Hamsters are regarded as one of the most low-maintenance pets. They’re probably the first choice for most first-time pet parents, as hamsters don’t really require any training and they’re also affordable.
Although they may be considered easy pets, it doesn’t mean that one should just put their hamster in their cage, feed it, and then just leave it alone.
For those who are wanting to get a pet hamster, or for those who already have these cute little furballs, here are some of the things you should do to keep your hamster(s) healthy!
They have tiny bodies, and they eat heartily, but they still need proper nutrition to be healthy. Most people don’t think much about the specifics of a hamster’s diet and are satisfied with just pellet or seed feedings, but that doesn’t give their pets all that they need.
Although some seed mixes contain some fruits, it’s not enough, and these mixes are high in fat oftentimes, which tends to lead to obesity and diabetes. Mixes can also lead to finicky eating habits, as hamsters have a tendency to just pick what they like and leave the rest in their bowls.
Vets suggest that you should alternate between feeding seed mixes and pellets and throw some veggies in the mix. Use fruits as a treat since they are high in sugar. Other occasional snack options could be cooked fish, meat, or even eggs, and for those who aren’t squeamish, some high-protein snacks like mealworms or crickets.
Remember, moderation and variety are important when it comes to your hamster’s diet.
Now you can’t just buy a cage and be on your merry way. Hamsters can get easily bored, and boredom leads to negative effects on a hamster’s physical and mental health. There are lots of hamster cages that have built-in running wheels or tunnels, which is super important as well, as your little friend needs their exercise too!
But the first order of business should be what cage you should get. Your hamster may be small, but it still needs its space. Experts suggest that the best hamster cage should have “800 square inches or more of continuous floor space that is not broken up into levels, should be able to hold 6 to 8 inches of bedding for the hamster to burrow in (or two-thirds of the habitat’s floor space), and be tall enough depending on the type of hamster (and thus, hamster wheel size) you have,” The Dodo wrote.
Choosing your pet’s bedding is important as well.
Digging can be a form of entertainment for hamsters, and they need proper bedding for this. There are lots of options out there, but some beddings, like cedar shavings, can cause skin irritation. Paper-based bedding is ideal for any hamster, as it is soft, comfortable, and colorful (okay, maybe the last pro is more for the owners, but it’s still a valid point!). Check out the video below for how colorful you can make your hamster bedding and see how well taken care of the hamster in the video is!
And while you do your regular bedding changes, might as well scrub the cage clean before dumping your hamster’s new bedding. Giving them a variety of toys will also keep your hamster healthy and happy. Dogs have chew toys, and so do hamsters! Since hamsters are part of the rodent family, they share the same trait as their cousins– their front teeth grow continuously throughout their life.
Providing your hamster with a lot of things to chew on in their cage should help them manage their ever-growing teeth.
As I’ve mentioned in the previous point, your little friend needs exercise too.
But you can’t exactly put a hamster on a leash to take it on a walk. It’s a cute picture to imagine, sure, but it would be a dangerous thing to do.
So how can your hamster get their needed daily exercise?
There’s the standard exercise wheel. Hamsters are notorious chewers, so you’d need to change the wheel when needed or upgrade it to a wheel that’s made of sturdier material. Pet experts also suggest that barred or meshed wheels should be avoided since they can cause serious injuries if your pet’s feet get stuck in the material.
The size of the wheel is also important to consider. Most hamsters require wheels that are at least 8 inches in diameter, but if you have one of the smaller or larger hamster species, adjust the diameter of their wheel accordingly. Putting a too-small wheel in their cages could result in them having severe back problems.
Provide your hamsters with some things that they could climb and hide in as well! Hamsters climb their cages, not because they’re attempting to escape but because they just really like climbing and exploring in general.
Putting various toys in their cages will help them satisfy their need to explore and also help them expend their extra energy safely.
For something to do out of their cage, try a hamster ball! But only do this if your hamster is in a safe space, on the floor with no possible way of falling off anything. The size of the ball should also be considered, since it poses the same health hazards as inappropriately sized exercise wheels.
Even though they are generally safe inside a hamster ball, your hamster should still be supervised at all times.
Hope you learned something new today or maybe this just served as some kind of a reminder to existing hamster parents out there. Let’s keep our pets healthy and happy, everyone!
To end this, I leave you all this adorable clip of a strong, independent hamster living in her very cozy cage.
“why don’t you help your hamster when she’s struggling” because she is too stubborn to accept any help pic.twitter.com/MA3ArJEYXk
— biscuitmyhamster (@biscuitandbippo) November 17, 2022