Introduction to Caring for a Hamster

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Caring for a hamster

Caring for a hamster may sound like a much easier prospect than having a dog or a cat in the house, but there are a lot of small details involved in the care of a hamster. These little guys can’t tell you what they need so it’s a good idea to know how to care for them before you ever own one.

Habitat

The habitat or enclosure where you keep the hamster should measure out to around 360 square inches. The width and length of the enclosure should be multiplied to get a figure around 360. These are very active animals and keeping them in small containers will only make their lives miserable. It’s believed that some hamsters run a minimum of five miles a day. That’s hard to accomplish in a goldfish bowl. Large fish tanks are a preferable container for your hamster as they are sturdy and usually have a lot of space.

Toys

I’m going to jump directly to toys because they are more than a luxury for these guys, they are a necessity. Most people like to watch their pets and hamsters love to run around and play with everything. Exercise wheels are a definite must have for every hamster owner. The wheel should be wooden or plastic because wire or mesh wheels can cause injuries. Remember, even having a wheel doesn’t make up for having a small cage size. Hamsters love hideouts and they also love chewing. There are some hideouts that are edible and some that are ceramic and both work equally well. Try and stay away from plastic because your hamster will try and eat it, and plastic is far from a safe material to eat. Cardboard tubes, digging pits, and sand baths are some excellent toys for your hamster as well as the ever-popular hamster ball. Remember to keep the time in the ball limited to 15 minutes so not to over exert your hamster.

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Bedding

Hamsters will burrow. It’s just something they do and it’s fun for them to do it. One of the best ways to provide an adequate bedding surface is to layer the bedding material to the depth of at least 3 to 4 inches – even more is better. If you decide to go with wood, it is suggested that you use only aspen shavings because other woods have chemicals that are toxic to hamsters. Shredded paper and pellets are always a good option for hamsters. You are looking for bedding that is unscented and easy to dig around in. Scented bedding may smell nice to you, but not for the hamster’s delicate nose. Remember, they have to live within inches of that stuff all day long. Stay away from cotton or softwood shavings as they can cause choking hazards.

Feeding and Watering

When it comes to your pet’s dietary needs, make sure that you have a ceramic food bowl and a water bottle that holds 4 to 8 ounces. Anything more is harder for the hamster to drink from because the ball bearing is that much heavier. A ceramic food bowl is highly recommended because they are easy to clean and your hamster won’t chew it to pieces or tip it over as easy.

Hamsters are fun, cute, and highly active pets that will provide hours of joy. If you are careful with them and ensure that they are comfortable and able to exercise, you will see your pet thrive.

Photo Credit:  istockphoto.com

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WagBrag’s co-founder, Russ Boles, has a deep history in animal rescue and welfare. For the past 12 years, Russ has served in various roles with Atlanta-based animal advocacy organizations focused on rescue, training and education. In addition, Russ led a local rescue volunteer team into New Orleans immediately after Hurricane Katrina, assisting in efforts to rescue and care for stranded animals. This experience changed his life, and animal rescue and advocacy will always be a part of everything he does.

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