Basic Hamster Information
As said by someone who signed my guestbook--"I was wondering about breeding my hammy, but once I had a mouse, and I took itback to the pet store and they fed it to a snake. The moral is--don't breed hamsters. There are too many already. I am glad your web site does not advocatehammy breeding."
Choosing a Hamster
A Lost Hammy
Choosing a Hamster
When you're thinking of getting a hamster, keep these things in mind:
Try to buy your hamster in the evening when it is more active. Earlier in the day, most of the hamsters will be asleep.
It is important to choose a healthy hamster. So, remember:
The hamster's body should be smooth and well-rounded.You will probably want to buy your hamster when it is between four and seven weeks old because hamsters are easier to tame when they're young.
Its coat should be clean, particularly on the underside of its body. There should be no bare patches.
Its ears should be clean on the inside, and if you're buying a young hamster, covered with hair on the outside.
The hamster's eyes should be bright and clean.
Male and female hamsters are equally good tempered and agreeable.
You can keep two hamsters in one cage depending on what kind of hamster you want to get. Dzungarian Dwarf hamsters, short dwarf hamsters, and Russian hamsters are all supposed to be pretty social, so you can keep two of one of those kinds together. But it is best if they are litter mates, have been together since birth, and are of the same sex. All other kinds of hamsters need to be kept separately because hamsters are territorial.
Ask the pet dealer what food the hamster hasbeen eating, so you can give it the same. If you want to feed it something different, remember to change to other foods gradually.
The pet store will give you a cardboard box to take your hamster home in. But if your ride home lasts more than two hours the hamster may gnaw its way out. So you can take along a small plastic box. It must close securely and have air holes. Add bedding and a small amountof food to the bottom.
Before you bring your hammy home, wash its cage with a few drops of mild disinfectant and water. Rinse it out, and dry it well.
Cover the cage floor with lots of bedding and nesting material. Bedding should be clean, dry, non-toxic, and absorbent. The most popular bedding choice is wood shavings. You need to avoid cedar shavings, since this smelly wood can be too intense for small rodents. Instead go for pine or aspen shavings. (These must be shavings that are produced specifically for the care of small animals.) Also do not use any cotton wool or fluffy bedding cotton material because it can be dangerous for a hamster if eaten. Nesting material can consist of hay, white paper, and cardboard. Put a little in the nesting box to encourage your hamster to make its nest there.
Lastly, put some food in the cage and set up the water bottle. Add some wood chews, the exercise wheel, and maybe a toilet paper roll for your hamster to play in.
When you get home, let your hamster settleinto its cage as soon as possible. Your hammy may be nervous after the journey, so instead of picking it up to put it in the cage, place its carrying box open on the floor of the cage, and let it come out when it is ready.
Though you would probably like to start the taming process immediately, you need to leave your hamster alone for the first couple of days (except to feed it, of course). Remember that changing homes was probably a stressful experience for it so it is best to let it explore its new cage.
Make sure the cage isn't too close to a window that gets the hot afternoon sun, or by a radiator, or in a draft.
The cage should obviously be out of the reach of cats if you have them. Although a cat probably couldn't get in, it could still frighten your hammy.
You will have to clean out the cage once a week. After you've cleaned it out replace the food that your hamster stored that won't get moldy. Once a month, clean out the whole cage and wash everything with soapy water and a few drops of mild disinfectant. Rinse and dry well before adding new bedding.
Here's my hammy's cage...Don't worry, the cage isn't outside, it's just by a big window. ( I always close the shades during the day so the sunlight doesn't bother her.)
Hamsters like to eat seeds, grains and nuts, vegetables, and a little fruit.
Feed your hamster once a day, in the late afternoon or evening. Give a small handful of hamster mix and a small handful of vegetables.
If any is left uneaten, give less the next day. If all is eaten, try giving more, but first check to see if your hamster is hoarding in its cage.
Give a good variety of foods, but introduce any new food gradually.
You can buy hamster mix at a pet store, Walmart, etc. It is fortified so that it provides a hamster with a well-balanced diet of essential foods--grains, seeds, and nuts.
Both root and green vegetables should be given, always raw and washed well. Some vegetables that are good for your hammy are:
broccoliTo make sure your hamster gets the vitamins it needs, you can buy vitamin drops for small animals at the pet store.
cauliflower (outside leaves and stalk)
*lettuce (not iceberg lettuce)
* = small amounts only
Never leave your hamster without fresh water to drink.
You can feed pieces of apple, pear, grape, and tomato, all in small amounts only. But remember that fruit decays quickly, so check that none is left uneaten in the cage for more than a day. Also remove any uneaten vegetables that your hamster stored so that they do not become moldy.
If you are going on vacation for more than three days, you can take your hamster with you, or arrange for a friend to feed it. For a shorter time, it's ok to leave enough food in the cage to last until you get back. Don't forget to fill up the water bottle!
Before you handle your hamster you will need to tame it. Do not put it off, because it will be easier while your hamster is still young.
Talk to your hamster while you're taming it. It will get to know your voice.
Hamsters bite only when they are frightened. If your hamster does nip your finger, it is best to put it back in its cage and leave it alone a couple of hours so that it can calm down.
You should be able to tame your hamster in about three weeks if you follow this method. Do not rush it, or you may have to start all over again.
1. First watch your hammy for a few days to find out when it is awake and active - the best time to start taming. Note its favorite foods so you can use them to overcome its fear. Now start putting food straight on the cage floor, so your hamster gets used to your hand and learns that it brings food. After a few days, leave your hand there while the hamster eats.
2. When your hamster is confident enough to eat beside your hand, put the food in the palm of your hand. It may a while before the hamster will eat from your hand without fear. When it does, you can stroke it gently with one finger along its back. Never stroke its head.
3. Next, get your hamster used to being picked up. When it is eating from your hand, cup the other hand over it, and lift it gently a little way off the ground for a few moments at a time. After a few more days, if your hammy seems happy being lifted up, you can take it right out of the cage in your cupped hands.
4. Play with it near the ground so that if you drop it or it jumps out of your hands, it doesn't have a long way to fall. Let it run from one hand to the other. Soon it will be confident enough to run along your arm.
A Lost Hammy!Don't lose hope yet! Here are some different techniques I've heard of to use if your hamster gets lost--
Try putting food in the cage and leave it with a door/hole open near where you think the hamster is hiding. During the night the hungry hammy might return to its cage.
Spread some sunflower seeds in each room, counting the number you leave in each room, and then shut all the doors. (Do this at night before you go to bed) The next morning you will easily be able to tell which room your hamster is in, so this will hopefully narrow down your search. Once you know which room your hamster is in, make sure you keep that door closed. You can then use of the previously mentioned methods to recapture your hamster.
Make a ramp with a piece of wood up to a bucket in which you have put some food. Then, make a little trail of food on the floor, up the piece of wood, and finally put enough food in the bucket so your hamster will jump on in, when he/she discover this treasure. But make sure the bucket is tall enough so your hamster can't climb out the side and escape again. Or maybe you could put butter on the sides of the bucket like suggested in the next tactic.
Polar suggests: First place butter on the inside sides of an old jar. Next, place peanut butter on the bottom on the jar. Then stack books up in a /\ shape. Last place the jar in the middle of the /\.
D. Harkins says: I had a hammy that got away in the house too. I would set food out and TRY to stay awake to see him. 3 nights went by and the food would be gone and I would end up asleep. Then I had an idea that worked! I took a carrot stick and laid it on the floor. I tied a long string with bells onto the carrot. I also had a 2x4 laying on the floor so when he took the carrot the bells would hit the wood and make a noise. That night I heard the bells and found out where he was hiding because of the long string. It sounds nutty but it worked!
Robyn says: I have two hamsters and every once in a while they escape. This is what I do. I pour their hamster mix on the floor in a pile. Then I make a make a circle of flour around the pile. Finally I follow the little paw prints right to my hamster.
Another very simple way is turn off all noises like the T.V or fan and stand very still and you might hear your hamster moving around.
I've received some emails concerning the question of whether or not you should bathe your hamster. The answer to this question is no. Hamsters supposedly do not have any offensive body smells because they clean themselves. If anything will start to smell it'll be its cage. So just make sure you clean out the cage at least once a week. If, for some reason, you really feel that your hamster needs some help cleaning, you can use a soft toothbrush and some lukewarm water to do this. But make sure you don't drench the hamster because then it could become sick.
|Symptoms||Possible Cause and What to Do|
|Sneezing, sore eyes, and runny nose||This may be an allergy, maybe to some nesting material, air freshener, or spray polish. But it also could be a cold, so keep your hamster warm, and if it's no better the next day, take it to the vet.|
|Fur around tail is dirty, and possibly wet||Your hamster has diarrhea, which could have been caused by eating something that did not agree with it. But this could also be the first sign of a serious illness called wet tail, so take your hamster to the vet at once.|
|Bare patches in the fur||This may just be old age, or the hamster may have rubbed against something and worn the fur away. But if it is scratching the bare batches, they could be caused by mites. The vet will give you something to clear them up.|
|Refusal to eat, a swollen cheek, and runny eyes||Your hamster has something stuck in its cheek pouch. Take it to the vet.|
|After a fall, or being handled too much, the hamster lies quite still, as if dead||It is in a state of shock, though it may not be seriously hurt. If you leave it in a quiet, warm place, it should recover in an hour or two. If not, take it to the vet.|
|Cuts - the hamster has cut itself on something sharp||Add a drop of antiseptic to warm water (boiled and allowed to cool), and bathe the cut gently. If it gets red and inflamed, take your hamster to the vet.|
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