So you want a hamster. These critters are lots of fun and make wonderful pets. But they do need some specific care.
Let’s explore what it takes to have a pet hamster.
Even though hamsters are small, they need lots of room to roam around. For this reason, you will want to provide your new furry friend with a large cage or a terrarium.
If you choose to use a terrarium, it should measure at least 15 inches long, by 12 inches wide, by 15 inches high.
Remember: If you have lots of toys, places to climb, and hiding spots in your enclosure, it will need to be bigger.
You will also need some other items to make your hamster’s home great. These include;
- Bedding – Line the bottom of your enclosure with 3 to 4 inches of cellulose and plant-based fibers (you can find this at a pet store). Do not use corn cobs, cat litter, wood shavings, newspaper, or things with heavy perfumes.
- Hamster toys – a plastic wheel (not wire), chew toys (unpainted and untreated pieces of wood), walnut shells, and hard dog biscuits.
- A food dish
- A drip water bottle
- Hamster food
How to Set Up a Hamster Home
Before you bring home your hamster, you have to get its enclosure ready. Here’s how to set up a hamster cage.
Step #1 – Step the cage up according to the instructions on the box.
Step #2 – Place 3 to 4 inches of bedding on the floor of the cage.
Step #3 – Rinse the drip water bottle, then fill with fresh water. Hang on the side of the cage, so the drip portion is inside the cage and low enough for your hamster to reach.
Step #4 – Rinse the food dish. Dry. Fill with hamster food. Place in the cage (not under the water bottle).
Step #5 – Add in any toys or hiding places you want to use. Hamsters like to play in and chew up empty toilet paper or paper towel rolls.
Step #6 – Place your hamster’s cage away from drafts, and direct sunlight. Choose a place that is quiet and relaxing.
Now that you have your hamster’s home ready, it’s time to add the hamster.
Bringing Home a Hamster
After you have chosen your hamster, the person at the store will put him in a small carrying box for you to take him home in.
When you get home, open the door of the cage. Carefully open the box and place it in the cage. Allow your hamster to walk out of the box and into his new home.
Remember: Your new friend will be very nervous, so allow him to investigate the cage and all his new stuff without being disturbed.
Your new buddy might want to sleep (hamsters are nocturnal, meaning they are more active at night), so allow him to rest before you attempt to pick him up.
Handling a Hamster
Before you pick up your hamster be sure to wash your hands with antibacterial soap – you don’t want to introduce bacteria or other contaminants into your hamster’s cage. Plus, you will want to remove any chemicals that could potentially poison your hamster.
Approach your hamster calmly and with a soft voice. You don’t want to scare him. Now gently cup your hands around your hamster and lift him slowly from the cage.
Always play with your hamster on a safe surface. This is especially important, as a drop or fall could seriously injure your new friend.
When your finished playing, gently place your hamster back in the cage. Secure the door.
Feeding Your Hamster
Feed your hamster prepared food mixes. These mixes include seeds, grains, vegetables, fruits, and more.
You can also give your hamster the occasional treat. You can find hamster treats at the pet store, or you can also feed him bite-sized pieces of fresh fruit and vegetables.
Remember:n take out any uneaten fresh food every day, so it doesn’t go bad.
Cleaning Your Hamster’s Cage
Once a week you will need to clean your hamster’s cage. To do this, you will have to relocate your furry friend to a safe location – a big box with tall sides will work, just be sure your hamster can’t escape.
Once your pet is safe, take apart the cage. Throw away the old bedding and any uneaten food, or chewed up toys.
Now mix light dish detergent and warm water in a bucket or a laundry tub. Scrub down the cage, the bottom, and all the plastic toys.
Allow the habitat to dry or use a towel to quicken the process.
Replace the bedding, your hamster’s wheel, and toys.
You’re now ready to put your hamster back into his clean home.
Now that we’ve learned what it takes to have a pet hamster, here are some fun “hammy” facts.
Fun Hamster Facts
Did you know?
- There are 25 species of hamsters, but they’re not all used as pets.
- In the wild, hamsters live in underground burrows. They come out at twilight to feed.
- This rodent has large pouches in its cheeks. These are used to carry food back to its burrow.
- The Syrian Hamster is the one most commonly kept as a pet.
- Hamsters use their scent glands to help them find their way.
Do you think a hamster might be a good pet for you? Leave us a comment with your thoughts on these “furry friends.”