Category: Hamster

Dwarf Hamster: Different From Its Larger Cousin

About one tenth of the size of a domesticated rat, dwarf hamsters are cute, very active especially at night but timid.

Dwarf Hamster Types

There are three main types of dwarf hamster kept as pets:

  1. Roborovksi dwarf hamster – known also as a “robo” or “robby”, these are the smallest, quickest, most active and naturally inquisitive and hence engaging of the pet hamster types.
  2. Russian dwarf hamster – also known as the Winter White hamster, which is normally a pearl grey or sapphire blue-grey colour, with a black stripe down its back. In the wild this hamster changes to white to act as camouflage in snow; apparently this change can be created in captivity if heat and light are much reduced.
  3. Campbell dwarf hamster – this is a specific type, originating from Russia but its natural habitat is open areas such as sand dunes or the steppe.

Many hamster enthusiasts regard the Chinese hamster as a type of dwarf hamster, though scientifically the Chinese and Dwarf hamsters are different species.

Derivative forms of dwarf hamsters are beginning to appear in the pet hamster markets. Breeding dwarf hamsters can be quite complex if the breeder is taking the appropriate and long-term view; breeding mixed types or even mixed colours in some of the species can lead to genetic defects.

Dwarf Hamster Characteristics

Usually nocturnal in the wild, while normally more active at night when kept as pets, dwarf hamsters will have active periods during the day, and most dwarf hamsters will readily take to being handled as long as no sudden movements are made which can frighten them and very occasionally result in a panic-inspired bite if the hamster feels it cannot escape.

 

Generally the Campbell dwarf hamster is reqarded as the most aggressive dwarf hamster and more prone to bite, which is one of the reasons why this type is the least popular of the dwarf hamsters as a pet hamster variety.

Scent plays a substantial role in dwarf hamster activity and behavior. In the wild, research has shown that they create paths followed by other dwarf hamsters through scent. As a result, they can often be seen to roll around or rub their paws on the ground in order to create scent trails.

Sounds, usually high-pitched but occasionally shrill, are used by dwarf hamsters to communicate with each other, and these sounds are quite different to those used by normal hamsters.

Due to their smaller size, hamster equipment for dwarf hamsters, especially hamster wheels and similar toys, need to be much smaller than normal. Dwarf hamsters, especially the Roborovsky, will be very active and phenomenally fast in wheels.

Common Harmful Hamster Treats

Most hamster owners like to give their fuzzy friends an extra little treat once in a while, but many people don’t realize that some common treats could be hazardous to a hamster’s health. Check the following list to ensure that the treats you are feeding your pet are keeping them happy and healthy.

Fruits and Veggies for Hamsters to Avoid:

  • Green part on a tomato – Any of the green leafy parts of a tomato can be poisonous to your pet and may lead to death.
  • Lettuce, Beans, or Potatoes – These veggies tend to give hamsters a bad case of diarrhea, which can quickly lead to other health issues.
  • Onions, Garlic, or Peppers – Veggies like these can cause stomach irritation for your pets.
  • Any Citrus Fruits – Citrus is toxic to hamsters so these fruits (oranges, grapefruits, etc.) should be avoided at all costs.

Try Instead: Carrots, Cabbage, Broccoli, or Celery.

 

Proteins for Hamsters to Avoid

  • Raw Eggs or Raw Fish – Hamsters are, in fact, omnivores, and they will eat meat. Protien is actually an important part of a hamster’s diet, particularly if it is pregnant or nursing. However, raw meat, especially fish, can lead to unhealthy bacteria and can cause diarrhea in your pet. Raw eggs will have the same effect.
  • Fatty Meats – while they may not immediately cause problems, fatty or salty foods should be avoided because they can lead to obesity or diabetes in hamsters. Just as it would in humans, this will lower the life expectancy of your pet.

Try Instead: Cooked Fish, Cooked Unseasoned Chicken Breast, Boiled egg, Unsalted Peanuts, Pumpkin Seeds, Sunflower Seeds, Soft Low-Fat Cheeses, and even Crickets, Grasshoppers, or meal worms from your local pet store.

Sweets for Hamsters to Avoid

  • Any Type of Chocolate or Candy – It’s never a good idea to give your hamster large amounts of sugar. As mentioned earlier, this can cause complications from diabetes.

Try instead – Small amounts of dried fruit without added sugar. Try raisins, cherries, or other assorted berries. Even without added sugar, dried fruit has plenty on its own so don’t overdo it. Also remember, no citrus!

Other Foods for Hamsters to Avoid

  • Hay or Other Potentially Sharp Foods – while a hamster may digest these foods just fine, owners should beware anything that could cut or otherwise cause damage to a hamster’s pouches. As many owners know, most hamsters will try to put anything you give them in those cheeks of theirs so it’s important not to give them access to anything they could hurt themselves with.

Try Instead – No Sugar Added Cereals or Dog Biscuits. Dog Biscuits offer the added benefit of acting as a chew toy, so if your hamster chews on the bars of its cage this might be a good option for you.

What to Do if Your Hamster Has Babies: Emergency Steps to Help Pregnant Hamsters

Your female hamster has developed an oval bulge, is bad-tempered and is hiding in her nest. You have had her for about two weeks. One morning, you notice what looks like blood on the nest, and hear tiny high-pitched squeaking. Your hamster has given birth.

Not all hamsters are obviously pregnant. Some babies appear overnight and there are only a few in the litter. Others can have litters up to sixteen babies although six or seven is usual. Gestation is sixteen days.

Hamsters are Good Mothers

The new hamster mother is naturally nervous at first. She will keep the babies safe deep in the nesting material. Others may scatter babies about the cage as they come out of the nest. The mother hamster should hear her babies’ protests and gather them up, but if she does not, remove her from the cage for a moment with a small amount of food and transfer the babies back to the nest with a metal spoon.

A new hamster mother must be disturbed as little as possible. When you put food in her cage, do not touch the nest as your smell may cause her to abandon the babies. Leaving well alone is the safest thing to do and this includes not cleaning the cage.

You might like to feed her with a little porridge oats mixed with cold milk which will help to keep her healthy.

The Hamster Babies Grow Quickly

By two weeks old, they will be starting to escape the nest. Once the babies are freely running round the cage, it is safe to handle them and you can clean the cage. They are quick, but they do not bite and if well-handled, they will be friendly little hamsters. Be careful not to drop them and always keep them safe above a surface.

By three weeks they are miniature adults. At 28 days, all male babies must be in a separate cage to avoid any more unwanted pregnancies.

The Hamster Babies are Ready for Their New Homes

Separate out the males and females in two groups in their own cages by the time they are 28 days old. By five weeks, they will be ready for their own homes or to go to a pet shop. If they are still together at eight weeks old, they will be starting to fight and each will need its own cage. Start planning what to do with the babies as soon as you know how many there are.

There are occasional tragedies, and your hamster mother may die or ignore her babies. Hamster babies can occasionally be fostered onto another mum who has babies of a similar age, but it is risky. It is also almost impossible to meet the needs of a newborn hamster baby yourself. If you wish to try, kitten milk is best, but keeping them warm is the most difficult thing to do.

Enjoy your hamster babies. If you have helped your hamster mother to raise her litter successfully and found good homes for them then you will have done the best for your pet hamster.

Buying a Hamster Cage: The Pros and Cons of the Most Popular Cages For Hamsters

The cage is a hamster’s home, and that means it’s important for it to be safe, comfortable, and secure, and that it satisfies both the hamster’s needs as well as the owner’s. This article will discuss the good and the bad about each type of cage to aid in making an informed decision before purchase.

Cage Basics

There are six things that are basic necessities of a good hamster cage:

  • Secure exits
  • Good ventilation
  • A food dish
  • A water bottle
  • Four corners
  • Room to move

Most commercially bought cages cover most, and sometimes all of these points, but no cage is perfect. Every type of cage has its strengths and weaknesses, and it is up to the consumer to decide which type is right for them, and which points are the most important for their pet.

Wire Cages

These are the most readily available cages, found at every pet store. They are often sold as ‘starter kits’ – just add hamster – and come with a food dish, a water bottle, a wheel, and sometimes a plastic hamster house. Most of these have two levels and a wire ladder connecting the two. The main body of the cage is made up of wire bars, and it usually sits in a plastic tray-like base, that can be removed for easy cleaning. Some bases are lined with wire to allow waste to drop down, and some don’t. These cages provide excellent ventilation, are usually modestly priced, and are the iconic image that everyone pictures at the word ‘hamster cage’. They can also be dangerous.

The wire cage’s good point – ventilation – can also be very bad, especially in a cold climate. Too much draft and no insulation can lead to illness, and if a hamster gets too cold, it can trigger hibernation. The wire surfaces and ladder inside the cage can cause serious injury to a hamster’s legs, and so take care to cover them with cardboard or another solid surface to prevent this. They are also a bad choice for Dwarf, Russian or Chinese hamsters, as they are all small enough to squeeze their way out of the bars.

 

Module and Habitat Cages

Module cages, often called ‘habitats’, are made of hard plastic and usually offer more floor space and room for movement than wire cages. They come in attractive shapes and colors that are especially popular with children and feature connective tubing and play areas (sold separately) which can provide a means for hamsters to entertain themselves in the absence of human interaction. Some module cages also have a built in sleep area or ‘loft’ that is absent in the wire cage.

These cages also have their flaws. Most are too small for Syrian hamsters, as the tubes are mostly made to accommodate the Dwarf variety, though some can house a larger breed quite nicely. All of the extra parts and tubes require regular and thorough cleaning, which is often easy but can be quite time consuming. Most plastic cages have poor ventilation and almost no air circulation due to their design, and can lead to buildup of heat and condensation which is just as harmful to hamsters as the cold. Some of these cages have improved, however, by inserting a wire wall, often along the sides and back of the cage.

Bin Cages

Many hamster owners forgo store-bought cages altogether in favor of building their own. Bin cages are increasing in popularity due to the fact that the owner controls every element of the cage’s features and they can potentially satisfy a hamster’s every need. They are also ideal for Syrian hamsters because the owner has control over the size. These cages are as varied as the people who build them, and there are many tutorials on the internet about construction.

If there is a down side to these cages it is the building. Many owners simply don’t want to invest the time in building a cage themselves, or are not confident that a cage built by hand can be as secure as one bought in a store. They are also not as attractive or colorful as store-bought cages, and this can be a deal breaker, especially if young children are involved, however decorating the cage can be as fun as building it.

Finding the right cage can be time consuming and frustrating, and not all cages are created equal, which is why researching the cage before buying is important. Other places to look for information are web forums about hamster care, product reviews of hamster cages written by other pet owners, and comment pages on a vendor’s website on which customers will point out pros and cons of their purchases.

Good luck, and happy hunting!

Getting Hamsters: 10 Reasons to Get Your Child a Hamster – or Not

Okay, yes, let’s get it out of the way: they are rodents. They have incisor teeth that keep on growing – so they constantly gnaw – and while arguably cuter than a rat and far less nasty-seeming they are still rodents. Only your child won’t care. So why do you?

Hamsters are (Mostly) Gentle and Actually Live Longer in Captivity

Hamsters have been domesticated in North America since the 1930s and a great many parents have grown fond of them so you might, too. They’re gentle – though if you were to leave two male hamsters alone in a cage they might possibly fight to the death. But they don’t cause trouble, although they have a habit of replicating a great deal; indeed some species start when they’re a month old while others take a whopping two or three months to begin popping out pups. Oh and they can have several litters a year.

 

Like more than three.

Of course you can always get just the one hamster though your child might not be pleased. “It’s lonely,” he or she might say. “It really needs a friend.”

Hamster Care

Hamster are cute and furry. They also have very sharp teeth. Teach your child how to properly care for their furry friend from the beginning.

The bottom line is that if your kid wants a hamster, well, it’s the birthright of a contemporary kid to have one (or more). And hey, it’s not like we’re cruel to hamsters, they actually will live longer in captivity, in a hamster cage, on average, than the wild. Now to help you make a decision here is a top ten list:

The Top Ten Reasons to Get Your Kid a Hamster

  1. They don’t eat much. Why not? Because they’re not much bigger than a bar of soap.
  2. You kid will be so excited to have a hamster he’ll take care of it – for about one week.
  3. A hamster’s droppings are small and the cages easy to clean…well, it’s something.
  4. Because hamsters are a nocturnal creature, your child will learn a brand new word.
  5. They escape a lot so your family will spend quality time together looking for Hammy.
  6. Having one is a really good lesson for your cat in restraint; or at least that’s the plan.
  7. Hamsters spin about on a wheel and it will remind you of how pointless life can be.
  8. That last one is a bit depressing so next a comforting one: their bite only hurts a bit.
  9. Should they bother you then all you need to do is to stick their cage in another room.
  10. Hard finding 10 but let’s end here: Others have learned to love them so you can, too.

The bottom line is that she’s gonna be thrilled to see that furry little mammal spin in the wheel and roll in the hamster ball and chew its way through the wiring at the back of your computer. Besides – you love your child right? Right. So it stands to reason that you love anything that will make her, or him, happy. Alright then – time to decide and it’s all up to you.

Happy Hamstering.