Dwarf hamsters are becoming an increasing top option when people think about keeping a pet. They’re cute, little, furry creatures, and they are enjoyable to have around! They’re the perfect definition of what it means to have furry friends, and what’s more, they’re easy to care for and groom.
Here’s how to care for a dwarf hamster:
- Make the perfect home.
- Use dry materials for hamster bedding.
- Keep the enclosure warm.
- House one hamster per cage.
- Perform regular cage cleanup and sanitation.
- Give healthy food and clean water regularly.
- Engage your hamster with fun activities.
- Clean your pet hamster regularly.
- Know when your hamster is not healthy.
Like every pet, hamsters need certain conditions to stay happy and healthy. Not to worry, I have put together a complete guide to walk you through the dos and don’ts of taking care of a dwarf hamster right from when you get them at the pet store to when you bring them home!
1. Make the Perfect Home
Nothing makes a pet happier than a good homecoming. Are you bringing your pet home from the pet store for the very first time? If so, you should make sure there’s a comfortable and lovely home waiting on it.
There are many things to consider when it comes to making the perfect home for your dwarf hamster, from comfort and temperature to proper spacing and ventilation. It’s more than just a pretty space and, most of all, more than a cage.
Options To Consider When Picking an Enclosure
Ever gone house shopping? Yeah, it’s precisely like that. Just like you consider your space, furnishings, location, and style, the same also applies to your pet’s future home.
Dwarf hamsters are very active and love to have enough space for all their running around. The cage should also hold the essentials like toys, food, water, and maybe even a slide.
Here are a few top options when picking the proper enclosure:
An Aquarium Cage
Aside from fish, aquarium-designed structures also work well for many other pets like dwarf hamsters.
One benefit of these enclosures is that they are see-through, allowing you to monitor your pet. They’re also straightforward to clean and sanitize, helping you keep up with messes.
A Plastic Cage
Most plastic cages look just like a full-blown hamster apartment with extra rooms and facilities built-in. All you have to do is assemble it, and you’ve got yourself a hamster home.
The only setback to this is that most plastic cages come a tad bit smaller than your hamster would like and can be pretty expensive.
However, if you can get a large-sized plastic enclosure suited for hamsters like yours, you’re good to go.
A Wire Cage
Most hamster cages are made from wire. Although they don’t give your pet as much protection from cold as the glass enclosures, they are still affordable and usually offer the most space.
Wire cages usually come with shelves, ramps, and spaces where you can easily clip on a wheel. So, they are usually the preferred option for pet owners.
Still, keep in mind that you will need to ensure that the spaces between the wires are wide enough to let the air in but not so wide that your hamster can squeeze out.
Also, make sure that the bottom of the cage isn’t made of wire so it doesn’t hurt your hamster’s feet.
The standard hamster cage size should be 75 x 40 x 40 cm (29.53 x 15.75 x 15.75 in). However, the Humane Society of the U.S. (HSUS) recommends 576 sq. in (3716.12 sq. cm) for one hamster.
That means whatever cage you get should never be smaller than those dimensions.
However, the bigger, the better. If your hamster seems restless or repeatedly attempts to escape, you might want to upgrade to a larger enclosure.
Read How To Take Care of a Hamster
2. Use Dry Materials for Hamster Bedding
Now that you’ve gotten the perfect cage, it’s time to get into the next thing that helps your hamster settle in– bedding. You can’t just leave your hamster to wander around and sleep on the bare floor.
Soft, comfy bedding isn’t just for comfort. It can also keep the enclosure dry and warm for your pet. Keeping moisture away from the cage as much as possible is very critical to having a healthy, pneumonia-free hamster.
You can’t use just any old bedding for a pet hamster. Ensure that it’s made from dry material that locks in moisture perfectly.
Steer clear, especially of anything containing phenols like cedar and pine shavings, as they can harm your pet. You’ll need dust-free bedding, so you should never use a wood-chip or shaving bedding. If you choose wood, your hamster may suffer from respiratory distress.
Also, avoid using cotton beddings as they can cause a choking hazard for your pet.
For your hamster bedding, you can use any of the following:
- Corncobs (recycled)
- Paper (recycled)
When placing the bedding, make it thick to provide your active pet with enough digging space. Ensure that whatever bedding you use is made from hypoallergenic materials.
Asides from the listed materials, you can go ahead to be as creative and expressive with your pet’s beddings.
Read Why Is My Hamster Sleeping So Much?
3. Keep The Enclosure Warm
Having the right temperature in the cage is critical to the health and survival of your pet dwarf hamster. So, when looking out for taking care of your pet, the temperature should never be left out of the equation. An excellent way to start is to choose the right location for your pet cage.
A comfortable room with a moderate temperature is best. Since hamsters are nocturnal creatures, consider picking an area in the house that also gets dark at night so you don’t alter their innate activity.
A warm room is best for a hamster compared to a cool room. Hamsters easily catch pneumonia, so you should take proper care of the temperature.
If you have a wire hamster cage, it’d be best to put in enough dry bedding to cozy and warm up your hamster. Also, avoid placing the enclosure close to high-moisture areas. Ensure windows and doors are closed, especially in cold seasons.
Check How Much Does Hamster Food Cost?
4. House One Hamster per Cage
Hamsters are fun, active creatures who’re exceptionally social and love to play. It’s easy to get carried away with this fact and start to think of introducing another hamster to keep your company. That’ll most likely not end up as cute as you think.
Many people fail to realize that, as much as dwarf hamsters are fun and cuddly, they’re also highly territorial when housed with other hamsters. Dwarf hamsters can’t tolerate another dwarf hamster in their territory. They’ll most likely fight to the death, which puts quite the (horrific) image in our heads.
So, if you plan to get more than one dwarf hamster, it’s not an issue. The only thing is that you’ll need to create separate housing for them. Never house them together, as this will likely start a fight that could end in severe injuries and even death.
5. Perform Regular Cage Cleanup and Sanitation
The state of your pet dwarf hamster’s cage largely determines the health of your pet. So, cleaning the enclosure can ward off infections, respiratory stress, and bad smells.
However, while maintaining optimum cleanliness of your pet’s cage, you should be careful how often you clean it and with what you clean it with.
For starters, you should clean your pet’s beddings every three weeks. That is the standard time frame to clean up your pet’s space unless your pet is extra messy.
Cleaning up the cage a bit too often can stress your pet and affect its health and lifespan. That’s because pets like dwarf hamsters operate with familiar scents, and they do well enough to leave their scents all over their territory. When you make it smell unfamiliar, they might worry.
You can clean your pet’s home with antibacterial dish soap or 2 tsp (9.86 ml) of bleach and diluted in a couple of gallons of water. This mixture has enough cleansing power to disinfect and clean your cage without any toxic chemicals attacking your pet.
After cleaning, leave the cage to dry for about 20 minutes before adding in new bedding. You can also clean your pet’s toys, wheels, and plates, but try to do so in batches so your hamster still has familiar scents here and there.
Try as much as possible not to place the hamster in a cardboard box during the cleaning process because dwarf hamsters can easily chew their way out.
Read Why Is My Hamster Drinking So Much Water?
6. Give Healthy Food and Clean Water Regularly
Dwarf hamsters have a busy mouth for their size. If you want to care for your dwarf hamster the right way, ensure they get healthy food regularly with clean water.
Most hamster cages come with a water bottle that operates like a dispenser and one food dish. That makes it easier to give your pet enough water regularly, as you can fill the bottle with clean water when you see it running out. Hamsters drink a lot of water, so remember to fill up the bottle regularly.
However, don’t let water sit in the bottle for too long. Take time to clean the bottle by rinsing it thoroughly and changing the water. Monitor how often your pet drinks water so you know when to refill and when it has sat for too long.
Paying attention to the water levels can also help you know when something is up with your pet.
For food, you need not worry about what your pet eats and what it doesn’t. You can always get hamster food at the pet store. Most of them come in varieties, which means your pet can have favorites.
Hamster food includes:
- Seed mix which acts as supplements
- Worms and insects for added protein
- Pellets, which form a majority of their diet
Another thing to consider is chewing sticks. Hamster teeth grow long and sharp, a bit like how we grow fingernails. Hamsters have to file down their teeth, which is why they are so excellent at chewing through rough materials.
So, providing your hamster with chew toys such as pet-approved sticks (some woods are poisonous), dog treats, and hamster-made chewing treats is a great idea.
Avoid feeding your hamster high citrus/acidic fruits and vegetables as they’re prone to diabetes. Also, avoid peanut butter as your pet hamster can choke on it.
Read Why Does My Hamster Poop So Much?
7. Engage Your Hamster With Fun Activities
Dwarf hamsters are active creatures that love a good adventure.
Don’t just leave it sitting in a cage every day. Play with your hamster. Engage it with fun activities that help keep it active and sharp. Playing together also lets you better understand your pet’s behavior and react in different situations.
Toys and exercise wheels are an excellent way to start. Before lifting your hamster out of the cage, first, make sure that it has grown accustomed to your scent.
That means that you should hang around the cage to let it sniff you and register your scent as a familiar one before you try to pick it up.
One great idea is to get your dwarf hamster a ball so that they can walk around the house in safety.
Still, don’t leave them in the ball for too long since they may get stuck in there with their own droppings, and they will need water every few hours.
Read What Does Hamster Diarrhea Look Like?
8. Clean Your Pet Hamster Regularly
Although hamsters hate getting wet as it makes them sick, that shouldn’t stop you from cleaning up your hamster correctly from time to time.
Dwarf hamsters generally maintain excellent hygiene, but they can get stinky after a while.
If your hamster needs a wash, you can dab a toothbrush in a bit of water and shake it to remove the excesses. Then brush its fur gently and dry with a clean cloth.
9. Know When Your Hamster Is Not Healthy
It’s pretty straightforward to identify a sick hamster.
Some signs to look for are:
- It either stops drinking as much water as it used to
- It becomes lethargic
- It has poor eating habits
- It stops cleaning itself
- It has discharge in the eyes.
- It has sores on its feet, hands, mouth, or anywhere else on the body.
Sometimes your hamster gets sick because you’ve introduced a substance it’s not accustomed to or maybe a diet that doesn’t work well. Knowing when your hamster is unhealthy is key to keeping it happy.
Read What Hamster Lives the Longest?
Are Dwarf hamsters easy to take care of?
Yes, Dwarf hamsters are easy to take care of. They are small and typically live for around 2-3 years. They do not require a lot of space, and they can be litter trained.
Dwarf hamsters need a diet that is high in protein and low in sugar. They should have a diet that consists of fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as high-quality hamster food. It is also important to provide them with plenty of clean water and a place to exercise.
Do Dwarf hamsters like being held?
Yes, most dwarf hamsters do like being held. They usually become very tame and will curl up in your hand or on your shoulder when you hold them. Some people even report that their dwarf hamster falls asleep while being held. 🙂
What is the easiest dwarf hamster to handle?
The easiest dwarf hamster to handle is probably the Campbell’s Russian Dwarf Hamster. They are typically quite tame and docile, and they don’t require a lot of handling to remain tame. Other dwarf hamsters, such as the Syrian Hamster, can be a bit more skittish and may take some time to get used to being handled.
Are dwarf hamsters good for beginners?
Yes, dwarf hamsters are good for beginners. They are small and easy to care for, and they typically have a calm temperament. However, it is important to do your research before getting a hamster, as some breeds can be more active than others. Also, make sure you have a suitable cage size and provide plenty of toys and exercise balls to keep your hamster entertained.
Related Hamster articles:
- How To Make Your Hamster Happy
- What Size Wheel for Syrian Hamster
- How Much Should I Feed My Hamster
- Why Is My Hamster Bleeding From Its Bottom?
- How To Train Your Hamster To Cuddle
Dwarf hamsters generally don’t require much to get their day running perfectly. Just ensure that their home is comfy and welcoming, give them plenty of food, water, and attention, and monitor their cleanliness and health. Once you have these basics figured out, you’re well on your way to keeping a healthy, bubbly, cute little dwarf hamster.
My name is Everly. I am a Milwaukee-based mom of 2 and have been a proud owner of many hamsters throughout my life. Like many of us, my introduction to hamsters happened when I was very young. My family saw several hamsters come and go through the years, and I enjoyed playing with them, but I never fully appreciated them until I grew up and my own children decided to jump on the hamster bandwagon. At that point, I was determined to learn all I could about caring for these adorable pets. Read more