Hamsters make great pets for first-time pet owners and are relatively low-maintenance. They are also very active and playful, making them a fun addition to any home. However, there are still some things to consider before adopting a hamster, such as which type of hamster is best for you, what kind of habitat you will need to provide, and what to feed your new pet. This guide will provide you with all the information you need to know about keeping a hamster as a pet at home
What is a hamster?
Hamsters are small, furry rodents that come in a variety of colors and sizes. The most common type of hamster is the Syrian hamster, also known as the golden or teddy bear hamster. These hamsters typically grow to be about 6 inches long and 2 pounds in weight. Other popular types of hamsters include the dwarf hamster, Chinese hamster, and Robo hamster.
Chinese hamsters are slightly smaller than Syrian hamsters and have longer tails. Dwarf hamsters are the smallest type of hamster, growing to be only about 4 inches long. Robo hamsters get their name from their robotic-looking movements and are known for being very active.
Here in the US, the most common type of hamster kept as a pet is a Syrian hamster. If you are considering adopting a hamster, make sure to do your research on the different types to decide which one is best for you.
Why are they called Syrian hamsters?
Syrian hamsters are so named because they are originally from Syria. They were first discovered in the wild in 1930 and were brought to the US in 1938. They quickly became popular as pets because of their small size, cute appearance, and low-maintenance care.
What do hamsters eat?
Hamsters are omnivorous, meaning they eat both plants and animals. In the wild, their diet consists of things like seeds, fruits, vegetables, insects, and small mammals. However, pet hamsters should not be fed a diet of only fresh foods. A diet that is too high in fresh fruits and vegetables can cause diarrhea in hamsters. The best diet for a pet hamster is a commercially prepared hamster food mix that is supplemented with fresh fruits and vegetables.
A good quality hamster food mix will contain all of the nutrients your hamster needs to stay healthy. Be sure to read the ingredients list on the package to make sure the food does not contain any artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives. You should also avoid giving your hamster any foods that are high in sugar, as this can lead to obesity and other health problems.
What kind of habitat do hamsters need?
Hamsters are very active creatures and need a large habitat to run and play in. The minimum recommended size for a hamster habitat is 24 inches by 12 inches by 12 inches. However, the larger the habitat, the better.
Your hamster’s habitat should include a water bottle, food bowl, hiding places, and plenty of toys. The water bottle should be attached to the side of the cage so that your hamster can easily reach it. The food bowl should be filled with a good-quality hamster food mix and placed in a location that is easily accessible to your hamster.
Providing your hamster with hiding places is important because it will help him feel safe and secure in his environment. Hamsters are nocturnal creatures and prefer to sleep during the day, so having a place to hide will help them feel more comfortable. You can buy ready-made hamster houses or make your own out of cardboard boxes or paper towel rolls.
Toys are also important for your hamster’s habitat. Hamsters are very active and love to play. Providing them with toys will help keep them entertained and happy. Some good toy options for hamsters include exercise balls, tunnels, and chew toys.
How often should I clean my hamster’s habitat?
You should clean your hamster’s habitat at least once a week. This involves removing all of the bedding, debris, and waste from the cage and washing all of the accessories in hot, soapy water. The cage itself can be wiped down with a diluted vinegar solution.
After the cage and accessories are clean, you will need to add fresh bedding. There are a variety of bedding options available for hamsters, but the best type is aspen shavings. Avoid using cedar or pine shavings, as they can be harmful to your hamster’s respiratory system.
How often should I handle my hamster?
You should handle your hamster every day to help him get used to you. However, it is important to do so in a way that does not scare or stress him out. The best way to pick up a hamster is to cup your hand over his back and allow him to walk onto your palm. Once he is on your hand, you can gently cup your other hand over him to help keep him from falling.
When first starting to handle your hamster, it is best to do so for short periods of time. Over time, you can gradually increase the amount of time you spend handling him.
What health problems do hamsters typically have?
The most common health problem in hamsters is obesity. This is usually caused by a diet that is too high in sugar or fat. Other health problems that can affect hamsters include respiratory infections, diarrhea, and skin allergies.
To help prevent these health problems, it is important to feed your hamster a healthy diet and provide him with plenty of exercises. It is also important to take him to the vet for regular check-ups.
By following these simple tips, you can ensure that your hamster will be happy and healthy for many years to come.
Are hamsters good pets?
Yes, hamsters make great pets! They are relatively low maintenance and can provide you with hours of entertainment. Plus, they are very cute and cuddly!
Hamsters are easy to care for and only require a few simple supplies. All you need is a cage, bedding, food, water bottle, and some toys.
A hamster has a 16-day gestation period. When pregnant, a hamster’s nipples will become enlarged and pink or red. She will also begin to build a nest out of bedding material.
If you think your hamster may be pregnant, it is important to take her to the vet for a check-up. Pregnant hamsters should not be handled too much, as this can cause them to miscarry.
Once the babies are born, they will be blind and hairless. They will begin to grow fur at around 3 weeks old and will be fully furred by 6 weeks. Hamsters reach adulthood at around 8-12 weeks old.
Hamsters get 3 to 12 babies.
Hamster health issues:
Dermatophytosis is a common skin infection caused by a type of fungus. The most common symptom is hair loss. Other symptoms include itchiness, redness, and scaling. Dermatophytosis is treated with antifungal medication.
Respiratory infections are another common health problem in hamsters. Symptoms include sneezing, runny nose, and wet eyes. If left untreated, respiratory infections can lead to pneumonia. Respiratory infections are treated with antibiotics.
Diarrhea is a common symptom of several different health problems in hamsters. It can be caused by a change in diet, stress, or bacterial infection. Diarrhea is treated by identifying and treating the underlying cause.
Skin allergies are another common health problem in hamsters. Allergies can be caused by a variety of things, including dust, food, and cleaning products. Symptoms include itchiness, redness, and hair loss. Skin allergies are treated by identifying and avoiding the allergen.
As mentioned earlier, obesity is a common health problem in hamsters. Obesity is caused by a diet that is too high in sugar or fat. It can also be caused by a lack of exercise. Obesity can lead to a variety of health problems, including diabetes and heart disease. Obesity is treated by feeding a healthy diet and providing plenty of exercises.
Lymphocytic Choriomeningitis (LCM):
LCM is a viral infection that can be deadly in hamsters. Symptoms include fever, runny nose, and seizures. There is no cure for LCM, so it is important to take your hamster to the vet as soon as possible if you suspect he has the virus.
Rabies is a viral infection that is deadly in all mammals, including hamsters. Symptoms include fever, paralysis, and aggression. There is no cure for rabies, so it is important to take your hamster to the vet as soon as possible if you suspect he has the virus.
Rodentolepiasis and Hymenolepiasis (tapeworms):
Tapeworms are a type of parasitic worm that can infect hamsters. Symptoms include weight loss, diarrhea, and anemia. Tapeworms are treated with medication.
Salmonellosis is a bacterial infection that can be deadly in hamsters. Symptoms include diarrhea, vomiting, and fever. Salmonellosis is treated with antibiotics.
Tularemia is a bacterial infection that can be deadly in hamsters. Symptoms include fever, weight loss, and diarrhea. Tularemia is treated with antibiotics.
Urinary tract infections:
Urinary tract infections are a common health problem in hamsters. Symptoms include increased urination, blood in the urine, and lethargy. Urinary tract infections are treated with antibiotics.
Yersiniosis is a bacterial infection that can be deadly in hamsters. Symptoms include fever, lethargy, and diarrhea. Yersiniosis is treated with antibiotics.
There are several diseases that can be passed from hamsters to humans, including salmonellosis and lymphocytic choriomeningitis. It is important to wash your hands after handling your hamster or cleaning his cage. You should also see a doctor if you develop any symptoms after handling a hamster.
As you can see, there are a variety of health problems that can affect hamsters. It is important to take your hamster to the vet for regular checkups and to see a vet as soon as possible if you suspect he is sick.
Risk of Zoonotic disease when having a hamster as a pet:
Hamsters are classed as low-risk pet when it comes to zoonotic diseases. This is because they are not often in contact with humans and so the chances of them transmitting disease are low. However, there are still some risks to be aware of. The most common zoonotic disease associated with hamsters is salmonellosis. Salmonellosis is a bacterial infection that can be passed from hamsters to humans. Symptoms include diarrhea, vomiting, and fever. Salmonellosis is treated with antibiotics.
To avoid contracting salmonellosis from your hamster, you should wash your hands after handling him or cleaning his cage. You should also see a doctor if you develop any symptoms after handling a hamster.
Other zoonotic diseases that can be passed from hamsters to humans include lymphocytic choriomeningitis and rabies. Lymphocytic choriomeningitis is a viral infection that can be deadly in both humans and hamsters. Symptoms include fever, runny nose, and seizures.
There is no cure for lymphocytic choriomeningitis, so it is important to take your hamster to the vet as soon as possible if you suspect he has the virus. Rabies is another viral infection that can be deadly in both humans and hamsters. Symptoms include fever, paralysis, and aggression. There is also no cure for rabies, so it is important to take your hamster to the vet as soon as possible if you suspect he has the virus.
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Hi there! My name is Ben Domb, an owner of two pets and I am one of the co-founders of OurPets HQ. I have several years of experience as a pet care professional in the New England region having spent time in various roles including a stint at a veterinary hospital in Upstate New York, Syracuse area. I am a certified pet care professional and mostly spend my time researching pet nutrition and sharing my thoughts in various blogs and columns. With quarantine and COVID restrictions, I have been spending a lot of time a lot with my dogs and cat and loving it! I also run a small consulting business providing advice to parents on pet nutrition, and especially safe homemade options to try. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org