Hamster Care – How to take care of a Hamster in 2020
Native to many parts of the world the ‘Hamster’ was first discovered in Syria in the 1830s. However, the name for this stout-bodied creature is derived from the German word ‘Hamstern’ which means ‘to hoard’.
Given their love for hoarding food the name fits perfectly.
Hamsters make great pets because of their cute appearance, petite size and docile nature. In having a pet hamster, it’s important to understand your hamsters needs and what is involved in taking care of a hamster, to keep them happy and healthy.
The most common hamsters are:
- Syrian Hamster -13 to 18cm in length, also known as ‘teddy bear’ and ‘golden’ hamsters.
- Dwarf Hamster - 4.5 to 5cm in length, different breeds include the Siberian, Chinese and Robo Djungarian.
A domesticated hamster who is given proper hamster care will generally have a lifespan of two to three years.
As nocturnal creatures’ hamsters sleep throughout the day, they have an unfortunate reputation for biting especially if awakened during the day.
Given this natural defence and tendency to nip hamsters are not suitable pets for young children, and supervision by an adult is recommended.
Sundown means playtime for hamsters, so be prepared for nightly wheel-running, scratching and digging.
Hamster Health Care
Even though they are hardy pets, given their small size hamsters are prone to illnesses and injuries. When it comes to hamster care it is important to know the most common signs of illness.
- Common Cold: symptoms include sneezing and a runny nose, laboured breathing in severe cases and a refusal to eat or drink.
- Overgrown Teeth: can cause hypersalivation and difficulty with eating and chewing.
- Bald patches: caused by your hamster scratching or rubbing against abrasive objects.
- Wet tail: a stomach infection leading to diarrhoea and loose stools.
- Sore Foot: foot lesions from exercising usually take the shape of small cuts on the paw.
- Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) - can lead to traces of blood in a hamster’s urine.
If your pet is ill hamster insurance can help cover the cost of hamster vet care and treatments.
Read our Assure pet insurance review here.
A hamster’s enclosure is central to its wellbeing and should be primary in all basic hamster care.
As solitary animals’ Syrian hamsters live alone, if you have more than one, each will require its own cage, while dwarf hamsters are more social creatures and tend to live in pairs. Hamsters should be housed indoors in wire cages with a solid base or in aquariums, a 10-gallon size is recommended.
All enclosures should have a secure mesh top to provide necessary ventilation and stop your hamster escaping.
Hamsters love to burrow so bedding should be deep, good choices of bedding include wood shavings, recycled paper pellets and Carefresh (made from reclaimed pulp waste). The bedding should be changed daily, removing all droppings and stale food, and the cage should be cleaned weekly with warm, soapy water.
Given their love of exercise a hamster’s cage should include an exercise wheel, PVC pipes and a flowerpot providing them with ample opportunity to run, climb and hide.
stop their teeth from overgrowing chew toys for hamsters include plain dog biscuits and untreated wood, a natural chewing material.
Everything you need for a hamster can be found at your local pet supply store.
As hamsters are ‘omnivores’ many survive on a staple diet of rodent chow and seed mix made up of pellets, grains and dried vegetables. The best diet for a hamster is one they would eat in the wild, including fresh veg and fruit which is recommended 2-3 times a week, in your hamster care guide.
Hamsters love bite size helpings of carrots, spinach, lettuce and apples, while uncooked beans, junk foods and onions should be avoided.
Always provide clean water and change it daily, an inverted bottle with a drinking tube should be attached to the hamster’s cage.
New foods should be introduced gradually, and all uneaten food cleaned up immediately before it spoils.
Hamsters love to hoard and tend to pack extra food into special cheek pouches and then store it around the cage for later.