Hamsters are one of the most popular pets in the US and are a great first pet to teach kids responsibility and empathy. The wide array of color and hair varieties give each pet hamster their own cuteness factor. There are 24 hamster breeds globally and 120 varieties.
Unlike many pets, mature hamsters prefer to be alone. This means you can give your pet hamster more individual love and attention.
All pets have four basic needs: environmental, nutritional, maintenance and behavioral.
First thing first- your hamster’s home should be escape proof. Give your hamster enough room to run, sleep and tunnel while keeping him secure in his enclosure.
Read our blog on the best area to place your hamster’s home.
Hamsters love to burrow. Hay is an excellent and delicious nesting material for hamsters. Your hamster will also want a hiding place to call his own. Your hamster will especially want to burrow and hide the first week he or she is home. Ceramic, wicker or wood are great materials for hides. Petland recommends staying away from tissue boxes or toilet paper rolls. These are affordable and comfortable hides, but can be a health hazard if ingested.
Pro tip: the first week your hamster is home will be an adjustment period. A move is stressful on any pet. Keep foot traffic around your hamster’s home low, noises quiet and consistent lighting schedules. Consider placing blinders on two sides of your hamster’s cage for a few days to help him or her adjust. Hamsters have especially fine-tuned hearing, so the quieter the space, the more comfortable your hamster will be.
Hamsters are omnivores, they eat both plants and animal food. Mixes with nuts, corn, seeds and fruit should be given as treats only. High-quality hamster cubes are formulated with the nutrients your hamster requires. Balance the cubes with a variety of hay and small amount of fresh foods for a complete diet.
Hay encourages natural foraging activities, nesting habits and is a great snack. Grass and oat hay are hamster favorites.
Fresh foods should be given in small amounts as treats. Safe and enjoyable options include;
- Carrot and beet tops
- Dandelion greens and flowers (not subjected to spraying)
- Collard greens
- Romaine and leaf lettuce (not iceberg)
- Pea pods
Large amounts of green foods can be hard for hamsters to digest so stick to the hamster cubes and hay as most of your pet’s diet.
Last but not least, salt and mineral stones encourage your hamster to drink enough water, which aids digestion. Always provide one of these stones to your friend.
Petland recommends natural materials for your pet hamster’s litter. Pine or aspen shaving or soft bedding without aromas and fragrances are best. Spot clean your pet’s home every one or two days and deep clean once a week. Some cages have a removable plastic bottom that make cleaning easier.
Your hamster’s main behavioral need will be to chew. Hamster’s teeth grow continuously throughout their lives so they always need something to chew on. Hamster chews are usually made from balsa wood, which are soft enough not to splinter.
Don’t forget daily exercise! Your pet will be more active at night and will want to run, run, run. Be sure your hamster always has a wheel or exercise saucer. If your hamster’s home is in your bedroom, you may want to look for the noiseless wheels.
Firstly, give your hamster a week to adjust to his new surroundings. After that time, start interactions off slowly. You may begin by merely leaving your hand in the enclosure for a few minutes. Secondly, slowly build up to holding your pet. Be sure to follow every interaction with a healthy treat, like carrots!
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