If you have a hamster for a pet, then you know how lucky you are! What’s not to like about it is an expression that is perfectly true for a hamster! Hamsters are cute, cuddly, relatively easy to care for, and loads of fun. They stuff their cheeks with food that they plan on eating later and that makes them very entertaining for their humans. So, if you have just bought a hamster or have had one for a while, here are some easy ways to make him like you, reduce his stress, and also keep him happy.
1. Buy a large cage
Hamsters love space so buy the biggest cage you can afford. A small cage can stress out your hamster. Go in for a plastic or wire cage. Avoid wooden cages as hamsters can easily chew through wood.
Divide the cage into levels or sections. Make sure that your pet has space to sleep, eat, play, etc. A cage with a plastic floor is easier to clean but wire cages are sturdier. If you buy a wire cage, make sure that it is specifically made for hamsters. Ensure that the spacing between the bars or wires is not too big that it allows your pet to squeeze through. Also, ensure that the door is secured with a strong latch.
2. Position the cage right
Keep your pet’s cage in your bedroom or living room, away from direct sunlight. Hamsters like even temperatures, so avoid areas with draughts. Never place the cage in noisy areas like next to the TV, computer, or kitchen appliances. Avoid placing the cage on the microwave or refrigerator. Hamsters are very sensitive to high pitched sounds.
A temperature of 65 to 80 F is ideal for hamsters. Temperatures above 80 F can cause strokes in hamsters. So, run an air conditioner or a fan to keep your hamster cool in summers.
3. House your hamster alone
Most hamster species, especially Golden hamsters, do not get along well with other hamsters and if you put two or more of them together, they will surely fight. Dwarf hamsters, on the other hand, generally love to live in pairs, provided they are socialized to each other from an early age. So, make sure you know which species you have.
Read up all about that species so you know their characteristics. If you plan to buy two hamsters, preferably get the same gender. Avoid housing opposite genders together as they multiply rapidly and too many babies can crowd out the cage. You might also face hassles taking care of too many hamster babies at a time and it could be a chore finding good owners for them.
4. Feed your pet a healthy diet
The lifespan of most hamsters is 18 months to 3 years. To keep your hamster healthy and happy, a balanced diet is a must. The best diet for a hamster is a mix of dry feed with pellets. Buy a vet-approved diet specifically formulated for hamsters. You can also feed him bits of fruits and vegetables. Always introduce new foods slowly. It is best to keep your pet’s food bowl filled at all times so your hamster can eat when he wants. Educate yourself about which foods are toxic to hamsters.
5. Provide your pet with fresh drinking water
Hamsters need a constant supply of fresh drinking water. Place a clean bowl of water in his cage. Refill the bowl with fresh water daily. Also, make sure to clean your pet’s water and food bowls every day.
6. Keep your hamster’s cage clean
A hamster will thrive in a clean environment. So, clean your pet’s cage from time to time. Promptly remove uneaten food bits otherwise they will rot and stink. Remove droppings right away. Regular cleaning with vinegar will reduce the growth of bacteria and fungi on the cage’s surfaces. Remove wet and soiled bedding right away. Wash your hands thoroughly after cleaning.
7. Offer your pet treats from time to time
Offering a treat to your hamster is a great way to make him like you and also to show your love to him. However, be careful with treats. Too many unhealthy treats can fill up your pet’s tiny stomach and spoil his appetite. This can lead to nutritional imbalance. A hamster steadily fed on unhealthy foods could get sick over time. You can certainly feed him healthy treats about once a week.
8. Give him chews
Rodents like hamsters need a constant supply of good quality chews to keep their ever-growing teeth healthy. Provide your pet with safe chewing objects like fruit tree branches, wood and seed blocks, and other options that pet stores carry. Always provide chews specifically made for hamsters. Make sure his toys are clean, untreated, and non-toxic.
9. Keep an eye on his physical appearance
Be on the lookout for any physical changes. A wet rear end, hair loss, and weight loss are some factors that indicate disease or ill-health. If these signs are present, have him checked by a vet right away.
10. Supervise him when outside the cage
It is best to supervise your hamster when you have to take him out of the cage. Also, keep him away from other household pets. It is best to monitor your pet’s actions carefully. If you are alert and watchful, you can prevent trouble before it arises.
11. Entertain your pet
A bored hamster is an unhealthy hamster. To keep your hamster from getting bored, provide him with some in-cage entertainment:
- A hamster wheel is the best way to keep your hamster physically and mentally fit. Make sure that it is not too large that your hamster has to over-stretch itself; nor should it be too small that it hurts its back. Ensure that the rungs are not sharp and won’t injure its legs and tail.
- Apart from a hamster wheel, you can also provide your pet with a plastic ball to roll in. A plastic ball keeps a hamster safe inside and your pet can use it the same way as he would use the hamster wheel. Hamster balls are readily available in pet shops. Some are even designed to roll on a track.
- You can also tie up sisal-ropes inside the cage for your hamster to climb up and gnaw on.
- Plastic tunnels are also fun for hamsters to run around in. They are not easy to clean and certainly not gnaw-proof, but they are definitely fun for your hamster. Tunnels can also be placed outside the cage so your hamster can enjoy some time outside it.
- A hamster hammock is a great place for your pet to swing upon or relax. These are readily available online and offline.
Hamsters are generally fun creatures that love playing with almost everything including plastic and rubber toys, empty cartons, toilet or kitchen rolls, etc. Just be sure that the items are not harmful to your pet. Avoid anything wooden as hamsters will chew through it in no time. Keep switching the toys around so that your pet does not get bored.