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Hamster Care Basics: Dos and Don’ts

With their small size, cute appearance and contained housing requirements, hamsters make great first pets! However, just because they are less demanding pets, that doesn’t mean we should care for their needs any less. Guest writer, and experienced hamster owner Jess lists the basic do’s and don’ts when is comes to hamster care!

The Dos and Don’ts When Caring For Your Hamster

To ensure that your furry friend is as happy as possible, read these following guidelines to help you learn the ‘Dos’ and the ‘Don’ts’.

  • Hamsters originate from the desert where they create burrows in the sand. Therefore they should have enough bedding in their cage to allow them to burrow down to sleep, eat or hide.
  • Do try to handle your pet frequently; this helps them become friendlier and happier. It also gives them the opportunity to explore a new environment and to get some exercise. It also allows them to get used to your hands and your scent. However, if you’ve just bought a hamster, give it 24 hours to settle into its new home and avoid handling it straightaway. If your hamster is reluctant to be held, place your hand flat on the bottom of the cage and wait for your hamster to come to you. Make sure you are very patient and gentle, and offer treats to encourage it to go to your hand.
  • Make sure your hamster’s cage has more than one place to hide, sleep and burrow. This may include giving them a little house filled with bedding within their cage, and tubing can be very useful also. This is especially important if you have more than one hamster in the cage.
  • Change your hamster’s water every day and change their food every two days. It’s important to thoroughly clean your hamster’s cage once a week and dispose of all their old bedding.
  • Give your hamster treats every now and then, but don’t exceed feeding them more than two treats a week. Treats could include very small pieces of fresh apple or broccoli, as well as giving them yogurt drops that you can buy at pet stores. However, be wary of the fact that if you give excessive amounts of apple or broccoli to your hamster, the high water content in them could result in giving your pet diarrhoea, which can be dangerous.

hamster looking out from its hidey

  • It’s very important that your hamster gets enough exercise, so ensure that you have a play ball to let them run around in outside their cage and a fixed wheel inside their cage. Wheels are great fun to your hamster, especially to Roborovskis, as they can run up to 100 miles in a night in the wild!
  • A hamster’s teeth never stop growing. It’s a good idea to provide your pet with small wooden toys to let them chew and gnaw on; but don’t overcrowd the cage with toys.
  • Ensure that your pet’s cage is keep out of direct sunlight and away from draughts. Instead keep your hamster in a room with a steady temperature. Hamsters will go into hibernation if the temperature is below 5°C and above 40°C.

Hamster Health Checklist – Keeping your hamster as healthy as can be!

If you answer ‘no’ to any of the following questions or are concerned about your pet’s welfare, you may want to consult a vet.

  • Is the fur underneath the hamster’s tail clean?
  • Are their nails and teeth clean and visible?
  • Is the skin under the fur clean and pale pink and not red, dry or irritated?
  • Are they moving their limbs normally without seeming lethargic?
  • Are the eyes clear and free of any mucus or excess moisture?
  • Feel the weight of your hamster – you should not feel any heavy excess fat or protruding bones.
  • Are the inside of the ears and nose clean?

Read all about caring for your small pets in winter, or where to find advice from specialist.

Jessica Clarke

Jessica Clarke

Community User

Jess is a guest writer for the Preloved editorial team. She is a full time student with a passion for writing and art, and loves anything to do with pets!