13 Signs Of Old Age In Hamsters, And How To Care For Them

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.

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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.

old hamster (4)
Not a common sight anymore, but he does still run from time to time.

 

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.

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

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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.

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To be fair, Teddy was never good with bridges or stairs, even as a young hammy. He jumped off levels, and hoisted himself onto them, like here.

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.

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Best Hamster Toys – DYI And Store Bought
Best Hamster Toys – DYI And Store BoughtThe best hamster toys ever are not easy to find, but they’re there if you look for them. Some of them can even be made at home ! This is my guide to the best hamster toys ever, and a few tips on making your own. Teddy loves both kinds, and he’ll show you some of his favorites. My Teddy is an adult Syrian hamster, but the toys we’ll talk about are also good for smaller breeds like Robo hammies or Campbell. In this guide I’ll show you the best hamster toys I’ve found online (which can be bought), and also give you a few ideas of how to make your own hamster toys at home, as a DYI project. Remember that not all hamsters are alike. Some hamsters might like chewing toys best, while others might like digging towers even more, or are only interested in exercise wheels. Get to know your hammy, and expose him to several toys types, so you know which he likes best. Table of Contents ToggleChewing toys for your hamsterBest store bought chew toys for hamstersBest wood chews for hamstersBest non-wood chewsDog biscuitsHome-made chew toyRunning toys for your hamsterBest store bought exercise toys for hamstersHome-made exercise toysDigging toys for your hamsterBest store bought digging toyHome-made digging towerHiding toys for your hamstersBest store bought hiding toysHome-made hide and seek toyClimbing toys for your hamsterBest store bought climbing toyHome-made climbing toySimple puzzles for hamstersHome-made puzzlesStore bought puzzlesWhat makes a hamster toy the ‘best toy’ ?Why hamsters need toysA word from Teddy Chewing toys for your hamster Chewing toys are necessary for all hamsters, even if they’re not really chewers. Hamsters need to constantly chew in order to keep their teeth at a healthy length. Their front teeth are always growing, and if left unchecked can reach into their lower jaw can cause serious health problems. Best store bought chew toys for hamsters Every pet store carries at least a few types of chew toys. Most of them are made of wood that is safe for hamsters, while the remaining others are made of materials that are safe for hamsters but are not wood. I’ll give you a couple of examples here. Best wood chews for hamsters Here’s a fun little wooden set your hammy will enjoy. They have some bells in them as well, which is great for hamsters since they react to sound. The wood is a great way to help your hamster file down his teeth, and it’s really sturdy. So those pieces will last your hamster for a long time. You can check the set on Amazon here, along with the price. Best non-wood chews Apple chews are a great way for hammies to file down their teeth and get some extra fruit in their diet. It’s best to give these to your hamster along with other treats, not just this one. Since it is organic and exclusively fruit, your hammy might go through it fairly fast but he’s sure to love it. Banana chips work well too. You can find it here on Amazon to check it out for yourself, and check the price. Dog biscuits Weird, I know, but hamsters will go for dog treats as well. Actually, the fact that dog treats are very hard and crunchy is what hamsters love. It’s best to stay away from any flavored dog biscuits, and just get plain ones. Or, you can get a box of milk bones. The hamster will take entire days to go through the treat, and a whole box will last you pretty much forever, given the size of the hamster and the number of treats inside. You can check out the milk bones on Amazon here, and see the price as well. Home-made chew toy One of the best home-made toys for your hamster to gnaw on is…. a walnut ! Or chestnut ! My Teddy has a couple of walnuts he usually plays with, and he’s always trying to get them open. He gnaws at them for a few minutes then leaves them alone. Then he comes back later, and so on. Whatever nut you choose for your hamster (walnut, chestnut, ) make sure it is clean and dirt-free. Wash it beforehand with extremely hot water, and use a tooth pick to pick out any stuck dirt or particles. Do not use detergent or a disinfecting agent. If you’re not sure it’s clean, best to not give it to your hammy. Another great chew toy is a piece of thick twig, or a small branch that you’ve cleaned beforehand. The best kind of wood for your hamster to chew on is also the one he has the bedding usually made of. That’s aspen, but you can also go with some fruit trees (like apple or pear). Running toys for your hamster Most hamsters are runners by nature. This is what they have to do anyway, and my Teddy is ridiculously fast on his running wheel. Best store bought exercise toys for hamsters A running wheel is one of the most basic things you need for your hammy. As such, it should be quiet, it should stay in its place, and made of something your hamster won’t hurt itself on. To find out more about exercise wheels for your hamsters and how to use them right, you can read here. The vast majority of running wheels that you get when purchasing your hamster cage are horrible. Too small, won’t spin, cheap plastic. A good running wheel is a bit of an investment, but will last literally your hamster’s entire life. So don’t skimp out on the running wheel for that matter. It’s what will keep your hamster busy 60% of the time. For this I’ve found a great, silent wheel that’s suitable for all hamster types, Syrian and Robo as well. It has a tail and neck guard, and will stay in place. It is heavier, like 2 lbs/nearly 1 kg but that is because of the heavy base to keep it in place in the cage. The wheel itself is not heavy, so your hamster will be able to spin it well enough. You can check it out on Amazon here and see the price as well. Home-made exercise toys A home-made running wheel is not something I would recommend. This is because running itself is a very fast activity for your hamster, so unless every nook and cranny is well calculated, I’d avoid making them at home. It might be too risky for the hamster to run in a running wheel designed at home, since it might come apart in a way you didn’t anticipate. Or it may snag on your hammy’s paw, because of the material used. Digging toys for your hamster Some hamsters are diggers, some are not. My Teddy isn’t a digger, so I have no bright ideas for digging toys, but I will tell you this. The bottom of your hamster’s cage/glass tank must be filled with a lot of bedding. A whole lot. The more the better, since the hamster will have a lot of fun digging around. So don’t skimp on the bedding, give you hamster plenty, something like the width of your palm is good. You can read nice roundup of the 4 best hamster bedding options out there, and see which would work best for you. As for which kind of bedding is okay, your safest bet is aspen. But for a more comprehensive talk on the safe and unsafe kinds of bedding for your hamster, check out this article on how to choose the best bedding for your hamster. Best store bought digging toy A digging tower is easily the best thing for your hammy, and I looked around for a good one on Amazon. Unfortunately there are not many options, but this one seems to be the best. It’s large enough for a Syrian hamster to fit, and you can fill it with whatever kind of bedding your hamster likes. You can look at him through both sides since 2 are transparent. And you’ll be able to see him crawl through the bedding and find the exit. You can check the Amazon pricing for it here. Home-made digging tower I’ve found a great video on Youtube for a home made digging tower for your hamster. You can easily do it at home, just that you need a few supplies and tools. I’ll link the video here, and you can watch it anytime. Erin (the lady in the video) is the number one channel I watched in the first few weeks of owning Teddy. Hiding toys for your hamsters Hamsters live to hide, it’s what they do half the time. So you can give your hamster a lot of options here. Best store bought hiding toys Hide and seek toys are always fun, but most of them are too small for a Syrian hamster. If your hamster is smaller, like a Robo or a Campbell, then most hiding tunnels will fit your hamsters well enough. But here I’ve found a toy that will fit a Syrian as well, and can be enjoyed by all kinds of hamsters. It’s made of wood, and has a whole lot of entrances and separate exits. Your hamster will be darting in and out of it all day, every day. You can check its pricing on Amazon here. Home-made hide and seek toy Most of these will be toilet rolls, paper towel rolls, or egg cartons. You can put them in your hamster’s cage as is. You can  also cut a few holes in them to make them a sort of maze or puzzle. Other hiding places for your hammy to use could be very sturdy plastic cups that he can hide in. Just make sure that the plastic is a very hard one. Hamsters will chew on everything, even just to try them out, and soft plastic is not good for them. Another idea would be those bendy plastic tubes you’d normally attach to the sink, but much wider. The width of the tube must be at least 2.5 inch/7 cm so your hamster can easily fit through it. You can bend it into all kinds of shapes, and even bury parts of it under the bedding to make for more underground space. Climbing toys for your hamster Some of the weirdest things a hamster can do is climb. Climb everything. If you’re a new hamster owner, this will probably blow your mind. I know it was complete news to me that hamsters are part spider. Best store bought climbing toy I’ve found this cute and colored climbing toy for hamsters, along with great reviews on Amazon. It attaches to the top of the cage (like the wire mesh or wire lid). Your hamster can climb on it, and chew on it as well, since it’s made of wood. It will suit Syrian hamsters and Chinese or Campbells as well. You can check the pricing on Amazon here. Home-made climbing toy Here’s a home-made climbing toy idea for your hamster. Grab a few walnut halves, a long piece of twine, maybe a few pieces of wood, and put a hole in each of those. Feed the twine through all those holes, making a know after each new piece. At the end you should have a series of walnut halves, pieces of wood, all on a long piece of twine. You can tie the twine to the top of the cage, or use a D-link to fasten it to the top of the cage. You can also hide a couple of treats in those walnut halves for your hamster to find. If you don’t have walnuts, you can still use twine and wood pieces, to make a sort of ladder. Popsicle or bamboo skewers are good substitutes too. Simple puzzles for hamsters Your hammy is a very curious one, even if he doesn’t have the voice to ask about his or that. He still wants to know everything that’s going on, and will investigate thoroughly. Home-made puzzles Again, most of the home-made puzzles will be made of toilet rolls. They’re the easier, cheapest, and safest material to work with or your hamster’s home-made toys. One example is a regular toilet roll, cut some strips into it, make them about an inch/2.5 cm long. They should end up looking like large frills, at each end of the toilet roll. Then, one end will be folded so nothing can escape, and you will place a bit of food or treats for your hamster. Then fold the other end to make sure no food will get out. If you want, you can make the frills longer and twist them together, making it more complicated to open. Your hamster will hear and smell the food inside and do his best to rip, tear, chew and find a way to open the puzzle. You can do the same with small boxes, if you have some. whichever tiny boxes made of cardboard are good for him. Place a bit of food in the smallest one, and place as many boxes as you can inside the other, like a russian doll. Hiding a bit of food into the suspended walnuts I talked about earlier is a great idea too. Store bought puzzles Unfortunately most of the searches I’ve done came up empty, and the ones I have found are too complex for hamsters. So in this case it’s best to stick to making your hammy his own puzzle, with a toilet roll and a bit of imagination. (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.) What makes a hamster toy the ‘best toy’ ? This depends mostly upon your hamster’s personality. Most hamsters will love most toys, but they can still ignore some kinds. Some hamsters like to chew. Others like to dig, some like to run, others love to hide. You’ll notice this about your hamster only after a few weeks, if you’ve given him every type of toy, and see which he uses the most. For example my Teddy is a chewer, and he loves everything made of wood that he can gnaw on, including bendy bridges, walnuts, his home, and so on. He doesn’t like tubes as much, or hide and seek toys. He doesn’t hide a lot, but he is curious and sticks his face everywhere. He also runs a lot, so his wheel was the best thing ever. It still is, but not as much as it was when he was younger. You can find out more about hamster wheels here. Some hamster toys can be made at home, some can be bought. It depends on your budget and disposition which kind you want for your hamster. But as with most animals, home made versions are sometimes the best. Like a paper bag that drives the cat crazy, or a slipper that will become your dog’s favorite toy. Sometimes the best toys are the ones you can make from toilet rolls and a bit of creativity. But sometimes, there are toys that are out of this world and can only be bought. I hope I gave you enough options to choose from, so you can make your little friend happy. Why hamsters need toys The usual life of a hamster in the wild can be pretty … wild. He will run away from predators, hide, dig his way out of a predicament. But in your home he is much safer and it can get a bit boring at times. So your hammy will need some stimulation, otherwise he might start chewing the cage bars, or becoming very very agitated. You can take care of this by providing your hamster with toys of different types, sometimes reintroducing toys he used to ignore, maybe he changed his mind. Also providing your hamster with a large enough cage will make sure he has enough space to explore and not feel cramped. You can check the 5 best hamster cages (for Syrians and Dwarf types) and see what I mean. Just like with humans, hamsters are curious and intelligent, and will need stimulation. For example my Teddy sometimes starts chewing on the cage bars if he is ignored, or bored. So I’ll start playing with him or give him a new puzzle to solve. Teddy: Us hamsters are very active, and we need something to keep us busy most of the time ! So make sure you give your hammy a couple of toys to make life more interesting. A word from Teddy I hope you found some great ideas for us hamsters here ! I know toys for hamsters might be a bit weird to figure out at first, but  you can definitely find ideas around. Remember that each of us has their own personality, likes, and dislikes. So if I’m a chewer and a runner, maybe your hammy is a digger, or a climber, and needs different toys than me. If you want to find more info on hamsters, check out the articles below. You’ll find out how much food we need, what kind of home we like, and why we sometimes eat our poo !   [...] Read more...
Hamster Grooming, And The Importance Of A Proper Sand Bath
Hamster Grooming, And The Importance Of A Proper Sand BathYou’ve probably seen your hamster friend groom himself. Pulling his fur, combing through it, behind his ears, the works. But do hamsters need sand baths ? Does it help their grooming process ? This is something I’ve asked myself too, seeing as I did give Teddy (male, Syrian hamster) a bowl with sand for him to play in. But we should first know everything about a hamster’s grooming routine. Then, we can figure out if the sand bath helps. Table of Contents ToggleAbout the hamster’s grooming routineWhy a hamster needs to be cleanA sick hamster won’t take care of himself very wellHealth problems that come up because of poor grooming/hygieneA clean habitat keeps the hamster clean tooHow a sand bath helps a hamster groom himselfWhat kind of sand bath you should get for your hamsterHow to give your hamster a proper sand bathA word from Teddy About the hamster’s grooming routine All hamsters, everywhere, groom themselves. That’s a very well known fact. Actually hamster are pretty much on par with cats in terms of cleanliness. If you’ve ever noticed your hamster when he’s cleaning himself, you probably know he does that often. Much more often than most animals. This is one reason hamsters never need a water bath, with shampoo or other cleaning supplies. They’re simply too good at cleaning themselves, they don’t need it. And getting a hamster wet can be fatal in some cases, in most cases it leads to colds and hypothermia. For example my Teddy grooms himself when I put him in his exercise ball, when I take him out of it, when he wakes up, before he goes to bed, after he pees, after he runs for 10 minutes, after he eats and after he poops. Usually hamsters will pull at their fur, scratch part of their fur, com and comb again through their fur to get everything out and spread the oils on their fur. They’re especially funny when they start pulling on their ears and collecting whatever dirt was behind them, and especially their cheeks. As if anything had a chance to appear in the 2 hours since their last grooming session. That’s a lot of cleaning. But why do hamsters do that ? Why a hamster needs to be clean Hamsters need to be clean in order to keep their predators at bay. That’s the main reason, since hamsters are prey for many animals. This means that their scent will draw predators like wild cats, snakes, owls, and so on to hunt for them in the wild. So, hamsters have evolved this cleaning routine to keep themselves ‘invisible’, kind of. They’re very strict about it, and it’s what kept them alive all this time. Hamsters will want to clean themselves after every little interaction with something that can leave a smell on them. This includes other creatures, like other hamsters, or humans, and even food. Another reason hamsters clean themselves is because of their habitat. Hamsters in the wild live inside burrows, with series of tunnels and nests deep underground. This can make lots of debris like dirt and twigs get stuck in the hamster’s fur. The hamster cleans himself to function properly, and not have his fur matted with dirt. You can tell there is something wrong with the hamster if he stops cleaning himself, or he still looks bad after a grooming session. A sick hamster won’t take care of himself very well Hamsters not grooming themselves anymore have only two explanations. First, it could be that the hamster has become very old. So old, in fact, the he is very close to the end. His brain has started disintegrating and can’t help him do normal hamster things, like clean himself, not pee in his nest, and in extreme cases even eat. It’s a sad thing to watch, but there is nothing you can do to make your friend any better. It’s much like with human seniors. Once they start losing control of bodily functions, things can’t get better. The second reason hamsters stop grooming themselves is because they have become very, very sick. It could be an infection that weakened their body to the point of exhaustion. They’re simply too tired to clean themselves, and this will make the infection even worse. Or it could be a physical problem, as in a broken or sprained paw that restricts their movement, or a form or arthritis. In short, if your hamster isn’t cleaning himself, that is very bad news. Most of the time the vet will be able to help you treat the hamster’s illness. For this you need to look for an ”exotics” vet, who has experience with rodents, reptiles, and also birds. Health problems that come up because of poor grooming/hygiene Some of the health problems that can rear their ugly heads when the hamster isn’t clean can be very serious. I’ll give you a brief rundown of these health problems. Infections – can become serious business, in any part of the body. Especially bad if the hamster ends up swallowing part of the pus, like with cheek infections, or tooth infections. Eye infections can be rinsed with a saline solution, until the vet can receive your hamster and give him proper treatment. Even a small, seemingly benign cut (if the hamster is scratching himself, for example) can be dangerous if the hamster’s skin isn’t clean, or the claw he’s scratched himself with is dirty. As with humans, infections need antibiotic treatment, which can take a toll on the body. Given that the hamster is such a small little thing, his food will need to be supplemented during his treatment. Mites and parasites – these are never fun to treat, and please do not get your hamster treatments for such problems without talking to your vet. Most over the counter treatments are much too harsh for the hamster’s skin and can cause death, so please be careful. The vet will be able to recommend a treatment that will be fairly easy on your hamster. The problem with mites and other parasites (like fleas for example) is that the hamster will scratch himself much too hard and eventually hurt himself. This can lead to bald patches, and other health problems like infections or warts. Fungus – the cage needs to be clean, to prevent the spores from fungus to develop. There are two main culprits when it comes to fungal infections in hamsters (ringworm and Aspergillus) and both can be very dangerous. Ringworm is easier on the hamster, but Aspergillus can be deadly. Wet-tail – can come about if the hamster is kept in miserable conditions, or is highly stressed and his immune system can’t fight off the infection. The result is a weak hamster with constant diarrhea, and very little chances of survival. Thankfully wet-tail has a certain age when the hamster is likely to develop it. A bit like childhood illnesses. Wet-tail is more common on young (4-10 weeks) hamsters, who have been separated from the mother and brought to their new owner. All of these can be treated, so do not worry. If you notice your hamster having health problems, call your veterinarian. A clean habitat keeps the hamster clean too A clean cage will mean a clean hamster. For example the fungus problem I mentioned earlier. The Aspergillus spores will grow from the hamster’s pee corner. It will first look like a white growth, then turn black. But if the pee corner is cleaned often, the spores don’t really have a chance to develop. This only happens if the cage isn’t cleaned for a very long time (like a few weeks), or if the home/room has a fungal infection and the spores are already in the home. But what is a clean cage ? Hamsters will kick around bedding, bits of cardboard, fling their poo across the cage, and sleep on top of a pile of food. Well, that’s all normal, actually. Hammies keep themselves very clean, and their nest as well. As in, the area immediately around where they sleep. Aside from that, not their business. So cleaning the cage once per week is pretty much mandatory. If you’ve got more than one hamster living in the same cage, then you will have to clean the whole cage more often than that. This is because the pee corner starts to smell, and the bedding becomes very very messy. There will be bits of food lying somewhere, and torn up cardboard in the food bowl. It’s a lot like a small child’s room. To clean the hamster’s cage, you’re going to have to remove the hamster from the cage in the first place. Put him in his travel cage or exercise ball until you’re done cleaning. Take out all the bedding and objects, wipe the cage down with a wet, clean towel, then pat it dry. Add fresh bedding back, but make sure to sprinkle in a bit of the old bedding so the hamster recognizes things easier. Place everything back the way it was before, and finally add the hamster back in. (If you like this article so far, you can pin it to your Pinterest board by clicking the image below. The article continues after the image.) How a sand bath helps a hamster groom himself You’re wondering, after all this talk of hamsters cleaning themselves and how to keep their habitat clean, how does a sand bath help ? Well, at first glance it might seem like it’s pointless. It can be, from a certain point of view. But let’s see both sides for a moment. The main reason hamsters would need a sand bath is to absorb the excess oil in their fur. You see, hamster fur has a layer of oils (like our human hair does, the sebum) which helps keep the hair healthy and the skin clean. However too much of that sebum will make the hamster’s fur look bad, and feel bad too. This is where the sand comes in, to help keep the hamster’s fur nice and clean. Now, the hamster does comb through his fur often. So often that he moves the oils from the skin all the way to the tips of the hairs. So you could argue that their fur never gets too oily. While that is true, what is also true is that hamsters simply seem to go nuts when they feel sand. They immediately jump into the sand bowl and start spazzing, like cats on catnip. They not only rub themselves in the sand, they rub the sand into their fur. Somehow, they know something we humans do not know. And it looks like a sand bath is something they enjoy. My Teddy for example has his sand bowl close to his nest, and he takes occasional baths in it. He also loves to dig in that sand bath, which kicks up soooo much sand. Luckily it never gets out of the cage. What kind of sand bath you should get for your hamster As for what kind of sand to get your hamster, I unfortunately can’t give you a brand to look for. I mean, the sand I use for my Teddy can be used for chinchilla sand. So that’s a good starting point, chinchilla sand. But not all petshops have chinchilla sand, and looking for it online only gave me unhappy customers. It seems like the sand that was once okay (there were a couple of brands) is now not okay. They’ve changed their formulation and their sand is rather dusty, more like flour. Given how sensitive hamsters are, inhaling all that dust just isn’t alright for them. It isn’t alright for humans either, but hamsters are much more sensitive than us. So when you go and look for sand for your hamster buddy, make sure you look for granulated sand, dust-free. It shouldn’t be very coarse, it should be like… well, sand that’s been sifted. The one I have for Teddy is made of ground up sea shells and minerals. Some brands use this kind of formulation as well, and you can find it in either very light grey/white, or a sort of brown. It really depends on the brand and the formulation they’re using right now. I’ll attach a photo of the sand I have for my Teddy. If you can find this one, it’s probably still got the right texture for hamsters. How to give your hamster a proper sand bath Alright, we’ve talked about why hammies need a sand bath, and what kind of sand to look for. But how do you give a hamster a sand bath ? Well, hamsters are great at doing that themselves, so you won’t really have to do anything other than just provide the sand. What you need to be careful for is the fact that the sand will get everywhere. If you’ve ever been to the beach, you know what I mean. You have to be careful with it. So this means giving your hamster an appropriate place/object for that bath. You might think a shallow bowl would be enough. And it would, if it had something overhead. For example my teddy has half of a plastic hideout filled with sand, and it’s places under the first level of his cage. So that sand never gets outside the cage, and is well contained. But what if you don’t have another level in your cage ? Or not enough room under that level to fit a bowl ? Then you’ll need to look around for some options. For example this one is large enough to fit a Syrian hamster, and is easy to take apart and clean. It’s got a clear side, so you’ll be able to see your hamster when he uses this sand bath. It’s small enough so it will fit in most cages, so unless you’ve got an especially crowded cage, this one will fit right in. It’s even got a small scoop to get the hamster’s droppings out, if he ever decides to use the sand bath as a toilet too. Don’t be surprised if he does. You can check the listing on Amazon here. All you have to do is add the sand into the sand bath, and leave it in your hamster’s cage. I change my Teddy’s sand once per week, when I clean the whole cage. A word from Teddy I hope your found what you were looking for in this article. Us hamsters are very good at cleaning ourselves, we don’t really need any help. But we do appreciate a nice sand bath, to keep our fur nice and groomed. If you want to know more about us hamsters you should check out the related articles below. You’ll learn how to keep us safe and happy, and what we need for a good life. [...] Read more...
The Real Cost Of Buying And Owning A Hamster
The Real Cost Of Buying And Owning A HamsterIf you’re thinking about getting a hamster, you need to read this. I had only a vague idea before I got my Teddy. I knew I wanted a cute and cuddly orange hamster, and I knew nothing about hamsters. Then I found out through trial and error how to properly care for a hamster, and how having a hamster changes your life. This is what I’ll be talking about here. How much a hamster costs, how much it costs to get him food and bedding, cages costs, everything. Table of Contents ToggleSo how much does a hamster cost, buying and monthly expenses ?How much for the hamsterWhat a hamster’s cage will costGenerally there’s 3 kinds of cage types:How much the hamster’s bedding will costHow much the hamster’s hideout will costHamster toys, bought and DYIHow much a hamster wheel can costHow much an exercise ball for your hamster will costHow much the hamster’s food costsHamster health and vet visitsTransport cage for the hamsterConsider this before getting a hamsterCan you offer the hamster the right conditions ?Do you have the time to play with your hamster ?Is there someone who can watch your hamster when you’re gone ?Do you have a calm, quiet place for your hamster to stay ?A hamster’s average life expectancyHow a hamster will change your lifeA word from Teddy So how much does a hamster cost, buying and monthly expenses ? To be fair, the hamster itself is incredibly cheap. A Syrian hamster will run about 5-10 dollars, while a Dwarf (whether Roborowski, Campbell, Siberian, or Chinese) will be slightly cheaper. As for the monthly expenses, those include only bedding and food/treats, which can vary depending on what you get your hamster. An estimate would be around $10 per month for food and bedding. There are initial expenses, like the cage, wheel, exercise ball, toys, and so on. An absolute minimum, considering the  cage size, and wheel and ball size, would be $225, of which the cage is he most expensive. You can find an exhaustive hamster supply list here, complete with everything you’ll need once you decide to get yourself a hamster. Aside from those, which I’ll cover in detail in the article, there’s the impact the hamster has on your life. Owning a hamster is, after all, a responsibility and you need to think about it before you get a hamster. Now let’s get into the details of how much a hamster costs. All expenses in this article are in U.S. dollars, to stay coherent throughout the article. How much for the hamster Hamsters are actually very cheap. In that, most of the time you’ll find them along with fish in terms of cost. For example my Teddy was 4.90 USD. That’s incredible for owning a pet that will be by my side for the next 2-3 years. Now, Teddy is a Syrian hamster. A dwarf type will cost less, but how much less depends on the pet shop you pick him up from. But on average, hamsters will go between $5-10, with the dwarf kind on the cheaper end. You can also get hamsters from a private breeder. But in those cases you must make sure that those breeders treat their hamsters humanely, and have medical checks run on the parents frequently. A private breeder will not cost more than the pet shop, and getting a baby hamster from a friend will be basically free. But you must be sure that the hamster parents are healthy before you get your baby hamster. Visit your friends who have hamsters a few times to check up on the female, to see how her litter is coming along and pick out the one you like. So in short, an actual hamster can be anything between $5-10, even free if you know someone who had a recent litter. What a hamster’s cage will cost This depends on what kind of cage you want to get your hamster. Normally the minimum cage size for hamsters is 24 x 12 inches, and about 12 inches tall. That’s 61 x 30.5 cm, and about 30.5 cm tall. This the minimum for a Syrian hamster, but this will work for dwarf hamsters as well. When it comes to cage size, it’s best to go for bigger cages. This is because the hamsters need more space than the absolute minimum. Of course, it depends on your home as well. Can you fit a large glass tank somewhere ? Do you need to move the cage often ? How much space to spare do you have in the room you want to keep the hamster ? What is your budget ? A large enough cage will be somewhere around $120-150, plus handling and shipping if you’re ordering online. Picking it up from a petshop will spare you those taxes, but might be more expensive overall. Generally there’s 3 kinds of cage types: Plastic – the most common after metal, can easily fit tube accessories. Not the most breatheable, be careful which kind you get. I’ll leave you an Amazon link to the one I have, you can check it out there as well as the pricing. Metal/wire – very breatheable, but you need to be sure the spacing between wires is less than half an inch so the hamster can’t escape. Here’s an Amazon link to a good, large wire cage, which also has a movable level. Glass tanks – can get these in larger sizes than plastic or metal cages, but they need to stay put. You need a lot of space and a wire mesh for the top of the tank. I looked around and found a fairly good one on Amazon, you can check it out here. A word on glass tanks. They’re great for hamsters but ordering online is a bit tricky, with the transport. Sometimes glass comes whole and the tank is fine, sometimes it comes broken. Honestly it’s best to pick up a glass tank from a pet shop or somewhere you can inspect it yourself, and bring it home yourself. If you want a much more detailed breakdown on each hamster cage, and which type you’d like for your hamster, you need to read this best cages article. You will find the same Amazon links as above, but discussed in more detail, along with pictures. It’s got all 3 types of hamster cages, their pros and cons, and how to clean and care for the cages too. A hamster cage might seem expensive at first, and at a first glance it might be. But you only need one, and your hamster will use it his entire life. This is not something you buy again and again every few months. Do not make the mistake I did, and skimp out on the cage. I ended up changing 3 cages just because I didn’t want to spend a little extra on the first purchase. The first 2 I got Teddy were too small for an adult Syrian hamster. How much the hamster’s bedding will cost Hamsters need a lot of bedding, and the most readily available is wood chips. The best kind of bedding you can get your hamster would be aspen wood chips, if they’re available in your area. If not, another option would be paper bedding. Bedding is something that lasts you for several weeks, even months, depending on how much you give your hamster, and how often you change it. If you want much more info on how often to change the hamster’s bedding, which kind is safe, and how to pick the right one for him, I suggest you read this article. It’s got the bedding types available, along with a list of unsafe beddings you need to avoid. For example my Teddy’s bedding is about $12 and 3.2 kg/7 lbs, and it’s good for about 3 whole months. I change his whole bedding every week, and his corners a bit more often. So that’s $15 every 3 months, 4 times a year. $5 a month for something that will help keep the hamster warm is not that much, really. A good option for aspen bedding is this one by Kaytee. It’s twice the size I get my Teddy so it can seriously last your hamster for half a year, if not more. Aspen bedding is one of the safest types you can get for a hamster. You can check the listing on Amazon here, and read the reviews as well. You can also get paper bedding for your hamster, if aspen isn’t available where you are. Here’s an Amazon link for a paper bedding, which will last your hamster about 3 months. Paper beddings are a bit more expensive than wood shavings. It’s up to you which you think would be best for your hammy. I use wood shavings since they’re easy to find in my area. As for the nesting material the hamster needs to put in his nest, a couple of ripped up paper towels will be enough. Or, unscented, plain toilet paper squares. Teddy shoves the paper in his cheek pouches, and then starts taking them out in his home, decorating the place. How much the hamster’s hideout will cost As for the hideout for the hamster, his hideout is where he will spend the majority of his time. Hamsters need just a bit of space to build their nest, and a good hideout will protect them A good hideout is one made of wood. It keeps the hamster warmer, absorbs moisture and prevents condensation, and is safe to chew. Hamsters chew absolutely everything, including their hideout, so get your hammy a wood one. If you want to know more about the kind of hideout a hamster needs in general, you can check out this article. In the second half of the article you’ll find out how your hammy will use his hideout, and how to clean it properly. I got my Teddy a plastic one at first, and I kept it for a while until I noticed it kept the moisture inside, which kept Teddy’s nest wet in some places. So I got him a slightly larger, sturdier wood one. I’ll leave you an Amazon link for a wood hideout that looks a lot like the one I have for my Teddy. The thing about hideouts and toys for hamsters, most of the time they are too small for Syrian hamsters. Most of them are geared towards dwarf hamsters. But I’m showing you one that’s large enough for a Syrian hamster to fit in, and feel comfortable. So the hideout would be somewhere around $10, which is again something you buy only once. Even if your hammy will chew and chew and chew on it, that hideout will still be in place for years. Hamster toys, bought and DYI The hamster’s toys will need to be made of wood as well. This is because hamster, again, chew on everything. If the hamster doesn’t chew on his toys, he will chew on the cage bars, or his hideout, or his water bottle, anything. A hamster’s teeth never stop growing, so he needs to always file them down. And wood is he best material for their teeth, since it will file them down without hurting the hamster. There are a whole array of toys you can get your hamster, some you can buy, some are best if you make at home. For example cardboard tubes left from paper towels (the ones you have in your kitchen, maybe) are great for hamsters. Cut a few holes in them and you’ve got a hide-and-seek toy that can fit an adult Syrian hamster. Again, the Syrian hamsters need much more space than a dwarf so be careful when you choose toys for your hammy. I’ll link you to an article on the best toys you can both buy and DYI for your hamster friend. You’ll find some links for Amazon listings for the toys which are best if you don’t invent them (like a wheel) and some ideas on what you can make at home. Everything I link in this article is also suitable for a Syrian hamster, since this was what I was looking for when I got toys for my Teddy. As for the cost, it depends on what you end up getting your hamster. These are again things you buy for your hamster only once, and he will use his entire life. So it could be anywhere from nothing (like the paper towel tubes) to $22 for a digging tower. It’s up to you, but remember that your hammy will need a few toys, even if you make all of them at home. How much a hamster wheel can cost Hamsters need a lot of exercise, and fortunately an exercise wheel and ball are things you only buy once. Actually everything except the food and bedding will keep the hamster forever. Again, don’t make the mistake I made when I got my Teddy. I skimped out on the cage, but the wheel as well. At first I left him that small plastic wheel that came with the cage, too small by even a baby Syrian. The I bought him a bigger, metal wheel, a 7 inch/18 cm one. Which was fine, but only for a while. One he grew to his full size, he needed a larger one. Again. So I went a bought the biggest I could find, a 9 inch/23 cm one, which fits hit much better. When you get your hamster an exercise wheel, you need to account for how large he will get as an adult. An adult Syrian hamster will need a minimum of 7 inches/18 cm to be able to run freely. A dwarf hamster can do with just inches/13 cm but that’s the minimum. If you want to know much more about choosing the right exercise wheel for your hamster, you definitely need to read this. You’ll also find out how much exercise a hamster needs, and how much he can run in a night as well ! A large enough wheel for a Syrian hamster can run around $30, which will last him his entire life. How much an exercise ball for your hamster will cost As with the exercise wheel, and exercise ball is a good way to give your hamster an opportunity to leave his cage safely. You can place the hamster in his exercise ball, and let him roam the house. Or, you can use it as a temporary place to keep him while you clean his cage. If you want to know more about how to care for your hamster when he is n his exercise ball, you can read this article. You’ll find out how to properly introduce him to his exercise ball, how to make sure he is comfortable, and how to keep the ball clean. Exercise balls for hamsters run around $8 plus shipping and handling, if you order online. If you get it from a petshop it might have less taxes, but be a bit more expensive overall. Again, this is an item you only buy once, like the wheel and cage and hideout. For example my Teddy has his ball since he was young, and I just figured out that I should get him a large enough ball to fit him as an adult. All exercise balls for hamsters are made of hard, durable plastic, so you won’t need to replace it under normal circumstances. Unless someone steps on the ball, or a large pet or child plays with it, it should stay intact even if it bangs against the furniture. How much the hamster’s food costs The food is the cheapest thing on this list, I think. This is partly because you can feed the hamster the food you eat as well, or you can get him a pre-made food mix. If you decide to feed your hamster whole foods from your home, then this food list article will help you figure out what kind of foods are safe and unsafe for a hamster to eat. Overall, I’d advise getting your hamster a pre-made food mix. Those usually have dry food that keeps for long, and is more suitable for a hamster’s usual diet and what he’d normally find in the wild. If you feed your hamster exclusively from your fridge or pantry, then his food will cost basically nothing. But you’re in danger of not meeting his dietary requirements, or overfeeding him. If you’re using a pre-made mix, it can get to $10, both online and in a pet shop. I get Teddy a 1 kg/2 lbs food mix with grains and pellets and a few seeds. It lasts him about as much as the bedding, so 3 months. So that’s $10 every 3 months, which I also supplement with a bit of veggies or cooked chicken whenever we’re cooking. Hamster health and vet visits Hamster’s can’t really be described as sickly animals by nature. They stay healthy for along time, but once they get sick they need immediate attention. Those I can’t give you an estimate for, since it can vary wildly according to the hamster’s illness. The most common problems a hamster can run into are wet tail, diabetes, hypothermia, dehydration, starvation, and colds. Of course, there are a lot of other problems that can come up, but these are the most common. And most of these are easily fixable, if noticed in time. Bringing the hamster to a vet within 24 hours of developing a disease, or getting injured, is going to save him in most cases. But I can tell you that if you keep your hamster in the right conditions, feed him properly, give him plenty of room and exercise, he will be fine. So a trip to the vet will be basically free. Just watch out for the temperature in the room you keep him in – more on that here. Transport cage for the hamster Your hammy will probably never have to leave you home. But there might be moments when he’ll have to go to the vet, or you’re moving house and can’t move him in his entire cage. A transport cage can be an old, smaller cage that your hammy had when he was a baby, or you can get one that’s made specifically for temporary keeping. As with everything else for the hamster, this is something you only buy once. And a transport cage can be anything from $10 to $30, and some types can be used as a permanent fixture to your hammy’s habitat. If you want to know more about traveling with your hamster, and how to make sure he is comfortable during travel, you should check this out. You’ll get a few hamster travel cage ideas, and find out how to keep him safe during travel too. Consider this before getting a hamster When I first got my Teddy I had no real info on hamsters. I’d seen one or two before, I knew they were small and fluffy, and needed a cage, and didn’t live more than a couple of years. My girlfriend fell in love with the idea of Teddy in an exercise ball running around the house, so we went looking for an orange Syrian hamster. When we got him, we spend an entire evening looking at him, at how cute he is, and how much energy he has. We wouldn’t trade him for anything, even if he’s a bit over the top sometimes, like waking us up in the middle of the night with a squeaky wheel. We had no idea what to expect, and there were some odd surprises. But I think that there definitely are some things you should think log and hard about before you get a hamster. Can you offer the hamster the right conditions ? By this I mean that hamsters need some specific conditions to live in. There’s temperature, spacing, bedding and food, and toys to take into account. Unless you can keep the hamster at a 20-23 C/65-75 F temperature, with a cage 24 x 12 inches, and about 12 inches tall (that’s 61 x 30.5 cm, and about 30.5 cm tall), you shouldn’t get one. Hamsters need proper conditions, along with the right amount of bedding and food to stay healthy and happy. Do you have the time to play with your hamster ? Hamsters are in fact a mix between nocturnal and crepuscular. That means that some will come out during the night, and some will only come out at dusk and dawn. Their waking hours can change over time, but this is how they usually work. If you’re working a very early shift, with a very early bedtime, you might miss your hamster waking up. Or you might only catch about an hour or half an hour of playtime with him before you must sleep. I’d recommend a hamster to those people who do not work an early shift, and can stay up later than 10 pm without worrying about how tired they’ll be tomorrow. To tame your hamster you need a lot of interaction with him, and if you’re sleeping when he’s up, that will be harder to do. Is there someone who can watch your hamster when you’re gone ? There’s no good reason to bring the hamster out of his habitat or your home, aside from a vet visit or something major like moving house. Travel can stress the hamster too much, so it’s best to leave him in one place. But when you have to leave town for a few days, do you have someone who can come over and feed him ? A friend or a family member, or even a neighbor who have the time and disposition to come over every evening and feed the hamster, see if he’s alright, check up on him. Do you have a calm, quiet place for your hamster to stay ? Even if you’ve got an especially rowdy home, with 4 small kids, 2 dogs and a parrot, you must have some sort of quiet place. Hamsters need a quiet place where they won’t be disturbed while they sleep, which is much of the day. So keeping him in the living room with barking dogs and people running around won’t be healthy or comfy for your hamster at all. If you can keep the hamster in a quiet room, where nothing can disturb him, then that’s great. The attic or a cupboard or basement are not good places for your hamster, even if they’re quiet. (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 hamster’s average life expectancy Hamsters are fairly short-lived. Both Syrians and Dwarf hamsters live up to 2-4 years, under the right circumstances as pets. They can die young, around 4 weeks of age, if they develop wet-tail and aren’t give treatment fast, or they can develop diabetes when they’re older, aside form a host of other problems. But in general, your furry friend will stay with you from 2 to 4 years, Dwarf hamsters being the most long-lived of all. So if you do decide to get a hamster, take into account that random bits of wood shavings, a furry face, and evenings playing with a walnut or toilet paper roll will be in your life for the next 2-4 years. How a hamster will change your life Owning a hamster is not that difficult, all things considered. When I first got Teddy, I didn’t know hat to expect, but I’m glad I got him. He’s taught me that some things must be done his way( like leaving a lot of room on the kitchen counter for him at night). And many things that would annoy me in the day would just disappear when I play with him. A hamster, or a pet in general, will put a smile on your face, with everything this ball of fur does. Once you get a hamster, you will be more aware of how warm or clean your home is (like bedding strewn everywhere), and even the noise level. You will become a very responsible person when you know you can’t really take him with your everywhere, like a cat or dog, to set up someone to take care of him. And you will see a piece of cardboard and know exactly what he’d do with it. A word from Teddy I hope you found everything you were looking for here. I know us hamsters can seem like forgettable pets compared to larger ones, like cats or dogs. But we are a whole other type of pet, with lots of love and funny tricks to offer. So make sure you think about it well enough before you get one of us hammies to live with you. We need some accommodation, but if you can make some room for us in your life, we’ll put a smile on your face every day. If you want to know more about us hamsters, you can check out the articles below ! You’ll find out why we need so much exercise, and how to feed us properly, and much more. [...] Read more...
Four Reasons Your Hamster is Making Weird Breathing Noises
Four Reasons Your Hamster is Making Weird Breathing NoisesHamsters may be bite-sized but, thanks to their upkeep demands, they are more than a handful. Taking care of the little furballs is almost a full-time job sometimes. Doing everything correctly might not even be enough though, and a myriad of strange things can pop up seemingly out of nowhere.  Today we take a deep-dive into one of these problems: strange breathing noises. We explore some of the frequent problems and hamster quirks that may result in little Penfold producing unusual (and worrying) sounds.   Table of Contents Toggle1. Coughs and colds2. Respiratory infection and allergies3. Hibernation4. Behavioral 1. Coughs and colds If your little pet suddenly wakes up one morning with ghastly sounding wheezes, sneezes, and generally labored breathing, he may be reeling from a case of the sniffles. Of course, it may be more serious so we always recommend a quick visit to a veterinarian…just to be sure.  However, in most cases, there’s no need to worry because it’s probably the flu or a cough. Maybe you left the window by his or her cage open a touch too long the previous day. Maybe your mom (who’s also coming down with the flu) came into your room earlier to change the hamster’s water after touching her nose. Yes, hamsters can just as easily catch colds as we can, and from people or other pets. Coughs are usually innocuous and of little consequence. They come and go as randomly as they do with humans. There’s no reason to worry if the cough clears up in a day or two. Any longer than that though, and it could be a hint at something a bit more serious. A quick trip to the vet wouldn’t hurt in this case. You can identify a cold in your hamster by listening to its breathing, and observing its nose for excess wetness. What you want to do in this scenario is to isolate the hamster from any other pets you have. This could save you from the inconvenience of caring for more animals. It could also save your other pets’ lives if it turns out to be a more serious illness.  Try to keep the hamster warm and make it feels safe with soothing talk. One thing you can do is place a hot water bottle (with an appropriate temperature) underneath the hamster’s bedding or cage. The majority of hamster species originate from tropical to desert climes, which means that they are not big fans of the cold. Always try to keep your pet’s cage environment in a range of 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Nudge it to eat something (break it down yourself when you need to) and make sure to consistently hydrate. We recommend that you use a water dropper to help your hamster keep its fluids up. A syringe can also be used for this but be EXTREMELY careful with the plunger. A hamster’s mouth is incredibly tiny so any slightly excessive quantities or pressure could prove harmful. If you have transferred the hamster to a temporary cage, you should clean his or her regular cage thoroughly to disinfect it. Don a trusty pair of latex gloves and get to work.  Change the bedding, get rid of all waste, and scrub the cage vigorously. Use a bleach-based solution (approximately one part bleach, nine parts water) to do this. Take care to rinse the cage properly so as not to expose the hamster to harmful fumes.   2. Respiratory infection and allergies Hamsters can easily fall victim to a myriad of respiratory diseases such as pneumonia, chronic bronchitis, and emphysema. These frequently present themselves through symptoms like heavy breathing, wheezing, and clicking noises.  Sneezing is another symptom to look out for with these illnesses. Allergies are not uncommon for hamsters either, and susceptible individuals can have their reactions triggered by almost anything. While a mildly drafty room might not seem like a big deal for you, it is a serious hazard for your little rodent friend. As stated above, hamsters need relatively warm temperatures for them to be comfortable.  Prolonged exposure to a draft, combined with the inability to burrow underground for warmth (because of being in a cage), results in an increased risk of serious pneumonia. While this disease is usually treatable in humans, it is much more devastating for a rodent’s tiny respiratory system.  Your hamster will literally be clawing for each and every breath, with raspy wheezes. At this point, you will be in a race against time. Your best bet is to rush to the vet but that might not be enough. Chronic bronchitis is an illness that is usually associated with smokers. I know times can get stressful for anybody but I highly doubt that your little hamster is lighting up under the cover of darkness. Yet hamsters can get lung disease, resulting in irritating coughs and wheezy breathing. Causes are unclear, but it may be an allergic reaction or simply a genetic defect.  Captive hamsters have been subjected to inbreeding for generations. As pet merchants sought to make hamsters as cute and docile as possible, a wide range of genetic problems (including propensity towards respiratory diseases) was passed on and on. Hamsters are also prone to other smokers’ disease…emphysema. A National Institute of Health (NIH) study even used hamsters as models for the effects of emphysema and chronic bronchitis in people. Once again, genetic problems are the likeliest cause of most cases. If your hamster has a lineage that traces back to areas exposed to alpha radiation (such as uranium or halogen mining towns), it might be at risk of developing lung cancer at some point.  This first develops as a series of tumors along the trachea and the bronchi. These cause the animal to cough and make unusual clicking noises. Eventually, the lungs will gradually break down. In these cases, little can be done but to make your sweet little pets’ last days as comfortable as possible. Your vet will be your guide through this difficult period. 3. Hibernation One day you might find your hamster face down and lying lifeless in his cage, just hours after you last saw him as his usually sprightly self at breakfast. Before you channel the waterworks and cancel your week’s appointments, realize that he or she might just be hibernating. A dead giveaway (no pun) is the slight and soft breathing. Hibernation for domestic hamsters is a little different than for wild animals who also tuck in for the winter. The likelihood of a hamster hibernating depends on a few factors.  Most hamsters have had that instinct erased from their genetic memories thanks to selective breeders (who, doubtlessly, did not want the hassle of selling pets that sleep for a third of the year). However, if yours is still in touch with its wild roots, so to speak, the drive to hibernate may still lie dormant. The second factor depends on the environment. If temperatures drop low enough, your hamster’s dormant instincts may kick in and make him or her start preparing for hibernation. 4. Behavioral Some breathing noises that your hamster will make from time to time might seem strange, but, more often than not, these are just part of natural behavior displays. One common noise that might worry first-time hamster owners is the clicking noise. This sound is extremely sharp and incessant in some cases. If you’re part of the worry brigade, we’re here to tell you that you can relax this time.  Hamsters usually make the clicking noise when they are frightened or in an aggressive mood. Who knew that hamsters can get tired of all the kisses and cuddles? Well, now you do. When your hamster just wants some alone time or is feeling angry or afraid, he will issue this incessant clicking as a warning for you to back off.  Sometimes your hamster will make squeaky sounds while it is asleep. This is also normal and no need for alarm. Like you and me, hamsters are capable of having engaging dreams that demand real-world re-enactment.  Maybe he or she dreams about scurrying through the bushes with other little hamsters. Maybe it’s a dream about a hamster wheel made of cheese. Who knows? Some people talk in their sleep sometimes so is it crazy to imagine that some hamsters do the same? Hamsters are also known to snore, which is probably the cutest thing I can think of. A hard day on the hamster wheel can really do a number on your fluffy pal, so don’t be surprised if he hits the pillow just as hard. Snoring is more common in older hamsters but babies (or pups) are also known to do it, which is as precious as you can imagine. [...] Read more...
All About A Hamster’s Ears – Common Problems And Hearing
All About A Hamster’s Ears – Common Problems And HearingHamster ears are some of the cutest ears. My Teddy has his folded when he wakes up, and he’s always listening for some thing or another. But we need to know everything about our hamsters’ ears, hearing, and ear problems if we want to give them a happy life. So read on here to find out more, starting with the basics. Table of Contents ToggleDo hamsters have good hearing ?How wild hamsters use their hearing to surviveYour hammy will learn every sound in the houseYour hamster’s ears can change colors as they ageFolded hamster earsHamsters can develop several ear problemsEar infectionEar tumorEar mitesEar wax and/or dischargeLoss of fur around earsA word from Teddy Do hamsters have good hearing ? Yes, hamsters have very good hearing. Hearing is actually one of the main ways hamsters navigate their habitat, and avoid predators. Hamsters rely on smell to ‘see’ their environment (smells, pheromones), and on hearing to listen for potential predators or other sounds of danger. That being said, a hamster won’t react to sudden sounds as badly as sudden movements. A sudden movement will scare the hamster, while a sudden noise will be investigated and learned. How wild hamsters use their hearing to survive In the wild hamsters are hunted by almost every creature possible. As such, they’ve had to develop very good survival skills. Hamsters sleep for much of the day, when most of their predators are out and hunting. Once evening sets in, hammies wake up, and perk their ears up. Listening for a fox’s paws, a swooping owl, a slithering snake, anything that could be dangerous. If he hears nothing out of the ordinary, he’ll come out. Once he’s out of his labyrinth of tunnels and burrows, the hammy will start foraging for food, and will cover lots his territory. He’ll literally stop to check every few minutes, to make sure there’s nothing chasing him, or to smell for another food source. Hearing is the hamster’s first line of defense, since he can hear before he can smell a predator. Even a very quiet and sneaky cat won’t be able to fool a hamster too easily. This trait has been passed down to your pet hamster too. He’ll be very curious about sounds and will have the instinct to listen for absolutely anything odd. Your hammy will learn every sound in the house A pet hamster is still very much like a wild hamster. Aside from variations in the colors, pet hamsters have largely the same personalities they had as wild hamsters. Granted, hammies haven’t been pets for more than a century now. You can find out more about how hammies came to be pets, and where they (all) come from, right here. For example my Teddy (a Syrian male, golden) used to stop and listen for everything when he was young. Seriously, he’d stop every few minutes and learn each new sound. We have an air freshener that goes off on auto, that was mind-blowing for him. Or when it rained the first few times, and he had to figure out if it’s water dropping from the sky or something terrifying. Over time he calmed down and learned every sound in the house, and those usually around the house as well. Our neighbors, a door closing somewhere, someone speaking outside, a dog barking, and so on. As they age, hamsters become more accustomed to all the sounds and smells of their home. This makes them more comfortable, but it depends on your hamster’s personality just how soon he’ll stop panicking. My Teddy took almost a year to relax, and not stare at me when I open the fridge. Your hamster’s ears can change colors as they age Depending on which type of hamster you have, your hammy’s ears might change colors a bit. The ears, but the fur as well. First off, here’s how to find out which kind of hamster you have. Then, if you’ve got a Syrian hamster know that the ears might turn a dark grey as the hamster turns into an adult. For example my Teddy is a golden Syrian hamster, the soft/blended variety. So no stark lines or patches of color. When he was a baby he was all cream, and had a bit of white on his belly and paws. Once he started coming close to the 3 month mark (when hamsters become adults) he started getting all of his markings. Which included darker, grey ears, and a few grey markings on his forehead, and shoulders. And the tips of most of the hairs turned dark grey, like he’s a bit smoky. So it could be that your Syrian might develop grey ears too, or a darker color all over his fur if he’s got the gene. This can apply to all hamster breeds, since they only become adults around the 3 month mark. This is where they reach their ‘final form’, so to speak, and won’t change very much. Only when they become old, will there be any other changes. For example my Teddy is a year and a half at the time I’m writing this article. His snout’s got a bit whiter, and the fluff around his ears got whiter as well. He’s not very old yet, but he’s getting there. Hamster’s don’t live long, Syrians can reach a maximum of 3 years, the same way us humans reach past 100 years. Folded hamster ears Ears are an important part of your hamster’s body language. Knowing what your hamster’s ears are saying is about as important as knowing what a dog’s ears are saying. So for example hammies can have their ears folded, in several situations. If he just woke up, his ears will be folded, and you will notice he moves slowly, eyes half open, fur a bit ruffled. No one looks great in the morning. It could be that your hamster’s folded ears mean fear, when he’s also shying away from you or another hamster, and making himself appear to be very small (curling in on himself). This fear can be dangerous, depending on the hamster. Some hamsters flee, some fight. Those who fight get their folded ears mistaken for a sign of aggression. Your hammy could also suddenly perk his ears up, even stand up, to better figure out what’s happening. If there’s an odd sound, he’ll listen for it. He can get the most intense face when he’s focused, I swear. Generally a hamster’s ears are up, but relaxed. They don’t move as much as a dog or cat’s ears, but they’re still very much mobile and can pick up a lot of sound. (If you like this article so far, you can pin it to your Pinterest board by clicking the image below. The article continues after the image.) Hamsters can develop several ear problems Since hearing is an important part of a hamster’s defense, his ears are usually clean. The hammy is a very clean animal, in fact, and he can clean his own ears just fine. He has to, in order to be able to use them properly. But sometimes, infections happen, or a parasite, or even an injury. Make sure you isolate the sick hamster from the other hamsters, since most of these conditions are contagious. Whatever the case, sometimes you will have to help your little friend. Here’s why and how. Ear infection An ear infection can come about in many ways, even if the cage is clean. You can tell your hamster has an infected ear by the fact that it’s possibly become red, swollen, hot to the touch, and your hamster might be scratching at it. He might carry his head to the side/tilted, and you might actually see some discharge. If you think this is the case, don’t panic. An ear infection is bad, but treatable. It does require you to reach a veterinarian, though. The best vet to ask for help is an ”exotic” vet, since they have experience with rodents. The vet will prescribe a round of antibiotics for your hammy. He might keep your friend for a couple of days, or he might give you the medicine to administer at home. It depends on the vet and how bad the infection is. Ear tumor Ear tumors can grow in older hamsters, and will require surgery. The tumors usually grow very fast, and will send you to the vet a few times in the same week. If you think your hamster’s got a suspicious growth, keep an eye on it for the next 48 hours. Take pictures of it every few hours, to compare the growth. Know that tumors can be both under and on the skin, so you might have to pick up the hammy and feel him. I’ve heard of hamsters getting tumors removed and survived, but this isn’t something that happens every day. Still, I found at least one example of a Dwarf type that needed a surgery for an ear tumor, and survived. I’ll link you to the vet’s site, and be warned that there’s a few pictures from before and after the surgery. No worries, the hamster is safe and he made a full recovery. Many thanks to the veterinarian for showing us that it’s possible to help the hamster. Ear mites This can be tricky to tell with black hamsters, or those with very dark ears. Ear mites are a type of tiny parasites That settle in the hamster’s ears, and they’re black. They look like tiny black dots moving in and around your hamster’s ears. Your hamster is probably scratching himself furiously. The mites can extend to the hamster’s face and paws, even some parts of his fur. Bring the hamster to the vet immediately, so he can give your friend the proper treatment. The treatment can extend over a few weeks, but your hamster will be fine. Ear wax and/or discharge Excessive ear wax can be caused by a possible infection, or can lead to one. Hamsters usually don’t have a lot of ear wax, so if your friend suddenly has a build-up, it should be checked. A discharge from the ears can also be a sign of an infection, one that’s actually ruptured. This is a case you should bring your hamster to the veterinarian for a treatment. Loss of fur around ears Fur loss can be caused by excessive scratching, and if your hamster’s got an infection or mites, his ear will itch. Excessive scratching can lead to more than just ear loss, it can develop an even worse problem. So make sure you speak to your vet, to possibly get a treatment for your hamster. Another reason for fur loss, but not necessarily around the ear, can be ringworm. Which is a fungal infection that gives the hamster bald spots, with dry itchy skin. This too can be treats by a veterinarian. A word from Teddy I hope you found out how to take care of our ears here. I know us hammies look like the most adorable creatures, but we do get sick sometimes, and we need your help. If you want to know more about us hamsters, be sure to check the articles below, so you get all the info you need to help us have a great life with you. [...] Read more...
4 Differences Between Syrian And European Hamster
4 Differences Between Syrian And European HamsterAre you looking for the perfect hamster pet ? Then perhaps you’ve heard there are several species, and two of the best known are European and Syrian hamster. While they do look similar, one of them is completely unsuited to be a pet, even if it is a cute furball like the other one. I’ve decided to write this article because there are a lot of people confusing those two when they see images of hamsters, which is understandable since they look so similar. Let’s take a look at their key differences and why they matter.  Table of Contents ToggleWhat are Syrian hamsters ?What are European Hamsters ?1. European hamsters are much larger than Syrian hamsters2. Syrian hamsters can be tamed, European hamsters cannot3. European hamsters tend to be dark brown, Syrians golden-orange4. Both European hamsters and Syrian hamsters are very territorial, they will fight any hamsterCan you keep a European hamster as a pet ?Is a Syrian hamster a good pet ?Conclusion What are Syrian hamsters ? Syrian hamsters are a type of rodent (family Cricetidae, species Mesocricetus auratus), that is native to northern Syria and southern Turkey. Its habitat in the wild is greatly reduced and it is now classed as an endangered species (in the wild). In captivity however, these are by far the most popular hamster pets and are not endangered at all (as pets).  The captive Syrian hamsters you see (such as in pet shops) are the result of hundreds of generations of selective breeding, which brought about better traits (more docile, less aggressive) and a high variety of fur colors and markings. If you were to pick up a random wild Syrian hamster, it’d be very different from a pet.  I’ve had three hamsters so far, one Syrian (Teddy, he’s mentioned often on this site), and then Eggwhite (a white Syrian) after Teddy died of old age, and now Rocket after Eggwhite died of old age as well. Rocket is a dwarf hamster, specifically a Siberian hamster (light grey with white, fluffy paws and a dark stripe down her back).  I can attest that Eggwhite and Teddy were both very tame compared to Rocket, with Eggwhite the tamest of the bunch.  What are European Hamsters ? European hamsters are similar to Syrian hamsters, in that they’re also a rodent in the family Cricetidae, species Cricetus Cricetus. These hamsters are native to a wide habitat ranging from Central and East Europe to Russia and Central Asia. For reference, Syrian hamsters typically live far below where European hamsters live.  European hamsters are considered a critically endangered species, partly due to losing their habitat to agriculture, and partly because they are viewed as pests by farmers.  I’ve seen a European hamster personally once. It was in a local park in my city, and I saw it going in and out of its burrow at the root of a big tree. I took a few photos but they are very zoomed in because once I got close the hamster scampered into its home.  Not let’s do a more thorough comparison of European and Syrian hamsters.  1. European hamsters are much larger than Syrian hamsters The first and biggest difference between European and Syrian hamsters is their size. European hamsters are very large, for a hamster. They’re the size of an adult guinea pig, while adult Syrian hamsters are a bit smaller than your computer mouse.  This difference in size should be your biggest tip-off of what you’re looking at. A young European hamster will be the size of an adult Syrian hamster, and it’s very unlikely you’ll ever find one in a pet shop.  And because of this difference, if you were to try and keep a European hamster as a pet you’d need a far larger cage with very strong wires. More than you’d need if you had a Syrian hamster, who also needs a large cage to begin with. See here about how big or small their cage needs to be.  2. Syrian hamsters can be tamed, European hamsters cannot Both Syrian hamsters and European hamsters have been kept in laboratories to be studied, and also be used for various studies. One thing scientists have noted: European hamsters do not get more docile or tame, even on their second or third generation in captivity. This is opposed to Syrian hamsters, who tend to be the most docile and less aggressive of any hamster species. It is true that the vast majority of Syrian hamsters you find for sale are all descended from a single female and her offspring, back in 1930. It’s possible that the one female had a gene that made her more docile, and her offspring inherited that gene as well, allowing for more and more docile hamsters as time went on.  Even so, it’s clear that European hamsters would make a very aggressive pet, and definitely not something suitable for children or possibly even adults. 3. European hamsters tend to be dark brown, Syrians golden-orange There is a big difference in color when it comes to European and Syrian hamsters. European hamsters share a similar template with the Syrian’s classic look: white feet and hands, and white spots on the cheeks and mouth. But where Syrian hamsters are a golden orange color, European hamsters are a dark brown-reddish color.  Syrian hamsters have been bred for so many generations that their potential for different coats has been discovered. You can get Syrians in any color you can think of, with or without spots, without white feet or hands, and even with varying lengths of fur. The original gold and white fur were the best ones for blending into their surroundings, but it wasn’t the only one they were capable of.  European hamsters come in just one style, the one most suited to their environment. If they were to be bred for several generations you’d probably see a change in their color patterns as well. 4. Both European hamsters and Syrian hamsters are very territorial, they will fight any hamster If there’s one thing European and Syrian hamsters absolutely share, it’s their dislike of other hamsters. All hamsters are territorial and should never be kept in the same pen as another hamster. Syrian and European hamsters can and will attack their siblings in an attempt to claim a territory for their own. The result is often deadly so I recommend you don’t put two hamsters in the same cage ever, regardless of their species. Not even if they grew up together.  Can you keep a European hamster as a pet ? No, European hamsters cannot be kept as pets. They are very difficult to spot in the wild, let alone capture. Few were captured and any attempts at taming them (and their offspring) have failed.  Their much larger size (about as big as an adult guinea pig) makes any potential bite or scratch much more dangerous than one from a Syrian hamster (much smaller). That’s very unfortunate since they are super cute furballs and they might be as funny as a Syrian hamster, but just bigger. You would need a huge cage for them since even regular hamsters require quite big cages to be able to do all their workout routine, they are super active and need space. Is a Syrian hamster a good pet ? Syrian hamsters make good pets only for those who have the patience to get to know their pet, understand and respect their habits, and are gentle enough when handling them. They are mostly active at night but will occasionally come out during the day too. They tend to be shy, and you can’t play with them as you would with a puppy. You can hold a Syrian hamster, but not for very long. They have a bit of patience, the most out of all hamster species, but they will not sit in one place for more than a few seconds. If it’s in your hands it will want to wiggle out and keep moving. If they get frustrated they can bite in an attempt to escape your hands.  However, even if you are unlucky and you get one hamster that is not calm or willing to play, one extra benefit of pet hamsters are that they are incredibly funny and cute, so you will not get bored even if you don’t get to touch the little furball too much. Here is one of my articles where I listed 12 reasons why hamsters can be super cute and funny. No hamster is a good pet for a young child (under 9 years old), not even a Syrian hamster. If you’re looking for a companion, something to cuddle, take on walks, and even play with, a hamster is not the answer. Conclusion Syrian and European hamsters are similar enough to confuse them sometimes, but they have quite different personalities. Despite this, neither of them likes sharing their space with another individual, so they should be kept separate. I hope this article helped you understand the differences between a Syrian and a European hamster, for an untrained eye they are not as noticeable so it’s easy to confuse them, however you will never get to see a European hamster at your pet shop, so if you think of buying a hamster you will have to get a Syrian hamster, which is the best choice anyway. If you plan to buy a hamster, here is an article that will help you understand the real cost of owning a hamster, the cage is the most expensive thing you will ever buy for the hamster but the hamster itself should not cost too much. [...] Read more...