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Owning a... hamster

Care and attention

General Care

Hamsters are sensitive to changes in temperature and their cage should be kept at 65-70 Farenheit (normal room temperature). If the temperature is too low, the hamster may go into hibernation or even die. Hamsters are nocturnal and will sleep most of the day, waking up at around 5pm when young and sleeping longer as they get older. Hamsters should not be woken up during the day for any reason (unless an emergency) since shock can cause heart failure. When handling your hamster, be very gentle. They are small creatures with tiny, delicate bones which can be broken by rough handling or a fall.


First you must overcome the hamster's natural fear of humans. At first, they will be scared of the giant hand invading their home. If you get them used to seeing your hand, they will become braver. When opening the cage, let the hamster hear you coming so that you don't make him jump. Use a side door rather than the top door. A giant hand suddenly appearing from above will scare the hamster more than a hand appearing slowly from where he can see it. Leave your hand in the cage for a while where he can see it . If he comes towards it, don't move at all. Just let him sniff and then he will probably scamper off. Place his dried food in the food pot, so that he can see you doing so, and he will connect being fed with your hand and see it as a good thing. After a while, hold the food out on the palm of your hand. When he has enough courage he will eat from your hand and soon have no fears at all. To encourage this, pick out the hamster's favourite food item, usually a peanut or sunflower seed, and offer this. Never make any sudden movements as this will scare him away. If you do get bitten, try not to get angry and shout, as this will make things worse. Also, try not to be nervous as he will sense this from you and feel nervous too.

To get him used to being touched, gently stroke him with one finger while he is eating. Don't cover his head or make any sudden movements. Approach slowly and gently. Try talking to him to reassure him - he will soon get used to the sound of your voice. Once the hamster is used to your hand and being touched, he is quite tame and safe to pick up.

Before picking up your hamster, was your hands so that you don't smell of food (he may bite you if you do) or any other pet in your house (which will make him scared). Place the cage on the floor and sit beside it on the floor. This way, if the hamster falls he won't fall far. A hamster that has never been handled before should be picked up as follows: first, place the palm of your hand over the hamster's back with your thumb near its tail. Gently close your hand around the hamster's body. By picking him up in this way he will be unable to bite you. Hamsters won't bite if they don't get the chance at the very beginning.

In the early stages of handling, just pick the hamster up, gently and slowly lift him, then put him down again. Once he is used to being lifted, you can hold him in the palm of your hand. Use your other hand to stroke the hamster. Once the hamster is used to being held and lifted, you don't need to pick him up as detailed above. You can simply scoop him up by sliding your hand under his tummy. You should handle your hamster every day.


Your hamster will need an exercise wheel fitted in his cage (the wheel should be solid because hamsters can trap their legs in gaps), and will enjoy a ball to play in during the evening. Never leave the hamster unsupervised while it is in its ball. Never leave it in the ball for more than an hour.

Hamster Main