What Do Hamsters Need?

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Owning a small mammal such as a hamster is much different from owning a cat or dog. It is important to know exactly what your hamster's wants and needs are. With the proper care, your hamster can live with your family for several years.

Housing

  • Hamsters require cages because letting them roam free could get them hurt or killed. A proper hamster cage gives the hamster enough room to run around for exercise, an area for relieving himself and a house to sleep in. Most hamsters habitats have plastic igloos for the hamster to use for safety and privacy. There are also wooden houses available.

    Make sure that the doors to the cage are secure to prevent your hamster from escaping. Also make sure the cage wires are not too far apart so that he can't slip through and injure himself. Cages that are more than two levels are often not recommended for this reason.

Food and Play

  • Hamsters are vegetarians. You can buy nutrient-enriched food mixes from pet stores that contain seeds, oats and dried berries. Hamsters also enjoy fresh vegetables and fruits as treats. Be careful about giving your hamster some foods that can be harmful, including iceberg lettuce, chocolate, processed foods and raw beans. Before introducing a new vegetable or fruit, do your research to be sure it is safe. Provide your hamster with a water bottle filled with fresh water daily.

    Hamsters also need things to play with in order to be content. They enjoy running in wheels, gnawing on natural wood blocks to keep their teeth from growing too long, and some small toys. They also enjoy tunnels: Toss in a couple of toilet tissue or paper towel tubes and watch your hamster's reaction.

    It is also a good idea to create a space outside the cage where your hamster can run. This is a good time to let your hamster become accustomed to being handled. Support your hamster's back end when lifting her, and try to scoop her into your hand rather than just putting your hand over her, since this tends to frighten hamsters.

Cleaning

  • Cleanliness is important to hamsters. His cage needs to be cleaned at least once a week. Remove uneaten fresh food bits immediately to prevent spoilage and bug infestations. Since hamsters are naturally nocturnal, it is a good idea to do all cleaning, playing and feeding in the late afternoon at the earliest.

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