Hamsters can make wonderful pets. But it is important to know what you are getting into before you decide to bring one into your home. Here are a few tips to keep in mind.
Basic hamster care
Hamsters in the wild eat grains, vegetables, seeds, grasses, insects and fruit. So in captivity, they need a broad selection of different kinds foods to obtain all of their essential nutrients. Since they naturally store food in the pouches of their mouth, it may not be necessary to provide food everyday. It is also important to remove uneaten food from the cage periodically so that it doesn’t spoil.
Fresh water is best delivered from a feeding bottle, since water dishes can spill and wet the bottom of the cage. Hamsters should never be bathed, since water can remove the natural oils from their coat which help regulate their body heat.
Provide a clean and safe environment. The cage needs to be large enough so that they can get enough exercise to stay healthy. It needs to be located away from drafts and temperature extremes and on a surface where there is no danger of it falling or being knocked over.
Toys, tubes and wheels are important for exercise and mental stimulation. Solid wheels are safer than wheels with rungs, which can injure their feet and legs.
Common hamster problems
As a responsible pet owner, you will need to know which foods are dangerous to tits health. After all, it can only eat the foods you provide, so your hamster’s good nutrition depends entirely on you. Take the time to learn which foods can make your pet sick or die.
Being dropped, jumping and falling can break a hamster’s delicate bones. Any height more than about 8 inches could cause serious injuries. Hamster balls should never be used on a table or stairway or any surface that it could fall from, since the fall can cause broken legs or a broken back.
Accidental breeding is actually a serious problem that can result from not keeping males separated from the females. Since mature females are in heat about every 4 days, the gestation period is less than 3 weeks, and litters can be as large as 14 pups, the potential for a population explosion within one single month is extremely high. Also, since pet hamster stock is extremely inbred, there is a high chance that many of the offspring will be weak or have genetic health problems. You can prevent a lot of problems and heartache by keeping the genders apart.