Hamster Care: What You Need To Know To Give Your Pet the Best Life

Hamsters are some of the cutest pets around. They're tiny furballs of joy, running around, playing, and providing enjoyment to countless people, young and old.

Whether you're thinking of adopting a hamster or you already have one, you undoubtedly want to give it the best life possible. That is, you want to do everything you can to provide the best hamster care.

Fortunately, hamsters are reasonably easy animals to take care of and provide a quality home. They're one of the best small pets out there for a reason. Here's everything you need to know about giving your pet the best life!

The Biggest Factor in Hamster Care: The Hamster Habitat

The most significant impact on your hamster's life will come from the habitat in which it lives. Without adequate space to run around, play, and exercise, your hamster will get bored pretty quickly. Boredom often leads to destructive behaviors and decreased lifespan.

You'll want to make sure that you have a big enough habitat to provide your hamster with room to exercise. You should also ensure that the cage has small enough gaps in between the wiring. Hamsters can get pretty creative, and sometimes accidents happen when they try to escape through those gaps. For Syrian hamsters, the maximum wire space should be 0.6 inches or 1.5 centimeters apart. For dwarf hamsters, a smaller spacing of 0.4 inches or one centimeter is necessary. 

You'll also want to ensure that the floor of the hamster habitat is comfortable for your pet. Absorbent bedding (wood, grain, vegetables) is the best for your hamster. Some people might want to use shredded paper. Since that stays damp easily, you should not use it unless you have no other options.

Finally, make sure that you have your hamster in an area that is the right temperature. You'll want something in between 68-75 degrees Fahrenheit. Anything warmer and your hamster will quickly become uncomfortable. Anything colder and your pet will be under more stress. If it gets too cold, of course, your hamster could get hypothermia, and that's a serious medical condition!

What Food Should I Give My Hamster?

Of course, the other significant aspect of hamster care is the food you will give your pet. For most hamsters, commercial pet food is the best choice. It has all the nutrients your pet needs to thrive. There are a few brands that tend to be well-reviewed - Kaytee, Oxbow, and Higgins. If you see any of these at your local pet store, consider picking that up as food.

Part of the fun of having a hamster is giving them treats. It's fun to watch your pet grab that carrot and stuff it in his or her cheek pockets! When giving your hamster treats, provide it with grains, vegetables, or Timothy hay. You can also offer your hamster fruits, although you should provide these in moderation to ensure that your pet does not get an overload of sugar.

Chocolate, caffeine, alcohol, sugar, and treats with a high fat content are definite no-nos for treats. Giving your hamster any one of these things could potentially kill your pet. Stick with the grains, fruits, veggies, and hay!

What Are Some Common Hamster Diseases (And What Can I Do)?

There are a few common hamster diseases that you should monitor for during your routine hamster care. 

The first disease is "Wet Tail Disease." Sadly, this disease has a relatively high fatality rate if treatment doesn't start ASAP. Wet Tail Disease is aptly named because the signature symptom is a wet tail. The wet tail is the result of diarrhea, although the disease itself is due to bacteria. In humans, having diarrhea isn't a big deal, but it's a sign of severe bacteria in the digestive tract in a hamster. Therefore, if you see a wet tail and a hamster that smells like feces, take it to the vet right away. Your vet can start treatment to give your hamster the best chance of survival.

Wet Tail Disease frequently happens with stress. By minimizing the amount of stress your hamster endures, you should reduce your pet's probability of getting Wet Tail.

Colds are another common ailment that hamsters have. These are easy to spot because your hamster will have less energy and have their ears held back against their heads. The good news is that this isn't usually fatal. As with colds in humans, providing fresh, dry bedding, wholesome foods, and lots of rest will get your hamster feeling better in no time!

Hamster Care Isn't Too Challenging

Taking care of a hamster isn't too challenging which is why they also make good pets for children. You don't need a lot of hamster stuff to keep them happy and healthy.

Quality food, clean bedding, the right cage, some toys, and a pleasant 70ish degree temperature will keep your pet quite delighted and healthy.

While some of these things might sound like a lot, the hamster cost is pretty minimal compared with other pets. You can find high-quality hamster cages for $50-100. The food costs are pretty minimal. And then you need a few toys, an exercise wheel, and a water bottle. All in all, you can provide the best hamster care for relatively low money - one of the many reasons this pet is beloved by all!

Are hamsters good pets?

Yes, hamsters make for fantastic pets! They are relatively low-maintenance, fun to watch, and aren't particularly expensive. For these reasons, they make for a wonderful first pet for school-aged children.

How to clean a hamster?

For the most part, hamsters can keep themselves clean. Therefore, you shouldn't need to clean them unless they have some bedding stuck to their underside. If you think your pet is looking a little dirty, consider brushing it, giving it a sand bath, or wiping it with a cloth. You can bathe your hamster, as well, but for the most part, this is unnecessary.

How big do hamsters get?

There are many hamster species, and, as you may expect, each one has a different size. The most common hamster, the Syrian hamster, grows to about six inches long. Dwarf hamsters will only grow to about four inches.

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Written by Leo Roux

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