caring for hamsters - A guide to keeping pet hamsters

Facts You Need To Know Before Owning A Pet Hamster

Caring for hamsters is easy which makes them popular pets. Hamsters are small rodents with short tails, stubby legs and small ears.

Although they are generally gentle rodents, they will bite when startled or scared. They will also bite if they are awakened during their sleeping time. Biting is likely to happen during the day since they sleep during the day when humans are awake and attempt to play with them.

When caring for hamsters, you should know that there are 24 hamster species with varying colours and size. The most common hamsters found as pets are: Syrian golden hamster Campbell’s or dwarf hamster, winter-white Russian dwarf hamster and Roborovski hamster.

Not all hamsters like living together. For example, the Syrian hamster is territorial and should never be put in a cage with other hamsters. It will bite the other hamster, and may even kill it. Dwarf hamsters, on the other hand, are social and are happy with company in its cage. Hamsters typically live one to two years as pets.

caring for hamsters and their poor eyesight

Hamsters have very poor eyesight. They rely on their scent glands on their backs which secrete an identifiable smell. To find their way around, they leave a trail of scent by rubbing their backs against objects. When a hamster needs to find their way back home, they will use this scent trail as a guide.

natural born hoarders

Hamsters’ name comes from the German word “hamstern,” which means “hoard.” This is a very apt way to describe how hamsters eat. They have pouches in their cheeks that they stuff with food. Then, they will carry their hoard back to their colony so they can eat it later. Pet hamsters will often store food under their cage bedding.

A Roborovski hamster grow around 2 to 4 inches (5.5 to 10.5 cm) long.

hamster's teeth grow continually

When caring for hamsters, it’s important to keep their teeth short by letting then chewing on wood. Without something to chew on, their teeth would grow so long they would injure the roof of the mouth and lips.

hamsters are nocturnal

Hamsters sleep during the day. Naturally active, a wild hamster would spend the entire night running and gathering food and digging burrows. Tunnels, wheels and toys are necessary when caring for hamsters to keep them happy and well-exercised.

hamsters are omnivores

Like humans, hamsters live on a mixed diet of vegetables and meat. Hamsters will literally stuff their faces with food. So an empty food bowl is not an indication that they need more food. Portion control is key as too much food can cause diarrhea in their tiny bodies.

Simply feed them with fruit and vegetables. A small cube of apple, carrot or cucumber is enough. Twice a day feeding is recommended with a treat then once a week.

Remember to never leave uneaten food to rot; provide fresh food and water at each feeding time. Ensure  drinking bottles are cleaned thoroughly at least once a week.

offspring & breeding

Hamsters waste no time in mating. When there are two opposite gender hamsters in a cage together, the female will become pregnant very quickly. Their gestation period lasts 15 to 20 days. Know the gender of your hamster before putting them together in a cage to prevent over breeding.

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