Welcome to Online Hamster Care, an online resource to answer questions, give helpful information and provide good advice on all things hamster care.
Hamster Care is essential in order to ensure that your hamster is well looked after and that they live to a good age and are vibrant and healthy.
There are many articles and information about how to look after a hamster for you to view.
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Is a Hamster the right pet for you?
Are you thinking about buying a hamster?
Here are 54 useful facts to know about them to help you make an informed decision.
1.Hamsters are practical pets
They are very practical pets in terms of space, exercise, and food and are great for those who live in small spaces and have busy lives.
2. There is not just one type of hamster.
There are actually around 19 species of hamster which are found around the world.
3. Not all hamster species can be kept as pets.
There are in fact five types of hamster that you could have as a pet all with slight differences in their characteristics.
- Syrian hamsters
- Russian Campbell hamsters
- Winter White dwarf hamsters,
- Roborovski hamsters
- Chinese hamsters.
4. Most hamsters are solitary animals
Most hamsters are strictly solitary animals and if they are housed together, they may suffer acute and chronic stress.
5. They are prey animals
Hamsters are prey animals which means that they are always on the look out for predators. This is as a result of their experience in the wild of being hunted by other animals.
They also have techniques such as burrowing which help them to hide and get away from those that try and get them.
6. They are rodents
Hamsters are rodents and as a result are closely related to mice, rats, guinea pigs, gerbils, and chinchillas.
This is because of their need to chew to keep their molars ground down which is a characteristic of rodents.
7. Cheek pouches!
Hamsters have cheek pouches which are pockets on both sides of the head between the jaw and the cheek.
They allow the rapid collection of food, but also serve as temporary storage and transport.
8. They love to burrow
Hamsters have a natural inclination to burrow. They do this to keep warm and stay away from predators, not to mention to store food.
As a result, they will look to do this in their cages and will need lots of substrate to help them with this.
9. They come from the Middle East, North Africa and Asia
Hamsters typically come from the Middle East and Asia.
There are also species that live in North Africa.
This is because hamsters are desert animals.
10. They are omnivores
Hamsters are omnivores, however they can survive on a diet of exclusively commercial hamster food.
Because of this they enjoy such items as, fruits, seeds, and nuts.
11. They are near-sighted creatures
Hamsters are near-sighted which is a condition that causes the image that they see when looking at a distant object to be out of focus.
However, it appears in focus when looking at it closely.
12. Hamsters are colorblind creatures.
Because good low light capability which is very useful for an animal that operates at night. They have had little need to decipher color, and so as a result have become colorblind.
13. What is the largest type of hamster?
The largest type of hamster is the European hamster which can grow up to 13 inches long.
14. What is the smallest type of hamster?
The smallest type of hamster is the Roborovski hamster which only measures around 2 inches in length.
15. Hamsters are stout-bodied creatures.
Their tails are shorter than their body length and they have small furry ears, stocky legs and wide feet.
16. They have fur which is thick and silky.
It can be short or long and colored grey, honey, black, brown, yellow, red, white or even a mix of these.
The color of a hamster depends on the species.
17. They are flexible creatures!
Hamsters are very flexible, but their bones are somewhat fragile.
As a result, they can crawl through small and tight gaps much like mice and rats can.
18. They don’t like changeable temperatures
Hamsters are extremely susceptible to rapid temperature changes and drafts, as well as extreme heat or cold.
19. They have a great sense of smell
Hamsters also use their sense of smell to distinguish between the sexes, and to locate food.
Because of this, they are heavily reliant on this ability especially as their eyesight is weak.
20. They have very good hearing
They are particularly sensitive to high-pitched noises and can hear and communicate in the ultrasonic range.
As a result, they can pick up when a predator is approaching and this sense will help them make their escape.
The benefits of owning a hamster
21. Why own a hamster?
According to a survey which was carried out by the American pet products manufacturers association;
- 82% of hamster owners said that they greatest benefit to having a hamster was the fun of watching it.
- 77% said that they helped teach their children responsibility.
- 69% said they made good companions and were affectionate.
22. They make great starter pets
They are often seen as good starter pets for people as they do not require the attention pets like a dog or a cat need.
As a result, they tend to be popular with children and are often found as school pets as well.
23. They are economical
Hamsters are quite economical and good hamster care need not be expensive.
Because of this, they are a very popular choice for any people seeking an inexpensive pet.
24. They are happy to live on their own
Unlike other rodents such as guinea pigs and gerbils, they have no need to live with others.
25. They prefer living inside
They much prefer to be kept inside away from extreme temperatures and are not creatures to be kept outside.
Because of this, space needs to be found inside your home to house their cage.
26. You don’t have to worry about keeping them company all day
Because they can live on their own they are more than happy left by themselves.
Activities they enjoy include nesting, drinking, hoarding, cleaning, gnawing, and running.
As a result, this makes them ideal for those owners that lead busy lives.
27. You don’t need a lot of space to own a hamster.
Hamster homes come in many shapes and sizes and you can purchase on that fits your living space nicely.
Just ensure that they have enough space to explore, climb and to dig as well.
Some habitats come with movable tubes that can be attached to extend their space.
28. They do need some expenditure on them.
Hamsters are not expensive, however they do require some items to ensure good hamster care, such as;
- A cage
- A food bowl
- A water bottle
- Litter and bedding
- Hamster Food
- Chew treats
- Exercise wheel
- Nesting material
29. How much per year does it cost to own a hamster?
The American pet products manufacturers association estimates that annual expenses for owners of one hamster are around $130 a year.
This is for those that shop at pet stores and around $155 for those that shop in superstores.
As a result, it is worth budgeting for this expense in your monthly outgoings.
30. How much does a hamster cost?
Hamsters themselves, cost between $9 and $15 from a pet store.
However they can also be purchased from an animal rescue or shelter, because many hamsters are abandoned or given up by owners who can’t look after them any more.
Breeders will also try and sell them, but do be careful purchasing from breeders that you know what a good hamster is like.
31. Do hamsters need vaccinations?
Hamsters do not require specific vaccinations like dogs and cats do as they are not generally exposed to fleas or ticks.
However, they may require immediate professional help at some point so do be aware and budget for it if the need arises, because illness does happen to hamsters at times..
32. How do hamsters drink water?
They have the ability to learn from a very early age to drink from a water bottle which can hang on the side of a cage.
This is because of their natural inclination to feed like all animals have. They will seek water out, and find a way to drink wherever they find water.
They do not need a water bowl but can feed from the water bottle which can be refilled every few days with fresh water.
So they can take from it when they need to.
33. Hamsters can be tamed
Although they are not the most cuddly of creatures, they can be taught to be held and tame hamsters can be taught to sit contently on an owner.
34. They are clean creatures
Hamsters are very good at taking care of their own hygiene needs. This is because of an in-built initiative for sensing when they get dirty and to clean themselves.
They keep their fur clean by licking it and their face clean by licking their paws and then running them over their face.
35. They are good at exercising themselves
You don’t need to exercise them as they are very good at exercising themselves.
They love to run and an exercise wheel in their cage will help them do this.
However, an exercise ball will also help them explore your home in a contained environment. As a result, they can get the exercise that they naturally need.
36. They are very quick creatures.
They are extremely fast, energetic and curious creatures and will entertainment during their awake times.
You can watch them hard at work and at play and watch they burrow and climb.
The downsides of owning a hamster
37. Hamsters are active at night.
They are nocturnal animals which means that they are at their busiest at night and then like to sleep during the day.
However, you may notice that they do wake at certain points during the day.
This is because they sleep in cycles and not for sustained periods like we do.
When they are awake at certain points of the day you might see them entering into vigorous exercise, because they are light sleepers.
38. Take care placing their home
Try not to put a hamster’s cage near the place that you sleep as they may keep you awake with their activity. This is as a result of their nocturnal nature and need to exercise.
Activities they enjoy include scampering around their cage to constant spinning of the exercise wheel.
However the noise is quite low-level, but is dependent on the type of wheel you purchase because some wheels are squeakier than others.
39. Hamsters don’t like being woken up.
As with any animal they don’t like to be disturbed whilst they are sleeping.
So they may get quite grouchy if they are disturbed during the day time when they are sleeping.
40. They can live between two and five years.
This depends on what their size, breed and general health is like because no one hamster is alike.
However, the average length of time that they live for is around three years.
41. As they are not long living animals they may cause upset when they die.
So they may provide a first experience of death to a child, because they only have a limited lifespan of between 2-5 years.
As a result, be aware of this and anticipate this event.
42. Most hamsters are solitary creatures apart from when they are breeding.
If you would like to get two hamsters, then you will need to get two cages and keep them apart.
If they are housed in the same quarters, they may inflict serious injuries on each other.
They aren’t like guinea pigs, gerbils and other types of rodents who are social animals and like to be with others of their kin.
They are more than happy living on their own, because their nature is to be solitary.
43. Its actually illegal to own a hamster in some places.
Hawaii is a specific example, as the climate there is similar to the natural habitat that hamsters are used to.
Officials have expressed concern that if they are released or escape, they could establish wild colonies and damage native animals, plants and crops. As a result, strict permits are required to own a hamster in some states of the United States.
44. They need to be happy and well-adjusted.
So even though they may not be as cuddly as guinea pigs, they still need to be handled daily and have interaction with you.
45. Good hamster care means cleaning out their cage each week and replacing the bedding that they have been on.
Cleaning out the cage helps them to live in a feces free environment and as a result keep it smelling fresh.
46. Allowing hamsters to breed is not recommended.
A female hamster that gives birth may kill and eat her babies if they are disturbed
47. They do not like extreme temperatures and so can’t just be kept outside.
They need a more constant temperature which means that the best place to ensure good hamster care for them is inside the home.
This may need the agreement of other family members for you to do this.
48. Syrian hamsters are very much solitary creatures.
Whereas Dwarf hamsters may be able to live together if they are introduced to each other properly.
49. Hamsters are known to carry such diseases as salmonella.
This is an intestinal bacteria which causes short but intense bouts of sickness in healthy adults.
It can also cause problems if a pregnant woman passes it to her unborn child.
50. Hamsters have also been known to carry a virus called Lymphocytic choriomeningitis which can cause flu-like symptoms in healthy adults.
Again, it can be transmitted from a healthy mother to her unborn child and can seriously affect those with weak immune system.
51. They not as snugly a pet as guinea pigs and so are not the best when they are cuddled.
52. Hamsters need be handled by responsible children over eight years old.
Good hamster care is essential as they may occasionally bite if they are picked up.
They need a gentle touch and may easily be startle by loud noises and sudden movements.
53. They are rodents and a common trait of any rodent is that their teeth are always growing.
They deal with this by grinding them down by gnawing on objects.
There are good things for them to gnaw on such as hay or cardboard, but they can also gnaw on their cage bars or plastic which is not so good.
Their teeth are sharp enough that they can actually sever a metal bar given time to do so.
54. If you let a male and female hamster breed, this can have consequences as a female can give birth to around seven pups in a litter.
Some litters have been known to number up to twenty.
Breeds of pet hamster
Syrian hamsters are known as golden’s or teddy bear hamsters.
These are the most popular hamsters to be kept as pets.
They are not social animals and prefer to live alone as they can actually fight and kill each other.
Syrian hamsters are nocturnal and are not very active during the day.
They come in a variety of colors and measure between 4″-7″ when they are mature.
Females can grow larger than males.
They have large tails and small eyes and live to between 2 and 2.5 years.
They come in a wide variety of colors.
Dwarf Campbell Russian hamsters
Dwarf Campbell Russian hamsters can be kept in same sex pairs or groups of their breed if they are introduced at a young age.
They don’t like being handled as much as Syrians.
Dwarf Campbell Russian hamsters are nocturnal but are often awake for short periods in the day.
They are very small and only measure around 4″ when mature.
Dwarf Campbell Russian hamsters usually live around 2 years. They come in a wide variety of colors.
Dwarf Winter White Russian hamsters are usually quite active during the day.
They can be picked up easily and don’t bite as much as other types of hamster.
Dwarf Winter white Russian hamsters can be kept in same sex pairs or groups.
They are very fast runners.
Dwarf Winter white Russian hamsters are small in size measuring only 3.5″ – 4″ in length. They come in a Sapphire or Pearl colors.
Roborovski hamsters can also be kept in same sex pairs or groups if they are introduced at a young age.
They have good temperaments and because of this, they don’t usually bite.
Roborovski hamsters are extremely small in size measuring only 1.5-2″ in length and live for between 3-3.5 years approximately.
They are usually a Sandy brown color.
Chinese hamsters are not social animals.
They can be aggressive to other types of the species but can also be quite pleasant towards humans.
They sleep in cycles during the day and are most active during the night time.
Chinese hamsters measure around 4″ in length and live for between 1.5 to 2 years.
They have brown backs, black fur along spine, and ivory coloring.