How To Take Care Of A Hamster
An animal shelter manager shares on all the essential aspects in taking care of pet hamsters.
Hi. My name's Marie. I'm the deputy manager of the Small Animal Department of Wood Green Animal Shelters in Cambridge here and I'm going to advise you how to care for hamsters.
There are several breeds of hamsters so it's important that you choose suitable accommodation, bedding and enrichment to meet their needs. First of all, you're going to need to find the most suitable accommodation for the breed of hamster that you've chosen. I've got three examples here and first one, being suitable for Russian hamsters, second one for Syrians, and the last one for the smallest breed, the Roborovski hamster.
You'll also then need to consider the correct bedding to go on the base of the accommodation. Wood shavings, sawdust, are really not suitable for hamsters. It can often contain parasites and cause them real serious skin issues.
It can also bring on breathing issues and allergies in the family such as asthma as well. The best type of bedding is a short chopped shredded paper or you can use a product called Carefresh and that's basically mashed egg carton. Both of these are safe from parasites, they're safe from any breathing issues and they're fine for the hamsters to sleep in but also to toilet in as well.
You will also need a soft tissue paper bedding to place in their houses for them to actually make a nest and to sleep into. The best type is a long shredded tissue paper. The cotton ball type really isn't that right.
Often, they can store that in the pouches and the small fine threads can be caught up in the mouth and can even catch around their toes so the best one is the long shredded type of tissue paper. Enrichment is really important for hamsters. In the wild, they can travel up to a mile or two so it's important that you can mimic all the enrichment that they would be doing in the wild so they'd be going under tunnels, they'd be climbing up and down rocks, they'd be covering a fair distance.
So not only the traditional hamster in a wheel, you need to be able to provide tunnels and different hiding areas. As you can see from the examples here, it doesn't need to be a costly thing. Loads of household objects will work.
Children's toys, Betterware tubs, plant pots, even your little wooden logs and even CD racks are brilliant for them to climb up and down on. You'll then need to consider suitable food. When feeding your hamsters, scatter feed them in their cage.
Don't provide them with a bowl, you're going to get fat and bored hamsters so encourage natural behaviour and that will be foraging. So, you just want to get a small amount of dry mix once a day and just scatter it around in the cage. Hide it in tunnels, hide it their houses so they're going to climb and forage for it.
When you're choosing a suitable mix for them, make sure that is varied, different seeds and nuts. You can also add in different types of cat dry pellets as well, a good quality based one to make sure that they are getting plenty of protein. They can have small amounts of vegetables cut into small cubes just once or twice a week and they can also have a few plants such as small amount of dandelion leaves, mint and even a little bit of lemon balm.
In the shops, there are many different types of dried natural treats keeping your hamster's diet as natural as possible so we're going to keep them healthy. So, you can get all the chew sticks which can be placed on the bars for them but go for natural ingredient ones. You can get dried herbs and also fantastic as ay dried twigs so these can be a fruit tree or a willow and they're brilliant for their teeth.
Then, we've got either you're going to need to clean out the accommodation, hamsters are going to need to be cleaned out once a week, remove the hamster and place it in a secure carry cage with some its beddings so it still got its smell, take all of the toys out, disinfect the whole cage down and set it all up fresh. Every time you clean it out, rearrange it and make