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Hamster Husbandry: What Should You Know Before Owning a Hamster?

Hamster Husbandry: What Should You Know Before Owning a Hamster?

Hamsters have become a favorite first pet for children and are also very popular among adults.  But what are some important things to know before owning one?

First, there are many different kinds of hamsters but the main variations are teddy bear versus dwarf hamsters. The most popular dwarf hamsters are the Russian Dwarf and Roborovski while the most popular teddy bear is the Syrian. The dwarf hamsters are usually more energetic than the teddy bear hamsters, but both are very fragile and have weak bones.  So, if the hamster is for a child, make sure to monitor while holding.  Teaching kids to hold a hamster gently is essential.

Hamsters are nocturnal which means that they are active at night and, during that time, they are very active!  Hamsters can travel up to six miles overnight which is why it is recommended to have at least one wheel in the enclosure. Hamsters also love to burrow, and need at least two inches of a soft bedding in their enclosure to dig into. It isn't recommended to use a wood-based bedding in the cage due to their desire to burrow because the wood can cause damage to their eyes.

One common complaint of hamster owners is about them biting. Hamsters have very poor eyesight and are easily startled, so when handling, slowly wake them up by calling their name and avoid picking them up straight out of a dead sleep. If you have handled any food, wash your hands before handling your hamster since hamsters have a heightened sense of smell and will nibble if they smell food!

 Speaking of food, hamsters tend to store their food into their cheek pouches and then bury it into a safe place in their cage, and will slowly eat from this stockpile. Their diet should be high in protein and low in fat so diets with a lot of seeds are not recommended.  Hamsters should eat a mixture of commercial hamster pellets which contain grains and minerals, fresh vegetables such as Romaine lettuce, carrot tops, broccoli, and spinach, small amounts of fruits like apples, pears, strawberries and bananas and timothy hay. Avoid fruits and veggies with high water content as these can cause diarrhea.

Hamsters can be fun pets and following these tips can keep your hamster happy and healthy.

This blog brought to you by the Patton Veterinary Hospital serving Red Lion, York and the surrounding communities.….