Syrian or Golden hamsters have been the most popular type of household pet since the 1950s, according to Live Science Contributor Alina Bradford. They are fantastic pets because of their ease of care, affectionate nature, low cost, and stress-relieving characteristics.
But before stepping into pet one, you must know how to take care of a hamster. You can provide your pet hamster with
- Adequate living space
- A nutritious diet
- Opportunities for exercise and play
- Routine medical checks to ensure their good health and vigor.
If you are a first-time hamster owner, I recommend reading this article to learn more about how to take care of a hamster.
How To Take Care Of Your Pet Hamster?
Hamsters require special care to thrive and maintain good health because they are small, hyperactive, and delicate animals. Hence, taking great care of your hamster will help you prevent health complications, behavioral issues, and sudden deaths.
So, to provide your pet hamster with the best care possible, you must attend to its basic needs, which include:
- Suitable Housing and Environment
- A Balanced Diet
- Fresh Water
- Opportunities to Play and Exercise
- Health Checkups
- Maintaining Good Hygiene
1. Suitable Housing and Environment
Choose the appropriate cage and give your hamster a quiet, safe, and pleasant environment. This way they can remain healthy, and mentally stable and behave actively.
While choosing a cage and setting up a living space for your hamster, keep the following things in mind:
- Size of the cage– When selecting a cage for your pet, remember that hamsters are active rodents and require adequate room to walk around and play.
A study found that pet golden hamsters housed in larger cages with a minimum ground floor area of 10,000cm2 displayed better health and activity levels than those housed in smaller cages.
So, a hamster cage should be at least 2 feet long, 1 foot wide, and at least 1 foot tall to be considered adequate.
- Bedding of the cage- A non-toxic, sterile material should be used to construct the cage. You can use hay straw, shredded paper, or wood shavings to create bedding for hamsters as it provides warmth, absorbs moisture, and cushions fall.
Avoid cages with wire flooring since they can harm your hamster’s feet.
- Ventilation and Temperature- Due to their sensitivity to high temperatures, hamsters should be housed in environments with humidity levels of 40% to 60 % and temperatures between 20°- 24°C.
To maintain sufficient oxygen levels, the cage should also be well-ventilated.
- Cleaning- Hamsters may emit foul smells if they aren’t cleaned often. It is essential to clean the cage, remove any soiled bedding, and throw away any uneaten food regularly to prevent the spread of diseases and nasty smells.
- Placement– The cage should be put in a peaceful, dimly lit section of your house, far from other pets or noisy appliances.
To learn how to set up a cage for your pet hamster, watch the YouTube video below.
2. A Balanced Diet
Hamsters are omnivores, which means they eat both plant and animal-based foods. The findings of a study indicate that hamsters must consume a diet high in fiber, low in fat and sugar, and packed with nutrients to meet their nutritional needs.
The table below provides the daily nutritional needs for a Golden hamster.
|Required Nutrients||Suggested Amount|
|Calcium||3.0-6.0 g Ca/kg|
|Vitamin A||1.1 mg/kg diet|
|Vitamin B2||20 mg/kg|
A proper diet for a pet hamster should include the following-
- Fresh fruits and vegetables- Fresh fruits and vegetables should make up 20% of the diet of your pet hamster. Carrots, broccoli, apples, and bananas are all healthy options. However, don’t feed your hamster citrus fruits, as they can cause digestive issues.
- Good quality pellet food- The pellet-style food available for hamsters has all the ingredients required for your pet’s well-being. You should feed your hamster a pellet food that is rich in fiber and vitamins.
- Fibre-Adult hamsters are prone to have digestive issues, which often lead to a condition like Wet Tail. Therefore, feed hamsters a diet rich in fiber. And excellent sources of fiber include hay, vegetables, sunflower seeds and nuts.
- Protein- Hamsters need to eat meals high in protein for the growth and repair of their bodily tissues as well as to maintain their energy levels.
3. Access To Fresh Water
On average male and female hamsters consume 8.5 mL/100 g of water daily. Like other animals, hamsters require water to stay hydrated. Dehydration can result in a number of health issues, including kidney stones, constipation, and UTIs.
You should provide hamsters access to clean water daily to help them control their body temperature because they cannot survive in extremely hot weather and are susceptible to heatstroke.
4. Opportunities to Play and Exercise
Hamsters are energetic, sociable, and friendly animals. In addition to playing with balls and gnawing on toys, hamsters also like running around and climbing in their cages.
You should provide your hamster with toys to play with, such as tunnels, exercise wheels, and chew toys.
According to a study, Syrian hamsters that ran on running wheels for 20 to 30 minutes each day exhibited improved growth, increased appetite, a doubling of food intake, weight gain, and a cheerful attitude.
5. Maintaining Good Hygiene
You should pay special attention to maintaining good hygiene for your pet hamster to ensure its physical and mental welfare.
This is important for the following reasons-
|Importance of maintaining good hygiene|
|Preventing the Spread of Diseases|
|Lowering Stress Levels|
|Preventing Bad Smells|
- Preventing the spread of diseases- Due to their small size, hamsters are susceptible to infection from germs. Hence, maintaining basic hygiene is crucial for keeping hamsters free from illnesses like Diarrhea, fungal infections, lip scabs, and runny eyes.
- Preventing bad smells- The natural stench of hamsters might become more unpleasant if their living space is not cleaned regularly. And you can prevent bad odor, by bathing your hamster and cleaning their cage often.
- Lowering stress levels- When their surroundings are untidy or dirty, hamsters can feel stressed. Maintaining a clean, sanitary living environment can help hamsters feel less stressed.
The table below provides some tips on how to keep your hamster’s hygiene in check.
|Clean the cage||Take out all the bedding, wash the cage with soapy water, and rinse it well|
|Provide fresh water||Remove any uneaten food and change the water in the water bowl daily|
|Keep a litter box in the cage||To stop the spread of bacteria, a litter box should be provided in the cage|
|Groom your hamster||Cut your hamster’s nails with nail clippers and use a brush to groom its fur|
6. Regular Health Checkups
Regular checkups with the vet will give you peace of mind that your hamster is in good health. And taking your pet to a veterinarian for a monthly medical checkup is essential because:-
- Any health problems can be found early on before they cause severe harm to your pet hamster
- To keep your hamster healthy and stop the spread of infection, a veterinarian can give preventive treatment such as vaccines and antiviral drugs
- To ensure your hamster’s diet is healthy and balanced, a veterinarian can give advice on what to feed them
- They can guide you on how to properly handle and care for your hamster.
Check out this section for further information on your pet’s caring responsibilities.
Q: Are old hamsters easy to take care of?
It may be necessary to give a little extra care to an older hamster. Hamsters that are older are more prone to disease and exhibit lethargic behavior; hence, they need special meals, company, and regular health examinations.
Q: Can I keep more than one hamster in a cage?
Yes, you can. But you must make sure to keep them in a large cage and watch them carefully to make sure they get along and don’t act aggressively toward one another.
If you are a first-time hamster owner, you must realize that caring for a hamster takes time, dedication, money and attention. You can ensure your hamster has a happy and healthy life by giving them adequate living space, a balanced diet, regular opportunities to exercise and play, and good hygiene.
Also, routine visits to the vet can help you identify any potential health problems early on. Thus, you can provide your hamster with a healthy life, a secure environment and the top-quality care they need by sticking to these guidelines.