What Is Wet Tail, And How To Save Your Hamster’s Life

If you’ve got a hamster, and you think he’s got wet tail, I can help. Even if your hammy is healthy so far, you need to know what wet tail is, since it can be fatal and you need to know how to save him.

This is a disease that can affect any hamster of any age, although some are more prone to it. I’ll cover what wet tail is, what you can do about it, and how to make sure your hamster friend never suffers through it.

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So what is wet tail ?

Wet tail is a serious, contagious disease that can affect any and all hamsters. It’s noticeable by the wet, matted aspect of your hamster’s tail (hence the name). There are other symptoms, which we’ll cover soon.

That is because wet tail is a type of diarrhea, brought on by bacteria inside the hamster’s gut. While diarrhea for humans is not very hard to treat, hamsters have an incredibly small chance of survival.

Wet tail is mostly brought on by severe stress, which triggers unwanted changes in the hamster’s intestinal flora. It is mostly found in baby hamsters who were just weaned, but there have been cases of adult or elder hamsters as well.

Something to remember: wet tail is often used as a sort of blanket term, to describe any kind of diarrhea in hamsters. Actual wet tail is hard to diagnose, since the symptoms are many and it could not be just wet tail. More on that later in the article.

Is your hammy at risk ?

Any hamster is at risk. Not to sound doomsday-ish, but this is the truth. However there are a few specific hamsters out there that are most susceptible.

Syrian hamsters, of all the hamsters, have the highest chance of developing wet tail. Seeing as they’re the most common type of hamster pet, this doesn’t sound great.

Dwarf types can still get wet tail, but in a much smaller degree and it’s kind of rare for them.

Baby Syrian hamsters, who were just weaned by their mothers – around 4 weeks of age. They are very sensitive, and the stress of weaning, and being handled to be separated into same sex groups, then transported to the pet shop, and then to your home, can be very stressful.

Older Syrian hamsters can be at risk as well, though not as much as babies. Senior hammies can’t move very well, and can’t clean themselves as well as they used to. This increases the risk of an infection, which can trigger wet tail.

That being said, wet tail can develop in adult, healthy Syrian hamsters, if certain conditions are met. That doesn’t mean that any and all Syrian hamsters will develop wet tail. But they are the ones you should keep an eye on the most.

Symptoms of wet tail in hamsters

The symptoms for wet tail are quite a few, and they can also be found in the description of other health issues for hamsters. This is one reason it’s a bit hard to diagnose wet tail in the first place.

Here are the symptoms for wet tail:

  • Wet, matted tail – very runny stool, matted to the hamster’s tail and hind end. It can extend to the hammy’s abdomen.
  • Strong smell – wet tail smells, and it’s hard to miss. Your hammy is usually very clean and only smells like fur if you smell him. But with wet tail, he might have a strong poo smell.
  • Hunched back, brought on by intestinal discomfort.
  • Slow, sluggish movements
  • Half-closed eyes, very sunken, the hamster looks tired all the time
  • Loss of appetite, possibly not drinking water either
  • Continuously bad temper – if he never bit before, he will bite now and he’s very irritated
  • Folded ears, all the time, possibly shaking
  • Hides in a corner, or worse barely moves at all.
  • Possible weight loss, with dull, ruffled fur

Wet tail is also contagious. So if you spotted your hammy with these symptoms, separate him from his cage mate immediately.

Once you do separate them, make sure that anything the sick hammy touched is thoroughly cleaned (hot water and soap), and if necessary provide with new cage accessories. Wood accessories are not easy to disinfect, unfortunately.

The bedding must be thrown away as well.

How to treat wet tail

Treating wet tail is not exactly complicated, but the small size of the hamster makes it so. Normally you’d have two options, to treat it at home, or take the hammy to a vet.

I very strongly recommend calling your dedicated vet, this is not something to waste time with.

Taking your hamster to the vet

Get your small friend into his transport cage, and get a car ride to the vet. More on how to safely transport your hamster in this article, and how to keep your hammy comfortable during the ride right here.

Once you’re there, the vet will examine the hammy, to see the condition he’s in. The veterinarian might administer extra fluids to the hammy.

He might even recommend to keep the hammy overnight, to be able to administer the fluids regularly and keep a close eye on him. If this is the case, best to trust your vet with your hamster.

Depending on how severe the case is, your veterinarian might administer some antibiotics himself. Or, he might give you some medication to give to the hamster at home.

In any case, your hammy has more of a chance or surviving if you bring him to the vet. Wet tail can be treated, if spotted in its first phase (first 24 hours). After that, the chances of the hamster surviving are lower. He might still survive, but harder.

Whatever instructions your veterinarian gives you, be sure to follow them completely. Possibly schedule another check-up after a few days.

Caring for a wet-tail sick hammy at home

There are some cases when the vet is not available. Or, maybe you can’t afford a vet at the moment. This will not cure the hamster, but it will make his life much easier. A veterinarian is definitely needed for a treatment.

In this case you need to do the following:

  • Remove any fruit and veg from your hamster’s diet. ‘Wet’ food like these can worsen the diarrhea, mostly because it doesn’t provide just water.
  • Only give the hammy very dry food. This includes his usual food mix, dry oats, a very small piece of dry bread. Another option if a few grains of steamed brown rice. The dry food will settle your hamster’s insides a bit more.
  • The water your hamster gets from his bottle should not be very cold. And it should be plain, unflavored water. If he has a vitamin mix in his water, remove it for the time being.
  • If your hammy isn’t drinking – try giving him one drop of water every half hour. Hold him by the scruff of the neck (it will not hurt) and with an eye dropper place a drop of water on his lips. The hammy will then lick it, and have at least a bit of water. More than a drop at a time can drown the hammy.
  • If your hamster isn’t eating, try unflavored baby food. No onion, garlic, sugar, or any spices at all. He will need very small amounts of food, only what he can lick off the very tip of a teaspoon. Scruffing the hammy will work here as well.

Aside from all of this, make sure your keep the hamster in a comfortable temperature range. Hamsters are okay with a 20-23 C/68-75 F range.

More than that and he is in danger of overheating, which he probably already is given his infection. And lower than that can bring on a cold for the hammy.

Keep the room your sick hamster’s in very quiet and stress free. Any amount of stress or excess handling an make his condition worse.

So any and all pets, small children, loud noises, should be kept away from the hamster’s room.

Do not place the hamster in direct sunlight, instead keep him in a shielded, darker corner.

At all times, wash your hands thoroughly with antibacterial soap before, but especially after handling your sick hammy.

Chances of survival

Wet tail can be fairly hard to survive for hamsters. This is mostly because it has an incubation period (7 days), in which it’s not immediately obvious that the hamster is sick.

Once the signs of illness start to show, it becomes progressively harder to successfully treat.

There were cases where the hammy unfortunately passed away, even after being cured. This was because of the stress brought on by the illness itself, and hamsters are terrible stress managers.

However, if you spot your hamster’s problem within 24 hours of it surfacing, his survival chances are higher. This means that you should be watching your hamster closely, and handling it every few hours.

For older hammies, the chances are lower than for babies, This is because their immune system is already breaking down, as opposed to forming (like in babies).

So, if your elder hammy is stricken with wet tail, do your best to treat him. But if worse comes to worst, be prepared for his passing.

(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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How hamsters develop wet tail in the first place

The way wet tail develops is thought to be because of stress. This is the biggest culprit known so far, although there are other we’ll cover here as well.

Stress brings a host of psychosomatic reactions from the hamster, including severe changes to the bacteria in his gut. That can trigger wet-tail.

In some other cases, a very stressed hamster  will develop a very weak immune system, which won’t be able to battle the infection brought on by a stray bacteria. Which in turn may lead to wet tail.

Stress in hamsters

A stressed hamster will show any signs of illness. Hamsters are very sensitive creatures, and can be stressed easily. A few factors for hamster stress include:

Overcrowded cage – the size of the cage matters so much (more on that here), and keeping hamsters together in an appropriate sized cage.

The right sized cage is a minimum of 24 x 12 inches, and about 12 inches tall. That’s 61 x 30.5 cm, and about 30.5 cm tall. That’s for a Syrian hammy, and the minimum for keeping 2 Dwarf types.

Not all hamsters can live together though, and some will fight to the death. Crucial info on that can be found here.

Improper handling – hamsters don’t react well to being woken up, constantly being handled, being held wrong, meeting too many strangers at a time, unsafe play time and so on. Especially the babies, under 12 weeks of age.

Be very careful when handling your hamster, and never let a child or pet interact unsupervised. A very curious cat, or a grabby toddler won’t bode well for your hamster.

Hamsters require so much attention and gentleness, they are not well suited to families with small children or lots of pets.

You can find out more on how to show your hamster affection the right way, without annoying him in this article. And you can find out more about how to tame your hamster without stressing him out here.

Dirty hamster cage

That doesn’t mean a stray poo will freak the hamster out, but a cage that hasn’t been cleaned for more than 2 weeks is turning into a serious threat to his health. More on how often to clean a hammy’s home here, and what kind of bedding to provide to make sure he is safe.

This is because infections can occur when the hamster’s cage has stray bacteria, that can develop from an unclean cage.

And also, an unclean cage can become moldy in some places. Especially the bedding, if it’s been moist in some places, like where the water bottle drips for example.

Imagine your tiny hamster, breathing in those mold spores, wreaking havoc in his immune system. An infection will be the last thing your hammy needs, but it might just happen.

Other medications

Like in humans, hamster medications can sometimes interfere. Or, they can make it easier for some problems to appear.

If your hamster is already on a certain treatment, be sure to ask your veterinarian if he’s at risk of developing other diseases. It can happen, rarely, but it can still happen.

It’s best to know beforehand and be prepared.

Make sure your hamster stays healthy

You can make sure your hamster survives by not getting wet tail in the first place. That means your need to follow a few steps in the first place.

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Teddy here gets plenty of food, attention, and exercise.

Keep your hamster away from stressful environments

Hamsters are very susceptible to stress-related illnesses. So naturally, they must be kept away from stress factors. Here’s how to make sure your hamster has a minimal-to-none stress.

Do not house your hamster with another. I’d recommend even Dwarf types to be housed alone, since a hamster is very territorial by nature. Even if your give both hammies a cage that’s large enough for 5 hamsters, there can still be problems.

One hamster will always be more dominant, and might start bullying the submissive one. It can be hard to make out the difference between playfighting, and actual serious fighting between hamsters.

Roborovski, Campbell, and Siberian/Winter whites can be traditionally housed together, while Chinese and Syrians will try to kill other hamsters.

Conversely keep pets, small children, loud noises, and general ruckus away from the hamster’s cage or room. Hamsters are mostly nocturnal, so a rowdy house during the day will be incredibly stressful for the hamster.

Do not introduce lots of new people to your hamster at the same time. Your hammy will be overwhelmed, and needed a few days to trust you in the first place. He will freak out and hide when faced with many new people he does not know.

Try not to wake up or annoy the hamster, since it will not rest properly and he will be very irritable. This will make him even harder to handle or tame, which is completely against what you’re trying. Let the creature rest peacefully.

Keep the hammy at a comfortable temperature

hamsters need a certain temp to feel comfortable. That range is about 20-23 C/68-75 F, and your hammies will be fine.

A hamster exposed to very cold temperatures will enter a state that can be confused with hibernation. But in truth, it’s actually a case of hypothermia.

It can be fatal because the hamster hasn’t had time to fatten up and build a big and warm enough nest.

More on hamster hibernation and the risk of keeping them in too cold a room.

Always clean your hands before handling the hammy

Hamsters are very sensitive creatures, and as such your hands need to be clean before handling them. Before you touch your hamster, make sure your hands are clean.

Use an antibacterial soap, and try to find one with little to no scent. A strong scent could make your hamster either think you’ve really got coconut on your hands and try to taste it, or scare him away.

This also applies for the toys the hammy’s got in his cage as well. They too need to be disinfected and cleaned before you first place them in the cage.

The shipping, the handling, and where the toys were stored can all be health risks. Even if it’s just a bit of dust, best to be safe and clean them.

Do not feed the hamster overly watery foods

Watery foods, like cucumber, watermelon, zucchini, grapes (more about safe foods here) can trigger diarrhea in your hammy.

You might ask if water doesn’t trigger diarrhea too. Well, the water your hamster can decide how much to drink. I mean the water from the water bottle.

But the water content in the fruit or veg is not up to him, and he can be overly hydrated.

Conversely, do not give your hammy milk. The lactose content in milk is the highest (compared to cheese or yogurt), and that can trigger a bout of diarrhea too.

Make sure the water you give your hamster is safe

The water your hamster drink must be safe and clean. If your tap water isn’t safe for you, it’s not safe for him either.

So, you can either boil the water beforehand, to rid it of bacteria. Let it cool down and pour it into the hamster’s water bottle.

Or, you can use a bottled water that is labeled as safe for newborn humans, which is safe for hamsters as well. You can find out here how much water a hamster needs, and how to clean his water bottle.

A word from Teddy

I hope you found out how to save us if we ever get wet tail. I am a Syrian hammy, and I’ve been healthy so far. I hope your hamster friend is alright too.

If you want to know more about us hammies, you should check out the articles below for more info how to care for us and feed us right.

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Kaytee Forti Diet Pro Health Hamster Food – a great product if you’re concerned about your hamster’s health. This mix is full of healthy nutrients that every hamster needs to keep their body healthy. However, you should know that some packs have too many sunflower seeds, which can be bad for your hamster, so make sure to take them out if you notice that you’ve added too much. This mix also contains a lot of omega-3 oils, and the shape of the mix will help your hamster clean and pick its teeth. Kaytee Fiesta Hamster Food – this mix is also good for dwarf hamsters, not just Syrian hamsters. It has natural veggies and fruits to add some variety and improve the nutrient content of the mix. This mix will definitely take care of your hamster’s dietary needs, but there’s a problem that a lot of hamster owners have reported. It has so many fatty things (which is important for your hamster, but in this case, these fatty scraps in the mix are too tempting) that hamsters run and eat those as soon as possible, and leave out healthy foods. Since they’re full, many hamsters don’t return to finish their meal, so you might be throwing some of this food away. You can even use this mix for gerbils, as it’s good for them, as well. It also has plenty of natural fruits and veggies for your hamster to enjoy, and it’s rich in antioxidants to support your hamster’s immune system. When we’re discussing treats, you can use anything we’ve listed above as a treat. There’s no need for you to spend money on factory-made treats. However, there are some advantages to this, the most obvious one being that those treats are clean and optimized for hamsters, so you can be sure that what you’re rewarding them with isn’t unhealthy. We’ll take a look at just two examples: Tiny Friends Farm Lovelies and Kaytee Healthy Bits. These treats are universally loved by all hamsters, and they’re both fine for Syrian and dwarf hamsters. The Healthy Bits treat mix is definitely going to cause happiness with your hamster, as it actually contains honey. These treats aren’t too big, so your hamster(s) won’t have any trouble eating them. When it comes to nuts, we know that we’ve already mentioned them along with seeds, but it’s important to note that they’re a natural source of protein and necessary fats, with different hamsters liking different nuts. Here, we’ll expand on the list of nuts we’ve already mentioned: barley, cashew, flaxseed, lentils, millet, oats, peanut, popcorn, walnuts, monkey nuts. It’s also important to add fiber to your hamster’s diet, just like it’s important to have fiber in your own diet. Timothy hay alfalfa hay is a good, natural source of fiber. You should also know that Syrian hamsters absolutely love insects and you should definitely try to feed them whenever you can. Insects are a great source of protein, and they’re their main food source in the wild. Feeding them with insects isn’t essential, we understand that not all people are happy with keeping bugs in their home, but your hamster will definitely be grateful if you do. However, not all insects are good for your hamster, so here’s a list of insects that are: mealworms, wax worms, crickets, and grasshoppers. It’s important to create a well-balanced diet for your hamster. It’s best to use a mixture of the food suggestions listed above to create a diet that’s going to be both tasty and healthy for your hamster. Then, combine that mix with treats. Their diet needs to provide them with enough energy for the day. Hamsters are very energetic animals that need to burn that off in order to function properly. If they don’t run around enough, they will get stressed out. Choose a food mix as the backbone of your pet’s dietary plan, and surround it with treats and additions. The general rule is that a single tablespoon of the mix is enough, and mix that with a couple of treats. You should also try to keep it interesting for your pet. You can change your hamster’s meal plans, don’t be constantly feeding it crickets or mealworms, switch it up. You’re definitely not eating the exact same thing every day, so why should your hamster. If you notice that your hamster’s gaining a lot of weight, don’t fear cutting down on the portions. When feeding your hamster, use a ceramic food bowl. This is the best solution for feeding and a much better option than plastic feeding bowls. Hamsters will definitely knock the plastic feeding bowl over and spill food all over the place. This way, all uneaten food will stay in the bowl and be ready to get eaten later. They provide a designated area for feeding and they keep all the leftover food clean. Your hamster will quickly learn that it will always be getting food in that bowl, so it will start to move around it when it’s hungry. Hamsters will also fill their cheek pouches with secret stashes of food to build secret food stores near their bed. They do this by instinct, as in the wilderness they’re hiding their food from other hamsters. If you have more than a single hamster in the same cage, you’ll even notice that they keep hiding food away from one another. If you have the time, observe your hamster as it’s eating – this will give you a good idea of what it likes and what it doesn’t like. If you notice that your hamster doesn’t like a certain vegetable, replace it with another vegetable. If you notice that it won’t eat a certain fruit, replace it with another fruit. Obviously, if you see that your hamster’s sick from eating a certain food – don’t allow them to eat it anymore. A good example of this is watermelon. Even though it’s not poisonous for hamsters, it has so much water that their little bodies simply can’t handle it. While we’re at it, let’s just say that it’s also bad to overfeed your hamster. It’s in the hamster’s instinct to eat and eat and eat until they can’t eat anymore, they can’t help it. They’ll only stop eating when they’re absolutely full, and even then, they’ll stuff food in their cheek pouches and hide it somewhere. So, you can easily get your hamster fat if you’re not careful. Stick to the ‘one tablespoon a day’ plan. Also, don’t let your hamster fool you into thinking it’s hungry just because the bowl is empty – they’ve most likely hidden their food away in an attempt to get more of it. Hamsters would most likely eat even less than a single tablespoon a day in the wilderness, so you’re feeding them more than enough. Owners are often confused as the tablespoon of food can be larger than the hamster itself, but that’s more than enough for them. What Are Syrian Hamsters Allergic To? There are many foods that you should never feed your hamster, but it’s also possible that your hamster, as an individual, has developed an allergy to something. Here’s a list of things you shouldn’t feed your hamster. Almonds, avocado (it’s literally poisonous to them), apple seeds, chocolate, sweets, potato chips, pork, raw potatoes, grape seeds, rhubarb, tomato leaves, citrus fruits (oranges, lemons, etc.), watermelon, jam, spices, garlic, onions, chives, leeks. All hamsters are allergic to these foods, not just Syrian hamsters. You should always avoid feeding these foods to your hamster, as it will make it very sick. Almonds contain cyanic acid, which can make your Syrian hamster very sick. Seeds can also be harmful, and most often are, so remove them from the foods. There are certain seeds that are okay (we’ve listed them in the previous section), and those seeds are safe to feed to your hamster. Seeds that are in food mixes are okay, as long as there’s not too much of them. However, seeds from fruits are a big no when it comes to hamsters, so you should always remove them before feeding your hamster a fruit. This means that you can’t feed your hamster apples, peaches, and plums before you take out the seeds. Unfortunately (for the hamster), you can’t feed it chocolate. Theobromine is a substance found in chocolate, and it negatively affects your hamster’s circulation. Syrian hamsters are very strong, with very strong immunity, so it’s unlikely that you’ll be facing any problems with them. Unlike dwarf hamsters that develop diabetes easily. However, a poor diet can cause a few issues with any hamster. A poor diet can also cause diarrhea. You will recognize this by a loose stool, and you should consult a vet. Many illnesses can be caused by a bad diet, so you should always keep in mind that the problem might originate in food intake. If you notice your hamster losing weight, losing fur, breathing in distress, having a nasal discharge or skin lesions, you should take it to a vet. When it comes to allergies in the normal sense, hamsters can develop allergies the same way humans do, and they even sneeze the same way humans do. If you’ve noticed your hamster sneezing, they may be allergic to their bedding or something in their food. They’re also allergic to dust, just like us, so there may be microscopic dust in the air. To eliminate this problem, try changing beddings, foods, to an unscented fabric softener, and use an air filter by your hamster’s cage to eliminate all allergens in that environment. However, if the problems refuse to go away, contact a vet. There are also many things that irritate hamsters, although they’re not exactly allergic to them. Perfumes, pine and cedar shavings, scented candles, electric “plug-in” style diffusers, scented room sprays, and even some cleaning agents can be harmful and irritating to your hamster’s respiratory canal. You should move your hamster’s cage away from these fumes to deal with this problem – this is the path of least resistance. Cigarette smoke is especially irritating to hamsters, not to mention that it’s especially harmful. If you’re trying everything and you still can’t get your hamster to stop sneezing and it’s clearly in distress for more than five days – contact a vet. How Long Can Syrian Hamsters Go Without Food? This applies to all hamsters: hamsters can’t go for longer than three to four days without food and/or water. It depends on when did they have their last meal, what did they eat, how much did they eat, and how active they have been for the past few days. If you’re just going to be staying at work a bit longer than you’ve planned, you don’t have to worry about your hamster’s health – they’re going to be fine if they have their dinner a few hours later.  In summation – the feeding mix should be the backbone of your hamster’s diet. You should build your diet around it by adding various snacks and treats, that we’ve listed before. Those things are healthy additions, but they’re not exactly required. You should definitely avoid all foods on the list we’ve mentioned, as they’re toxic for your hamster. Not all of those things are lethal for your hamster, but many of them will still harm your furry friend. You should never overfeed your hamster with treats, as they should mostly be used as a reward for a job well done, for example; when you’re teaching it a new trick. Also, never overfeed your hamster on the food mix, your pet will get fat and that’s a whole other barrel of monkeys to deal with. Understand that each hamster has their own individual taste just like people do, and try to find out exactly what they enjoy eating, and what things they do not enjoy eating. Always keep your hamster’s water supply fresh and full, try to change your hamster’s water every two days. Know that hamsters can only live three to four days without food and/or water, so you shouldn’t worry if you can’t make it back home on time, or if you stay somewhere for another day unplanned, without a method of feeding your hamster (they probably have a hidden stash of food somewhere, anyway). Try to feed your hamster once in the morning and once in the evening, with keeping a single tablespoon for norm – half a tablespoon in the morning, half a tablespoon in the evening. Know that your hamster is definitely storing food away, so don’t be fooled into thinking that your hamster is hungry just because its bowl is empty. Always make sure to keep the food clean, and use it before the expiration date – never keep fruits and vegetables in the cage for longer than 24 hours if the hamster hasn’t eaten it, as it will rot and that can harm the hamster. Try to feed your hamster during a certain period every day, that way, it can get used to your schedule and won’t make a fuss if you’re present but not feeding it. [...] Read more...
Training a Hamster: Everything You Need to Know
Training a Hamster: Everything You Need to KnowWho doesn’t love their furry pet and enjoy spending time with them? Hamsters have become wildly popular, as they’re sociable and don’t require too much maintenance. The latter is one of the primary reasons that they’re so popular, and that makes them a favorite for kids, as they can slowly start to learn the basic responsibilities of caring for a pet. However, pets need to be trained. Hamsters, just like any other animal, aren’t going to make good pets if they aren’t trained. Every animal is naturally defensive when interacting with a human until it’s taught to become social. The same principle applies to hamsters – they need to be taught how to interact with humans if we want them to make good pets. This is exactly what we’ll be talking about in this article. Today, we’ll be taking a look into hamster training techniques, and seeing how to make them better for human interaction. We’ll be covering an array of topics in hamster training; how to teach them not to bite, how to teach them to be held, how to teach them to use a litter box, and how to teach them to do tricks. Hamsters can make wonderful pets if they’re trained well, and that’s exactly what we’ll be teaching you today. Let’s get started! Table of Contents ToggleTraining a Hamster Not to Bite.Training a Hamster to be Held.Training a Hamster to Use a Litter Box.Training a Hamster Tricks. Training a Hamster Not to Bite. There’s a reason that hamsters are considered to be great pets for kids, but despite that, they’re sometimes known to bite. It’s very rare for a hamster to actually display aggressive behavior, and they usually bite only when they get scared. Hamster teeth are tiny and people naturally think that they won’t do too much damage, but they are going to cut you if bitten. If this has happened, make sure to disinfect the wound. The sole reason hamsters bite is because they’re afraid. Tame hamsters that are used to being around people aren’t afraid of us, and they don’t mind being held. On the other hand, there are hamsters that still aren’t used to being in human company, and they don’t enjoy being held. These hamsters are the ones that bite. It’s important to remember that they’re not biting out of spite or out of hatred, but because they’re afraid of us. After all, you’d probably be scared too is a creature that’s literally twenty times your size picked you up, and toyed around with you. Now, if you want your hamster to stop biting, you’re first going to have to be patient. It’s going to take a while before your hamster gets used to you and they can truly trust you. You’re going to need to earn that trust, which is a slow and gradual process. Don’t be discouraged if this process takes over a month, or even longer than that, but also don’t be surprised if your hamster takes quickly to your ways. If your hamster is advancing rapidly, then you can shorten the period between the steps we’re about to describe. If you’re still witnessing some hesitation from their side, it’s best to return to the previous step and repeat it until the animal is completely comfortable with you (on that level). This will take a while, but it’s definitely worth it. This process will take weeks, so we’ll be describing it week by week. Week 1: let your hamster get used to you – your hamster needs to get to know you without much physical contact. Since they’re most active in the evening and at night, it’s a good idea to sit next to your hamster in the evening and talk to them. You don’t even have to talk to them, you can talk to someone else, but let them get used to your voice and your presence. It’s also important for the hamster to get used to your scent. If you don’t know what to say, feel free to read a book, or if you’re working or studying – you can read out loud to them. Since moving to a new cage and a new home is very stressful, this will give your hamster enough time to adjust to their new surroundings. Don’t try to touch your hamster just yet. This may be a problem when you have to take the hamster out of the cage for cleaning – or returning the hamster to the cage if it’s escaped. To do this, corner them with a towel or a large glass, and then let them enter the towel or the glass. Week 2: let your hamster get used to your hand – it’s very important for any animal to get used to the scent of their owner in order for them to form a good relationship. You can gently place your hand in your hamster’s cage, and you’ll see how it will react. Not all hamsters are the same, and they’re not all equally easy to train – just like humans, all animals have distinct characteristics to their behavior, and that should be respected just like we respect it with humans. Do this very slowly, on the first day, put your hand on the cage or just inside the door of the cage. Following the same practice each day, try placing your hand a little further and a little further. Don’t yet try to touch your hamster, but if it wants to sniff your hand or explore it, let it. Week 3: offer your hamster treats – it’s common knowledge that treats are one of the best ways to train animals, as their instinct conditions them not to reject food. By now, you could have easily figured out which treats are your hamster’s favorites. These treats can be great training tools, and you should offer your hamster these goodies from the hand that’s in the cage. With time, your hamster will eat out of your hand, which will develop trust between you. Why is this so important? All animals, including humans, are vulnerable when they’re feeding. The fact that an animal is ready to eat out of your hand means that it trusts you to the point it’s ready to stick its head into your hand which could easily harm it if you wanted to. So, an animal eating from your hand means that it trusts you. If you’re still undecided on the treats for your hamsters, try with apples, raising, and sunflower seeds. Week 4: pet your hamster – once your hamster has gotten used to your scent and your presence, you can try to pet it. Do this gently, and if your hamster is okay with this, you can try to pick up your hamster (which is our next step). Week 5: pick up your hamster – so, your hamster is accepting treats and it’s letting you pet it, this means that it’s time to try to pick it up. To do this, firstly buy your way in with some treats, and gently reach for your hamster – let your hamster determine how far you can get in each session. Entice the hamster onto your hands with the treats. Then, you can try scooping it up with both hands. The best way to do this is to place each hand on either side of your hamster, and then connect them under your belly. Cup your hamster gently in your hands, that’s much better than tightly gripping over its back. Don’t hold your hamster too high above ground – in case it wants to jump out. You don’t want it facing a fall from six feet. Firstly, just hold it in its cage, and then with time, you can take it out. If you turn the hamster towards your body, it’s less likely to try and jump away. A few things you should keep on your mind when doing this: – make sure to wash your hands before you start working with your hamster, you don’t want it to smell food on you. That can be distracting. – some people will suggest wearing thick gloves to help with the biting. This can be useful, but your hamster needs to get used to your scent, and in that regard – this isn’t a good solution. – sometimes, when you pick your hamster up, they will clamp themselves onto your hand with their tiny paws. Don’t shake your hand to dislodge them – just gently put them down and let them come off. – don’t scold, yell, or hit the hamster. Smaller animals are afraid of loud and sudden noises, so much so that they can actually die from shock. – different hamsters act differently – Dwarf hamsters are very territorial, this means that they’re not going to appreciate you pushing your fingers into their cage. If this is the cage, let the hamster exit the cage (into a wider area, but still an area they can’t escape or hurt themselves in) and try to train them there. Training a Hamster to be Held. Now, when you’re buying a hamster and you want to teach it to be tame and train it, the first thing you should do is let the hamster rest. Smaller animals are very easy to frighten, so it’s best to let your hamster get used to its new surroundings before trying to teach it anything. However, if your hamster has become adjusted, you can now try to teach it to be held Before doing that, you need to teach your hamster not to bite. This is actually the first thing to teach it, as it’s synonymous with teaching your hamster that you’re its friend. When you teach your hamster not to bite (following the steps in the previous section), you can move on to teaching it to be held. Stress can make a lot of hamsters sick, so make sure that you’re not stressing your hamster out and that you’re taking it slow. Firstly, don’t try to handle your hamster when it’s sleeping. Just like humans – hamsters don’t like to be woken up, so don’t disturb your hamster when it’s sleeping. This can cause health issues and it’s more likely that your hamster will bite if you’ve just woken it up. Similar to the steps for teaching the hamster not to bite in our previous section, you’re going to need to take it slow. Use treats to gain trust with your hamster and slowly start putting your hand in the cage – let it climb into your hand. In the beginning, don’t take your hand out of the cage. Raise it, and the hamster will realize that you’re holding it. Feed it a treat and let the hamster back on the ground, repeat this process for a day. After that, you can let the hamster climb into your hand and you can take your hand out. It’s likely that this will scare the hamster, so it may want to jump out of your hand. Don’t hold your hamster too high, just in case your hamster jumps out. Also, tame them with treats, even when they’re stressed and scared. Turning your hamster towards your body makes it less likely for them to jump out. One thing owners don’t realize is that the hamster isn’t that afraid of the feeling of being carried, as much as they’re scared of all the sights and the sounds they see around them. These animals are very easily scared and it’s important to take your time with them. Reward your animals for good behavior with treats. If you feel that your hamster is becoming stressed or that they’re uncomfortable, gently place them back in their cage and try again later. Here are some tips on teaching your hamster to enjoy being handled: – keep every interaction short – hamsters have bad and short eyesight, so make sure that you’re staying low when you’re interacting with your hamster. Don’t sit on a couch or a chair (in the beginning), as your hamster will try to run away if it gets scared, and it will fall to the floor because it can’t see where the floor is. Some experts recommend starting out in the bathtub. – each pet is individual, so don’t force things upon your hamster that they don’t enjoy doing. Training a Hamster to Use a Litter Box. Many people have their doubts, but it’s actually possible to potty train a hamster. To potty train a hamster, you’re going to need a litter box and litter. Make sure to always have a litter at hand – if you can’t find hamster litter, you can buy dust-free, scent-free, clumping cat litter. Avoid litter with silica dust, and in case you can’t find any hamster litter, you can get pellet litter made of wood, paper, grain, or grass. To train your hamster to use a litter box, firstly you’ll need to figure out what corner of the cage your hamster most often uses to do their business. Put the litter box in that corner. This is very important, as hamsters don’t instinctively run to the litter box – if you don’t place it properly, it will just ignore it and proceed to take care of their business elsewhere. If the enclosure you’ve set up is still new and you haven’t a clue where to put the litter box, wait a week or two and let your hamster establish a spot. Once you’ve settled on a spot, pour in enough litter to cover the bottom of the box. Add a little soiled bedding and some droppings from your hamster. This will make the hamster follow those droppings to that spot instinctively. Once your hamster has woken up, you can pick them up and put them in the litter box for them to figure out what’s going on. After that, just let your hamster do its job on its own. Don’t force them into the potty, you don’t want to get bit or turn him away from the idea of using the litter box. Most hamsters will eventually figure out the point of the box on their own. There are, however, instances where hamsters won’t use the litter box for its intents and purposes. Hamsters will sometimes eat or sleep there, and do anything but the one thing they’re supposed to do. If this is the case, make sure to check on the areas your hamster is supposed to be using for this. For example, if your hamster is sleeping in the litter box, check their sleeping area – it’s likely that there’s something wrong with it if they’re so persistent in sleeping in the litter box. It can happen that the hamster will hide its food in the litter box – this usually means that they find the cage to be too small and they have no other place to hide their food at. There’s no other solution to this than buying a larger cage. It can also happen that the cage is too large and the hamster is using the litter box, but it’s also defecating all around the cage. In that case, place multiple litter boxes around the cage. Training a Hamster Tricks. Just like with handling and biting, you should use treats as rewards for your hamster to teach it something. Let’s cover a few tricks. Stand – a lot of animals, including hamsters, can stand on their hind feet. To teach your hamster to stand, you’re going to want to hold the treat in front of the hamster, just over its head so that the hamster can see it but not reach it. While doing this, say “Stand.” – this means nothing to the hamster right now, as they can’t understand articulated speech, but with time – they will recognize the specific sound of the word ‘stand’ as the command to stand on their hind feet. When you’re doing this, your hamster will instinctively stand up in order to get closer to the treat. When the hamster stands, give it the treat and verbal praise. Only reward the hamster if it actually stands up, don’t reward it if it doesn’t. This way, you’re teaching the hamster that it’s good for it to stand up once it hears the word ‘stand’. If your hamster doesn’t stand it might be because he or she is not hungry at that moment, or distracted by something else going on in the room. Feel free to repeat for a few times a day, and don’t stop the process until your hamster is ready to stand up after hearing your command, even when you’re not dangling a treat in front of its face. This can take a week or two. The most important thing to remember is to reward the hamster every single time it stands up. Jump – you can teach your hamster to jump, as well. You first need to teach your hamster the standing trick. To teach it this trick, get your hamster to stand, and then move your hand up and forward (while holding a treat) and say “Jump.” – it will instinctively try to jump. If the hamster tries to jump, praise him or her and give the treat. Once you’ve practiced this enough, you can add a hoop in the mix if you want to – hold a hoop between the hamster and the treat, and the hamster will jump through the hoop to get the treat. Say “Hoop.” as they’re doing it, to teach them the command of jumping through the hoop. Start by holding it low and slowly raising it up. Roll over – this is a trick that you can teach to any pet. To do this, place a seed on your hamster’s back and ask them to “Roll over.” – if they do it, reward them with a seed. After a while, they’ll be rolling over even without you placing seed on their back. Spinning in circles – after you’ve gotten your hamster used to eat treats out of your hand, you can teach them to spin in circles. Hold your hand out with the treat out and once they approach you, tell them to “Spin.” – and move your hand in a circle. The hamster will naturally follow your hand, and with time it will spin in circles just on command. Building an obstacle course – you can even build an obstacle course for your hamster to go through. Use Lego building blocks and jars, or funnels for your hamster to jump over, crawl through, etc. Make sure that nothing’s too tall, as your hamster is more likely to run around it than jump over it. Hold the treat and let it lead the hamster’s way by moving in front of it. The hamster will follow the treat anywhere. You can also make a seesaw with a simple plank and a wooden triangle, making your hamster have to balance on it. Make sure to place a wall around the obstacle course to bind it. Teaching your hamster to wear a hat or clothing – yes, this is also possible. If your hamster is used to being handled and has a good temperament, it won’t be a problem to teach it to do this. Firstly, make sure that the items fit your hamster. Keep them snug, but not tight. You can’t just cram the outfit on your hamster, so make sure that you put it on gently. Talk to them happily while you’re doing this. Give your hamster a treat as soon as you put something on. Take your hamster’s focus off the clothing and let them focus on something fun, like an apple or whatever is your hamster’s favorite treat. At first, only leave the items on for a minute, not for too long. Your hamster will learn to wear them with time and won’t have an issue with them. Let the hamster sit in your hand for the first time, as they’re probably going to be afraid. Later on, they’ll be able to wear the clothing on their own. It won’t take long before your hamster’s ready to wear clothes without you holding them.  There are many things you can teach your hamster, and it’s important to constantly keep working with them in order to build and cultivate a healthy relationship. The most important thing to remember is to have patience, some hamsters are less trusting and are slower than others. Always reward your hamster with treats for a job well done, and never forget to respect its private area. Hamsters are just as vulnerable as humans, and you should keep that in mind when working with them. [...] Read more...
How To Choose Your First Hamster – Health And Temperament
How To Choose Your First Hamster – Health And TemperamentIf you’re looking to get a hamster, you’ll want to know how to choose your first hamster. Getting a hammy for the first time is exciting, and a big responsibility, even if he’s so small. Even if you’re not headed out the door to find your furry friend right now, there’s a few things you should know before you get a 2-3 year commitment. I wish I knew some of these when I first got my Teddy (Syrian male hammy). Table of Contents ToggleHow to choose your first hamsterThe hamster’s healthThe hamster’s eyesNo missing teethClean earsNo odd lumpsBald spots, and how the fur looksDischarge in the eyes or nose or earsWet tail, or soiled bottomSlender hamsterNo weird smellsThe hamster’s personalityBaby hamsters are hard to readMale or female hamsterWhich hamster breed to getBringing your new hamster friend homeIs a hamster really the pet for you ?A word from Teddy How to choose your first hamster The best way to choose a hamster is to look both for a healthy one, but also a even-tempered hamster. Hamsters are skittish and jumpy by nature, but they should be relatively easy to tame, and not very afraid of you. It’s easier to find a healthy hamster than a calmer, cooperative hamster. Most of the health checks are obvious and immediately noticeable, like scabs, missing teeth, bald spots, leaky nose, etc. The temperament however is a bit trickier, and won’t show completely until the hamster becomes an adult – around 3 months old. Until then, you’ll have to look for some specific signs. Let’s start with the health checklist, to see if your future hammy is healthy. The hamster’s health A healthy hamster  is easy enough to find, although some signs of illness won’t be immediately obvious. Some depend on the sex and breed of hamster you’re looking for as well. The hamster’s eyes A hammy’s eyes are supposed to be bright, and clear. Now hamsters usually have black eyes, but they can also be dark red, red, or even pink, and some look like a very deep dark blue. However the color should be clear, with no milky or whitish spots. They should not be hazy. Bright, sparkly, bulging eyes are a trait that hammies are known for. No missing teeth It should be obvious, but a hamster should have all of its teeth. That means 2 pair of front incisors, that you should be able to see clearly. They are very long, especially the bottom pair. Hamster teeth are yellow, sometimes even orange. That’s okay. You should only worry if you see white teeth, or whitish teeth, since those are signs of an illness or deficiency. Broken, cracked, crossed, or even missing teeth are a bad sign. They can come about from poor handling by the caretakers, or it could be a hereditary problem. Teeth are crucial to a hamster’s health, so they should be something you look at. You can find out more about hamster dental issues here, and what to look out for. Clean ears A hammy’s ears are the first thing he will use to make sense of his surroundings. Hamsters don’t see very well, so they rely a lot on smell and hearing. A pair of clean, thin ears is ideal, with no bite marks or missing bits. Do take note that many hammies have harder ears than the rest of their body. So you’ll need to get a bit of a closer look into the hamster’s ear for an infection or any other issues. No odd lumps Hamsters are this small ball of fur. But they should have no lumps, since that usually means an odd growth, or tumor, or a possible impacted cheek or abscess. None of those are good news. You might see your preferred hammy with a cheek full, or maybe both. That’s usually just food stored in his cheeks, though it’s not a common sight in pet stores. A note to be mindful of Syrian hammies. I wish I knew this about Teddy, because I was afraid he was sick when I first saw this. Syrian hamsters have two black mole-like spots on their hips, with barely any fur around them. Those are normal, and they are the scent glands. You will probably only notice them of the hamster is licking that spot. Bald spots, and how the fur looks The fur of a hamster should be fluffy, and clean looking. It should not be particularly shiny, unless the hamster was bred for that purpose. That being said, no bald spots (aside from the scent gland or genital area) should be present on the hamster. Any bald spot could be an indication of a skin disease, some of which could be contagious. However some bald spots can simply mean that he hamster somehow hurt himself, and managed to rip some fur off of himself. Be sure to check the habitat the hamster is in for other clues. Are there other hamsters with bald spots ? Are they actually scars from fighting ? Is there a part of the habitat the hamster could have cut himself on ? Discharge in the eyes or nose or ears A healthy, happy hamster should be completely dry. No discharge or liquids from the ears, nose, tail area, or mouth. Discharge can be a sign of infection, and it’s most probably contagious as well. SO it could be that your chosen hamster is sick, or is in the incubation phase. Any sign of infection however should be immediately treated by the staff at the pet store, since that isn’t a humane way to keep hamsters. Wet tail, or soiled bottom Wet tail is noticeable if the tail is, well, wet or soiled. It’s a type or diarrhea and can be extremely dangerous for your hamster’s health. You can find out more about wet tail here, and the chances your hamster has of getting it and surviving. If one hamster does have wet tail, or any other disease, it’s very possible that the other hamsters in the habitat have got it too, or they’re in the incubation phase. You’ll also notice signs of wet tail on the bedding, as it might be soiled and very smelly. Slender hamster A baby hamster – between 4 and 12 weeks old – should be neither skinny nor fat. This is actually how you should keep him as an adult, as well. An obese baby hamster will have a much shorter life span, and have several health issues, including and not stopping at diabetes and joint problems. An underfed hamster will be noticeable if you hold the hamster and feel its spine and leg bones very clearly. Since hamsters are so fluffy, it can be difficult to tell if they’re skinny or fat. The fur will cheat you there, but you should be able to tell if you look at the head and eyes, and how plump the skin is there. You can find out more about how big a hamster can get, depending on his breed. And find out here what you can do if you hamster’s already overweight. No weird smells An odd smell coming from your hamster is not a good sign. Hamsters are actually incredibly clean animals, and they clean themselves regularly, several times a day, very thoroughly. They have no scent that a human can detect, aside from female hamsters in heat. So if your hamster smells odd, you should check it for any signs of infection as well. It could be that the hamster has an abscess in his mouth (possibly because if a bad tooth) and that could be the source. Or a possible ear infection that isn’t obvious right away. The hamster’s personality Your hammy’s personality is probably something you won’t think of immediately, but you’ll notice it’s more important than anything. This is what I wish I knew before I got Teddy. You see, I wanted an orange hammy, and that was it. I had no idea about hamster breeds, temperaments, calmness, and so on. In time I saw that my Teddy is a bit of a despot, if you will. He must know, he must see, he will have his way, and he always has something to object. A bit annoying, but still a lovable ball of fur. Just not what I had in mind when I decided I want a hamster. I wanted a cuddly, friendly hammy, who will sleep on my shoulder and want to play all the time. Basically the world’s tiniest puppy. Again, I knew absolutely nothing about hamsters. Baby hamsters are hard to read When selecting your hamster, keep in mind that babies don’t have their personalities completely formed. You can’t look at a baby Syrian and know it’ll be friendly straight away, as you would a Lab puppy for example. Still, you can look at a few things when selecting your new hamster: Is he afraid or just cautious ? He should want to come closer if you reach for him, but not too confidently. Does the hamster run away as soon as it sees anyone ? Hamsters are shy, yes, but an extra shy hamster who bolts into his hideout all the time is very hard to tame. Does he look mostly calm and curious ? Hamsters are notoriously hyper, and older hammies are calmer than babies. Syrians are calmer than Dwarf types. Depends on what kind of hammy you want. Does the hammy look like it’s angry or snappy ? Might be best to stay away from that one, he will be harder to tame. Is the hamster trying to attack you ? It might sound silly, but if your hamster of choice starts making himself look bigger and tries to intimidate you, you’ve got a difficult one. Best to leave him be and find a different one. Keep in mind that previously owned hamsters might be a better choice, since they’ve been handled before and are most probably already tamed. They can be traumatised, however, so be gentle with them. If you’re selecting a baby hamster, make sure it is curious, and can hold its attention for several seconds. Hamsters are always on the move and are curious about a million things at a time, but still, if you put your hand on the cage, he should notice it and try to come closer. Your petshop should be able to let you handle the hammy before you walk out with him. Make sure you handle him beforehand, otherwise you’ll end up with not exactly what you were looking for. I didn’t ask to handle Teddy when I got him, and I’m not sure that pet store lets you do that. But handling him would’ve shown us that he wasn’t the calmest hamster in the cage. Male or female hamster This is up to you, and your preference. Males are generally a bit calmer, and easier to handle than females. That being said, if you’re getting a Dwarf type hammy, both genders are hyper and won’t sit still. Females come into heat every few days, about once a week. They become very irritable and a bit smelly in that period. You can recognize male hammies by the genital openings. In males the genital and anal opening are far apart, and do have fur between the two spots. Some hamster types may have a scent gland on the abdomen, so it will look like a third opening. Female hamsters have the obligatory and noticeable rows on nipples, and the genital and anal openings very close together. It will look like a bit of a bald spot with two pink dots. When picking a pair of hamsters, you’ll want to get them in same-sex pairs. This means no surprise, unplanned litters. Also, if you select a female hamster keep in mind that they can become pregnant as soon as they’re weaned – aprox . 4 weeks old. This means that if the caretakers didn’t separate the hamsters into same sex groups early enough, you might just bring home a pregnant female hamster without knowing. If your hammy is a pregnant female and you only just found out, congratulations on your new litter ! And here’s how to make sure they survive. Which hamster breed to get When it comes to the hamster breed, this is again up to you and your preference. There are two main types of hamsters available – Syrian and Dwarf hamsters. The Syrian is the most common one, it’s the largest, and easiest to tame. The Dwarf types (4 of them) are much smaller, and faster and agile and, can be a bit harder to tame since they just won’t sit still. No hamster ever sits in one place for more than a few seconds, but Dwarves are terrible at it. I have a Syrian male, and I sometimes have trouble keeping up with him. You can imagine how well I’d do with a Dwarf. Actually, Dwarf types are harder to handle, and as such are best left as observational pets. A bit like fish, but cuddly and much faster. Here’s how to identify each hamster type, and pick out the one you think you’d like the most. (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.) Bringing your new hamster friend home Alright, you’ve picked out your new friend, he’s in his nice cardboard box and ready to go home. I’ll urge you to bring your pet as fast as you can to his new home, so he can accommodate. Hamsters don’t like change too much, so they won’t like being taken away. Make sure you get home and have his cage set up beforehand. You can read here about the recommended cage sizes for each hamster type, and how to pick one out for your hamster. An in-depth look at the best hamster cages available will be helpful before you actually go and buy your hammy’s cage. The bedding and hideout should be picked out beforehand too, so they’re already laid out in the cage and ready for your hamster friend. You can find here a good roundup of safe hamster bedding/substrate options, and pick your favorite. Toys and food bowl, should be available and already in place when your hammy comes home for the first time. As well as a running wheel for your hamster, and browsing a nice selection according to hamster breed will be useful to pick out a good exercise wheel. And finally, a bit of food and a treat in his cage will help your hamster settle in easier. This means that the hamster himself will be the last thing you buy when you decide to get this cuddly pet. This is because the moment you bring your hammy home and settle him in his new home, you won’t disturb him at all for at least a couple of days, if not 3-4. The transition from being with his siblings, and then being put in a box, and then put in another box is very disorienting and stressful, and hamsters are very very bad at handling stress. So when you get home, place the cardboard box in the hamster’s cage, with the hamster still in the box. Open a side of the box, and from then on leave the hammy alone. Talk to him when you walk past his cage, and dedicate some minutes every day to just let him smell you. Do not touch or try to handle him at all for a couple of days. Once he’s settled in, you can begin taming him, and you’ll become friends fairly quickly. Is a hamster really the pet for you ? This is a question you should ask yourself very seriously. I’ve seen a lot of people get a hamster without knowing what they’re getting themselves into. Me included. A hamster is not a puppy, and won’t always be there as you want him to be. In this respect, a hamster is more like a cat, if you will. He has a lot of personality, for being so incredibly small. And he can be aloof and hard to read sometimes. Hamsters don’t wag their tails, or purr to show affection or happiness. They do have their own special charm, but they’re a different pet than the norm. And they are definitely not suited for small children, no matter what else you hear. Hamsters don’t take well to being handled wrong, or too much, or loud noises, or sudden movements. These are all things a 6 year old can and will do, since they’re children. A guinea pig would be more suited for a small child, since they’re incredibly calm and serene (compared to a hamster). If you want to get a more in-depth view on what owning a hamster is like, and some pros and cons, you need to check this article. You’ll get much more info, and see if a hammy is really the one for you. And if you’d like to know more about how to properly care for your hamster, you can check out these essential steps. A word from Teddy I hope you found what you were looking for here, and know how to pick out the best hammy. I know us hamsters can be the cutest things ever, but we have our own personalities. So, make sure you check out the health and personality of your new friend before bringing him home. If you want to know more about us hammies, you should check out the related articles below for more info. [...] Read more...
“Essential Hamster Feeding Tips: Balanced Diet, Safe Foods & Schedules”
“Essential Hamster Feeding Tips: Balanced Diet, Safe Foods & Schedules”“`html Table of Contents ToggleEssential Tips on Feeding Hamsters: A Comprehensive GuideIntroductionBalanced Diet OptionsCommercial Hamster FoodFresh Vegetables and FruitsProtein SourcesWhole Grains and SeedsSafe Foods for HamstersFoods to AvoidFeeding Quantities and SchedulesDaily QuantityFeeding SchedulesConclusion Essential Tips on Feeding Hamsters: A Comprehensive Guide Introduction Feeding your hamster properly is crucial for its health, happiness, and longevity. With plenty of conflicting information out there, it can be challenging to know what’s best for your furry friend. This guide will take you through all you need to know about providing a balanced diet for your hamster, including safe foods, items to avoid, and proper feeding quantities and schedules. Let’s dive into the world of hamster nutrition and ensure your pet lives a healthy, joyous life. Balanced Diet Options A balanced diet is fundamental to keeping your hamster healthy. Hamsters are omnivores, which means they require a mix of plant-based and animal-based foods. Here are some components of a well-rounded diet: Commercial Hamster Food Your hamster’s staple food should be a high-quality, commercially prepared hamster mix. These mixes are specifically formulated to meet the nutritional needs of hamsters and usually contain grains, seeds, and pellets. Look for brands that list a variety of ingredients ensuring a balanced mix of nutrients. Fresh Vegetables and Fruits Adding fresh vegetables and fruits to your hamster’s diet not only provides essential vitamins and minerals but also helps to keep them hydrated. Suitable vegetables include carrots, cucumber, broccoli, and bell peppers. Safe fruits include apples (without seeds), bananas, and berries. Protein Sources Hamsters also need a source of protein to thrive. Small amounts of boiled egg, cooked chicken, nuts, and mealworms can be great additions to their diet. Be cautious with portion sizes to avoid overfeeding. Whole Grains and Seeds Whole grains and seeds like oats, barley, and flaxseeds are excellent for providing energy and essential fatty acids. These can often be found in commercial mixes but can also be added separately for variety. Safe Foods for Hamsters While many foods are safe for hamsters, it’s essential to introduce new items gradually to ensure they don’t cause digestive issues. Here’s a list of safe foods to consider: Carrots Apples (seedless) Broccoli Spinach Kale Blueberries Boiled egg Cooked chicken Nuts (unsalted and in moderation) Pumpkin seeds Foods to Avoid There are certain foods that can be harmful to your hamster. Avoid feeding these items to prevent health problems: Chocolate Onions and garlic Citrus fruits (oranges, lemons) Uncooked beans Potato leaves Alcohol Caffeinated beverages Avocado (can be toxic) Apple seeds Foods with high sugar content Feeding Quantities and Schedules Knowing how much and when to feed your hamster is just as important as what to feed. Hamsters are small creatures with fast metabolisms, so they need a consistent food supply: Daily Quantity On average, a hamster will need approximately one to two teaspoons of commercial hamster mix per day, along with a small piece of fruit or vegetable. Introduce protein sources once or twice a week in small amounts to diversify their diet. Feeding Schedules Hamsters are nocturnal, which means they are most active in the evenings and at night. The best time to feed them is in the evening when they are waking up. This way, they can eat throughout their active hours. Ensure fresh water is always available. Conclusion Providing a balanced and nutritious diet is vital to ensure your hamster lives a healthy and happy life. By incorporating a mix of commercial hamster food, fresh vegetables and fruits, proteins, and whole grains, and by following proper feeding quantities and schedules, you’ll be aiding their overall well-being. Always stay informed and cautious about the foods you offer, and pay attention to your pet’s preferences and health. Happy feeding! Looking for more hamster care tips? Check out our other blog posts for comprehensive guides and advice. “` [...] Read more...
8 Reasons Hamsters Eat Their Babies, And How To Save Them
8 Reasons Hamsters Eat Their Babies, And How To Save ThemIt sounds like a horror story, a mother hamster eating her babies. But it can happen, and it’s never fun to watch. There’s a few ways you can save the babies, but you have to be careful.  You can’t save them every time, but you can still do your best to make sure they don’t end up horribly. There are some reasons though, why the hamster mothers do that. Those are very important to understand, in order to save the babies. Table of Contents ToggleSo why do hamsters eat their babies ?How to save the hamster babies from being eatenDo not stress the motherLeave food/protein for the mother before she gives birthGive the mother plenty of space, in a large cageDo not disturb the mother or cage for at least 2 weeks after giving birthDo not touch the babies at all until the mother weans them (3-4 weeks)Separate the father from the litter at all timesSome things you can’t change or saveHow to tell your hamster is pregnantAbout hamster fertility and breedingA word from Teddy So why do hamsters eat their babies ? Mother hamsters are not as emotional as human mothers.  There are a few reasons a hamster mother might eat her young, and here they are: She feels stressed/threatened like if you constantly check on her and the litter Her personal space in too small, the babies take up too much space in a cage that is too tiny She is very hungry after giving birth Accidentally storing them in her cheeks to carry them Biting them too hard when she carries them She thinks something’s wrong with them (diseased, or something physical they can’t survive) You or someone else have touched them (changed their scent) and she doesn’t think they’re hers Father hamsters are liable to eating their young as well  These are mostly reasons that can be avoided, or can be worked on so the mother is comfortable.  Rodent mothers are not the most careful mothers in the first place, compared to other mothers, for example cats or dogs. All animals can eat or kill their young, if they consider something is wrong with them. But rodent mothers, and hamsters are rodents, are much less attached to their babies. So let’s get into every reason the mother can eat her young, and how you can avoid this from happening, and/or possibly save the babies. How to save the hamster babies from being eaten Many times when the mother decides eating her young is an option, there’s not much you can do. But, you can save the babies 90% of the time by not putting the mother in a position where she thinks she needs to eat them. Here are the most common examples, and how you can save those babies by helping the mother. Do not stress the mother This is the major reason hamster mothers end up eating their young. The stress and effort of giving birth, especially her first litter, combined with you checking up on her constantly will annoy her.  Once you notice the mother is approaching her due date (18-22 days after mating), start giving her much more food than usual, and bedding and nesting material as well. She will find the most hidden corner, or use her hideout, to give birth, and you must leave her alone during this time. Best to even leave the room. Fortunately it will probably happen at night, when you’re sleeping. So if you know your hammy is about to give birth, be careful when approaching her in the morning. Do not poke at her or the cage, talk to her, or try to interact with the babies. Keep her warm and well fed, and make sure she has plenty of quiet and small children or other pets can’t reach her. Leave food/protein for the mother before she gives birth If you notice that your hamster has give birth overnight, bring her some protein. This is the food that will help her regain her strength immediately. Something like cooked egg white, or cooked plain chicken is good for your hamster.  You could leave her pieces of chicken every evening until she gives birth if you want, but it’s best to not give her something that will leave a tasty smell on the bedding right before she gives birth. She might get confused as to which one is chicken and which is her baby.  So only give her chicken or egg after she gave birth, only  while you can see her. Even if you don’t stay more than a few minutes, make sure she finishes the piece and not the babies.  In the mean time, continue feeding her through the bars, without placing your hand inside the cage. You can introduce a teaspoon through the bars to give her dry food, or sprinkle some on her food bowl. She will have a stash of food anyway, but right now would be a good time to give her more. For a list of safe foods you can give your hammy, check out this food list article. Give the mother plenty of space, in a large cage This is again something that will always come up. Space, lots of it, is something that hamsters need. The absolute minimum for a hamster cage is 24 x 12 inches, and about 12 inches tall. That’s 61 x 30.5 cm, and about 30.5 cm tall. That’s the minimum for a Syrian hamster, and it’s what I’d recommend for a dwarf hamster as well. A hamster mother giving birth to 6-12 babies at once is going to fill up a cage fast. In those times, even her large cage might seem a bit cramped for her.  So always get your hamster a large cage, larger than you’d think. Especially if it’s a female you will want to breed later. You can find out more about hamster cages here, since you’ll get a rundown of all cage types and which is best for your hammy. If you’ve got 2 or more hamsters housed in the same cage, remove the mother-to-be and put her in a different, large cage long before she gives birth. She needs to adjust and feel comfortable in her new home as soon as you put her there, so place some of her old bedding and nesting material in her new temporary cage. Do not disturb the mother or cage for at least 2 weeks after giving birth This is because the mother is very tired ans started and jumpy while her babies are still very young. So do not open her cage, or change the bedding, try to put her in an exercise ball or separate her from her babies. Hamster mothers will do their best to raise and wean every one of their young, but they can scare very easily and end up eating their babies. This includes feeding the mother as well, feed her through the bars with a teaspoon or sprinkle some dry food onto her bowl. Do not touch the babies at all until the mother weans them (3-4 weeks) Touching the babies is a big mistake, when they’re so young. A baby hamster can only be removed from his mother after 3-4 weeks, and can be given for adoption immediately after. You will notice the mother has weaned them when she pushes them away after they try to nurse from her. In this period it’s important to provide her cage with even more food, since the babies will now need ‘adult’ food, like a food mix or some safe foods from your fridge or pantry. Touching or handling the babies before they are weaned will make the mother think they’re foreign, and not hers. She will reject or even eat them, so it’s best to wait a few more weeks. Separate the father from the litter at all times If the father was in the same cage as the mother, and you didn’t know she was pregnant, remove the father from the cage. Surprises happen, especially with dwarf pairs, since their sex is difficult to tell sometimes. So you might end up with a male and female pair that will give you a surprise litter one morning. The father will try to get the mother’s attention, and might eat or hurt the babies while trying to get her attention. Hamster fathers are not nurturing, and will not tolerate the babies for long, so it’s best to remove him from the cage. If you don’t want any more litters, keep the male and female separate at all times. Hamsters can mate again, right after the mother gave birth, so keep them apart. Some things you can’t change or save Even if you do you best to keep the mother safe, warm, well fed, not stressed, and on her own in a very large cage, she still might eat at least some of her babies. This is mostly due to accidents, like her biting too hard on the baby when she tries to pick him up. Or maybe she stores the baby in her cheeks to move and forgets that’s her baby. It sounds horrible, but small animals can get clumsy like this too. If this happens, there’s not much you can do. If the baby is not weaned yet, you can not touch it because the mother will reject it and then definitely eat it. Unless you want to raise the litter on your own, since they are just a few days old. But then they will lack the important interaction they need with their mother, to learn how to ‘be’ hamsters. This is a very touchy topic, and one I’m not about to breach here. The same goes for hamster mothers who kill the babies on purpose, because they think there’s something wrong with them. Like they might be sick or have something wrong with their body, that only she can tell. She might kill them if this is the case, because she thinks they will not survive on their own. This is again something that can’t be helped, and it’s sad but it can happen. How to tell your hamster is pregnant Maybe you ended up with a pregnant hamster when you bought her from the pet store. Or maybe you notice that one of your dwarf hammies is looking a bit odd. Whatever the case, here is how the pregnancy happens and how you can tell your hamster is pregnant. First, the pregnancy lasts from 18 to 22 days, time in which the hamster’s midsection will become larger and larger. You will notice she eats much more, and doesn’t exercise as much. She is saving her strength. She will become more and more irritable as her dues date approaches, and will look for hidden, safe corners n her cage. At this time it’s best to remover her from her cage mate, and place her in a large cage on her own, with plenty of familiar old bedding and nesting material, and plenty of places to hide. If you’re not sure if your hamster is pregnant, but she seems to suddenly be a bit larger and is constantly digging and burrowing and building a large nest, best to separate her from her cage mate. If you’re wrong and she’s not pregnant, that’s okay and you can place her back. But wait for at least 3 weeks after you separate her, to see if she does give birth or not. (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.) About hamster fertility and breeding Hamsters can breed basically every month. In theory, you can have a new litter every month. This is because a hamster can get pregnant within minutes after giving birth. The problem with this that the mother will be dehydrated and malnourished, and won’t be able to care properly for her existing litter. Baby hamsters can mate as soon as their mother weaned them.  That’s around 3-4 weeks of age, so you need to separate the hamsters into male and female cages immediately after this happens. If you don’t, more hamster litters will come in a few weeks. To figure out which is male and which is female, pick the hamster up, and look at his rear end. In females the genitals are right under the anus. In males, there is a more noticeable space left between them. If you tilt a male a bit back while you told him, you might even notice his testicles around his tail. This is more difficult with the smaller breeds, so every breed except for the Syrian. And hamsters do not like to be held this much or in that position, so they will squirm a bit. But you must do this to figure out which is which, in order to separate them. Female hamsters are in heat every few days, during the night, so they can be mated at any point. There is no mating seasons for hamsters, as there is with other animals. A word from Teddy I hope you found out a lot about us hammies here. I know a momma eating her babies is terrible, but it can happen sometimes, and I’m glad you found out how to make sure it doesn’t happen. Us hamsters grow up fast, so make sure you keep us separated by sexes or we’ll make a whole clan in a few weeks. If you want to know more about us hammies, you can check the articles below. You’ll find out things like why we freeze, how much food we need, and even why we eat our poop ! [...] Read more...