How to Care for a Hamster

Some species of hamsters make great pets, such as they Syrian or Golden hamster.

11 Tips to Keep Your Hamster Safe and Well

How to care for Hamsters

Here is what you need to do in a nutshell to care for hamsters.

1–Read the rest of this article to learn about the different breeds, then go to your local pet store to see what they have in stock.

2–Pick out hamsters that are healthy. Since hamsters often sleep during the day, when you get to the pet store, the hamster you are looking at may be just about to nod off. But when picking a hamster, look for one or a pair with bright eyes, healthy hair with no bald patches, a small stomach, not lumps on its body, a dry and clean anus. If a hamster has wet fur or a wet bottom, don’t buy it.

3—Get a hamster that is the size you want to interact with. Syrian hamsters are large, about 5 to 7 inches, while the Dwarf Campbee and Dwarf Winter White are around 3 inches. The Syrian hamster will never slip through the bars of the cage, but the smaller breeds might. The Syrian is also easily handled and if for some reason it bolts out of your hands, you can catch it. For the smaller breeds, some are impossible to catch.

4—Find a hamster that is of a color that appeals to you. Syrian hamsters are mostly gold color, but they do come in a variety of other colors.

5—Test the hamster. You may be uncomfortable with this is you are new to hamsters, but you need to place your hand in the hamster cage to see if it bites or scratches you. If it does, don’t buy it. Another problem is if the hamster is extremely frightened, it will not make a good pet. So stay away from the aggressive hamster and the frightened hamster.

6—Sometimes you see pictures of hamsters in tiny cages that resemble a prisoner in solitary confinement. If your hamster is placed in a cage that is too small, they will go crazy and get really mean over time. Hamsters like cages that are 30 inches by 30 inches, but 15 inches by 30 inches is probably as small as you want to go. Add a third dimension to the cage with tunnels and wheels, hiding places and toys.

7—Find a place for the cage that is out of direct sunlight. A hamster in direct sunlight, particularly if it is an aquarium type setting could die in all of that sun. So the cage needs lots of shade, lots of ventilation and it needs to be away from all other animals in the house. We have seen settings where the hamster cage is simply another plaything for the kids and the cat and the dog. All of these things put great stress on your pet and over time will change its loving personality into a grumpy, nipping pet.

8—If you are buying a small hamster, you have to ensure that the spaces between the bars are close enough together so that the little dwarfs cannot slip through the bars.

9—Most hamsters are very territorial, so don’t plan on having a pair of them in a cage, like they are a pair of parakeets. They don’t like it. This probably dates back millions of years to them living in the wild and attempting to establish their territory and keep all other creatures away from their food stash.

10—Select hamster bedding carefully. Don’t use cedar or pine shavings for hamsters. Don’t use cotton bedding. Use aspen bedding or paper bedding, like unscented toilet paper.

11—Use an earthenware bowl for the hamster’s food and water. Don’t use plastic, they will chew right through it. You hamster constantly needs water and for food, give it about ¼ to ½ ounce of food a day. If you see your hamster creating stashes of its food, leave those stashes alone or you will stress the creature out. Get a good quality hamster food—b0lock style food. If you wish, give it seeds as a treat. Instead of placing all of the food in the bowl, place the food around the cage so that the hamster has to search it out, find it and eat it. Get a chew stickfor the hamster. Get him or her treats, but they have to be hamster treats, not human treats.

Breeds of Hamsters

There are a variety of breeds of hamsters that you can buy today. If you had pet hamsters as a kid, as we did, you, like us, probably had a Syrian hamster. This hamster has a variety of other names as well like teddy bear hamster, or the golden hamster. The Syrian hamster was probably introduced as a laboratory animal in 1942, but the scientists experimenting on these little creatures soon were seduced by their charms and began taking them home as pets.

The thing about Syrian hamsters, is that they are not hamster friendly. That is, if you think you are going to keep a pair or more of these cuties in a cage together, forget it. They will fight each other and possibly kill each other. If you intend to breed these hamsters, they can be placed in the same cage for the period of breeding, but then they must be removed to separate cages. Some creatures love to live in colonies, this isn’t one of them!

Syrian hamsters are quite fascinating. Most of them have golden coats and some of them are long-haired while others sport short hair. But here is where it gets exciting. Some of the Syrians have coats that are chocolate brown, white, spotted or even gray. Some have black coats…very beautiful indeed!

There is some debate as to whether or not these creatures are nocturnal, come out in the day or what have you. From our experience, they seem to be most active in the early morning and the evening. Sometimes you can keep these critters in their cages in the playroom. Sometimes you need to keep them as far from the bedrooms as possible because many are very active during the night and will keep you and your children up with the constant running on their wheel. If this happens, place the hamster cage in a part of the house where it will not disturb sleepers.

The Dwarf Campbell Russian hamster is another popular breed, but if you have young children, it would probably be best to stick with a pet of the Syrian hamster instead of the Dwarf Campbell Russian hamster. These hamsters are known to be very high strung and if you do not handle them properly, they will nip you. If handled carefully and not stressed, these hamsters have a sweet personality. In its natural state, the Dwarf Campbell Russian hamster is of grey-brown coloration, but if you go out into the market to buy the Dwarf Campbell Russian hamster today, you will be dazzled by the variation in colors you can find.

Dwarf Winter White Russian hamsters are not the same or a subspecies of the Dwarf Campbell Russian hamster, even though they come from the same region of Russia. They, however, both dwarf hamsters. We have found that if you are going to keep these tiny creatures as pets, it is best to set up an aquarium for them, rather than a cage. Placed in the wrong cage, these little beauties can slip through the bars and get lost. These little hamsters will live about two years.

The Roborovski Dwarf hamsters is the smallest breed for pets, growing only two-and-a-half inches. They are incredibly fast and energetic. These little hamsters should have a sign on them look but do not touch because it is difficult to virtually impossible to handle them. When they are surround, by let’s say your hands, their tendency is to run and they are almost impossible to catch once they are loose in your home. These hamsters are brown with a white belly and live about four years.

Chinese hamsters can grow up to four inches are brown on the top and have a white underbelly. Like the Robo, these are quick hamsters that do not like to be handled. If you plan on keeping these as pets, be aware that they get extremely bored very quickly, so the need a lot of toys and bedding to hide and play in. They love tunnels. They need larger than normal cages so that they have plenty of space.

When should you take your hamster to the vet? Hamsters live about two years. It’s best to take your hamster to the vet after you buy it for a general checkup. Then take it to the vet if there is blood in its urine, if the hamster has loose stools, if you discover sores on the hamster’s feet, if the fur has patches of hair missing, it is front teeth become overgrown,  if you notice that the hamster is not eating or drinking water regularly, if it has a runny nose or if it is breathing with a wheeze.

What do hamsters eat? You can buy hamster food at stores like PetsMart and Petco. This is pellet food designed especially for these little creatures. Hamsters should have a constant food supply on hand and you can supplement this by placing food around the cage in its tunnel, under its bowl and other hiding places in the cage. Be careful not to feed hamsters things like potato chips or other foods that are not only bad for them but bad for us. You can feed the hamster veggies like kale and zucchini. Don’t overdo it with the veggies, just give them enough that they can eat in a few hours. Don’t have a lot of stale veggies in the cage left over from days before. That is not heathy for these animals. They need to constantly have water available. Never let your hamster run out of water.

Are there hamsters for sale at Petco? Petco has hamsters for sale, but its website advises to go to a store to see what they have in stock. They sell the Roborovski hamster, Djungarian hamster and Dwarf hamster.

Where do hamsters live outside of pet stores? Hamsters like to live on the edges of deserts and in areas where there are steppes. They were discovered in Syria, Romania, Belgium, China and Greece. There are around 20 species of hamster, but only five are enjoyed as pets.

How much do Petco hamster cages cost? Petco has a large number of hamster cages starting at around $16.

Where can I find hamsters for sale near me? The best way to buy hamsters near you is to go online and look up some of the larger pet stores chains like Petco and PetsMart.

What about hamster cages Walmart? Walmart has a quite large selection of hamster cages. We like some of the larger cages with tunnels, wheel and lots of toys.

How much do hamsters cost? Hamsters are a relatively cheap pet to purchase. Looking on the websites of some of the large pet store chains, there are hamsters available for $12.98 each. Remember, hamsters are not parakeets and you cannot keep a pair of hamsters in the same cage without them fighting, sometimes to the death.

How to care for a hamster? How to take care of a hamster begins with selecting the right animal as a pet, getting the right equipment and keeping the animal calm as he joins your household. [See above details]

Where’s the best, cheap hamster cages? Hamsters need a lot of space, despite some of the pictures you see of a big hamster in a one-foot by one-foot cage. A hamster needs 600 square inches of space, that’s a 30-inch by 30-inch cage. But that’s only the two dimensions. Add to that cage tunnels, wheels and toys and you will have a hamster paradise.

What can hamsters eat? Never feed hamsters human food like potato chips, in fact, never feed humans potato chips! Feed hamsters real chunky hamster food. That is a mix of everything they need. Throw in zucchini, and other greens for them to enjoy. There is also hamster food that comes as a mix of seeds. Indeed, hamsters do eat seeds, but if you give them seeds as a steady diet, they will pick out only the ones they like. The chunk food will give them a richer variety of things to eat.

What are Syrian hamster cages? Syrisn hamsters are big (for hamsters), growing to seven inches. They can be supported in a regular hamster cage that is 30-inches by 30-inches. There are smaller hamsters that can slip through the bars of a typical hamster cage and get lost. For them, the best bet is to get an aquarium. The problem is, an aquarium the size that the hamster needs can be quite expensive.

Where’s the best, cool hamster cages? Cool is in the eyes of the beholder. We have purchased cool hamster cages at Walmart, Petco, PetsMart and Amazon.

What exactly are hamster cage tubes? Hamster cage tubes are tunnels that hamsters love to run through. Hamsters in the wild live underground in dark tunnels and only come out at night when hopefully most of their predators are asleep. Some when kept in captivity, they love to run through tunnels and on a flywheel in the cage.

Where are there cheap hamster cages for sale? Try Walmart, Petco, Petsmart. But what do you mean by cheap? If you are think cheap and small, don’t do it. Your hamster needs space to live and breathe. You hamster needs about 600 square inches of cage, which is about 30-inches by 30-inches. The smallest the cage should be is 16 inches by 30 inches with plenty of hamster tubing in it.

Where do hamsters live in the wild? There are 20 species of hamsters that live in the wil in Syrian, Greece and other countries. We suspect that after having been taken into homes in the U.S. since the 1940s as pets, that many countries, such as the U.S. are now home to large colonies of wild hamsters.

What’s better, large hamster cages or small hamster cages? Definitely large hamster cages. Hamsters need space to run around.

Where is there a hamster natural habitat? Syria, Greece and other countries.

What are dwarf hamster cages? These are cages for dwarf hamsters, not little cages for hamsters. Hamsters need about 600 square inches of cage to be happy.

What do hamsters eat? Hamsters eat a variety of things, most seeds in the wild. For your pet, feed them a high quality chunk food and them give them hamster treats and veggies. Don’t give them crappy human food like potato chips.

How much are hamsters? Hamster costs range from $12.98 on up.

What type of selection of Petsmart hamster cages? PetsMart has a variety of price points and sizes of hamster cages. As we have pointed out elsewhere, give your hamster plenty of room in its cage. They need abou 600 square inches of space and a great wheel and tunnels and toys.

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