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SMALLPET / health & care

Caring for Your Hamster

Tips from home to health to food and fun.

Overview

Your hamster’s home

The first day you bring home your new hamster, make sure it’s a pleasant, calm homecoming. You’ll also want to have a water bottle and a food bowl (heavy enough not to be tipped over) waiting for the new arrival. Fill the habitat with treats, and toys (a wheel or tunnels for exercise and chew toys) to make it a happy hamster home. You’ll also want to have plenty of hay on hand. There’s a great range available, from Timothy hay, to orchard grass, brome, botanical and oat hay.

Hamsters like to chew, gnaw and gnash— so a plastic enclosure won’t hold them for long. Instead, choose a habitat with a solid bottom or go for a glass aquarium tank with a well-ventilated wire mesh top. Line the habitat with 1 to 2 inches of aspen, pine or recycled-paper. Sprinkle in a few shavings from your hamster’s old habitat and your new friend will feel at home right away. Make sure your hamster’s food isn’t in the same place as the bed— or the mattress could wind up as a meal!

Feeding your hamster

Pellet food is a good bet for feeding your hamster. It stops them from picking out the most delicious morsels. Feed your hamster everyday, keeping the bowl about three-quarters full. Their diet can include also vegetables, which you can serve to your hamster every other day. Kale, collard greens, zucchini and shredded carrot are all on the menu. Don’t overfeed— hamsters like to hoard! Only give them what they consume in about four hours’ time. As for water, offer it all the time. A hydrated hamster is a happy hamster.

Playing & grooming

Hamsters love their cardio; be sure to provide an exercise wheel or ball for your hamster to perform athletic feats. Always supervise your furry friend when he’s exercising in a hamster ball.

Hamsters engage in an elaborate, and often adorable, cleaning ritual, washing their faces and cleaning out their ears with their feet. No need to help them— they’ve got it covered.

Keeping your hamster healthy

Take your hamster to a vet experienced with small pets a few days after you bring her home, then annually.

Take your hamster for a check-up if it displays any of these symptoms,

  • Wheezing
  • Runny nose
  • Irregular eating or drinking
  • Overgrown front teeth
  • Bald patches
  • Sores on the feet
  • Loose stools
  • Blood in the urine