Adopting a small Pet – all you need to know about Hamsters
Hamsters are cute, cuddly and inquisitive and have gained popularity as pets for people of all ages. Their small size allows them to be kept in a cage that takes very little space. This makes it possible to have a Hamster even in a small apartment. Their lifespan is 2-3 years. Most popular breeds are the Syrian Hamster and the Russian Dwarf Hamster.
Hamsters are nocturnal animals, meaning they are active at night and sleep during the day. If you are a light sleeper, the sound of the hamster wheel may keep you awake at night. So it is best not to have the cage in the bedroom.
They are best suitable for children older than 8 years. Younger children should handle them only with adult supervision. They can bite if they feel threatened or if they are woken up from sleep.
As they are quite territorial, especially the Syrian Hamster, it is best to keep a single hamster in a cage. The cage should have a wheel and tunnels to allow them to exercise and have an enriched environment. But make sure the tubes are wide enough, so the Hamster doesn’t get stuck. The wheel should be big enough, so your Hamster doesn’t arch his back when he is using it. And should be solid, not the metal wire wheels, as they lead to injuries.
Hamsters groom themselves and do not have any odour. They tend to use one corner of the cage to urinate, so if that hole is cleaned daily, you will not notice any smell. In fact, if you do smell your hamster, it is time to clean the cage. For bedding, you can use wood shavings (not pine or cedar) or wood pellets. Add grass hay or Hamster cotton for their sleeping nest.
They do not do well with heat. Temperature above 22 Celsius is dangerous for their health. In warmer areas like UAE, it best to keep them in an air-conditioned room, but not directly under the blow of the AC.
Their food consists of grains, occasional vegetable as treat and some grass hay. They are known for stashing food, so check the cage for any leftover vegetables. Best is to use ceramic bowls for food as they tend to chew plastic or wood material. For water, place a sippy bottle on the outside of the cage, or ceramic bowl filled with daily fresh water should do fine. Although if you use a bowl, you need to regularly change the water as it will get soiled from the bedding and the food.
Hamsters come in different colours from pale peach to black. Also, you can find longhaired or smooth haired hamsters. They do groom themselves, so you might need to brush them only if they are long haired to prevent mats from forming. As in all rodents, their teeth continuously grow and to keep them in good shape; you will need to provide chew toys for Hamsters, fruit chewing stick that they will love and grass hay.