How To Care For Hamsters
The pet hamster, or syrian or golden hamster, makes a great pet, especially for young children. Like many rodents, hamsters need the right bedding, food, cage, and toys to be kept happy. Care for the hamster properly, and he will be an enjoyable pet to look after and raise.
Step 1: Background information
The pet hamster, or Syrian or golden hamster, originates from Syria, and their natural habitat is in desert conditions.
They can grow up to 15-20cms, and have a life span of about 2-3 years.
Step 2: Buying
When buying a hamster, especially for a child, it must be young so that it is easy to tame. Too young though and it may have nutritional and behavioural problems.
Perform a health check on the ears, teeth, feet and fur. You want to avoid bare patches, parasites, diarrhea, arched backs, and swollen joints. Always consult a reputable breeder, and always look for a clean sparkly eye and a zest for life!
Step 3: Behaviour
Hamsters are solitary animals that have rather poor eye sight but a great sense of smell. Once awake they will spend their time exercising and hording food.
Not all hamsters are tame to the point of cuddling, but you can still enjoy them. To pick them up, cup your hands around them, but from below eye level so they do not mistake you for a predator.
Step 4: Housing
If keeping a hamster in a barred cage, make sure it has horizontal bars so that it can climb.
Provide the hamster with a nesting box made of wood or cardboard and fill it with plenty of hay. You can also use non inked paper, but bare in mind that recent research suggests that inked newspaper and pine shavings may be toxic to rodents.
Hamsters are very clean and will choose a toilet corner. Place a small litter tray here with cat litter so that it is easy to clean.
Treadwheels can provide exercise, but the hamster may become obsessive. If so, only place it in for a couple of hours each day. Metal ones are preferable as they can not be chewed.
For further stimulation provide tree stumps, roots, ropes, and toys.
Hamsters should be kept at least 10 degrees, so try using a heat mat in winter to prevent hibernation.
Step 5: Food
A good rodent feed with a few peanuts and sunflower seeds is a perfect staple for a hamster. Supplement this with some fruit and veg, and some insects for protein once or twice a week.
For water, drinking bottles are best. Use bottled water when possible, or add a water conditioner and vitamins to tap water.