When you think of common house pets, hamsters probably come to mind quickly. These furry little creatures have been a first pet for many children. They are easy to care for, and can become tame if handled. Of all the small pet species, they are probably the most likely to bite. They are also nocturnal, so they may not be interested in playing during the day, and sometimes make a lot of noise at night when they are awake.
If they are handled properly, they will learn to crawl up into your hand and can be entertaining to watch as they go through tunnels, run in wheels, and do other fun stuff. They are one pet that really appreciates being alone, so it’s usually best to just have on hamster.
They don’t require a large cage, though they do enjoy space. The cage you choose needs to be designed for hamsters, and secure, particularly if you have cats or dogs in the house. Hamsters also need a small sleeping box. They can eat from a non-chewable food dish (such as ceramic), and should have fresh water available at all times from a water bottle.
They enjoy climbing and swinging from items in their cage, and as you probably already know, usually love to run in an exercise wheel or a ball. Since they are very small, you probably shouldn’t let them run free on the floor, but if you put them in a ball, they’ll be visible to you, safe from injury, and can still enjoy moving around.
Hamsters will eat a variety of food, and usually like to have their meals in the evening or through the night. A commercially available hamster food will have all the nutrients your hamster needs. Hamsters also enjoy treats such as unroasted, unsalted peanuts, or plain Cheerios Don’t feed your hamster junk food. For vegetables, your hamster will enjoy iceburg lettuce, and celery, among other things. Hamsters love to store feed in their cheek pouches like chipmunks, then stash this food in various places around the cage. Keep an eye on the food storage areas to ensure they don’t spoil.
Hamsters spend a significant amount of time grooming themselves. This is very important. When you choose a hamster from a breeder or pet store, make sure its fur is in good condition. A hamster that is not grooming itself is probably sick.
As mentioned before, hamsters like to be alone. A female will tolerate a male at mating time, and will be loving towards her young until they are weaned. Outside those time, hamsters prefer to be alone and may fight to the death if they are placed together. Sometimes pairs of hamsters can be kept for long periods of time, but this should never be assumed. If you are going to have two hamsters, it’s better to keep them in two separate cages, or at least have the ability to separate them into their own homes if they do begin to fight.
With the right knowledge and lots of patience, a hamster can be a great first pet.