Hamsters make excellent pets, especially if you want to teach your child how to be responsible for pets. These rodents are small, cuddly, and easier to maintain than other pets such as dogs and cats. Even so, it’s crucial to take good care of your hamster to ensure that it’ll live a healthy and happy life.
Here are some tips on how to take care of a hamster:
- Prepare a home large enough for the hamster.
- Place the cage away from noisy areas.
- Ensure the base of the cage is firm.
- Place food and water bowls in the hamster cage.
- Designate a potty area for the hamster.
- Give your hamster a balanced diet.
- Avoid giving your hamster leftovers.
- Clean the cage weekly.
- Put chew toys and exercise wheels in the hamster cage.
- Wipe your hamster occasionally.
- Bond with your hamster.
Hamsters may be small and undemanding, but they can only thrive if their living conditions are suitable. Giving your hamster everything it needs, from a cage to toys, will ensure taking care of it as a pet is easy, with minimal challenges.
11 Tips to Take Care of a Hamster
A hamster will spend pretty much of its time in the cage, apart from the few times when you bring it out for a cuddle. Despite being small, a hamster needs a large cage where it can play, sleep, eat and even relieve itself. A large cage will allow you to organize everything a hamster needs in the same space.
Ensure you designate space for every function. For example, set up the sleeping, playing, feeding, and potty area. Hamsters usually relieve themselves in the same spot, so you only need to train yours to use the litter box.
The Rubor Wooden Hamster Cage (available on Amazon.com in the United States of America) is 100% rot-resistant fir wood and acrylic. It has an openable roof and a pullable floor, making cleaning and maintenance easy. The cage has two levels connected with a ramp, so your hamster will have enough space to play, hide, and rest.
Your hamster will enjoy keeping track of the family’s activities, but it may not appreciate being at the center of all the noise. Casual conversations and normal activities around the home will be good for your hamster.
However, if you occasionally hold parties, play loud music, or have your television on all the time, you need to keep your hamster away to avoid stressing it.
Hamsters also like to stay in a controlled environment, with a temperature of 18–21°C (64.4–69.8°F). When the temperatures fall below 10°C (50°F), your hamster will get sleepy and start to hibernate. So, it’s best to keep the cage away from windows, direct sunlight, and vents.
Your hamster will be running all over the cage, and you need to protect its feet from injuries. If you have a wire cage, ensure the wires are close to one another. Hamsters are great at escaping enclosed spaces if they find a large gap.
Since hamsters are playful and always run around the cage, make sure that you pad the floor of your hamster’s habitat for easy movement and ensure its feet don’t get stuck between any wires. If possible, place a board at the base of the wire cage for additional protection.
Cover the floor with at least 2–4 inches (5.08– 10.16cm) with wood shaving, hay, grass, pellets, and shredded paper. Hamsters enjoy burrowing, and these materials will help keep your pet busy as they build nests.
The Living World Aspen Wood Shaving (available on Amazon.com) is a great choice for your hamster’s bedding and cage floor covering. It’s highly absorbent, hypoallergenic, and is free of fragrant oils.
Avoid throwing pieces of food in the cage for your hamster to find. Maintaining cage hygiene is critical for your hamster’s well-being. Strategically place a bowl of food and one of the water in a position that the hamster will soon realize is the feeding area. You can also use a hamster water bottle with the nozzle facing downwards.
When choosing the right feeding bowl for your Hamster, consider the following:
- The bowl’s weight: Ensure the bowl is too heavy for the hamster to tip over. You don’t want the hamster to spill water all over the cage while burrowing because it’ll create a mess.
- Your hamster’s size: Some hamsters, like the dwarf hamster, are small, while the Syrian is almost double the size of the dwarf hamster. These breeds of hamsters will need different bowl sizes. Ensure your hamster bowl is shallow enough for your hamster to feed comfortably. Hamsters eat 12 grams (0.03 lb.) of food a day, which is about a tablespoon (15 g). Choose a small bowl if you’re worried about overfeeding your hamster.
- The bowl’s material: Plastics are lightweight and will get destroyed when your hamster starts chewing the bowl. Glass bowls are heavy and durable, but there’s the risk your hamster will be injured if they chew through the glass. Wood bowls are attractive but difficult to keep clean. Ceramic bowls are the best because they’re heavy, difficult to chew, and easy to use. However, replace them as soon as you notice cracks.
These Tfwadmx Ceramic Hamster Bowls (available on Amazon.com) are excellent for your hamster’s food and water. They’re premium, non-chewable, and easy to clean. These bowls are also too heavy for your hamster to flip over when it tries burrowing underneath it.
Hamsters are very clean pets. They groom themselves and always use the same spot to relieve themselves. Place a litter box in one corner of your hamster’s home and train it to use it. This way, you won’t have to worry about waste contaminating your pet’s food and beddings.
Potty training a hamster is easy since it identifies the potty area using a urine smell. Get the right potty size, and place a piece of the soiled bedding in it. Your hamster will come sniffing and start using the potty instead of going on the floor. Your hamster might not do it right the first time, but soon it’ll realize what it needs to do.
It’s best to place the potty in the hamster’s chosen spot for relieving itself. If, however, you find this area unsuitable, clean it thoroughly to get rid of the ammonia smell and place the potty in the desired location.
If your hamster takes too long to start using the litter box, consider changing the position. Maybe your hamster doesn’t approve of the spot and may respond better if the potty is placed elsewhere.
This Kaytee Potty Training Litter (available on Amazon.com) is helpful when potty training a hamster. The pellets absorb moisture, up to 10 times their weight, on contact and help reduce waste odor. Cleaning is also easier and faster. You can also use these pellets in the litter box.
When buying food for hamsters, make sure they’re made specifically for hamsters. Pelleted hamster diets should make up the bulk of the food your hamster eats because they’re balanced and meet your hamster’s nutritional needs.
You can supplement the hamster feed with seed diets, sugarless cereals, fresh fruits, and vegetables. Give seed diets in moderation because they tend to be fattening and are nutrient-deficient.
Hamsters tend to hoard food to eat later, so don’t let the empty bowl fool you into overfeeding your hamster. Spot check the cage to see if your pet has hidden any food before putting more food in its bowl.
The Oxbow Hamster Essentials Food (available on Amazon.com) is nutritionally balanced. It contains proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. It’s also fortified with vitamins and minerals. These pellets also come with a guide on how much food to give according to your hamster’s weight.
A common cause of poisoning in hamsters is moldy foods. Hamsters are sensitive to toxins that build up in leftover vegetables. Instead of compromising your hamster’s health, it’s best to feed it fresh vegetables and fruits.
You should also serve your hamster the recommended pellets daily, instead of giving too much and leaving it out in its feeding bowl for days.
Hamsters groom themselves. That said, there’s no need to worry too much about grooming your hamster. Focus on keeping your hamster’s home clean and hygienic instead. When your hamster’s home is clean, your pet is clean, too!
You can keep your hamster clean by doing the following:
- Use a pet-safe cleaner on your Hamster’s cage once a week.
- Don’t throw out your Hamster’s beddings, especially if they’re clean and dry. When you put your hamster back in the cage, they need to smell something familiar, and the beddings will make the cage feel like home. Of course, you can add fresh beddings together with the old ones.
- Ensure you put everything back where they were after cleaning your hamster cage. Hamsters find change stressful, so changing the wheel’s position, potty area, beddings frequently isn’t a great idea.
- Clean your hamster’s food dish weekly.
- Spot-check the cage for signs of wetting and remove wet items. Doing this is especially important if your hamster isn’t potty trained.
Placing an exercise wheel and toys in the hamster’s habitat will help keep it active and healthy, preventing obesity.
Hamsters enjoy climbing and burrowing. If you can set up a wheel and tunnel system, your hamster will enjoy the space even more. Chewing toys will prevent your hamster from chewing its feeding bowl and other items in the cage.
The Niteangel Hamster Exercise Wheels (available on Amazon.com) is a great addition to your hamster’s habitat. This wheel is quiet, has a wide running track with an adjustable height.
Although hamsters spend hours grooming themselves, they sometimes fail to clean their entire body and may need, especially around the backside. Sometimes, wood shaving also sticks on them as they relieve themselves. Using a wet cloth, wipe dirty spots and hard-to-reach areas.
Hamsters get cold easily, so ensure you use lukewarm water when cleaning your hamster. You can also place a bowl of hamster bathing sand for your pet to take a dust bath.
This Hamiledyi Hamster Bathing Sand (available on Amazon.com) is 100% natural sand and doesn’t expire when it remains dry. It adds to the activities your hamster can do to make its home more enjoyable. Your hamster will spend hours enjoying its dry bath.
Besides watching your hamster in its habitat, you can occasionally get it out to bond with you. However, choose a time when your hamster is awake. You can create an enclosed space in your home where your hamster can play while getting to know the family. Go ahead and place balls, chewy toys, and even an exercise wheel in this area.
When cuddling with your hamster, ensure you hold it gently. The majority of hamsters sustain injuries when they fall. So, be careful when passing the hamster around for other family members to cuddle.
Close the windows and doors before getting your hamster out. You can also put it in a hamster rolling ball, so it can safely explore your home.
The Kaytee Hamster Running Ball (available on Amazon.com) is a great temporary and safe space for your hamster as it explores your living space. The running ball is available in various colors.
Related Hamster articles:
- Why Do Hamsters Eat Their Babies
- Why Is My Hamster Not Moving?
- How Big Is a Hamster?
- How Much Does a Hamster Cage Cost?
- How Long Can You Leave a Hamster Alone?
The day-to-day care of the hamster isn’t overwhelming. You only need to ensure your hamster’s home is organized and that it has everything it needs to be comfortable. Once you’ve established a routine and know your hamster’s schedule, including playtime and feeding and sleeping time, you can easily take care of your hamster appropriately.
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