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Small Pets - Hamster

Hamsters are a very common cute and cuddly pet. Many people consider hamsters to be a beginner or starter pet, but in fact they may not be best suited for children or inexperienced pet owners. You must make sure that you have a schedule that will allow you to properly care for your new hamster. Hamsters are nocturnal, meaning they are awake at night and sleep during the day, so a house with young children and busy households may not be the best fit. If you live in Hawaii, you will have to get a different type of pet, because they are illegal due to beliefs that escaped hamsters could create damaging colonies.

Food

Hamsters are high level animals that have a very fast metabolism so you must make sure you give your hamster the right amount of food. Hamsters require fresh water at all times that can be served out of a water bottle, which is better than a dish because it cannot be turned over. A small ceramic bowl is adequate for your hamster’s food, but be sure to place it away from your hamster’s bathroom area. Hamsters require one tablespoon of pellets or seed mix per day and can have treats to complement this diet. Appropriate treats include apple slices and cauliflower in small quantities. Although a hamster might finish its food quickly it does not mean that you need to refill the bowl. Hamsters will eat whatever is put in front of them, so monitoring their food intake is very important. You should feed your hamster at night, because they are nocturnal and this is when they are awake. Make sure to do a thorough cleaning of your hamster’s cage at least once every four days to make sure there isn’t any food rotting.

Care and Handling for Your Pet

Bringing your hamster home can be very stressful and overwhelming for your new pet. To help combat this scary time it is a good idea to have your hamster’s cage all set up before you bring him home. If you have children, you must make sure that they care and hold the hamster very gently because they are easily alarmed. Since hamsters sleep during the day they do not like to be handled or woken up, and they might bite if provoked. Young children, pregnant women, and those with a weakened immune system are all at a greater risk of developing zoonotic diseases (diseases that are spread from animals to humans).Proper hand washing is the best way to combat the transmission of these diseases. Hamsters are known to carry salmonella, which is an intestinal bacterium that causes severe bouts of sickness in adults. Hamsters can also carry a virus called Lymphocytic choriomeningitis which can causes severe illness in pregnant women and those with a weakened immune system.

A hamster cage is the biggest investment that you will need to make for your hamster, so it is a good idea to research them. It is very important to not put certain breeds of hamsters in the same cage. Hamsters are very territorial and will fight each other, resulting in serious wounds. In the wild hamsters have separate areas for sleeping, eating, and eliminating waste, and need to have the same space allocated in their cage. In their cage they will naturally make this same living arrangement with a separate corner for food, sleep, play and waste. Hamsters require plenty of room to nest so the bigger the cage the better.  Wire cages are the most common and should be a minimum or two feet. Make sure that the wire is not too far apart from each other so that the hamster cannot slip through the bars. You should keep your hamster cage in an area of the house that is between 65-75 degrees Fahrenheit. Hamsters should be kept away from direct sources of heat and cold. Keeping a hamster in a garage, shed or basement is never a good idea. If you are a light sleeper, it is good to note that hamsters are nocturnal and are awake at night, so they would not make a good pet to keep in your bedroom. Since hamster cages can be quite dirty, the cage should not be kept in a kitchen or bathroom. You should also put the cage in an area of the house that you can supervise and control access to.

Accessories

Hamsters require quite a few accessories including a cage, water bottle, feeding dish, shavings, litter box exercise wheels, toys and more.  These are just the start up costs, after this period there will be ongoing expenses including food, shavings, treats, and toys. Hamsters require exercise so an activity wheel is a good idea. Hamsters are most active at night so it is important to make sure the wheel is not squeaky and rather quiet. Hamsters also live to burrow so having a sheltered area where they can nest is important so that their cage can mimic their living quarters in the wild. Hamsters like to chew so make sure that you having teething toys. There are many different hamster toys and accessories to choose from and they are available in a many retail stores.  Make sure that you make sure the toy you purchase for your hamster could not harm them in any way because some toys may contain choking hazards.

Hamsters can make an excellent pet if you have the right lifestyle to complement their needs. Although owning a hamster is a fairly short commitment you should still make sure that you are ready to own one. If you have children make sure they are educated and know how to properly handle their hamster without hurting or scaring it. Also make sure that your hamster’s cage can be put in a secure area away from any other pets you may have. Now that you have everything set up it is time to get to know and enjoy your new little pet.