you want. They can be used as a toy, or even a home for your hamster. But the most important fact is that they’re made of wood, so your hamster will chew on them instead of the cage when he needs to take care of his teeth. Mineral chews are not a good idea to keep your hamster from chewing the cage or something else, because they are too soft. If your hamster is anything like my Teddy, he will tear through an entire mineral block in 20 minutes. Teddy just goes crazy when he has a mineral block, it’s like he must rip it to pieces or else. The second reason mineral chews are not good for hamsters to chew on is because they are incredibly dusty. They’re usually made up of crushed shells, tapioca, and some calcium powder, and when they break into pieces they leave a whole lot of dust. That dust is never good for your hamster. When Teddy had mineral chews he looked like a construction worker, he was covered in that dust and had to clean himself more often. (If you like this article so far, you can pin it to your Pinterest board by clicking the image below. The article continues after the image.) A few chew toy ideas for your hamster If you’re trying to give your hamster something more bearable to chew on, consider these options. These make much less noise, are better for your hamster’s teeth, and do not contain odd ingredients. Actually they’re mostly wood. Like the bendy bridges I mentioned before, or the wooden home for the hamster. Another idea would be the dense cardboard tubes that are left from aluminium foil wraps. Those are much much denser and stronger than toilet rolls, and they give the hamster more to chew on. Another idea would be whole walnuts or a very large chestnut. The point is that it must be too big for your hamster to try to shove it in his cheeks. If you make a small hole in the nut the hamster will smell it, and attempt to reach it. So he’ll chew and chew and keep his teeth in check. Finally, you can try toilet paper rolls, or paper towel rolls. As long as they are unscented, they’re fine. You can use Paper egg cartons as well, just make sure they are clean and not stained. For a more comprehensive list of toys you hamster can safely chew and play with, here is a list of store bought toys and also how to make them at home. If you’d like more info on how to properly care for your hamster, then you should check out these 15 essential steps. You’ll find out everything from what kind of cage he needs, to how much food he needs, and how to figure out which breed you’ve got. A word from Teddy I hope you understand more about us hamsters and mineral chews. We don’t really need them, since the food you give us is usually good enough and has enough minerals. If you want to keep one of us off the cage bars, you could try something made of wood. We love chewing and wood is a friendly material for us. If you want to know more about us hammies, you can check the articles below. You’ll find great info on why we eat our poop, how much water we need, and much more.... Read more...
- 10 Common Hamster Health Problems And How To Treat ThemA hamster with a health problem is a sorry sight. But, most health issues in hamsters can be solved, especially if caught in time. Let’s see what those problems are, and how to help your hammy. You’ll find these health issues grouped by body parts or type. Where possible I’ll link you to articles where I’ve covered that specific topic in more detail. Table of Contents 1. Hamster eye problems2. Hamster dental problems3. Hamster ear and hearing problems4. Hamster nail problems5. Hamster skin/fur conditions and parasites6. Hamster Digestive problems7. Wet-tail in hamsters8. Diabetes in hamsters9. Tumors and lumps in hamsters10. Hamster cheek problemsAbout a hamster’s general healthKeeping your hamster healthyA word from Teddy 1. Hamster eye problems Hamsters rarely use their eyes, that much is known to most hamster owners. Whether you’ve got a Syrian or a Dwarf type, they both can’t really see. Still, health issues do come up with a hamster’s eyes. The most common of them being cataracts/blindness. This comes especially with old age in hammies. Do keep in mind that a hamster without his sight will be able to live his life almost the same. Since he doesn’t usually rely on his eyes, not seeing anymore will not be a big loss, as it could be for humans. Other problems include infections, pink eye, bulging eye, and eyes that have stuck shut due to a possible infection. Still, for a detailed rundown on all the possible issues that can happen with a hammy’s eyes, I recommend you check out this article. You’ll find there the issues themselves, and the treatments necessary. Sometimes a trip to the vet is necessary, sometimes the problems can be treated at home. 2. Hamster dental problems A hamster’s teeth are possibly the most important tool the hamster has. His teeth never stop growing, in order for him to be able to eat the hard, dry grains his diet is based on. Sometimes though, problems come up. Teeth become overgrown, possibly due to soft food or lack of a chew toy. Or a tooth might break or crack, or it could become infected. You can find out more about hamster dental problems here, and how to treat them. Again, some may require a vet treatment, some can be treated at home. For example overgrown teeth can be fixed by giving the hamster a multitude of chew toys he can file his teeth on. Most of the time though, hamster teeth problems can be corrected. Even in the case of an abscess an antibiotic treatment will help the hamster recover. A word on hamster teeth: they are never white. If you’re looking at your hammy’s long, yellow (possibly orange) teeth and wondering if you should brush them, don’t. When I first got my Teddy I thought I had to do something. Turns out hamster teeth are not meant to be white. Any white spots on the teeth are a sign of the tooth breaking down and possibly breaking away. 3. Hamster ear and hearing problems Hearing is one of the primary ways a hamster navigates his surroundings. As such, any problem related to their ears and how well they can hear becomes a serious concern. Possible problems include: Parasites like mites, than can travel deep into the hamster’s ear Earwax buildup, preventing hearing and can become painful Ear infection, which can spread to the brain Possible tumor which can take on the whole ear These are all treatable, however the hamster won’t be able to much on his own. Actually most of the time the hammy will need your help, with any kind of health issue. To find out more about the health problems hamsters can have with their ears, you can check out this article. You’ll find both the issues and the treatments, and even an example of a successful tumor surgery on a Dwarf hammy. 4. Hamster nail problems Nail problems are few, and are treatable too. A hamster’s nails are used mostly for scratching and pawing at food or bedding. Problems come up when the nails become too long, and that’s where most of the problems stem from. A hamster’s nails grow too long when he has nothing to wear them out on. Like plenty of wood surfaces, possibly a large flat rock, or any hard surface on his cage. This means that a hamster living solely on soft bedding, and nothing else, will end up with overgrown nails. The nails will grow very long, and eventually curve into the hammy’s paw. In some cases they will break and fall off. My Teddy had this happen, and ever since we’ve installed 2 more levels in his cage, which are bare plastic, and he also uses his tunnel which is made of hard plastic. An exercise wheel, used constantly, helps a lot in this regard. It wears down the hammy’s nails and keeps them trim. Aside from overgrown nails, hamsters can also get nail infections. If they’re small, as in they don’t reach the surface and only stay for a couple of days, they’re safe to ignore. However if it goes on for more than 2 days, and even comes to a point, you should visit a veterinarian. He will prescribe an antibiotic for the hammy to combat the infection. 5. Hamster skin/fur conditions and parasites Hamsters are usually very clean animals. This means that they clean themselves daily, several times a day actually, and don’t normally attract parasites. However they can get certain skin conditions if their cage is unclean, or has spores of fungi. 2 of the most common are: Aspergillus – forms in the hamster’s pee corner. Grows white, and in time turns black. Spores can be deadly to hamsters, and very bad for humans too. If this happens, get the hamster to the vet immediately, and clean and disinfect the cage. Ringworm – not an actual worm, but a fungus. It will form bald patches on the hamster, in the shape of a circle (hence the name). Dry, flaky skin is on those bald patches, and the hamster might scratch at them furiously. Treatable, but again a vet is necessary. Aside from these two fungi, hammies can lose their fur because of old age. Other skin problems can be mites, and fleas as well. You can find out more on fleas on hamsters here, and how to treat them. All of these problems require a veterinarian and a deep cleaning of the hamster’s cage, and his toys and objects. 6. Hamster Digestive problems Digestive problems are never fun for anyone. However a hamster is more in danger than other mammals, because of hos their stomach is shaped. You see a hammy’s stomach forms a sort of U bend, which means that any gasses or bloating is very hard to release. Yes, hamsters are able to pass gas if necessary, but not as easily as us humans. And you probably won’t ever hear the hammy fart, sorry to disappoint. Given the hamster’s stomach and gut layout and design, something like diarrhea does not go well. Or an upset stomach either. This is why giving the hamster foods he can’t properly digest will be a big issue for him. You can find out more about hamster-safe foods here, most of them already in your fridge or pantry. Another thing to keep in mind is that hamsters can become constipated. This is more common with old hamsters, given that their system is breaking down and doesn’t digest foods as well as it used to. You can help a constipated hammy by giving him softer foods like carrots, steamed veggies from this hamster-safe veggie list, and getting him to a veterinarian if he does not produce and droppings in 24 hours after the soft food. 7. Wet-tail in hamsters Wet-tail is more common in Syrian hamsters than Dwarf types. Still , that does not mean Dwarf types can’t get wet-tail at all. They’re just much less likely to get it. Wet-tail is most frequent in young hamsters, that were just weaned (approx. 4 weeks old) and are eligible for adoption. It’s usually stress based, and everything from his mother pushing him away when he still tries to suckle, to being taken to the pet shop, and then take to your home is all very alien to him. So a young Syrian hammy that was just brought home might develop wet tail. Treatment does exist, but it’s not a 100% survival rate. Still, your hammy needs to see a vet right away. If you’ve noticed the symptoms within 24 hours the survival chances are pretty high. Symptoms include: a wet tail, because if a very watery diarrhea possibly smelly rear-end, because of the constant soiling smelly cage weakness, lack of appetite or thirst a matted, sweaty look about the hamster You can find out more about wet-tail in hamsters here, including how to treat it and the steps you should take in caring for a hamster recovering from wet-tail. 8. Diabetes in hamsters Another big problem in hamsters is diabetes. This is most common in the Dwarf types, so the Syrians have it easier here. Diabetes can come about in a few ways, mostly because of a poor diet. That means a diet with too much sugar and carbs, and very little exercise. This is not the only reason, but one of the biggest. Another reason is that the pancreas does not produce enough insulin, or that the body is very resistant to it. This means that the body’s blood sugar will stay very high. It will cause weight gain, circulatory problems, difficult breathing, and other problems that stem from these. You can find out more about diabetes in hamsters here, and also about how to treat it. Sometimes it’s not completely treatable, but at least you can do some things to make the hamster’s life comfortable even so. (If you like this article so far, you can pin it to your Pinterest board by clicking the image below. The article continues after the image.) 9. Tumors and lumps in hamsters Sometimes hammies develop extra cells. These cells are sometimes benign, sometimes they’re harmful and become cancer. However even benign tumors can be bad for the hamster’s health, as they can block certain body parts. For example a tumor around the ear can extend to the entire half of the face. These usually can be removed, but not many vets are willing to perform surgery on such a small animal. The problem is that the anaesthesia is hard to do, and the patient himself is very.. well, tiny. Still, some vets have tried and even succeeded. I’m sure in your area you’ll be able to find someone who can help. Best to look for an ‘exotics’ veterinarian. They have experience with rodents, reptiles and birds and will possibly be able to help you more than a regular vet. Try everyone though, you never know who is going to save your friend. 10. Hamster cheek problems Finally, the hamster’s cheeks are another problem. The thing is that hammies stuff everything in their cheeks. Food, nesting material, a bit of bedding, droppings. Mothers even stuff their babies there when they move them. However sometimes these cheeks can become injured, either by a sharp corner from the food, or maybe they were over stuffed. They can sometimes come out completely, like an inside-out pocket. Other times the cheek becomes sticky with residue and whatever is in the cheek will become stuck. All of these can be solved, and they can also be avoided. Mostly by not giving your hamster any sticky, saucy foods that he will put in his cheeks (grain-based foods end up in his cheeks usually). You can find out much more about hamster cheek pouches here, including how to treat the various problems that come up, and how to identify each one. About a hamster’s general health Hamsters are fairly hardy animals. They don’t develop health issues very easily, even if they are so sensitive. However once they do happen, hammies don’t really know what to do on their own. That is, they can’t get over most problems on their own. A flea infestation will drag on for months, a cold can be fatal, and an infected cheek pouch can lead to death. Still, hamsters are able to take care of themselves, mostly by how absolutely clean they are. Up until their very last days, hamsters know that cleanliness equals health. So they tug and pull at their fur, comb through it, fluff it up, groom it some more, every few hours. This is also done to avoid developing a strong scent that predators will use to find them. Your help is crucial here. Your hammy depends on you, and his health becomes your responsibility. This is a reason to become fast friends with a good veterinarian (again, look for one labeled ”exotic”). Keeping your hamster healthy Keeping your hamster healthy revolves around a few simple things. Cleanliness is chief among them, and the hammy himself is very good at keeping himself clean. Still, there are a few things you can do to help your hamster friend stay healthy: Regularly cleaning the cage, once per week. More on safe bedding and nesting material here. Giving the hamster a commercial food mix, which has all the nutrients balanced the way he needs them. Only treating him to occasional treats, and in moderation to avoid weight gain and joint problems. More on hamster-safe foods here. Making sure that the floor or other surfaces you let him roam in the exercise ball are clean, and dust free. More about hamster exercise balls here. Keeping the hammy in a room that’s at a constant temperature. The optimal range is 20-23 C/68-75 F, and the cage should be kept away from drafts or direct sunlight. Having an exercise wheel for your hamster friend, so he can run to his little heart’s content. More on hamster exercise wheels here. Aside from all these, remember that your pet hamster needs a calm and gentle person handling him. So a child or other pet should be kept away from the hamster. Any interaction should be supervised. Hamsters are very bad with stress, and will bite back if handled wrong. A word from Teddy I hope you found what you were looking for here. Us hammies do get sick every now and then, and we need your help with getting healthy. So this article was supposed to give you an overview of what kind of problems we can have. If you want to know more about us hamsters, check out the related articles below. You’ll find more info on how to care for us properly, and keep us happy.... Read more...