Hamsters are cute, and they’re a great first pet for kids. If you don’t want something with the time commitment of a dog then a small animal can be a great pet. They don’t need a lot of space, you won’t have to take them for walks, and they’re generally easier for apartment dwellers to keep. A hamster can live for two years or so, and they don’t get very big which makes them easy to handle. If you think a hamster might be the right pet for your family this guide aims to help educated you in caring for this adorable little rodents.
How To House A Hamster: Choosing A Hamster Cage
Hamsters don’t need a lot of room, but they still need a place to call their own. Most hamsters will be happy to live in a cage you can keep on a desk or a side table. Most often these cages are made of metal bars, because your hamster loves to chew! Be aware that anything in their cage will quickly be devoured. This means you should make sure that all toys are safe for ingestion, and that you don’t place your cage next to anything where your hamster can reach it such as power cords or things hanging by the cage.
The next consideration is security. You’d be amazed at the things hamsters can squeeze in or out of. When choosing a cage it would be wise to insure that all portions of the cage fasten securely so there will be no escapes. It’s also popular that hamsters can get stuck in tubing if it’s too small. They will still try to get in there.
You should include a hide box to give your pet security. Even though they are friendly, everyone needs some time away, and you should provide this. These are typically wood or plastic, and they provide a safe dark place for sleeping. Wood will last longer and resist chewing, but plastic houses work too. You’ll also need a heavy food dish, a water bottle, and an exercise wheel may be appreciated. The floor of your hamster cage should be covered in bedding. Hamsters like burrowing into it, and it also helps absorb any waste. Paper bedding is a popular choice, because it’s great at absorbing odors, and it’s not toxic if they eat it. You can similarly use wood shaving type bedding.
What do hamsters eat?
There are many good hamster foods available on the market. Most often these contain seeds, hay, dried fruit, and other tasty treats that hamsters love. These mixes are generally very good, but you can also supplement your hamster’s diet with fresh foods. They will be more than happy to accept a treat of fresh fruits, vegetables and alfalfa hay. You can try feeding your hamster things like kale, collared greens, zucchini and shredded carrots which they’ll quickly gobble up. Be careful though, it’s very easy to overfeed a hamster. They love hoarding things. Food included. You hamster should have fresh water available at all times to stay hydrated. This is best provided by use of a rodent water bottle hanging on the side of the cage. They can have pellet food available all the time. This is best placed in a ceramic weighted dish to keep them from dumping it over, and to keep them from chewing it up.
Hamster Exercise and Enrichment
It’s important to provide enrichment experiences for any animal, hamsters included. That means including toys for them for mental stimulation. An exercise wheel is excellent for providing your hamster with a bit of a work out, and to keep them from just sleeping and eating all day. There are also many types of treat dispensing toys that are great for giving animals something to do. You could also purchase an exercise ball which will allow your hamster to run around the house. Be sure to keep the hamster ball away from other pets who could potentially break it open and hurt your hamster.
Cleaning Your Hamster’s Cage
Your hamster’s cage should be cleaned regularly. They are unfortunately not as neat as bunnies. Though you should be able to spot clean their cage. If you see a wet spot that has been soiled remove that bedding using a scoop. From time to time you’ll also want to dump all of the bedding, and clean the cage completely to make sure nothing has been missed. You can then fill the cage with fresh paper bedding for a healthy and happy hamster.
Do hamsters need friends?
While some hamster species do okay together not all of them do. You should be very careful when housing hamsters together. Some species are very territorial, and they will injure or even kill other hamsters in their cage! If you’re not sure you should research the specific species of hamster you want to buy. Just because they keep them together at the pet store does not mean it’s a good idea.