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.

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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.

Related blog post
Understanding Dwarf Hamster Behavior – An Owner’s Guide
Understanding Dwarf Hamster Behavior – An Owner’s GuideAll animals communicate with one another with their body language, and that includes humans, even though we tend to focus on speaking, more than showing someone what we mean with our body. Hamsters, however, aren’t that good at articulated speech, so the only way they can communicate with other hamsters and with their owners is through their body. They can say “Hello.”, “Back off!” or “I’m hungry.” in many different ways. You’re always going to want to understand your hamster and what it’s trying to say, as that’s the best way of understanding your hamster’s needs and desires. Today, we’ll be taking a more in-depth look at all these things that hamsters do to tell us or show us something. In this article, we’ll show you all the ways hamsters can use body language to explain that they need or want something, what does it mean, and what are some changes in hamster behavior that should raise concerns. Without further ado, let’s get started! Behavior Meanings in Dwarf Hamsters. There are many behaviors that may intrigue you with your hamster, so we’ll be explaining all of them. Being active at night – many owners actually don’t know this before they purchase their hamster, but most rodents are primarily night dwelling creatures. You shouldn’t be surprised if you hear your hamster running around their cage at night – that’s a sign of a perfectly happy and healthy hamster. The reason behind this is their poor eyesight, as they don’t really rely on their eyes. Hamsters tend to sniff around if they’re looking for anything and want to identify something, so night and day doesn’t really make too much of a difference to them. You can even hear them running on their wheel during the night, as they need a lot of exercises, as well. Chewing – you’re definitely going to notice that your hamster seems to be chewing a lot on a regular basis, even when they don’t have anything to chew on. This is completely normal. What they’re actually doing is filing and grinding their own teeth. Many animals, for example, sharks, have their teeth growing from the day they’re born until the day they die. Hamsters belong to this group of animals, as well. If they don’t file and grind their teeth regularly they’re going to become too long and that’s going to cause issues when they’re eating. Cheek stuffing – probably everyone knows that hamsters stuff their cheeks, it’s part of what makes them so adorable. They actually put food in their cheeks to carry it back to their den in order to hide it. The reason they do this is their natural instinct. In the wilderness, they would have to hide their food to keep it safe from other hamsters and other animals. Although there may be no need for that when they’re living in captivity, hamsters will still instinctively do this. They’ll stuff their cheeks full of food and bring that food back to their den, where they’ll hide it. Don’t let your hamster fool you into thinking that you didn’t give them enough food, as it’s likely that there’s more than enough, it’s just that they’ve hidden it. Hamster mamas actually stuff their babies into their cheeks to carry them to the den. And if they feel that the babies are in danger, they will even put their babies in their cheeks to protect them. Burrowing – hamsters burrow in order to hide from any potential threat, this is completely normal behavior, and you shouldn’t worry. You have to understand that hamsters have no defensive capabilities, they can only bite their attacker, but that’s almost useless as their teeth can’t do much damage. If a hamster bites you, they’ll likely draw some blood, but that’s about it. Unlike dogs who can bite, cats who can scratch (not to mention large cats who can rip other animals apart), and snakes who can kill with their venom – hamsters are completely defenseless. Evolution has placed them at the bottom of the food chain, and their only defense system is to run and hide. They do this instinctively, and you may even find them hiding long after they’ve bonded with you and started seeing you as someone they trust. It should be noted that hamsters are very scared animals – because they’re naturally defenseless, they fear everything – that way there’s always on the lookout for danger. Your hamster is most likely going to take a month or two to adjust to the tone and color of your voice, your scent, and your presence. However, you’ll probably see it hiding from you even after that. You can’t exactly change this – no matter how much your hamster may trust you, it’s always going to fear sudden movement, loud noise, light flashing, etc. Observing you with its ears erect – this is actually funny, but hamsters will watch you just as much as you watch them. When they feel that they’re not in danger, your hamster will try to observe you and see what you’re doing. We’re saying ‘try to observe’, because they have terrible eyesight and won’t be able to see much. When you notice your hamster watching you with its ears in an erect position, know that it’s just curious about what’s going on. Grooming – Grooming is an essential part of your hamster’s life, and it’s completely normal to notice them grooming a lot. They will spend hours upon hours of their awake life grooming themselves – they’re some of the most well-groomed pets, alongside cats (ironically). It’s important for them to groom as their hair, just like their teeth, never stops growing. Well, it slows down once they get old. Something that you should keep an eye on is patches of skin where there’s no fur. If you notice that your hamster has actually itched or groomed its own fur out, that probably means that your hamster’s sick in some way. It may be something simple, like mites, but you’ll still want to take it to the vet. With age, hamsters will become lazy – but that’s all for a good reason. Their fur will grow less with age, and it’s completely normal for them to spend less time on grooming when there’s no need for grooming. Yawning and stretching – all animals yawn, and all animals stretch, not just humans. When you notice that your hamster is yawning and/or stretching, it’s because it feels comfortable and safe in its current environment. This is actually a great sign for you, as it means that it feels comfortable around you. Stretching leaves the hamster vulnerable, and the fact that it’s willing to do that around you is a clear sign that your hamster trusts you. Eating out of your hand – while we’re at the topic, here’s another great behavior sign that your hamster trusts you. If a hamster is willing to eat out of your hand, it’s basically telling you that you’ve earned its trust. When an animal is eating, any animal (including humans), it’s at its most vulnerable. Snakes like to hide when they eat and remain dormant for weeks after digesting, most animals that live in pits like to move back to that pit to enjoy their meal. If a hamster is willing to eat straight out of your hand when it’s at its most vulnerable – it must really trust you. Biting the cage – you may sometimes notice that a hamster is biting its cage. This is textbook attention-seeking, so it means that you should take your hamster out and play with it. Rubbing their heads against the cage – this behavior has nothing to do with the previous example. Hamsters will rub their heads against the cage, especially the metal bars if they find their cage to be too small. This isn’t something you should ignore – small cages will stress your hamster out. You have to understand that hamsters are very sensitive, and if just one thing is out of order, they’ll lose their minds. If they can’t spend their energy if their cage is too small, or if they’re hungry – the result is always the same; the hamster gets stressed out. This is dangerous because smaller animals, hamsters included, are known to die from stress – their hearts can literally give out from stress. It’s also harmful because the hamster will often lose hair on its face when it rubs it on the metal bars. Biting – if your hamster bites you, it’s out of one of two reasons. Firstly, we’ve already explained that their eyesight is terrible. If you put your finger in the cage and the hamster bites it, it might just be trying to find out if your finger is actually food. This is especially often if you haven’t washed your hands, as you bring many scents with you that way (and if you’ve been eating before that, the hamster will definitely smell the food). That’s why it’s always important to wash your hands before interacting with your hamster. The second reason why your hamster may be biting you is to tell you to back off. Hamsters fear everything, and if you were a small animal and all of a sudden a giant finger was approaching you, you’d likely try to run away from it, as well. However, once they have nowhere to run to, they’ll bite back. Even if you’re well acquainted with your hamster and it knows you well, it’s still likely going to bite you in this situation. You need to interact with your hamster slowly, just how you would interact with a dog – let it sniff your hand. And even after that, don’t poke at the hamster. Nibbling – hamsters will usually start to nibble if they’re being handled and they’ve had enough of it. Return the hamster to its cage. Ears forward with cheek pouches puffed up and mouth open – this usually means that the hamster is frightened. There’s something stressing it in its current environment and you should remove that something. Emptying their cheek pouches quickly – hamsters that do this are usually under some kind of threat and they need to empty their pouches in order to run away quickly. This means that something has startled your hamster. Standing on hind legs with dukes up – this is your hamster telling you to back off. Although this will happen rarely, this is basically your hamster telling you that it’s feeling threatened and it will have to get aggressive if you don’t back off. Acting startled when you’re approaching it – this means that your hamster still hasn’t adjusted to its environment and to you as an owner. This is completely normal during the first few months of your relationship, as it takes a lot of time for hamsters to fully adapt to their owners. Sleeping during the day – completely normal. Hamsters are mostly nocturnal animals, so the fact that they’re sleeping during the day is the equivalent of humans sleeping during the night, nothing wrong with that. Squeaking – squeaking can mean many things in many different animal languages. Hamsters squeak when they’re in distress or feel scared. This is basically a universal sign for feeling agitated. You’re likely going to notice this when you’re taking the hamster to your home for the first time. They’re also likely to squeak if they’re in pain or if they’re fighting. If you have two hamsters in the same cage and hear them squeaking, they might be fighting. Chattering – if you hear your hamster chattering with their teeth, that likely means that they need more space. This doesn’t mean that you need to buy a larger cage, but that you need to back off, give them some breathing room, because you’re irritating them and they might bite you. Hissing – although this sign is mostly connected to snakes, not furry pets like hamsters, they can his too. This usually means that they’re feeling very agitated or afraid, although it can happen when they have been startled too. Ears laid back with narrow eyes – this is actually similar to how humans behave in the same situation, as well. This means that the hamster is suspicious of something going on – they’ve noticed something that drew their attention and they need to investigate it. Lying on its back with incisors showing – this is another sign of a frightened and threatened hamster that doesn’t want to be messed with. Give your hamster some breathing room. Slowly moving around – this means that the hamster is exploring. It’s likely that your hamster will keep exploring for the first few weeks when you bring it home, it’s completely normal and shouldn’t raise any concerns. Creeping slowly along the sides of the cage – this means that the hamster is unsure of their bearings and they’re just trying to figure out where they are. Playing dead – this is one of the techniques hamsters use to evade being eaten or disturbed by other animals and predators. This is actually a method that many animals utilize, and hamsters are no different. If you notice that your hamster appears to be frozen, it’s because it’s playing dead. Unless it’s actually dead, but that’s a whole other barrel of monkeys (check by poking it). Unresponsiveness – if you find your hamster being unresponsive to your presence (which is highly unlikely, hamsters are always going to react to your presence, either positively or negatively, but they’re definitely going to react), they may be ill. Laziness – if you notice that your hamster’s acting lazy or lethargic, it may be another sign of your hamster being ill. Behavior change in Dwarfs hamsters Although it’s not behavioral, we feel that we may need to address that illnesses can be recognized by physical changes in appearance. Especially losing weight and fur. Two hamsters fighting – all males in the animal kingdom fight to assert dominance. If you notice your hamsters fighting, it may be over territory or to assert dominance. Be sure to separate them. Also know that if you have a male and a female hamster, the male hamster is going to try to mate every time the female is in heat (which is literally every four days) – and if the female doesn’t want to mate, it can actually kill the male. So you should keep your male and female hamsters separated if you don’t want this issue, and also if you don’t want literally hundreds of hamsters a year, since hamsters breed like crazy and you’ll be way in over your head very quickly. Repeating a specific behavior all over again – when hamsters do this it’s usually a sign that they’re not doing well mentally. This is most often due to a monotonous lifestyle – we’ve already explained that these animals are crazily active, and you need to keep them interested if you want them to live a healthy and happy life. You should buy some toys and consider purchasing a larger cage. Not eating or drinking – this is always a cause for concern, regardless of the species. When an animal isn’t eating, it usually means that it’s ill in some way. You should definitely take your hamster to the vet. This will often be followed by the animal losing fur and weight. Not chewing – hamsters have to chew to shred their teeth, we’ve already discussed this. When a hamster stops chewing, it usually means that you should be concerned. You will also notice if your hamster’s teeth are too long. You should take your hamster to the vet. Uncharacteristic hiding – we’ve said that hamsters hide when they’re afraid or stressed, but if your hamster keeps hiding all the time for no apparent reason, it should be a sign of concern. There’s something in your hamster’s environment disturbing it and you should try to find out what it is so you could remove it. Female Dwarf hamster behavior Female hamsters go in heat periodically, every four days. That period lasts for 12 hours. When they’re in heat, you’ll notice that they’re crouching and raising their tail. This is an invitation to mate. You’ll also notice a different smell in the air around the cage – these are the pheromones that the female is releasing to attract the male. When a female is pregnant (pregnancy usually lasts between 18 and 30 days, depending on the individual hamster), you will notice that the female is constantly burrowing and digging. This is because it’s building a better nest for her offspring. You’ll notice that these activities are particularly intensifying right before she gives birth. Mothers will be very protective of their young when they’ve given birth, and they won’t allow anyone (not even you) to come near their young. They won’t even allow the father to approach the babies. During this time, you’ll notice the mother becoming very stressed, very active, constantly running around, digging, carrying pellets, etc. When a hamster is behaving similarly to a cat, slinking around its cage, it’s probably trying to tell you that it’s in pain. “Often when in pain, a hamster may hunch his back slightly, and take very small steps,” says Dr. Kerry Kraemer, DVM, of Blum Animal Hospital in Chicago. “He may also be restless, and possibly show difficulties in getting comfortable. If you observe this type of movement, be sure to handle the hamster carefully, as pain may cause the animal to bite.” Waving their hands – if you see your hamster waving its little paws, it’s actually a sign of them exploring their surroundings. Hamsters have really bad eyesight, so they rely on their other senses to explore. When they want to know what’s around them, they’ll often stand on their hind feet and raise their front feet and wave them around, resembling a human. The hamster appears to be begging – if it seems like the hamster is begging, it’s not actually good to approach it. Sometimes, a hamster will stand on its hind legs with its front paws hanging limply, and many people will judge this as the hamster begging. It’s actually being watchful, and that can turn to aggression. Even though yawning is most often just that – yawning, sometimes it can actually indicate displacement behavior or an aggressive display. Yawning is often visible in aggressive, stressed, and pre-sleeping hamsters. If you see your hamster yawning, it’s best to leave it be. The exact opposite of that would be nipping – as hamsters are known to nip their owners when they want attention. If you let your hamster out of its cage and it nips your finger while it’s playing with you on the couch – it’s probably inviting you to interact with it more. Hamsters are very well known as a sensitive species, and they’ll definitely let you know that as soon as you decide to adopt one. As soon as something isn’t going their way, they’ll be sure to let you know. You should always keep an eye on the signs that your hamster is unsatisfied with something, signs saying that there’s a problem you shouldn’t ignore. You may see hamsters as animals that are just behaving animalistic, but their body language is actually quite complex and they’re trying to send messages. It’s important that you interpret these messages properly and that you behave accordingly. If there’s something wrong with your hamster’s surroundings – change them. Don’t be afraid of interacting with your hamster, most signs that are telling you to back off are going to be pretty obvious – hissing, scratching, etc. We’ve covered all signs of hamster behavior that are available for interpretation and that have actually been interpreted. Dwarf hamsters behave like most other hamsters, the only hamsters that actually somewhat different from their cousins in the behavioral department are Syrian and Chinese hamsters, so you can even use this guide if you have some other breed of hamsters. What’s also important to know is that all progress in a relationship with an animal is going to take some time, so you shouldn’t hurry it. Know how to read your hamster’s body language, know what it means, and know-how you should react to it. There’s no reason for you to not be able to communicate with your hamster, even though it can’t use words. Hamsters can grow to become loving animals, but you’re going to need to learn their language to build a trusting relationship that’s not going to be slowed down by the barrier of understanding. Feel free to consult this guide whenever you’re in doubt about what your hamster’s trying to say. [...] Read more...
Hamsters Living With Guinea Pigs – What No One Told You
Hamsters Living With Guinea Pigs – What No One Told YouYou might wonder if your furry hamster can live with a friendly guinea pig. After all, they’re both rodents, and they might just get along, right ? As it turns out, guinea pigs and hamsters are very different animals, and housing them together is a delicate subject. Here’s the answer to what you were looking for. If you want a more detailed comparison between a hamster and a guinea pig, you should read this article. Table of Contents ToggleSo can a hamster live with a guinea pig ?About the hamster’s personalityAbout the guinea pig’s personalityCage size for guinea pigs, and hamstersDifference between playtime with guinea pigs and hamstersFood fights, and other habits your two rodent will argue overA word from Teddy So can a hamster live with a guinea pig ? No. Hamsters can’t and shouldn’t live together with guinea pigs. Not because there is something wrong with guinea pigs. But because of a major difference in personality, how they react to strangers. One is fiercely territorial, while the other can live in a large group. And incredibly important, one sleeps the day away, while the other takes short naps throughout the 24 hours. They will inevitably annoy the hell out of each other. So if you ever mix a hamster and a guinea pig in the same cage, or even just during playtime, things will go bad. Very very fast, and you’ll need to be quick to separate the two. To really understand why these two furballs should be kept separate, we need to look at their personalities, cage requirements. and even playtime. About the hamster’s personality A hamster is a very territorial, solitary animal. Even the hamster breeds that can live together in pairs – more on that here – can end up fighting to the death. This is the reason I’d recommend keeping all hamsters separate, not just the Syrians or Chinese. Hamsters like having their own space, their own food, and keeping away from other animals. A hamster will mark things as his own with his scent glands. He will try to be the dominant one in any setting, and hamsters housed together can end up bullying one another. You might argue that your two Dwarf hammies get along just great. They might, but because they were introduced as babies, and grew up together. They grew up of the same size, species, and scent profile. They have the same type of reactions, and will know how to read one another properly. A guinea pig is much bigger, smells different, and acts different. A hamster will be jumpy and scared most of his youth, while he learns the new sights, smells, and sounds in your home. He’ll even get scared of you walking past his cage when he’s in his first few weeks. A scared hamster is unpredictable, and is very likely to nip. There’s a lot more to hamsters than just what I said here. You should check out this article, on what it’s like to own  a hamster and why they can be good pets (also a few cons of owning a hammy). And this article here, to understand the difference between the two main types of hamsters, and thus the general disposition of hamsters. While there are differences between hamsters, they are roughly the same. You need to know both hamsters and guinea pigs well before you even think of housing them together. About the guinea pig’s personality A guinea pig is a very social animal, and a great starter pet. They’re more docile than a puppy, but still show some personality so you learn that pets are their own beings and you need to do some things their way. That being said, guinea pigs don’t do well on their own, unless you’re always there to play with them and cuddle them. In nearly every case it’s best to get your guinea pig a buddy so they can keep each other company. A guinea pig is easy enough to tame, since it will react well to new sights and people. Still, some care should be taken, since they’re not immediately friendly like a puppy, or curious like a kitten. Guinea pigs will generally flee if they sense any danger, and won’t really bite unless in some extreme cases of self defense. And they’re not terribly territorial. However problems will arise when the hamster gets scared or annoyed by the pig, and will bite in retaliation. While hamsters are small, their jaws a powerful, and will injure the guinea pig. Think of the guinea pig as a gentle giant, who lets things slide for the most part. Very hard to anger, but once he is irritated, his teeth and jaws are much stronger than a hamster’s. The small piggy can only keep its patience for so long, and will eventually bite back. Given the sheer size difference between a guinea pig and a hamster, it won’t go well. You will end up with an injured, irritable guinea pig, and a dead hamster. Cage size for guinea pigs, and hamsters A single Syrian hamster can live in a cage the size of 24 x 12 inches, and about 12 inches tall. That’s 61 x 30.5 cm, and about 30.5 cm tall. A Dwarf would need half that size, but I honestly recommend getting your hamster a very large cage, since he’ll feel much more comfortable with lots of space to run around. A guinea pig, on the other hand, needs 30 x 36 inches/ 76 x 91 cm cage. That is the absolute minimum, for just one guinea pig. The more piggies your have, you’ll have to almost double that size. As with the hamster, a larger cage is better. Alright, you might argue that you’ve got an incredibly large cage, big enough for both the piggy and the hamster. Fair enough, let’s look at how both animals keep their territory. A guinea pig will share his home with his partner, or the other 234 piggies it lives with. A guinea pig is a very social, herd animal. A hamster will attack anything that comes into his territory, and lives alone. He makes regular rounds of the space he owns, and will jump any creature stumbles upon. While the guinea pig will turn away, the hammy will chase him and eventually bite.  Another thing to keep in mind is that hamsters are incredibly sensitive to smell, and very much love their routine. They need things to be in the same place, smelling of their scent, and nothing alien. A guinea pig wandering the cage will throw off the hammy’s routine, and become a nuisance without even trying. Finally, guinea pigs will get bored with the same setup, and move their herd from one hideout to another. The hamster will disagree with this. (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.) Difference between playtime with guinea pigs and hamsters What about the playtime between hamsters and guinea pigs ? Well, they both love to exercise, so they’ve got that in common. While the piggy won’t use the hamster’s wheel to run, he’ll use the entire cage for a quick sprint. And he will bump into the hammy’s wheel, or hideout or any other objects. This won’t sit well with the hamster. And finally with the playing and handling, the hamster can’t sit still for very long. But a guinea pig will stay put for longer, and come back with your scent. This will produce mixed feelings in the hamster, who is again a very smell-sensitive animal. So generally most interactions between the two don’t go too well, largely due to the hamster’s need for solitude. While hamsters will only come out and play in the evening and most of the night, a guinea pig is different. A guinea pig sleeps in patches throughout the day, and will generally follow the owner’s routine. A hamster on the other hand will sleep the day away, and only wake up in the evening, which will produce large amounts of stress. The hammy won’t rest well, since the piggy is running around the cage and the sounds will keep the hamster on alert. And when the guinea pig would take a short nap, the hammy could possibly stumble upon it (curious as hamsters are, but also silly and a bit thick). Which will not end up well, again. Food fights, and other habits your two rodent will argue over Alright, let’s cover the difference between foods, since this is a major problem. Hamsters are omnivores, so they eat anything from meat to grains and veggies, to fruits. In certain proportions, and they prefer grains for the most part. You can find out more about that here. A guinea pig on the other hand will need food based on veggies, Timothy hay, and lots of vitamin C. If you mix their food, or even if you put the food separately, there’s not telling who is going to eat whose food. Neither the hamster or the piggy will know the food is for the other one, and they will end up fighting over it. This is a serious issue with Dwarf hammies who live together and can lead to fatal injuries. Let alone a large guinea pig fighting a small hamster. Also take into account that hamsters live far less than guinea pigs. A hamster can live as long as 2-4 years, while a guinea pig can reach 7 years. An old hamster will probably become blind in his final weeks or months, and find it more difficult to navigate his cage. Normally hamsters memorize their cages and where to find everything, so they can do just fine without their eyesight. But stumbling upon the piggy, while blind, is bound to scare them. The hammy will be scared even if he’s alone in his cage and you don’t talk to him enough before coming close, when he’s blind. So to sum everything up, and give you a rounded answer: Hamsters and guinea pigs can’t live together. The hamster prefers to be alone and will consider the piggy an intruder, even if they’re introduced as babies. Best to keep them separate, and make sure they don’t even meet. You’ll save yourself and the two animals a lot of literal pain and heartache. A word from Teddy I hope you found what you were looking for here. I know us hammies seem like we could use a buddy, but we’re fine on our own. We like it that way, and won’t take kindly to other animals. Nothing personal, that’s just us being hamsters, is all. If you want to know more about us hammies, you should definitely check out the articles below to find out how to care for us properly, and keep us happy. [...] Read more...
Do Hamsters Eat Vegetables – What To Feed Your Hammy
Do Hamsters Eat Vegetables – What To Feed Your HammyDo hamsters eat veggies ? Do they even like them ? Did their mothers scold them because they didn’t eat their peas and broccoli ? Jokes aside, hamsters eating vegetables is a big topic, and a very important one when it comes to what you can safely feed your hamster friend. Table of Contents ToggleSo do hamsters eat vegetables ?Hamsters can eat leafy greensSome kinds of roots and berry-types are okay for hamstersWhat veggies to never feed your hamsterCommercial hamster food has plenty of vegetables and vitamin sourcesCan vegetables substitute your hamster’s water source ?How to see if your hamster reacts well to a new veggieA word from Teddy So do hamsters eat vegetables ? Yes, they do. Hamsters do eat vegetables, and they actually like them. In the wild hamsters forage for grains and vegetables, so that’s a large part of their diet. They do catch the occasional cricket or worm, but veggies and grains/seeds are the biggest part of their diet. Not all vegetables are safe for hamsters – you can find a list of safe and unsafe foods for your hammy here. We’ll cover the veggies your hamster can eat in this article, and the ones he should be kept away from as well. Hamsters can eat leafy greens This is what you will find most common for your hammy. Like spinach leaves, watercress, lettuce, kale, iceberg, arugula, even a bit of cabbage. Easy on the cabbage though, since it’s got a large fiber content which can upset your hamster’s stomach. I gave my Teddy (Syrian hammy) a whole cabbage leaf, to see what he would do. He just sat there, munching on it. I took it out after a few minutes, since it was much too large for him. Hamsters can eat lots of leafy greens. Pretty much whatever you put in your salad is fine for him as well. With a few exceptions, which we’ll cover in the rest of this article. Some kinds of roots and berry-types are okay for hamsters Some root types are okay for your hammy, like for example carrots are good. But watch out if you’ve got anything other than a Syrian hammy. The Dwarf types (Robo, Campbell, Siberian, Chinese) are very small and need very very tiny pieces of carrots. They’re prone to developing diabetes, so it’s best to keep them away from sweet-ish veggies. The same goes for sweet potatoes and corn. Those, if you even feed your hammy, should always be boiled/cooked. Cucumbers, zucchini, pumpkin are all okay, although it’s best to cook the pumpkin before your give it to your hamster. All kinds of broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus are alright for your hammy – but at least steamed. They have a high fiber content, even if it’s less than cabbage. Make sure you feed your hammy only the upper parts, like the heads or tips. The stalks are too tough for their stomachs. What veggies to never feed your hamster There are a few veggies you should keep you hammy away from. For example regular potato, especially raw, is not recommended. The same goes for eggplant, rhubarb, and celery. The same goes for most legumes like peas, beans, if they’re not cooked. Even if they are cooked, they should still be given in a very small amount. As in, only one single bean. They have a tendency to create gas and your hamster’s gut can’t handle that very well. Very acidic veggies are a no-go, like onions, scallions, shallots, garlic, and tomatoes are a no-go. This is because the hamster’s stomach and gut does not react well to acidic foods, of any kind. The same goes for spices. Whatever you feed your hammy, make sure it’s never seasoned, not even with salt. It needs to be either boiled in plain water, or baked plain, by itself. No added oils, spices, sauces, or whatever you’d like to add to your own food. Commercial hamster food has plenty of vegetables and vitamin sources You can also feed your hamster a pre-made food mix that already has enough vitamins and fibers. This is what your hamster usually would find in the veggies you give him. Still, you can give your hammy a few vegetables aside from the commercial food mix. For example a food mix like this one has plenty of nutritional value for your hammy. It will keep you for a couple or months, or a bit more, depending on how much you feed him. I’d recommend 2 teaspoons/day for a Syrian hammy, and just 1 teaspoon for a Dwarf type. This mix, along with the occasional veggie from you, and maybe a bit of boiled egg white or piece of cooked chicken will give your hammy a very happy, balanced diet. You can check the listing on Amazon for this food mix, and read the reviews as well. (If you like this article so far, you can pin it to your Pinterest board by clicking the image below. The article continues after the image.) Can vegetables substitute your hamster’s water source ? There’s times when your hamster will need to get his water from a very stable source. One that will not drip or spill over. For these times, like when you’re transporting your hamster to the vet, or you’re taking him somewhere, a couple of veggies will give your hamster enough water for a few hours. For more info on how to safely transport your hamster, you need to check out this article. You’ll find out how to transport him, as well as what kind of cage you need, and how to make sure he isn’t scared on the road. As for the kind of veggies your hamster can get water from, cucumber is the best option. It’s got a whole lot of water content, and a couple of slices, kept fairly cold, are going to provide your hamster with enough water for a few hours. You can substitute cucumber with some iceberg lettuce, which again has a very high water content. However those have a bit more fiber than cucumber, so do not rely on those entirely. How to see if your hamster reacts well to a new veggie Whenever you give your hammy a new food, of any kind, try it out in small pieces. So if you want to introduce carrot into your hamster’s diet for example. start this way. Give him a very small piece, about the size of your pinky finger’s nail. Make sure that is the only bit of new food he gets for 24 hours. You can still feed him his usual food, but do not give him more that a very small piece of the new food. After 24 hours, if you see he’s still well, has no wet stool, and is not lethargic, then you can introduce the new food in larger amounts. Do remember that the pieces of veggies you give your hammy should never be larger than an inch/2.5 cm. A word from Teddy I hope you know now if us hammies can eat different kinds of veggies. For example I love munching on a bit of carrot from time to time. And maybe your friend likes spinach leaves. If your want to know more about us hammies, you can check out the articles below. You’ll find info on how large a cage we need, how much water we need in a day, and even why we sometimes eat our poop. [...] Read more...
Five Best Ways to Bond With Your Hamster
Five Best Ways to Bond With Your HamsterWe all want our pets to live healthy and happy lives, and in order to ensure that, we have to cultivate a loving relationship with them. This means that we have to bond with our pets. If you have a hamster, bonding may be a little more difficult, as hamsters are relatively untrusting animals that don’t exactly enjoy human touch. This is completely due to evolution, so you shouldn’t blame yourself if your hamster isn’t exactly showing signs of affection. However, there are many ways you can bond with your hamster. It needs to be addressed that hamsters are very frightful animals that don’t really trust anyone, so you should know that your hamster is going to be afraid of you for a very long time. And even after you’ve bonded with your hamster, it’s still going to take a step back before it takes a step forward. These animals have no defense system aside from running away, and they’re always at the bottom of the food chain, so they instinctively fear everything. In this article, we’ll be discussing how to overcome this problem and how to form a strong bond with your hamster. It’s important to stay patient and not give up just because it’s going slowly. Today, we’ll be taking a look at a few of the most important conditions you will need to fulfill if you want your hamster to trust you. Without any further ado, let’s get started! Table of Contents Toggle1. Make Sure That Your Hamster is Comfortable2. Talk to Your Hamster3. Feeding Your Hamster4. Handling Your Hamster5. Playing with Your HamsterUseful Tips 1. Make Sure That Your Hamster is Comfortable This is very important to any animal, not only to hamsters. Even we, humans, can’t really fulfill our full potential unless our environment is good. We can’t study if our room is a mess, and we can’t work if everyone in the office is shouting – the same principle applies to hamsters; they won’t feel comfortable if their environment isn’t comfortable. You have to understand that hamsters are afraid of everything, and they’re under a great deal of stress after moving. So, when you get your hamster, know that it’s going to take weeks for the hamster to settle in and feel comfortable and adjusted to their new surroundings. To speed up this process, you have to make sure that you’ve made the hamster feel good in their own fur and that their home isn’t presented as a danger to them. This requires two things: buying a good cage and placing that cage. Let’s cover the placement first. You don’t want to place that cage near a TV or a speaker, because hamsters have a very good hearing (and terrible eyesight, while we’re at that), and even though the television or the speaker may not be loud by your standards – they’re going to be obnoxiously loud to the hamster and they’re going to have a lot of trouble functioning. Also, putting them in children’s rooms may not be the best idea, as children are likely to play with them while they’re unsupervised. This is a problem because the hamster can’t be played with until they completely trust their owner(s), and that process takes time. Children immediately playing with the hamster is only going to scare the animal to death, and it’s likely that the hamster will bite to defend itself. Even though hamster bites can’t do much damage, as long as the wound is disinfected and healed properly, this sort of negative interaction will make the hamster trust you even less, and it’s only dragging the process back. It’s also important to note that the expression ‘scare to death’ is quite literal when we’re discussing hamsters (and many other small animals). Their hearts are known to give out if they’re put under too much stress, and a five-foot-tall child pushing their fingers into the cage of a few inches tall hamsters is incredibly scary for them, and that will definitely make them fight back (even though the child has no harmful intent). So, make sure that the space you’re putting the cage in isn’t under too much light, there isn’t too much noise, and there’s not a lot of movement from people. The ideal temperature for a hamster is between 65-75 degrees Fahrenheit. Make sure not to put the cage next to a source of heat, draft, or too much sun. The second thing you have to ensure is a good cage. The most important thing for a cage is for it to have enough room. This depends from hamster to hamster, as hamsters (just like us) have their own personal preferences, and two hamsters of the same species may not need the same amount of space. When the cage is too small, the hamster is going to feel stressed out and that can even lead to injury. Hamsters are known to rub their faces against the cage bars, which causes them to lose fur. If the hamster doesn’t feel comfortable in the cage, then it’s not going to feel comfortable around you. Every cage should have plenty of room, bedding, a hiding spot, fresh food and water, and a wheel to run on. The latter is very important, and even though some people think it’s just a gimmick, hamsters actually enjoy running on their wheels – these animals have a lot of energy and they need to burn it off, otherwise, they won’t feel good. When you’re choosing the right cage, you can choose between mesh cages, glass aquariums, and plastic cages. Metal mesh cages are okay, especially because of ventilation and ease of maintenance, but smaller hamsters can run away. Take note that hamsters will always try to run away, even if they adore you and have fully bonded with you – they’ll still try to run away and get to the wilderness if the opportunity for that arises. They can’t exactly help it, it’s in their instinct. Hamsters can fit through insanely small spaces, so you should keep this in mind when purchasing a cage. Glass aquariums are the safest for the hamster, as they can’t hurt themselves and they can’t run away – but they’re hell when it comes to cleaning. Lastly, we have plastic cages, which are great and fun for the hamster, but have poor ventilation and are difficult to clean. When it comes to size – two square feet is a minimum, but your hamster may require more. Look for advice from your local pet shop. 2. Talk to Your Hamster Hamsters have very good hearing, and the first thing you should do to bond with your hamster is talked to it. Just sit in front of the cage and talk. You don’t even have to be talking to the hamster, you can be talking on the phone, read a book out loud, or simply think out loud while working – it’s just important for the hamster to hear your voice and get used to it. After a few weeks the hamster get completely used to your voice and it won’t shiver upon hearing it. It’s also good to talk to the hamster when it’s doing enjoyable things like eating or running on the wheel. 3. Feeding Your Hamster Now, another great thing you can do for your hamster to get more acclimated to you is to feed it. Don’t just feed it the same thing every day – you don’t eat the exact same meal daily, so why should your hamster do that? There are many treats, like apples and seeds that you can give to your hamster. With time, you will be able to try to feed your hamster out of your open palm. This is very important and a great way to improve the relationship between you and your hamster. Firstly, make sure to wash your hands before you place them in your hamster’s cage for any reason. Hamsters can’t see well, so they use their sense of smell and touch to tell what’s what. They tend to bite, even if they don’t feel threatened, to see if what’s in front of them is actually food. So, if you push your finger in your hamster’s cage and it smells like the pot roast you’ve had for lunch, you’re basically guaranteeing that your hamster will bite your finger. Hamsters can’t control this instinct, once again, as they’re conditioned by evolution to eat (or at least store) every sort of food they come upon. It’s important that your hamster trusts you enough to eat out of your open palm. Just like hamsters, every other animal (including humans) is vulnerable when eating. And being vulnerable on the open palm of a creature that’s twenty or thirty times your size is very risky. The fact that your hamster is willing to casually eat out of your hand means that it understands that you have no intention of harming it. Place a small piece of apple in your open palm and put your hand in the cage. Let the hamster come to you. It may not work the first time, but it’ll work after a while. Talk to the hamster as you’re doing this – we’ve already discussed how important it is for the hamster to recognize your voice, and this will make it understand that you’re not a threat. 4. Handling Your Hamster It’s going to take a while for your hamster to let you hold it. It’s best to do this after you’ve been feeding it by hand, because that’s a clear sign that your hamster trusts you (somewhat), and it’s time to move to the next step. To hold your hamster, put both hands in the cage, and when your hamster has allowed you to keep them there – connect them to cup them together under your hamster’s belly. You can then raise your hands and you’ll be holding your hamster. Don’t take your hands out of the cage and start carrying your hamster around just yet, for the first time, just let it lie on your cupped hands and let it go back after a while. Try this a few times a day for a few days, each time going a little bit further – taking the hamster out of the cage, putting the hamster close to your chest, carrying the hamster. You have to know that despite the hamster trusting you, it will try to jump out of your hands at the smallest sign of danger – a dog barking, you shaking, etc. This will become a huge problem because it’s very difficult to catch a hamster once it runs away, so the best way to deal with this is to point the hamster towards your chest. Let it feel your body’s warmth, and it will also be more difficult for it to escape because it’s going to be rotated towards you, not away from you. You should do this for a while, and after a few weeks, your hamster will trust you enough to let you hold it whenever you like. Make sure to reward your hamster with a treat every time you hold it like this, that will make it understand that it’s all for a good reason and that you have no intention of harming it, but quite the opposite – rewarding it. You can use this opportunity to pet your hamster. Just like any other animal, hamsters enjoy being pet on the back of their heads. This will further deepen your relationship. 5. Playing with Your Hamster Playing with your hamster is the ultimate level of trust with your pet. It’s difficult to come to this point, but once you do, your hamster trusts you almost completely. Know that your hamster will still try to run away if you don’t enclose its playing area, so it’s best to place some sort of wooden enclosure on the floor when you’re playing with your hamster. One of the most fun things is to teach your hamster tricks. This is actually fairly simple to do, as all hamsters are motivated by food and you can use that to teach them to jump, flip, roll over, spin in a circle, and even wear clothes. Another thing you can do is to buy toys for your hamster. There are many toys available for hamsters at pet stores, but the most popular one is the exercise ball. This is a plastic ball that the hamster can enter and run around with it. This is a form of exercise, but it’s also fun for the hamster. This ball will allow your hamster to safely explore your home, but make sure that it doesn’t fall down the stairs and that it doesn’t roll around for longer than twenty minutes without a water and snack break – hamsters don’t have the strongest stamina. One thing that you have to make sure of when playing with your hamster is to check for any hazards. Make sure that your hamster can’t reach any electrical outlets or chew on a cable. Also, don’t let any other pets in the room while your hamster is there, and block any spaces that your hamster might crawl into. There are times when your hamster will just want to hop into your lap and let you pet it, this is also a form of playing and let your hamster enjoy it. Useful Tips Only approach your hamster when it’s awake. Hamsters like to sleep, a lot, and they usually spend the largest part of the day sleeping, and they’re at their most active when the sun is setting, and later when it’s rising in the morning. They are not going to appreciate you waking them up, and they’re not going to want to play. Approach the hamster when it’s ready to be approached. Let your hamster climb on you. Once your hamster starts finding you trustworthy, it’s going to want to climb on you. They’re pretty good climbers, and they’re not going to hurt you, so you should let them climb on you. This is another form of playing to them, so they’re not going to cause any harm. Groom your hamster – your hamster’s fur is going to grow. Hamsters are actually some of the most well-groomed pets, very similar to cats, and they’re going to spend a large part of their conscious life grooming themselves. Still, make sure that they’re properly groomed. Clean your hamster’s cage often – nobody likes to live in a dirty home, and hamsters don’t like it either. Unfortunately, they can’t exactly clean after themselves, so make sure to clean your hamster’s cage whenever it gets dirty. [...] Read more...
15 Essential Steps To Properly Care For Your Hamster
15 Essential Steps To Properly Care For Your HamsterHave you just gotten a hamster ? Or are you planning on getting a hamster and want to know how to care for him ? I’ll tell you everything I know, and I wish I knew some of these when I first got my Teddy (Syrian male hammy) home. There are 15 essential steps to take and know, so you can be a good hamster owner. Some of these might be obvious, some might be counterintuitive. But they all help your hamster lead a healthy, happy life. As a sidenote, hamsters are actually cheap to care for, and they make good pets. It’s just that they have some very specific needs sometimes. Table of Contents Toggle1. Choose a good cage for your hamster2. Choose safe and healthy bedding for the hamster3. Choose toys and a hideout to keep the hamster entertained4. Know what foods and treats are okay, and how much water he needs5. Clean the cage and keep things sanitary6. Get the hamster plenty of exercise7. Tame the hamster and interact with him often8. Find a good veterinarian, in case something happens9. Be aware of his health problems and how to spot them10. Know the hamster’s reproduction and gestation period11. Figure out which breed of hamster you have12. Know what behavior to expect from a hamster13. Have a sitter for him when you leave town14. Know that hamsters are very sensitive animals15. Know your hamster’s lifespan and what old age looks likeA word from Teddy 1. Choose a good cage for your hamster The first and biggest problem when getting a hamster is what kind of cage to get him. Now I’ve covered this in detail in this article on how to choose the best cage, but a short version would be this. A Syrian hamster (the biggest kind of hamster you can find as a pet) needs a minimum cage of 24 x 12 inches, and about 12 inches tall. That’s 61 x 30.5 cm, and about 30.5 cm tall. This is for one Syrian hamster. They should always be kept alone. If you’re keeping Dwarf hamsters, then the same cage will fit a pair of Dwarves well enough. Always remember that while hamsters are so small and fluffy, they need a lot of space. They will always feel better in a large cage, rather than in a small one. This is because they do a lot of running around and roaming, and they get bored very easily in a small cage. Especially if it’s not almost nothing in it aside from bedding and some food. An overcrowded cage can also make the hamster irritable and nippy, so it’s best to only keep one hamster in one cage, even if he’s a Dwarf. As for examples of good cages, here is this one. It’s got a small space between the wires, so no hamster can escape. It’s also got an adjustable level which you can put wherever you like. I recommend keeping it pretty low though, since hamsters prefer the low ground. Of the commercial cages you can find available, this is the largest and safest. It provides lots of ventilation and it easy to take apart and clean. All in all a good choice for hamster owners who are both space and budget conscious. You can check the listing on Amazon here, and see the reviews as well. If you want to go for a bigger cage, you’ll need to look for an Ikea Detolf. That’s basically a big standing shelf. You put it on its side, remove the shelves, and make a wire mesh to cover the top if need be. The only problem with the Detolf is that it’s heavy, and big. So wherever you put it, that’s where it’s going to stay. Cleaning the Detolf is going to require a few more steps, but it’s doable. What is brings though is almost double the space the cage I mentioned above does. So no hamster would feel cramped in a Detolf. 2. Choose safe and healthy bedding for the hamster Another big and important step to make is to provide the hamster with bedding (or substrate). That’s what the hamster will live on, eat on, sleep on, pee on, and generally live all his life on. It needs to be a safe and healthy, and you need to be able to provide lots of it. Hamsters generally dig into their bedding, so giving your hammy at least an inch/2-3 cm of bedding is a minimum. You can find several hamster bedding options are in this article, you can pick whichever you think works best. The safest bedding you can provide your hamster is aspen wood shavings. All hamsters react well to aspen, and it’s a type of bedding readily available in most parts of the world. Another option is paper bedding, however that’s not as easy to find as aspen shavings. When you go out looking for the wood shavings, please make sure to stay away from cedar and pine shavings. Sometimes they’re sold for pets, but for small animals like hamsters those wood types are too strong. Their smell will suffocate the hamster, who has a very sensitive nose to begin with anyway. A good example is this one for aspen shavings. The bag comes in different sizes, so it can last you anywhere from a few months to a couple of years, depending on which size you get. You will only need to replace the hamster’s bedding once per week, so it also depends on how much bedding you put down into the cage. It’s a dust-free bag of wood shavings, which is important hen dealing with small animals. Respiratory problems can and do some up when the hamster has contact with dust. A dust-free bedding will keep him safe from that point of view. You can check the listing on Amazon here, and read the reviews as well. You also need to know about hamster nesting materials. Now, there’s nesting material you can buy, yes. But that’s almost always textile based. It’s a type of fluff, which does keep the hamster very warm. It’s a lot like the stuffing inside a teddy bear. But the problem is that kind of material can get tangled around the hamster and suffocate him. Or get tangled in his teeth (hamsters always pouch their nesting material) and end very gruesomely. So what can you use ?  Toiled paper, unscented. Plain tissues. Plain paper towels. Bits of cardboard. Rip them into strips and shreds, and watch you hamster decorate his home. He’ll build a big and warm nest out of all of those things and sleep like an angel. 3. Choose toys and a hideout to keep the hamster entertained The toys you choose for your hamster are important. Partly because a hamster can get bored if he’s got nothing to do in his cage. And partly because they need to be safe for the hamster and help file down his teeth. This means that hamsters will need plenty of wood or cardboard based toys. They can and will chew on absolutely everything in their cage. So for this reason wooden chews are a must, and cardboard too. Most toys can be either DYIed at home out of cardboard rolls, or bought from a store. This means the hamster can have an egg carton with holes in it an enjoy himself, using it as a hide and seek toy. You can even place a treat at one end of the carton and it’s just turned into a puzzle toy. You can also place a walnut inside the hamster’s cage. Make sure to remove any dirt off the walnut, and leave it whole in the hamster’s cage, He’ll go crazy over it and try to open it. He can’t, since he’s no squirrel. But he’ll try, and file down his teeth in the process. Hamster teeth always grow, so this is crucial. The most important thing in the hamster’s cage though, is his hideout. He will build a nest anyway, in the most hidden corner he can find. But he will feel more secure and safe in a hideout. It provides shelter, warmth, and a feeling of safety for the hamster. In the wild his nest would be in the ground, quite a few feet deep. It would be a series of tunnels, well hidden from any predators. In a cage though, he can’t do that. But a hideout is the next best thing. That hideout absolutely needs to be made of wood for two reasons: It will absorb moisture and release it outside. It’s basically breathable, and the hamster won’t have a damp nest, which means he won’t get a cold, or wet fur easily. Hamsters chew everything, even the hideout/nest. Wood is safe for them, and they even chew in their sleep. So it’s important that the hideout is of a safe material, not plastic or ceramic. A good example of a wooden hideout is this one. It’s a lot like my Teddy’s hideout actually. It’s big enough for a Syrian hamster, and it will also fit a Dwarf hammy. The wood is safe to chew on, and it has plenty of ventilation with all 3 holes available. They’ll be blocked with nesting material by the hamster, but he will still get fresh air. A hideout like this one will keep the hamster his whole life, unless he decides to use this as his one and only chew toy. Even then, it would take him quite some time to get through all that wood. You can check the listing on Amazon, and read the reviews as well. 4. Know what foods and treats are okay, and how much water he needs When it comes to food, you’ll be glad to hear hamsters can eat almost anything. But they do have a specific diet. The usually eat lots of grains, with a few vegetables and fruit thrown in for good measure. Nuts and seeds are okay too, as is a bit of protein in the form of cooked plain chicken, or even a mealworm or two. Actually most foods that are safe for hamsters are already in your fridge or pantry. The only problem is that they need a very specific diet, which you can always supplement with food from your kitchen. A good hamster mix will have his ideal diet in mind, and provide lots of vitamins and minerals as well. For example this one will last you quite a few months, because hamsters do not each very much. For a Syrian hamster two teaspoons per day are enough, and for Dwarf types just one teaspoon is enough. Hamsters will hide their food in their nest, so don’t panic if you see the food bowl is empty after a few minutes. This mix lasts long and is among the best for hamsters. You can check the listing on Amazon here, and read the reviews as well. Aside from the hamster commercial mix, you can give your hamster treats like bits of carrots, a plain peanut, a leaf of spinach and so on. He will enjoy the treat. But if your hamster is a diabetic hamster, keep fruits away from him. Carrots, corn, and sweet potatoes are off limits as well. 5. Clean the cage and keep things sanitary Cleaning the hamster’s cage is the first way to make sure the cage does not get smelly, and the hamster stays healthy. Cleaning should be done once per week, and only clean the pee corner every few days. The thing about hamsters is that they’re very clean animals. They groom themselves constantly, almost as much as a cat does. So the hamster himself does not smell. However what does smell is the corner in which the hamster usually pees. This is always the corner farthest away from the hideout, and it’s usually wet or at least damp. That corner can be scooped up every few days, and you can place new bedding in that corner. But once a week, a full cleaning is needed. That means taking the cage apart, putting the hamster in a safe place (like his travel cage), and cleaning everything. You can find a whole tutorial on cleaning the hamster’s cage here. Including how to proceed in the case of a sick hamster, and what you should be aware of before you start cleaning any hamster’s cage, sick or not. 6. Get the hamster plenty of exercise Hamsters are runners, for the most part. Some will love to climb or dig more than running. But most hamsters will enjoy running, and that’s what they will need to do to expend all that energy. Keep in mind that a hamster can run as much as 9 km/5.5 miles in a single night. That’s a whole lot of running for a creature so small. So make sure you get your hamster an outlet for all that energy. This means providing him with a big enough hamster exercise wheel, and you can choose which is best for your hammy. A wheel will allow him to run as far and as much as his little feet can take him. It’s important that the wheel is a large enough one, because a small wheel can give the hamster back problems. You see, hamsters don’t have a straight-ish spine. They look like they’re hunched over all the time, because they actually are. Their spines need to remain mostly hunched even when running. A straight spine can be odd for them, and a backward bent spine is actually painful. So this means you need to get he biggest sized wheel your hamster can comfortable run on. For example this one is a 9 inch/23 cm wide wheel, and it will fit pretty much any hamster. It’s also got not middle fixture, so the hamster has nothing to hurt his back on. It stays where you put it, and it’s a very silent kind of wheel. It won’t wake you up in the night (like Teddy did with us when he was younger). It’s got a tail and foot guard, which means your hamster friend won’t catch important appendages in the wheel when he’s running. This is especially important for the Chinese hamster. You can check the listing on Amazon here, and read the reviews as well. 7. Tame the hamster and interact with him often Taming the hamster is going to be either a breeze or a story to pass down onto your grandchildren. Some hamsters get used to their owners and warm up to them in just a few days, and some hamsters will never be okay with being picked up. It varies from hamster to hamster, and it also depends on how much patience you’ve got. Taming a hamster takes time, and consistency. It’s not hard, but it can be very slow. It’s also a bit hard to read the hamster’s reactions. If he’s not biting or running away, it’s a good sign. But noticing whether he actually likes something or not ? Your guess is as good as mine. Hamsters are easy to bribe with food though, so that’s always going to help. You’ll need to interact with the hamster constantly to gain and keep his trust. He might not always sit still so you can pet him, and he might not always like it when you pick him up. But in time he will learn to associate you and your hands with food and good things. Even if you’re not doing much, at least talk to the hammy. He’ll come up to the side of the cage to hear you out. He won’t understand a word, but at lest you’ve got his attention. 8. Find a good veterinarian, in case something happens Hamsters don’t need regular trips to the vet, and they don’t get sick often. For the most part hamsters will only stay in their cages, unless take out. This means the only moment they can get sick is if someone sick interacts with them. Or, if they become much too stressed or the cage is very dirty, and they develop wet-tail. But aside from that, hamsters aren’t sickly animals. That being said, when a hamster does get sick, it can get very serious, very fast. And you’re going to need a good vet for that. You’ll need to look for an ”exotics” vet. That’s a vet who has experience with rodents, reptiles, and birds as well. Such a vet will be able to help more than a regular cat and dog veterinarian. You can find out more about choosing a good vet for your hamster here. 9. Be aware of his health problems and how to spot them When it comes to the hamster’s usual health problems, there aren’t as many as us humans can have, but they are serious. You can find a list of the main health problems here, and how to treat them. Of all the threats to a hamster’s well-being, wet-tail is the most notorious. This is a type or diarrhea, and it can become deadly in a matter of days. Hamsters usually contract it either from an already infected hamster, from an overly dirty cage, or through high stress levels which can disrupt their normal digestive system. Tumors and lumps are not uncommon, infections are about as common as they are in humans. Infections can be treated with antibiotics, but tumors can sometimes be impossible to remove without putting the hamster at too much risk. Hammies can lose their eyesight and become blind, and this is usually a sign of old age. Blindness can come earlier than that in some cases though. While hamsters don’t really use their eyes, they are still vulnerable and can become injured or infected. There are treatments for almost all of the hamster’s health problems, and most of them are meant to be administered by a vet. (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.) 10. Know the hamster’s reproduction and gestation period Hamsters reproduce in large litters. They can fall pregnant very often – every 4 days actually – and their gestation period is short. Only 16-22 days, depending on which hamster type you’ve got. So if you brought home a pair of Dwarf hammies, and one of them seems to be too fluffy, you’ll find out in 2-3 weeks if you’ve got a pregnant female on your hands. This can happen because pet shops sometimes separate the hamsters into gender specific groups either too late, or misgender a male and put him with females. To find out more about finding your hamster’s gender, you should read here. The gender becomes important from week 4 of life, when the hamster babies are weaned by their mother. That’s when they can also start breeding, and sometimes unwanted accidents can happen. Once the hamster has reached 10 weeks, he or she may be introduced to the opposite sex, if you’re looking to breed them for a new liter. Pregnancies started past week 14 are not safe though, so keep an eye on the hamster’s age. For more info on the mating ritual and the reproduction itself, you will need to read here. And read here to make sure the babies survive until they are adults. New momma hamsters can be unpredictable. 11. Figure out which breed of hamster you have There are 5 main types of hamsters, 3 of which are Dwarf types. The 3 Dwarf types are hard to tell apart, but the Syrian is the largest and the Chinese is the only one with a noticeable tail. There are essential differences between the Syrian hamster and every other hamster out there. Including where they all came from, actually. Hamsters have only been pets for the past century or so, and they have some pretty rugged ancestors. Why does the breed matter ? In a way, it doesn’t. There aren’t severe temperament differences between hamster breeds like there are between dog breeds. Still, not all hamsters can live together. Only the Dwarf types can come to tolerate a sibling or two, as long as they were never separated since they were babies. Obviously, they need to be of the same gender, otherwise you’ll become a grandparent, not the way you’d like. Even so, I wouldn’t recommend putting any hamster in a cage with another hamster, Dwarf or not. Cohabiting is very rough, and there will be quarrels between the hamsters. To a certain degree they’re normal, as any sibling quarrels are. But, they can always degenerate into serious fights, sometimes deadly. For this reason I strongly recommend you keep each and every hamster in his own cage. 12. Know what behavior to expect from a hamster Remember that hamsters are prey animals. This means that they’re used to running away, and hiding. They won’t really stay put so you can pick them up. It’s not their nature. So expect a certain degree of fear and jumpiness from your hamster. He will freeze up from time to time, for no immediate reason. He’s actually listening for predators, and learning the various sounds that go around in your home, and outside of it. A hamster will sleep most of the day, and only wake up at dusk. He’ll come put when his instincts tell him no predators are around. And he’ll stay up most of the night, and go back into his nest once dawn comes. He might make a couple of sounds, but aside from that he’s a very quiet pet. What you might hear though, is the sound of him chewing on something to wear down his teeth. He does this often, and it’s as important to him as brushing our teeth is to us. If your hammy doesn’t warm up to you very fast, don’t be disappointed. That’s a fairly normal reaction from a small animal used to being chased through the desert by animals much larger than himself. You’re not very different from the big animals chasing his ancestors. Other than that, hamsters are a loveable bunch, prone to all kinds of weird acrobatics. My Teddy was one hell of a climber when he was young, he was all over the cage. 13. Have a sitter for him when you leave town Hamsters can’t really be left to their own devices when you leave town. Much like fish or a pet turtle, your hamster is going to need someone to come over and feed him daily. Hammies do survive for a few days with no food or water. But I don’t think you’ll want to find out just how much your hamster can last like that. Best to have someone to take care of him, even if it’s just giving him food and changing the water. 14. Know that hamsters are very sensitive animals Hamsters are sensitive to everything. The light levels, the noise levels, the temperature, the stress levels, being handled too much, being handled too little, being held wrong, and drafts. So you’re going to have a to be a very careful person if you’re going to look out for a hamster. Most of their sensitivities stem from the fact that they’re mostly nocturnal animals, so they react to light levels and sounds. The other is that they are very very bad at managing stress factors. This means that about half of their health problems come from how stressed they are. Given the fact that these creatures are almost always on high alert, they’re also high-strung all the time. So not a very good thing. It’s also very hard to not scare a hamster. Really, they’re so on edge that even getting up can trigger them. Walking past their cage. Sneezing within a few feet of them is a cataclysmic event. In truth this is because hamsters have very poor eyesight. So if you sit quietly and fairly still, he won’t even know you’re there. That means when you move he’s going to have a small heart attack. He didn’t even notice you, when did you get there ? 15. Know your hamster’s lifespan and what old age looks like Another thing to be aware of is how long your hamster will live. this will vary from hamster breed to hamster breed, but in general a hamster’s lifespan will be around 2-3 years. Hamsters are adults when they reach 3 months age, and they’re considered old when they reach their 2nd birthday. This means an old hamster will happen upon you faster than you’d think at first. Some hamsters don’t show their age, and some hamsters look very old even before their first birthday. Health problems become more common, walking becomes slow, and they slowly start to wither away. Old hamsters will need special care from you, and you can read up on this here. A word from Teddy I hope you found what you were looking for in this article. I know us hamsters look like cute and cuddle little things, but we do require a certain level of care. Hopefully this article gave you a lot of insight into what owning a hammy looks like. 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...
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...