About Hamsters

HamsterAre hamsters suitable for all ages?

Hamsters are nocturnal. They are active at night and sleep during the day. For younger children a hamster may not be the ideal pet as they can become very agitated and stressed if woken up. We take special care to find the right match if a child is under 7.

How long do hamsters live?

Usually two to three years

Which hamsters are the most friendly?

Chinese and Russian hamsters are sociable and can live together. Syrian hamsters prefer their own company and can fight if put together.

Can you let hamsters out of their cage?

Yes you can. Do this in the evenings when they are most active. You need a safe area free from electrical wires. Hamsters will chew things such as wires, carpet and furniture, so need supervision. Beware of gaps in skirting boars and floorboards as Hamsters will quickly escape! They love obstacle courses made of cardboard tubes or boxes with holes in.

Caring for your hamster

What you need to know...

Cleaning: Clean the hamster’s living and toilet area twice a week

Health checks: Check their coat and skin for areas of dryness. Check the brightness of their eyes. Hamsters’ noses can become sore from rubbing against the bars of cages.

Feeding your hamster: The right food is important. A specially formulated mix is available from pet shops which contain mixed seed, grains, nuts and sometimes dried meat products and vitamins.

You can also provide smaller quantities of fresh fruit such as apples and grapes, dried fruit such as raisins, carrots, sweetcorn kernels. Only give garden pea size amounts or Hamsters will store the food.

Fresh water: Your hamster needs fresh water regularly.

Housing your hamster

Hamsters are very active and need a lot of space. If we rehome a hamster with you we expect their home to be a tank at least 1.2 metres long with lots of activities provided such as tubes and different levels.

Many cages sold for hamsters are far too small. A cage should be at least 81cms x52cms x 52cms.

When choosing bedding cedar oil in shavings can cause skin irritation, shredded paper is fine.

Did you know?

  • Super store: Hamsters store their food in their cheek pouches before putting it in their bed or a safe place.
  • Hair sprays and polish can be poisonous to hamsters if used close to the cage.

Handling your hamster

  • Your new hamster needs to get to know you. So put your hand in the cage after feeding so that it can get used to your smell. A sign of your pet getting more confident is when it climbs on your hand.
  • Always handle your hamster gently. If you are rough it may bite. Cup the hamster in your hand and never hold or squeeze it with your fingers.
  • Hamsters can move fast. If handling a hamster hold it close to you to prevent it slipping out. A fall can cause serious injury.

Healthy tips for hamsters

  • Keep a close eye on your hamster’s health: are its eyes bright, coat smooth, nose not sore? Any particular worries and you may need to see a vet.
  • Have a clean out twice a week to remove old food and droppings from the cage.
  • Vet care is not usually expensive for hamsters. If a young hamster gets poor or moulting fur it could be mites or parasites, which are easily treated.
  • A wet tail area can indicate bowel disease. This can be fatal so see your vet.
  • Cheek pouches can get food stuck in them. See your vet to clear it.
  • Hamsters must have the chance to wear down their teeth. If their teeth grow too long your hamster will not feed properly

Need more help and advice?

Call the Small Animal Team at Raystede on 01825 880467 or email smallanimals1@raystede.org


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