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Hamster Care

Learn how to care for your hamster, how to choose the right types of hamster cages, and hamster training

Last Build Date: Sat, 04 Oct 2014 20:21:57 PDT


Hamster Care/The Right Bedding

Wed, 12 Jul 2006 22:46:32 PDT

I was concerned about the bedding for our guinea pigs the other day and that brought to my attention the bedding we use in our hamster's cage. I asked around at the local pet shop and got an answer for the type of bedding they recommended for hamsters: Aspen shavings. It is about as good a bedding for hamsters as you can get, and they aren't the only ones to make that claim; I've seen in in other places on the web. We will probably switch to aspen bedding pretty soon after the upcoming change of bedding this week. Odor is not really a problem here. We want a healthy pet. Napoleon has done a super job of cleaning himself, and we are doing our part to help him live a healthy life!

Napoleon so far is a very easy pet for our 7 year old daughter, although it took a lot of reminding to teach her the essential daily tasks of caring for hamsters. It is an educational opportunity for the whole family. Learning to take care of a hamster brings interesting moments to our family life.

This morning my daughter and the hamster were sharing a piece of cantelope together--his recent new love. There is a lot of vitamin C and A in cantelopes. It is not the usual thing we use to feed him though. I bought some vitamin C drops from the store and he likes them, which is comforting since our guinea pigs (who actually need the vitamin C) do not seem to care for them!

I hope that you will find the picture of Napoleon nibbling on the cantelope with my daugher interesting.

Hamster Care

Hamster Cages

Fri, 23 Jun 2006 22:01:20 PDT

Our hamster Napoleon seems very content with his cage. It has horizontal metal bars that he has been known to climb on. I would personally think this type of hamster cage is most suitable for the majority of hamsters out there. This type of hamster cage also allows for good ventilation. Other types of cages can also work well, of course. Even a makeshift wooden box will work as temporary houseing if it is deep enough so the hamster can not escape easily. Add enough wood shavings or hay, and the hamsters inside the box will make their own nests.

Hamsters need to move around a lot to release that abundant amount of energy so a tread wheel is usually recommended. I have seen Napoleon use it at least a couple of hours every night. Metal wheels are preferable to plastic wheels because they are less likely to be damaged by gnawing. Remember not to put a wheel in a cage with several young hamsters since they might run on top of each other, which is dangerous!

Besides placing an exercise wheel in the cage, you would want to add small things like twigs from greens, small stones or other things to satisfy their curiosity. As hamsters need to gnaw on something, adding a few chewing blocks or a section of willow branch is helpful.

We clean the hamster cage at least once a week even though Napoleon is meticulously clean. If there is an odor, usually it is from the bedding, not from him so it is an indication that it is time to clean the cage. To keep his cage clean, we would put just one or two leaves of dandelion on the bar for him to finish at a time, so there is no need to remove the unfinished perishable food inside the cage thus it reduces the frequency of cleaning the cage too often.

Anyway, this is a really simple routine for caring for your hamster. If it is done faithfully, one should have fairly happy hamsters!

Hamster Cage

Hygiene Care

Thu, 15 Jun 2006 16:15:39 PDT

Hamsters are fairly clean and do not stink that much since they can clean themselves. Neverheless, it is advisable to keep their cages clean on a regular basis. The frequency of cleaning the cages depends on the types of hamster cages, the material of what the cages are made and the numbers of hamsters in the same cage.

Generally speaking, hamster cages should be cleaned and disinfected once a week. Change the water and food everyday. Pick up any perishable food particles daily. Keep a few containers at a time and change the one which is soiled. Scrub the cage, furniture and hamster toys with hot water and soap and rinse thoroughly.

My daughter keeps her hamster in her bedroom and normally she changes the bedding for Napolean once a week. Sometimes when the urine of the hamster is overwhelming, she does have to change the bedding more than once a week. More bedding is probably needed if the hamster urinates heavily. So far, we have been very happy with our hamster and we find caring for the hamster is becoming a fun part of our daily life.

Hamster Care/Napolean getting stuck

Wed, 14 Jun 2006 21:30:49 PDT

Today our hamster had a scary episode that almost sent us to have a heart attack...

My daughter took the hamster to the bathroom and he got into the crack underneath the cabinet...a tiny, long narrow upright passage in the dead corner. He was stuck. My daugher came right out to get our atttention. I only could feel one of his little paw and I could not make sure if he was heading downwards or upwards. Once I had an inch of his fur to grab on and I tried to grab it and then it was his cheek pouch. Alright, I thought it was soft enough for me not to injure him. I grabbed him out and still he could not get out. We played the tug of war for a while and eventually I saw his cute little head sticking out but he was making some kind of distressed noise. He did not know what he was getting into, it seemed. So, I got his bowl of food out to lure him while I kept grabbing his pouch and the trick worked. He got out at the sight of his food. What a relief. I thought I was going to have a dead hamster stuck in the narrow one inch long tube....I immediately stuffed the opening under the cabinet with clothes to make sure he will not get into it any more.

The hamsters have a way to squeeze their way through narrow spaces but I still do not want to risk his life. When caring for your hamsters, make sure once they are out of their cages, keep an eye on them and know where they are going. If you have a cluttered space, chances are it is extremely hard to find them once they get lost. I had the hamster out the other day in my bedroom with the door closed. Five minutes later, he was in the home office. He journeyed through the long hall way and the living room and was found in another room much farther away from he was located. Amazing escape artists!

Hamster Care

Tue, 06 Jun 2006 20:21:01 PDT

Since hamsters are so small and delicate in body size, they are prone to injury. In most cases They are often dropped or jump out of the hands especially when they are held by children. Or when they bit!. I often feel it is not safe to leave them run free in the house because they can be easily stepped on and seriously hurt or killed.

Another potential culprit for injury to hamsters is their exercise device such as a plastic ball. Do not forget your hamsters to their balls no matter how well the ball is designed. I heard of a case in which a ball with a hamster in it rolled down the stairs and instantly killed the poor hamster. A drop of more than one foot may cause serious injury to your hamster, so watch out and be gentle with them and do not let them run free on the floor where there is much foot traffic.

If you suspect of bone fractures in your hamsters, immediately bring them to the vet and have them examined. The prognosis of applying a splint is not too good as it might cause potential problem on the broken limb. My word-prevention is better than treatment. Therefore, keep an eye on your hamster and know their whereabouts when they are out of hamster cages. If you could not locate them, then watch out for the floor where they are likely to be stepped upon.

Hamster Care

Hamster Breeding

Tue, 30 May 2006 22:57:22 PDT

I have not bred hamsters myself, but here is some info from others who have bred hamsters successfully. Hopefully, this will give you a rough idea of how to proceed.

Determine the sex of mature hamsters first. Male ones usually have prominient testicles. They are usually first bred at 14 weeks old while females are bred at 10 weeks old. While placing the two together in the same cage for breeding, you should watch closely for mating or possible fighting. Take the male hamster out of the cage if fighting occurs. Do not forget to remove the males from the cage when mating is done.

Preganancy takes about two weeks or a little longer. Female hamsters usually give birth to litters of 5 to 10 baby hamsters (called pups). Provide plentiful bedding for nesting and of course, fresh food and water. Leave them and the nest alone and try not to disturb them as much as you have to. Don't clean the cage. Wait for one week. It is during this period when some mother hamsters will eat their own pups, so be cautious (this happened to my sister once--she was quite traumatized by the experience). Sometimes you might observe the mother hamster stuff the babies into her cheek pouches and put them into the nest later for protection. This might cause some of the baby hamsters to suffocate if the mother has been disturbed for too long.

Feed the baby hamsters regular hamster food when they are about 10 to 12 days old. They are often weaned at about 3 weeks of age. Soften and place the solid food where it is easy to access. The same goes for the water supply. Watch out for baby hamsters who are too weak to draw the water from the sipper. You might need to look for a creative way to provide water for them.

Breeding Hamsters

Hamster Dander

Sat, 27 May 2006 17:33:57 PDT

We acquired our hamstser Napoleon from a loving family when he was under one year old. The boy for whom Napoleon was originally bought turned out to be allergic to him, so we lucked out. They gave us Napoleon along with his cage, food, bedding, and water bottle. So, that was how we brought Napolean home.

Certain people are allergic to the hair and/or dander of hamsters. I have heard that people working with hamsters in laboratories are more likely to deveop allergies because of their continous exposure to hamsters. This does not mean that every hamster owner will eventually develop such allergies though. If you have symptoms like sneezing, persisitent cough, shortness of breath, itchy eyes, wheezing and a skin rash, it may be wise to go to a doctor and get confirmation to see if you are allergic to hamsters.

Keep in mind as well that sometimes people think they are allergic to hamsters when they are actually allergic to the cedar or pine bedding they are using (it's not just bad for small rodents!). In that case, simply changing the bedding in your hamsters change may work a miracle cure. And as mentioned in a previous post, if you care for your hamster, you shouldn't use that sort of bedding anyway.

Basic and Essential Hamster Care/Food and Water

Thu, 25 May 2006 12:00:20 PDT

Essential Hamster Care

If it is your children that have the hamsters as pets, then as parents you should set a good example for your children and teach them to take care of their hamsters routinely. I know in my case that my daughter got really excited about Napolean when he was arriving in our household and she was good at taking care of the hamster until lately when her school gets busy. Now I have to remind her of her responsibility to care for Napolean. She changes bedding once a week--sometimes twice a week. She tends to fill up the water bottle to the fullest not realising that by doing so the water often starts growing algae before Napolean has a chance to drink it all. I have to teach her to fill it less than one third full; this forces her to change the water more often so her hamster can have fresh, instead of static moldy water to drink. We also have to check the sipper tube often for potential clogging.

When we give Napoleon fresh, perishable food, then we feed him outside his cage so the food will not rot inside his cage if he can't finish it all. I have sometimes had to fish out dried or shriveled scraps of food from his bedding.

I observe that Napolean has designated areas for his food storage, his hygiene business, and his nest. He is very organized. It is fun to watch him as he arranges his little world in the cage.

If you want to have happy hamster, make sure you do not slack off in your hamster care routine. Provide the food and the clean water daily. Even though hamsters do not drink much, deprivation of water may lead to serious dehydration. Lack of food may lead to stomach ulcers. In turn, the starved hamsters may start to eat the bedding materials and it is not uncommon to hear that they eat their own kind!

Hamster Care

Hamster Disease/Wet Tail

Mon, 22 May 2006 21:54:41 PDT

Sick Hamster

"Wet tail' is is the most serious intestinal disease of hamsters. Wet tail often affects hamsters of weaning age from 3 to 6 weeks. However, hamsters of all ages can be affected. If you have long haired teddy bear hamsers, then be wary because they are highly vulnerable to this particular hamster disease. The hamster disease is caused by bacteria which also exist in other animals such as dogs, ferrets and pigs. However, it is not transfermissible to human beings.

If you observe that your hamster starts to develop various symptoms like messy fur coat, lethargy, dull sunken eyes, highened irritability, watery diarrhea, acting huddled plus a soiled wet bottom and tail. Sometimes you even will see blood coming out from the rectum and the anal sphincter is prolapsed. Not a very pleasant picture.....

If that is the case with your hamsters, I would suggest you take them to the vet to be examined right away. Most likely, the vet will prescribe some antibiotics, antidiarreal medication to treat your hamsters. Do keep your hamsters clean, dry and warm in the meanwhile. Somehow, the treatment of the disease is not very effective. Hamsters with wet tail may die as soon as two days after the symptoms start to show up. It can be very detrimental to you and your young kids...let's make sure we keep up with the preventive measures and take good care of our hamsters to avoid this unpleasant disease!

Sick Hamster

A Bath Or No?

Mon, 22 May 2006 21:55:03 PDT

My daughter became enthusiastic about Napolean's personal hygiene the other day and insisted he needed a bath. Poor Napolean. He was good-natured about it all. He did not like getting wet. but did not run like mad for his life either. I had to rescue him from further over-care from my daughter. I was afraid he would catch a cold, but he didn't.

Hamsters can do a good job of cleaning themselves, so baths are not necessary. Yesterday, for example, he got into the flower bed and his nose ended up all covered with compost; his normally white and tan fur was gray. I told my daughter not to worry about it. Later in the evening Napolean was all clean nose, clean nothing had ever happened. We were amazed!

So, when caring for your hamsters, if you feel tempted to bathe them, think twice. They are desert animals, and by nature they like to stay dry; they know how to clean themselves.

How To Care For Your Hamster When You Are Sick

Wed, 17 May 2006 12:39:33 PDT

...If you have a cold, that is.

Did you know that hamsters are susceptible to the human cold virus? I certainly didn't until just recently. I did some double checking to make sure wasn't pulling my leg, and it turns out it's true. According to Encarta, Hamsters were the first small laboratory animal found to be vulnerable to the common cold. That's great for reasearchers investigating rhinoviruses, but not so good for owners of pet hamsters.

So, today's hamster care tip is: don't play with your pet when you have a cold.

Caring Owners Provide a Burrow for Their Hamsters

Wed, 10 May 2006 22:05:27 PDT

Care about your hamster? Give it a "burrow".

Hamsters are nocturnal creatures. In the wild, they generally stay in their burrows during the day, and come out at twilight to forage for food (I've seen sources that claim they go as far as eight miles in a night--that's 12 kilometers for those of you in the civilized parts of the world). That's a lot of walking for a creature that fits in the palm of your hand. Your task as the owner of a hamster is to provide a space in your pet's cage that can act as a "burrow". One oft-recommended solution is to take a small cardboard box, cut out a 2-3" door (that's 5-8 cm) and place it in a corner of the cage. Since hamsters will not generally foul their burrow, the box should last for quite a while before needing replacement (it may get chewed up--a subject for another post). Place the cage (and especially your pet's "bedroom") so as to avoid direct sunlight and drafts. Hamsters make great pets, but they are somewhat vulnerable to infections, so make sure you pay attention to these quality-of-life details or you may lose them.

In our case, we have a shelf in Napoleon's cage. I've installed it about as low as possible in the cage (where the plastic "base" ends and the wire rungs start), and Napoleon piles up his bedding underneath to make a nest. Since the cage is kept in a corner out of direct sunlight, this area makes a nice "burrow" for him and he curls up and sleeps the day away quite happily.

So, today's hamster care tip: provide a place in your hamster cage where they can curl up away from direct sunlight and snooze the day away.

Handling Of Hamsters

Fri, 05 May 2006 21:45:27 PDT

When it comes to the care of hamsters, one of the most basic things you need to know is how to handle them. If you handle them frequently from a very early age, they will usually stay tame and rarely bite. Hamsters can be picked up using either one or both hands; hold the hamster against your body if using only one hand.

If hamsters have been handled roughly or are awakened suddenly, they can respond aggressively and may bite! So, be careful about hamsters before you handle them when you are not sure of their personalities. You can use a piece of cloth or wear a glove when first picking them up. Lift them by grasping a large amount of skin behind the head where the skin is loose and soft. Again, I will emphasize, a LARGE amount of skin, to make sure the hamster does not turn around to bite you! Thus, hamsters can be restrained. Be sure to teach your kids this when they learn to care for their cute new hamsters. Be gentle in handling them, too. Hamsters can be somewhat fragile, and you can hurt them if you are too rough.

When we got Napolean from the previous owner, he tended to bite but we have learned to handle him gently and with time, he has a become a lot more tame. Never intimidate hamsters or threaten them when they bite you because it only makes it worse. So, heed the tip I just gave you and the care of your hamster will be easier!

Hamster Cages

Mon, 01 May 2006 09:37:06 PDT

Did you know that the type of bedding you use in your hamster's cage makes a big difference? It does. It turns out that cedar shavings are not suitable at all. If you use them to line their cage, your pets are liable to develop respiratory problems and die early. This is true not only for hamsters, but also for guinea pigs and other small rodents. The problem is the phenols which are present in the wood; they're the chemicals that give cedar its distinctive smell. These chemicals are toxic (that's why cedar can be used to ward off moths), and over time, they can build up in your pet's body, leading to liver failure, among other possible problems. Pine shavings also have phenols in them, though not as much as in cedar.

So, if you can afford it, use one of the alternative beddings available. One of the best choices is shaved aspen. It's a lot like pine shavings, but without the phenols. A lot of the other alternatives require you to have two layers of bedding: one to absorb the "messes" and the other the actual "bedding" for your pet to build its nest from. If you must use pine bedding, make sure it's "kiln-dried"; "air-dried" pine has more phenols in it. Also, if you use pine, make sure your hamster's cage is well ventilated. A closed plastic cage with just a few vents is probably not a good choice if you're using pine.

Hamster Cages

Take Care of Your Hamster

Mon, 01 May 2006 09:08:50 PDT

Hamster Care

I have raised all kinds of pets--dogs, cats, snakes, parrots, guinea name it--but I have always found hamsters to be just about the perfect pet. They are cuddly, cute, relatively clean, portable, and love to be loved. If this is your first time to raise a hamster, then I recommend you check out the "Happy Hamster e-book" . This is a vital resource even for those of us that have been caring for hamsters for a while. This book will teach you all the ins and outs of raising hamsters so that you and your pets will be healthy and happy.

This e-book's author, with 8 years experience raising and breeding hamsters in pet shops, holds nothing back. You'll learn which breed of hamsters is right for you and your family, what type of cage to get, how to stop your hamster from making so much noise at night, what to do when hamsters try to bite, how to groom and bathe hamsters, and much more...Besides the do's, the author also shows you the don'ts of hamster care so you will know exactly how to prolong their life span and make them content and happy pets.

My daughter and I have used the information in this book with her hamster (Napoleon--he's the one squirming in the picture), and it makes such a difference because now we are sure of what we are doing, and we are confident that we are training him right. It is wonderful to see both my daughter and the hamster thriving. I am enjoying the cute little critter myself; it brings back happy childhood memories. I only wish I had had this resource when I was 11.

So, do not miss reading this e-book. You will not regret it.

Hamster Care

Hamster Care

Sun, 23 Apr 2006 19:54:03 PDT

Welcome to my hamster care blog. Here you will learn about hamsters and hamster care plus how to breed hamsters. I will be posting articles and links soon, so please check back frequently.